Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How the Marine Corps taught me about divine providence

I know there are a lot more important things going on than us finding out before mid-March where we're moving in mid- May.  But the suspense is killing us!  You could cut the tension in this house with a knife.  Tim sits around every night, big dip in his lip (he had planned on quitting for the New Year, but now the box of Nicorette sits uselessly on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet.), laptop in front of him, waiting for an email and searching endless real estate listings on two coasts.

Sometime during fall, the monitor said we'd hear by Feb 1.  Then, sometime in December, he said his "goal" was to let us know by March 1.  Now that the end of February is in sight, the latest we're hearing is "by mid-March".  Deep breath..

It's looking more like Camp Pendleton, CA than Cherry Point, NC these days, based on recent communication between Tim and his monitor.  The typical length of the wait for base housing on Camp Pendleton, should we want to live there, is eight months.  You can't get on that list until you have orders.  That means if we were to get orders today, there probably wouldn't be a house ready for us by the time we were ready to move.  And we don't want to live as transients for months while we wait.  While we aren't completely sold on living on base, I feel we're being denied the opportunity.

I am doing my best to remember that God will look out for us like He always has, and we will wind up exactly where we belong, just as we always have.  A great case in point is a story about Tim that I didn't even know myself, until a few months ago.  In 2004, First Lieutenant Tim was wrapping up his three-year tour in Camp Pendleton, during which he had deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 (or OIF1, as it's commonly referred to) and been on countless exercises.  He had orders to Okinawa, Japan.  He knew that after his year in Okinawa, he would have the option of getting out of the Marines, and he was considering that.  Maybe then he could pursue a career as a Massachusetts State Trooper, which was his other dream job.  Then again, maybe not, but he would think about it.  In the meantime, he would not be deployable.

Only days before movers were scheduled to come to his apartment, Tim got a phone call that alerted him to an email.  There had been a change of plans.  In order to better serve the needs of the Marine Corps, Tim was being redirected to Cherry Point, NC for two years.  The Marine Corps is not dumb, and they were not letting Tim off that easy.  He was needed on the east coast for the upcoming OIF3.  And who else was at Cherry Point but little old me? (And that in itself is a long story to be told over a few beers.)

That really irked Tim, who is a consummate planner.  In Tim's -- and now our -- world, he likes to know exactly what his circumstances will be as far ahead as possible.  He likes to have details in place and a direction to go in.  When he gets orders in black-and-white, he is as good as there, and whatever needs to be done is as good as done.  However, as anyone who has either been a Marine or loved one knows all too well, there are always those moments where they say, "Gotcha!"

This story is a valuable lesson to us both, and to anyone else feeling like a pinball in the crazy machine that is the Marine Corps.  First, know that nothing is definite, not even after you have orders in hand.  Second, after you've accepted that chaos as a part of your life, you should embrace it and learn to recognize God's hand in it.

Tim's story, as you know, got better after he recovered from the shock of having to go Cherry Point.  His monitor apologetically offered to make a note in his file that Tim accepted those orders "as a favor" to the Marine Corps.  He would therefore receive special consideration when it came time to choose his next duty station.  He was past due for a "B Billet" (short term duty assignment) after spending five years in the operating forces.  As anyone who's every been a Marine or loved one knows, to be able to choose --er, have any kind of significant influence over-- one's own B billet is a lovely thing.  Tim was finally rewarded for his hard work with orders to Boston, less than an hour away from where he grew up and where his entire family resides.  And that's where we started our family.

Speaking of which, the little one is up, and will be looking for a meal soon.  Let the wait continue.


  1. What a sweet story of how you two met. That is crazy though! What a fun adventurous life you lead :) Good luck with your reassignment. We lived in San Clemente while in Southern California (north boundary of Camp Pendleton) and LOVED every second of living in southern O.C. I am sure you will love it just as much.

  2. I feel you, Rachael....argh!! It is frustrating for these Jaime planners too.
    I hope you guys find out very soon. Maybe the Marine Corps will put us on the same coast!

  3. new lurker.. I hope you find out the where the realignment is soon! just noticed we are pretty much neighbors!