Moving day came and went so quickly, I feel like I am still trying to catch my breath! It was such a quick decision and things fell into place so effortlessly, it seems, that we really just have to say a huge prayer of gratitude that things have worked out so well. It's interesting to me how life works out, sometimes, and a testament to me of God's hand in our lives.
3 years ago we made the decision to get out of the Army so that Ryan could pursue a degree so that he could turn around and commission back in the Army, or Air Force if we could get in. But as it always does, life happened and as he finished his associates degree with CNM, I started to get really selfish. It was the first time in our marriage he hadn't left for a month at a time or longer for training or deployment. And I really enjoyed it. The thought of going back in the military became less and less appealing the longer we stayed out of it. And really, who could blame me, right? I paid my dues. I was graceful enough during the deployments. Understanding enough of all the endless training exercises. I earned the right to have my husband come home every night. Right?
Except, it wasn't just about me. Every other month (seriously!) Ryan would spend time talking to a recruiter. Just a few months into being in school, Ryan was considering being a SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) instructor with the Air Force. But we agreed school was the priority so he didn't finish the application. Then he joined the Army Reserves. I hoped the once a month drills would be enough to satiate his passion for the military. But every few months for the last three years, I had to do my best to talk Ryan out of the military. And I succeeded, over and over. And I was happy.
Ryan, however, was not. It took me a while to see it. It took him finishing his associates degree and then taking a job with ProClean, where he was servicing and repairing industrial dishwashers for restaurants, hotels, and senior homes. Now, don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with ProClean. It was a good job. But it wasn't what made Ryan happy. He came home more and more miserable every week. I finally had to evaluate my priorities. Was his misery worth my satisfaction of him simply being able to come home every night? Was I willing to ask him to throw away the best years of his life, when he really could be doing what he loved AND coming home, just because of the possibility of another deployment? I finally faced the music and realized that Ryan doesn't just love the military. It's in his blood, and it always will be. And I realized that I was focusing on the wrong part of our experience in the Army. As hard as the deployments were, the blessings outweighed them tenfold. I made lasting friendships with wonderful women. I grew spiritually in ways I hadn't ever expected. Maritally, we were working towards the same goal and had a beautiful harmony because I supported Ryan 100% and he loved what he was doing, even if there were some knuckleheads that had to be dealt with. And travel? Let's not forget that I had the most amazing opportunities the first four years of our marriage.
I realized Ryan was sacrificing his happiness for mine, but I wasn't reciprocating the gesture. I realized that I married a soldier, through and through. A man who would always put others first. Who loved his country and loved the military. And what would make him happy, would ultimately make me happy.
So Ryan came home one night in mid-July throwing the Army back out on the table like he always did, and this time I didn't object. I think it shocked him a little. It didn't take long before we figured out he needed to finish his degree first. So I looked at UNM's degree programs and tuition and almost choked. After paying such a minimal amount at CNM, UNM's $5000 a semester was hard to swallow. And whatever degree Ryan chose to pursue, he wouldn't be able to use about 24 credits.Then, as if led by the Spirit, I thought about my time at NMSU ten years ago. So I checked out their website and found a degree program called a Bachelor of Individualized Studies. I called Ryan while he was at work to tell him about what I'd found and he was on board for filling out an application to NMSU.
I got in contact with a Veteran's Education liaison and told him all about Ryan and the credits he had and come to find out, nearly all his credits would transfer, allowing him to graduate two semesters earlier than if he went to UNM! He said the BIS sounded like the perfect degree program for Ryan because it was geared towards individuals pursuing a particular career goal. So the first week of August, Ryan was admitted to NMSU. Three weeks later, after applying to the program and designing a personal degree plan, he was accepted into the BIS program. The last remaining piece of the puzzle was when to move- before or after the baby came. Since our lease required a 30-day notice, we had to decide quickly if it was going to be before. After recalling the first few weeks of sleep deprivation from Monica and Leah's births, I decided I would rather move while I had energy and be settled before the pending weeks of sleep deprivation with a new baby. I also thought it might come in handy to establish and rekindle some friendships before the baby came. So September 1st, we submitted our 30-day notice. Labor Day week, we traveled to Las Cruces and were able to find a house in a nice area, only 2 miles from NMSU. Two weeks later we were all moved out of our house and on October 1, we made the journey down to Las Cruces.
The last week in Albuquerque, we received SO much help from friends and family. I will never be able to properly thank everyone, but I want to remember. Mom and Aunty Sarah for helping me pack and who were ten times faster than I was. Emily and Steph for taking the girls so they weren't so bored. The Cash's for letting us stay with them while our water lines were down. Our neighbor, Alberto, for letting us hook up our hose to their house so we could fill our tubs with water so we could still use the toilets and wash dishes. Dad, our wonderful home teachers, young men, Kyle, and Ryan's buddies from his reserve unit who helped load up the moving truck. Grandma and Grandpa for providing lunch, Matt and Emily helping us get our trash to the dump, Mom, Emily G. and Elisha helping me clean. We really couldn't have done it without the love and support of our family and friends!
I'm sad to not be able to see everyone at church and co-op, or Sunday family dinners but it makes it easier knowing we have good friends here too, and we don't have to start from Square 1. It's more like Square 3 or 4. And it is especially easier knowing that our goals are aligned again. And the purpose of our decision is realigned with a goal we made with our Heavenly Father's guidance and approval 3 years ago. Maybe we'd be here anyways if we hadn't lost our focus. Who really knows? We just know that we feel like this is the time and place, and the purpose which will facilitate the most happiness for our family. And nothing can beat the peace of feeling that way!