Back To the Shipping Grind

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
-Romans 12:12


It was the eve of Vivienne’s birth (two days ago), when I started this post, and when I was reading Romans 12:12; realizing this could be our heart verse for the last nine months and for the remainder of our lives.  The last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind for us, and this weekend the whirlwind comes to a close.
TJ accepted a new job and will be leaving for work this weekend.


More than I like to admit, I felt like God was putting our faith to the test over the last nine months and so often I felt I was failing.  I would get mad at God because of our financial difficulties or not being sure of what was coming next.  If you haven’t figured out by now, I like to plan to make a plan; I prefer to know what I am doing at all times, so being plan-less and in limbo land has not been my forte.   I struggle to release the death-grip I have on my vision for my life and allow God’s direction to take over.  The last nine months have put us to the test.  Over and over again, I prayed God would give us a direction, help us get out of the deep pit in which we believed we had fallen.  Finally, I came to a place where I felt I was meant to fast and pray; something about which I was adamant I would never do, given I am in recovery from a lengthy battle with eating disorders.  It was decided, I would deepen my prayer as much as I could to see where God was trying to lead.

A few days after making this prayer and study deepening decision, TJ received a phone call from an offshore cable laying company about potential employment.  Since that day our lives have been moving at breakneck speed in order to prepare for him to return to the shipping industry.  While we still have our business, and I will run it as much as I can while he is away, we ultimately needed the shipping industry to pick us back up in order to have things like health insurance again.  For those who have never looked at paying out of pocket for health insurance in the US, or paying out of pocket for any medical expenses, this is not a wallet-friendly option.  Just today we spent $150 just to get Vivienne “diagnosed” with an ear infection (as if the complaining about her ear hurting and sleepless nights needed a real diagnosis) and purchase the antibiotics to clear it up…$150 for something that is so commonsensical I really didn’t need to pay for it.  I digress, we have been without health insurance since November and TJ still has to work 90 days before we qualify with this new company, but it is more than we have had.  Of course, the financial aspect of this new employment is something about which we are rejoicing, as well.

God has sustained us financially since TJ was let go, but it has been a struggle to make ends meet.  I picked up odd jobs (working at the marina, freelance writing for a job I didn’t like–now freelance writing for one I love) and we started Cruiser Movers, LLC.  Running a business is not for the faint of heart!  I truly admire those who are entrepreneurs because I fully appreciate the amount of dedication necessary to make a business succeed.  God humbled us financially and allowed us to experience something we needed to in order appreciate all with which He blessed us before, and this current job opportunity.  We will not squander His blessings again.


This evening, Vivienne and I took TJ to the airport so he could catch a very long flight to meet his ship.  All day yesterday and today until we dropped him off, our family was a flurry of activity; running this way and that to prepare for his trip.  Even though Vivienne’s birthday was yesterday, it was no exception.  As we walked him to the security checkpoint and had our last hugs and kisses, it was much harder than it has ever been.  We have grown accustom to being around one another often and this separation is going too be lengthy.  Vivienne and I watched him as long as possible before running around to the observation area where she kissed him through the glass.  It was honestly the most heartbreaking thing to watch between the two of them.  After he walked away we slowly and quietly walked back to our car.  This is not going to be easy.

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We do this because this is the life we have chosen.  This is the opportunity with which God has blessed us.  He never promises things will be easy, but they will be worth it.  Being a Merchant Marine family is similar to that of a traditional military family.  We have hard goodbyes but instead of shipping TJ off to war, we are shipping him off to a ship.  Both cases have terrible forms of communication when the spouse is gone, and both require the remaining spouse to step up and fill the shoes of mom and dad.  I used to think being a Merchant Marine wife was harder in that we don’t have a built-in support network like Squadron Wives or a Family Readiness Group; upon returning to the marina tonight I realized how wrong I was.

Walking down the dock, a group of our boat neighbors were sitting outside having dinner and talking.  I needed to walk the dogs and Vivienne didn’t want to help, but she did want to stay with everyone else.  Sure enough, like the amazing people they all are, everyone agreed to watch her while I walked the dogs.  When I returned, one of my boat neighbors spoke up saying, “I will only say this once, but you know you can come to any of us for help any time while TJ is gone.”  I definitely had some tears in my eyes because I know they all meant it.  When we moved here last year and TJ was going offshore, he was almost this mythical creature because no one knew him and we didn’t know anyone.  I was just the random newbie carting around a toddler and two dogs by myself all the time.  Now, everyone knows us and knows our story.  They’ve all been here to support us during TJ’s job loss and now they are here to help me as he returns to the offshore world.  This may not be an “organized” support network, but it is the best dang support network any liveaboard mom could ask for in a marina.  This time I won’t be too shy to ask for help because I know they all care for us just as much as I care for all of them.  This marina is more than a bunch of random people living on boats in the same place; this marina is home.


Te Whakapono,
The McKelveys


~~ All things are possible for those who believe.  -Mark 9:23~~




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