15 December 2010

Cooking Up Some Red Bull Love

Sometimes, particularly during the holidays, it's too easy to focus on sending deployed troops stuff they really don't need, and too hard to focus on the daily challenges their families face here at home.

"I don't think you understand," Household-6 says to me one night. "When you were away, I felt like I never had any time. It was always onto the next thing. I'd get dinner made, and then it was time to get the kids ready for bed. I'd get the kids to bed, and then it was time to get the kids clothes ready for the next day ..."

Yeah, I know--"food isn't love." Sometimes, however, it can come in a close second. For a couple of years, off and on, Household-6 has leveraged her love of cooking into her way of helping others. She got the idea a couple of years back, when we were a member a church that had a "Ministry through Meals" committee. If there was a birth, death, or sickness in a family, for example--whenever people didn't have time to take care of themselves because they were focused on bigger, more important things--this group would help out by preparing and delivering meals.

With the deployment of my buddies in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, Household-6 decided to again pick up the spatula. She's cooking one meal a week for one or two other Red Bull families.

The way she sees it, she's not providing food to these families--she's providing time. Time they don't have to worry about grocery shopping. Time they don't have to cook. Time to think. Time they can spend focused on their kids.

It's good food, but not nothing too gourmet. Household-6 works it into her busy schedule by preparing extra servings of whatever is on the Sherpa family menu that day. The menu rotates, but it's usually the same day every week. "It's what I'd want someone to offer to do for me, if you had been deployed," she tells me.

People often struggle to find ways to help National Guard families. They even struggle to find ways to inquire if and how and when to help--nobody wants to be nosy or invasive, after all, particularly at the holidays.

I want to ask you to give into your better impulses. Take a chance, and ask someone if you can help.

Before you tell yourself you have nothing to bring to the proverbial table, however, consider these words from Natalie, a self-described "homefront warrior," Red Bull spouse and occasional blogger, and mother of two small children:
It’s [...] not my nature to ask for help, even when I should, and I suspect that is a quality shared by many of my fellow homefront warriors.

That said, please do something for me--if you know any military families (besides me, obviously) with a deployed service member, please find out how you can help, and then follow through. Just saying, “Call me if you need anything,” doesn’t usually cut it, because that leaves the ball in her (or his) court, and she’s already juggling too many of them in the first place. Find out what needs are there and do something, even something small, to help meet them.

In general, there is too little of this type of service to neighbors in the world right now, and sometimes those who are doing their best to seem together on the outside are the ones that need help the most.
(Be sure to read all of her thoughts on the subject here.)

Sherpa says: Be persistent, be insistent, be consistent. Ask what you can do. Commit to it. And make sure you deliver.

Have fun with it, too!

Consider this wonderfully funny story from Red Bull spouse and blogger Emily, who describes how two friends recently helped prepare her house for the holidays:
At a few minutes after 10 AM, just out of the shower, towel wrapped around my head and in my bathrobe, I came downstairs to check on Asher ... and there is a knock at my door ...

My dear friend Erin was standing on my front porch ... and as I opened the door, it was too late.

I had been ambushed.

Erin & Jodi were standing on my porch. With cleaning buckets and supplies. And boxes of decorations and ornaments. And wine. And Velveeta Magic dip.
SERIOUSLY. Ambushed.

The dog was barking, the kid was running around screaming, and I was not wearing any underwear. WHAT were my friends thinking?

I was certain we were still shopping. "I'm not ready to go shopping! You said 10:30!" I protested.

"We're not shopping. YOU can go shopping. We're putting up your Christmas tree & cleaning your house," they said.
(Read the full story--with pictures--here.)

It doesn't have to be food, but it does have to be love. Done right, it might take only a little effort, and result in a whole lot of fun. Do the Red Bull a favor this holiday season--and throughout the coming new year--and see what you can cook up.


What are some ways in which you've helped Red Bull families, or had others help you? Share your ideas in the comments section below!


  1. Food = love.
    Kudos to your wife and her friends for doing this.

  2. As one of those families who has a Red Bull soldier in the sandbox, I can completely relate with Household-6 on not enough time.

    I recently was asked by another mother at my son's daycare if they could "adopt" our family while my husband is deployed and what did we need? Bless her!

    My response, I need more TIME. So she is coordinating with other families to bring frozen prepared meals and donate babysitting time.

    In fact she has already come over once and watched my kids so I could go to a craft night with my friends and brought dinner with her that night plus another casserole to stash in the freezer.

    I'm so thankful for all the angels in my life that are helping us to get through this LONG year.

  3. Any suggestions on how civilians with no military connections might find a way to help out military families in their communities?

    Most support groups are aimed at deployed servicemembers, from what I can tell.

  4. @ MsMarti: Good question! Here's kind of a brainstorm over coffee this morning, in no particular order:

    Neighbors:I know that when I was deploying, neighbors offered to help my family out on mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and clearing the sidewalks of snow.

    Workplaces: My wife's employer has established a "military-network" support group, through which troops' families, veterans, and current National Guard/Reserve soldiers and airmen connect for various projects and educational events.

    Churches: Many churches maintain prayer lists of troops somehow connected to that congregation. Look in the weekly or monthly bulletin to see to what families one could reach out, or contact the church administrative office to inquire who needs help and how. (Works well for anonymous giving or helping, too.)

    Schools: Contact a local school administrator, nurse, or counselor. Public schools probably need to maintain some sort of privacy for their students, so this probably is more of a possibility if one wishes to remain anonymous in one's giving or helping. Teachers know who is deployed and who may need help. Work with schools administrators to quietly and appropriately reach out to families.

    Service/Veterans organizations: Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, American Legion, Rotary Club, Jaycees, may all have connections or programs helping local families of deployed soldiers.

    National Guard armories/Reserve Centers: Call up the local reserve unit, and ask for an officer or non-commissioned officer in charge, a public affairs contact, or a family services contact. You may find yourself connecting with a "Family Readiness Group" or equivalent--a group of families connected with the unit. The roles of an FRG are changed and changing--they used to be a deployed family's sole safety net--and are often dependent on unit culture.

    National Guard state headquarters: Call the state headquarters (one in each of the 54 states and territories) and ask for the Family Services department. They can help direct your inquiry and efforts.

    Lots to think about, I know! I'll try to research more and maybe polish this up for a future post. Let me know if you have other ideas and successes. In the meantime, thanks for the conversation, and for reading Red Bull Rising!

  5. Thanks!! I posted a link to this so others in a Letter Writing Team I belong to can see your GREAT ideas! I really appreciate the help!


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