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Army wife, mother, author, speaker, businesswoman and runner

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Michelle Cuthrell does it all while still making time for family

By Becca Owsley

Some stay-at-home mothers have found ways to nurture careers from the home, too. Often inspired by their role as mother, homemaker or wife, these creative women are channeling their skills to build businesses, craft products and help others. In April, Wednesday's Woman is taking a look at some of the area's mamapreneurs.

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Michelle Cuthrell was 23 years old, fresh out of college, 11 weeks pregnant and in Alaska during her husband’s first deployment.

She only had been in Alaska nine months and saw herself as a victim who was ready to egg army buildings near her home.

"I didn’t have a handle on what it meant to be a military spouse and the kind of honor this life is," Cuthrell said.

When she thought her husband would be home from his 12-month deployment, she found out he had to stay in Iraq four more months.

In her frustration she met a lady who told her she couldn't change her circumstance but could change her attitude. And that's what she did.

She's found the inspiration to make the most of life's challenges, an outlook that keeps her focused on the bright side and an outlet to help others.

She started writing a column called "On the Home Front" for the "Fairbanks Daily News" about her experiences dealing with deployment.

When her husband got back, her editor pointed out she has 16 months worth of columns that could be compiled into a book. In her book, "Behind the Blue Star Banner," she shares both her failures and strengths during that time.

She admits she was a wimp but had strong women around her who helped her see how to serve in humility and joy.

"I’m no different than any other spouse. Every military spouse has an amazing story of strength on the home front," Cuthrell said. "I feel really blessed to be one of the lucky few to get my story into print."

The book has opened up opportunities to speak about her experience and help other wives serving along with their husbands.

She’s now 28 and has been married to her husband, who she still calls the man of her dreams, for seven years.

"He asked me to say 'I do,' but I had no idea how much I’d be doing," she joked.

They’ve moved from Ohio to Alaska to Washington to Texas to Vine Grove and had two deployment babies.

Matt is currently a resident at Ireland Army Hospital on Fort Knox. Their stint here is only a year and then they will move on to a new location.

She hated moving at first, leaving Ohio kicking and screaming. But now she sees each new place as adventure and can't wait to see where they send them next, she said.

As they move she feels blessed to have been able to continue speaking to military spouse groups and work as editor in chief of a company called Good Catch Publishing. The company compiles stories of people involved with churches, non-profits and other organizations. The collections are often books of testimonies of people who have seen changes in their lives or who have been helped by some of these organizations. 

"I have the opportunity to read some very encouraging real life stories," Cuthrell said.

She loves to read and edit.

"I’m kind of a grammar geek," she said.

This job allows her to work from home during her sons' naptimes and take her work wherever her husband is stationed next.

"I really do feel like I have the best of both worlds," she said.

With the power of her laptop and creative spirit, she joined a growing number of women who find ways to have a career while being at home with their children. Her job allows her to homeschool her 5-year-old, and spend time with her children and husband, which is especially important as moments together are few, she said.

Counting the time they were dating, Cuthrell and her husband have been together 10 years but, because of his military commitments, have really only spent three years of that time actually together.

She said her faith helps her have the attitude she now carries about military life and helps her in everything she does.

"I do not have enough strength to do this life, but God has provided so much strength and my faith has gotten me through deployment after deployment," she said. "God is absolutely the biggest thing in my life that has gotten me through so many things."

Along with all the other activities, Cuthrell loves running. She and her husband have ran half marathons in Washington and Texas and will run the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon together later this month. Depending on the race regulations, they will often push the kids in double strollers to race as a team.

"Part of that whole team spirit we try to foster so we can tackle this military life as a family team," she said.

The family plans to stay in the army until her husband has served 20 years and can retire. She hopes to use the opportunity to visit as many places as possible while it's provided by the army. She also loves her job and said she wants to work with Good Catch Publishing as long as they will have her.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Getting to know Michelle Cuthrell:
Favorite Book: Current favorite is “The Help”
Favorite Movie: Rarely get’s out to see movies but likes “The Green Mile.”
Favorite TV show: “The Biggest Looser”
Favorite Music: Christian or praise music
Spare time activities with the kids: Besides running she likes to read or play with the boys in the backyard.
When she grew up: She wanted to be a broadcast news reporter and was one in Alaska but decided she didn’t like having to get made up for television every day and print journalism was more her style. She still does freelance work for Army publications.
Family: Husband, Matt and kids Conner, 5, and Joel, 2. Ironically Conner and Joel have the same birthday.
Pets: A dog named Ranger. He’s an army dog who has also adjusted well to all the moves but didn’t do well with the snow in Alaska because it was taller than he was.

For information on Cuthrell’s book or speaking engagements go to www.behindthebluestarbanner.com and for her publishing company go to www.goodcatchpublishing.com.