When you tell someone you’re moving to Hawaii generally you get two responses: “Wow! Are you excited?” or “Aren’t you lucky. Darn must be rough. Wish I could go too.” Now understandably, finding out someone is going to live where honeymooners celebrate and most people may see once, many others, never, is not something we’re used to navigating in day-to-day conversation. None the less, this was my typical conversation for about the last four months.
Our family has an interesting story that has taken us from Arizona, to Oklahoma, to South Carolina, to yes, now Honolulu, Hawaii. Although we’ve moved quite a bit, we actually were not active duty military until today. With my husband’s job, we have moved rather frequently while also serving as an Army reservist for the past six years. Ironically, most of our military friends are either retiring or closing in on shifting into a civilian professions. To keep things interesting, we are actually just beginning our active duty Army life for at least the next three to five years.
Why? That’s a good question and leads into exactly how deciding to move our family to Hawaii was, in reality, an extremely difficult and faith stretching decision. There’s more back story to how one is offered a military position in Hawaii, but the short version involves my husband spending 90 days there, a need, and the department desiring my husband to return as an active duty officer. That was about a year and half ago. During that time, we have travelled through many emotions, research, decisions, and prayers. Essentially after the process moving incredibly slow combined with our own fears, we had decided to pass on this opportunity and invest our time, talents, and family in civilian life. The life we knew.
Over the years my husband and I have faced and made life changing decisions before. We opened our own business right out of training. Huge risk, huge investment. We took a job states away, sold our home, but before we loaded our moving truck we heard God say, “No.” We then moved to a very small town in Oklahoma that God used to provide health: financial, physical, and spiritual. Then when another move professionally was needed, we moved to South Carolina, the east coast, the South. All of which we knew nothing about. But we prayed, we trusted, we went.
In the five years in South Carolina, God has stretched us, provided for us, loved us, comforted us, and led us. We came to a point knowing my husband’s grueling work schedule and other factors signaled us to make yet another big decision, most likely a move. Now with 16, almost 13, and 11-year-old children, a move brings new challenges. Then you throw in the possibility that the move would actually place us in active duty and move us thousands of miles away from family and friends. Deciding to move to Hawaii WAS a hard decision to make.
We were faced with the stability and routine of our life in Columbia. I was a barista for a local coffee shop and simply loved every minute of the job and all of the people. We had community. The kind that shows up at 5am to help drive your 19 pieces of luggage to the airport. The ones who you know love your kids as much as their own. My oldest would be a junior at a high school she loved and many friends she loved even more. This became the easy choice. The wide path. The largely known outcomes of staying where we had been for the last five years. The longest we’d actually lived anywhere our married life.
But just as when we loaded up our 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a cat and drove 1,000 miles to the east coast five years ago, we trust in one thing again. One thing broke through my increasing, blatant fear as we began to close in on choosing the other path, the unknown, the far away. As men and women we hold different roles that bend to unique fears. Joining the Army full-time brings many new possibilities for our family from great to challenging. Moving to an island in the middle of the Pacific is beautiful, but indeed VERY far away. I feared being alone, long deployments, island fever, transition and provision for our kids, my role in a new and totally different culture (Army and island)…but I vividly recall affirming audibly a truth that I always read and heard – but so often forgot.
No matter where I am, Jesus is there too.
Always. Hawaii- He’s there. Texas-He’s there. Arkansas- He’s there.
When I’m a stranger in a new place, I am not actually alone. Not only am I not alone, but God’s loving hand will continue to guide me and my family–just as He has in so many times since following Him. Hearing this out loud helped (it didn’t erase), but lately we’ve been in “get it done” mode of an overseas move and I know these fears will surface again. Yet I know when they do, His truth remains. He never changes.
I have wept. I have slept. I’ve not slept. I’ve overeaten. I’ve starved.
These last few months have been amazing, stretching, exhausting.
But I saw Jesus every day to give me the strength to take each small step to make it to today.
I saw Jesus in all who love us so well, just as He would if He walked the earth again today.
I saw Jesus when my husband hugs me as I cry at the airport. I saw Jesus as my daughter had five teenage, sleep deprived friends come see her off at the airport playing ukulele. I saw Jesus when I had slept 17 hours in the week leading up to our movers and closing on our house, when on the brink of falling apart, my friend sends me to her house to sleep, to rest. And the voice of another friend when I can’t even form words from emotional and physical exhaustion. I saw Jesus as we walked our empty home and recalled the many beautiful memories with people who filled that space. I saw Jesus when people hugged instead of talked. Honestly, there has been so much Jesus around me that I simply cannot deny His truth–He is here. He will not leave. HE will not forsake.
It may be Hawaii, but honestly its Jesus that should be my answer.
“Yes, I am excited to go with Jesus wherever He leads me, only because He will be there… and yes you can come too.”