Has it really been a year and 4 months since my last post??? WOW!!! And, sorry! I just finished reading all of my posts from the last 3 years in England and it feels like just yesterday that we were getting ready to fly out and begin our new Air Force life in the UK. I'm not even sure where to start to try to catch up and this may not be the best time to write because my emotions are very raw tonight, but then again, maybe that's a good thing.
My last post was from right before John deployed for the first time. We had no idea what to expect, didn't know many people here yet, and I was still getting used to have 2 kids (who were 2 1/2 and 8 months at the time). If I can say one thing about deployment it's this- you learn quickly how to survive and if you're smart, you find a support system to make the time great, rather that just manageable. I am so blessed to have found that in our church and I can honestly say, as hard as the deployment was, it really was a good summer. I felt very accomplished by the end of it and excited to know just how much I can really handle.
So here we are, well over a year later and getting ready to finish out deployment #2. This one has been different because not only was it 2 months longer than the last, it was also one that we weren't expecting and had very little time to process and prepare for before he was gone. We had already planned a trip back to the States as a family to see our new nephew when he was born before we found out John was leaving. And I was so excited to get to travel as a family and not have to do it by myself. In fact, I distinctly remember the words, "I am not flying back to the States without John again!" coming out of my mouth. Little did I know....God had other plans!!
One thing I've been hit hard with is the realization that when God has a lesson to teach me, He's gonna teach it to me whether I learn willingly, or kicking and screaming. So I've had MANY times when I want to resist and have to stop myself, take a breath, and just try to figure out what the Lord wants for me at that moment. I had many lessons in that when I was stuck at Ramstein, Germany for a week trying to get home after being in the States for a month. All I could think about is that I wanted to be home, but in that week I learned how much I can handle as an exhausted mom with jet-lagged kids, and saw how genuinely nice and giving people can be. Or maybe I just looked that pathetic, I haven't quite figured that one out. But looking back on that week, I realize how much of a blessing it really was. After a full month of go go go, we had a week to just stop, relax, eat German pastries, and recoup a little before getting back into the swing of normal life again. And if I have to be stuck anywhere, Germany is the place to be!!!
Now that we're home and settled, I have a whole new exciting aspect of my life unfolding. I am the coordinator for our MOPS group and now that we've started up again, I'm feeling the pressure of being held to a higher standard and I want to be living all these things that we are trying to impress on the moms. Our theme for the year is MomSense and being bold, loving and sensible in our mothering. I want to learn to be more bold in sharing my faith with others, which means that I have to be constantly growing in my relationship with God, so that I can be someone that lives a life that is different from the world and stirs a hunger in them to know the truth. I want to learn to be more loving with my girls, both at home and when we're out and about. I want to be confident that the way I treat them when people are watching me is the same way I treat them at home when it's just us. I want to be more sensible in the way I handle things, with my children, with my marriage, with my words, with my life in general. Being a leader can be very intimidating for me, but I know God has put me in this position for a reason. Our pastor is always talking about how we need to use the gifts that God has given us. I do believe that I'm in this position because this is a gift that God has given me, but it's so new to me that it can be very scary and I don't always believe in myself. But I'm learning!!
So now we are less than a month away from John's homecoming and I'm beyond excited and a little scared for that day. So much has changed since he left, with all of us, and I know it's gonna be an adjustment when he comes home. Jadyn is officially a toddler now, she's talking like crazy and is now potty trained!!! Haylee just blows me away with everything that she knows and the things that she remembers. She's in school 3 days a week and comes home everyday with a new song that she learned and enough beautiful artwork to cover our whole house! It's also a little scary that he's coming home because that means our next step will be getting ready to move. We are getting stationed at Eglin AFB, Florida and we can't wait! Our last 3 months here are going to be filled with our last little bit of traveling, getting our stuff packed up and shipped, getting everything in order for us to leave this base, and hopefully spending Christmas in Washington and part of January in Lubbock. I feel like I'm going to blink and we're gonna be in Florida. I'm really sad to see our time in England end and I can't believe it's almost over, but I do feel like it's time to move on and I know God has some really incredible blessings in store for us in Florida!! Like the BEACH!!!! :)
Life has been a little crazy around the Gardner house! I just realized today that I haven't updated this blog since February and I'm sorry. My excuse is that I'm keeping facebook up to date with pictures and videos, but I thought it might be time to let ya know what's actually been going on. We have been traveling and spending as much family time together as we can because John is about to leave. His leave date was supposed to be tomorrow, but thankfully it got pushed out until Wednesday. As we speak, he is packing his bag so I'm happy for this distraction so I don't have to watch. The reality has started to hit and even though I know that he (and we) will be ok, I'm still nervous about it. I feel like I have a good routine down with the girls and can handle them by myself. The hardest part for me is thinking about trying to explain to Haylee why daddy is gone. But we will have some kind of countdown to help her understand and make the days go by a little faster. What I'm looking forward to most is taking my first trip back to the States in a year and a half!! I am waiting on Jadyn's birth certificate to come back so we can get her passport. As soon as that comes back-hopefully by the end of June- I am hoping to get a military hop to Washington. I'll spend a week with each set of grandparents and from there, head down to Az for a couple weeks. Then I'll head to Texas for a week or two before hopefully getting a hop back to England. I know everyone is dying to see the girls (I'm just the chauffeur :) ) and I'm excited to see family and SHOP!!!! So in the last few months, we have taken a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, Northern Wales, London twice, and Great Yarmouth (the beach!). It has been great to get away as a family and explore different parts of this gorgeous country. Haylee is finally old enough to really enjoy traveling and not need a stroller anymore and Jadyn just loves watching her big sissy wherever we go. The two of them are quite the pair! Yesterday was our beach trip and we took the girls to the Sea Life Center. I knew Haylee would love it but I didn't expect Jadyn to get as into it as she did! I carried her around the whole time and she giggled and squirmed and smiled at all the fish. I loved watching their excitement as we saw everything. We spent the afternoon building sandcastles, burying John and Haylee in the sand and trying to keep Jadyn from eating the sand. It was wonderful!!! I can't believe how fast these girls are growing! Haylee is, as usual, talking a mile a minute and asking about a million questions a day. I think I'm gonna start working on memory verses with her this summer. She's definitely ready! She loves playing outside so I'm really glad the weather is finally warming up! And Jadyn couldn't ask for a better big sis. Jadyn seems to have gone in to overdrive with all of her "firsts". She sat up at 5 months, started crawling at 6 months, cut her first 2 teeth, started on baby food and started pulling herself up in the last month or so. If she doesn't slow down, she will be walking by the time we get to the states! Yikes! I will try to keep everyone updated this summer about our trip and can't wait to see you all!!!