A Very Beth Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the Thanksgivings I’ve had since getting married in 2008, I’ve realized that we’ve had exactly one tradition: no tradition. And I kind of like it.

Thanksgiving 2008: I honestly don’t remember what we did, but I know we (my husband and I) spent it with our families. This was pre-layoff, pre-Army, pre-moving. Little did we know how much life would change….

Thanksgiving 2009: Aaron was in training in Arizona, and I flew out to Phoenix to spend the weekend with him. We stayed at this resort Thanksgiving night and had the dinner the hotel offered. It was awesome. We spent the rest of the weekend at a cheaper place, haha. One night at that place was enough for our bank account!

Thanksgiving 2010: Aaron was in Korea, and it was the first set of holidays we spent apart. I spent the day with my family and his, and I remember Skyping with him in my in-laws’ living room.

Thanksgiving 2011: This was our first Thanksgiving just he and I, and it was our first here in Texas. We had signed up for the Turkey Trot, but we decided to skip it to make a huge meal with all the fixins, including my first turkey. We had leftovers for dayyyzzzz.

Thanksgiving 2012: Aaron had just returned from an exercise overseas, so we were so happy to be together. We did the Turkey Trot in the morning (now one of my absolutely favorite things to do every year), and then stayed downtown for the parade. Later we spent the day with dear friends Alvin and Lacey and Lacey’s family just a few miles from our house. It was nice.

Thanksgiving 2013: This is what I have dubbed A Very Beth Thanksgiving. Even before Aaron deployed in the spring, I knew who I’d spend Thanksgiving with, my “adopted” family here in Texas. It was 24 hours of crazy fun. Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house and had a delicious ham dinner with friends from our college/20-somethings small group. Then, early Thursday morning Leah Beth, her oldest son, and I went downtown to run the YMCA Turkey Trot.

race2013

I had my sights set on running a new 5K PR this year, but after I took a little over a week off because I was sick last week, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I was shooting for 26:30, but I’ll take this! My previous official 5K time was 27:33. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my 5K time since my first 5K in 2010 where I had a time of 32:17. I really think though that if I’m consistent with speed and hill work I can improve even more. I also was hoping to see Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life and we ran into each other!

I PR'd! 26:49 official time!!
I PR’d! 26:49 official time!!

After the race, Leah Beth, Nolan and I were freeeezing from being sweaty. We headed back to their house, destinkified (yes, it’s a word) and finished up dinner. We did not cook our own turkey; instead, we ordered a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s Texas BBQ. We had a slightly unconventional menu, including fruit salad, cranberry walnut salad, Texas potatoes, corn casserole, Hawaiian rolls (um, duh), apple pie, and Mississippi Mud. I have to say, this is the first holiday where I have not overindulged!

So, we had Leah Beth and her family; me, Elizabeth; and my “Mexican twin,” also Elizabeth, for dinner. We call each other “twin” because even though we have different cultures and first languages, it is freaky how many things we have in common. Seriously freaky. I just love having wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! We truly are a family away from family.

Elizabeth, Leah Beth, Elizabeth (me)
me, Carson, Elizabeth
me, Carson, Elizabeth

Do not be deceived; our day wasn’t over after dinner. We watched Elf, which I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen. Elizabeth left and Leah Beth and I left to work a shift as “friends and family” at Old Navy. We worked together at a table giving cards to people who had received wristbands as they walked in for a chance to win a million. Most people were really nice and even offered to share a portion of their winnings with us, and we also of course had a couple interesting characters. After our shift was over, we shopped at Old Navy (50% off!) and then went to Target expecting it to be pretty busy. However, since the sales had started so early, at 1 AM it wasn’t busy at all. It was probably the calmest Target experience I’d had here.

photo_1
Working at Old Navy

We got home roughly at about 2 AM and we crashed. Hard. I’d been up for almost 24 hours because silly me, I had caffeine late Wednesday night and couldn’t stay asleep. The Very Beth Thanksgiving was undoubtedly a Thanksgiving to remember!

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to be half a world away from your spouse anyway, let alone during the holidays. But I’m thankful for a family who’s adopted me as their own (I’m Aunt Biff in that house ;)). Not every military wife with a deployed spouse has that. Several times this week when I thought about how many people I know here who love me and would help me out at any time, I became teary-eyed and felt overwhelmed with gratefulness.

Now the countdown is on for the end of the semester. Monday begins the last week of classes, and then we have finals and then I’m DONE until the third week in January. My favorite aunt comes to visit soon, and then we spend the weekend together here before flying back to Illinois together. Both of my sisters have come to visit me this year at different times, but my family hasn’t been together in one place since last Christmas. A year is a long time to go between visits!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

I can’t even.

I’m sitting here with a mess in my kitchen and a grad school to-do list a million miles long, and I’m just sobbing, completely overwhelmed by the spirit of God. I’m alone in my house, but I know I’m not really alone; I’m never alone.

Today I had the opportunity to pray with a dear friend who worships a different god than I do. She is from a different country, speaks a different first language, reads a different holy book, dresses differently. Who would have thought in a million years we would be close friends, sharing funny stories about our husbands, drinking too many frappuccinos, and commiserating about classes and professors?

She was quite upset, and we were alone in the room. You know how it is, when you’re watching someone you care about become upset and frustrated about a situation, and you’re not sure what to say. The situation wasn’t anything tragic or really life-changing, but it was disappointing for her. I’ve been trying to do this thing in my life where instead of texting everyone I know (okay, like two people) about a disappointing situation, I pray. Imagine that, taking our worries and cares to the One who knows exactly how to fix it and how to comfort us instead of getting all bent out of shape.

We’ve been friends for awhile now, since I started the grad program, and so I just took a risk and asked if I could pray for her. She accepted and I held her hand and just said a simple prayer and repeated the same things several times, not knowing what else to say. After it was over, I had to go to a meeting, and as I walked downstairs I wondered if the prayer helped, because you know, it was so simple. But I knew God was in control and that He guided that prayer.

She told me after my meeting that “there was an answer to your prayer”. Wait, what?! Already? I had only been gone 45 minutes. She seemed at peace, not upset anymore. She told me later today that the prayer felt good. She will never know how much I want her to truly experience the peace, joy, and purpose I’ve found in serving the one true God, but as much as I feel that, God wants to find her.

And now I’m sitting here, just overwhelmed by the God of creation, the one and only living God, the God who walked the earth and came down to our level, fully human while fully God, to meet us. The only God ever in the history of everything, who came down here to spend time with us. To pursue us. And He pursues my dear friend, who is different than I am in so many ways. But the same God who is in my heart, who guides me day to day, wants her. Wants to be her God, wants to bless her, wants her to know who He is and that He is good, always. And by the knowledge that He pursues all people regardless of religion, nationality, or dress, I am in turn overwhelmed by His love for me.

Mind = blown. And then, I found this song by happenstance…

“Mercy” — Phil Wickham

Made from the dust and breathed into life
He stood unashamed with a fire in his eyes
The image of God walking upon the world
All of the earth was under his feet
Except for the fruit from a forbidden tree
He took a taste and that’s how he breaks the world

He cried Mercy, Mercy
He broke the whole world with the fruit of a tree
Have mercy

Heaven to Earth came down from on high
With Hope in His name and a fire in His eyes
The fullness of God walking upon the world
He said He was love then proved it with blood
And rose from the dead to prove He was God
And that’s what it takes for one man to save the world

Oh such Mercy, Mercy
He saved the whole world when He hung on a tree
Such mercy

Now here inside of our skin and bones
Heaven above is making its home
The kingdom of God living upon the world
To love like He loves and give like he gives
To tell the story that makes dead men live
and that’s what it takes if we’re gonna to change the world

Mercy, Mercy
Your love is a song and You sing over me
Mercy