Merry Christmas

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My oldest son, Tyler, his first time meeting Santa

The first Christmas I ever spent with Jim deployed happened to be the first Christmas for our son, Tyler. Jim deployed in October 2005, just two months after our first son, Tyler, was born. When Tyler was born we were stationed in Hawaii (I know real rough). Since we were scheduled to PCS soon after Jim returned from his deployment, I decided to move back home with my parents in Oregon, rather than stay in Hawaii, alone with a newborn. This decision provided me with a lot more support, as well as family around me during the holidays so I would feel less alone. Because my family got so much time with Tyler, I actually traveled from Oregon to Virginia at Christmas to spend some time with Jim’s family.

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Decorating the tree with Tyler at my parent’s house

On Christmas morning, 2005, Tyler woke up very early in the morning crying to be fed. Still dark outside, I quietly carried him downstairs, turned on the lights of the Christmas tree, and nursed him while I sat in a lazy boy recliner. After I fed Tyler I sat rocking him, singing Silent Night while he looked up at me with the innocence of a four month old infant. The moments I spent with him that morning are something I treasured that day, and are still some of my most special Christmas memories. As he drifted off to sleep I quietly cried, my heart aching for the Christmas Jim was missing, my heart breaking that I, alone, got to share in the first Christmas of our baby boy. Yes, I had family around me, but it was not the same as having Jim there.

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Tyler on his first Christmas

That Christmas I hoped would be the only Christmas Jim would miss. Over the years as the deployments, the PCSes, the TDYs all mounted I continued to hope for better days. I hoped for more, more time with Jim, more time as a family, no more goodbyes to friends and family. Once Jim’s time in the Army came to an end and he retired I continued to have hope in better days. I did find hope in no more deployments, no more moves, no more good byes. What I did not expect was the hopelessness I found in dealing with Jim’s PTSD and the depression.

Here’s what I realize on this Christmas day, hope in the wrong places is where you find disappointment and unmet expectations. The only place you find real hope is in Jesus. On this Christmas day I put my hope in the one that never disappoints, who always exceeds my expectations. Jesus was born this Christmas day and that is what I will celebrate. No, His plan for me has not always been what I planned or hoped for myself, but He has always had a plan for me that never left me hopeless. Life as a military wife was hard, but it was also beautiful and special, life in retirement from the military has its challenges that I never expected, but this Christmas day I put my hope in Jesus for better days. I thank God for the blessings in my life of family time together, beautiful, healthy children, a place to call home, and friends that have been there through it all.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas this year! I recently read there are 300,000 service members currently deployed. Thank you to those serving away from their families this Holiday Season! A very special thank you to the military spouses alone this Christmas, thank you for being willing to serve wherever and however you are called, your service, your sacrifice this day does not go unnoticed! My wish for you this Christmas is you find comfort, hope, and joy no matter what your situation is.

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Merry Christmas! A current picture of the Mauldin kids and some animals

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