It’s almost time for the season to start. No, not summer. Not football season, hunting season, etc. No, it’s PCS season. I guarantee you that the military family members that just read that sighed. You did, didn’t you? Admit it.
The average military family moves once ever 1-3 years. I’ve moved 6 times in 7 years.
Add in those pesky things like deployments, births, deaths, the intrusions of rodents, etc. and it is all a big jumble. The verse of the military wife should be “Behold, I am sending you to a land I will show you.” That you WILL show us? As in, we will know when we get there? NO specifics? Sarah’s been there and done that and can be found in the Hebrews hall of faith, so there is incentive to endure.
It is not my year to move and I’m getting twitchy. I have gathered boxes and this year I am sending them onto a friend who will be leaving on Saturday. THIS WEEK.
I am thrilled for her to be near family (near family is within 3-6 hours in military speak) and to be with familiar friends.
At least that is my cover. I’m actually not excited at all. She’s already moved from being my down the street neighbor to 10 minutes away. I suppose she was cushioning me for the blow. Today as our sons were at school I invited myself over to help her pack. They are doing a “Ditty move” (DIY civilian friends) so it is all hands on deck in exchange for 50 cent donuts and episodes of Firefly while we pack.
We washed dishes, wrapped kitchen boxes and took calendars off the walls. Our youngest kids played together while she talked about potential houses and reunions with friends. To be resilient and teach our children to be strong through change we MUST seek the good. While she pitched plastic ware and packed the Carmike popcorn tub “because there might be a Carmike! Who knows? Or maybe the next place we live will have one!”
Then the dreaded but necessary question: How was her son doing with it? “He’s acting out a bit but he’s excited.” I nodded. The words are as loaded as a post-sermon diaper. Challenges are opportunities to learn a new way to succeed, after all.
We looked over at our kids. Without the older brother commotion, it was downright peaceful. Close to nap-time peaceful.
The slick screech of a tape-roll over cardboard finally lulled the kids to sleep—a peaceful island in a sea of boxes.
“Do you know what I am looking forward to aside from friends and family being close? Stars. I haven’t seen a real, clear sunset or stars in years. I can’t wait for that.”
When the sky is an expanse of darkness and the unknown, look forward to the stars.
On to another box. “Leave out a spatula.” “Will ten bibs be enough?” “Go ahead and pack the measuring cups.” “What is she eating?” “Leave out the frying pan. Every journey requires a frying pan.”
The glory of helping a friend pack up her life is reliving the fun. You might also uncover some deep dark secret or some glorious nerd puns.
When you’re too hot to Handel, get Bach in the kitchen. This beautiful friend is a very talented pianist. She has served our church for years and played a spectacular rendition of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God that stunned people silent. As I am beaming and giving a good “Amen!” and the woman next to me was like this:
That’s a good piece of worship right there. Of course, the church was like that at the instrumental playing of the southern-rock version of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” a few weeks prior. Elvis would be proud, Girl.
This is one of many goodbyes and “see you at another duty station”; the weeks leading up to the moving van pull-up are full of “I need my Pyrex back”, “Do you need any clothes?”, and the ever popular, “Please take my jars of liquid cleaners, detergents and opened sugar.”
I came home with Karo Syrup and sugar but also sweet memories. Her older son was the first kid to ever play with my son and ask for him by name. During the darkest days of deployment, her son would ask to come play. She moved the day of Thanksgiving this year. As I was recovering from my new hobby of bat extermination I realized she would be eating fast food for the holiday. BLASPHEMY! After Skyping with my deployed Beloved, I packaged up the leftover turkey, potatoes, corn, and pie and sent it with her. A week later when my baby was in the hospital and fighting for every ounce, she came over for dinner and brought brownies.
That holds a friendship together more than packing tape.
The average military child says goodbye to more significant people in 18 years than most adults do in their entire lifetime.
When the hard times come, I find that people are less likely to ask “Where is God?” when they don’t have to ask “Where is the Church?” This family has been the piano-playing hands and a physical representation of the Body of Christ when our family needed it.
We can pack up a life but we leave behind an imprint. If it is your season to move, Dear Friend, know that you are leaving behind more than you know and taking more than you pack. We are the Body of Christ, the strength of Army Strong and the pioneers on great adventures. Journey well and for Heaven’s Sake pack an extra suitcase with toilet paper, a shower curtain and a frying pan.
There’s no place like home…wherever it may be next.