It's been good. It's been real good. Not without a little sweat and tears though. It's 5:00 in the morning here and my husband is out on a 7 mile run. I am up trying to finish a slideshow presentation for our formal this evening, but I had to stop just to write for a few minutes.
I didn't know what to expect coming into this, even with our prior time in the Air Force, and some of reality has not met my expectations, but all in all it's been good. I would say the toughest reality check for me was not being accepted by my neighbors. Word was out, and painted in a dark light, that the chaplain lived here and until our neighbors right next to us moved out and new people moved in no one spoke to us really. One lady did for a little while, but that seemed to change as time went on and I believe she found it difficult to be friends with me and hold on to her other friends here in the neighborhood. So, I trusted God in the situation and let it go.
Through it all God has taught me a lot. I have learned to lean on Him and know that He is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. I've made a good friend in my closest neighbor and she, too, will be moving into my new neighborhood where I believe we will both make friends and find people who accept us just the way we are. I've learned to spend my time not worrying about what I can't change and know that God will direct my path. He has provided me with friendships that can only be explained as God's orchestrated plan. My friend Sheryll is truly an amazing person and friend...a total blessing from God! And, my online friends are so wonderful that I sometimes forget they don't live right around the corner. They are always there for me and I appreciate them more than words can express.
Where did the gap come in regards to reality and expectations? Probably some of it had to do with the show Army Wives, and the fact that I never had trouble making friends when we were in the Air Force. The fact that we were enlisted and not in the chaplaincy may have had something to do with that, but who knows. In my mind I hoped I would find ladies like that right here in my neighborhood, and when I watched people turn their backs when I walked outside I was blown away. I don't say all this to make a big deal about it. I'm truly thankful for what I've learned through it all and not bitter at anyone whatsoever. I say it to encourage my friends who are thinking/praying about this life, or are in it right now and struggling to make friends, and to say that it will be OK. God has a bigger and better plan. Trusting Him, even when things don't meet your expectations, is vital. Leaning on Him during the struggles is so important. Knowing that God will see you through whatever it is that life brings you is key!
The greatest thing I've discovered thus far is a stronger, more intimate relationship with my husband. We've always been close. We've been best friends for many, many years. We've learned a lot over the last 21 plus years. We've grown in many areas and we're not who we were when we got married. God has been good. Knowing that he could deploy at any time, because that's just how it is in the Army, has caused me to take a hard look at how I am as a wife. More than anything, I want to be here for my husband when he's home...and I'm not just talking about the physical part of being at home. I want to sit and listen to him, truly listen. I want him to know he is loved, to sense my desire to be near him, to know that he is the most important person in my life, and to feel the love in both words and actions.
I am happy to clean the house and cook and get his clothes ready so that all he has to do is clean up and slip his clothes on. I've never enjoyed those little things so much in my life. I'm not sure when I started doing that, but it's almost fun to fold and lay his clothes out neatly on the dresser every day. He has three piles - the clothes to put on when he gets home from work (so that he can slip into relax mode as soon as possible), his PT uniform, and his ACUs. I share this for anyone who might be looking for a way to bless their Soldier in a small but meaningful way every day. I've learned to be more affectionate. It didn't always come so easily for me but I know how important it is and how much I will/do miss those hugs and kisses when he has to be or is away.
To sit still longer and let things that are less important go until he is out the door is something I also strive to do. Cleaning the house while he's at work is a priority. Our house, and everything about it, should be a safe haven. Works tough, real tough, so I want everything about this place to say, "Welcome home. Relax. Enjoy your time with your family. Look what I did today because I love you and want the best for you. Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family and for serving our country. I know it's not easy and I appreciate the sacrifices you make. You are important to me." Our love has grown stronger and more meaningful. More than anything I want him to know that what he does every single day means so much to me and I'm proud of him.
There are so many thing in between the toughest and greatest things I've learned this past year. I left out the obvious - serving the Lord, ministering to the Soldiers and their families - but I've written about that a lot and for some reason this is what flowed from my heart today. I pray it meets someone right where they are today. The Army life, as with anything, has it's good and bad points but I wouldn't change it. God brought us here and I trust that we will have good and bad days because it's in the moments of the two, and the somewhere in between, that we see more of who God is.
Lord, thank you for your love. Thank you for bringing us to this place. Thank you for the journey we're on and for all that we are experiencing through it. Thank you for the moments of great joy and the moments of pain. Thank you for the peace, comfort, strength and joy that You bring. Thank you for change that causes us to grow. Thank you for watching over us and guiding us. We are honored to serve you, Lord. Amen.