The auditorium bulges with people and is warm for November, so I fan myself with the Veteran’s Day assembly program. After the kids file in and sit cross-legged on the gymnasium floor, the principal makes opening remarks and the 1st graders sing an adorable rendition of America the Beautiful. The oversized projector screen at the front of the room transforms into a slideshow of reunion photos. The principal asks all the veterans to stand. A few moments later, the rest of us hop up to offer a standing ovation, clapping and hollering our thanks the whole time.
My town is surrounded by several Air Force bases and an Army base, so veterans receive standing ovations at everything from football games to grocery store check-out lanes to airport terminals. And while I am quick to join in the well deserved praise, my eyes usually rest on the veteran’s family nearby.
And I always think to myself they deserve a standing ovation, too.
So that’s what I’m offering here today: a standing ovation to you, the military wife, for being a veteran of your own kind. For doing what you do – sacrificing in tiny and tremendous ways. For giving in seen and unseen ways. For supporting your uniformed hero while never thinking you are a hero in your own right (even though you are). And while I wish I could hand deliver each of you a uniform full of medals, I can give your heart some encouragement today.
I know there are well over 50 reasons why you deserve a standing ovation and medals, but perhaps this is a good start.
1. You don’t buy into “out of sight, out of mind” because you know heart connections reach across state lines and continents.
2. You have the keen ability to distinguish between priorities and second things.
3. You invite neighbors and friends over for Thanksgiving dinner even if you’ve just met.
4. You make McGyver look like a kindergartner with your mad improv skills.
5. You are an expert at furniture tetris and make your same old stuff fit in every new-sized room.
6. You know her favorite Starbucks treat and show up on her doorstep with it in your hand.
7. You plant roots and bloom in record time.
8. You call her on your way to the commissary to ask if she needs anything.
9. You say yes to watching your friends’ kids on a moment’s notice.
10. You juggle more responsibilities than the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
11. You know thriving sometimes looks like pajamas all day and Cheerios for dinner.
12. You are sensitive to the needs of those around you.
13. You remember that even as the military can feel like a burden-giver, God is the burden-lifter.
14. You treat friends like family.
15. You might have married your soldier or airman on a Saturday and said goodbye to him on a Monday.
16. You know honeymoons are a luxury.
17. You maneuver chaos and uncertainty on a daily basis.
18. You deliver babies and go through seasons of raising those babies as a single mama.
19. You experience seasons of being both mom and dad to your kids, and distance from family means you may add grandma and aunt to the list.
20. You start over every few years: new town, new hairdresser, new church, new everything.
21. You put off buying nice furniture because you know odds are good it will get banged up or lost in a move.
22. Your bed is too empty too often.
23. You don’t get cranky when people make insensitive comments that don’t encourage.
24. You respond to remarks from those who vocally disapprove of your spouse’s job with grace and a side of extra thick skin.
25. You know a worldview that extends beyond your driveway.
26. You keep standing during crushing weeks or seasons of standing alone.
27. You don’t let changing addresses change who you are.
28. You turn your cookie cutter on-base home into a unique work of art, or you’re content to just live in it “as is” because odds are good you won’t be there long.
29. You are among the first to jump in and volunteer.
30. You are brave as you handle problems large and small magnified by distance and separation.
31. You don’t have time or interest in icebreakers and go straight for meaningful conversation.
32. You stretch military pay rubber band thin.
33. You see beyond the faces into the hearts of women.
34. You can rock a formal gown at a dining out.
35. You maneuver a variety of social situations brilliantly.
36. You know all too well how loud silence can be.
37. Your phone stays glued to your pocket not because you’re addicted to social media but because you’re anticipating that phone call or message that tells you all is well.
38. You aren’t afraid to make cross-country trips alone or in a car full of children.
39. You accept the fact that your future will be constantly rearranged according to someone else’s plans.
40. You understand better than most the only way through is through.
41. You handle change better than the average person.
42. You have learned patience in baptism-by-fire kinds of ways.
43. If your friend or neighbor has been MIA for a few hours or a couple days, you notice her absence and check on her.
44. You have the endurance of a triathlete as you continually run the race God’s marked out for you.
45. You are a helper not a hinderer.
46. You don’t have to be convinced moments of today are important and count because you know how to stretch them to the limit.
47. You sacrifice in tiny and tremendous ways as you place your plans on a daily altar.
48. You remember you aren’t one woman filling infinite roles, but one woman trusting an infinite God to fill your empty places in countless ways.
49. Your life is a testimony toward putting faith and trust in Someone greater than yourself.
50. You take comfort in knowing God – not Uncle Sam – has placed you where you are for a divine purpose.
What would you add to the list?
In honor of Veteran’s Day, my ebook Serving You: 31 Days of Encouragement for the Military Wife is on sale for 99 cents. Woot! You can get a copy for yourself here *or* gift it to the military wife in your life. You can read more about the book here.
Military wives, you are some of my very favorite people. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do. You prove bravery comes in endless shapes and colors, and I really couldn’t love you more.
Have a beautiful day, friends.