The 9th Move: Empty Houses, “Bees”, and Good-byes

 

Sweet Home Alabama

I know you are probably expecting an update on the cross-country move. Well, all I can tell you is that:

my pretty new kitchen

my pretty new kitchen

1.) We are still negotiating repairs on our new house, which may end up delaying our move-in date. So so sad!! I’m choosing to hope for the best. Moving in July 1st or bust!!!

2.) JD and Dan are having trouble adjusting to the “bees”, and by bees, they mean GNATS.

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He’s happy for a few moments, until the gnats start in on his sweaty face again.

and 3.) The big boys spent their last day in California playing with neighborhood friends and skateboarding while the movers are loading our truck. Caleb even got to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Aquarium with one of his best buds. (Thank you, Joy!!!)

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Caleb and our sweet friends

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Each time I looked down this street of mostly empty houses, the homes of my friends who all moved out a week before I did, I would feel that sad longing to live a regular life, where people only move occasionally, where you grow old with the same group of people.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say good-bye less often?

But that’s not our life. In our world, you don’t watch your kids grow up together. You spend a few years with each new friend, and then it’s on to the next town. And who knows what awaits us all there? We have only to trust God with our future because most of it is out of our control anyway.

Move-out week was hectic, but it ends suddenly, and before you know it, you are on new ground.

As I entered the health clinic of our new duty station, I found my way to the Tricare office. And I couldn’t help but think about how time has changed us. When we started this journey of military service, we were in our early 20s. Alan had finished his training and was ready to take on his first true duty assignment.

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a very young us

At each new post, you have to go enroll in Tricare and have them assign you a doctor. Way back when we began, in a Texas installation, we stumbled in with clueless bravery and happiness. We were both timid and excited. It was all such an adventure. Well, Alan was the brave hard-charger. I was the timid one, probably asking to wait in the car.

But on this Tuesday, many moons later, I no longer feel timid. I called first. Why bother walking in there if the clinic doesn’t even have a Tricare office, I figured. I went without my husband, because I no longer need him to accompany me. Each post does things slightly differently though, so I had to figure this new one out. And when you do that, you have to inevitably provide a little background. Who are you? What do you need? Where are you coming from?

As it turns out, you now enroll on the phone, so that’s what I did. That’s new. But in the meantime, I asked the girl in the insurance office about the local system for health care. How are the doctors? Where’s the family clinic? Do you outsource for cardiology and pediatric neurology? I got my questions answered, and somehow it came up that I’ve moved 9 times already.

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the 9th move

9 times. And suddenly I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway. You remember when he finally returns to civilization, after being stranded on that island for so many years? And they ask him questions, and it’s just like….where do you even begin to explain?

How do I explain? And people have begun to ask me how close we are to retiring from the military. Huh. How can this be? Where did the time go?

I can’t say that I do still feel like that 22-year-old girl, standing by the bus, hugging my soldier as he shipped out to Iraq because I don’t feel at all the same. I’m not the same. Alan is not the same. We are older, wiser, loaded down with children, far less emotional, and less extreme on all accounts. We are both hardened and softened, and we are nowhere near finished.

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the first time I welcomed Alan home, 12 years ago

However, I am still just as ready to meet whatever comes our way as I was fourteen years ago.

Here’s to all the adventurers, the nomads, and the wanderers. May we always be learning, always seeking, and never shy away from the call of the ocean, or the Lord, or whatever calling it is that we follow on our path.

As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord. The government only thinks they call the shots. But it was never so plain who truly directs our steps as it was the day that I sat in a doctor’s office, anxiously awaiting a doctor who had just explained to me that I needed medicine for my high blood pressure and racing heart. Stress was killing me. Right then, while the PA got my prescriptions signed off on by the doctor, I got a text from Alan.

That text said that Alan’s next job was taking us home!!!  Just when I needed that news most! I could see God’s fingerprints so clearly. We had not even asked for a respite from our wandering, and yet we’ve been given two years at home. This happened once before. I never dreamed it would happen again. That morning, I felt the essence of soaring on the wings of eagles.

…30Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not grow tired, They will walk and not become weary.   Isaiah 40:31

9th move

Daniel’s tee-ball team, coached by Alan, taking it in for one last huddle

Today Alan, Joshua, and Caleb say their good-byes. Dan, JD, and I await them down South. Good-bye sweet California friends. Thank you for being there for us through the hardest job I’ve ever had. Thank you for loving us when we needed it so badly.

 

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Bring on the next adventure!

 

God provides, as always. Hallelujah!!

“Cheese.” Sweet deal: I eat some dirt. I get a bath. I knew I left my cow in here!

I’ve been struggling lately. It’s been a year of lots of change, it’s overwhelming, and Alan is so busy with his engineering classes. Some days I have been a borderline bitter/icky person. I didn’t realize just how gloomy I’d gotten until I was at Bible study Thursday night with some gals in my neighborhood, and I just HEARD MYSELF. Woah. I need to get it together!

This week I really hit a low point, and I just sat on my balcony (love that thing) and cried and prayed. I prayed something like, “God, I don’t know how or what, and I’m not even 100% sure what my problem is, but I need help.” And just like he ALWAYS does…..

God sent help. I didn’t have any ideas for Him on how He could help me. I just knew I needed help.

My patience has been tried and found wanting.

But God. But God.

God answers prayer. I remember in 2011, Daniel was a newborn, our third baby. The other boys were ages 5 and 3 1/2. Alan got orders:  Afghanistan for 6 months. There I was with three small boys, and no relatives nearby.

God provided. He always does. This wonderful mentor of mine, Deborah, sent me help in the form of her daughter and a couple of their friends. They took turns staying at my house from Sunday night through Wednesdays, every single week, just so I could have the help I needed. I was actually able to go to the grocery store by myself–and make dentist appointments. Such a luxury!!

Then when JD was born–I was such a pitiful c-section recovering, anemic, postpartum MESS. God was there. I just prayed, “God help.” He sent my mom. My neighbors brought food, constantly. It was such a blessing.

Dear God, I’m sorry you have to keep bailing me out of troubles!!!

I get the feeling he doesn’t mind doing it, though. I was just reading in the book of Jeremiah today. (Yes, I’m still in Jeremiah. I’m calling it the read-the-Bible-through-in-two-years plan this time.) I’m plugging away, but I’m also doing a new Bible study now.

Thursday nights I am now going to a Ladies’ Bible study group in my neighborhood. I’m excited about this, and it’s after 8pm, so I don’t have to feel guilty about leaving my husband, who desperately needs to be doing homework, alone with four little boys because they are all already in bed. This group is going to be a great blessing. I can see that already.

Then the very next night, Friday, I went to my homeschool moms’ group’s “Moms’ Night”. Lacy is uniquely talented at coming up with questions to get the group talking. When she announced the question this week, “How full is your tank right now, and what do you do to fill it back up when it’s low?”………..Oh, I knew I was in trouble. I knew I could not answer this question without crying.

“Maybe no one will notice if I slip under the radar and don’t take a turn at answering the question,” I thought.

hahahahaha Well, that didn’t work. So of course, I bawled like a baby, in front of a whole group of women that I only met less than two months ago. What else could I do? Say, “Oh, I’m great. My tank is so full. I love getting lost all the time, missing all my friends and family, and never getting to just hang out with my husband.”  Don’t get me wrong. Alan faithfully comes home everyday, in time for dinner, and he even manages putting the boys to bed. Usually, he tucks in all the boys and I do the baby. But once that is done, Alan stays up until at least midnight doing homework, just to keep up. We rarely ever get to just chill.

So there you go. These are not the easiest of times for us. I don’t know many people. It’s not perfect.

However, I totally think God put me in this position on purpose. I think God wants me to focus more on my own house and children right now. He knows I need as few distractions as possible to survive this FIRST year of home schooling.

The only hitch is that I tend to fill my tank by hanging out with friends. I hardly even get to hang out with my best friend, Alan, much less others, so it’s hard to keep my tank running.

This isn’t all bad either. It has forced me to depend more on God, to pray more, to humble myself more. I needed this, whether I like it or not.

Well, I told the Friday group some of this, through the crying, which probably made it impossible to understand anything I said. So embarrassing. They were wonderfully understanding though.

I even got the BEST compliment ever:  One of these sweet, sweet women said to me, “You remind me so much of Anne of Green Gables.”

YA’LL!!!  Best compliment.

I told you that God has answered my prayers again, right? He did. First, I got to go to the Bible study on Thursday and the Ladies’ Night on Friday. Both nights were so helpful.

Then today, two of these women invited me to two different things. I had to turn down both invitations because of Alan’s studies, but it felt so good to be invited.

THEN, and this is really exciting, Alan’s mother called and said that they are coming in just a few weeks for a help visit!!!  They want to come and help us!!  They want to take care of our children while we tend to the jobs we can’t get to. They want to be here on Saturday so Alan can actually work at the library.

Now we have this beacon of hope to look forward to! Help is coming, and we need it. I can’t even explain why we need it so much, but we just do.

I love my job. I love teaching the boys. I love holding my babies. I love getting to watch Daniel go from baby to big boy. I love writing my blog and growing it into something that more people will want to read. I love cooking. I love keeping a house that looks nice–haven’t actually managed that last one in a while. I love it all, but I just can’t DO it all lately.

My prayers have been answered. I feel so full of hope today. God is a gentleman. God will not force his blessings upon you. Just think how many atheists would be disappointed if he did!! It’d be like those women that get angry at men that hold doors. He will gladly help those who ask him to, though. He only asks that you obey his commands, but he does not force us.

Jesus summed up God’s commands in two things, in Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

That brings me back to what I was saying earlier about reading in Jeremiah. In today’s reading, Babylon had taken over Judah, and the remaining remnant went to Jeremiah and said, “Pray to God for us, and ask him what we should do, and we will do whatever he asks us to do.”

Jeremiah prayed on their behalf, and God told him that if the people would obey Him and stay in Judah through this time of Babylonian rule, there would be no famine or hardship. God promised to look over this remnant of people, if they would only trust him and not flee to Egypt. If they left for Egypt, all of these horrible things would happen to them as a result of their disobedience.

This should have been a true comfort to these people. Just trust God! He will take care of you! The prophet Jeremiah said it, and he had a spotless record!!! He’d been warning them that the Babylonians were coming if they didn’t cut out their evil ways for YEARS!

Well, in true faithless “do what we wanna do” form, the people ran off to Egypt. Of course, Nebuchadnezzar crushed Egypt too, so that turned out to be the wrong decision, just as God had said. If only they had listened. The thing is, God will not make us listen. He only asks us to. He is a gentleman.

I don’t want to be like the remnants of Judah. I want God in my life. God is always FAITHFUL. I know I can follow him anywhere, and so far he has brought us to such wonderful places, given us a precious family, and overwhelming peace in the midst of all storms. We know this too will pass, and we are seeing our God carrying us through already.

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So today I’m praising him, and nothing else is going to get me down.

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