Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Waiting Game

Jeremiah and I are in the process of figuring out the next step along our road of life.

This process brings with it situations that teach us further patience and trust in God. But this process also brings with it stress, fear and doubt.

We are no longer just responsible for ourselves. Any and all decision we make will impact Joseph and any future children we may have. It's a teeter totter ride trying to make the right decision for your family while still making a decision that will leave you satisfied in the end.

I'll be honest, being an Army wife for over a year and a half has brought me much maturity. I am not the same person, wife or mother I was when my husband enlisted during the fall of 2009. Before we got to the point that the military was really one of our only options left to support our family financially (this is after my husband spent 2 1/2 years looking for work with his bachelor's degree) I had been dead set against my husband enlisting. It's amazing how time and sheer desperation can change your attitude. When it came to September of 2009, we had a choice, our funds were dwindling quickly even though between the 2 of us we had 3 part time jobs. We had a bit of a nest egg that although it didn't go towards the purchase of a nest was enough to make up the difference of what we fell short on with income since his graduation from college.

Let me go back a little further. When we married in June of 2004 I moved from Michigan to join my husband who was already living, working, and attending school in Colorado. Although our first 8 months of marriage were financially difficult we were both able to land good paying, stable, full time (with overtime) positions in March of 2005. I was an employee of JPMorgan Chase and he was an employee of the United States Postal Service. Life was good for a couple in their early twenties who really had no true expenses. Yes we paid for school, yes we paid a small amount of rent, but we had two great jobs and money wasn't really much of an issue anymore.

I hated Colorado. Not necessarily the state in general, but the mere fact that I was trapped there. I had really no friends and absolutely no family. I had never been away from home up until then. I was scared, lonely and I longed for the familiarity of home.

We had decided before we even said our vows that we would wait awhile to have children. Closer to graduation. My overall goal was to be able to be back in Michigan before any children were brought into this world. I was very head strong about us moving "home" as soon as possible after graduation. So, we started trying for Joseph in February 2007 because my husband was graduating in May of 2007. We had a moving truck scheduled to carry our things cross country back to the only place I was willing to live now that my husband's schooling was done.

We were fortunate enough to have our jobs transfer. I accepted a part time position with the idea that once we actually had a child I would stay home full time. So in our thinking since we needed to learn to live without my income this was a good time to start. We assumed with Jeremiah's job transferring that he would be given close to or the same amount of hours he currently was receiving. We were wrong.

We moved back July 2, 2007. We quickly found out that Jeremiah's hours were to be nothing like they were in Colorado. We were looking at about 8 hours for him every other week. That's a dramatic decrease from the over 40 hours he worked every week in Colorado. But at the time we felt it was a temporary set back. We figured he'd put his new degree to work and get a full time job again in no time. Ya know that saying that goes like this, "If you want to hear God laugh tell Him your plans"? I have no doubt He got quite a chuckle out of that.

We weren't really sure about much after this happened other than the fact that we still wanted to be parents. We kept trying for Joseph and in January of 2008 we found that we had at least succeeded in conceiving. It was a joyful and scary time. We finally achieved one of our goals, but still were completely unstable financially. I am a planner and a worry wort, so we had savings. I am thankful that God blessed me with the ability to be a planner because I know He knew we'd need to be prepared for what was coming.

Eventually Jeremiah was able to start getting 8 hours a week at the post office, and we survived through a couple of not so great (or reliable) part time jobs. Finally he was able to settle into another part time job which allowed him to work every other weekend. At this point our 3 part time jobs barely equaled 1 full time job. There would be no staying home with Joseph after he was born (well except for the 12 weeks of paid maternity leave). This was a sad time for me. One of the only things I wanted in my life was not going to be possible. I probably would have felt better about the situation if we were at least making ends meet but every month we'd come up short and every month our nest egg got smaller and smaller.

The summer that Joseph was to turn one was full of stress and anxiety. Jeremiah had tried to get into several different positions in several different fields and every door was slammed shut. We were at a loss of what to do. God had always provided for us, but it was scary not knowing where those provisions would come from. The summer and fall of 2009 was probably the most difficult time for our family. Our little bit of savings was just about depleted (it had sustained us for over 2 years thus far) and we were compounding the debt every month just to try and save our liquid cash for things that we couldn't use the credit card for (like rent or car payments). We had a decision to make. If something didn't happen, and soon, we were going to be moving in with one of our family's. There was nothing else for us to do. We debated moving back to Colorado where the job market was more stable. We were lost.

Jeremiah then brought up a subject that he had tried to bring up numerous times in our relationship. What if he just enlisted? Every time he'd brought this up he'd been met with my fear and complete dismissal of the idea. This time I believe my response was, "How soon can you meet with the recruiter?" We were desperate. At that point we'd been married for 5 1/2 years and never once had we borrowed money from our parents or been late on a bill. We were getting dangerously close to both happening simultaneously.

I don't think either one of us really thought about what would happen if for whatever reason he was unable to enlist. We had already had so many doors closed that we were desperately looking for the nearest window that could get us out of this situation. It was about 4 weeks from the time that my husband met the recruiter for the first time and then shipped out for basic training.

This move that was made in sheer desperation turned out to be the best decision we've made for our family. Jeremiah loves being part of the military, I love that I can now stay home with our son, and although trying and difficult, this journey has awarded me much wisdom, patience, maturity and growth.

So here we are. At the cusp of yet more life changing decisions. Our feet are a little bit firmer on the ground this time. We know God does things in His own time, and His timing is always perfect.

Jeremiah and I seem to be in agreement that the end result will hopefully look something like him getting a master's degree and being able to be part of the Chaplain's Corp. in the Army. To get to that point a lot of things need to happen and fall into place. We are spending a lot of time listening to God and trying to take the direction He wants us to go. It's a waiting game, and although I dislike it, I've learned to appreciate it. I know during these times is when a lot of growth happens. And although I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I know God is carrying us and He can see perfectly.

We've talked about the fact that active duty Army probably would have been the better decision for us vs. the National Guard. I've grown a lot and I realize now that home isn't where I was born, but it's where our little family is. The three of us (plus the cats) are what matter. Although I'd love to be able to stay in Michigan I am resolved to the fact that I'm perfectly okay with us not living here too.

Active duty Army would bring changes. Along with the stability financially and benefit wise, there would be a constant uncertainty about where our next duty station would be. We will be at the Army's whim. But I'm oddly okay with that, because I know our family is what matters and we will be together.

But again, here's the waiting game. Jeremiah could go in and enlist active duty today if he wanted, but if he goes about it this way he will lose his officer status until he reapplies for commissioning. We are trying to find a way around this. He's been told by a few people that if you are on deployment it's an easier and smoother transition to go from Guard to active duty (and he'd keep his rank).

So what that means is that we are looking at tours that he can volunteer for. Does this mean this is what's going to happen? No. Because again, God has a plan and we have no idea what that is.

I guess in a perfect world Jeremiah would get a stateside deployment, transition to active duty and once we were settled into our duty station begin attending part time classes to get his master's. But again, this is our plan and not God's.

So we're here just playing the waiting game. Please pray for our family as we face some big decisions and challenges.

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