Posted by on Feb 14, 2014 | 2 comments



What could be better than Valentine candy and preprinted cards? Love notes!

My wonderful husband made many trips on the greedy sea during his twenty years in the Navy. When our children were in grade school, he would frequently receive orders to a duty station far across the country—sometimes even mid school-year. We were a tight-knit little family determined to stay together, so we always packed up and joined him. Often, my poor bummed-out hubby would have to ship out to sea only a few days after our arrival. Our destinations included Seattle, Washington;  Virginia Beach, Virginia; Key West, Florida; Millington, Tennessee; Belle Chase, Louisiana; San Diego, California; Mare Island, California; Coronado, California; Great Lakes, Illinois; Mayport, Florida; and Patuxent River, Maryland. Most often the children and I were stranded in a scary-looking city without family or friends or anything but a map to guide our way.

Of course, there are two ways to look at any situation. I’ve never been a pessimist. I can find the joy or humor in any circumstance. I would ask the kids, “Are you ready for a new adventure?”

My excitement would bubble over into their little hearts, and they would get wide-eyed with enthusiasm. They’d jump and squeal to see New Orleans and Mardi Gras, and all the other exciting things to do. I’d spread out brochures from visitor’s centers, and we’d sprawl across the floor and pour over sites to visit and things to do. I never wanted the kids to be fearful or depressed about moving. I suppose I could have been fearful, not knowing anyone in a strange city, but I knew that God was with us, leading, guiding, and protecting. He was but a prayer away, and He always came through for us.

I felt more sadness for my husband than for us, because he was required to report to a ship full of gruff, irritable men who likewise didn’t want to leave their families. Imagine living on a ship wallpapered with testosterone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not only could tempers flare, but fumes could overwhelm.

I was determined to somehow make my hubby’s sea time a little more tolerable, so I started a tradition of writing love notes. I tucked  them inside all of his clothes—shirts, pants, underwear, each sock, tee shirts– before rolling them up and tamping them down into his worn-out, olive green duffel bag (the Navy man’s equivalent of a suitcase). The notes were inspirational, loving, and laced with humor. Brian admitted looking forward to getting dressed every day. My notes kept him smiling.

I wanted my children to feel good about attending new schools as well, so I hid love notes in their lunch boxes. I wrote  silly notes and drew goofy pictures on their napkins, then I would hide them inside sandwiches, under cookies, or inside thermos lids–all kinds of places. They would come home laughing every day. The great thing was that other kids would ask them why they were laughing, and when they shared their notes, they made new friends.

Love notes are bursts of joy to family members who need cheering.

Finding a good church wherever we went helped tremendously. Through Sunday School classes, we met new friends. We were never alone for long. I would invite mothers with children over for lunch, and we’d chit chat while our children played. I also connected with the wives of the sailors on my husband’s ships. We encouraged and supported one another.

So at every new duty station, we made friends. We learned new cultures, new foods, and always new ways of doing things that were different from the way things were done at the last duty station—it’s amazing to find that people in different areas of the country do things quite differently. But through it all, we were resilient and learned how to make friends quickly—one of the bonuses of our lovely, sometimes crazy, but always fun adventures.

When things look bleak, there are hundreds of ways to keep up one’s spirits. The trick is to look for the positive instead of dwelling on the negative—gross looking Navy housing is better than a shack; a shack is a whole lot better than a cardboard box; a cardboard box is better than nothing; and nothing, while seemingly horrible, can be totally freeing. There’s always a positive way to look at life.

How do you view life? Try writing love notes and surprise the ones you love. You might be the one to receive a surprise!

Psalm 62:5-8  “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Deb Gardner Allard is a writer of books & stories for children. She has a B.S. degree in psychology and is a retired registered nurse. Her book, “Izzy and the Real! Truth About Moose Boy,” a book for 3rd through 5th graders, encourages children to talk about the difference between teasing and bullying while reading about the pranks of Moose Boy. The book can be purchased through Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com and many other venues. Deb enjoys blogging about children, as well. Visit her website at www.debgardnerallard.com.

Picture is titled, “I Love You,” by Billy Frank Alexander (ba1969) from Rgbstock.com.  Many thanks to BFA for allowing me to use this delightful valentine heart. Please visit one of his websites:







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  1. Wanda


    Your story was a joy to read. Sounds like such a fun and loving family who made the most of any situation. Love notes, an awesome way to say, “I love you.”


  2. Patsy Reiter


    I think you are one amazing woman! Love notes helped ease stress and uncertainty for your entire family during all the moves. I can imagine the stories your children will tell to their children on how you used ‘love notes’ to ease transitions and lighten hearts. This idea should be in a book for military families and other families that move regularly. Thanks so much! Pat

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