Two years ago this week, Hubby and I packed up all of our belongings and began the long-anticipated relocation to our new home in Georgia. So much more than just a move, this was an affirmative answer to our most earnest prayers. Hubby and I had been married for 7 months at that point, but were stationed in different places – Hubby in South Carolina, and me 10 hours up the road in Ohio. The military understood our desire to get stationed together, but there was a lot that had to occur behind the scenes before they could make that happen for us, including a complete retraining/career field change for me. Having been a long-distance couple for the duration of our dating and engagement (only a grand total of about 7 months from the time we met to the time we got married, but still!), we yearned to finally get to live together and truly begin our lives as husband and wife. Don’t get me wrong – long phone calls and dinner dates over Skype are wonderful, but they will only hold you over so well!
As difficult as it was to be apart for the first months of our marriage, I can honestly say that I would never trade or change that time apart. God used that period of our lives to grow us and our budding marriage in so many ways. He taught us patience; he taught us how to love, support, and encourage one another even from afar; and most importantly he taught us to trust completely – in his plan, his provision, his timing. God knew exactly what he was doing. We can look back now and see how much that time apart prepared us for Hubby’s deployment this past year. We recognize how that separation made us appreciate each other so much more, and cherish the time we did and do have together. We know that circumstances that looked insurmountable at the time were really an incredible blessing. I knew then too, that many young couples have had it much worse than we did in terms of separation. That knowledge helped me to keep everything in perspective, to count my blessings, and to rely on the Lord who always has my best in mind.
And God provided for us in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Soon after our wedding, Hubby and I decided that seeing each other in person as often as we could was vital to building a foundation in our new marriage, and so we committed to visiting each other every weekend (or absolutely as often as we could if for some reason we had to skip a weekend). But obviously living 10 hours apart made this whole visiting-each-other-thing a bit of a challenge. Over several phone calls and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays spent together, we began brainstorming ways to make our plan a reality.
At first we thought about renting an apartment in somewhere in Tennessee, the halfway point for us both. We soon determined that the cost would render that idea an impossibility. We would have had to pay rent and utilities x3, gas to get to and from each weekend, not to mention needing a furnished place or the funds to furnish our “weekend home.”
The next possibility to cross our mind was a hard-side trailer. Hubby began scouring Craigslist and the like for any campers for sale at a reasonable price. We envisioned parking the trailer at a long-term campsite with water and electricity hookups, and living out of it on the weekends. Soon Hubby had spotted just the right camper for us, and we were discussing what campground we would settle for one evening over the phone. At one point in the conversation, I mentioned to Hubby, “Maybe we should call up my aunt and uncle and see if they know of any good long-term campgrounds in the area.” My aunt, uncle and cousins live in Tennessee in a town that marked almost the exact halfway-point for us. Hubby was reluctant, thinking they probably wouldn’t know of any place he hadn’t already found online, but he eventually agreed.
I called my uncle up that night and was surprised when he excitedly told me that he didn’t know of any long-term campgrounds in the area, but that he might have something even better. He told me to give him a day or so to make some calls and he’d get back to me.
The next day, my uncle called and ecstatically informed us that we would have a place to stay as often as we wanted, for free! His second cousin, Jeanie, and her husband – he explained – were fairly well-off, as her husband was an engineer who helped to invent the machinery/process used for manufacturing the plastic portions of eye make-up applicators. Apparently, there’s good money to be made in the make-up applicator industry – who knew! Jeanie and her husband were now retired and living in Colorado Springs (where my family is from), but they owned 2 large homes on a lake in a resort neighborhood in the tiny town of LaFollete, TN only about 15 minutes from my aunt and uncle’s home. Not only did Jeanie and her husband have grandchildren who attended the same charter school in Colorado Springs that I did (and that my mom was then the principal of) but she was very connected to my alma mater, the Air Force Academy, though their Cadet Sponsorship Program. Jeanie and her husband only visited their lake homes a few times a year during the summer, or over the holidays and were willing to let us stay free of charge any time we wanted. We were overjoyed, not to mention overwhelmed with their kindness and generosity.
Coincidence? some might think…but I tend to disagree. Though it was through Jeanie and her husband’s generosity, it was God who orchestrated bringing us to the cabin that became our home away from home for 6 months.
Each Friday afternoon after work, in good weather or horrible, we each drove 5 hours to rendezvous at the cabin. Each Sunday after church and a quick lunch, we packed up and drove back. Some months we spent close to $1,200 in gas. Thousands of miles on sometimes dangerous roads, yet through it all God protected us behind the wheel. And it was so worth it. We collected so many amazing memories from our escapes to the cabin. We shared so much of our new lives together there. It is something I will never forget. So thank you Jeanie from the bottom of my heart, and more than that, thank you God for your perfect and unmistakable care for us.
Already, so many more words and memories are crowding in, bubbling to the surface and pulsing in to my finger tips waiting to be written. Words and memories about our move itself, the newness of a life finally shared together, the fact that my parents and my younger brother wound up stationed nearby in Georgia at the same time we did…but those I’ll set aside in lieu of the most important part. On this the two-year anniversary of that answered prayer, I know without a doubt that God works miracles. This may not be a mind-blowing, earth-shattering, bringing-the-dead-back-to-life kind of miracle like we see in the Gospel…but for Hubby and I, it demonstrated God’s presence in our lives in the most tangible of ways. So to put it all in a few words: God answers prayer, God’s plan is perfect, and God still works wonders, we need only have eyes to see it.