One of the first things I noticed about our new home was the yard. It was a “postage stamp-sized” plot in the middle of a subdivision near Gulfport, Mississippi. My Navy husband, Eddie, had gotten orders to the Seabee Base there and had left earlier to find a place for us to live. One nice thing, though, was a row of chrysanthemums growing on the south side of the house. I could just imagine the profusion of blossoms these bushes would produce in the fall!
This was our first real house, having lived in a small mobile home for six years, and I was excited. I couldn’t wait for the movers to deliver our furniture so I could make this into our home. When I called the moving company, though, I was in for a shock: Our belongings were in the front of a moving van headed to California! There would be several days’ delay before they would get back to Gulfport. What were we going to do? Our new neighbors, many of whom were or had been in the military, came over to meet us and discovered our plight. They convinced me all was not lost. One found an extra mattress for us to sleep on, another had an electric skillet that we could use, and one couple even brought over some extra chairs and a table. We knew we were in the right place when we saw this outpouring of compassion. We visited several churches in the area, and we soon found our fit. I joined a Sunday school class where several other military wives were members, and we commiserated with each other when our husbands were away on eight-month deployments. One time, in particular, I really appreciated my new friends. It was a week before payday and I had to make an emergency visit to the dentist. I didn’t have enough money for the bill, and one of my classmates found out about my plight and offered a loan. Homeports were filled with family activities. I’ll never forget the birthday cake Eddie and the boys made me when I was 28. They had two candles, one in the shape of a “2” and one an “8”, but when they put them on the cake they reversed the “2” and when the cake was turned around it read “82.” We ended up living in Gulfport over seven years. For the most part, they were happy years of watching our kids grow up with the neighbors’ kids, attending little league games, and taking part in church functions. Money was always tight, so we found things to do that didn’t cost much, like spending a Sunday afternoon at the beach. With a 28-mile stretch of white sand, it was easy to find a spot with plenty of room for the kids to play undisturbed, and my little Pinto didn’t use much gas for the short 6-mile drive. Many of the friendships we formed during that time remain to this day, and my feelings were bittersweet when we left Gulfport. Our last duty station was Virginia Beach, Virginia. Eddie was nearing the end of his naval career, and before the year was out we decided to buy a house that had recently become available a short distance from our family. We had shared in the decision to leave the military, and we hoped and prayed it was the right one. As I looked back, I could see God’s hand in our lives every step of the way, from providing for us when we didn’t have any household goods to helping us get through tough financial times. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13. I knew He would also provide for us during this transition to civilian life. We moved into our new house in September, 1986. One of the first things I saw was a row of white chrysanthemums bursting into bloom on the south side of the house, and I knew we were home!