The Lifegiver Podcast with Corie Weathers

Lifegiver aims to be a positive place where military (and first responder) couples can experience positive clinical advice on topics that are unique to their culture as well as high quality uplifting interviews from others who have brought purpose out of their circumstances. Are you a military spouse? A police officer? Firefighter? Service member? The Lifegiver Podcast aims to bring hope into your home.

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Season 7: Reconnect

This season is all about reconnecting to the things that matter most. Join us for a new season of hope, recentering, and finding the true meaning of joy. 


Saturday Jun 02, 2018

What could be more honest than a conversation with my own teenager? I could not have a series on Generation Z without bringing one in on the podcast. In this interview, I give Aidan full permission to honestly talk with me about his experiences at school with bullying, active shooter drills, academics, and what it is like to be a military kid that moves around a lot.

Tuesday May 15, 2018

Do you have a pre-teen or teenager? I am so excited to share with you my interview with Gary Allen Taylor from Axis. Axis is an organization whose mission is to empower the next generation to think clearly and critically about what they believe and to take ownership of their faith. They do this not by outsourcing parents, but by resourcing them to disciple and transfer legacy to their children as they face life’s questions and challenges. We also support faith leaders in churches and schools by providing content and facilitators who effectively introduce and address life’s toughest topics. Raising Generation Z kids is all about having the right information and tools to parent in a loving and effective way. You will love the approach Axis is taking to equip you. Don't forget to sign up for their FREE newsletter called the Culture Translator. It will arrive in your email box every Friday with updates on what is happening in the culture, conversations your teen might be having at school, as well as tips for conversations you can start with your kids.

Monday Apr 30, 2018

Parenting is hard enough, but raising kids in a lifestyle of service sometimes feels even harder. For military there are constant relocations that make you wonder after a while if you are causing more harm than good. Accepting the call to a service lifestyle is a deeply personal one. Putting your life on the line for country and community is a sacrifice that impacts your entire family. In this interview I speak with Dr Joshua and Christi Straub, a couple doing outstanding work in the field of parenting. Joshua Straub, Ph.D., has two cherished roles—as husband to wife, Christi, and dad Landon and Kennedy. He serves as Marriage and Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources and leads Famous at Home, a company equipping leaders, organizations, military families, and churches in emotional intelligence and family wellness. As a family advocate and professor of child psychology / crisis response, Josh has trained thousands of professionals in crisis response. He also speaks regularly for Joint Special Operations Command and for military families across the country. Josh is author/ coauthor of four books including Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well and creator, along with Christi, of TwentyTwoSix Parenting, an online community of parents offering discipleship tools for their kids. Together, they host the In This Together podcast and their weekly Facebook Live broadcasts reach tens of thousands of families. Joshua and Christi have the "In This Together Podcast" where they address topics on parenting and marriage as well as their 22:6 Parenting Curriculum that gives you everything you could possibly need to succeed as a parent including- - A supportive group environment, - Tools to use with your kids and - Monthly curriculum for you to download each month. To listen to our interview on their "In This Together Podcast", Click the link!

Sunday Apr 15, 2018

There couldn't be a better way to finish the Family Series than for me to interview Kim Weathers, my mother-in law and Matt's mom. She is a proud wife to a retired police officer and also now knows what it's like to have a son in the military. In this sweet interview, Kim shares the challenges of accepting her son's calling into the military, what it has been like to see our family change and go through difficulty, and encourages other family members on how to maintain strong relationship with their serving family members. It was a vulnerable conversation for both of us, but so, so, worth it.

Saturday Mar 31, 2018

In Part 2, I speak specifically to family members rather than service couples. Many families describe visits like walking on eggshells and that is no way to enjoy a visit! If you have not heard Part 1, definitely start there. This offers practical tips for relating to your service family who might be struggling with PTSD, combat stress, or other changes that might stand out to you.

Wednesday Mar 14, 2018

Has the service lifestyle changed you? Most likely it has and trying to explain to your families members how and why is difficult. In response to the requests for advice on how to talk with family, I decided to offer you a 2 part segment where I specifically talk to your family! In this episode, I explain some of the cultural dynamics that have contributed to changes they may have seen in your family. These conversations can trigger lots of emotions, so this is a great episode to share with those you love!

Tuesday Feb 27, 2018

I was asked recently to address how to communicate better with family members- especially when the service lifestyle has changed you and your spouse. This is a sensitive subject so hang on to your seats as we tackle perspective from many angles. This episode is all about how to understand what changes your family might see in you. Sometimes we don't even realize how much we have changed until we go back home. We will talk about how to see your own changes as well as what family might see in you. But what if there are significant changes? What if your spouse has PTSD? Here we start the discussion on what you can do.

Monday Feb 05, 2018

  If you are looking for an inspirational story, this is it. Watch or listen to my interview with Lindsay Swoboda, a military spouse and new blogger. In this interview, she takes us into a difficult season of her marriage where she found herself feeling incredibly disconnected from her husband and decided to make an inspiring change. She took the Sacred Spaces Challenge and committed to pursuing her spouse in a new way for 365 days! She is currently the owner of the Uplifting Anchor blog where she encourages other military spouses in their everyday experiences. Find a link to her blog in the links above!  

Sunday Feb 04, 2018

In this amazing story, Tiffany Smiley shares her journey of excitement as a new military spouse and then tragically becoming a caregiver of her husband who was blinded during his first deployment. Over the course of more than 10 years, Tiffany gave everything she had to her husband and family only to burnout and ask whether God loved her or had a purpose for her. In her vulnerable story, she shares how she came back from a very dark place, renewed her mind, and discovered her purpose in bringing hope to others asking the same questions. Tiffany announces her upcoming conference in Washington state where she can help you write your story, be inspired, and discover a sense of purpose yourself. For more on Tiffany's Story of Faith Conference, visit her website    

Tuesday Jan 30, 2018

Sometimes we just need a place to share our story. Every single one of us has been through something difficult and made it through. I love a good story- one that inspires me to think bigger, live bigger, and love bigger. What I want is to provide a place of encouragement where YOU can share your story with the hope of encouraging someone else. This video will walk you through how to develop your story in a way that will inspire someone else. I hope you will join me.

Thursday Nov 09, 2017

In response to the growing number of "listeners" rather than "watchers", Lifegiver returns to it's audio version. In this series, I return from a recent sabbatical to talk with you about how often times, "good things" can be just as distracting as "bad things". In a service culture, we are often tempted to help, serve, volunteer, or do "more". What if too much of that is pulling you away from your best potential?

Thursday Aug 31, 2017

In this episode, I talk about the similarities and differences found between military and first responder communities and why we need to find ways to better support each other.

Monday Aug 14, 2017

In this interview, Jonathan and Kylie share their experience as a law enforcement couple. Jonathan is part of the Dallas Fort Worth Police Department and shares his experience navigating the chaotic schedules and adrenaline spiked work days. Kylie shares how they have navigated keeping their relationship connected and the similarities they see with the military world.

Tuesday Aug 01, 2017

Last time on the Lifegiver Podcast, Matt and I started a conversation about Christian marriage.  In response to my message in Sacred Spaces that we should be pursuing our spouse, I commonly get emails that sound like this... "How long should I pursue my spouse when they aren't reciprocating?" "What if my service member came home different and neglects me and our family?" "How long must I lead before my husband picks up his role as the spiritual leader of our home? These are tough questions and the root issue here is... "How do we address sin in a christian marriage?" -Here is some of what you can expect in Part 2: -Matt and I continue our discussion on gender roles in a godly marriage  -We share some of our own story of how we addressed unmet expectations in our marriage   -Matt talks to service members who have come home different and need hope

Saturday Jul 15, 2017

Every marriage will deal with sin- that is a fact. But when there are destructive patterns like betrayal, addiction, and selfish behavior, what does it actually mean to love like Christ? How do you selflessly serve when firm boundaries need to happen in your relationship? Matt joins me for a 2 part episode on understanding scripture on marriage roles, submission, and dealing with sin.

Friday Jun 30, 2017

Known in the military world as Mama Suzie, Suzie Schwartz has rightfully earned her spot as a mentor for military spouses. Her husband Norton was the Joint Chief of Staff for the Air Force and together they inspired thousands. In this candid and inspirational interview, Suzie shares her wisdom on geo-baching, marriage during a 39 year service to the military, and how she uses her message of kindness to change the world.

Thursday Jun 15, 2017

In this sweet, but candid, interview- Deanie Dempsey shares how she and her husband kept their marriage strong after over 30 years in military service. Her husband, General Martin Dempsey was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff- overseeing the Joint Chiefs of all branches and reporting to the president.

Thursday Jun 01, 2017

In this candid interview, Matthew asks Corie questions without any prep ahead of time. This heartfelt and sweet interview brings out some of Corie's story, but also the drive she has, and why Wonder Woman is (really) her hero.

Monday May 15, 2017

After presenting "The Hero's Journey" at the The Military Spouse of the Year Town Hall in Washington, DC, many remarked that it was very helpful to their journey and wanted it available to share. Every one of us is capable of becoming our own hero as we invest in lives around us- hopefully seeing the hero in them as well.

Friday Apr 14, 2017

We all have hope for a marriage that lasts and is fulfilling. What we often don't expect is how hard it will be when we disagree with our spouse on important values, military marriage problems or finding ourselves moving at a different pace. I haven't met anyone who married thinking, "Gee, I don't plan on making this last." Setbacks can happen when we are least expecting it. An injury while training for a physical goal or a career put on hold for a relocation can be incredibly disappointing and discouraging. You may even be tempted to quit. Most couples have at least one area of their relationship that they are hoping to improve or fix. Parenting, finances and even sex can lead to heated disagreements and (hopefully) deciding together on ways to get on the same page and work together. Life's interruptions or an impulsive decision by one of you can make it feel as if you will never reach that goal. In that moment or setback, quitting feels like a very real option. Sometimes, there are very minor consequences to military marriage problems or a setback that only require a deep breath, a good night's sleep, and starting again tomorrow. But destructive choices such as too much video gaming or pornography use by one spouse can cause even bigger consequences, including feeling like this is a major rift in your ability to be a couple. For some, the marriage is already on thin ice if you are working through serious issues such as overcoming infidelity or addiction. Destructive scenarios like these involve a more detailed process of change and support to gain traction. You may feel like the setbacks will never stop, and you will never be able to move forward. No matter what you are dealing with as a couple, whether it's small or large, setbacks are more likely than not to happen as you work toward a new pattern of behavior for both of you. But that doesn't mean all hope is lost. With a few tools in your pocket, you can move through them. Instead of giving up, try these three steps. 1. Hit a pause button. Learning to develop self-control and hit a pause button when things get complicated is a great practice in general. Self-control gives you the opportunity to think through what is happening, feel any feelings that are naturally there and gain perspective. Relocations and deployments are a natural interruption in the military lifestyle when everything feels out of order. Basic needs such as food, shelter and safety all take priority, and you might feel distracted from the intense focus you had as a couple. For example, if you were dependent before your move on a counselor or group for support, it will take some time to find that again. Try not to rush yourself or your spouse through what you were working through when these bumps come along. Instead, agree on a healthy timeframe to reconnect with support or resume the plan when you are both ready. Having grace for each other and getting on the same page are more important than aggressively working on the goal. If you find your spouse is not as motivated as you are, invest your energy toward your part by reading an extra book on the subject or taking a deeper look through journaling. The important thing here is that you process how you are feeling about what happened and avoid doing your spouse's work. 2. Check your progress. The actual definition of a "setback" involves a "check in progress." Most of us see it as a failure, but it is actually an opportunity to think through the progress you are making -- or not making. In addiction recovery, we teach that relapse is not necessary for recovery but can be "part of the process" if it happens. Setbacks can provide an opportunity to take a look at the deeper issues that caused it so you can avoid similar mistakes in the future. If you move too quickly, you will miss huge revelations of yourself, your spouse and your relationship. If you are dealing with a bigger issue such as rebuilding trust, a professional counselor can help you find these answers and build greater empathy for each other. Keep in mind that stressful times such as deployment, reintegration, relocations or trauma can trigger setbacks or relapses, making them more likely to occur. If this is an intense time for your family, be graceful if the setback happened by learning more about each other and doing a good check on whether the path you were on is working. If you know you are going into an intense season, discuss ways to be proactive to prevent one. 3. Move forward. If your spouse caused your setback, it can be incredibly discouraging to think about moving forward. How many setbacks are too many before you should give up? If you are struggling with this question, finding a counselor to talk to will help you determine what is right for your family. If you caused a setback, the shame is equally debilitating. Even when you don't feel like it, take the next healthy step forward. In recovery, there is a phrase -- "fake it till you make it." It doesn't mean you should be inauthentic. It means you decide to take the next step even when you don't feel like it. Eventually, your motivation will come back. Shame (in you or your spouse) spirals into an unproductive place and is not the same thing as processing the present disappointment. Sometimes, the next step is a willingness to physically reach out and hold your spouse's hand again. Embrace that mistakes in our own lives and our spouses are part of being human. One of my favorite phrases is "start simply, but simply start" and is likely to get you going again. Every couple has military marriage problems and issues to work through, which means setbacks are going to happen. Who will you be when it happens to you?

Saturday Apr 01, 2017

In this final episode in the Parenting series we are talking about how to apply Steven Covey's Win-Win habit of 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families to parenting. Trying to get your kids to do chores can be a chore itself often leaving you feeling you are on the losing end. As kids get older, they start wanting to find ways of being on the winning end as well. Win-Win can help you both feel successful while your kids are motivate by their freedom to choose what they do. I also take some time to talk about how teens develop and how you can better understand what is motivating your teen to find his or her peer group or apply themselves to their school work.

Tuesday Mar 14, 2017

On this episode of Lifegiver, I sit down with my good friend Pam Brummett who has raised three fantastic kids, two of them still in high school. It turns out the military doesn't ruin your kids :)

Wednesday Mar 01, 2017

Bullying is a worldwide epidemic that impacts both children and adults. In today’s culture, we see cyber-bullying impacting adults like never before. Divisive conversations over social media, trolling, and mean-ness is causing people to think twice about staying connected online. During this episode in the parenting series, I sit down with Dr. Bina Patel an expert in workplace dynamics, conflict mediation with women, and conflict mediation between culture/religious groups. Dr. Patel offers strategies you can use in your workplace, volunteer circles and with your kids on how to confront bullies and build confidence. In today’s culture, ♣ 30% of teens in the US have experienced bullying ♣ School bullying: 1 in 4 kids at school have been bullied; 160K kids in the US miss school due to bullying ♣ Gay bullying: 2 to 3times more likely to commit suicide and 30% of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis in the US. ♣ 9 out of 10 LGBT students have reported being bullied at school within the past year. It’s not just for kids, though. Bullying between adults can make the workplace difficult to walk into each day. While many of us grew up being told to ignore a bully, Dr. Patel offers some ways to confront the bully immediately. Dr. Patel offers us an inspiring way to help our children build their self-esteem, find their words, get to the root of their feelings, and become assertive. Of course we all need a little bit of this too! Here are a few tips and resources that Dr. Patel offered: ♣ Confront the bully: don’t ignore it. Turn the negative into a compliment ♣ Love and respect: be confident and love yourself. If you respect yourself, the negativity and harsh words of the bullying will bounce off of you. – you control your own emotions, if you believe that you do, others will not be able to hurt you. ♣ Tell them to stop: point out they’re hurting you (assertive communication) – use the “put yourself in my shoes” technique. ♣ Silence: specific to online bullying- confront them through assertive communication, but do not continue the dialog. This is more harmful to the victim as others are reading it and it is set in writing. Note: if nothing else works, the silent treatment is the best treatment. As the victim, walk away from the bullying. ♣ Online bullying: block posts, delete the posts, report them to Facebook; reach out to the victim either via separate/private message, or stand up for the victim by responding to a bully’s post (assertive communication). Note to Parents: Know your child – know their behaviors, moods, and what makes them tick/happy. If you are cognizant of their behaviors on a normal basis, you will know that something is wrong if your child does not eat, becomes withdrawn, looks sad, etc. Monitor the social media outlets that your child may be using. It is wise to create an account to monitor them, more so that you are aware if someone is bullying them. Be a friend! When your child is depressed, sad, withdrawn, etc, talk them as though you are friends. It is important so that the child feels comfortable they can tell you what is on their mind. One of the books recommended: Confessions of a Former Bully

Thursday Feb 16, 2017

Marriage can often feel like a partnership more than a marriage during the years of raising kids. So many families talk about missing the intimacy they used to have and life feeling more like survival. Sure enough, it can feel like you are more shoulder-to-shoulder during this season. In this episode, we talk about how you can make more face-to-face time with your spouse as well as find ways to be more protective of it during the parenting years. We will talk about how to handle conflict, plan dates, as well as navigate the struggle of different parenting styles. A must-listen for military and first responder couples who often feel like ships passing in the night. Here is what others have said: 1. Always make an effort to treat each other as we would a guest in our home. Common courtesy and everyday kindness makes all the difference in the world. A simple "Can I get you anything" or "Can I help with that" have kept our marriage first. 2. Staying positive is really important and although it can be challenging at times I have found it always helps us get back to that sweet spot we long for. 3. Taking even ten minutes to talk to each other. It could be at 0500 or 2200....but either way, just spend some time not on an electronic device (provided they are not thousands of miles away at the time) and asking the other person about their day. We attend Bible studies and church functions where we can grow spiritually while the kids are doing the same. As the kids get older, the minutes will be easier to turn into hours. But for the very small and precious time the kids are little, my best advice is to make the most quality out of the little bits of time.

Wednesday Feb 01, 2017

Lifegiver is BACK with an all new episode! Welcome to 2017! I've returned from a sabbatical and have been thinking a lot about compassion fatigue and burnout. No doubt that I have seen this in my own life, but what if it is a bigger problem than we realize in our community? If you are burned out from volunteering or giving all of your compassion away to the outside world- you are not alone. In this episode, we will talk about how to know if you are struggling with compassion fatigue and ways you can get yourself back on track and healthy again. It is a big problem, especially if you have nothing left to offer your marriage or family. Military and First Responders have the most difficult time saying "NO" when their entire world revolves around service.

Thursday Jan 12, 2017

Dr. Mike Sytsma is one of the most respected Christian Sex Therapists in the US. Based out of Atlanta, his office, Building Intimate Marriages, sees mostly couples who feel sexually "incompatible" or are post-affair. Most of his post-affair couples continue on to find new hope in their marriage. In this candid interview (FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY), I ask Dr. Sytsma all the questions I believe we are often most afraid to ask, especially as it relates to military specific issues that interfere with a healthy sex life. We discuss what couples can do during and after deployments, how to protect your marriage from affairs, and what you can do to start healing if your marriage is broken because of one. You can find all of the resources Dr. Mike mentioned in the link provided. Special thank you to for allowing me to host the Military Spouse Wellness Summit 2016 where I interviewed Dr. Mike and allowing me to post this extended version of that interview here.

Saturday Dec 31, 2016

Who would have ever thought that we needed help with making friends? In the military, we have to make them quickly. In the first responder world, they are necessary to get through daily chaos. In both worlds, they are crucial to survival but did you know that we need to be working on this area of our life? According to Shasta Nelson, author of Frientimacy, we can't just tell someone our life story and suddenly be BFF's. In this episode, Shasta will explain the process of friendship and the importance of understanding just how deep and intimate the relationship actually is. What if you are more serious about the friendship than they are? What if you are incompatible? Can we be friends with the opposite sex?

Thursday Dec 15, 2016

Dr. Parrott is a New York Times Best Selling Author along with his wife Leslie Parrott, a marriage and family therapist. In 1991, the Parrotts founded the Center for Relationship Development on the campus of Seattle Pacific University – a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships. The Parrotts have been featured in USA Today and the New York Times. Their television appearances include CNN, The View, The O’Reilly Factor, The Today Show and Oprah. As #1 New York Times best-selling authors, their books have sold over two million copies in more than two dozen languages, and include best-selling and Gold-medallion winner Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Other popular titles include Real Relationships, L.O.V.E., The Parent You Want To Be, Trading Places, The Complete Guide To Marriage Mentoring and Love Talk. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott In this interview, I talk with Dr. Parrott about his 4 myths of marriage and how they might apply specifically to military families.

Thursday Dec 01, 2016

In this incredibly moving interview, Taya Kyle opens up about her marriage to the love of her life Chris Kyle. Chris was tragically murdered during the filming of American Sniper, forcing Taya to find a way to move forward with the legacy he was building while mourning his loss. Today, Taya continues to carry out that legacy by investing in military and first responder marriages through the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. CKFF offers Date Night Out's, Revitalization Retreats for couples, Spouse Retreats, and more. During the 2016 Military Spouse Wellness Summit, Taya shared her wisdom about marriage, perspective on military deployments, what she believed Chris needed from her, as well as how faith has played a role in her moving forward. - If you are married... this episode is for you. - If you have lost someone... this episode is for you - If you are going through a difficult season... this episode is for you - If you are wondering where God is...this episode is for you - If you are looking for hope... this episode is for you This extended interview includes additional questions about her faith, her perspective on the Sacred Spaces of her life being made extremely public, and more. For more information on the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation:

Tuesday Nov 15, 2016

Does it seem strange to you that it is healthy to have boundaries in marriage? This comes as a surprise to many. Why would I want to have boundaries? Shouldn't we share everything? Couples without boundaries run the risk of becoming enmeshed, chaotic, and not knowing who is responsible for what. I could not be more excited to share this interview with you. I have been a huge fan of Dr. John Townsend for a long time. Often times, the issues I see in the counseling office come down to boundaries- or a lack of. I have recommended his books to more people than I can count. I have seen so many, including me, go on to find freedom and increased connectedness in relationships from learning how to have healthy boundaries. If you were not able to attend the Military Spouse Wellness Summit put on by and sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance, never fear. I am pleased to offer you 5 of the most outstanding interviews from the Summit, uncut, and including additional questions just for the Lifegiver audience. As I take a brief sabbatical, I hope you will enjoy these interviews with fantastic guests like Taya Kyle, Dr. Leslie Parrott and more. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and join me with Dr. John Townsend. Books recommended from today's interview: Boundaries Series: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No-To Take Control of Your Life Boundaries in Marriage Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way

Tuesday Nov 01, 2016

The power of our words is absolutely necessary to us understanding our influence in the relationships around us. In my year of becoming more intentional in my marriage, I have been thinking more about what it means to pay attention to the words that I speak over my marriage and family. For some of you, the idea of a "Blessing" sounds like something from an old country church or maybe something that doesn't happen anymore. What I want to tell you in today's podcast is that our words have an incredible impact in what the people around us think of us, of themselves, and their identity. Today's episode is all about the month of November inviting us to be more grateful, especially as we are entering a season of family and often the tension it brings. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, or maybe go for a run and let's talk more about the power of the words we use and the words said to us.

Sunday Oct 16, 2016

We all likely remember our first move in the military. Filled with doubt, excitement, adventure, and fear- we learn to navigate the new community, acronyms, and the importance of that ID card. In this raw interview, Claire Wood shares her story that she recounts in her book: Mission Ready Marriage: My Life as An Active Duty Wife. Claire could not be more vulnerable as she shares the anxiety of leaving everything and everyone she knew to start a new adventure with her husband as an Army Wife. Deployment was tough, but reintegration was tougher. Many of us wish we had the guts to be as honest as Claire is as she shares her confusion with wanting to be reunited with her soldier, but struggling with the independence required by spouses during deployment. In Claire's fantastic book, she not only tells her personal story, but includes reflections on what she and her husband needed and how God has brought purpose out of her challenges and victories. You will not want to miss this one and you will definitely want to share it with someone who is going through their first deployment and reintegration.

Saturday Oct 15, 2016

If you have kids, you don't want to miss this episode. My kids have been begging to be a part of the Lifegiver Podcast, and I thought it would be a great idea to interview them on what it is honestly like to be a military kid. Aidan is 12, and in his second year of middle school. Jackson is 9, and in 4th grade. We sat down for an unscripted interview where I encouraged them to be honest about their life and experiences, both the good and the bad. They share some of their struggles and successes, so you will definitely want to let your kids listen. This is a great one to listen to while in the car and then talk about it at the dinner table later. Dinners together as a family have shown in research to be one of the biggest keys to a successful, connected family. While at dinner, ask your kids what their thoughts were about the podcast, what they identified with, agreed wth, or disagreed with. Special thank you to Kelly Keseecker's son Carter for his courageous Shout Out and Janine Boldrin from, Chameleon Kids Magazine, for hers as well. You can find out more about Chameleon Kids Magazine, the only magazine for military kids, by military kids, here.

Saturday Oct 01, 2016

It's another episode of Lifegiver and I am here to announce some really fun changes and new updates. Some of you said you would love to have access to webinars and various forms of media, so today I am pleased to offer two versions of the podcast. Today is all about the new vision of Lifegiver and it shouldn't be a surprise to most of you.

Friday Sep 30, 2016

Today's episode is unpolished and raw- well maybe not emotionally- but definitely unpolished. I want to give updates on how life has been since coming out with the book as well as how living intentionally has changed me as a person and my relationship. I will talk through how you can join the campaign and create lasting changing in your own marriage as well as exciting updates on interviews coming soon!

Thursday Sep 15, 2016

We are in the middle of our Sacred Spaces Series on the Lifegiver Podcast and today's interview is a special one. Those of you who have read Sacred Spaces will remember Amanda Marr as the Gold Star Widow I have the honor of serving back in 2009. One of my most Sacred Spaces from that deployment, Amanda joins me on the podcast to have an honest discussion on what it was like to receive notification of her soldier's death, how she took care of herself, and her process to where she is now. This is an inspiring podcast for any listener. Amanda shares her honest thoughts on what makes a Care Team successful as well as tips she has learned about marriage now that she is remarried to an Army soldier. You will be empowered, encouraged, and gain new perspective on your own marriage. Amanda Marr (left), Maria Cordova, Corie Weathers, Venessa Adelson (Gold Star Mother) at White House Medal of Honor Ceremony If you have not read Sacred Spaces, order now! Hundreds are already talking about how my story of being intentional in my marriage is inspiring them to do the same. If you have enjoyed Sacred Spaces, I'd love to hear about it! Join the Sacred Spaces Campaign, by committing to be more intentional in your own marriage. It is simple and free and you will receive a FREE Commitment Card to help you walk through your commitment.

Wednesday Aug 31, 2016

Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage comes out August 1 and will be available where most books are sold (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc). In celebration of the launch, I wanted to do a podcast series called the Sacred Spaces Series. During this series, I will be talking about common themes our service members and spouses go through during deployments, separations, as well as reintegrations. There will be interviews with key people from the book that shared sacred spaces with Matt and I as well as those I met during the trip with the secretary of defense. There will also be an interview with Matt where we talk about how Sacred Spaces can make a difference in your marriage. So, what is a Sacred Space? I will talk about that in this episode, but here is an easy definition: Many of us, spouses and service members, experience Sacred Spaces separately during trainings and deployments. After a while, it can feel like we are living independent lives more than a together life. This creates many opportunities for misunderstanding and disconnect. In this episode, I wanted to talk about what you can do if your service member comes home with mild, moderate, or severe changes from deployment. I will also address how you can care for yourself so that you can give your best to your marriage. More than anything, I want your marriage to succeed. Because of that, I am inviting you to join the Sacred Spaces Campaign. The Campaign is simple, I just want you to be intentional in your marriage. Only you know what your relationship needs right now. Only you know what the next step is. The Sacred Spaces Campaign invites you to take three steps: 1. Order and read the book Sacred Spaces. It is my story of how being intentional made a difference in my marriage 2. Join the Sacred Spaces Campaign by committing to be intentional. You will get a FREE Sacred Spaces Intentional Marriage Challenge Commitment Card that will help you identify your intentional commitment, nail down the length of time you want to try it out, as well as encourage accountability to follow through. 3. Share your story. Our stories are powerful, and so will yours be. If your service member came home different... if your marriage is different... you are not alone.

Monday Aug 15, 2016

Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage comes out August 1 and will be available where most books are sold (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc). In celebration of the launch, I wanted to do a podcast series called the Sacred Spaces Series. During this series, I will be talking about common themes our service members and spouses go through during deployments, separations, as well as reintegrations. There will be interviews with key people from the book that shared sacred spaces with Matt and I as well as those I met during the trip with the secretary of defense. There will also be an interview with Matt where we talk about how Sacred Spaces can make a difference in your marriage. So, what is a Sacred Space? I will talk about that in this episode, but here is an easy definition: Many of us, spouses and service members, experience Sacred Spaces separately during trainings and deployments. After a while, it can feel like we are living independent lives more than a together life. This creates many opportunities for misunderstanding and disconnect. In this episode, I wanted to talk about what you can do if your service member comes home with mild, moderate, or severe changes from deployment. I will also address how you can care for yourself so that you can give your best to your marriage. More than anything, I want your marriage to succeed. Because of that, I am inviting you to join the Sacred Spaces Campaign. The Campaign is simple, I just want you to be intentional in your marriage. Only you know what your relationship needs right now. Only you know what the next step is. The Sacred Spaces Campaign invites you to take three steps: 1. Order and read the book Sacred Spaces. It is my story of how being intentional made a difference in my marriage 2. Join the Sacred Spaces Campaign by commiting to be intentional. You will get a FREE Sacred Spaces Intentional Marriage Challenge Commitment Card that will help you identify your intentional commitment, nail down the length of time you want to try it out, as well as encourage accountability to follow through. 3. Share your story. Our stories are powerful, and so will yours be. If your service member came home different... if your marriage is different... you are not alone.

Sunday May 15, 2016

If we were honest, many of us would admit that we do not fully understand the current efforts against ISIS. Sure, I think we know the basics- many of which include how our own homes feel a little more vulnerable to the threat of terrorism more than 10 years ago. There is much debate on US involvement against ISIS, whether we should lead out in taking them down or even be involved at all. During my trip with the SECDEF, one of my favorite moments was watching the media have time with COL Steve Warren in Baghdad and Erbil, Iraq. COL Warren is the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in Iraq. What that means is that he is THE person that is responsible for helping all of us, including all American citizens understand what our US military is doing as ISIS continues to threaten the middle east. He is often seen on major networks (CNN, FOX News, NBC, etc) giving updates on the US-led coalition. Now I am willing to play the ignorant card and say there was so much I wasn’t paying attention to, including where some of our troops are in Iraq, what exactly their mission is, and what ISIS has been trying to do. I think I am not the only one. Most likely, you are more like me unless you are heavily involved with foreign policy. It was a huge wake-up call for me as I listened to COL Warren in Baghdad on how little I understood about how our news is made and how much I needed to do to educate myself. In this awesome interview, COL Warren gives some of his time to explain ISIS, Operation Inherent Resolve, and how we can support our troops over there. He has a great way of explaining the complex dynamics of this fight in a way that anyone can understand. Stay tuned to the end where you will hear his person “Shout Out” to all of you and how you can have powerful influence into your service member’s heart.

Sunday May 01, 2016

I recently put out a survey and asked for your feedback on what you have enjoyed from the Lifegiver Podcast and what you would like to hear more of. Overwhelmingly, many said they enjoy hearing real content and me opening up a little more. In this episode, I get very real and share with you the 5 biggest lessons I learned this year. I can tell you that this year was a massive character overhaul for me. I had those in my most inner circle praying for me during times that I felt that I was having to find strength to overcome insecurity and develop the courage and confidence to complete the task in front of me. So in this episode, I open up and talk about what that was like for me and the lessons I learned. I firmly believe these are lessons that all of us need to learn at some point. You will also hear about what the year ahead looks like and how you can join me in making our marriages great.

Tuesday Mar 15, 2016

The top three conflicts that couples come into counseling for involve sex, family, and money. Getting on the same page with our spouse when it comes to spending and saving money is not easy. Many couples find themselves in debt due to student loans, multiple relocations, and as Dave Ramsey calls them stupid-tax decisions (spending choices we make and regret). In this interview on Lifegiver and I am thrilled to have William (Bill) Lockard with 227 Financial Coaching join me in a fantastic discussion on how money impacts our relationships. Bill is a retired Army Officer that experienced the stress of debt in his own life. In this interview he shares his story of how he and his wife changed their perspective on money which set them up for success in their future. As the head coach of 227 Financial Coaching, his passion now is to bring that hope to other families. Listen now to my interview with Bill Lockard as he shares wisdom on financial topics that trip up many couples including: What do I do if my spouse doesn't want to change money habits? How can I get through a PCS (relocation) without going further into debt? How can I plan for retirement/transitioning out of the military? How can young families start now to make wise financial decisions? More on Bill Lockard and 227 Financial Coaching: Bill Lockard is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Army on active duty for 21 years. He fought in Operation Desert Storm and commanded a howitzer battery while deployed to Bosnia. He deployed to Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and several times to Kuwait and Egypt. He holds master degrees in Public Administration and Managerial Science. After retiring, Bill followed his passion to help military families by becoming a trained Financial Coach. He works one on one with service members and their families to pay off their debt and build wealth. Bill is the head coach at 227 Financial Coaching where he reminds people according to Proverbs 22:7 “The borrower is the slave to the lender”. Don’t be a slave!

Tuesday Mar 01, 2016

One of my favorite things about the last year has been the number of spouses I have spoken with in every season of life. I have thoroughly enjoyed the multi-generational village we live in. It has been very interesting for me to also hear the concerns that each generation has about our community. There are values, opinions, and frustrations that each generation has about where our community has been, where it is now, and hopes for what it can be in the future. I can tell you that our oldest generation, those that are possibly in retirement, were part of a time when there was little to no support for spouses and their families. In response, this incredible generation built the much needed support they needed. Overtime, the military valued their efforts and backed it with the finances and programming that we now have today. On the contrary, the youngest generation has been raised on the convenience of the digital world where most of their connection is with those they have already established relationships from a distance. Our culture is going through a generational shift. Our roles are changing and some of us don’t even realize it. In this podcast, I talk about the benefits of our village and help you see just how valuable of a role you play.

Friday Jan 01, 2016

Happy New Year! Lifegiver is back with an all new episode that is perfect for every parent. This week I interview Jennifer Hamrick- military spouse to an Army Chaplain, homeschool mom, and blogger. She may not say it herself, she is far too humble, but she is a mentor to so many on so many things "motherhood". I have sought her wisdom on many occasions and watched as she patiently disciplined her 4 boys all while homeschooling them all. With a degree in Early Childhood Education, she has been on both sides of the issue and can speak to all of us regardless of where our children get their education. In this candid talk, we discuss her journey in deciding to homeschool as well as how she has navigated balancing taking care of herself and marriage. She and I discuss the stigmas for both sides, including the assumption that homeschool students struggle with social skills as well as perceived judgement for those who don't homeschool. You will also find TONS of resources from Jennifer as she shares her best tried and true websites, curriculum, and books that have helped guide her and keep her successful (and sane) as a mom and teacher. More than anything, allow her humility and words encourage you. We can all learn from each other and find ways to speak life into each others’ situation. Jennifer's Blog: The Hamricks: A Mom, a Dad, and 4 boys Here are some of the resources Jennifer mentions: Managers of Their Homes : A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families (includes Scheduling Kit), by Steve & Teri Maxwell. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to go to bed each night, with the peace of mind that you accomplished what you wanted to each day, such as a clean house, AND homeschooling? Our Cozy Den: The Adventures of 2 Stay-at-Home Parents and their 4 Crazy Kids Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) When two attorneys and homeschooling dads—Mike Farris and Mike Smith—founded Home School Legal Defense Association in March 1983, homeschooling was just a tiny blip on the educational radar screen. The age-old concept of parents teaching their children at home had fallen into obscurity. Families who chose such a “nontraditional” education route often encountered opposition, sometimes even legal challenges, from the educational bureaucracy as well as from their own friends and relatives. Seeing a need for affordable legal advocacy, the two Mikes joined forces to establish a nonprofit ministry to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Homeschooling for the Rest of Us: How Your One-of-a-Kind Family Can Make Homeschooling and Real Life Work by Sonya Haskins Hello Mornings Based on the free eBook, Maximize Your Mornings by Kat Lee, the HelloMornings challenge was birthed to encourage Christian women toward the life-giving habit of waking up FOR their lives instead of TO their lives. The first challenge formed back in August 2010 and has grown to a movement of thousands of women in countries around the world, with over 200 volunteer leaders. Our motto is “God.Plan.Move.” and we aim to empower women to spend time with God, plan their day and make healthy choices first thing in the morning. In just a few minutes each morning, we can attend to the most important aspects of our lives – our relationship with God, planning, and improving our health. The goal isn’t overnight transformation, but slow and steady progress toward life long habits that radically change the direction of our lives and allow us to thrive in whatever role God has given us. Time4Learning •Accelerate your child's learning through online self-paced study. •Save the time you spend on planning and reporting to focus on what's important. Having fun helping your child learn and grow. •Give your child the right tools to build his or her confidence and self esteem through a well rounded education. •Remove the stress from the homeschooling process, so you can spend more quality time with your child. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann

Saturday Dec 19, 2015

After a whirlwind trip to the Middle East with the Secretary of Defense, Matt and I sit down just three days after I returned to talk about what the project was like for both of us. Although I hoped to make a difference in spouses' understanding of their service members, I could not have anticipated how much Matt's voice would also have an impact. Of course, I think he is amazing, but his perspective on what it was like to stay home while I was away resonated for so many military spouses. Here in our Reintegration Video, we discuss our thoughts together and answer questions you submitted on what it was like to reverse roles.

Friday Dec 18, 2015

I had the most awesome day ever! I got to ride in a MH-53 Helicopter - like 4 times! I got to ride out to the Charles De Gaulle a French Aircraft Carrier Vessel in the Gulf. What’s funny is that the press that I was with was playfully arguing over whether it was the Persian Gulf or the Arabian, so we just agreed its best to call it the Gulf. The Charles De Gaulle was filled with mostly 2,000 French Navy and Marines which is significant in the current war on terror and our efforts to partner with our Allies. This trip was an opportunity for me to be part of history enfolding, watching policy and strategy in our Department of Defense. For the first time in history, the French have more than partnered, they have come up underneath the task forcing of America in order to complete the mission against ISIL. The Charles De Gaulle is part of the nightly air strikes on Syria and Iraq to push back ISIL. The french on board were so gracious and excited to greet us. They took us to their Officer Bar where we drank french coffee and marveled at the swanky bar. It was a beautiful ship in and out. I had the honor to speak with a French fighter pilot who is one of the service members helping us make a difference. We talked about how much he loves his job, the favorite part being his love of taking off on the aircraft carrier. He was also vulnerable about the pain of dropping bombs but that it is part of the mission. They were so excited to partner with America, that we had so much they could learn from. It was also a wonderful opportunity for me to see how international military families also have benefits and programming with help them with needs the family might have. The ship’s hangar was filled with French fighter aircraft and the Secretary made sure to thank them before we had to jump on the elevator, a huge platform that lifts you to the top deck. That was a fun ride, actually. We got on the helicopters and I was thankful for the crew chief of ours that once I told him who I was and what I was doing, took me under his wing. Everyone has been excited when they hear a spouse has come to see what things are like. They want to show me things, talk to me about what deployment is like and make sure I am where I need to be. True gentlemen and I know Matt appreciated their protective spirits. Honestly, though, most service members I have met- especially those who are married are like that. It’s built in them to be protective. I honestly was amazed at everything I saw today since it wasn’t my branch. The helicopters were smooth, fast, and I sat back and pictured them full of Marines going into a mission. I thought how I don’t think I would have wanted to be on the front line, maybe helicopters were the better way for me. But then I thought about how many of them take our service members past the front line into dangerous situations, and I pictured them sitting across from me as we flew over the water. I would go into danger if it meant bringing them home. Then it clicked why so many, when asked why they do it, say they want to take care of the one next to them. At the USS Kearsarg, another US aircraft carrier, we got to eat in the mess hall. It was a lot smaller than I thought. I was able to speak to two Marines there who were missing their wives and children for Christmas. Overall, talking to all the troops and seeing their eyes light up when they talk about what they love to do was the best. Like one General I spoke with at the end of the day said, “We are a volunteer force. People feel bad for us when we are deployed, but we get to do what we love.” That was a well made point. Here is my #PowerofMarriage for today: 1. Today, I was reminded of the power of purpose. We all need it and we all need the support of our spouse to do it. Whether it is being the best stay at home mom or working on our career, you were built for something and it usually is the thing that gets you most excited and ramped up when you get to do it. If your spouse doesn't have that light in their eyes, talk with them and find out why. You have incredible influence into speaking life giving hope and support in your spouse. Don't misuse that power by neglecting to use it. 2. Try to remember that the "long work days" that your deployed service member says is the reason that they cannot call really may be a long work day. On the ships I went on to, internet/computer time was limited to 30 min for some, leaving the phone the best option. This was the answer I got most often when I asked what spouses don't understand "They can't comprehend that we work sometimes all day." 3. Taking care of yourself is more important than what you get done at home. With Matt and I reversing roles this week, I have seen him tired- all because he wants to make the house perfect for me. I can see now, from this side- that what I really want is for him to take care of him- sleep, exercise, and doing things that make him happy. Helping with the house when I get there will be easy. I wish I would have listened and thought he meant it.

Thursday Dec 17, 2015

Today was emotional for me. Maybe it was the anticipation of knowing this day would resonate the most for me, maybe it was the jet lag. I only had 2.5 hours of sleep. There is a little bit of a lengthy backstory on why this was emotional and there is no way I can explain it all. If you read “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper, you would understand how Matt’s experience during that first deployment made this visit special. I think there is going to be a specific place (or couple of them) for a lot of military families where if it is meaningful to your spouse then it is meaningful to you. Today, FOB (Forward Operating Base) Fenty was the closest I could get to the story of 4th Brigade in 2009-2010, specifically our unit 3rd Squad 61st Cavalry. Fenty held one of the greatest commanders I’ve ever known, and that is from a family perspective. The Colonel (now General) Randy George led our troops through a very tough fighting season where we lost amazing soldiers killed in action. I assisted the senior wives in working with the Gold Star Widows back at home. While Matt wasn’t at Fenty very much, leadership that he will always hold in high esteem was. IMG 3350 copy When we first landed the E4-B in Bagram, I already felt emotional just to be in Afghanistan. We were only there long enough to switch planes. I took my own advice from yesterday and took some video of me transitioning. F-16s were racing down the runway as we walked. Service members on the tarmac were fully kitted up for extra security. I have never flown in a C-130 before and definitely not like we did today. It was screaming is all I can say. Rapid decent, sharp turns, and a fast landing. I can’t believe I haven’t been nervous once during this whole trip. With all the plane rides, landings, etc- I have felt very safe. window SecDef400We were only in the air 30 minutes. When we got off the plane, we did a quick photo with the Secretary and Mrs Carter for Military Spouse Magazine (hope it comes out- it was quick!). Then we were able to go to the USO there at Fenty where whey had Wi-fi. A forward operating base (in my spouse language) is kind of like the main base for the higher headquarters for troops that report back from other more remote places out there, especially in the mountains. You have a lot of remote places where our troops live where they have even less than what I saw in Erbil or here at Fenty. If you have ever seen the documentary Restrepo, this is the kind of area we are talking about. USOReginaI was surprised to see a USO there. I thought it was remote enough that it surprised me. Even more surprising was the sweet woman named Regina who is a USO worker who has lived out here for 5-6 years, just serving our troops. Can you believe that? I had no idea that we had USO workers embedded. I hugged her, teared up and said thank you for the service she provides. She has sacrificed a lot to do what she feels called to do. She brought me out to the memorial where I took a couple of pictures with my 4th ID shirt that Patty George (Gen George’s wife) made for us during the deployment. The troops there were amazing. They are with 10th Mountain Division, several of them scouts or advisors. Regina took me over to them so I could ask them some questions about their families. I think my 4th ID shirt broke the ice a little. When I asked if I could do something, one said, “You’re wearing a 4ID shirt, you can do whatever the hell you want to do.” When I asked what they wished spouses understood, they said that they feel that sometimes family doesn’t understand the sporadic schedule they have, how they can have hours one day to talk and other days can only send a text. Trying to explain what they are doing gets a little difficult too. Overall though, they said that things are better here at Fenty than they were even when we were there in 2009. Now they have stronger Wi-fi and have noticed that some of the younger soldiers stress more when the internet is “slow” when to them they may only be able to talk to his family three times in a deployment. Now he has a routine where he calls on the weekends. brave1 Brave2 One troop in particular told me this was is 6th deployment and that was hard on his wife. He took me to some of the buildings and showed me what a B-hut is. This was important to me because during a particular battle we had where we lost 8 soldiers they were living in a very remote location and had buildings like this, small shacks made of plywood and barbed wire underneath. Matt was right, it took some getting used to seeing everyone carrying their weapons, but I loved it. You don’t see soldiers carrying their weapons around on post, other than in ruck marches (at least that has been my experience). Most of the time they are using them on the firing ranges or the field away from family housing areas. When I went back in the USO, one soldier spent a considerable amount of time talking with me about how he and his wife have learned how to manage the emotions of deployment. For them, he said, they had learned to take advantage of the support system each of them had to vent so they weren’t venting on the phone. “Venting only makes me want to fix it, and I can’t. Neither can she fix mine” he shared. If they vent to others first, when they get on the phone they are able to then talk about everything else. Everyone seemed thrilled to see a spouse there. fentycallRegina said I could call Matt from the phones and I couldn’t resist. The guys there said it would be part of the experience for me. I knew I would be waking him up, but how many times did he call when he “could” and wake me up? I picked up the phone and dialed- I knew on his end it would read “Maryland” calling. “Chaplain Weathers”, he answered. “Guess where I am? I’m calling you from Fenty.” He woke up right away, kinda. I asked if he wanted me to let him sleep. “No, it is so good to hear your voice.” He put my son on the phone and I knew this was definitely a role reversal moment. The helicopters outside beat the air and I told I wished he could hear it. fentypress400Afterwards, the Secretary was doing a press conference with acting Afghan Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai. Local Afghan journalists where attending as well. I will let you read up on some of the incredible press articles that came out from that conference to hear about policy, but to actually be present as one of our military leaders and one of theirs spoke together on their desired partnership to continue to build up the Afghan Army and listen with a translation ear piece was really cool. We walked to the hangar where the Secretary wanted to speak and thank the troops. Here are the tall cement walls that I also saw in Baghdad. The extra helicopters, state security, and troops guarding everything was to protect the Secretary. For some extra video, watch my Youtube video and you can get a better idea of what I saw today. Here are my #PowerofMarriage tips for the day: 1. It is a normal temptation for either spouse or service member to disconnect to do the mission. It can sometimes feel like there is little to talk about except the daily grind. I can see the monotony they live in. I can see how everything looks the same every day. Even their minimal Christmas decorations don’t make it really fell like Christmas. I believe most want to hear those details about your day when they have the time, but want understanding from you when they don’t. Do your best to stay connected. Find things to talk about. Schedule things to talk about or work on a book together so you can be growing together. 2. When your service member says they feel safe somewhere, believe them. I know it is hard when they say they are going to Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, or anywhere else close to the fight. But a couple of them told me that they not only feel safe in these places, they want their family to believe them. One yesterday in Erbil said he felt safer there than in Baltimore. Again, stay educated and try to relax unless you are told otherwise. 3. It says nothing bad about your marriage if you have someone you trust (not of the opposite sex) that you can vent to and not always take it to your spouse. When you have limited time on the phone, save it for more positive and productive conversations. Resolve conflict quickly. Deployment is a time to take care of yourself too. You won’t be able to help or fix problems your spouse is going through. You both need others to help you.

Wednesday Dec 16, 2015

Today I got to fly into Erbil, Iraq and spend a lot of time getting to know what deployment is like with our female soldiers there. Seeing deployment living conditions for them was quite eye opening. Not that they were poor, in fact our service members are well taken care of, but there are so many things we are told that they try to describe to us that can’t convey it accurately. Honestly, it has been a challenge to figure out how I could convey them to you in a new way. There are some things that you can only understand when you see them, but there is still a lot to learn. For example, I remember begging Matt to send me photos of where he was living. I appreciated what he sent so I could visualize him sleeping and eating there. The problem with photos is that it is only within a frame. You don’t get a panoramic view of the scope of the land or layout. I have done my best to try to capture pictures of things that stood out to me and surprised me instead of things you may have already seen a lot. So Erbil’s living conditions are a more rough than I expected. Honestly though I didn’t have an expectation to begin with. I am embracing my overall ignorance of a lot of things. Being one military spouse in the Army community, I am continuously reminded with how much I don’t know. Our spouses and families need to be a whole lot more educated! It’s like we need a good history lesson and monthly briefing on what is happening in the world. I am more appreciative than ever of our press that come along on these trips that ask the right questions, think it through, and then form it all into words for our culture’s short attention span to absorb in 30 seconds or less. For heaven’s sake, we are training and sending our service members out to dealwith the evil in the world, we owe it to ourselves to learn about it. I’m especially glad my husband gave me a briefing on Syria a couple months ago, cause I still feel naive. That being said, I was honored to be grouped up with the Secretary’s wife Stephanie Carter and her staff to see a lot of how our soldiers live and spend their down time. We saw their barracks that were tents filled with bunked cots. I can’t imagine sleeping in tight quarters there for 9 months, even though they are nice. The cots were lower to the ground than I expected and you have to roll out of bottom bunk. Going off of yesterday’s conversation, the care package issue of family sending trinkets for their living space made complete sense now. They literally owned a bunk. One woman was thrilled to get a bathmat though where she could at least put her feet on carpet in the morning. When we walked in, it smelled like peppermint. Not because it was a female tent, though, but because it keeps mice away. Snakes are another issue for them getting into the tent. Showers and latrines were interesting with only a curtain separating them from the next stall. When I went to the restroom in the main building the wall didn’t go to the ceiling and I could hear the men on their side talking. The USO was a small tent with a TV getting a poor reception of the Today Show, a barber shop chair and Star Wars playing on another TV. It was filled with books and DVDs, understandably the most comfy place there. The mail room was a friendly as you would think it would be. A truly happy place with Christmas lights, goodies from care packages, and smiling faces when you walked in the door! The gym was also nicer than I thought, though walled with fun house mirrors that were not glass- just in case anyone might want to use broken glass for weapons. I was not expecting that. I honestly didn’t think they would have mirrors, but plastic warped mirrors at least made it look like a gym. Otherwise, gravel, gravel, gravel, gravel. I understand now the appreciation of carpet and bare feet. I saw service member trying to run on the gravel, several of the girls wth me who wore flats struggled slightly through the walk. Even in the room where I joined the press again where there was carpet, I thought about how no one was likely to ever take their boots and socks off and walk around. Hard cold floors, wood platforms, and gravel are about all you will see. Here are my #PowerofMarriage tips for today: 1. Service Members: if you are deployed- take videos (if possible) to give your family a better picture that is more accurate than a photograph. That may sound obvious with today’s technology, but families will only be able to picture exactly what they see. 2. I underestimated the power of “embracing the suck”. Often said by service members who have to live/exist in rough situations, embracing the suck is something that surely changes a person. Perhaps service members get a bad wrap for being cold or brash, not as compassionate when we might think the situation could use it. But the amount of grit and perseverance that is built in one’s character in situations like these can lead a family through the toughest of times. Lean on them during seasons of difficulty. Service members can typically lean on their spouse when an assessment check on the relationships in the home are needed. 3. You are serving and loving your spouse by knowing enough about the world’s events that effect his/her job. You may get weary of hearing what they do over an over, but it is part of a bigger puzzle and plays an important part in the system. Understand as much as you can what is happening in the world so that they don’t have to keep explaining it over and over again. (Sorry, hun) I’ll have more for you tomorrow! Stick around, you never know where I’ll end up next!

Tuesday Dec 15, 2015

My husband Matt calls the experience of being in theater "Bizarro World." As I got off the C-17 into the dusty air of Baghdad, I was immediately in just that. It smelled like my husband when he first got home from deployment. (Sorry hun, but its true for all of you!) Granted we were forced to change our plans due to fog that limited helicopter take off. Still, so many things were notable. I hear from soldiers that coming home they are hit by the sensory overload of colors, carpet, and noises. Baghdad is crawling, at least today, with secret service or other security detail. Every door is guarded by at least 2 stern looking men. Outside the tall 10-15 ft cement walls provide weapons security as well as walling off sections that make large alleys to walk to and fro. Outside is nothing but gravel and the sounds of incoming and outgoing aircraft is constant. I can understand why it became Matt’s white noise when deployed, why he "goes to another place" when he hears a bird. Still, I noted that there were indeed, no colors. Much of this trip has included making sure that I am following the group of press so that I am where I'm supposed to be. Today as I was talking with the Secretary's staff, I somehow got separated from the press. Soon I found myself close to entering a meeting that I was not supposed to be part of. Once we all realized, I was grateful to be walked back to the press group by a friendly security guard/state security who basically looked like special forces in civilian clothes. It actually gave me a great chance to ask him about his assignment here. I think one of my favorite things about all of this is getting to see the branches working together. Seeing the Air Force, special forces, and today our Army doing what they do best. It seems that so many of us live within the community our service member serves in and become incredibly proud of our branch. Seeing them work together is a whole new perspective. We know they exist to work together like a machine, but seeing it happen is different. I have to admit that although we got grounded today, it was not a wash. Talking to the crew on the C-17 and those that work here is enlightening. When I asked what they felt family most misunderstands, they expressed the need to decompress after they come home. They said that doing what they do takes incredible mental and physical energy. Giving them a day to decompress and get their energy back will help so they can re-engage. As I look back, I asked Matt to engage again way too quickly. I asked him to make big decisions before he had recovered. I've always told couples to avoid big decisions during reintegration but I know now it's more than that. In fact, I think back to our reintegration that was so difficult and see that he needed time to rest and heal and I was ready to move quickly- that caused a lot of tension that could have been avoided. A little part of me is healed today because I look back on that experience with new eyes. Talking with troops right before Christmas helped me understand the care package issue. After eating in the DFAC and having tons of options and yet seeing them live minimally- they really don't have many needs. But that's the issue, the have all their basic needs (depending on where they are) and are living so minimally they agreed they don't let their minds stretch outside of that. So a "what would you like for Christmas" gets a "well I don't need anything." We decided on items you use up like toiletries, food, and snacks they can share. I know that sounds cheesy, but when you eat the same things everyday or have to order your favorites online- getting them from a loved one is great. Living in small spaces though makes it hard when you keep getting stuff that isn't disposable or used up. There is simply no room to put those kinds of things out. Here are my big take aways (listen to my journal for an expanded edition): 1. We need to appreciate other branches more, the puzzle fits beautifully together to complete the overall mission- which is fantastic to see! 2. Understand that your service member really may not "need" much during deployment, but they also may not know "what" they want. But that shouldn't mean we send random box fillers that they won't know where to put. Above all, a box from home that doesn't look like grey walls, gravel, and camouflage could be heaven filled with the right things. 3. Military Leaders: you may not be able to send a spouse over seas to paint a picture of what you do, but there are plenty of ways you can show them an accurate picture. Bus them to the field for a couple of hours, tell them (educate them) on the actual mission. Family days, even if it is just your leaders can reduce anxiety and give them a cause to get behind. Some of those may sound simple, but I am trying to take into account the things that are really simple to do that we don’t realize are quite big in understanding your service member. When it was time to fly back, the flight crew of the C-17 brought me up into the cockpit and explained the brevity of this kind of mission involving a VIP. The coordination is incredible. We talked about their families and how much they are excited to be home for Christmas this year. I looked out the cockpit window to see the night sky and the lights of Saudi Arabia in the distance. The handed me night vision goggles (NVGs) and I could see every cloud like it was day and ships on the water. I asked what is the most beautiful thing they see out the window that they look forward to. “Home.”

Monday Dec 14, 2015

Hello Air Force! My first day started off with the bright lights of day when it should have been 2am. I got about 4 hours of sleep thanks to the “sleepy pills” the on-plane physician handed out. I am your normal everyday military spouse who happens to be a clinician, but I am going to do my best to share with you what I experienced today. My hope is that I can take this experience and translate it in a way that coffee will encourage you to invest in your marriage. We landed at INCIRLIK Air Base in Turkey which conducts many of the airstrike missions in Syria. US Families (mostly Air Force) are stationed here much like any other OCONUS assignment but because of the rising tensions in and around Turkey and its border with Syria, families have been placed on lockdown and cannot leave base. Many of the families that were here before the lockdown remember what it is like to travel into the city, which makes it even harder. I imagined that many of them feel isolated and trapped. Can you imagine some of the new spouses getting an assignment to Turkey and then finding out they can’t leave the base once here? While here, there was a town hall for military families where they could ask Secretary Carter questions. Most of the questions were on the lockdown, how long it would continue, and would there be an upcoming forced evacuation. Secretary Carter was very encouraging that he did not foresee a forced evacuation and hoped that things would improve. My mission here is to understand what it is like for our service members. Seeing our Air Force in full force was intimidating, in a good way. They are putting in long hours both on the ground and in the air. Many of the spouses here described how much better they understand deployments now that they are watching “at home deployments” play out in front of them. Their service member is tired but determined to complete the incredible mission given them. The threat of ISIS is very real. It already feels real to us there in America, but here our military families can’t even leave base to go into town. The importance of building allies and coalition partners is necessary and our leaders are working hard to do it. It was incredible to see Airmen from Germany, Spain, and Turkey all joining our personnel for the same cause. Some of the coalition airmen stood up to thank our US airmen for their hospitality and how proud they were to be fighting ISIS with us. Turkey was warm for December. Not as hot as it would be in the summer, but the families there are enjoying 70 degree weather. Seeing the city in the distance made me wonder how safe some of the families are out there. One spouse here is Turkish and cannot get off base to see her mother. I can’t imagine who scary that is! Since I am an Army spouse, I have to give a shout out to the incredible power we have in our aircraft. I saw every plane you can imagine lined up, many of them loaded with the bombs that are ready for the next mission. As my heart rumbled in my chest as the fighter jets took off, I couldn’t help but be thankful for what they do and the amount of skill and precision they develop to do it. I totally get it Air Force Spouses- it is pretty incredible to witness. From the moment I stepped on this historic plane, refueling in air, and then visiting Incirlik, I am so proud of our Air Force. My father was a pilot in the Air Force and I feel like I am seeing him in his jumpsuit around every corner. Today’s #PowerofMarriage message is this: 1. The mission our service members are called to do is not only real, but more important than ever. It is a noble cause whether it is to protect our lives or someone else’s. Keeping their mind on the mission is paramount to success in that moment. As hard as it is to let them go and not heap unnecessary stress on them- it is the right thing to do. This doesn’t mean that we don’t communicate. On the contrary, it means that we learn to communicate better, quicker, identifying the root issue so that it can be resolved or processed. Striving not for perfection, but for peace, is not only good for us, but beneficial for them. 2. Our military tempo is very different than it used to be. Deployments aren’t going away, if anything we are adding a new component that keep hearing about from spouses. It is the deployment from home- the long work hours that feel like a deployment. I’m not sure, perhaps some of you would say one is easier than the other. Both are stressful on the relationship. Be intentional with your time together. Decide together how and when you will decompress by setting a specific time and time limit.

Friday Oct 30, 2015

Matt and I fell in love at Gardner-Webb University. This fall, we had the opportunity to go back and speak with students who are just starting out like we were. With our intention to ease anxiety for students who are still unsure of God's calling on their life, we encouraged them to be diligent with what God has already asked them to do- today. In this interview, Gardner-Webb's radio show asks about our start in working with military families and why we love what we do. More than anything, we feel a calling to heal brokenness in others individually and together. I am thrilled to share with you my husband Matthew and his love for me and others. I hope it encourages your marriage and inspires you in your own calling. This is the beginning of #PowerofMarriage.

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