Two years ago this month, I published my first book, Olive Drab Pom-Poms. Two years….wow. Time flies.
I am working on a second book, hopefully to be picked up by a publisher by the end of the year. That book, currently titled Lessons of a Nomad, will share what God has taught me about my Christian walk through military life. Still working on the tag line – would love some input!!
As an “anniversary celebration” of the first book and a prayerful expectation of the coming one, I am going to spend the month sharing excerpts from the upcoming book. I would love for you to share your thoughts, suggestions, whatever on the writings as well as on the title and tag line. Additionally, I would love it if you would follow the blog and facebook page, inviting your friends to do the same. It would really help with the book proposal and the extra input would be awesome!
Thank you all so much for your encouragement and support. I am praying even now that God allows me to take this next step if it be His will as well as allowing me to continue to speak at retreats, conferences, etc. It is my heart to do just that, but I so want to do His will – it works out so much better in the end ;).
So, without further ado, here is the first excerpt:
Holding my hand while standing in the middle of the dry riverbed, this fifteen-year-old young man was not sure he was going to live for the next ten minutes. Thinking about being in this place for a week, he was for sure he would never see his home again.
In the winter of 1998, I became the director of an outdoor adventure camp for kids ages twelve to sixteen in the hill country of Texas. The camp was awesome. Through their week at camp, kids would learn to rappel, shoot arrows at the archery range, fire a .22 rifle, traverse a ropes course, ride a horse, and canoe and swim in the river. All while spending their nights in a real Native American teepee. Cool, right?
I thought so, but many of our kids came from the downtown area of Houston, Texas. Our 700-acre camp was a far cry from home, and not just in the measurement of miles. Learning to live without electricity and sleep with crickets was usually their first challenge. Additionally, this was the first time some of them had ever seen a real-live cow. Hard to believe in Texas, but true nonetheless. This was just the beginning. Hiking the hills, swimming with fish, sitting on the back of a twelve-hundred-pound animal, shooting a weapon without going to jail – all of these were new experiences for these kids, and it terrified some of them.
I had some girls cry as they drug their trunk up the hill to their teepee the first day. Apparently no one told them everything about the adventure they were going to experience.
This fifteen-year-old young man was one of those kids.
The tradition at camp on the first night was to hike about a half mile through the dry riverbed to our opening campfire. This experience was to be the first of some awesome adventures. As we headed into the ravine, the young man took my hand and held on for dear life – not because he enjoyed my company so much, but because he was scared to death.
His first thought was that mountain lions lived in the hills. We would surely be attacked by one any minute. After reassuring him no mountain lions were lurking in the shadows, he felt a tree branch brush him. Going into complete panic, he started screaming to get the spider off his head. You know, the spider that was going to bite him and cause him to die. Well, once again he lived.
Our hike through the riverbed proceeded just this way the entire time. It was a very long half mile. The young man amazed me at the time because I could not imagine how he could be so scared out here and be so confident in downtown Houston – crazy stuff happens there! After spending the week with the young man and many other kids just like him, I came to understand that they were not cowards. They had just been transplanted to a completely foreign environment. Neither place – Texas hill country nor downtown Houston – was necessarily worse than the other. They were different.
Leaving the comfortable place we call home and landing in a completely foreign environment sounds pretty familiar. Welcome to the military.
Most of the military wives I meet do not live where they are from. They have been transplanted as well. Military culture in itself is pretty foreign when someone has never lived it. But we have found as we have moved that even in America, local cultures are different every place we go.
As you know, I am from Texas. This military life, though, has taken me to Hawaii, California, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas, and Maryland. I am just one military wife of many who have traveled similar roads, and many of them have actually lived on foreign soil.
We leave jobs, families, friends, homes, and comfort behind to take on the adventure designed for us. The first duty station can be a bugger. I certainly remember mine.
Before military-wife-life, I was a kind-of-big fish in my little bitty pond, but I had an identity and a purpose. My first duty station as a spouse was a wake-up call. First, finding a job took forever, then I had to show an ID to buy groceries, get on and off base, or even see the doctor. If I did not know my husband’s Social Security number, I was up a creek. Reality set in.
This was foreign soil to me. As I sat reminiscing about my cool job back at the ranch, I began to understand those kids from Houston. The fear of their surroundings, the uncertainty of their future, and the intimidation of the unknown made perfect sense. All of a sudden, I had to start from scratch and learn to survive.
Easy? Not so much.
It took me a while to figure out how to stay sane when I was home all day by myself. Having no money to spend made even walking to the Base Exchange worthless, and our house only needed so much cleaning. On top of that, I had to learn all of those unique parts of military life. I mean, who knew the baggers at the commissary work for tips only? I went to buy groceries at least a half dozen times before I caught on to that one. And understanding ranks and protocol? Well let’s just say it’s not my strong point. I have been known to be terribly sarcastic to someone, in uniform mind you, to figure out later he was my husband’s boss. All part of the learning process.
Just like the kids at camp, nobody had laid out all I was going to encounter. Like those girls looking at the teepee and realizing there was no electricity, I had moments when I wanted to go into complete panic mode or sit down and cry, too. This crazy military life was completely different than what I had expected and many times more challenging. The bus had driven up, dropped me off, and left. Standing in the middle of my cinder block house with the loaner furniture, my only options were to just survive or learn to enjoy the adventure. But how long would this adventure last and would I ever make it home again?