>We will catch up soon

>I haven’t posted in almost a week.. gasp! This past week has been busy, as has everyone else’s with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and who knows what else.

I’ll update, hopefully with some pictures, soon. My sister-in-law Katie and I ran the Schaumburg Turkey Trot 5K on Saturday.. her first race ever and she ran the whole thing! I PR’d and was very happy about that.

Talk to you all soon!

>Beautiful letdown

>These past two weeks have been a let-down, quite honestly, with our answer to prayer about our decision, and also the race.

I’ve been trying hard to keep up whatever “feeling” I had of being close to God. Trying to get into prayer, to Bible study, to want to listen to uplifting music… but what I learned for the bajillionth time is that we can’t do a whole lot to make it happen. And as I’m still growing into maturity in my walk (sometimes I feel like a baby!) I will correlate my emotional response to God with how close I am to Him.

I reach the height of my emotions usually on Sunday morning during worship. On one hand, I am so thankful that I have gotten past the point of worshiping because I “feel like it”. If I still acted that way, I would be a horrible member of the team. I worship with my all every Sunday because 1) I love God, 2) I love music, 3) I love making music with awesome people and 4) I want to see people in the congregation transformed, redeemed, healed, etc. and thus take my role very seriously.

On the other hand, I need to absolutely bring that willingness to worship into my daily life… and I mean every day. We are not given grace for tomorrow, or for six months from now. Only for today and each day we need a new outpouring.

I’ve also been pondering this idea of God’s will, and grace He gives us to do it. If I would have known that Aaron and I would be living apart for two years, I may not have suggested or encouraged him to join the military. But, by God’s grace, I didn’t know that I’d still be here even a month ago. He really does give us grace to do His will.

There are other parts of my life that I want control over. I know that you just can’t believe it, but yes, there are. (Ha.) And I’ve learned that I can’t have control no matter what. I can’t make people accept Christ, because if I could, it wouldn’t really be genuine. All I can do is pray pray pray and extend the invitation to different services and events as the Lord leads me.

Two things I have been convicted on this past week are 1) gossiping and 2) bad attitude. It’s so easy to join in the conversation with something bad to say, isn’t it? It’s like a disease that is so contagious that all you have to do to spread it is think about coughing. I think these two go hand-in-hand.

Strangely enough, and as the devil would love to have it, I refuse to gossip about people at church, at work, basically about anything except my family. With the family, there are “concerns”. I think most of the time it’s baloney. It’s not concerns; it’s gossip and it hurts the efforts of the kingdom of God because none of the words are encouraging or problem-solving. They tear down, separate and start rumors. And I’m done with it.

So I just finished this book today (yes, I actually relaxed on my couch long enough to finish a book):

You may have heard the story about five missionaries who ventured into the Ecuadorian jungle to reach a tribe that has never been reached before by civilization. I knew how the story ended.. they are killed by these murderous and “savage” people. But what struck me was the reactions of the wives when hearing the news of their husbands’ death.

They truly believed it was the will of God. They didn’t let a bitter root grow up in their hearts because of their husbands’ lives being taken. And eventually, the Gospel was brought to these people.

Whenever I start to imagine crazy scenarios in my mind, I remember Philippians 4:7:

“And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I love the picture of a divine shield guarding my mind from worry, doubt, anxiety and fear.

>What in the world IS God’s will?

>I like this definition of God’s wisdom, which directly affects His will for our lives..

“God orchestrates only the best possible results by the best possible means to accomplish the highest purpose for the most people for the longest time.” -Chip Ingram

That is God’s will.. to affect the most people possible for the kingdom. Our lives as Christians are included in that. We are not put on this earth to live happy and comfortable all the time. In this country, though, I think many struggle with settling in mediocrity because of society’s expectations. Go to college, get married, have kids, work hard, retire wealthy. Life doesn’t always work out that way.

I’ve mentioned before that I thought for sure I’d have a baby by now. Turns out that that would not have been a good plan since Aaron has been absent for going on two years.

Some days I wonder why in the world I’m working minimum wage when I busted my butt for magna cum laude and a BA. In heaven, no one is going to care about the tens of thousands of dollars I am still paying for my private education. It’s not going to matter. All that will matter is: Did I obey the Lord when He called me out? Was I eager, and not reluctant, to answer the call, like Isaiah? Did I live a life full of the fruits of the Spirit, affecting everyone around me in a positive manner?

There is no way we can plan our lives for the best possible outcome. Even when we have the privilege of the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can’t know what our future holds. All we are guaranteed is right now. Today. Not even tomorrow or two weeks from now. And how much time do we ponder and worry about what will be happening in the future? It’s quite ridiculous if you think about it.

I tell you, the day I realized that my purpose on earth is to glorify God and worship Him, I felt a gap close. An abyss that most fall into, and try to fill their whole lives with…. stuff. Materialism. Workaholism. Alcoholism. Addiction. Sex. Money. Pleasure. Relationships. Things.

The truth is, you (I mean you!) will never be satisfied until you are doing what the Spirit desires to do. Never ever ever.

I have been really thinking lately… with some spare time I have… about life and more specifically what I am doing and who I’m affecting (or whom.. I never really knew the difference). I can see why I majored in Spanish, why I married my husband, why I taught school.

But sometimes about the latter I wonder why it was only for two years. Maybe my work was done there? Maybe it was time for me to move on, Korea or not? At Jo-Ann’s I have new relationships and a new area of outreach. Come June and moving time, where will God place me next? Will it have anything to do with my areas of expertise? Maybe.

I know that God has used my talents for Him. I pray that He does. I have seen that with teaching and piano and Spanish and sewing and running that God has used me to bless others. I have seen that He is giving me a bigger and bigger heart of compassion and empathy. It was good to go to college, but I didn’t need it to learn any of that.

I just pray I don’t fall off the wagon of doing good and doing His will. I don’t want to commit the sin of omission, where if we don’t do what we know we ought to, we sin (James 4). I want to be blameless and be more like Jesus.

It takes a daily drive and motivation. Intrinsic motivation and even beyond that, spiritual. As Chip Ingram said in a recent podcast, God’s grace cannot be catapulted into hypothetical situations. That’s why it’s so silly to worry about the future (Matthew 6). We are given grace for today, and need to seek a new outpouring daily.

>Sometimes we are reminded

>that we are not our own. That our lives do not belong to us and we shouldn’t live as if they do. We have to remember the good things of the past so that we don’t wallow in our disappointment and discouragement. But man, it’s hard sometimes.

I went back and read this blog again.

Please, Lord, take away this spirit of complacency and fill me with the fruits of the Spirit. Yank out this bitter root; I want nothing to do with it. Let me desire what the Spirit desires.

>Peppermint mochas and pastel sunsets

>

It’s only the middle of November, but anyone who has lived in the Corn Belt for any amount of time knows that winter can make an early appearance. Today the breeze had a little bite.. definitely a change from our weather last week.

I have taken a liking to sitting in complete silence when I’m at home. I think it’s mostly because I forget to turn on music, or I’m too lazy to plug in my iPod to the dock.  The crackling sound of a fireplace would complete this moment.

Right now I can see the sunset from my slider window. I love the sunsets in fall and winter. There’s a definite change in the atmosphere, as if everything is crystallized (truthfully it probably is!). I love the pastels and the softness of the colors.. and while I’m not a fan of it getting dark around five pm, I like feeling warm and cozy inside with long pants and long sleeves.

Soon enough it will be snowing, and I’m okay with that. I really don’t share the sentiment of “I’m just not ready for this cold yet!” The earth doesn’t care if you’re ready or not.. it’s a matter of habit when it comes to the seasons. I enjoy every season to its fullest, and then I’m ready for the next.

I have a feeling this winter will be good. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and Skyping with Aaron. I will love decorating for Christmas with an artificial tree. Since Aaron’s not here to help cut it down, Amelia picked up an artificial one for me at a consignment shop in Eureka. She invited me to stay at her house Christmas Eve. This would have been my first Christmas without waking up to others in the house.. thank the Lord for amazing friends who bring us through.

The greatest light in the middle of winter may be Aaron’s coming home for leave. No official anything yet, no purchased plane ticket, but it’s an idea floating around. But I’m already making plans…

Psalm 103 has really been speaking to me lately.. I just love the promises spelled out for us…
 1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 6 The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed.

 7 He made known his ways to Moses,
   his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

 13 As a father has compassion on his children,
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
   he remembers that we are dust.

15 The life of mortals is like grass,
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
   and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
   and remember to obey his precepts.

 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
   and his kingdom rules over all.

 20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
   you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works
   everywhere in his dominion.

   Praise the LORD, my soul.

>Rearranging and a noo kitteh

>If you’re wondering about my apparent misspelling of “new kitty”, check out icanhascheezeburger.com. You will be amused.

This week, and more specifically today, I worked on unpacking all the boxes I had packed back in April when we thought we were going to do a DITY move to Texas. Ha. If only I knew then what I know now. I will never pack another box until there is a moving truck waiting for me outside. And even then, the Army will be packing our stuff for the next five years.

Anyway. Here are a few pics of the updated arrangement.

New table from Wally World.. I can spread out all my sewing stuff and not have to worry about cluttering up the dining room table! I made new curtains for this room too but the photo wouldn’t rotate for some reason. It’s a cute vertical stripe print with cream, brown and pink. Here’s a swatch..

 New arrangement for living room, which I really like. We have way too many books. It’s funny because only 3/4 of one of the shelves is our collection of DVDs and TV on DVD.

The top and bottom trivets are from my grandma on my dad’s side. I know the top one was a wedding gift to them in 1952! The owl one I got at Salvation Army for 50c.

That’s what I did today, along with grocery shopping, a load of laundry, signing my lease for seven more months (and a reduction in rent since I was on a month-to-month), and playing with Luthor…

If you haven’t read on Facebook already, I got this kitty yesterday from some friends who were feeding him as he was roaming around outside for a few weeks. He obviously belonged to someone because he’s neutered and declawed, and healthy. I took him in since I wouldn’t have the expense of the neuter and declaw surgeries. He’s doing well so far, as you can see. We named him after Lex Luthor on our favorite show, Smallville.

This week was a weird week. I felt so elated from the race and being in Chicago last weekend, and at peace about things. Then Monday through Friday I worked and felt like I had no life because I was sick, too, so I was trying to rest as much as I could. Thankfully I’m feeling almost 100% better today, or at least right now. I didn’t run or exercise at all this week. Cross-training or lifting weights would have been ideal. I didn’t eat well either.

So here’s to a new week… and the advent of marathon training tomorrow with Gabriela. She has a ten-miler planned for us! I’m nervous but know I can do it. Two weeks from today my sister-in-law Katie and I are running the Turkey Trot 5K in Schaumburg. Woot!

>No bitter root

>

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:14-15 

I have every reason to be bitter about this whole situation. I could name off dozens of reasons about why I could be wholeheartedly disappointed.

I could get a bad taste in my mouth about the Army, especially since this is the first experience we’ve had with the “real” Army (i.e. not in training anymore).

It’s going to have to be an everyday choice. While there is peace, there is a Thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy my peace. And I’m not gonna let ‘im.

Here’s to covering my bitterness with the grace of God.

>Some fresh air

>I think the weather knew what I needed this week.. some fresh air. I’m glad that we’re getting this short wave of warmth before the cold really sets in. I love every season for its own reasons, winter included. I love picturing myself cuddled up on the couch with hot tea and a book (ha! like that ever happens :p) But it’s nice to open up the slider and window and let some fresh air in. It just has that smell, ya know?

This week has been relaxed… the most relaxed I’ve had in awhile. Still working about 35 hours total, but I’m so relieved about staying put for a little while longer. I’ve been looking into apartments in a couple different locations, and actually went to look at one today. It was decent for the price, and in a good location for everywhere I go during the week. I met the leasing agent at the building today, but she forgot a copy of the application so I’m waiting on her to email it to me. I guess now I’m having second thoughts.

I’m just taking this one as it comes. It’s not imperative for me to move to a new place to save money, but it’d be nice. With this one, we’d be saving about $1200-1500 in six months. That’s worth it, if it works out. If not, it’s not the end of the world. I wonder often if I jump ahead of myself. Hmm. Part of me says, Why would I put stress on myself to move if I don’t have to? Where did I even get this idea in the first place? Was it just out of a “need” to feel like I’m doing something, or creating stress? Because if I feel the need to create stress, that’s pretty messed up.

I’ve been sick this week with a cold or beginning of a sinus infection or something. It’s made me slow down. Last night instead of going out with my in-laws like we do most Tuesday nights (trivia at a local pizza place) I stayed home and rested. Didn’t do much of anything. I went to bed early, around nine, and got up around 7:30. It was the best night’s rest I’ve had in awhile. I felt much better this morning, and I’ve felt progressively better through the day.

I’m recognizing that with my relaxed state with getting answers to prayer is that it’s easy to become complacent. We should rely on the Lord for every ounce of grace needed to get us through the day, even in the good times. I need to remember to stay vigilant in my prayer and study life, and not just say, “Oh, I feel good today spiritually so I’m gonna let it slide.” It’s easy to do, and I know the second I surrender to my desire to “have a break”, I’ll be on my way to getting into trouble.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I guess you’d call it, I’ve never felt so strongly the presence of the Lord in my day-to-day tasks. Seriously. I feel a closeness in the car, at work, during my runs, even in getting my coffee in the morning. My mind was in the clouds, in a good way.

I have so much to thank Him for. Last week was a week of breakthroughs with the race and Korea. Interesting how it all happened within 24 hours of each other. The elation I felt this weekend was incredible! I had such a great time getting to know Regina and Karen more, and just really feeling like I’m living God’s will.

I don’t want that to end… I know there’s a reason, or multiple, that I’m here, and I don’t want to miss out on anything!

>Two weeks later

>At Bible study on every other Monday night, we get our coffee and snack and share updates on prayer requests. Last time, I shared about the possibility of not being with Aaron in Korea. I couldn’t even make it through talking about it before I started crying.

Tonight was such a different story. I updated everyone on our decision to keep me here until we PCS. It was so peaceful! And overall, both in Bible study and small group, I’m seeing breakthroughs for others as well. It’s pretty awesome the way God works.

>9.3! Hollllaaaa!

>Regina, Karen and I ran the 15K for the Hot Chocolate race today in downtown Chicago. I cannot get over how awesome of an experience the whole weekend was!

We arrived by train around 12:15 yesterday and picked up our packets at Union Station. We took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on Wacker, just a few blocks from the starting line in Grant Park. We did some shopping, had Giordano’s for dinner and did a little more shopping. We went back to the hotel and hung out in the lobby with water and tea and talked. We got to sleep around 11 pm, with the alarm set for 6 am.

We woke up around 6 and the temperature was 26*. Yes, you read that right… twenty-six! You knew that we just had to be crazy… us and 30,000 other runners!

After the 5K people took off, we lined up by pace. I stood close to the 11 min/mile sign. The clock started but I didn’t get to the start line until about 12 minutes in because there was that much congestion.

The first three miles I held back. After passing the 5K marker, I took off and ran strong until the sixth mile when I had to pee so badly. But there was no way I was stopping to pee! I had worked too hard to ruin my time by doing that. Mile seven seemed really really long, and by mile eight I was so excited that it was almost done. As soon as the finish sign came into view, I sprinted. My heart rate jumped up to 205, only one of a handful of times it’s been that high. On a normal maintenance run, my HR is around 160-165. My average today according to my HR monitor was 177! I pushed myself hard.

The views didn’t hurt either: sunrise, Soldier Field, Shedd, the Field Museum (I think), the lake, and the skyline.

Crossing the finish line was, as always, euphoric. We all met up and got chocolate fondue from the tent. Then we went back to the hotel and took showers.

We had a late check-out and headed to Cheesecake Factory for a late and leisurely lunch. We waited for an hour, but it definitely didn’t seem like that long! Karen and I made a Starbucks run. It was the biggest Starbucks I’d seen, with a fireplace and a sitting area three times the size of the stores here.

Cheesecake Factory was fabulous. I’d never been there. I got the Thai Chicken Pasta… so yummy with the peanut sauce. I also got a piece of the Tiramisu cheesecake. I’m sure I ate all the calories I burned (1375!) with that one piece… I’m afraid to look at the nutrition facts, lol.

We walked around a little more and then it was time to head to Union Station. We chatted with some nice people in the train station and then we were on our way home, fighting sleep the whole ride. At least I was.

My grandparents, being as awesome as they are, picked me up at the station and I drove home from their house. My grandpa filled up my gas tank for me. 🙂

Now I’m blogging about the best race I’ve done so far, and about an awesome weekend! I still have one more day off before working five in a row. (I worked seven in a row before Friday.)

Considering the circumstances of working almost full-time, obligations outside of work, and a weird sleep schedule, I did my best. I did my best this morning too. If I’d been running the half marathon in three weeks, I wouldn’t have been able to race today, just do a long run. But since I’m just doing the 5K (the half was full!) I figured I’d just go for it.

I have to say that I’m becoming the athlete, or the less-encompassing term of “runner”, I never thought I’d be. My official race time was 1:36:43, beating my goal pace of 10:30 by seven seconds!!

Gabriela and I are running the Illinois Marathon.. our first training run will be next weekend, as long as my schedule pans out. Crazy!

Other than running, I need to do strength training. Back to the gym I go for yoga, weight machines and group fitness classes!

Have a great rest of the weekend, and thanks for celebrating with me. I am blessed and give glory to God for success in my life.