When the Army Gives You 90 Days to Move to Abroad

I received the news via text while sitting at a conference room table last Friday, smack in the middle of a day-long training seminar. Bill and I had been warned the night before that something major was coming down the pike, and that Bill would need to be at a 10:30am conference call with HR the following morning. I told him to text me as soon as he knew what was going on because I wouldn’t be able to answer the phone.

Reporting 31Oct accompanied to [omitted]! It was going to be 01Oct, as in 60 days, but I pushed for 90 and got it.

My stomach dropped to the floor and I began to shake. My palms started to sweat. I had 90 days to move to Korea.

Sure, the military will pack up your belongings, store what you don’t need overseas and ship the rest to you – and for this I am very grateful – but that isn’t what has my head reeling.

Bill and I are expert movers. We’ve done this drill 5 times. We’ve bought, sold and rented homes. We’ve changed our children’s schools, cut off and on utilities and trekked from one side of the country to another. We’ve said goodbye to family and good friends and established new relationships that will last a lifetime. We’ve moved our fleet of cars from one end of the county to another (oh man is that a story for another day) and I’ve lost and gained more jobs than I care to count. But we’ve never had to do it in 90 days, let alone to another country.

Our kids are older now too. They’ll actually miss their friends and teachers. They’ve established strong friendships in our neighborhood and community. Over the last 5 years we’ve become rooted in our little city. I have to say, it’s the best city Bill and I have ever had the privilege of being moved to. We thought we’d retire here.

And, although I can count multiple jobs in various locations on my resume, leaving my current position will be very hard to do. I’ve been blessed to have wonderful supervisors throughout my career. I’ve worked at companies and organizations that I admire and have learned a lot from. On the whole, I’ve always worked with some pretty amazing people. The Savannah College of Art and Design has been very good to me. I am heartbroken to be leaving. This last Monday, through tears, I submitted my resignation.

But back to the whole “overseas” thing. In the last 5 days – well, really 3 because no one is open on the weekend – I have learned that moving a family who owns a home with three children overseas on military orders, in now less than 90 days, is near impossible. As in, I’ve cried in frustration, near hopelessness and out of sheer stress every day since Monday, when offices were open and people were available to get answers from.

Not that we really got answers. We got more like non-answers, or half-answers, because most government employees couldn’t care less about our plight; we’re just a number and these numbers in the same situation roll through all the time. That, and they get paid no matter what anyway, because in case you haven’t heard, once you’re in the (government) “system” there’s no way you can be removed.

Prior to Monday I wasn’t this jaded.

Prior to Monday Bill and I thought we had this whole thing under control. Friday night we’d mapped out an entire game plan; every detail we could think of was written on the whiteboard in our kitchen. We woke up early Saturday morning, put on a pot of coffee – percolator, of course – and worked until 1:30am the next morning mulching, cleaning and otherwise making the house picture-perfect. We went to bed that morning with a home on the market, dead-dog tired, but feeling pretty good about ourselves.

But it isn’t just the government worker-bees that are giving us the run around and causing us more work than is needed. Bill and I are doing it to ourselves. As the cliche´goes, “haste makes waste.” We’ve spun our own wheels so bad in backpedaling with the decision to sell our home vs. rent it, spending multiple late nights in discussion, that now I have bags under my eyes, even with concealer.

Today we had our passport photos taken. If I ever make it on the plane, I might be detained for looking like a zombie.

Through all of this – and really, I’ve barely scratched the surface of my woes – I’ve been praying and (I thought) listening for His response. I took 5 minutes today to reread David Jeremiah’s daily words of wisdom in Journey from 2011, which I had just read last night but could hardly remember the words — perhaps because my mind was tired and any brain power I did have at that point was being diverted to thoughts of rental property paperwork. Hang in There was the title. Immediately I thought, (with a tinge of “you-could-say-that-again” in my tone), “Well, isn’t that applicable?” Harrumph.

But as I read on I realized something. God had been trying to speak to me, to tell me to hang in there, and last night I was too preoccupied and too exhausted to hear Him.

Motivational expert Ron White tells of being in Navy boot camp. He was tired, intimidated, scared, and hungry. Another sailor who was about to graduate passed him in the hallway and, seeing his fatigued expression, whispered out of the side of his mouth, “Hang in there…. You can do it.”

Ron never learned the sailor’s name, and he never saw him again. But those words shot through him like electricity, and he replayed them each night before going to bed. They revamped his attitude, and Ron persevered until he finished the program.

On graduation day, Ron saw three sailors leaning against the wall. They were tired, intimidated, scared, and hungry. Walking over to them, he whispered, “Hang in there…. You can do it.” From the expression on their faces, he knew his words had hit home.

The daily journal continues by reminding the reader (that would be me) of King Hezekiah’s encouragement to the Levites who were assisting the Israelites in celebrating the Passover to the Lord, a joyful but daunting task.

I clasped the book to my chest and tears – yet again – began to flow. But this time, they weren’t out of stress, or fear of the unknown, or because I can’t seem to organize my way out of the harried situation I am living in. I cried because I knew God was speaking to me; He was trying telling me that Bill and I will get through this, if I would only stop and listen.

God has been listening to my prayers, even if they have been frantic. My trust in Him to be the leader of our home and take care of things flew right out the window when I received Bill’s text. I jammed the thrusters right into hyperdrive and left God in the wake of my chaos.

I’m up late again tonight, but I’m a little less stressed this time. Whatever happens, I know God is watching over us, and He will take care of us. This time I’ve heard His words of encouragement.

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14 Responses to When the Army Gives You 90 Days to Move to Abroad

  1. I jumped over here from your comment on another blog and, as it happens, I did this move in 1993! It seemed like madness at the time. My husband left to attend a school/class, as he did during many moves. I sold the house and moved mostly on my own, but with supportive friends and family. We lived there, had many interesting experiences and came back two years later. Having email, texting, Facebook and Skype will keep you better connected than I was 21 years ago. Yes, hang in there, you CAN do it.


  2. Rebecca S. says:

    You can do it and you will be great! Moving is SO stressful regardless of where you’re headed, and there’s never enough time. Keep your eye on the prize, in a few months you’ll be eating kimchi and enjoying the rich culture of Korea with those precious kiddos, reveling in new opportunities and unforgettable experiences.


  3. Francisco says:

    And the most important thing is that wherever you are you will continue to give encouragement to us.


    • My goodness Francisco, it’s such an honor to hear that from you. I can hardly believe I’m actually writing for the public, let alone that there are people (outside of my mother and father) who read the words. And that they provide a source of encouragement? That’s the Holy Spirit, not me.

      All my best!


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  5. rheapatel22 says:

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  6. Wow! That’s a big move. Obviously God has a purpose in this.


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