The year of big girl panties: a recap.

My presence on my blog has been scant recently. I come to my laptop tonight from my sewing table. I always seem to think better when I’m sewing… my mind is free and it wanders while my hands are still busy. I’m so fidgety, just like my grandpa.

I doubt I’ll be posting much over the next few weeks; I finish up the semester this coming week, in a little over a week we fly to Illinois to spend Christmas with family, then we come back to Texas to go to the World Missions Summit in Fort Worth. I hope the last few weeks of 2012 go slowly and we’re able to enjoy them as much as possible.

So, the title. In the military-spouse world, when we talk about getting through “grown-up” things by gritting our teeth and putting our whiny ways aside, we call that “putting our big girl panties on”. A silly metaphor, maybe, but you can’t wear Disney Princess underwear forever. At least, I haven’t found any in my size…

This was a year of gritting my teeth and getting through things. It wasn’t a horrible year; I wouldn’t even say it was a bad year. But there were a lot of tough situations that have forced me to mature (we all need that, right??) and trust God more. That’s a generalization though, for sure.

Two-thousand twelve started out with me working a job that I severely disliked. Severely. Life is short, and in my 26 years I like to say that I’ve learned how to make sound decisions, so I decided to quit. I barely had another “job” lined up… nannying. It was enjoyable enough, but definitely something I wouldn’t want to do long term. I love kids. I love other people’s kids, for the most part. But I don’t have kids yet, so it’s safe to say that taking care of other people’s kids when I haven’t yet decided to go down that road just isn’t fun sometimes. However, on a farm in southern New Mexico, I finally learned what was important in life and became content in my situation.

I experienced a couple more firsts this year, namely the death of a close loved one, and the absence of my husband during this time. Actually, the absence of my family during the few days before I flew to Illinois. I would not relive those days or wish them on anyone. Never in my life had I been so anxious and desperate that I couldn’t even muster an appetite, and if you’ve been around me for even a day you know that I love food! It was awful. I am very lucky that I was able to go home and say a proper goodbye.

This year was also the first that my husband and I have gone on separate trips out of the country. While I would have loved to have him with me in Honduras, and I would have loved to go with him (sorry, still have to be vague about where!), it was a good experience to travel on my own. It only feeds my desire to travel somewhere every few months!

And as an ongoing event of 2012, I’ve finally become happy(ier) with my body and also with my fitness and eating habits. I haven’t been tracking my calories or paces for awhile now, and it’s freeing. Having no expectations of my paces makes good races and paces that much sweeter. I was just getting so bogged down with looking at my watch constantly and figuratively beating myself up over it, and then getting on the scale and beating myself up about those numbers. Damn numbers. Done. Done done done.

One of the most freeing aspects of 2012 was that I’ve finally, finallyFINALLY surrendered my baby fever. We, my husband and I, came to the conclusion that we are not ready for children yet, despite what people say. What do people really know anyway? They just want to oogle and stalk pictures of your family on Facebook; they’re not thinking of the sleepless nights, poopy diapers, and expenses that come with having children. We want to be a little selfish for awhile still. We want to finish degrees and fly on planes to cool places and just be us for awhile longer. Our family is complete the way it is now. It’s taken me awhile to be okay with that, but now I am. This pretty much sums it up:

my dog
Thanks, Jess!

…but really. My dog is awesome.

2012 was absolutely 100% essential for my development as an adult. I wouldn’t do it again, but I wouldn’t change it either, at least the things that weren’t outside of my control. 2013 will see a subsequently 27-year-old Elizabeth with her big girl panties on, guns a-blazin’. Strange picture…. but whatever. 😉

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.

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.

>It’s alllll about the peace.

>It truly pains me to see people I know and love go through tough stuff… stuff that requires an insane amount of emotional and mental fortitude, stuff that can make or break a person, stuff that makes a person question his or her very identity and purpose in life.

Then I started thinking about peace. What is peace? Is it something we as children pray for on a magical Christmas Eve, or something the hippies wanted during ‘Nam? Is peace what you see when a baby is sleeping? (Because Lord knows that it won’t be peaceful once that baby wakes!)  Is it what we feel after a long spat with a loved one, and we finally resolve the argument? Peace in God’s terms is not confined to tie-dye, or signs that looks like a messed up pie chart.

I believe having peace is the key to having contentment in life. It keeps us from straying towards sin, or even just a wayward glance. It provides stability and satisfaction. It hopes, it fulfills, it compels us to love others.

Have you ever heard of a testimony of someone who really came from a life of addiction, lust, self-loathing, whatever, who really wishes that he or she could go back to that life? Hizell to the no. Sure, all those things provide convenient distractions and false self-esteem. They boost our pride and egos to make us think we’re invincible and don’t need God.

But then everything comes crashing down, sometimes without warning, although we usually know before we engage in certain behaviors what the outcome is going to be, and it’s not pretty. We hear the lines of “I told you so”s and it just makes us want to scream, hate ourselves, and hide in a corner. We realize what we thought would hold us up has actually been a rubble heap the whole time. We’re just adding to the pile.

The best news is that there is no peace outside of a life surrendered to Christ. It may sound counterintuitive, that a negative statement would be good, the best, news. But it is. In Christ we have everything we ever need!

Peace is about as easily understood as a woman; that is, harder to crack than a super secretive high tech code… or something. Maybe we just need something that reads invisible ink….

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

It transcends our understanding.. it’s above us, it goes beyond the limits of our understanding. That must mean it’s kind of a big deal.

Jesus Himself said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

We can see, though, that Jesus Himself left us with His peace. In this passage, Jesus is talking to the disciples about heaven and the Holy Spirit. He says earlier in verse 6 that the only way to heaven is through Him. Not only can we receive the free gift of eternal life (try putting a bow on that one!), but we also can have peace right now, on this earth that’s spinning into oblivious turmoil.

The world doesn’t care if our hearts are troubled; in fact, people get all kinds of attention when they’re having issues. They become popular in the limelight and show mankind doing what it does best: being human. Multiple industries capitalize on our being afraid. Scream, anyone?

I’m the nerd who still remembers most of what I learned in Momma Knight’s sophomore etymology class, so I love any excuse to delve into the origins of words. Bear with me as I divulge some info about what peace means in Greek and Hebrew. I know, two ancient languages in one sitting. Links go to the Strong’s entries.

peace (G1515) eirene




peace (H7965) shalowm






I end this post with lyrics from a popular song… “Our hearts are hungry for a food that won’t come/ And we could make a feast from these crumbs…”

Hmm… are you thinking what I’m thinking?