Unlike many military wives, I didn't marry an airman. I married a preacher.
I began my post-college life as a seminarian's wife; then as he went on to pastor small churches in rural areas, I learned who I was in the context of ministry. I was the pastor's wife. I played the piano sometimes, I sang in the choir, I taught Sunday school when a teacher was needed, I taught Vacation Bible School every summer, and I tried to cook for potlucks.
It wasn't until after my husband graduated with his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2001 that he seriously considered the military. Even then, he had his eye on the Air Force Reserves. He had a pastor friend in our association who was a reserve chaplain, and he recruited my husband for the same job.
Then September 11, 2001 happened.
His initial application was frozen for awhile, then became delayed because of me (I was born overseas, and they were looking for my green card; I didn't have one as I was born on a US Naval Base!). Finally, on Valentine's Day 2002, my husband took his oath and joined the Air Force Reserves, attending COT that summer and BCC the next spring.
Even then, his military service didn't do much more than add some camouflage to our closet and take him "away" twelve miles to the nearby base one weekend a month.
In the summer of 2003, however, things changed again. He was activated reserve, which meant the Air Force became his full-time job for the next nine months. Thankfully my friend stepped in to be a nanny for our girls, as I was still teaching full-time in a town 30 miles away, and he was on-call often for the men and women and families of the 442nd Fighter Wing reserve unit.
He went back to reserve status in 2004, and life went back to its normal level of busy. Until the end of 2005, when he resigned the pastorate and applied for active duty status.
I was in complete and utter denial until spring 2006, when I finally had it out with him and with God. And I realized that the world of ministry had cracked wide open for my husband. No longer was his heart in the rural church alone. Now he was open to ministering to the men and women of the Air Force, and their families, in this time of war. I finally realized that living in the same house for the next twelve years was not God's plan for our family. He was calling all of us to a life of service to those who protect and serve our country.
So we went to the location where God called us: Grand Forks, North Dakota. We've had a great four-year run here, and it's been lovely (albeit cold). Now as we prepare to move south to the next great adventure, I'm so grateful I didn't listen to my selfish heart.