Army Moves and Heart Checks

moving boxesWe arrived at our new rental home just after noon on a weekday following a three day PCS (permanent change of duty station-an Army move) from Fort Drum, New York, to Fort Hood, Texas.  We were pulling a U-Haul trailer behind our 2011 Toyota RAV for over a thousand miles, a partial DITY (do-it-yourself) move, because we believed our furniture would arrive at least a week or so later via the Army-contracted movers, and we wanted some conveniences like our queen bed in the meantime.  We were exhausted, but excited because the beautiful home found on the website would soon be ours for the next twelve months.  A perfect house.  A perfect location.

I had really prayed over this move-for the travel, the finances, and the off-post house we would insert our belongings and lives into since the waiting list for on-post housing was way too long.  And especially, because our younger daughter was coming home from college in central Florida in a few weeks-possibly for good.  We wanted plenty of space for our daughter to have some privacy and be able to entertain friends.  This two-story beauty boasted three bedrooms with a double-sink vanity bathroom and large open loft/living area upstairs, with a huge master bedroom, two living areas, a dining area, and large eat-in kitchen and laundry room on the main floor.  A beautiful tree-filled backyard with covered porch beckoned us for summer barbeques.  And the location of this gorgeous manor was central to my husband’s new job on the Army installation and my daughter’s possible commute as a transfer student to the quaint central Texas college in the opposite direction.  Yes, this was going to be perfect.  I had prayed, and this house won over the other almost brand-new home, the Southern Living-inspired, eat-off-the-kitchen-floor home because of a misunderstanding of the lease agreement costing us and the former rental company over $600 each.  But I just knew with all that and my husband’s insistence that this sight-unseen fortress was “the one,” that this was God’s pick of a home for us.  Finally arriving in our new quiet neighborhood with its large lots and homes displaying varying levels of care, we were hoping our home would look just like the internet photo-a stately manor with well-manicured lawn.

Pulling into the drive of 619, it was a little disconcerting, though, to find the vast yard unmowed and unedged.  Still the home itself seemed to look like the picture-perfect ideal we had anticipated.  But that was before we actually walked through the front door.  Reality greeted us in the foyer that beautiful Texas spring day just after lunch.  The smell of family dogs past was the first thing we noticed.  Then the overly carpeted spacious square footage displaying stains of all color and hue, mostly in gray, urine and grime, captured our attention.  As we proceeded from room to room examining the overall space and condition, we were most unhappy realizing this was what we signed the new lease for, and we had a lot of cleaning to do.  Dirty baseboards endlessly stretching the entire parameter of this tw0-story beaut and muddy dog-prints on about every door leading in and out of the house could not be overlooked.  Dirty screens on windows and a greasy stained kitchen tiled floor too boot.  I began to cry!

I had just left a thoroughly scrubbed home we vacated on the military installation in the North Country of New York.  I did not want to scrub another one.  I expected with this amount of deposit and rent, I would have a move-in-ready perfect house!  How dare this rental company rent anything in this condition, especially, to an officer in the United States Army!  Don’t they know word gets around about such businesses, especially ones dependent on the continual influx of new Army families year round?

My husband, the annoying optimist and good sport, softly tried to assure me with, “I will make this house nice for you.  I promise.”  At that, I was furious.  “I told you we should have moved into temporary lodging so we could look at homes once we got here, but no, you just pushed to have the home secured before we even got here,” I bitterly replied.  “I do not want to stay in this home for twelve months!  And to think, you even asked about an extended lease option!” I sarcastically added.  I knew even if we could get out of this lease, our furniture was arriving the day after tomorrow (due to an eager furniture-deliverer), and there was no way everything we owned would be coming into a clean and sparkling house.  Besides, we had to unload our overly loaded and unnecessarily rented U-Haul even before that!

We decided we were stuck here at least for the time being, so we unattached our unpacked rented trailer from the RAV and headed out for some groceries to stock the fridge for a few days.  I had noticed that the refrigerator did not appear very cold upon first inspection, so we turned the knob to a colder setting before departing for the local Walmart.  Coming home the evening of our first day at 619, we tiredly filled our refrigerator with some staples consisting of soy milk, coffee creamer, butter spread, and the like.  We even managed to unload most of the U-Haul and set up our master bed complete with sheets and pillows before falling asleep from sheer exhaustion for our over three days of travel and for the added bitter disappointment on my part.  We were only interrupted during the night by the smoke detector in need of battery replacement; with no batteries in sight or knowledge where they would even be inserted, my husband disconnected the entire wiring system only knocking out power momentarily, but avoiding death by electrocution to stop the endless chirping every few minutes so we could actually get some sleep.

Reality that I was in the house probably for good hit early the next morning as I arose from a coma to receive my husband’s daily, ritual-like expression of his love for me-a morning coffee delivery to my bedside.  He mentioned that the creamer did not seem that cold when he poured it into my Kerug morning blend.  Hours later we confirmed that the stainless steel refrigerator was not working at all.  Not many hours after this, we had to throw away all the purchased food we had stocked in it.  The 619 rental company sent a man out to repair it a day or so later, but during the weekend that followed we discovered it still did not work.  We used a cooler for more creamer and the like for over a week before the owner finally purchased a new refrigerator for our home.

We received our furniture with no new detectable dents, scrapes, or broken items-thank you, God!  My husband, God love him, purchased a new lawn mower (he had just given away a fairly new one and a used snow-blower to a family back at Fort Drum) and began mowing and weeding and edging our new lawn, while also collecting broken limbs strewn all across this tree-covered property binding them into piles for garbage collection.  He worked tirelessly on the lawn during the daylight and helped me in the evenings unpack countless boxes he carefully broke down to store for an eventual move in twelve months-at our expense this time.

Well, we have been in the not-so-ready-to-rent-out home for over a month and a half now, and I have learned some things about my heart.  I have learned how spoiled I am.  I have learned that I possess a sense of entitlement more than I realized.  I wrongfully believe I deserve much more than God chose for me to have.  I believe He probably wanted to show me the current condition of my heart through a military move and a two-story rental home.

I have already scrubbed most of the baseboards surrounding the now professionally cleaned carpets, with still miles to go.  A sweet neighbor came and blocked the gaping holes in our fence which has kept all those stray dogs from neighboring communities from continuing to run havoc in our backyard.  I am trying to be humble and just clean that which I do not feel I should, and I am trying to appreciate my husband more because he has worked so hard to make this imperfect dwelling our home.  As a military spouse, I understand that this is temporary-only about ten months left on our lease…and counting.

It’s a heart-thing!










Leave Comment