Thankful in November

I’m not a fan of blowing up my own Facebook news feed every day with stuff, so I’ll keep a blog entry for the month.

I’m thankful for…

11/1  …all the opportunities I’ve had to travel the US and the world. It’s such a blessing to be able to see all of God’s people in action, and to minister to His church.

11/2 …the safety we’ve had while traveling. Even when I was in Bolivia in the midst of their president resigning and there being transportation strikes all over the country, I was able to get home safely.

11/3 …God bringing us to El Paso. I’ve always felt connected to the Southwest, but wasn’t sure why, and I actually cried (not with joy) when Aaron told me we were moving here. But I can truly say we love it here.

11/4 …my parents and sisters, and that we’re so close. So many people can’t stand their families or are estranged from them, and although we’ve had our moments, we forgive each other and move on. My sisters are my best friends.

11/5 …my relationship with my husband. We’ve been apart for over half of our almost 10-year relationship, and because of that we are expert communicators with each other. We can pick our battles and not let the small things get to us (most of the time…;))

11/6 …the fact that God provides everything we need. We may not always have extra, but we have enough. If I didn’t have my job I have now, we wouldn’t be able to go home for Christmas or to the World Missions Summit. Coincidence? I think not.

11/7 …that I discovered my professional calling at a young age, 17 to be exact. I knew I would go into education before I graduated high school, and I found out that I love teaching. It makes me happy, especially when I’m having a crappy day. I love interacting with students, and with my international students, I’m learning so much!

11/8 …beautiful fall weather in the desert. Highs in the 80’s, lows in the 50’s. Sunny every day with barely a cloud in the sky.

11/9 …for the years my grandparents had together, and for the years I had with my grandpa. We got closer as I got older. Today would have been their 60th anniversary.

11/10 …growing up in the Midwest, and the fond memories I have. Things weren’t always perfect, but I had a stable childhood and lived in the same house practically all my life. I doubt our children will be able to say the latter. 🙂

11/11 …all the veterans that have protected our freedom, and especially for the veterans in my family.. my husband, brothers-in-law, father-in-law, older cousin, grandfather, friends… our country is free because of their sacrifices.

11/12 …for the desert sun in the fall and winter. It may be chilly (now it’s in the 30’s at night!) but that sun feels amazing.

11/13 …for my parents taking us to church when we were little. I spent a lot of time at the church behind my house in service, Sunday school and volunteering. I learned a lot and many of the Bible verses and hymns have stuck with me throughout the years.

11/14 …this opportunity to study further and to have a job that I love. Thank you, Lord. A year ago I was in a horrible horrible job situation and I’m thankful to be doing this now! In fact, I think a year ago I was saying to Aaron how great it would be to study for my Master’s in linguistics, and here I am! Now to apply for a scholarship that would pay for my whole year next year…

11/15 …for our Pit bull mix, Missy. This girl is the best companion when Aaron’s gone and such a sweetheart. Glad we decided to adopt her!

11/16 …that my parents raised us in a way that we were thankful for what we had, and we didn’t always strive for the newest/most expensive things. It makes me appreciate what I have now; if we didn’t have used furniture (family hand-me-downs) then we wouldn’t have anything to sit or sleep on!

11/17 …our cars, which are both 15 years old but still run well. I will have my little Camry until the day it bites the dust. 183,500 miles and counting! We got Aaron’s car, a ’96 Honda, over a year ago when we expected him to deploy only a few short months later. Over a year later (and after a little pocket change…) and it’s still running well!

11/18 …simple evenings. Homemade chicken and dumplings in the crockpot for dinner, and relaxing and watching TV on the couch.

11/19 …my husband’s approval of my coffee budget for school/work. Sometimes (or a lot of times) you just gotta have Starbucks.

11/20 …our church friends who feel like family here… Alvin, Lacey, Marc, Leah Beth, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Karla, Gabe, Doug, Priscilla, Rachel, Mando, and many others. We’re spending Thanksgiving with some of our “family” from church eating and playing games.. can’t wait!

11/21 …for “us”. I love everything about us, the way we love each other, that we’ve been together for almost 10 years, married for almost 5. That we don’t feel the need to have kids in order to enjoy parades or pumpkin patches or corn mazes. That our family, though it’s just the two of us, feels totally complete right now.

11/22 …for our nieces and nephews. We miss them so much!

11/23 …for the fact that we like to stay active. Today was Day 2 of the Holiday Run Streak and it’s fun to go for a run/walk with Missy in the mornings.

11/24 …for our junior high students. We’ve been working with them for over a year now and they’re such a blessing and teaching us a lot in the process!

11/25 …for our house. We had an apartment for three years, and while it wasn’t tiny by any means, it’s nice not having to go up three flights of stairs to carry groceries in!

11/26 …for my health. I thought a year and a half ago I might have heart issues, but I learned that it was something easily controlled by diet and lifestyle, which is also the same for my migraines.

11/27 …for the means to go to Illinois for Christmas. We weren’t able to go last year.

11/28 …for our nieces and nephews. Joel, Rhianna, Zaia, Lena, Rand, and little Benjamin is in the oven. 😉 Being an aunt is the BEST.

11/29 …for a full fridge and pantry. So thankful for all the delicious food!

11/30 …for my in-laws and the rest of Aaron’s family. Thankful to  have a good relationship with them.

Streaking!

…or, as others would call it, the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak. I did another run streak in the summer which spanned 38 days from Memorial Day to 4th of July. I was successful in running 36 out of the 38 days, 83 miles in total (average of 2.3 miles per day). This one is 41 days long, beginning on Thanksgiving and going through New Year’s Day.

This means that we have to run on all the holidays, in Illinois and in Fort Worth when we’re there for the World Missions Summit. When I was home in June I ran every day, so there’s no reason why I can’t do the same thing over Christmas.

I have to say, running and I haven’t really been the best of friends recently, but I get up in the mornings to take Missy for a pre-dawn walk so what’s the big deal in putting on my running shoes instead?

On Thursday we’re doing the El Paso YMCA Turkey Trot downtown, with the parade to follow afterward. I think I should sign up for another 5K shortly after the run streak is over; I PR’d the last day of the summer running streak with a 5K time of 27:08. Can I do it again? We’ll see… Who knows, maybe this will motivate me enough to sign up for the El Paso Half Marathon…

Jericho prayers

I wish I could say that all of these journals are full of answered prayer… big prayers. Crazy prayers. Gideon, David, Moses, Paul prayers. However, most of these journals aren’t even half-full. There’s a testament to the fact that I get really excited about writing, whether it’s just journaling to myself, or writing down prayer requests and little pieces of God wisdom… and also to the fact that they’ve been abandoned after awhile.

Every time I buy a new journal, I think, Yes! This is the one where I’m going to keep up with studying my Bible, memorizing Scripture, and recording the awesome things that God does.

These journals house some of my thoughts, prayers and desires from 2003 on. The one on the very right was a present from Aaron from Christmas last year. We only spent about $25 on each other since we were *kinda* broke, so he bought me a few things, including that pretty journal and some new pens. “Because I know you like to journal and record sermon notes…”, he said.

I do like to do that… I just don’t stick with it. I remember a time when I did, and for the life of me I cannot remember where in the world I put this little silver notebook that had so many prayers, and answered prayers, and even a list of the qualities I wanted in a husband. I prayed for big things. I fasted several times a week at school, and instead of eating lunch I’d sit in the library and write out my prayers.

Tonight at the 20-somethings group, Pastor Marc challenged us to start praying about our Jerichos, big prayers. Impossible prayers. What’s the use in praying for things that we can accomplish on our own? I shared tonight that I am guilty of praying the easy, possible prayers 90-95% of the time. I’m not a risk-taking person. I get a high from doing something extremely safe but under the guise of being risky, like riding a motorcycle (ehh some of you may disagree!) or sitting in the front row of Mr. Freeze at Six Flags (DO IT).

What are my Jericho prayers? What are the things in my life that I think would be impossible on my own? I’m going to make a list, and I’m going to start praying about it. One of the first things I will pray and fast about is our call into missions. God keeps bringing people across our path who are missionaries to the Middle East, or have connections over there somehow. I tend to think that is not a coincidence…

This topic we discussed tonight is more than timely for me, for us. I have been feeling for a long time, as I said before, that I need to rise early and start praying every day. Setting aside time. Just me, God, my Bible, my journal (no longer neglected) and of course a cup of coffee (nectar from heaven!). I need to stop ignoring God when I wake up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning with a need or a person on my heart and just pray!

Praying impossible prayers will become a necessity for us, unless we want to live a comfortable lifestyle and ignore God’s call. I dunno about you, but I wanna git ‘er dun!

Direction

This has been Missions Week at church, and it’s encouraged me to start thinking about the future, our future after the military. We literally could see ourselves anywhere, on any continent, speaking any language. We’ve even thrown around the idea of Aaron staying in the military… but the chances of that right now are like .00000573%. Seriously. However, if God asked Aaron to reenlist, well then, of course he would. It’s about timely obedience.

We’ve talked about the Middle East quite a bit. Something about that area of the world draws me in besides the need… the people, the dress, the food. Ohmygosh, the FOOD. The Middle East is where we’re leaning more than anyplace else. Arabic is a language that’s always fascinated me, from the sounds to the script. I’m taking an anticipatory step and I signed up for Arabic next semester. Definitely a perk of being a student! If I end up not needing it, well then I still satisfied my linguistic curiosity.

I can already hear the criticisms, or maybe it’s just the doubting Thomas in my head. How could you live in the desert? (I assure you, there are worse deserts than El Paso.) How could you take your children into an environment like that? Why do you care about Muslims? Aren’t you afraid of what could happen? How will you raise enough funds to go?

Like I said, it’s about obedience. God will find someone for the job; I want to be that someone, not someone He’s passed up because of my fear and unwillingness.

But really, I could totally see us living in Egypt, in the busyness and bustle of a world-class city like Cairo. Or Amman, Jordan. Or Beirut, Lebanon. Or any number of major cities in Northern Africa/lower Mediterranean.

We have no idea about the means. Would we go as Assemblies of God missionaries? Or attached to a different ministry and working as a teacher and IT guy. I don’t know. I do know that God will use our talents, gifts, and past experience to serve Him in the future.

We will keep talking to missionaries we know, and I hope at the World Missions Summit that we’ll gain another  piece of our compass. And then there’s this PhD program I really really want to do…

To run or not to run

Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but running just hasn’t felt like my thang recently. I like to run, but when I don’t, I don’t necessarily miss it. Since we’ve moved to El Paso, I haven’t really successfully trained for a race besides the Fourth of July 5K, and that was because I was doing the run streak.

This week has been busy. Four days in a row I didn’t get home until 9:00 or later, which made my days more than 12 hours long. Who wants to run before or after that? Not me. Then, I started to feel super tired and possibly sick, so I’ve been taking it easy and sleeping a lot this weekend.

I’m glad I’ve run one marathon; I can cross that off my “before-30” list. I’ll do more races for fun, shorter ones of course, but honestly the thought of committing to another long distance race does not appeal to me. At all. Honestly. The only reason I would commit right now is because of the accolades I get after it’s said and done. And that’s not motivation enough for me to commit to the training.

When Aaron gets back from this TDY, he’ll be on reverse-cycle PT, which means that they report an hour earlier for work and get out an hour earlier to do PT in the afternoon. I prefer that schedule, because then we are able to work out together in the morning, and he has to take only one trip onto post daily. Maybe I’ll run more after he gets back…

I always put too much pressure on myself and commit to too much. What would happen if I stop putting so much pressure on myself to run/train/eat right/improve my body and just live? I mean, it has worked for me before and I didn’t gain a bunch of weight back then. I would obviously still eat well and go to the gym.

I enjoy taking Missy for walks in the morning. She’s come to expect it; in fact, I’ve taken her every single morning for the last few weeks. I enjoy different forms of cardio besides running; I love the spin bike, and the stairstepper. I also love doing Blogilates videos and yoga at home.

Maybe training for a running a marathon was for a specific season in my life, and now that that season is over, I can concentrate on different things… Many times in my life I will set my mind on accomplishing something once, and then trying something new; in other areas of life I become a creature of habit. For example, I don’t like going on vacation or traveling to the same place more than once, unless there’s more to see that I didn’t see the first time around. But, I’ll go to the same restaurant multiple times and order the exact same thing.

Who knows. Maybe I’m looking for that next big thing to accomplish, like standing on my head, or a six-pack. Ha. Hahaha. We will see about that.

The [family] that built me

I bought these frames and arranged these pictures shortly after my aunt sent them in the mail. I finally got them up on the wall tonight. You can’t see from the picture, but they are on the wall that joins the living room and the hallway. I think I put them there on purpose, so that I could be reminded of him, and family, often.

It still hurts, and still takes me by surprise. Today I was thinking that November 9th would have been their 60th anniversary and I got choked up, right there in the middle of Starbucks. If I’m feeling this emotional, I can’t help but think how my grandmother feels this week. So, if you have a chance, say a prayer of comfort and healing for her, especially as the holidays approach as well.

When I went home in June for the funeral, I felt like I had some closure. For the most part, it felt complete. But now that we’ve planned our trip home for Christmas, I know there is more to deal with. Family, at least for me, is such a present part of our lives, joining with us in the grief, joy, sorrow and healing. For holidays and birthdays. For deaths and births. This will be our first round of holidays without him.

After the pictures found their place on the wall, I just stood there and contemplated for a minute, thinking about the circumstances under which each photo was taken. There’s on in the frame on the right of my grandparents outside on the farm in front of the deck. All of a sudden, a memory rushed like a river into my mind, of when I was little and we were leaving one time, and Grandpa would hold me and bounce down the deck on our way to the car or station wagon or whatever we had then. And he’d always hug me a little too tightly, even when I was grown. As painful as memories can be, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

My emotions have been building up all day. When I was sewing, I was listening to some old music on Spotify, the music I listened to when I was little like Steve Miller Band, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Chicago, and John Mellencamp. Maybe it’s because Mellencamp is from the Midwest, but when I listen to him, I can just see a late autumn, early winter Illinois country road sandwiched in between harvested, dormant fields against a gray sky with a hazy sun trying to peek through the clouds. I remember many trips home from the farm in the evening, the winter sunsets and electrical towers blinking in the distance. Maybe a train racing us along the highway. It made me homesick, and then that combined with finally hanging those pictures… yeah. I’m a hot mess. And of course, listening to Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” didn’t help either.

And of course when we’re home we will visit the cemetery in Farmer City, but I should declare to myself until then that he is not in the ground, it’s just his earthly shell. That’s how my mom described death to me when I was little, that it’s just their shell. He is celebrating his eternal life right now in heaven. Thank you, Jesus.