Friday, May 13, 2011


Home. We're back home. And as I look around, knowing it will only be "home" for another 6 weeks, I think about how much it means to me.

We got married in 2003 and in 2005 Stephen graduated from law school, passed the BAR and then went on to the Army JAG course in Charlottesville, VA. It was there that the wife of the General over the school invited the wives over to her house and offered me perhaps the best advice I've ever been given in the Army. She said "Wherever you are, make it home." I really took that to heart. What she meant was that the military would send us to many unknown destinations and our happiness there would depend on our own attitudes. That is so true. Here's a look back at the places we've called "home" in our marriage:

Our first "home" in New Jersey:

This home means so much to me because it's where our married life began. We got married in January in Texas, and it was 74 degrees, but we left 2 days later for New Jersey and faced one of the biggest blizzards in history - and definitely the biggest I'd ever seen! It was hard to be so far from home without a job, without my family, and without any friends. I had to lean on God and my husband, and through that, He brought us all three closer. It was a time of growth and we met friends and developed relationships with a small group bible study there - our "mini-church." These relationships grew deep and have lasted through many years and many miles. It was truly a memorable time in that little apartment! When we left New Jersey, though, our famliy was growing. In fact, the DAY our movers came there, we also had my 20 week ultrasound appointment of our first little baby.

We went from there to the JAG school I mentioned, where we lived in a hotel for several months and then moved to Fort Lee, Virginia when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Oh, that was a fun time. We upgraded in size a bit for our house, but not so much in style... Here's our home on base there:

It may not look like much to you, but it means oh, so much to me. This is where we brought our baby boy home... and his brother, too! This is a special home. When we moved in, we found out that the movers had sort of misplaced our stuff and it took about 2 weeks to get it. Yep, and I was 35 weeks pregnant. We ended up sleeping on an air mattress on the floor and when I had to pee in the middle of the night a hundred times, I'd have to wake up Stephen and have him push me forward to help me roll out and get up with my big belly. We got the nursery done, though! My mom and sister came to help and I even convinced all of them to paint stripes on the wall! Boy, the things you get people to do with the first baby and grandbaby! That didn't happen the second time around, haha!

But the people here were no different than New Jersey. Well, actually, that isn't true. The people in Virginia were a lot different than the people in NJ, but what I mean is we still had great friends. We were part of a great church where we worked with youth and learned perhaps more than we taught! We loved those kids and the other adults. The neighborhood on post was a great place to meet other moms and I spent countless hours at the "yellow park" or "blue park" as the neighborhood kids named them. People were constantly moving in and out, but with that came so many lasting friendships. We are so thankful for things like email and facebook (and blogs!) where we can keep in touch. But then our time to move came.

We thought we might get to go someplace really exciting! I was hoping for anywhere new, different and fun, or even Texas, where we would be close to our parents. But we got Fort Bragg. I was a bit disappointed as it was only a couple hours down the road! It can't be anything great, can it? Oh, but the job was good for my husband, so we drove down to check it out and decided that since we'd be here for several years, we'd look into buying a house. Our realtor showed us several neighborhoods. We thought they were nice. Then we followed him into one called Carolina Lakes. Oh.My.Goodness.

We drove through a gated entrance with security guards. There were golf carts driving around a beautiful golf course filled with families playing the sport. As we followed the realtor's car, he rounded a bend, pine trees all around us, that opened up to a lake with boats out on it and a beach. He pulled in where kids were playing on a swingset and at the beach. Young girl scouts asked if we'd like to buy some cookies. Seriously? Was this Pleasantville? Could Fort Bragg really be this great? This was too good to be true. Then we figured it out. He showed us the houses and we couldn't afford them. We saw parks, playgrounds, a pool, nature/hiking trails. This neighborhood was awesome. We didn't want to live anywhere else. It sure wouldn't be hard to make this place "home" as the General's wife had so long ago suggested!

So we went home and I quit looking anywhere else. I woke up every day and watched the neighborhood for a new house in Carolina Lakes. One day, for some strange reason, I checked ads on Craigslist. Who looks there for a house? I don't know? Apparently me. Right there was one that looked perfect. We had plans to come back and see 9 houses - all in the neighborhood, but this one was the one, we knew it. It was for sale by owner, but our realtor agreed to come with us. We knew it was right when we pulled in the driveway. And we bought it. We moved in shortly after, and we've made so many memories here. This is "home" in so many ways. It's ours. We love it.
And it's easy to see that we've come a long, long way since our little tiny apartment in NJ. It would also be easy to think of moving to Cambodia as giving it all up. But I think it's quite the opposite. I think it's God showing us that having all this is great, but each move, He's given us more. And Cambodia will be no different. Oh, our house there won't look anything like this. It may not be any bigger than that NJ apartment. But what He gives us there will be so much greater. That's the lesson we want our kids to know. We want them to know it isn't about what house we live inside of, but about who lives inside of us. And that is something we MUST share. We have so much to give. So much compassion. So much concern. So much love.

So, no we aren't giving anything up. And no, we can't take a lot with us. We can just take a few suitcases. But the biggest thing we need is the easiest to carry. Jesus.

And wherever we are, we'll make it home.
I can't wait.

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