The holiday season is one that can be especially difficult for military families. From the absence of a deployed spouse to the first holiday away from family and friends, the most wonderful time of the year can be just plain tough. As an active duty military family, we have spent our fair share of time apart during the holidays due to combat tours and training. And let us tell you, it was not easy. As we walk into the celebration of our Savior's birth, we'd like to share with you a few ways you can bless a military family this holiday season.
1. Be Present
Often times just the presence of another person during the holiday season is a blessing to a military family. Conversations filled with uplifting words, as well as allowing the family members to share their hopes, fears, and dreams with you is a big help during this time. Being present lets the military family know they are loved and valued beyond their inner-circle and can bring a great source of comfort and joy.
2. Don't Assume
We've found one of the biggest mistakes that our civilian counterparts have made during the holiday season is to assume that we are going to be celebrating with family. We actually have only been able to go home once in the last 13 years of military service during the holiday season due to how expensive it is to travel with a family our size. So more often than not we find ourselves alone in a new place tempted to feel sad and missing our loved ones. If you are feeling led to serve a military family during the holidays, it's always a good idea to ask them whether or not they will be celebrating with family rather than assuming. Our family has spent many holidays apart and it isn't easy being alone (as the solider nor as the family members left behind) and every ounce of hospitality and grace we experience mean more than words can express.
3. Don't Ask, Just Serve
It's as simple as that. Rather than asking if the family needs help, just serve. We know from experience that we've turned down help in the past because we didn't want to inconvenience others. We've learned to accept help, but the truth is if there is a need it's better to just fill it. Military families are under a different type of day-to-day pressure so they aren't always thinking clearly when it comes to outside help. Please, if you feel led to serve, just do so.
4. Fill in the Gaps
Filling in the gaps can be anything from saturating the military family in prayer to practical needs. From the family side, one ministry that blessed our family tremendously during time of deployment was when people would randomly stop by and bless us with meals. From the solider side it was always a huge blessing to receive a card or care package. Bottom line: if you see a need that you can fill for a military family this holiday season, do it. They will appreciate it more than you know.
5. Love Them
This is the very best gift you can give to any military family during the holiday season, guaranteed. We all have different ways of showing love and this is the beauty of the way God designed each one of us. Pray and ask God for different ways you can show practical love to a military family using your personal love language and then act on it. We believe that your love and effort will be well received.
Serving military families is a great way to carry out God's will to love one another upon the earth. Make it a priority today to bless a local military family or organization benefiting these families. Take it from this military family -- your act of love won't go unnoticed and will likely spur on some much needed holiday cheer!
Michael and Carlie Kercheval have been happily married since June 10, 2000. They have been blessed with three precious children that they have been able to homeschool while traveling the world as a military family. They are the co-authors of the Learning to Speak Life Family Devotional. Together they founded Fulfilling Your Vows in obedience to the ministry God has placed in their hearts to promote biblical marriage. You can connect with them on Facebook.