This Military Life | Bloom Where you are Planted

Bloom where you are planted

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Lots of you are moving this summer. Oh, how I feel your pain. Moving is stressful and never easy on so many levels. But, by golly! You all do it so well, and come alongside one another when needed – entertaining kids for the day, helping to load trucks, cooking and delivering meals, helping to sort, pack and repurpose! I have seen it all.

My worst move was the one we did last summer. I was on my own – not to rat out my husband, as it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t be with me. He had training he had to do before we moved to the new assignment and new work responsibilities. {Imagine for a moment what it is like to learn a new job every one, two, three or four years! Seriously, that is what our warriors do…they are constantly learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. I am amazed at what my warrior does and how quickly he acclimates to a new job!}

Now…I am not one who likes to tell all of the horrible stories on moving and deployments and change…it is like telling a pregnant woman all of the horrible birthing stories. Really?? Why do we do that?? I like to be real and authentic, but NOT dramatic.

But, I am going to tell you this story so that I can give  a shout out to those who came to my rescue during the most difficult move I have ever  had. And please keep in mind, I was living in a Local Community, not on a Military Installation.

I had done what I could to get my boys (ages 7 and 9 at the time) plugged into a camp the week of the move. Unfortunatley…it was a huge disappointment. The kids hated it, were miserable in the heat and it just wasn’t a good fit. So, I let them stay home with me, but quickly needed to find a way to get them out of way for part of the day at least. Our sweet neighbor with boys nearly the same age, took my boys for several days in a row!

I had prepared our home as best I could for the team coming. My husband had hired a crew to come early and disassemble our trampoline. I had drinks on ice, food in the fridge, plans for ordering lunch, bags packed and items set aside that weren’t meant to go in tot he moving truck.

Then in walked four young, confident men. Honestly, I should have seen it coming. They were a bit cocky and dismissive when I asked them about packing methods. They seemed to be in a bit of hurry. They said the things they knew to say to assure me that they had it all under control. But, as things began to get packed on three different levels of my house – even though I had asked to them stay in one level at a time so that I could watch them – I soon saw signs of poor packing. Argh! What to do? I said a lot of prayers, spoke up when I saw something not quite right, called my  husband for advice {although, there was very little he could do}, and just believed that it would all be okay. It is all just stuff really. Read more here: Moving Tips from a Military Spouse.

The morning after the final box was packed I woke to find over 50% of the boxes with packing tape coming undone. This has never happened before! I called the TMO contact I had {TMO is the branch that handles the details of our move and those they contract with}. He came to inspect and advised I call the company.  I had to ask them to come back and requested that they re-tape all of my boxes. Two of the packers, you know the ones I wasn’t to sure about to begin with, showed up. I wasn’t feeling terribly confident, and my personality doesn’t like to rock the boat. I asked them to please re-tape all boxes – stating that I had even talked with their manager about it. Yet, in under two hours they were done and said they had checked all boxes and only re-taped those that needed taping. Ugh…my vision was boxes coming open and stuff spilling out from the East Coast to the South West USA.

The one shining person in the entire experience was our driver and his top-of-the-line truck. He was so proud of that truck! But, when he came to assess the state of our things prior to loading them on his truck, he was not impressed with the quality of the job the packers did. What ultimately complicated things was that we had four different companies contracted to do our move: One to coordinate the logistics of the move, another to pack, another to load and the last to drive the truck with our stuff. And, no on worked well together! In fact, at 5pm on the day of loading, three guys walked off the job and left 50% of my belongings sitting in my garage. There was nearly a fist fight between them and the driver – whose intent was to take care of our stuff and his truck. It was a mess.

And, for four hours we waited (until 9pm) for a new crew of individuals to show up and finish loading the truck. We were stuck. We had to be out of our house that day. Never before had it taken more than one day to load our things. And my husband still wasn’t home. He would be home in the wee hours after the loaded truck drove away from our house.

This is when the friends and neighbors really came to my aid. By 6pm that day of loading, I had half a dozen people show up to help. My neighbor helping me with the boys spontaneously decided that they could just spend the night at her house so that I could get the job done. Another neighbor, retired Army, showed up with spotlights, lamps and extension cords because it was pitch black outside and impossible to load in the dark. Fellow military friends who had just finished packing and loading their house that afternoon showed up to help me. We all carried things down do the curb to be loaded. Dinner was brought over by another neighbor. And…the driver never once grew weary, threw his hands up, or gave up on me. He was totally on my side and had a “Can Do” attitude all the way. I had even gone as far to send out messages to friends and family asking for prayers.

By midnight the truck was packed and the doors closed. We had received 2 temp workers at 9pm that came with good attitudes and willing spirits. They worked their tails off! We repaid them with pizza, coke and a big tip!! I will forever be grateful.

I never cried. Got angry. Or lost my smile. How? God and I have been around the block quite a few times. I have been angry, resentful, even vengeful at Him at times reacting to life experiences that have come my way. And, when this catastrophic move happened, I had learned a lot of  lessons that came to my rescue.

First, God has got it! Eveything is for a reason. And you will come out stronger on the other side.

Second, it is all just stuff. As long as the children, pets and spouse make it safely to the oterh house you are good.

Third, there is no use getting all worked up about things you cannot control. You will wear your self out and hurt those you love.

Finally, it is worth investing your time and energy in Blooming Where You Are Planted – or in other words – thriving, building relationships, investing in others no matter where you are or for how long you are there.

When it came time for us to move last summer, we had only been living in PA for 11 months. In 11 months time, we had invested in relationships providing opportunity for people to step up and help us when we needed it. It was no big deal for me to contact my neighbor to help us with lighting. Or to ask for the boys the stay at someone’s house. Or, for our neighbor to offer us a meal and refreshing drink in the midst of our hard work. Had we kept our doors and hearts closed from those around us because we were only going to be there a short 11-months, I would have never able to reach out for help.

Investing in relationships, no matter how long you are in a location, is vital – for you, for your family, for your children and for your community! We can’t always live in the home we want to. Or send our kids to the ideal school. Or replicate all of the amazing activities, shopping and restaurants we had at the last duty station. But, we can choose not allow our current conditions to tear us away from seeing the opportunity we have to invest in a full life.

Did you know what I discovered that year? My neighbors who had student families from the Army War College living amongst them in rental houses from year to year, knew very little about military life. We who live this life, know there is a stark difference between civilian life and military life. I have heard military spouses complain that civilians don’t welcome them into their communities, or offer support, or reach out. Do you know why? Have you ever asked? I have….and you know what I have heard again and again, they want to help, they just don’t know what to do or how to help. They don’t know what military life is like, thus our needs are not even on their radar.

So, don’t begrudge locals in your community or your neighbors or even those in your church because they haven’t reached out to you or haven’t offered to help you with your immediate needs. Instead, reach out to them, get to know them, get to know the area you are in.

Tell your story – your Military Life story. (Begin by leaving a comment below.)

Give them an opportunity to look inside your life for a while to see how we live. Take the time to educate them on what living this military life is really all about. Let them know your needs – without being whiny or dramatic of course – and their eyes will be opened.

Think of the last time you were in an unfamiliar place – maybe you were on a mission trip in a foreign country, maybe a new part of the US with a unique and distinct culture, or even sitting in on a presentation or lecture about a topic you were sure you didn’t agree with. Once you had experienced life from that angle for a moment – didn’t that make you more aware and sensitive to the situation/ the topic/ or the community? I am certain it opened your eyes to the needs around you in a new way.

What an opportunity we have to represent the Armed Forces well. We have the opportunity to forge relationships with civilians and show them what resilience, endurance, and authentic living is really like. We get to plant seeds wherever we go.

Eleven months of building and investing in relationship with my local community enabled me to have more help than I knew what to do with in my time of need. My only regret is that we had to leave so soon. We served one another in authentic relationship for the time we were there, and I will forever be grateful.

 

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