Iowans on a Mission Homefront: Keeping the Faith - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowans on a Mission Homefront: Keeping the Faith


At times it's hard to judge whose challenge is greater: the brave troops on the battlefield, or their children and spouses who bravely wave good-bye and try to carry on without them.

Meet military wife Mollie Graves and her family, who help each other keep the faith.

Music fills the home of Mollie and Russell Graves, with children taking piano and violin lessons.

Learning also fills the home.

Military wife Mollie Graves teaches all her children school at home. Ten-year-old Daniel, 9-year-old Nathan, 7-year-old Cole, and 4-year-old Macie.

But above all, faith fills the halls and the hearts here.

"I had to put him in God's hands and realize that what god has planned for him will happen. Doesn't matter if I worry," Mollie said.

Hard-won wisdom from a woman who understands sacrifice.

"He's an outstanding man," She said.

Mollie's husband of 16 years, who joined the army in high school, First Lieutenant Russell Graves serves with the First 133rd in Afghanistan.

Not only that, but all four of Mollie's brothers and one nephew serve or have served in the military.

Her brother Chris Nielsen served as a medic in Afghanistan, Andrew served as a Chaplin in Iraq, Sam serves in the Army National Guard, Barnabas currently serves in Afghanistan, and nephew Adam serves there as well. 

"I'm extremely proud of their service," Mollie said. "They felt such an appreciation for the servicemen who have served, and they wanted to be part of that."

The family had good examples. Mollie's dad Timothy Nielsen served in Vietnam and her grandfather served in World War Two.

Luckily Mollie has the support of her mother Margaret close by, who understands Mollie's situation perfectly. After all, Margaret's youngest son and oldest grandson are currently deployed.

"I am very proud of everyone of them," Margaret said. "That they are willing to serve their country."

Mollie's family sees their grandmother several times a week, which has helped greatly, especially last fall when they thought their burden had reached its limit.

"We talked to boys about we can pray that grandpa gets better and God can make grandpa better, but he doesn't have to. And this time he chose not to," Mollie said.

In November 2010 with her husband unable to return from overseas, Mollie's father Timothy died of lung cancer.

"It was difficult not to have him here for that," she said.

"It's very difficult to lose a spouse," Margaret said. "My husband was so very proud of his sons."

As the family holds to their faith, they look forward to a joyful reunion this summer.

"I want him to come home quickly," Daniel said. 

"I think he's awesome and I miss him and I want to see him," Cole said.

"I look forward to swimming with him," Macie said.

"I'm pretty proud of him," Nathan said.

Even though not here in person, Mollie says her husband Russell's example is teaching volumes from afar.

"I want them to learn that you do the right thing even if you don't particularly enjoy it," she said. "That you develop good character through the trials in your life. So you don't begrudge the trials You do it because it's your job, and you do it because it's needed."

Until their husband and father returns, the Graves keep up their music, keep up their grades, and above all, they keep the faith.

Further testing the family's resolve, Mollie's grandfather died just months after her father.

But Mollie keeps very busy, leading her church choir and teaching piano lessons. They look forward to a summer homecoming.

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