I told you all I’d finished this A to Z Challenge … I just didn’t say WHEN I’d finish it!! Not that anyone is truly waiting on me with bated breath …
So far I’ve shared some pretty special (to us) places that we have been privileged to live in or visit. I was born in Germany, moved to Virginia (DC area) when I was 4 years old, and then my family settled in East Tennessee when I was 10. I also went to college in East Tennessee and met and married an Army officer. Then the real adventures began as we lived on the West Coast and the East Coast and in between, as well as 3 years in Germany.
And then … well, our lives kind of came to a crashing halt. It wasn’t bad though – we’d finally had 2 children, and I thought I was ready to settle down. I just never imagined that the Southern Midwest would be where I’d settle down!
With the Army, we were given a “dream sheet” before every change of assignment. You could list your top places you’d like to be stationed, of course, with no guarantees that anything would be available there, but if it was …
This is how we ended up in Germany after Dan had completed his Advanced Officer Course … and we even wanted to live on the East Coast after that.
We lived in Virginia from 1999 to mid 2001 … and at this point, it was time to move again. Daniel contacted his branch manager, the person in charge of managing the officers in his line of work (MOS) … and we were given 3 options:
1. an unaccompanied tour for Daniel in Korea …
2. Ft. Polk, which is an Army post in the Louisiana swamps … and
3. Ft. Irwin, a post in the middle of the desert in California.
Believe it or not, we were most interested in going back to Cali! We’d only spent 3 months there when we were first married. But before things were finalized, the branch manager contacted us with a new option: a female officer had just found out she was pregnant and had decided to resign her commission and stay home with her new baby, leaving a position as a Patient Administrator open at an Army hospital in mid-South Missouri at Ft. Leonard Wood, otherwise known as “Fort Lost-in-the-Woods”.
Daniel’s parents were contemplating a move to Missouri at this time as well – and we’d never lived closer than 600 miles to our families in all our married lives to this point. We wanted our kids to know their grandparents. And so, Daniel agreed to take the position at Ft. Wood … and in October 2001, just after the events of September 11, we moved into housing (another first for us: living on post) – into a duplex there:
The irony of our duplex living is this: when we moved in, we were told NO ONE had lived in this duplex in 3 years, and I naively hoped no one would move into the other side … but during our 3 years here, we actually went through 3 sets of neighbors!!
Annie-Belle turned 1 year old shortly after we moved in – and Drew was just 3 years old. All our neighbors had children around this age – and we had a playground just behind our housing where we all congregated. These neighbors all down our street would turn into a blessing when Daniel deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004. These people (among others) watched out for us that year – they babysat, they stopped by when the weather (tornado warnings!) turned bad to check on us, they shared birthdays and meals with us.
I have to admit that while the housing was tight – less than 1200 square feet – the convenience of being on post was wonderful! We also found a great church during this time…with a Christian school that Drew soon started attending. And thus begins the long story of our time in ministry.
To my amazement, I loved living in Middle-of-No-Where, Missouri! I had made great friends, I had been reunited with several old military friends, I loved the church and its school. Now that we had kids, I wanted them to grow up here.
And so, in August of 2004, we bought a house here. When we drove up and saw this front porch, we were ready to sign the paperwork!!
I worked part-time for the Christian school that year as Annie-Belle had also started school there. And the next school year, my husband and I both worked full-time for the school after he resigned his Army commission. And we spent many happy years there … to include the UNEXPECTED birth of another child: MiMi in November of 2009.
Anyway, as unexpected as we came to Missouri, things changed somewhere around March of 2011 … and by January of 2012, my husband needed to resign his job as the administrator of the school by the end of the school year. This was very unexpected but necessary at this time.
The next months were full of unexpected events as well: unemployment, a broken leg for my husband, and the consideration of moving away from Mid-South Missouri.
And so, we landed in a very, very unexpected place with a new job/career opportunity – and no clue about the area: Northwest Arkansas. In yet another DUPLEX!
This area is great. It has a small town feel (a lot of green, a lot of outdoorsy stuff) with all the convenience and “culture” of a bigger city. Northwest Arkansas consists of Fayetteville (home of the University of Arkansas), Springdale (home of Tyson Chicken), Rogers, and Bentonville (home of Walmart).
I am not sure that we’ll settle here or not. I’ve come to expect the unexpected!! There is really nothing to tie us down here – although we still live close to Daniel’s parents – but we are open to whatever God has for us. For now, though, we are content to be here – ready to settle down more as we plan to move into a house this summer, which will hopefully make things feel a little more permanent.
The lesson I’ve learned through all this unexpectedness is that while we sometimes end up where we never imagined ourselves to be, in situations that seem impossible- even surreal or ridiculous – GOD is never surprised. This is hard for me, as a control freak, to understand. Giving up independence into the hands of an all-knowing God these last few years has changed me even while it has bee incredibly challenging at the same time. Through all the unexpected, God has been the same: yesterday, today, and forever.