So a couple months ago, husband, asked me if I wanted to extend our tour here in Tennessee and stay in our cozy little home for one more year, and without a shadow of a doubt, I said, "No Way".
Now wait, before my whole family and all our friends start a riot, here me out. 🙅🏽 I believe we have been moved to certain states and cities for certain reasons, and the reasons only come once our stay is complete. Of course the fear of the unknown is very scary, for all parties involved and invested in our lives; however, psalm chapter 27 verse 1 states clearly, " The Lord is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The Lord protects me from danger--so why should I tremble?" And since I know this in my heart to be true, I move forward without hesitation.
I figure now may be a good time to let you in on my life and who I am and where I've been both physically and spiritually. Get ready... this covers the span of 11 almost 12 years... keep reading, think of it as life lessons by Justine in the form of "spark notes" 😏
Kentucky #1 (one year):
- A place for me to boldly move out into the world on my own, to live in the "gray" and unknown of my faith and world as I ever knew it to be. To rediscover and actually get to know, husband (then boyfriend of 3 years), a man of war, a man of personal rediscovery, a man I had only known through letters and telephone conversations, a man to fall in love with all over again, a man I plan on marrying regardless of it all. It is during this time I learned to think outside of my tiny box I stayed in most of my youth and tried to become an adult at the ripe age of 21. To learn to the strength of a young marriage during a time grieving after losing our first baby (Logan, 7wks) through a painful, heart wrenching miscarriage. And then finding utmost strength in the Lord, changing my heart from pain to a higher love and respect for God. " For I know the plans I have for you. " says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
- With a brand new baby boy#1 (3 wks old) on board we headed west and then north up through the what seem to be the tip top of the Great Rocky Mountains (with no railings). Then up through customs and into the deserted wilderness of British Columbia Canada. We saw some black bear cubs lots of bison, aka "road blocks", and one glorious bull moose running up a grassy mountain side, a sight I will forever save in my memory of pictures. Three or four more days later (that may be completely inaccurate but it did feel like forever) we set our navigation devices for HWY 1: Alaska. I will never forget the first stop we made in Alaska; my hair was a mess, my shirt probably stained with baby goo and breast milk, I had our wee little 5 pound baby in my pouch, and Husband looking like a mountain man (after 17 days of not shaving). We walked through the doors of this little diner and a man sitting down at his own table with his own family and said, "welcome to America." and we were happy to be "home". Well after the initial journey and then after getting settled into our new life outside of the "lower 48" I discover many more life lessons, between the ages of 22-24 years of age. First I learned how to be completely alone, with facebook being my only view of reality during 4am feedings I was quick asking for help, and then realized that thoughtful decisions are often permanent, "For I will be with you and will take care of you"-Jeremiah 1:7). It is here where I finished my degree at the university of Alaska Fairbanks while became pregnant with our second little 6 pound baby#2. I learned how to love two people with the same amount of intensity for each. The idea of bringing a second life into the world is very surreal, but I found clarity while both breastfeeding #2 and coloring with #1 at the same time! I know right, I'm super mom, I'll tell you all my secrets on that in another entry 😉 haha. Moving forward throughout these years of bright and sunny summer nights and WAY below freezing dark days of the winter, I learned how to deal with boredom and how to fill our days with adventure. I learned how to deal with conflict through communication instead of shutting down. I learned That the Army will always take care of our family, financially and through numerous medical procedures. I learned what it means to lean on your friends for support and then also how it feels to loose those same people with just one deployment. I learned more about my faith and connection with Jesus through the art of forgiveness. Lastly, We learned how to purchase our first home online, without ever seeing it in person, and how to move yet again across the country with now two little babies. (let me tell you it is a benefit and a blessing to have friends that live all over the world!)
- Learned that realty pictures are not always accurate nor truthful. For an example, the 90 degree angle of a driveway we had to climb, carrying two toddlers and all my groceries, because two trips are for wimps 💪🏽. Learn experienced depression, and then learned to stand up for myself and regain my self esteem at the fantastic age of 25! Enjoyed being closer to home and all my friends and family that came to visit. Learned about the privileges and blessings of having long and lasting friendships, that stand the test of time and distance. Bought our first family pet, went to several different trade schools, had my own photography business and even made a little money. Found out yet again my weakness for being alone and my struggle with anxiety and acting on impulse, instead of informed decisions. Lastly, of course after finding my rhythm in my new space it was time to pack up and move again. #armylife #armywife
- There are still many lessons to learn from this tour, because I am still living it. So far, this is what I've learned. This is the tour I left the life of sticky toddlers and mickey mouse club house and began my season in life of worldly culture, the bible belt of Jesus, news and two rapidly growing boys. Here is where I started my first job since being a stay at home mom for more than 5 years of my adult life. I learned how to effectively and ineffectively move our family on our own dime, as well as, met Dave Ramsey and started our journey of becoming debt free thru 2017. I sent our boys to daycare and full time kindergarten I learned to trust strangers with our babies, and then re-learned how much I love to be with them and the extra money is not worth the time I miss without them. These are the years our whole family met Jesus on a completely different level and invited him deeply into our hearts and home. I've watched my husband become led by the Holy Spirit and enjoy watching our boys follow along willingly asking a lot of great questions along the way. I've Experienced life outside of the Army and we bought and will soon sell our second home. I have Decided with my husband to open our hearts and minds to new place of worship, and found that it has strengthened our faith beyond our human comforts and it has changed the way we choose to live. We discovered our love for helping and serving others. Found out again my "need" to be busy and how it feeds my anxiety. Although this is a continued battle, I have learned tools and healthy boundaries to fight it. I have Found out my compassion and desire to help others is a strength and not a weakness. "It is by our actions that we know we are living in truth" (1 John 4:19). Throughout these years of self discovery I've put into action, love being more of a choice, an action, and not just a feeling. If I may be so bold and honest with myself, I feel God breathing life into me, showing me ways to love myself, and to speak out for what is right, and to love my family through intentionality, patience and service.