Nearly 300 armed American forces are urgently being deployed in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating fast-moving Islamic insurgents, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces. While Obama has vowed to keep U.S. forces out of combat in Iraq, he said in his notification to Congress that the personnel moving into the region are equipped for direct fighting.
This unsettling news of deployment can be a very emotional and difficult time. Whether it’s twelve weeks or twelve months, identifying resources and educating service members and their families is vital in helping the stressful and nerve-wracking transition.
Lisa Nixon Phillips, author of the new book, Faith Steps for Military Families: Spiritual Readiness through the Psalms of Ascent, is all too familiar with these disheartening circumstances. Her life took on a whole new dimension when she met her sailor husband, Ray, stationed on the U.S.S. Kansas City home ported in Alameda, California. For seventeen years, Phillips dealt with a range of unexpected emotions and situations typical of deployments and homecomings–adjusting to anticipated loss and lengthy absences of her husband, life on hold, times of loneliness, uncertainty, and anxiety. With Uncle Sam as her father-in-law, Phillips knew she could only control her response to a complex lifestyle. She surrendered to a life of “faith” and reliance of God.
In her new book, Phillips describes some of her personal struggles and journey of spiritual readiness when the military lifestyle became hard or seemed unfair. In each chapter, Phillips lays out a foundational guide to help navigate the difficulties that military families will face during deployment and service, such as traveling to or living in unfriendly environments, coping while life is on hold, dissatisfaction, lack of unity, fear, and enduring desperate times.
“I found myself in a situation more than once during my husband’s deployments and training missions in which I didn’t always know what to do” says Phillips. “Having spiritual strength is necessary if we want to do more than just cope with the military life.”
“Spiritual readiness starts by examining what your spiritual beliefs are, your core values, and how your family relationships have shaped your understanding of what the meaning of life is and how you perceive God to be,” adds Phillips. “It’s a vital component for military members and their families in the face of immense challenges of a complex lifestyle.”