5 Ways to Minister to a Family with a Deployed Member

I have long since blocked the memories out of the times that Andrew was gone. Early on I learned to protect myself by not remembering - events, happenings, chunks of life - I'm not quite sure how, but I can shut it off and not remember a thing about it unless it was a monumental moment. The majority of those times in my short 8 years of marriage are the times that Andrew was gone with the military.

We were blessed and he never deployed, but he did do several stretches of military training that took him states away for up to 4 months. Let me be the first to tell you, 4 months without your spouse (and first baby's daddy) is nothing compared to the 12+ months of deployment.

I follow Sarah Gates on Facebook, through her page, Servant Mama. She blogs at www.servantmama.com all about military life and military family life. On her facebook page, she is always sharing encouraging things for military families and sharing glimpses into the hardships, struggles, and beauties of the military life. She shared a post around (or after) Christmas time that just seized my heart and made me weep. Please go and read it and then come back here and finish this post. http://www.servantmama.com/what-deployment-looks-like/

Now that you're all teary-eyed too, let me share 5 ways that will minister to that family:

  1. Write a note, send a card, shoot a text, send a Facebook message - let them know that you are thinking of them, praying for them and if they need anything, please call. This is probably the most simple thing you can do, but if you listen to the nudge, you might just get the exact, perfect day that just needed some relief.

  2. Bring a warm meal (or a freezer meal), and take a little pressure off. Whether it's mom or dad home, whoever it is, is doing the work for both parents. Even if they work and have the kids "only" in the evening, it's full time work then full time parenting on top of it. The cycle gets vicious sometimes and you just want to throw the stove out the window. So bring something over. Even if it's just frozen pizzas, sometimes that is just enough. I have a friend from church (and her precious mama) that did this for me while Andrew was on annual tour once - I broke down in tears in the kitchen, it was just so thoughtful and sweet to know that she saw me in my need and cared enough to take an extra step.

  3. Bring a coffee or coffee gift card over and just visit. I can't begin to share with you how lonely it is to have your spouse away for MONTHS and having MINIMAL time to converse with them, or even hear their voice. To have a shoulder to bawl on or an ear to listen to the daily grind is such a welcome relief. Even just to have another adult around to "get it" with you is incredibly helpful.

  4. Make a plan to stop by sporadically like this with one or two of the above mentioned ideas. Stopping in one time is great, but one time out of 365 is an eternity apart for a lonely military spouse. Be an encourager, be a blessing by being intentional to minister more than "your share."

  5. Rally at church to make things happen for them. It means so much to know that your church family cares and wants to help out. Plan a person for babysitting one day a week or a few days a month, maybe mom can get her hair done, a coffee alone, read a book, get a manicure, whatever it is, that parent needs it. Make a meal plan so someone is bringing a meal over once a week for the entire time the spouse is gone - you have no idea how helpful this could be. There are tons of people in the church with different talents, skills, and giftings, what better way to serve together then to serve a family that is serving our country?

Is there anything that you would add to this list? If you are a military spouse, I would love to get your feedback on which of these would really minister to you and what else you need during a deployment.


  1. These are great tips, Kayla! My sister was an Air Force wife and I always thought of that quote "It takes a village..." because it really does take a village to care for military spouses while the soldiers are away for long stretches of time. There are so many young families going through deployments and it's often a crucial time in their young relationships and they need support from everyone around them. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. It's so true! I love that you can relate to it and agree with this. It is tough, and it totally does take a village. It's so lonely without one. I've done both ways and would definitely take the village over on my own. :)