I found this today

We’re all still working through this… this is the hardest thing I have ever been through. My grieving process has been touch and go since being back in Texas. It was comforting having family around and the time to sit and think.

I’ve been nannying and working on a couple orders for people… and doing some reading, knitting, all that stuff. Every time I sit down to knit or crochet I think about Grandpa; it’s just inevitable. I hope that never goes away, painful though it can be sometimes. One night earlier this week I had dream after dream about Grandpa, all good ones.

Grieving is good. It’s necessary. It’s healthy. Sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks, especially when I realize that when we go home for Christmas, he won’t be there.

I know he wouldn’t want us all to be so sad, but the lack of his earthly presence is devastating. Like my mom has said, he was such a constant in our lives, the patriarch of our family (and definitely takes the cake for the orneriest Little!). My dad, in his fifties, is now the eldest Little man.

I feel like I’ve been handed a torch, a responsibility to pass on certain values and traditions, even to people who aren’t family. Last week I started teaching H how to crochet; she’s been begging me since the beginning of the summer. Luckily in Grandpa’s stash I found some big acrylic (plastic) crochet hooks for her to use. I gave them to her and told her to take care of them. She can now crochet the chain stitch all day long! She’s even started to teach her brother.

I’m blessed that I know my roots and where our family came from. Though we’re descended from humble farmers who moved from England to New York to Champaign County, Illinois, we’re proud and we work hard. (It also explains why when I go to Champaign it just feels like “home”.)

I think that maybe I knew, deep down in my soul. Two Sundays before he passed away, Pastor Lee called for anyone who needed prayer to come to the front. I knew that Aunt Jane had just passed and that Grandpa was having health issues, but I didn’t respond until Pastor called anyone who had prayer needs to step into the aisle so that people around you could pray. I gave up my stubbornness and stepped out and just started praying in my prayer language, of course not knowing exactly what I was saying (Romans 8:26). A friend came up behind me and started praying with me and I just broke down. I didn’t know why I was so upset, but now I think that I knew.

Last Sunday was hard… I hadn’t been to church in a couple weeks because of my trip and I knew that facing my grief and weakness meant that I had to surrender. Sigh. I’m not so great at that. I tend to get emotional anyway during praise and worship because music moves me, and last Sunday was no exception. I was thinking about how Grandpa was worshipping right along with me. And that led me to a memory.

One time he and Grammie had come to visit Faith (our church back home) during the late service. I was on the worship team that week, and our church had a different style than their more traditional services. Anyway, we went to church together and then out to lunch afterwards and I asked them what they thought. Grandpa complimented the pastor and his sincerity in giving the message and then he said, “Well, I don’t understand why you all have to stand up and sing for half an hour straight before the sermon.” It made me laugh since in their church, they do music and preaching intermittently throughout the service, and alternate sitting and standing.

God is so good, giving us hearts and minds that are capable of storing away memories for a pick-me-up later.

My heart hurts.. and I’m homesick. But I know this too shall pass.

Fairy tales and four-days

I’m thankful that today, the day after a fantastic weekend, was not a let-down like so many days after holiday weekends are. We had a FABULOUS weekend!

For starters, we’ve been watching the first season of “Once Upon a Time”, a show based on all the fairy tales we learned as children. I admit, I haven’t even seen the full lengths of Snow WhiteAlice in Wonderland or Pinocchio. I was more of a Lion King and Beauty and the Beast kind of girl. And I didn’t even really know other versions besides Disney existed until I took a storytelling class at Bradley. Anyway, the show is good and wholesome. No sex, no gory violence. We finished the first season last night.

So, onto the weekend:

Friday – I had to nanny (work? babysit?) all day. These kids wear a girl out! I haven’t made it to “Queen Babysitter” status (the last babysitter they absolutely LOVED is sitting on her throne in Kansas), but I’m doing fine. 😉 We cleaned out the horse pen, played Army, ate MRE’s in the “valley” and jammed out to CMT. Good times. This city girl has at the very least country music going for her.

I will ride by the end of the summer!!

After “work” (hard to believe I get paid for having FUN!) I met up with Aaron and some leaders and kids from our youth at church to do some paintball. So fitting that I played Army earlier in the day… I was training! Ha!

I didn’t last two minutes.

Saturday – We got up early, picked up Jess, and went to the farmers’ market in Sunland Park. Honestly, it was a bust. Aaron got some jerky and chow chow (new to me!) but there was next to no produce. I really wanted some tomatoes! Hopefully my plant will produce some good ones.

We headed to the church picnic at Veterans Park in our side of town. It was nice to not have to drive across the mountain for a church function… the picnic was specifically for people in the northeast part of town. It was a great time! Aaron got sunburned from playing volleyball. I played for a few minutes and then ended up chilling in the shade. Thankful for great church friends!!

Sunday – We went to Cloudcroft for the day. I’d been looking forward to this trip since we decided to do it a couple weeks ago. It was nice to have a Sunday off of our normal responsibilities. Cloudcroft is a little mountain town (population 750) in the mountains of the Lincoln National Forest.

We got there mid-morning and checked out an arts/crafts fair. We went in and out of all the little shops downtown. We ate lunch at a diner… how I miss diners!! We hiked off our lunch on a short 2-mile trail. We were hoping for a more strenuous hike, but the Osha Trail worked out just fine.

Monday – We got up and ran 5 miles each for wear blue:run to remember around post. It felt good! I really pushed when it came to the last mile. We ran some errands around post and then stayed in for the rest of the day. I made a big breakfast when we got home. We spent the rest of the day doing laundry, packing and finishing up Once Upon a Time”.

Today we were up at 3:45. I took Aaron to the airport (25 days for this TDY and counting!) I decided to go ahead and run before “work” on the west side, since I’m doing the Runner’s World Run Streak (run at least one mile a day between Memorial Day and Independence Day). I. FELT. AWESOME. 3 miles in 27 minutes!!! That’s unheard of for me in El Paso. It was crisp and cool (well, probably 60 degrees), the sun wasn’t up over the mountains yet, and I just clicked them off. I ran with music, which is something I haven’t done in at least a week, and that kept me motivated. I felt joy when running, so much that I think I even smiled. Of course, when you have this ahead of you, how can you not? Trees, panoramic views, fields and JOHN DEERE TRACTORS!

I now have several days before I need to nanny again, so I’m going to get a TON of homework done despite the week extension for one of my classes. I have to get a bunch done before mah BEST FRIEND AMELIA COMES TO VISIT!!! WOOHOO!!!

Summer nostalgia

I know it’s not *technically* summer  yet, but it’s in the 90’s in El Paso, so it feel like summer. Crazy to think we have over a month until the actual solstice! Anyway, I digress.

Summer has great memories. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. Here’s a list of things I love about summer (which lasts for 6-7 months here. Haha.)

  • Having more daylight, especially in the evenings. I love taking the puppy for walks right after the sun goes behind the mountains. Kids are playing in the street and people are outside. It’s nice. (P.S. She’s not really a puppy, but who cares?)
  • Having more daylight in the morning, which forces me to get out of bed
  • Tomatoes!!!! Can’t wait to get some of these from the farmer’s market, and hopefully my back yard. Tomatoes + cottage cheese + cracked black pepper = heaven.
  • Iced tea. Fresh brewed, unsweetened, with lemon. Yes.
  • Lazy days where you stay inside, watch movies and enjoy the A/C. We have a swamp cooler, but it still gets nice and cool in here!
  • Birds chirping
  • Green grass. Don’t get much of that around here, but when I do see it, it makes me really really happy.
  • Staying up really late and reading in bed with a cool breeze coming from the window. Okay, this is mainly something I’d do when I lived at home. I really should read more…..
  • Summer foods that don’t need to be hot… pasta salad, BLT’s, potato salad, Jell-O, fruit.
  • Burgers/steaks/chicken on the grill. We have a charcoal grill and it makes things taste so yummy
  • Asparagus!!!
  • Shorts, t-shirts, maxi skirts, SANDALS (Ughhh I hate socks and shoes), flippy-floppies, tank tops
  • Getting a tan. I haven’t been trying to, because this sun is hella strong down here, but I do wear SPF 15 lotion daily and some sun gets through. WEAR SUNSCREEN!
  • Thunderstorms. Ahhhhh. I miss these so badly!!
  • Running in the rain. Again, can’t really do this… I mean, it’s a big deal if we have a 10% chance of rain.
  • The fact that I’m not cold 24-freaking-7. I’m still that crazy person who takes a sweater into BDubs or Chili’s in the middle of SUMMER.
  • Hanging clothes outside. Again, another memory from living at home, but sheets always smelled soooo good.
  • Bath and Body Works’ Berry Vanilla body spray from last season. It’s summer in a plastic container.

So, friends, there’s my list of reasons I love summer. I really love all the seasons for their own reasons. I just have to say something to the people who give the desert crap for being hot: IT’S A DESERT. Of course it’s hot. But youuuuu also live in Georgia/Tennessee/Illinois/MIssouri, where it’s ridiculously humid and therefore makes it feel like 147 degrees Fahrenheit. At least our relative humidity is 6-8%. I’ll take that over 85 degrees in Illinois. Seriously. And by the way, we have some kickbutt tumbleweeds out here. You win some, you lose some.

Staying missions-minded

As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more evident to us that we are being called into missions. “Called” can be a term thrown around in the Christian circles.. but basically what I mean is that we have a very strong inclination and desire to go. Aaron still has four years left in the military. He’s just passed his three-year anniversary. (I know. Seven years. Unfortunately his year of training wasn’t included in his six-year enlistment. Someone screwed up.)

But really, four years isn’t that long. That’s… high school. College. A car loan. Actually, in about three years we’ll need to start formulating a plan for life post-Army. I’m really really excited about that. And nervous. But mainly excited. We both have portable careers (me=teaching, him=computers), and we could take it around the world. We could become Assemblies of God missionaries. We could support missionaries who are already in the field. Who knows?

Where will we go? What will we do? How long will we do it? I have no idea, and I’m thankful, because being the planner I am, I would be going crazy right now.

It’s exciting to me that we will raise our family to be in the world, but not of the world. While we (well, I) wouldn’t mind moving back to Illinois, central or the Chicago suburbs, I don’t think settling down, buying a house, and having a picket fence is what God has in mind. And this isn’t a new development; we’ve felt for most of our nine-year relationship that we’re meant to travel into the world.

It’s encouraging to think that, hey, we won’t really need to buy new furniture, or appliances, or cars, for the next 3-4 years. Our cars now are old, but what’s the sense in buying newer ones if we can make these last? So many people we know are settling down, having children, buying newer and bigger cars for the children they’re having. And as well they should… we’re in our later 20’s now. It’s what happens.

It’s hard to not center my desires around what most everyone else is doing. Then I hear about some distant relatives of mine who are doing various things in Afghanistan, Uganda, Tanzania…. all over the world, and it makes me want to go somewhere, too, and leave the comfy American lifestyle behind.

I think the military was always in The Plan. I never could have guessed that it would have been. I think it’s preparing us… 1500 miles from home is only a drop in the bucket if we go to Asia, or Africa, or the Middle East. Seven years pales in comparison to a lifetime of serving globally. Trusting God for our personal finances now is small when you think about having to trust God for the finances of an entire non-for-profit, or school, or orphanage. 95 degrees in El Paso is cool compared to 115 in the Middle Eastern desert….

This is big stuff, people.

My 300th post! — Running naked

My fellow runners know what I’m talking about… no music, no Garmin (or other fancy schmancy GPS device)… just you and your footfalls. And the sunrise, or sunset, or busy street, or quiet desert. I’m starting to change my attitude towards running. I trained consistently for distance races for about a year, from a 5K to my first marathon. Since that day last April, my desire to train for a specific time goal pretty much went out the window.

Then we moved to the desert, and also to an elevation of 4000 ft above sea level, compared to Peoria’s 700ish. Running became a chore, and I was frustrated.  Thankfully I pulled myself out of that black hole.

Now I want to run just…. because. Because it makes me feel good. Because it helps me keep up with my husband. Because of how I feel after I’ve completed a race. Because of what it does for me… spiritually, physically and mentally. Friends, there’s no drug like endorphins.

I ran an easy two-miler on Tuesday morning before the sun was even up. It was mostly dark out, no cars on the road besides someone leaving for work, and all I heard was my breathing and feet hitting the ground. I concentrated on my breathing and on my form (slowly incorporating my NB Minimus!). I don’t even know if it was exactly 2 miles.

This morning I dropped Aaron off for work at about 7:30, clad in my Texas “winter” gear (no earband or gloves! holllaaaaa!), and I took off on the cinder trail around his company. The loop I ran is one we’ve run before together. The first time I ran it by myself, it was during afternoon PT time and I was so intimidated! I didn’t even see many soldiers around, and it wasn’t blocked off to civilians or anything, but I just felt so intimidated. Biggs Army Airfield is so spread out on the east side that it seems like in some parts you’re running literally in the middle of the desert and mountains… tumbleweeds and all. I mean, my view wouldn’t make Runner’s World “Rave Run”, but it’s pretty in its own way.

Today I ran about six miles in my Brooks and felt great. The first two were a warm-up, and my body and mind were screaming at me. It was windy and chilly, but I knew with the sun it would warm up fast. By the second time I ran the loop (it’s about 3 miles) I was feeling like I hit my stride. I did run with music, but without the Garmin. That was such a liberating feeling! Too often I’m a slave to my pace and distance and it distracts me from performing my best. The Garmin is a great tool for interval training or tempo runs, but I hardly do any of those outside. It took me about 56 minutes to run about 6 miles.

Both days I’ve run this week, I’ve felt energized and pleased instead of disappointed. I’ve felt ready to face the day instead of groggy in mind and spirit. I don’t feel guilty enjoying certain foods because I know I’m putting in the work before I indulge.

I don’t know how many races I’ll do this year. I don’t even know if I’ll do a marathon (though there’s one on post in November), but I do know that my blog title is more relevant than ever. I can’t wait to go “home” and run some of my typical routes… Prospect, Grandview, Mt. Hawley, Coal Miner’s Park. I think running with those memories will let me see how far I’ve come.

Like a boss

yep.

This week I had a breakthrough at work. Today was my first “good” day in a long time. Not “okay” or “not bad” but “good”. I think with all the change and uncertainty surrounding our cross-country move and finances, I’ve been on edge. Life changes take some getting used to, but this one’s been six months in the making. I’ve complained about how I don’t make what I really should for the responsibility that I have and blah blah blahhhh. I’ve whined about how expensive it is to certify in Texas and how there are no teaching jobs. The latter is not entirely true; they’re just few and far between. A couple times a week we have a displaced teacher come to us looking for a tutoring job. I wish we could hire everyone. Anyway.

I started teacher observations this week. I mean, I’ve been informally observing for some time now. From the hours of 9 to 3:30, I’m in my office or running around getting things done, usually with only one other person there. Once 4 o’clock comes around, I want to interact with people, be with the kids, see how they’re doing with their lessons. But this week I actually had a form to fill out and I’ll have to talk with each teacher about his/her evaluation.

It’s not like the evaluations determine a pay raise. (There are none in the works for anyone right now as far as I know.) It’s not like this is something that will follow my employees (yes, my, weird) forever, but it’s my first experience carrying out this sort of responsibility. I know I’m a good teacher and that I possess a lot of knowledge about pedagogy (I’m a natural! ;)) but it’s intimidating to evaluate a teacher who taught for 20-some-odd years in the classroom and is now tutoring because they feel like it and have nothing better to do.

I realized that regardless of what I’m getting paid, or not paid, to do my job for about thirty hours a week, my job is important. I have right now about 50 kids and sets of parents who are affected by my day-to-day decisions. I make no less decisions now than when I was teaching full-time. Regardless of what I’m getting paid, this “supervisory” experience will be fantastic on my resume.

This is a completely new avenue for me, being a “boss”. I hate hate hate the stereotypes and cringing that term conjures up. Bill Lumberg. Michael Scott. Darth Vader. But, it’s about time I accept this role and decide what I’m going to do with the influence I have.

I get to train teachers. I get to meet and work with all kinds of families who have one goal: to help their children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews succeed in school and in life. Build confidence. Encourage creativity. I believe in our programs (though they’re expensive.. wish we had scholarships or grants or something), but more importantly, I believe in compassionate comprehensive education.

While I’m looking forward to (hopefully) starting grad school in the fall, I’m actually enjoying my experience now. I’m done complaining (for the most part), done whining (for the most part), done pining for a teaching job (for the most part), done begrudging the early Saturday mornings (for the most part) and instead focusing on using my God-given talents and brains to the best of my ability.

God honors excellence and excellence honors God.

Like a boss.

Being a servant

I look at my recent posts and I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I’ve posted about once a week. What is that?! Usually I have a lot more to say.

But as it stands, I’ve been learning a big lesson on how to be a servant. I can thank my current job for that.

I know I’ve been called to my job right now for a reason. I know positive changes are being made. But the only way to gain real respect and trust is to be a servant. I try to compliment “my” teachers (I say “my”, since I’m kind of a boss… or something.) If someone shows frustration, I try to get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Pastor Lee’s sermons recently from The Sermon on the Mount really have me thinking about what it’s like to be a servant.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a peacemaker, amateur as I may be, I’m supposed to be bringing God’s peace into situations, and living it out in my life. I should not sacrifice integrity for peacemaking, but I think I’m good at not doing that. I’m the kind of person where if I know I’ve wronged someone, or even think I might have wronged someone, I have to make it right otherwise I can’t sleep at night. (I didn’t always used to be like this! Ask my family…)

At work I’ve really been focusing on having a good attitude, not getting stressed over anything, even if it’s big, and being consistent. I think the last thing there is key to gaining respect… being consistent. People can then see my commitment, that I’m all in.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I was jumping up and down when I was offered this promotion. In fact, my heart sank. But I know I’m there for a reason, and slowly things are improving. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to use my God-given gift of teaching… I have been dealing quite a lot with educational issues. I’ve also been able to continue teaching some students. And I can guarantee you that when I have my own classroom again, I won’t be nervous to talk to parents!

On a different note, if you want your faith to be stretched, your soul to be refined, or you want to learn how to be a servant… get married. Aaron and I have been doing very well lately with communication. In the midst of things happening in marriages around us, we are thankful for what we have. Couple that with being apart for two years (five total in our relationship) and you have a strong bond! I get emotional with him, he gets impatient with me, but we work through it and talk it out. Communicating our fears and weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, I think.

And I don’t mean that when you get married you become that person’s slave. You serve them with your attitude, your listening abilities, your willingness to work through things, your blatant refusal to be selfish. If you want to add in some dishes or laundry, you can do that too. 🙂 In a true relationship of mutual servanthood, it won’t go unnoticed.

It will flood into other areas of your life, too. Before you know it, you’re being a servant to your friends and family… by praying for them, listening to them, offering a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting… it’s pretty cool how it all works out!

I just love the Beatitudes… (and I did not know this but Wikipedia taught me that “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means blissful, happy, or fortunate.)

Matthew 5

 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So, here’s the deal.

I’m learning a lesson. A big one. And it’s calllllled…..

CONTENTMENT.

Sigh. This is probably the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in awhile… and I’m actually relearning it, just in a different area of life. Last time I learned it was last summer when Aaron gallivanted off to Korea and the Army just.. left me here. So, I became content in my jobs, and living alone, and taking care of, well, everything. And I did it well.

Now the tables have turned a little bit. I have my husband with me, every day, every night and that in itself is pretty amazing. I mean, have you tried living the same zip code, much less the same house with your spouse before?? It rocks. I love that we can eat meals together almost all the time, and workout together, and all those other married things. Just sayin’…

But then there’s this part of me, that’s actually a really big part of me, that I can’t shake. It’s the part of Elizabeth that seems to only be happy when she has a title outside of “Wife” and is bringing home some bacon. Heck, it doesn’t need to be a lot of bacon, but some. And she also has to be doing something creative or worthwhile, preferably something that has to do with what she paid $50,000 to learn about… She has to be productive about 110% of the time, or otherwise feels like a failure.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the past couple weeks. Guess what? The grass isn’t any greener down here. I’ve felt guilty for racking up all this debt in a freaking private university education just to sweep the floor or wash a few dishes. I should be out there in the world, making money to pay off my debt.

However, my husband is the greatest gift ever. He doesn’t see it that way at all, and he encourages me to do whatever I want. If I work, fine. If not, fine. He reminds me daily that we worked hard to be able to live (not just survive) on one income… I have to remember that. WE worked hard. We BOTH worked hard. When we got married, everything became ours,  even our debt.

I had an interview earlier this week for a job I was actually on the fence about. I didn’t get it, and I was honestly a little relieved. It just didn’t feel right. Last night I filled out some more applications, including Sylvan, Starbucks and other jobs at a school district (clerical and aide jobs). I don’t feel an overwhelming need to teach full-time and have my own classroom, but I do feel a need to teach in some capacity. It is what I was made to do, I believe.

Aaron asked me if I could do anything, what would I do? I said that I would be a mom; however, I know it’s not the proper time yet.

Today I got a call from Sylvan. I have an interview tomorrow, and I would love to work for them again. The schedule is flexible and part-time if I want it to be.

A few things keep going through my head…

“God delights in exalting our inability.” ~David Platt

“God equips the called.” (Not sure who said it.)

The book of Ecclesiates… that all the toil under the sun is meaningless.. what really matters in eternity?

The thing is, I have to learn this lesson soon. I can’t move forward in life until I can be content with what I have right now. Life is too short, people are too precious, the weight of eternity is too great, for me to be whining about a perceived problem that I’ve created all on my own. So, here it is: No More Pity Parties for Elizabeth. I’m really really rreeaallllyyy gonna try. And pray. Maybe you should check in on my husband at some point soon…

Who knows what I will do in El Paso, but I do know one thing. At my funeral, my loved ones aren’t going to be standing around telling each other about that one time I didn’t work full-time and make such-and-such salary. They will talk about what kind of person I was.. my character, how I treated people, how I loved Jesus, how I nurtured my children and served my husband. Those are the things that matter.

>Not sure what’s out there…

>…for me in Texas, but it’s all gonna be happening prettttty soon.

Within a week I’ll have my husband back.

Two weeks from tomorrow the movers come.

Three weeks from yesterday we say goodbye to Illinois.

The stress of moving fell upon me last night after I got back from St. Louis. It was definitely a reality check. So, like I always do, I made a list of everything that needs to be done…

  • schedule appointment to repair rock chips in windshield (USAA will be billed directly for this! LOVE this insurance company/bank)
  • schedule oil change
  • call lodging and reserve a room at Bliss
  • get hair done (duh! essential before hubby arrives!)
  • get cash envelopes ready (we got most of our travel money advanced to us.. thank you random finance person in Korea for doing your job)
  • schedule vet appointment for Luthor
  • pack bag for Chicago next week
  • make list of food to take to Chicago (yes, “making list” is on my… list)

I normally don’t make posts like this, but I’m a little overwhelmed. I’ve emailed some properties in Texas, but I can’t schedule an appointment to see places until we’re down there. Who knows what will be available in three weeks’ time.

No idea where we’ll live… no idea where I’ll work… there are only a few certain things. Here’s another list…

  • We are indeed moving to Texas. Though I’ve heard of orders changing en route. Lord, spare me.
  • I will be with Aaron. Every night. For a long time. 
  • I will miss my friends.
  • I will miss my family.
  • I will miss my church family.
  • I will love the heat, seriously.
  • I will love getting settled in our new place and decorating it.
  • I will love our road trip… just us + kitteh. I love driving around with Aaron.

Things are already beginning to work out…