Peter retired (what!?) from the United States Air Force at the end of April, and we had an amazing time celebrating with friends and family.
Most of you know that I’m an extremely emotional person so you’ll be shocked to hear that I actually managed to hold it together throughout the ceremony. Until they said this:
“You are now relieved from active duty service.”
I totally did the ugly cry…
Several family members came in for the celebration. My parents and grandparents drove in from North Louisiana, my brother flew in from Dallas, and Peter’s sister, brother-in-law and niece drove in from New Orleans.
Several of Peter’s college friends also attended the ceremony. One of his best friends from college drove up from Florida while three other college friends who are still pilots in the USAF actually flew their planes to Moody AFB to be here in time for the retirement ceremony. Now that was cool!
As I look back over the past 20 years, here are a few things we’ve learned:
- Family support is key. When you are a military family, life can be hard. Deployments, TDYs (temporary duties away from home), and moving every few years can cause rifts in a marriage. But having support from others is helpful. My family and Peter’s family have both always been so supportive of us. My parents don’t hesitate to come help with our children when needed and they have assisted us in moving multiple times. I don’t know where we would be without that support.
- God has better plans for our careers than we do. Peter has had some career disappointments along the way. He was a flight navigator by trade but always wanted to be a pilot. Windows and doors kept closing as he applied for pilot training and we finally realized that it wasn’t God’s will. Looking back, we are able to thank the Lord for the path He put us on. Peter also thought he would take command of a squadron one day, but when that time came, he turned it down, deciding instead that he needed to be available for his family, especially Jonah. He sacrificed career advancement because he didn’t want to move the kids around any more than was necessary. Even though we had big plans, God had better ones.
- God brings people into our lives at certain times and seasons exactly when we need them. I’ve found this to be true so many times over the past 20 years. As newlyweds, Peter and I moved to Minot, ND. It was pretty overwhelming, to be honest. We were 23 hours away from family and had to rely on each other and those around us. While we were stationed there, God put a precious couple in our lives. They were a little bit ahead of us – they’d been married for several years and had a sweet 3-year old daughter. They became mentors to us during those first few years of marriage. I got to see, up close and personally, how couples worked things out when they disagreed. I got to see how their faith held them together when they went through heartbreaking circumstances. They modeled a healthy Christian marriage for us and it was exactly what we needed. There are so many other examples I could list – high school friends who took us in when we moved back to Louisiana, our precious life group in Tennessee who wrapped their arms around us and became family, a sweet couple here in Georgia who struggled through issues with us. God knows exactly who we need in our lives at certain times.
- There are a few people in your life you can catch up with, even after a 20 year absence. This was never more evident than when Peter’s friends from college showed up at the retirement ceremony. We hadn’t seen them much over the past twenty years, but standing around chatting with them was just like old times. (Although we all look a little older now…) I love that they took time out of their busy schedule to come celebrate with us!
- All good things must come to an end. I’ve said this before and I’m sure I will say it again: Military life can be difficult. But it has also been a huge blessing to our family. As Peter’s military career ends, we reflect on the great life we’ve had. We’ve lived in parts of the country we never would have chosen and we’ve met some amazing people. I’m sad to be closing this chapter but we are also excited to see what the Lord has in store for us next.
As one part of our lives comes to a close, we look forward to the next few years and all the changes they will bring to our family. And we are forever grateful for the past 20 years and the journey the Air Force led us on.