"I don't know how you do it." remarked my grandmother.
"How long was the drive to get here?"
Looking up at her with a big grin, I responded, "It was only a 14-hour drive."
Although I was physically exhausted from my trip, mentally, I was ready to go. There's just something about coming home (no matter how much time has passed since living in the area) that rejuvenates my spirit.
I love driving through the country backroads, knowing every twist and turn by heart. I love admiring the old buildings I grew up with and sharing story after story with my boys as they excitedly stare out the windows.
This trip "home" has been a long time coming. It has almost been two years since I walked around my hometown. Two years since, I have been able to make the trip and see my grandmother. Two years of lost time. In some ways, things are exactly how I left them; in others, things are incredibly different.
I sat in awe in my grandmother's kitchen, taking in the once-familiar atmosphere. I took a long look at her and immediately saw the difference in her appearance from the last time I was with her. I guess that's one of the downsides of this military life we lead... missed time comes with missed opportunities.
Time is a thief.
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the chaos of deployments and training, there isn't always time to make long trips home.
When my husband got word that he had to go away for training during the summer, I immediately started planning. I knew I wanted to make the summer memorable for my boys. They would be thrilled to soak in every spare minute with their grandparents and create special memories to compensate for some of the missed time.
Loading up the van and making the drive with two little boys and two dogs was the best travel option, so I wouldn't be on a time crunch and could stay as long as we wanted.
I have had to make a solo-parent cross-country trip from Colorado to Georgia with both of my boys, so loading up from New York to Georgia wouldn't be near the drive. I was confident I could make this trip. From experience, I now know what works and what doesn't when going on long road trips with kids in tow.
As I shared all this with my grandmother, she looked at me and said, "You are so brave for being able to travel such a long way alone."
Before I could respond, she chimed in again with another thought, "I guess you have to. You don't have any choice."
My eyes beamed back at her as I responded, "Memaw, we all have a choice. I choose not to let fear get the best of me. I choose to make the most of my time given. If I see an opportunity that can't be missed, I try to jump on it and give it my all. Sometimes, that means doing things despite the fear."
Reflecting on my trip, my time with her, and this conversation, I keep coming to the same conclusion.
God continually equips me for this military life.
Yes, it has its challenges.
Yes, it can be a lonely life.
I have had to learn how to do things on my own. (Some of these things I don't do well.)
Through it all, I can look back on trips like the one I just made, and all I see is God's strength in me. He provides peace when my heart is overthinking the what-if scenarios. He provides the courage to go the distance.
To some, making a trip alone with kids in tow is daunting. Honestly, I think that idea would have intimidated me a few years ago. It's funny how God can take our worries and our anxious thoughts and carefully shape them into some of our greatest strengths.
I am proud that God continually refines me into a woman of courage despite my shortcomings. How have you seen God work in your life? Has He provided strength when you feel weak? Have you felt unimaginable peace within a storm? Comment below and share your story. I would love to hear about what God has and is continually doing in your life.