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In my nine years of being a military spouse, I’ve come to believe that the greatest gift I’ve ever received as a part of this community actually came in the form of a person.

At one point a mere stranger, she showed me that authenticity will always bring more to the table than any carefully-crafted image.

 

For me, that person was named Jenny Lynne. 

 

With the heart, class, and manners of a true southern belle, Jenny Lynne was a table leader for my first mom’s group. When I joined, I was newly married; I had a six-month-old, and only one CONUS move under my belt.

I was lonely, overwhelmed, and uncertain that putting myself out there in a mom’s group would be anything other than an embarrassment. 

Jenny Lynne’s job was to direct the flow of discussion at our table, to offer guidance to less experienced spouses, and to help establish connections among a table of strangers who came from all over the country.

Most of us were military spouses, but not all. 

 

In addition to assuming the mantle of table leader, Jenny Lynne was what we now call a “seasoned” spouse.

 

It was her fourth move; her husband was an officer. Her boys were elementary aged, and she was glamorously past the stage where every blouse she donned bore a spit-up stain. She seemed far ahead of me, in experience, appearance, and capability.

To be frank, I was a bit intimidated.

 

Despite that fact, I learned quickly that though she seemed to be many steps ahead, in truth, she was alongside.

 

She was a guiding presence, but not a know- it-all. A sounding board, but never from a place of judgement.

She was a voice of compassion, reminding us to pause and to give ourselves grace.

When we were asked to discuss a potentially awkward or sensitive subject, she’d be the first to speak up and break the ice with an experience of her own. Her openness and willingness to share gave us the confidence to share our own insecurities and uncertainties (of which there were many). 

 

Our table of strangers grew into a tight knit community.

 

When we were together, we seemed to be a self-sustaining island, with little need for the outside world. We had playdates, watched each other’s kids, went to church together, and held a Saturday night supper club.

We built a genuine village in the modern world, and the table was never big enough for all the seats that Jenny Lynne placed around it.

Her love language was hospitality, and she made everyone feel welcomed. 

 

It’s been seven years since I pulled out that plastic chair and first sat at her table.

My oldest is in second grade now, and we’re on our fourth move (this one OCONUS). I’m in a new mom’s group here, and some of the friends at my new table are first-time moms with young babies.

I blinked; time passed, and the world shifted. Now I see the opportunity that I’ve been given, to build connections with the effort and care that Jenny Lynne shared so freely. 

 

She noticed me, even when I didn’t speak, and so I aim to notice others.

 

Her home always had an open door, so mine is as welcoming as I can make it. She shared hard truths, even when she was still working out the kinks, and I try to do the same. 

 Perfection was never her goal, but connection was.

Authenticity fostered a genuine connection and inspired a new level of friendship; one that felt like a home atop the shifting ground that the military family is expected to build a foundation upon. 

I believe that every military spouse will find their own version of Jenny Lynne, but maybe it’s more accurate to say that she will find you.

Because that’s what the Jenny Lynnes of the world do. They find you, and they make sure that you feel seen, heard, and validated. When they do that, building understanding and friendship, people change.

And when people change, so does the world.   

 

 

Meet Kaci Curtis, Navy Spouse

Kaci Curtis is a Navy spouse and mom of two. Her family relocated to the tropical island of Guam over the summer. She now spends her time washing beach towels, rinsing snorkeling masks, and helping crabs get over curbs. When she’s able, she adds a dash of reading, writing, hiking, and lifting at the gym.Originally from Missouri, she has moved 5 times in the last decade, and she somehow made it through four deployments in a tumultuous four year period. Things slowed down a bit at their previous duty station (Mississippi), where the family enjoyed a farmhouse on 5 wooded acres.  They raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, pigs, and also kept 2 goats, a cow, a donkey,and a Shetland pony. Naturally, they decided to add a second human child to the mix, and turned it loose into the barnyard as soon as possible. She considers herself lucky to have published several essays and short stories. You can find her writer page on FB (@KCurtisWriter)

Editor’s Note: This writing competition was fierce and during the final round, the judges realized that the subject of Kaci’s entry was also a finalist and the eventual winner, Jenny Lynne Stroup. Kaci’s post embodies the importance of mentors and being kind to everyone.   We are positive that Kaci will be the gift to other spouses as well.
*If you would like to read the post from the subject of this post Jenny Lynne, click HERE.

Editor’s Note: This writing competition was fierce and during the final round, the judges realized that the subject of Kaci’s entry was also a finalist and the eventual winner, Jenny Lynne Stroup. Kaci’s post embodies the importance of mentors and being kind to everyone.   We are positive that Kaci will be the gift to other spouses as well.
*If you would like to read the post from the subject of this post Jenny Lynne, click HERE.

Author

  • M:M Command Team

    With over 159 years of military spouse experience and 68 PCSes under their belts, the M:M Command team is the ultimate Battle Buddy to help navigate Milspouse life. Powered by volunteer spirit and optimism the M:M Command Team could run a small country, but instead are dedicated entirely to the global empowerment of military spouses to help them conquer adversity, foster confidence, and thrive in this military life.

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The Days Are Long as a Milspouse

The Days Are Long as a Milspouse

If you’ve read any of my blog submissions on Mission Milspouse lately, you’ll likely see a pattern where I have been mostly writing about what I’ve learned being a military spouse for the past twenty years but in presented in slightly different ways. In addition to...

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