Amidst all these challenges, military life provides moments that shape and define us. If we take the time to ponder, we will discover ways we have changed and grown. But in this ever-changing life, military spouses don’t often have the time to ponder. We don’t know what’s normal. So much seems beyond our control. Often, it feels like we are struggling and barely staying afloat.
The book “You Are Not Alone” encourages military spouses
For a spouse caught in the stormy seas of military life, Jen McDonald’s book “You Are Not Alone” is like a lifeboat. This little book provides 30 days of readings in encourage military spouses through different challenges. Each reading contains a story from McDonald’s early days as a military spouse. Then comes a passage called Basic Training for Military Spouses, where she shares a lesson from the experience, along with some advice. I really enjoyed the Think About It question in each passage. This is a thought-provoking and personal question that makes you pause and consider your life right now. You can even journal your answer right in the book! Each reading ends with a Scripture passage and a Prayer. So the book is suitable as a daily devotional. However, the stories and advice will be useful to anyone, regardless of religious beliefs. AND… I am giving away a FREE copy to one lucky winner! Keep reading to see how to enter the giveaway.
Jen McDonald’s book helps military families find control in the chaos
Much of McDonald’s advice in “You Are Not Alone” is about handling the constant changes in military life. I particularly related to the reading called ‘Learning to Let Go.’ McDonald writes, “If you can’t change the world, you can move the furniture.” She meant that when military life seems out of control, find one thing you can control, like going for a walk or cooking a favorite recipe. This is precisely the advice I suggested in my article about handling stress during PCS and deployments.
In another reading, ‘Living in the Pause’, McDonald perfectly captures the awkward state of life when you first arrive at a new duty station. You don’t know anyone, and you feel like you are reinventing yourself, while mourning the life you left behind. McDonald writes, “Recognize this time as an opportunity to start fresh… None of us enjoy saying goodbye to comfortable situations, yet by shifting perspective ever so slightly, “life in the pause” can turn out to be an unexpected gift.” (p.68)
“You Are Not Alone” gives military spouses a positive attitude
The book provides plenty of humor paired with encouraging advice. In one reading, McDonald warns military spouses to beware of saying “I could do anything but that.” In her case, that meant getting through her first winter in North Dakota with her husband deployed. Of course, winter is precisely when his deployment orders came, so she had to figure out the snow blower on her own. So many military spouses have a similar mental block. I have been guilty of it myself. “I can do anything except have a baby during a deployment.” “I could never have a baby while living overseas.” “We could never take young children on a week-long camping trip across the country.” But of course military life destined us to do all those things. And you know what? None of them were as bad as I was fearing!
One of the funniest readings in “You Are Not Alone” is called ‘The Purple Wig.’ McDonald writes about the goofy costume accessories she wore to get her children to laugh during one of their Dad’s deployments. It was a great plan, until the day she answered the door with googly-eye glasses. Oops! I liked brainstorming answers to the reflection question in that section: How do you add moments of lightness to trying times like deployment? My children and I could all benefit from some lighter moments during deployments.
“You Are Not Alone” offers practical advice for military spouses
Jen McDonald’s book is not just humorous stories from her own experience. She includes some practical guidance and advice for surviving military life. For example, in ‘Hello Again,’ she gives advice for handling the Reintegration period after deployment. She advises “Name the feelings, and know that they are common… Walk a mile in their shoes… It’s not a contest… and be honest.” Whether you are a new military spouse, or have already handled several deployments, this advice is universally helpful and true.
Finally, I valued McDonald’s insight about friendships in ‘Unexpected Friends.’ She explains that military spouses need a combination of different types of friends, because each will touch our lives in different ways. She lists The Go-Getter, the Listening Ear, the Fun Friend, The Mentor, and The Civilian as essential members of every military spouse’s circle of friends. I am a strong believer in the importance of building a village (or tribe) of friends. This can be exhausting to repeat every time you move, but it will often be a military spouse’s best support system during training and deployment. Like McDonald, I have almost each of these friends covered. No matter what I need, I know where to turn, and someone is there to assist me. If you haven’t yet built your circle, then the “You Are Not Alone” book is a great place to start.
How to get a copy of the “You Are Not Alone” book
There are two ways to get a copy of this excellent military spouse book. First, you can buy a copy on Amazon for $9.95 paperback or $4.99 Kindle eBook. Both are a great deal, since this is an easy read. You could space it out and do one reading a day for 30 days… or gobble it up in a few sittings as I did. Yeah, it’s that good! The second way to get a copy is to win one for FREE! To enter the giveaway, enter your name below. In 2 weeks, I will enter the names into a random selection program, and I will email the winner so they can receive a free copy of their book. Go ahead and sign up now!
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