Friday, June 21, 2013

Comfort Zone

My mind has been too full, for too many weeks to write.  I've had to filter through so much, trying to decide what words need to come out.  To summarize the events that have caused this mental turmoil, the Air Force has not been kind of recent to our family.  They have promised holidays, time off, and breaks in deployments, only to change and withdraw them, always for the worse.  Deployments got longer and more frequent, time home cut shorter and shorter.  They have told us we're moving, then told us we can make new plans, then told us we're moving again.  The goodbyes, time apart, to and fro, and constant changing of plans that affect not just my DH, but our whole family, has been a strain on what little peace our family clings to.

A word of caution to anyone considering military service- this is neither unusual nor "unfair".  It simply is.  When you sign a contract, they can say or do whatever they want to you, and if you have a family, remember it will effect them just as much as it affects you.  You quite literally sign your life away, in exchange for a job and benefits for the time on the contract.

For us, that contract meant the military would pay for DH's college and flight school, in exchange for 10 years of service after he received his wings.  It also means a paycheck for that time, a housing allowance, healthcare, and many many logged flight hours to take with him when he leaves.  Thus far the Air Force has kept their end of the deal.  We aren't owed anything more than that.  That contract doesn't mention happiness in the job, satisfaction with the work, and regular or even reasonable working hours.  We don't regret the decisions made back when we were young and in college, no matter how naive we were in making them.  This was the best option for my husband to be a pilot.  And despite the disillusionment we've come to have with the unstoppable U.S. Air Force, we're not entirely ungrateful for the opportunities it's given our family, despite how dearly we have and continue to pay.

The upcoming moving plans will be sending us out west, to New Mexico.  For many, back west is where they want to go, where their hearts lie.  Not mine.  My comfort zone is filled with full, big, beautiful deciduous trees, turquoise beaches, seasons, warm humid air, regular soft rain showers, fireflies, and breezes where you can hear waves or the rustle of leaves.  It's where people say "ya'll", where good BBQ is found, and where the locals have ancestors who fought in the American Civil and Revolutionary wars.  I like to roll down the car windows and smell summer honeysuckle in the wind.  I love peaches off a local fruit stand, berry picking, and thunderstorms.  Oh, Dixieland, my comfort zone.

While I love those things, life is not about living within our comfort zones.  Usually you don't even know what that is, until something forces you to move on or change to make you uncomfortable.  God wants us to learn, grow, and find love and beauty everywhere, in everything.  It's too easy in the land of Dixie to do that.  No matter how unwilling we are, it's time for us to move on to new adventures.  When I wrote her about my moving woes, a dear friend and seasoned military daughter sent me a loving letter, full of understanding and sympathy, but also with the advice that I take the Lord's hand, and my husband's in the other, and jump forward into our new life out west, with excitement and anticipation.  I think it might feel a bit like jumping into a cold pool after sunbathing, but I know she's right.  I know I can, and will.

Some of my friends have these cute signs in their homes, that say "Home is Where the Air Force Sends Us", and then hanging from the sign, are planks with each base or location they were stationed at.

I've thought about getting one made myself, but I've never felt like that phrase fit us.  To me, where I call home has nothing to do with the Air Force.  It's like saying "Home is where your kitchen sink is" - not exactly a  false statement, but more accurately a minor coincidence.  The military may tell us where to go, but they can't dictate where I feel at home.  Where the Air Force sends us is where we make our home, but they aren't why, and don't deserve the honor of being on a sign on my wall.  They've already put their name on my husband, everything he wears, and on enough gear, uniforms, boots, notebooks, manuals, maps, and deployment crap to fill an entire bedroom.  After much meditation throughout these weeks and months of turmoil, I finally came up with a better motto.

Home is Wherever we can be Together  

While I may not be in love with the location, and frustrated with the circumstances the Air Force sometimes places us in, all the pieces of my heart are together when all the members of my family are under one roof.

So look away, Dixieland.  I have to leave you for awhile, and move my home to where my family can be together.  I still love you, and will shed an occasional tear for your benefit while in the far away west, and out of my comfort zone.  I don't know if we'll get to come back, or when that could be.  But when I imagine heaven, it's where my home and you are the same.

I asked the girl who made the above sign if she can do a custom order with my new phrase.  I'll add a picture of it to this post when it's done.  While you wait you can listen to Brad Paisley.  His song helped me find the words I needed write today.

A special thanks to Kim, who was willing to take on a special order and make such a beautiful, personally meaningful sign for us.  Check out her store, she's great.  She also has more items on Facebook, you can message her for a link to that!


  1. So how much longer do you have until the 10 years are up? Or did you decide to go career?

    1. We are 5 into that 10, so 5 more to go, most likely all of them will be in NM. If we had the choice to leave the military today, we'd be gone. But we don't have that choice today, it's 5 years in the future, and if the military has taught us anything, it's that we can't predict the future!!! So, like a parent responding to a child nagging for something, I'll say, "We'll see."

  2. Wherever you go, we will find you and spoil your kids.

  3. I understand. :) People ask me about plans for the future and I usually answer something along the lines of 'I have no idea till we're in the middle of it and even then it can change.' :) We likely have around 4 left and then after that who knows? :)

    But don't worry. I have a feeling you will take your friend's advice and bloom quite nicely in the desert. :)

  4. Thank you, Bethany! It's fun reconnecting with you! We have a good history as childhood friends. Who'd ever guess we'd both marry handsome men in uniform, and send encouraging blogger notes while exploring that crazy world of military spouses! Obviously it was a friendship meant to be!

  5. So cute Liz! It's hard making the best of such a stressful situation. I've actually heard good things about Clovis, and we loved Albuquerque. We would have gone back if we found a good job there.

  6. You are amazing writer and I echo many of these sentiments. One day, Liz, we will all settle back in the beloved SouthEast. We just need to bide our time =) Love you girl.