The Time of Our Sojourning in Georgia

 

In Georgia, we learned to appreciate the delicacy that is Chick fil a…even with our peanut allergic kiddo. This was his choice of birthday lunch, even though he can’t eat the nuggets. He loves the fries and supporting a Christian company.

 

When Jacob, as in Jacob one of the patriarchs of Israel, moved to Egypt during the famine, his son Joseph introduced him to Pharaoh. Jacob was already ancient, so Pharaoh asked him how old he was.

Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”          Genesis 47:9-10

Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh provided his family a place to settle (Goshen), and Jacob went on about his business.

I read in my ESV Study Bible notes that the Hebrew term that was translated as sojourning indicates that they had no permanent home. This is true of his family. Abraham moved from Mesopotamia, through Haran, down to Israel. He moved many times, as did his grandson Jacob, who died in Egypt.

They were sojourners upon the earth. Land was promised to them, but they didn’t always live in it.

riding the cow train at the Rock Ranch

Of course, that made me think of my own situation, as a military wife.

For us, home is not a building of brick or wood. It’s togetherness. No matter where we are, we are home.

Nothing about this life is permanent anyway. I often hear military families who are retiring say that they have found their “forever home,” or they are moving into their forever home.

What they mean is that they are finally settling down and putting roots down to stay, perhaps until they die.

That sounds so horribly permanent, doesn’t it? Digging your hole and staying there until you die?

And yet, sometimes I long for it. I long for the white picket fence and the sold sign in the yard, to meet people and allow myself to believe that I will still know them in 30 years.

But our lifestyle continually reminds me that I am but a sojourner here upon the earth. I have no forever home here, and even if I do one day, a great many years will already have been spent in too many other homes to count.

That’s not a terrible thing. It’s exciting and promising to know that life is an adventure. What a journey. I may be in the South wishing for snow this winter, but next Christmas I may be whining about the freezing cold, dreaming of moving back to my ancestral land of Alabama.

There might be a chance that we could move somewhere we’ve lived before and meet up with friends we love, friends we don’t have to start at square one, “Hi, my name is April,” with but instead can go straight to, “How’s your dad doing now? Let’s have a barbecue this weekend!”

Nana and JD on Grandparent’s Day

 

 

The time of our sojourning in Georgia draws to a close. We have filled out our preference list, submitted recommendations from Alan’s people, and we await new orders.

Endless possibilities await. Will we stay down here? Will we return to our old Virginia stomping grounds? Or will it be somewhere new altogether? Where does the military need us next?

I have no idea, but I trust it to God’s hands. I sneak in looks at rental houses in areas I’d like to go and balk over the prices. Daydreaming will be done in abundance.

I hope once I near the end of this life I will not say that the days of my sojourning were few or evil, as Jacob said. Okay, well, by Jacob’s standards I can tell you my days will be few. He lived to be 147, but so far I can say with relief that the days of my sojourning have certainly not been evil.

The Lord has always been with me, and I know that he always will be, no matter where the journey leads.

 

True Stories of Real Army Wives: My First Teaching Job

my very first teaching job. True Stories of Real Army Wives during deployment

Sun., Aug. 10, 2003

Alan,

Hey Babe! Tomorrow is my first day of work. In case you haven’t yet gotten my previous letter, I got hired by Graham Elementary School downtown yesterday! Yay!!

I’ll be making $32,000 this year. It’s a state charter school serving mostly low-income students, but it’s located in a church. Yeah, it’s different, but I’m excited about it. I’ll be teaching 3rd and 4th grade in one classroom, all subjects.

It’s going to be tough. School starts the 18th, but teachers start tomorrow. I have to be there at 9:15 am, and from now on, I have a full-time job! It’s exciting and yet terrifying at the same time.

Last night, I cooked dinner for 8, mostly our neighbors: Elsie, Cloe, Annie, Kayla, Katherine, Jay, Phan, and myself. After dinner, Jay left and all the girls stayed and talked while I cleaned up, joining them occasionally in the living room.

I’m glad you met Kayla’s husband. She’s a real sweet girl. She’s enrolled at Central Texas College.

I got those three cameras developed today. I cannot believe you managed to use up 3 cameras in 1 month. And almost all of them are landscapes! Take pics of you and your friends, geez. Just do the method we use to take pics of ourselves, hold the camera in your right hand and click. I do it.

 

my very first teaching job. True Stories of Real Army Wives during deployment

Not all of Alan’s “landscape photos” were uninteresting. This one is of the Tikrit Palace Compound, which became 4th ID Headquarters during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Alan!! I’m so nervous!! How can I be a teacher??

I’m so scared! But it did hurt my feelings in one of your letters when you said you didn’t know how I’d be with kids because you’ve never seen me with children. Hello! Kid’s Klub! And did you ever notice Laura Ellen and Matthew like me? I know you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, but I couldn’t help it.

It’s so weird that I’m starting a new job tomorrow, and you don’t even know about it. I hope you call or email soon so I can tell you. I love you so much, and I hate not being able to share stuff with you. But I’ll deal.

I keep having these dreams that we’ve lost touch, and in them I’m always sad because you never call or visit.

In the dream, I’m all confused, and I don’t understand why we aren’t together. Dream April doesn’t know that you’re in Iraq. Many times you’re just in another state, but always we’ve lost touch, and I’m so hurt.

Depressing, huh? I guess my subconscious knows you’re gone, misses you, and feels abandoned, like a cat in a box on the side of the road. Ok. Ok. Sorry. I’ll stop.

I MISS YOU! I miss you so much I just want to cry! And if I keep thinking about it, I will cry, so I better move on to another topic.

Your family has been really helpful with the teaching job. Your mom and Ellen gave me lots of good ideas, which will help. I’m glad there are lots of teachers in the family.

I love you so much, Alan. Keep praying for me. The first year of teaching is super hard, but add that to the stress of a year-long deployment, and the thought is foreboding. I’m just thankful I’m a Christian. I couldn’t do anything on my strength alone. All credit is due Him.

Thank you for marrying me, Alan. If you were here, I would climb up in your lap and hug you so close and just have a good cry, while you tucked my hair behind my ears and told me everything will be okay. How I wish you were here. I know you do too.

I love you, you big stud muffin.

Forever Yours,

April

 

************

Was it a bad sign that I hadn’t even started my job yet, and already I wanted to cry?

Starting a full-time job like teaching was exhausting, and I was still trying to be a good housekeeper and a faithful friend. The funny thing is that once you have a full-time job, whether you are a man or a woman, something has to give.

No one can do ALL the things. Even without kids, we have to delegate things to give ourselves space to breathe.

When I was in high school and college, I worked, but I had certainly never been a school teacher before. To this day, I will tell you that all teachers are underpaid, and I have all the respect in the world for them!

 

***********

Tues., Aug. 12, 2003

10:48 pm

Dear Alan,

I just have too much to do to get to bed early! And I’m sleepy! But I guess you know what that’s like.

I had in-service training from 9-3. I stayed after and talked to Mrs. W. I can’t remember her name, but it starts with a W. There were so many questions I still had unanswered. Mrs. W. was very helpful, and she will be extremely easy to work for.

After work, Annie needed me to drive her to the PX so she could buy a phone card to call her fiancée, Drew, in Germany.

Then I had to drive to Copperas Cove and fill out my “I have a job” form. By the time I got home it was 4:45. I came in and changed, vacuumed the house, tidied up, and collapsed on the sofa at 5:30 or so for a brief break in which I consumed like literally 20 ounces of blue Gatorade in 2 minutes flat.

I was exhausted!

So I made myself dinner, and I was all excited about watching the Miss Teen USA pageant, but I didn’t even really get to watch it because the phone rang. It was your mom, and the call was helpful because I got some good ideas from her. Then my mom called, which was good, but they were both very long calls.

Then I had to get online and submit my application for certifications, and I got that done, and that brings me to now.

I don’t have any idea how full-time workers keep a clean house!

There is delicate laundry hanging to dry all over the place, dirty dishes in the sink, clean, unfolded laundry and school supplies everywhere! I could get much more done if the phone didn’t ring so much, but I know that it is good for me that so many people love me and want to talk to me. Even still, I did ignore three other phone calls.

Oh, Alan! I CAN’T WAIT ’til you get back! I need you! That would help my busy-ness because you can take over the laundry. You’re better at it than me anyway.

 

my very first teaching job. True Stories of Real Army Wives during deployment

Me, in teacher classes. Yes, I used to be tiny, but I promise I do have a right arm. That was an odd angle.

 

I also learned more about the school and my room today. This school is fine arts oriented. Many children miss out on opportunities for piano, dance, those types of lessons because their parents can’t afford it, like when I was little. I wanted to take dance but couldn’t because it was too expensive.

This school has several fine arts teachers to provide those services. They have chorus, piano, violin, ballet, etc. Really! Pretty cool, huh?

Yet they have no media center…not so cool…But I think it’s a good school, and I’m excited about working here.

I love you, Alan, and I miss you so much. I get letters from you constantly, almost everyday. It means so much to me! You know that though because I’m sure you feel the same way about me.

I know I’m complaining about getting too many phone calls, so allow me to clarify. I am thankful that I am loved. It is a blessing. Calls from you MAKE my day. I love it.

So you just call ANYTIME.  I love you so much, and I always will. Hang in there. It’ll be winter, or at least fall, before you know it!

I love you,

April

*************

I didn’t even get to go into my classroom until the third day of training, and there was such an overwhelming amount of cleaning, decorating, organizing, and planning to do in there.

My friend Sarah was a life-saver. She rescued me day after day, organizing my things, filing my papers, helping me move desks. I couldn’t have done it without her.

We poured ourselves into setting up that classroom, which left little time for planning the actual lessons! I was left furiously scouring the internet for good first-day-of-school ideas the very night before school was to start.

And I’ll tell you all about the first week of school, and the mother I called “the Toothless Wonder” — Don’t worry. Only in my head I called her that– next week!  😉

 

Want to catch up? Click here for last week’s post and here for the very first post in this series.

 

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Military Finances: Newlyweds on 2 Separate Continents

 

*******This post is part of the series, The Real Army Wives. For last week’s post click here.*******

Guest Post from Cloe

Real Army Wives: The Mystery Checks

Today’s post is written by a good friend and fellow real Army wife of mine who is the inspiration for the character, Cloe. You can read more about her on this post. When I mentioned this to Alan, he said, “Oh yeah, Rob! That dude had to shave his face twice a day.” Oh, the things you remember…

 

Early Summer 2003

“What? What do you mean there isn’t enough in the account to cover this withdrawal?”

I stand in front of the bank teller counter confused. I’ve been the only one using the account for three months since my husband left for war. I thought I had a handle on this part of military life, even if I was only 20 years old.

The teller says she can pull the account history. Apparently, several checks just cleared and they were signed in my husband’s name.

I haven’t heard from him since he left- no letter, no email, no phone call. I had written to him at least once a week. Although I was in college, I didn’t know many people since I hadn’t lived near Killeen for long. Writing letters helped me feel closer to him.

I wrote him a different kind of letter this time: expressing my concern of the possibility of fraudulent checks or if it was him- I was really upset he spent that much money without thinking of how I would pay the bills! I had paid the rent by the “skin of my teeth”.

But I kept glancing at the account history and copies of the checks. I even called his dad and asked him to take a look at them.

Somehow each check had the date, amount, and signature written differently. Why were the dates sometimes numbers but others written as words? Some in cursive but others in print letters? Why was the signature not consistent? It made no sense to me.

In the letter I wrote, the first words were “We’ve got a real problem”!

I also sent him the bank paperwork to claim someone had committed check fraud, pretty serious stuff. I believed someone had stolen the few checks he took with him.

A few weeks later he called! I was so nervous to take his call, I had dreamed and wished for so long (3 months) to hear from him and talk gushy sweet nothings as newlyweds . But, it wasn’t the sappy call I was hoping for. He called because his command heard about the potential check fraud paperwork I had sent. His Lieutenant Colonel allowed him to call because they were concerned.

That’s when he breaks the news to me that he had never written a check before.

Seriously, at 20 he hadn’t written a check before???? I couldn’t believe he had actually written those checks. He said he really needed those items he bought at the PX in Kuwait.

I felt sort of bad for him, being in the midst of war and all, but I still asked him to rip up any remaining checks.

It was one of the first financial lessons we learned as a married couple.

–And looking back probably a clue into my love of accounting. To this day we still joke about one item he bought, which was new technology for 2003. It never made it home since within a few days of purchase it “fried” in the intense Iraq summer heat! So much for being “necessary.”

 

***************************

It truly was a struggle trying to manage finances from 2 separate continents. You can’t predict the crazy things that will happen!

Thank you so much for allowing me to post your story, Cloe!

Click here for the next chapter in this series.

 

 

 

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