Posts Tagged ‘military move’

gardeningGod really does want us to bloom where we are planted. It was never more obvious to me as when we sat in our new church in our new town, yet again. I was tired of moving. Tired of spending almost 20 years as a military nomad. Tired of being the new girl and working so hard to make new friends. Tired of being nice and outgoing. Tired of being the one who always has to make the effort. I moved to our new town with a bad attitude and God wasted no time letting me know it was time to change.

The pastor spoke on some verses in Jeremiah 29 that were not familiar to me, and the passage moved me more than Uncle Sam ever has! I have gotten used to hearing Jeremiah 29:11 because it is used so often to remind us that we have a hope and a future of good things according to the Lord–which we do. But it has been a long time since I read the verses ahead of the famous Old Testament passage. These verses resonated with me deeply, and having just left the place we wanted to retire, and not being happy about where I was, they also convicted me. Forcefully.

Jeremiah 29:4-7

4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

I don’t remember what the pastor’s sermon was on because God was speaking to me as a military wife. He showed me how to really plug in–the way He intended me to–even if I was tired of doing it.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
If this verse is not made for the military family, I don’t know what is! Many of our moves have left me feeling like I have been sent into exile. I can hear all of you stationed at bases in the middle of nowhere–or in the middle of a foreign country–nodding in agreement. (Yes, I can hear the nodding because there are a lot of you!)

Those of us not relegated to the remote places of our world can also identify with this. The verse is talking about when the Babylonians marched the Israelites from their home to an unknown land. Can’t you relate? Our last base had become our home. We were comfortable there. We knew places. We knew people. We had a routine. Then we move and everything is foreign. We don’t know how to get to the store, we can’t find a local coffee shop and sometimes, we can’t even understand the language! But here is what the verse says: God carried you here! It was in His plan from the beginning for you to leave where you were and come to this land. He has a purpose for you here. He has put you here to prosper and show others what He can do.

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.
When we get to our new towns, God wants us to settle in. Not in a temporary way, but in a pretty permanent way. Why else would He tell us to plant gardens and eat what they produce?  While it isn’t always practical to literally plant a garden (although I usually find it fun), there is a lesson for us in this. We are to live where we are, not looking backward but looking forward to what our garden will produce. We are to dig up the ground, plant and produce fruit. We can do this by sowing, nurturing and tending the plants of relationships so they bear fruit. And here is the kicker! The fruit of this effort is for our benefit! When we eat the fruit of this relationship garden, it nourishes us, giving us purpose and sustenance. It keeps us feeling full. I can tell you from many times of feeling empty in a new town, I’m eager to feel full of this fruit!

There are opportunities all around to dig in the dirt and plant new relationships. The best place to start is in a church because they will understand your need for family. You can also volunteer, get out to the park, or take advantage of kid’s sports activities or play dates. Something that works for me is getting out of my car at football practice or during drop off/pick up at school and making small talk with the other parents. Or, simply make a point to get out of the house. Sitting on the front porch reading, washing the car–or planting an actual garden–gives you an opportunity to meet your neighbors. It might be easier to stay inside, but this is not what God wants for us! He wants us to have a fruitful garden of relationships.

When we move into a new neighborhood I usually set a date for an open house five or six weeks from when we get our household goods (which has the added benefit of inspiring me to get moved in!). We invite our neighbors over for an ice cream social and get to know them. It’s cheap, easy and works wonders in creating relationships in the spot where God has placed us.

Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
I understand that most of this verse does not really apply to us as military families–we are not anywhere long enough to actually raise our kids somewhere–but while meditating on this whole concept, I believe there is still instruction for us. God wants us to create relationships in our Babylon that will endure. He speaks of generations here which means we need to make sure the relationship saplings we plant are nurtured so lovingly that they will be there long after we are gone. We are to increase in number which may simply mean that we need to find opportunities to share God’s love, grace and mercy. God will put into our paths people who need Him. And amazingly He asks us to participate in His kingdom by sharing His love and His message of forgiveness through Christ. Having sons and daughters may mean that there are opportunities in front of you to share your faith so that we may increase in number. This has an everlasting implication.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
We are also to seek out and even work for the good of the city where God has placed us. Pray about where you are. Work for its benefit by volunteering to make a difference. Take care of the elderly. Adopt a pet. Clean up a park. Have a significant and positive effect on your city. Start a neighborhood watch. Help kids read. Leave it better than you found it. Pray for it. Then you will have prosperity. You will bloom right where God has planted you!

You have an amazing opportunity where you are right now to make an impact on your world. We even have a special benefit as military families because once we make an impact on one city, town or neighborhood, we know we’ll soon have the opportunity to do it again in a whole new Babylon!

When we apply the instruction in these verses to our nomadic military lives, think of the impact! Globally, we can make the world better by locally making our cities and neighborhoods better. Personally, our lives will be richer, more prosperous and more fulfilled–just by digging in, planting gardens and praying and acting on behalf of our Babylon. By doing these things, you are fulfilling God’s purpose for you in your unique life.

Ready? Set? Bloom!


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This is such an awesome idea from Chelle McIntyre, the Military Spouse Magazine’s Spouse of the year; she originally shared this on the Army Spouse Network and I just had to share! I’ll be making one of these–Right after the conference in May (I’m a little busy getting door prizes, volunteers and menus laid out!)

The Book of Everything

I have been quite busy lately leading workshops and meeting with Family Readiness Groups (FRG) and command leadership about something I strongly feel every military family should have: the Book of Everything. I’m referring to a book that holds the key to an easier time in the military for any family or single service member, for that matter. This tool is incredibly important for those of us with children because when registration for school, extracurricular activities, and medical appointments arise, having information ready and available is crucial.

The Book of Everything is exactly what it sounds like: a book that contains all of the vital information you will need for most situations. Instead of having to dig around in filing cabinets, shoe boxes, or under the bed for information that really should be right at your fingertips, the Book of Everything has all that information in one place, ready to use. Once created, the Book of Everything should be placed in a fire-proof lockbox that is easy to access.

The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to make one of these books. In fact, if you can convince your FRG to hold a workshop that teaches its members how to put together the Book of Everything, the materials can be requested through command so it costs neither the individual nor the FRG any money. Every family benefits from having the Book of Everything, so it isn’t limited to age, rank, or gender. It’s a wonderful way to offer an activity with your FRG or other support group that is meaningful and well-received.

Essentially, the Book of Everything is a two inch binder filled with sheet protectors, a pack of Post-It notes and a writing utensil. The pages contain information that a family or service member might need at any moment. There are certain things that should always be in the Book of Everything, while other parts of the book will vary from family to family. If you decide to put the Book of Everything together in a group setting, it is best to use the Post-It notes as a guide for what items belong in each sheet protector so that people won’t feel like they need to bring important documents that may get lost.

All books should have the following documents, placed in separate sheet protectors and clearly marked:
– Emergency Contacts: Command and FRG contact information, police, Poison Control, American Red Cross, etc.
– Everyday Contacts: Friends, family members, and regularly used services such as pharmacies, medical appointment lines, etc.
– Social Security Information: Copies or originals of Social Security cards for each family member as well as an easy access, wallet sized document containing all social security numbers.
– Copy of Most Recent Orders: Make sure it is a legitimate copy of orders that can be used upon request.
– Copy of Officer Record Brief (ORB)/ Enlisted Record Brief (ERB)/ Soldier Record Brief (SRB)/ DD-214: This is intended to provide service information upon request.
– Leave and Earnings Statement: A recent copy which will be helpful if there are any pay issues.
– Copy of Military Identification Cards: This includes any card bearing member of the family.
– Copy of Insurance Policies: This includes all insurance policies (automobile, Service Member Group Life Insurance, health, etc)
– Health Information: For each member of the family, a documentation of chronic illness, allergies to medication, prescription information, doctors, specialists and insurance information should be included.
– List of Bills: This list includes any bills (electric, car payments, internet, cable, etc) with the following information: type of bill, name and address of company, account number, average or exact payment, frequency due).
– Proof of Homeownership/Rental Agreement: Whether living on or off post, this is an important document to have on hand. Also included with this document is a note indicating where to find Home Ownership Association or rental rules and guidelines.
– Wills: Any wills that the service member or dependants may have.
– Living Wills: This is probably one of the most important documents to have because it alleviates the emotional stress of having to decide whether a loved one should remain on life support or not.
– Bank/ Investment Accounts: A list of all checking and savings accounts, including college and retirement funds and investments.
– Birth Certificates: Copies of each family member’s birth certificate.
– Shot Records: This includes not only the service member and dependants, but any pets, as well.

The following information may not pertain to everyone, but should definitely be included if it does:
– Marriage/Wedding Certificate: This should include any and all marriages.
– Divorce/Separation Decree: Documentation of divorces or separations.
– Adoption Certificate/Guardianship: Documentation relating to the adoption of dependants, guardianship of children or the primary caretaker of an adult family member.
– Custody Agreements/Child Support/Alimony Documentation: This should include information for service member and dependant where applicable.
– Passports: This should contain at least photocopies of each dependant’s photo page of passport. Originals may also be stored here.
– General Power of Attorney: This document entitles the service member to allow a particular person to make decisions on his/her behalf. Make sure there is an original copy, signed and notarized, if applicable.
– Special Powers of Attorney: This document is an alternative to the General Power of Attorney that specifies what decisions can be made by the service member’s designee. Once again, an original document, signed and notarized is necessary.
– Medical Power of Attorney: This document is intended to allow the designee that ability to make decisions in emergency situations relating to medical care.
– Piece of Mind Document: Every branch of the military has a packet of information that allows the service member to designate personal choices in case of death, injury, or other serious incident. This document can be found at most military support centers and should be filled out by the service member.

The Book of Everything is intended to ease the pressures that are so prevalent in the military. The fact is that we cannot control the frequent moves, extended separations, and dramatic life events that occur unexpectedly, but we can prepare better for them. Everyone wins when there is organization. Even though it isn’t easy to think about the idea of needing to use a will or the other negative connotations of preparing before a deployment, it’s actually much bigger than that. The Book of Everything is an easy to use way to ensure that bills are being paid on time, important contacts don’t get lost, and families can run a little smoother with a little organization.

Just a little bit of effort now can save hours of headache in the future.

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Last week I was so excited to head back to Colorado Springs. My heart broke when we moved from there a few months ago, but being a military family, we followed my husband to San Antonio when he was reassigned. My roots grew deep in that beautiful mountain town. I loved walking into the local coffee shop and hugging the owners because they were friends. I liked going to networking events and always finding someone I knew. I was glad to be involved in important community projects and be there long enough to see them come to fruition. Colorado Springs was the first time in years where I felt part of the community–probably because we were there so long (in military time, 5 years is an eternity in a community!).

So yes, it was a hard thing to leave all that, pack up our cars and drive to San Antonio. I had such culture shock driving into the Texas-sized city from I-10. We lived in the Alamo City in the late ’90’s so I thought I’d easily find my way around. I was amazed at the city’s growth–now double decker off-ramps adorned the freeway and I never even recognized the road we used to live on. However, once we moved into our rental, I felt disloyal to my Colorado home because I liked the house my husband picked out. (That’s a whole other story: the punch line? It was the first time he picked out our home and he did a great job!). We spent days unpacking and getting settled, and then I was in the midst of that “lonely time” while I tried to meet people to befriend.

When we left Colorado, I planned a week-long trip back for my Wings for Women board meeting, some fundraisers and networking. I counted the days until I could fly back “home” to my mountains and the beautiful city. When I finally arrived at the Colorado Springs airport, I pranced off the plane, drew in the fresh, mountain air, and enjoyed a long drink of fresh tapwater that tasted like melted snow. Then I started to notice some changes in myself. It began when I called Marksheffle Road (a thoroughfare in the Springs) “Marbach” (a San Antonio thoroughfare). And then the cold weather hit.

I froze all week because I didn’t have my boots and down jacket. I slid on the roads because the car I borrowed didn’t have 4-wheel drive like mine does. I got lost going to a meeting because I didn’t have my onboard navigator. I had to redo some work because my laptop didn’t support the program I used at home. And although I stayed with wonderful friends who were filled with hospitality towards me, I was still a guest in someone else’s home. About three days into my trip, I began to desperately miss my family. And that was when I learned that home is not where my heart is (for my heart will always be in Colorado).

Home is where my stuff is.

Home is where my family is.

I had fun in Colorado Springs catching up with friends and getting some important business accomplished. But when I got on the plane Sunday afternoon I sat down and smiled. I was heading back to the big city.

I would soon be with my family.

I was finally going home.

Have you ever learned a lesson such as this? I’d love to hear about it!

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What a wild two weeks! It has been five years since we moved last and boy did we accumulate some shtuff! We usually clean out every move, leaving behind those items that didn’t get used during that tour. After five years we had over 300 boxes to unpack. Way too much! I already have three boxes I’ve loaded up for another garage sale. That being said, my husband picked up a great home for us (his first time finding us an abode without my input). My son has made friends in the neighborhood and acclimated well to a new school. Things are good and I’m ready to start the conference planning and fund raising (so we can keep the cost down for military spouses).  I’ll be updating you on the details!

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