After Jason enlisted in the Airforce, I had to adjust more than my expectations. At the highlight of my career, I was working as an Intake Assessment Coordinator in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. This position combined my counseling skills and my newfound love for marketing! At one time, I had the expectation that Jason and I would marry and live in Huntingdon, all the while continuing my career.
Jason proposed at the conclusion of his basic training in San Antonio, Texas. Details of our actual wedding were unclear, but all I knew was he finally had asked! Honestly, we were at the hands of the Airforce with planning our wedding. Initially, Jason was under the impression he would attend a short Tech School, allowing us to be married in Huntingdon when he was done. The reality, as dictated by our United States Airforce, was a 9-month Tech School in Biloxi, Mississippi. I, a once beaming bride who had motivated forces at home for a small outdoor wedding was confused, frustrated and at a stand-still in my blissful momentum.
It seemed exciting and surreal, like sort of a fairy tale. When I threw my wedding dress and some snacks and cash in Jason’s truck, I pulled away from Huntingdon with the ultimate hope in my heart. Down to the day, we timed our wedding when Jason could first leave base overnight during Tech School. I was in town, waiting two nights in a cheap motel for this uniting of lives with Jason S. Dibble. I would have waited weeks in this cheap motel, just to be in the same town as my future husband. Practicality overruled even in the midst of love with abandon. Finally, the time had come to collect Jason in his own truck, which he had not driven in months. He and I spent the night before our wedding in the swanky Beau Rivage where I swear we slept on a cloud dressed in silky sheets. Jason was not nervous, the most confident I had ever seen him. I, on the other hand, could not sleep, anticipating our life-changing event scheduled for tomorrow on the Biloxi sands.
Jason left our hotel in the morning to pick up his buddy from base, who agreed to be our photographer. The urgent nature of the wedding plans precluded having any other guests in attendance. With only myself to worry about, I took my time getting ready for the happiest day of my life. Truly, there were times in my life when I thought I would never marry. Men in my past had been unreliable, untrustworthy and seeking everything but a committed future.
As my wedding dress adorned my body and my sparkly barrette held my simple straight-cut of hair, I added the slightest bit of mascara to lengthen my eye lashes. One thing I loved about Jason was that he did not expect a fashion model in me; found me to be beautiful the way I was. With hope overflowing in my soul, I went downstairs to the circular drive in front of the hotel. Jason pulled up in his truck with his friend sitting in the middle across the front seat. My groom promptly got out of his truck, muttered a “wow” and opened the door for me to hike my dress and climb in. We were married on an overcast day, standing on slightly cool sand, next to the Tiki torches brought by our Justice of the Peace. We spent a glorious day and wedding night at The Beau Rivage, blessed with an in-room brunch bought by friends from home. The next day Jason had to return to base, and I flew back Pennsylvania. While high in altitude, I felt a descent in that fairytale-type aura, only to be replaced with my Task-Master agenda. I was to finish out my current position for a couple of months and make lots of calls to find us a Biloxi apartment for my return.
Royal Gulf Apartments in Biloxi accepted us; military service members do receive extra perks. Of course, no easy rental process or free fast food on Veterans Day is hardly repaying their life-on-the-line service to our country. Once I left Pennsylvania for good, I was now Mrs. Jason Dibble, a temporary resident of Biloxi, Mississippi. Jason worked the day shift, and I had secured a temporary job selling newspaper ads for the Biloxi Bay Press. We had every evening and weekends to spend together.
“I put us down for Italy, Germany and Australia” he said, as we relaxed on our makeshift couch. I still loved him; I assure you. However, my dramatic reaction when the words came out of his mouth included yelling and wild tears of uncertainty and condemnation. It was already bad enough I had to leave my career…..I had worked from the time I was 15. Upon every move with my single mom and every summer and every semester as an undergraduate at UCONN, I worked. It was how I survived: I excelled at whatever job I had and earned my own income so I did not have to rely on anyone else. Though I appreciated the job security Jason had with the military, I was not going to sit around for four months. My salary in Huntingdon, PA was $40,000 per year. My salary in Biloxi was $10 per hour.
My brain started spinning: could I even work if we went abroad? I had all my credentials and letters of recommendation from the beginning of my career- surely, I could find something…..but when would we see family and friends? Email did exist at this time, but Jason and I did not own a computer. Phone calls would certainly be super-expensive; does the military pay for that, I wondered?
Young in our marriage and in the military lifestyle, Jason did what he thought was responsible in using his time wisely. Why would we want to stay in the USA when we could travel? He had also heard he was less likely to be deployed if he was abroad. So, off to Italy we went on my 34th birthday. As I boarded the plane that day for the painstakingly long ride, I kept thinking, What do you mean we are going to Italy?
Julie’s story will continue on Friday. But for any of you in a similar situation, can you relate? What kinds of questions run through your mind when you’re faced with the prospect of having life as you know it upended?
has been humbling, healing and holy. She is thankful God blessed her with family: Jason, her husband who serves as a patrol officer; Braedon, age 11, the amazing reader, writer and thinker and Jackson, age 9, whose love of sports has earned him the nickname “Action Jackson”. Julie has been a stay-at-home mom for the past four years. After a transformative experience in the fall of 2014, she was led to become a Christian speaker and author. She has a passion for truth; her mission is to empower Faith as the best choice in a difficult world. “Let Love and Be a Light” is Julie’s wisdom for loving like Jesus on a daily basis.
With a master’s in counseling, Julie brings clinical significance to her ministry. Currently, Julie’s ministry includes all non-believers, spouses of emergency responders/military service providers; all those who struggle with depression; and all women who just need a Faith-lift.
Residing in Central PA, Julie is available anywhere in Pennsylvania and its neighboring states for speaking engagements. You may find her on http://www.facebook.com/ Julie Ann Dibble or http://www.twitter.com/@ julie_dibble. Any questions? Please contact her directly at [email protected].