Rich is coming home in 10 days! And we’re going to Kansas in 11 days! I feel like I’m a ball of excitement and anxiety. The packers are coming this Friday and then they are picking up everything the following Monday. I have my list of items to leave out, a list of things to do, a list of items to buy, and a list of agencies to call. I’m organized, right?
I don’t FEEL organized. I think I could feel more Ready if some of the items on the to-do list were actually getting checked off. I got one thing checked off this evening. This afternoon I was suffering from a sinus headache that attacked me right after church. I think there is something in the air – maybe something blew in with this latest cold snap. Not that I’m complaining even a little about the cold weather. I was so delighted to drink my coffee this morning snuggled under a throw blanket and have the warm mug in my cold hands.
I took these pictures yesterday of these wildflowers we planted a few months ago. To me they are a picture of resilience – of us finishing out this long year without Rich. The seeds were scattered in the sandy washout area behind our house. Most of the ones we planted were washed away in the rains. But these managed to squeak out an existence and they are adding a splash of life and color to our almost dormant and dull backyard.
I know Rich is coming home early (56 days early), but it has been nearly a year. I’m so relieved. What an unimaginable blessing it is! I never imagined he would or could come home early. I just assumed a year was a year. Like serving time. Can’t come home until the clock runs out. We are so ready.
How did we do it?
My mom said when she was here, “oh Alexia, I don’t know how you do it.” Sometimes I think, oh my, I don’t know how I do it either! I don’t know, we pressed forward one day at a time. When my dad visited he laughed about the number of times I used that phrase. But it’s true! We only get one day at a time. Of course there are long-term goals and bigger projects and longer timelines than just one day, but the one day at a time mantra has kept me grounded. Like it says in Matthew 6:34, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So in the spirit of list making, here are my top 5 reflections on How I did it?
1. Pray. Read the Word. Repeat.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “to pray continually” or in the ESV translation it says, “pray without ceasing.” I read somewhere that prayer is a conversation with God, but it isn’t a real conversation if you aren’t also listening to what God says–meaning in his Word. So that then, prayer and reading Scripture go hand in hand. I’m not perfect at this. Not even close. But I keep returning God’s truths and I’m thankful for the many prayers he answered. I know it’s so easy to get fixated on what we may call The Big Prayers, like getting a fixed wing slot. God closed this door for us. We don’t know why. But he has been faithful to keep us all safe and healthy during this separation, which is a prayer I pray every night. And why should that be labeled A Little Prayer, when we actually value our safety and health much greater than what we feel is the best job in Army Aviation? It’s not a little prayer at all. It’s actually the biggest one since our desire is to be reunited as a family.
2. Routine is Everything.
At some point, Lizzie and I settled into a very comfortable routine. It was probably around month 3-4. Once we got past the me-sitting-by-her bed phase, we got into a weekly routine of Monday-Violin, Tuesday-Choir, Wednesday-Bible Study, Sunday-Church. In May, we added Thursday-Gymnastics and then in June we were on summer break from Tuesday-Choir which we did not resume in the fall. Instead, this fall we started 1st Grade Homeschool with a new curriculum. The predictable school schedule has reenforced the routine because we follow the same order of subjects everyday. In fact after the departure of the last 3 house guests, Lizzie has said each time “I’m so glad to get back to our routine.”
The routine is more flexible than it may seem and I’ve figured out how to make additions and subtractions without too much disruption. This goes along with reflection #4. We have a routine for talking to Rich too. We know when he gets up for PT and we know generally when we talk on Facetime and when we just text. It helps. It helps Lizzie especially. She draws a lot of security from the consistent pattern of our days. And it gives us little highlights to look forward to each day so it isn’t like Groundhog Day.
3. Talk to Grown-Ups.
I don’t really talk too much to the parents at Lizzie’s activities. For the most part I’ve used that time to go for a run or do a quick errand. So if we only went to church on Sundays, then I would only have a face to face grown up conversation once a week. This is not good. It has only happened a few times and I start to feel like a shut-in, even though I’m still going places. That’s why, even though sometimes (especially before it was well established in the routine) I didn’t want to go to evening Bible Study on Wednesdays, I made myself go so that we could see and talk to other people. Fellowship and the study were almost always the boost I needed to get through the rest of the week. It’s like a reset button.
Around month 5 is when I realized I needed more company. I was really lonely even though we have plenty of friends here. I made the extra effort to do play dates or coffee dates so I could have more adult company. I started running with a friend on Saturdays and another girl would come over to watch Lizzie. This only worked out for a short time, but it helped a lot.
4. You don’t have to dance every dance.
Haha, this is a hard one for me. I like to do Everything. I like to help out and be useful. I mean, Hello! I’m Mrs. I-can-do-it.
Scenario: It’s Tuesday and the Women’s Ministry is looking for volunteers to bring cookies to the Ladies Luncheon on Thursday. You are already signed up to bring dinner to a friend on Wednesday. You have homeschooling lessons to do in the morning on Thursday, but if you get up early you could probably make cookies before the kids get up. You normally workout during that time or have a quiet time, but it’s ok, you don’t mind. You can totally make cookies. I mean, you could make them today, but then they wouldn’t be as fresh and you’d have to find a recipe and go to the store and and and……
You see where this is going. Yes. I COULD do all those things, but it’s ok to let someone else volunteer once in a while. I Could rearrange my whole schedule last minute to make dessert and if Rich was home, I probably Would because I wouldn’t be so over taxed in every other area. Rich was always telling me that I try to do too much. I could never understand where the “too much” line was. I think with him gone I started to do a better job of evaluating my schedule and determining when/where I could make additions. If I felt like something was too much, then that’s what I would tell people.
5. Day to Day.
Confession: My house is not always perfectly clean and tidy. The dishes aren’t always done the instant after a meal. The bed isn’t always made. And the laundry….ah, the laundry….the laundry is my nemesis. Did you know that clothes do not fold themselves out of the dryer? And that putting them clean into a basket does not make it easier to find them?
But that’s life. I’ve had to relax my standards this year. My house is not dirty. It’s just not as tidy as often as I like it to be. I’ve also started Lizzie on a few consistent nightly chores. She is responsible for feeding the dog and fish, for putting her clothes in the laundry after bath, and picking up the dog toys. She does other little things too but those are the daily ones.
At one point earlier this year, one of my friends asked “And what are you doing for yourself?” My answer, I workout, eat well, and try to get enough sleep. I haven’t had much opportunity to run this year. It was hard to have someone watch Lizzie consistently enough for me to keep up a real running habit. Instead, I’ve been following an at home workout program which has been awesome. I don’t need child care to workout at home; I can do it at any time of the day; and I don’t have to share weights so it’s faster.
Lizzie was playing in the sand while I was snapping pictures of the flowers. She was excited over how cold it felt and how it poured out of her hands. She wanted me to take a picture of it spilling to the ground like a sandy-waterfall. I had no idea at the time how fitting it would be for this post. Like the hourglass that is almost empty, our clock is almost up as we wait only 10 more days for Rich to come home.
We rejoice over this early homecoming and we look forward to God’s plan for us in Kansas. Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are almost done. Praise God!