Give Life a Hug

That’s right, embrace it. If the logical “me” could tell the emotional whiny “me” some things it’d be these:

-Stop wishing you were in a different place. God put you here in El Paso for a reason. Enjoy the scenery, as drab as the desert can be. Learn something new about your surroundings as often as you can. Don’t take those panoramic views coming over the mountain for granted!

-Stop wishing you had a different/skinnier/more muscular body. God made you with a perfectly healthy, capable body. There is more to worry about in life than the [[shhhhh]] cellulite! on your thighs. Seriously?! Get over it. Your husband loves your curves, for real. He tells you that all the time. Keep eating 80% clean/healthy and stay active. You’ll be fine.

-Stop worrying and fretting over your resume. God has control over this. Everything happens for a reason, and as silly as it sounds, it’s true! A career and workaholism isn’t everything.

-I’m proud of you that you’ve grieved for your grandpa, and that more often you’ve been smiling instead of crying when a memory strikes you. He’s with you still in spirit.. I’m sure you make him proud! Let the Lord continue to heal your heart.

-Enjoy every minute you get with your husband, because you never know when he’ll have to travel again. Enjoy the morning, enjoy random lunch dates, enjoy having dinner and relaxing together in the evenings. Don’t want to sound morbid here, but you never know when the last day with him will be.

-Embrace your role in the ministries you’re involved in! Enjoy those 7th and 8th graders. You’re a role model to them whether you want to be or not. You were made to minister to kids, whether it’s in a classroom or at youth group. Prepare spiritually for each Sunday morning and Monday evening. Ask them about their lives and how you can pray for them, and when they don’t raise their hand for prayer, pray for them anyway.

-Latch on to your new friendships here. It’s okay to make new friends; don’t isolate yourself. I daresay it’s okay to not call your old friends as often. Gasp. Yes, it’ll be hard when you move, as it was last time, but you got through it! Isn’t life better with good friends by your side??

-Lastly, stop worrying about when you’ll have those babies. I know part of you knows you’re not ready yet, although the 13-year-old Elizabeth felt for sure that the 26-year-old Elizabeth would be a mother by now, and as mature as she needed to be. Ha! There is a time for everything. Spoil those nieces and nephews. Someday you’ll wish you had all this free time to knit and sew and read. Someday you’ll wish you’d enjoyed this child-free era more with your husband. God’s got this! Fo. Shizzle.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33

Legacy of faith

—————————

“I believe in God, the Almighty, Jesus his

son, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus was

born in human form and lived and died as a human.

Jesus was crucified and gave his life for us.

He was sinnless and God raise him from death

to be the only Judge of us.

Jesus preached to all — good, bad, poor, sick

believers and non-believers. He heald the sick

and forgave sinners.

He believed all people equal, men, women, and all

races and creeds.

He asks us to live in peace + love each other as

He loves us all.

He asks us to pray for ourselves, other who stray,

for the sick, for him to have mercy on us all.

He asks us to live our lives serving him +

the Trinity.

God is the director of our lives and all that we do.

By our free acts, we need to be obedient in our worship

and service to him.

His life, as supported by the Old Testament writings,

is recorded by the New Testament witnesses of the

Apostles.

By his gift of Grace we will be forgiven of our sins

and be made whole

thru salvation and Faith we will be made acceptable

for the life hereafter — eternal life.

In God’s Name! — Amen! R A Little

—————————

This is a copy of my grandpa’s statement of faith read at the memorial service. I will be framing this and hanging it in my house. He has certainly entered into his eternal rest, for which I am so grateful, though it hurts to have lost his presence here on earth.

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.