That has been my theme over the past few weeks! While Stephen has been gone for about 6 weeks now, I have been making the rounds visiting family. Of course, any traveling experience is much more fun when Stephen is there but I tried to take lots of pictures for him so he wouldn't be left out. :)
Towards the end of May, I was able to visit my sister, Serena, in Indianapolis. She and my adorable niece, Paisley, have recently gotten settled in there and I had a blast spending time with them. It was short but very sweet! Living away from my hometown, friends, and family has really taught me to cherish the moments I do get to spend with those I love. This is probably old news to the seasoned military wife who is always on the move...but I'm still learning. :)
In the second week of June, I had the privilege of watching my oldest sister's kiddos in North Carolina as their anniversary gift. I was glad that I could spend time with my 4 nieces and nephew for a week. Especially since we have always lived so far away from one another, it's great to be "near" (5 hour drive) my sister and her family again.
My sister-in-law, Deborah, had my newest nephew last week! Caleb Lee is such a precious little boy. :) I stayed in Maryland for almost a week hanging out with family and snuggling the new baby whenever I could. It was great to catch up with everyone! I feel quite blessed to have such amazing in-laws. :) And the fact that we all live within a few hours drive is more than I could ask for. I didn't realize how encouraging it would be for me to be around family during my first deployment experience. It's been awesome! God's good like that.
Other than that, I've been able to keep in touch with some of the other spouses/girlfriends of the sailors on Stephen's ship. That has been another source of encouragement as we can email or hang out and understand what the other person is going through. I'm looking forward to the Beach Day this Saturday for all the families of the Elrod. There is a fabulous bunch of women that come together to lift each other up! I'll admit that staying connected is not something I'm terribly good at naturally....or something I feel like doing sometimes....but I know how important it is in life and I sense how important it is during deployments. So...I'm thankful for these women, my family, great neighbors, and dear friends that God has been using to bless my life. :)
I've been reading a devotional called, Faith Deployed, and I read a story today about a woman who was going through her son's toys to get rid of old or worn ones. She talked about how they came across a coloring marker bag and this is what she says, "I pulled out an old scrap of paper, and Caleb and I sat down on the floor of his room to sort the good ones from the bad. As our system developed-pick up the marker, take the cap off, scratch a doodle on the paper-Caleb and I took turns saying "weak" or "this one's good" as we threw the markers in the respective containers. The stronger markers stayed; the weak ones got the trash bag. ...Aren't you glad God doesn't do that to us? There have been so many times in life, particularly during our recent deployment, when I felt so close to being dried up. I was so tired and so weary of being the one holding it all together; taking care of the house, caring for our little boy, being the encourager to my husband on the other side of the world. I wasn't bursting with color; I was barely making a mark. But God in His incredible way always knows how to infuse me; how to strengthen me; how to bring me back to the original condition he created me to be. If there is anything I have learned from this deployment it's that God is glorified most when we can only do the least. "
I could really resonate with that story. :) It reminded me of something my husband said in a sermon... "God doesn't have expectations...He has expectancy" I like that. I feel like letting out a big sigh of relief every time I think about it. lol
Lord, thank you that you just want me to come to You as I am with a heart of humility and obedience. Please continue to remind me of this! Thank you that I can be honest with You. Please be with all the military men and women serving abroad this evening. Be with their families and loved ones back home as well. I pray for encouragement and protection as they live a difficult yet honorable lifestyle. Help us to learn to draw nearer to You.