Lisa Phillips wants military families to be more resilient, especially now when we’re at war with a virus.
She hopes her book is helping with that.
Phillips, of Arlington, is the author of “Faith Steps for Military Families,” a book that uses the Bible’s Psalms of Ascent to help strengthen families with a member in the military.
Though it was published in 2014, Phillips said she believes the book is still relevant. She points to the coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The “invisible enemy” managed to dismantle the naval warship’s mission, crippling it off the coast of Guam.
As of Thursday, 655 sailors had tested positive among 4,574 examined. One sailor with COVID-19 has died, six more sailors are hospitalized, including one in intensive care, and thousands of others are quarantined.
Phillips said the Roosevelt disaster reminded her of Psalm 91, which references epidemics. It’s known as the Soldier’s Prayer. She said soldiers coveted the psalm for God’s protection from the Spanish Flu back in 1918. Much like COVID-19, that epidemic overshadowed the fear and uncertainty that spread in the U.S. at the same speed as the virus.
“It got me thinking,” Phillips said. “(All these) families back home were left sidelined, worried about their service member, prompting concerns of fear and uncertainty, and what-if questions. The psalms talk a lot about fear.”
Phillips, who is celebrating her 33rd wedding anniversary this year, said spiritual readiness aids military families to deal with fear, the unknowns, and how to cope with hardship — be that sickness or sorrow, death or divorce.
“A lot of my writing focuses on family unity,” she said. “Divorce is a problem in the military.”
Phillips and her husband, Ray, operate a transmission repair business in Marysville. Ray Phillips retired from the Navy in 2003. Phillips said she got the idea for her book during a women’s Bible study session on the psalms.
“Themes kept popping back at me and it seemed so much like the military,” she said.
At a writing conference, a publisher asked to see some of her writing, particularly material about the military. That led to “Faith Steps.”
Phillips said the book is intended to increase the spiritual readiness of military families, just as military training is intended to increase a soldier’s combat readiness. She said spiritual readiness is the degree in which families can “bounce back” after a major setback, disappointment or tragedy.
“Spiritual readiness is about the role faith and religious practices play in response to those what if’s,” Phillips said on her website, www.lisanixonphillips.com. “It’s knowing where your strength, perseverance, peace, energy and motivation comes from.”
She notes that studies have shown that people “who have a spiritual readiness regime fare better than those who decide to leave the spiritual aspect out.”
Phillips, whose daughter is a captain in the Army National Guard, shares examples from her family’s military deployments and training to explain how the psalms provide a guide for many common experiences.
Phillips said that her tough times frequently came when Ray, a Navy “gearhead,” was on a training mission or deployment and she felt as if her own life was on hold. “There were times when I wondered if it was worth it,” she said. A foundation in her faith helped her through the tough times.
Many military spouses lack that faith, she said.
“Many of them are unprepared,” Phillips said. “A lot of them come from homes that are dysfunctional and they don’t know how to function in a regular marriage let alone a military marriage.”
Phillips said the 15 Psalms of Ascent are metaphors in her book for a variety of different issues, ranging from dealing with a spouse suffering from post traumatic stress disorder to relocating to a new duty station.
The psalms reveal “a treasure trove of spiritual insights for rising above and moving forward from various perplexing circumstances, struggles and emotions typical of military families,” she said.
The chapters end with a prayer, a list of the key points, things for readers to think about and a psalm of strength.
“Spiritual (readiness) takes fidelity — each saying to the other, ‘I’m committed and not walking away.’ And that kind of spiritual (readiness) makes a difference in the face of any crisis, causing a cloud of uncertainty.”
Phillips stays busy these days working on the financial side of the transmission business, but she’s also continuing to write. She said she is working on a memoir focusing on three generations of mothers and daughters in her family.
Herald Features Editor Sara Bruestle contributed to this report.
“Faith Steps for Military Families”
By Lisa Nixon Phillips
Morgan James Faith. 200 pages. $17.99.
For a limited time, Phillips is offering a signed copy of “Faith Steps for Military Families” for free. Email the author at email@example.com, put “free book” in the subject line, and provide an address to which your book should be mailed.
About the author
Lisa Phillips is a retired Navy wife. Her published writing includes a story in “A Cup of Comfort for Military Families: Stories that Celebrate Heroism on the Home Front,” an article for Wives in Bloom, the online magazine for Christian military wives, and two patriotic stories about post 9/11 compiled by her writers group. Her book “Faith Steps for Military Families” was a finalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She works as the accounting manager for Ed’s Transmission of Marysville, which she and her husband, Ray, own and operate.