Saturday, August 30, 2008

An error in our favor

Sounds a little bit like playing Monopoly, doesn't it? Well, Chris headed back to Naval Station Everett this week prepared to teach students through the month of September. When he reported to duty, he found out that his orders had been written incorrectly - he had been sent to TPU, which is the department that processes people out of the military - usually in ten days or less. He did not mind that! The personnel in that department are allowing him to use all of his unused leave days as "terminal leave" which means that instead of leaving the military on September 29, he will be finished here on September 10. The ship was only going to allow him to use 30 days of leave for terminal leave and he would have had to "sell back" the extra 20 days that he had saved up. So we are still flying high and thanking God for His gracious provisions in our lives.

We will still be in WA for most of September but will be able to visit some western family members before we leave this side of the country for at least 4 years and also take a trip to see the Red Woods in California, the Oregon coast, and Mount St Helens in southern WA before we load up and head across the country. I had thought that I might have to leave before seeing some of these spectacular sites due to time constraints.

So this week, life is imitating a game. The error was in our favor. Of course, we don't see it as an error at all - our God is in control of everything.

Psalm 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Back to Work

Yes, my dear husband is home and back to work, but I really refer to myself. I have the best job in the whole world and I am glad to be back to it full-time after a nearly 6 month "vacation." I love being a "keeper at home." Titus 2 speaks of the young women learning to be "keepers at home ... that the word of God be not blasphemed." That keeper is a guard, protecting the home from worldly influences.

As Chris gets out of the military and away from the schedule that it has provided, I am often asked if I will go back to teaching so that he can be a full time student. I can gladly answer "no" because I feel that God has set my place in the home. I am so thankful that Chris appreciates the home that can be created when I am there full-time. There is great joy in taking care of my husband, my home, and hopefully one day our children. I am glad that I can provide a peaceful sanctuary for my husband when the world swirls violently around us. I love being free to minister to fellow believers and the community by teaching children, teens, and other women any skill that can be a service to them now and in the future. I love being available to provide a meal with little notice to those in needs.

Without children in the home, I do look outside the home to fill my days. I primarily look for ministry opportunities so that I can "teach the younger." I may continue to give music lessons in NC, may teach sewing lessons, or may make modest dresses for families searching for that option. I was thrilled the other day when one of my students asked me about her dress standards and I could share with her what I saw in her life and also support her parents' views. This opportunity came because of the time I had spent with her over the past 4 years - she knew that I cared about her. Chris and I have found that strong relationships with people forged with quality and quantity of time provide the best opportunities to meet their needs and open doors to ministry. My flexible schedule allows us the opportunities to reach out that we have not found when I am teaching a lot of lessons, substitute teaching, "running" all over the place, or juggling 2 work schedules.

The Proverbs 31 woman was VERY busy and was praised for the steps that she took to care for her home. She researched; she considered; she saved; she created goods to sell; she met the needs of her home and husband. I am challenged by this mighty woman and strive to model my life after her example. I have much to learn to become this woman who receives the praise of her family and of God. How I pray that I can learn to be so virtuous and be an example to those young women around me!

Proverbs 31:30 "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Blessings Pile Up

So all of the excitement of this week also led to a lot of uncertainty. The biggest problem was that we had terminated our lease and needed a place for the month of September. I headed to the leasing office this morning and was told that our place was already rented and due to be occupied on September 6. So I left and headed back to the apartment to research other options. Before I reached my apartment, my cell phone rang and it was the leasing agent asking why I had asked the question. When I explained the situation, she said that current residents had preference and we could stay. So my thought ran to "What will the month to month rent be?" Last year our lease agreement had listed rent at about $1300 for a month to month arrangement, so I expected higher this year. When I talked to the property manager this afternoon, she said we were good for September for just an additional $100 per month. I just stared at her and clarified it every way that I could and she held to it. Praise the Lord! I am relieved not to have to "move" an extra time, no need for storage ...

Another blessing of the temporary duty is that we will actually get to leave on September 30. The ship was not going to let Chris leave until September 30 and then he would have had 10 days of "work" here in WA to "process out." No he can process out before September 30 and we can be on our way!

Chris also confirmed today that had he not removed himself from the chief induction this month, he never would have had this opportunity either. WOW!

Psalm 93:4 The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

That's A Lot of Soda!

So what keeps the wife of a deployed sailor busy? Good question. Usually I learn a new skill during a long deployment ... sewing was a big one last deployment. This year, another sailor wife filled my long evenings with a homecoming project. This wife wanted to greet the 3,000 sailors returning with the USS Abraham Lincoln with Pop Tab Leis. So as of this writing, I have made about 130 leis and will have about 150 done by the time we move. No, I have not collected the tabs due to the fact that the carbonation and sugar would kill me. But process this ... 110 tabs per lei and 3000 leis. That's a Lot of Soda! I am not sure that the director of the project will meet the goal, but may be close. I did have some uncompleted kits here at home, so I will meet Chris at the airport with his own lei (he will probably turn it in so it can be "reused" at the official homecoming).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Belated Anniversary Present from the Navy?

So Sunday, August 17 was our sixth Anniversary. Chris and I celebrated it as we have about 1/2 of our other anniversaries - in different locations. We did connect with a phone call which is always special. Then last night, I receive an e-mail from Chris that says he is coming home ... this week!!!! It seems that he was pretty much a lame duck on the ship since he was turning over his responsibilities, so they decided to send him home to teach students on the base in Everett (similar to his job in NY when we were married). So he will fly off the ship sometime tomorrow and arrive in Seattle sometime this week - we have no confirmation of flight times from the middle east or layovers between here and there.

Have you ever been on cloud 9? From up above it, it looks like a nice place :)

So it looks like I will have help to move. Now we just need a place to live for a month since our lease has expired here and we already gave our notice ... We know that God will provide and are thankful for this special blessing.

I was thinking the other day that this was definitely the longest we had ever been apart and feeling bad that I had not jumped on my one opportunity to join Chris in Dubai for a port call. God has always given us relief during the long stretches. During the first deployment, we met up in Hawaii to shorten the time apart. During the second deployment, he came home early for school in Virginia. What a blessing that we only had to endure 5 1/2 months of separation on this our LAST DEPLOYMENT! God is good.

Rejoice with us as we finish this final stretch in WA together and look forward to a new saga in NC.

Proverbs 21:1 The King's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chief Bickish?

No, it won't be happening, but it could have. Last week Chris found out that he had been selected to be promoted from Petty Officer First Class to Chief. That is a big honor in the Navy. It is such a big promotion that they have an induction season that lasts a little over a month for the chief selectees. So why won't Chris be a chief? Well there are two reasons. The first is the logistics of time. The new chiefs will be "frocked" on September 14 or 15 - just 2 weeks before it is time for Chris to come home. The induction requires quite an outlay of money for new uniforms and all of the induction activities. We were not sure that it would be worth the expense for only 2 weeks as "Chief Bickish". The second and more significant reason is that the induction season involves a month of praising the Navy life excessively and equally "bashing" your family. If you know the man of this house, you know that there is no way he could participate in that. So, he turned it down.

In any case ... Congratulations, Honey! It is awesome that you were chosen and that you accomplished all this in your 8 years of service.

Last Leg of the Race

So the count is now under 50 days! Hooray!

So that puts Sandra in the middle of piles of boxes recovered from dumpster diving around the apartment complex and piles of junk mail ads collected in the last few months. Hubby wisely said "no" to the packing materials that IBM (doesn't it mean I've Been Moved) moves had made me accustomed to (new boxes, bubble wrap, and white newspaper). Yes, it is moving time. All the belongings go in boxes and the apartment gets scrubbed from top to bottom. So my question is ... why don't I clean like this while I live in the place? Yes, I have been behind the refrigerator and the stove and even found a Mr. Potato Head arm that had been lost :) I am also spackling like crazy because an apartment is not home until the walls are covered with personal affects. And what do you want to know about Washington? Our two big problems, which are more obvious when "white gloving" to leave are these - mold and spiders! There is your fun fact of the day.

What does all this packing inspire? We are incredibly blessed people. I can not believe how much STUFF, how many clothes, how much food we have. God has been so good to us. Even in tough economic times, how can we complain when we have so much?

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah