When the Bible Is Your Only Home

A young mom and recent military widow shares how God’s Word sustained her family when life crumbled around them.

We were almost there….

With my husband’s retirement just around the corner, our little military family rolled into a new town for what would be our last military-related move. We were more than ready to settle down for good and start dreaming about what our family ministry would look like after the military.

But just six weeks after we got to town, my husband died suddenly. We were still house hunting, church hunting, and looking for schools. We had no community yet, and I felt completely isolated as I entered into the hardest days of my life.

And then the pandemic hit. Our family lacked a support network. Facing this new crisis alone felt almost impossible.
You see, surviving families of military members often find themselves in an ambiguous zone of identity. We’re not really military, and we’re not really civilian. When I call to make a dentist appointment, they want to know if we’re active duty or retired. I used to break down and cry and just say, “I don’t know. We’re neither.”

Finding Our Support Squad

When I heard about the Hero Squad program from American Bible Society’s Armed Services Ministry, I actually didn’t know if we’d even qualify. On paper, we weren’t technically an active-duty military family. But I knew we needed something—anything—that looked like support. So I signed up anyway and was thrilled when our first Mission Box arrived at the door.

Tears well up as I recall that moment. We felt seen for the first time in months. And the gifts inside for my girls were so age appropriate and meaningful. It felt like a breath of air and a pop of joy in our long season of isolation and sorrow. The girls oohed and aahed! They love working through the Hero Squad Scripture devotionals.

The thrill of hope. A weary mama rejoices.
When you go through loss and trauma, your right brain and left brain often disconnect from the cortisol stress hormone. It’s God’s created response to help us survive. The trouble comes when we get stuck in those moments of trauma. It throws our brains off balance. For me, trauma and grief made reading anything difficult. Connecting with God seemed impossible. And reading God’s Word felt like staring at a puddle. Thankfully, I had years of soaking in his Word and had hidden his Word in my heart. (My husband gave me a new Bible on our wedding day, but after 11 years of military life and trials, it was threadbare.) This had sustained me—but I needed to get back into God’s Word.

Hope in a Cardboard Box

So, when Hero Squad sent not only my little girls their own Bible, but a new one for me too, it meant so much to me. It felt like a whole new world! They sent me a Contemporary English Version, and as I flipped through it, hot tears fell once more because I actually understood God’s Word again! I thought of all the stories I had heard about how people in other countries felt when they received a Bible translated in their own language for the first time. I honestly felt like I got a little taste of the joy they feel. We keep this new Bible open on our dining room table now, where you can often find the latest Hero Squad devotionals and some colored pencils, too. That translation of God’s Word was just what I needed, right when I needed it.

In addition to the new Bibles, we’ve loved the family missions and the little goodies that come in the Hero Squad packages. They remind us that we are part of a bigger community of military missionaries who love the Lord. The packages arrive in quality, camouflaged, cardboard boxes. Our family has reused them and turned them into our “Daddy Boxes,” where we keep special keepsakes, photos, cards, and memories of our time with my husband. He was truly one of our nation’s heroes and more like Jesus than anyone I’ve ever met. In a way I cannot fully explain, Hero Squad has kept us feeling like we’re still part of the military family and connected to my husband and the legacy he left.

Although my family’s experience is unique, loss kind of comes with the territory in military life. Military kids lose friendships often. They lose their sense of security when a parent deploys. They transition from church to church and school to school with each new military assignment. And it’s easy to feel lost in the shuffle. But these boxes provide continuity and acknowledgement that, in so many ways, the child is serving their country too. These gifts say, “Hey, we appreciate you! We see you! You matter, and the heartbreak you’ve been through matters. We’re praying for you and rooting for you!” And beyond that sense of belonging, these care packages are also teaching kids how to engage with God in prayer and through the Bible in a practical, hands-on way.
One of the staff members at American Bible Society recently asked me a powerful question: “Why is the Bible so important for you?” As a military family, we face constant change, grief, and loss. Military families sacrifice their own stability and security for the sake of others. But all I want is some stability and security of my own. When faced with non-stop change, I learned to lean on one thing that never changes: God’s Word. His character is always good and kind. And when we lack security and stability on this side of heaven, we can always find it in his Word.

The Closest Thing to Heaven

So when I meet someone new and they ask me, “Where are you from?” I often tell them, “I’m from Hebrews 11.” Because I’m longing for something greater. Because my citizenship is in the kingdom of God. Because heaven is my true home.

But right now, the Bible is my home. It’s the closest thing to heaven I have on this side of eternity.

I want to thank everyone who has sown the seeds of this Hero Squad ministry. So often, people with generous hearts will give, and they don’t always see the fruit firsthand. We sow seeds in the dark and trust that the harvest will grow. May our family’s story be evidence of the fruit of this ministry. These Hero Squad boxes remind military families that they are not forgotten and not alone. It is such a powerful ministry.

Well, here come those grateful tears welling up again. Thank you, friends, for meeting a need and ministering to these kids who need constant and godly encouragement in their lives. I’m beyond grateful.

You can deliver the hope of God’s Word to more military families! Join the Hero Squad and make a difference in their lives today.

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Danita Jenae
Danita Jenae

Danita Jenae is a young mom and recent military widow learning to carry both joy and sorrow in the same breath. As an author, speaker, poet, and artist, she walks alongside the broken-hearted, offering practical and creative ways to lead a Spirit-led life at danitajenae.com and @CompanionInSorrow. To help you find your way in sorrow, Danita invites you to grab your free copy of her Find Your Footing Grief Guide at WhenMountainsCrumble.com.

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