Running update.

I haven’t posted here about my running in a really long time. I’ve posted about running getting me through infertility, but I think this was the last real post about training. We (my husband and I) had signed up for the IMS Arizona Marathon because it was super cheap, and relatively close to where we used to live. Well, Valentine’s Day weekend came and went without us running that race, mostly because we live in Maryland now. So there’s that.

md462.jpg
View from a neighborhood run

I decided after the move that I needed to get back into training. For my body, for my mind, for fun. I don’t want this to be a post about infertility because honestly I’m sick of talking and thinking about it, but I gained 25 lbs in the past two years due to stress, taking time off of hard workouts, overeating, etc. I was starting to wallow… anyone who’s dealt with depression/anxiety knows how this works… and I was close to signing up for therapy again.

But, I’m happy to report that I’m out of my funk, thanks to running and a change of life circumstances, and God. Aaron’s no longer leaving for months on end, or working unexpected nights or 24-hour CQ shifts because now he has a ‘regular’ job. It’s fantastic. And amazing. And I’m so glad we got through the past 6.5 years with the Army for him to have this opportunity. I’m also working, but part time, and really enjoying the time it allows me to have to clean, cook, take care of things, but also to use my ESOL expertise. At first, moving to Maryland in the middle of the academic year was not my first choice, but it’s turned out to be a wonderful decision.

ssp1
Trails at Susquehanna State Park

So, with all that said, I’m running the Maryland Half Marathon in May. Not officially, as I haven’t signed up yet, but it’s on my calendar. Last week was week 3 of training, I think, and I ran 15 miles total. A Yasso 800’s workout, just a plain old run, and a long run of 6 miles. We bought new shoes this weekend so hopefully that’ll help some of the stiffness I’ve had in the first couple miles of my runs. Overall, I’ve been happy with my paces and my motivation to do each run. And the endorphins, you can’t forget the endorphins!

After the half, I’d like to train for a fall marathon, and then set my sights on a spring 50K. I’ve had this goal for most of my 20’s to do a 31-mile (50K) race before my 31st birthday, which will be next April. Barring injury or other crazy life circumstances, I don’t see why that can’t happen. And the Mid-Atlantic area is full of wonderful races to choose from.

Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I’m a control freak.

With winter break behind us, I’ve had some time, weeks even, to ponder things… events, ideas, prayers. So far my year of no resolutions is going great thankyouforasking… and I have to tell you that my one resolution was to make the bed every day. And as of Day 22 of 2014, I’ve succeeded. 😉 It really makes me feel like I have control over the day so early on…

I’ve really been pondering and mulling over this idea of self-control. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, but it never really stood out to me before. I always thought that maybe things like love and patience and goodness were more important or something. But lately I’m beginning to think that self-control is the key to all of them, and it’s the key to a full life that can manifest Jesus’ love on earth.

And really, it’s not self-control. Lord knows I cannot, I repeat can NOT control myself at Orange Leaf with all those delicious flavors of fro-yo, let alone the toppings. It’s a crap shoot, guys. He also knows that sometimes I just can NOT control my tongue on Interstate 10. I mean, seriously. It’s just offensive. So in all truth in a slow process I’ve been letting my self-control become God-control.

Self-control is a good thing to learn how to cultivate, but if you’re anything like me, you learn things the hard way.

Story of my freaking LIFE.

I have spent most of my 27.75 (as of today actually…) years on this earth being anxious, controlling, worried, planning anything and everything, and that’s my own personal version of lack of self-control.

I have spent a good portion of that 27.75 years letting my emotions get the best of me only to feel regret or embarrassment later. I’m like Kristen Bell; “If I’m not between a 3 and 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying.” Can I get a witness?

I spent a few years of my 27.75 overweight because of my lack of self-control with eating and concurrent lack of exercise.

I’ve spent a different good portion of my 27.75 years saying things that just seemed to roll off my tongue only to be begging for forgiveness later.

There’s no doubt that running has helped considerably with my self-control. It takes patience and determination to train for a race, to get up when that alarm rings so so soooo early, to reject that second (or third) cupcake in favor of being fueled properly.

The Army has also been a fantastic teacher of patience and self-control… and just life and marriage in general. Early on I’d let myself get all worked up about where we would move… looking up maps and races and interstates and houses to rent and jobs.. I bet you’re exhausted just reading that. I was exhausted, wrought with anxiety over many things I had no control of. I couldn’t even control my own actions or emotions and that quickly leads to a downward spiral which for me ends in depression. And that’s a dirty slimy pit. So dirty. And slimy. *gag*

The thing is, I asked to learn this particular fruit of the Spirit (ughhh silly me!), and I learned a few more fruits of the Spirit in tandem with self-control. And boy was I brought through situations where I was taught how to let go. I think for a Christ-follower to have self-control really speaks volumes of his or her sincerity of faith and growth in relationship with Jesus. With self-control you learn to control the following but Lord have mercy not limited to:

your reactions to things (ahem, crazy drivers on I-10 or Army ridiculousness),

your reactions to people (you know, that one person that just reallllllly gets under your skin),

your eating,

your working out,

your interactions with people at work,

your emotions when in a precarious situation (this I’m still working on),

your parenting (I have yet to encounter this),

your Internet usage (heh),

your Bible-reading,

your praying,

your relationship with your spouse (also working on this, I’m sure my husband is thankful).

If I let Jesus deal with these things and guide me throughout my days, that means that I trust Him 100%. When we start taking back control, we stop trusting. I want to trust 100%. Who wants to take their burdens back? I sure don’t. I wouldn’t wish my past anxiety or worry on anyone. ANYONE. I guess what I’m getting at is that all of this is connected as deep heart issues generally are.

Something I’ve been mulling over is that self-control leads to obedience. To be obedient means that you sometimes have to lay aside your plans, your worries, your anxieties, your wants, your desires, in order to pick up your cross and follow down the straight and narrow. It’s hard because we as humans think we gain something by staying in control. My friends, it’s quite the opposite. Believe me. Congratulations, you gain something alright; you gain back your burdens.

But I want to be obedient. I know God knows when I wake and when I lie down.. He knows my past, present, and future.. He knows what lies deep in the abyss of my soul and longs to take those burdens and control freak tendencies. I could easily be tempted to start controlling the next several months (despite the fact that we are in Army limbo [or purgatory??] right now) and apply to jobs, take teacher tests, and generally freak out. *Gulp*

(Aside: My ten-year PCHS Class of ’04 reunion is this year and everyone’s all “Do you want July 19 or August 2?” and I’m all “Hell *ahem* heck if I know what state I’ll even be in then! Must be freaking nice to know where your LIFE is headed in six months!” See?? Prime example.)

But when I am free from my control-freakness (hey, I’m a budding linguist so I can do fun morphological things like that ;)) and cultivate God-control, I can be freed up to be obedient… and that is the life in Christ I long to live. With the beginning of my 29th year of life and 7th year of marriage quickly (oh so quickly) approaching, I knew something needed to change. I should be better by now, less reactive, more proactive. Less anxious, more sure. God-control is the only way.

The year of no resolutions

As I get older, or maybe it’s just as I get wiser (ha) I realize how much I don’t like committing to multiple things for a really long time. Obviously I’m committed to my marriage, that’s kind of a big deal, and I’m committed to Jesus, grad school, and a lifetime of fitness. But pretty much everything else is up for grabs.

Something I’ve really been working on during this deployment is taking things day-by-day. I’ve always been a planner, a ridiculous, meticulous, INSANE planner. In some parts of my life it’s been a blessing to be that way, but in the rest of it, it’s just a pain in the butt. Like, a big one. Being that way has caused me to plan away all my vacation time, with a lot of the reason being that I’m afraid people will be mad at me if I don’t see them. Well, sorry, but I shouldn’t have a guilt trip complex on freaking vacation!

It’s caused me to overcommit to races in my head that I never ended up doing (Bataan last year, a few marathons, etc). And that only leaves me feeling like crap when I’m not running an insane amount of miles for a race I didn’t even sign up for in real life. Again, ain’t nobody got time for a guilt trip.

It’s caused me to get through things instead of enjoy things, as if my life were one giant checklist. Now, I love lists. It’s part of being a planner. But I’d like my lists to become more of a gathering of ideas rather than a “do or DIE” sort of thing.

I no longer want to be overcommitted to things, whether it’s church stuff, social stuff or just…. stuff. Don’t get me wrong; I totally believe that people should follow through with commitments, especially Christians. The world needs less flakiness. My goal is to not say “yes” to things I will have to say “no” to later, and to say “maybe” to things that I’m just not sure about. “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’,” ya know? I mean, it’s totally socially acceptable to not be sure about some event happening in a month. A lot can change in a month, especially this thing called life. But if I do commit to something, I will follow through. I think it sets a good example to myself, to others, to children, to people who have known only flaky people. Let’s just stop with the flakiness.

I’m gonna be honest; this week kinda sucked. While I’m glad to be back in El Paso because it means the semester starting soon and a returning husband on his way, I also miss life in Illinois. Having your heart in two places is just… painful. This week I’ve had nothing but time to myself in my house (I know you wives with full-time husbands and mothers, just any mother, is wishing you could have so much time to yourself in your quiet house) and so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, introspection, and prayer.

This year is the year of no resolutions. I’m not going to commit to not eating certain things, or running a certain number of miles a week, or plan out all of 2014. About the eating, I love eating, and I even like high fructose corn syrup and I can’t promise I won’t eat it sometime in 2014. So there. I’ll get to the running in a minute. And it is impossible for me to plan out all of 2014 because as we’re approaching our 3 years here in El Paso (and husband would like to transfer out of his unit) I don’t even know if we’re moving this year.

About the running. I signed up for the El Paso Marathon as soon as registration opened, because who wouldn’t want a $60 marathon?? I’m about 85% sure I’ll be dropping down to the half. I used so much mental toughness training for Transmountain. I’d never been so diligent and consistent in training for a race before. I kicked butt on that one, and then PR’d my 5K time, which was a 2013 goal. Since then, the holidays happened (need I say more?) and I did keep up with running (10 miles is kinda my fave long distance now) but I have lost all motivation and even guilt to do anything over 13-14. And it gets lonely out there on those long runs, ya know?

What’s more, the other night on the holiday fun run organized by Farrah at Fairy Healthy Life, I felt some weird tweaks in my right leg, things that have annoyed me a little in the past few months. I definitely don’t want to push my luck and end up injured.

Aaron and I are signed up for the Jemez Mountain Trail Run 50K in May in northern New Mexico, and training for that will pick up at the end of February. I have to have motivation for that; a 50K is no joke. I mean, it’s a freaking ultra in the mountains!

So those are the races I’m committed to for 2014. Only 2. At least 2…

So my New Year’s Resolution? To not overcommit to things. And if I’m gonna commit to something, I’ll make good on my promise. I want to be reliable, not flaky. Oh and the other thing? I’m trying to make my bed every day. So far, so good. 😉

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…

The honeymoon is over

So…. we’ve been here for over a year. I’m pretty sure I’ve rehashed that fact on my blog and Facebook about a million times. It’s been a crazy year. I’m one who gets bored easily; why else do you think I need to have multiple WIPs? (works in progress [knitting/crochet]). I’m always searching for a new experience, and now that we’re good and settled in El Paso, I wonder what else is out there.

On our list for duty stations were Fort Lewis (WA), Fort Carson (CO) and Fort Huachuca (AZ, where Aaron went for job training). Obviously we didn’t get any of those. Not going to lie; I cried when I first heard that he got orders here.

However, we had the attitude that we would enjoy anywhere we’re placed and make the most of it, especially since we’d been apart for two years.

The truth is, I like it here. The summer heat doesn’t feel so hot this summer, not only because we are more used to it, but because our swamp cooler works this time around! It’s nice having things settled in our house instead of an empty house except a sewing machine and a cooler.

I take for granted that we’ve settled into relationships with some great people. I forget how stressful it is not knowing who your “go-to” people are… how awkward first-time meetings can be… if the person will turn out to be a good friend or just an acquaintance. And how about those new running routes? And even just figuring out the right gate to go into on post or which highway to take?

Generally I enjoy the things to do around El Paso. It just takes 20+ minutes to get places. We’ve thought about checking out places to live on the west side, because church is over there and we like that area of town better. But, our house is great for the price, we’re close to post (and I go there for the FREE gym, Starbucks dates, etc) and we’re close enough to all parts of town.

It’s safe to say my “honeymoon” with El Paso is over. Life is slowing down a little bit compared to the last year, and that’s totally fine! It’s good to enjoy life day-to-day. Aaron’s really getting into a groove at work.  It’s good to keep building relationships with our friends and church family here. I love the family I work for. It will be painful to move, and who knows how long we’ll be here.

We just shouldn’t force anything. We’ve been placed in El Paso/Ft Bliss for a reason. There’s so much more to explore! I have family only 12 hours away in California. Colorado is only 8 hours away. We’re going to Albuquerque for Columbus Day weekend for the Balloon Fiesta. I’d like to get over to San Antonio sometime. I want to stay in a B&B in Cloudcroft or Ruidoso… maybe we can even SKI?! (For the record, I am IN LOVE with New Mexico.)

And the best part about El Paso? Dunkin Donuts on Dyer is up and running again! 😉 It burned down late last summer and it’s FINALLY back in business. Woohoo!

Almost a year

July 8th will be a year since we moved to El Paso. I can’t believe everything that’s transpired in a year….

We rented our first house. It still doesn’t feel 100% like home. Maybe it’s because the furniture doesn’t match, or that the carpet is an awful poop brown color. Maybe we’re just still settling in. I’m glad we decided to not go with an apartment. While I’d prefer to live on the west side or even in NM, this house’ll do for awhile. [[JULY]]

We found Harvest! I love being a part of such a vibrant and diverse body of believers. We found a small group and it’s been a godsend! [[JULY]]

We bought our first car with cash money. Straight up. We ended up owning Aaron’s first car, and we own mine now, but the Honda we have now was our first automobile purchase sans financing. Of course… we have put some cash into it… [[AUGUST]]

We bought our first washer/dryer set, on Craigslist. I love that site. [[AUGUST]]

Our nephew was born! [[OCTOBER]]

We started teaching the junior high students at church. It was tough at first, earning their trust, but we really enjoy this age and our funny conversations with them. [[OCTOBER]]

We ran our first half-marathon.  [[JANUARY]]

We went “home” and spent two whole weeks together with no work. I’m visiting again in September for Megan’s wedding and needless to say I’ve had a hankering for corn fields and thunderstorms! Sometimes I get so homesick it hurts. I know, I know, I said I’d love living far away for once, in a new place. Yes, it’s great, but I have a love/hate relationship with El Paso. One day I’m cursing the heat and dust and the next I’m enamored by the mountains and sunsets. [[FEBRUARY]]

We adopted Missy. She’s taught us patience, perseverance, and unconditional love. She’s a great companion when Aaron’s gone, though a cover-stealer. (Guess I know what it feels like now!) I’m more of a dog person than I ever imagined. [[MARCH]]

We did Bataan. One word: Epic. [[MARCH]]

I’ve worked two different jobs, in two different states. In the four years since I graduated Bradley, I’ve had five jobs. Hellloooooo resume killer. I never would have expected that from myself, but you know what? I’m happy where I’m at now and for once not going crazy perusing school district websites and indeed.com. I haven’t felt that way since Midland. I really loved my job at Tremont, but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be there longer than last summer. [[MARCH/APRIL]]

My littlest sister got married! [[APRIL]]

I started some grad classes. I’m glad I didn’t commit to a full Master’s degree; I’ve learned just from the few weeks I’ve been taking these ESL/linguistics classes that I have no interest in becoming an expert in linguistics. I mean, what purpose does it serve? Sure, I learn some grammar, and stuff, but  how does that really help people? These 12 hours of grad-level courses will be enough for me, I think, and help me in a future career. [[MAY]]

Well, this hasn’t happened yet, but MY BESTIE IS COMING TO VISIT!!!! Yay! My first visitor! My first real chance to show the Midwest that El Paso doesn’t suck (usually)! [[JUNE]]

So…. who knows what this next year will hold? I’ve learned to just let go of any worry about when/if we’ll move somewhere else. It could definitely happen, but no telling when. There are days when I want to get out of here so badly, and others where I wish we could stay until 2016, and some days, beyond that.

I’d say this year has been more good things than bad, for sure. I have to say the best part is the “we…..” 🙂

Six months in El Paso: a photoblog

I put this together on Friday, but waited until Monday to post. We’ve been in El Paso for exactly six months today. Um, wow. It doesn’t seem like that long at all! It feels like the whole cross-country-move is still “new” in my mind. Enjoy!

July

our house!

August

Had an interview and got hired at my current job on the 2nd. I can’t believe I’ve been there for five months now! August was hot. Annnnd that’s about all I remember.

September

Near Cloudcroft, NM (~9000 ft)
Natural entrance to the Caverns

October

La Union, NM
Look! It's corn! In the Southwest!
View from a hike in McKelligon Canyon
Found a cafe/gift shop called Coffee Emporium on the west side

November

Aaron manning the Libya booth at Taste of the Nations at HCC
Taste of the Nations
A Thanksgiving dinner for two
The trees do change here!

December

Before our first race together! Holiday 8K
Our Christmas tree! (Yes, it's real!)
SNOOOOWWWWWWW
Christmas cookies!
Went to the Sun Bowl on NYE and got sunburns (UTEP campus)
We stick with what's important in life: coffee. At Kinley's House of Coffee & Tea

Just enough

Just enough… like $3.46 in your checking account until payday after all bills and expenses are paid… like older cars that run on prayer and get us places… like just enough patience to get through the end of the work day…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last night at church we had a celebration called Taste of the Nations, where the small groups in our church each host a booth of a different country. We make food, handouts for prayer requests and info of the country, dress authentically, and learn common phrases in the language. Our small group was in charge of Libya.

I did not know hardly anything except for the location of the country before we started. Now, I know there are 26 different people groups that have never heard the Gospel. I also know that even if the Assemblies of God (our denomination) had a missionary there, we wouldn’t know because it would put that person in a lot of danger. We learned phrases in Arabic and dressed the part. I was very surprised when several people commented on how I really looked like a Libyan. Aaron and I were even asked if we were missionaries!

We encountered a young couple who have been missionaries in Sudan and now will be leading a Live-Dead team to the Comoros Islands. They have worked under Dick Brogden, a well-known missionary to the Muslim world. Aaron has connections with him through Stone Creek Church back in Champaign/Urbana. We chatted with them for several minutes. They gave us their card and a Live-Dead devotional journal.

It’s no secret that Aaron and I want to go into the mission field. It’s been something we’ve talked about since we started dating, and it’s been confirmed by others. Not necessarily that we will go international, but that God will use us as a team to reach the unreached for Christ.

Recently, I’ve lost sight of that vision. Being together with my husband and living life, however mundane at times, has kept me in a whirlwind of comfort. After his stint in the military, it’d be great to settle down, buy our first house, and start a family. I have these “dreams” for my kids.. that they’ll live in the same house their whole lives, go to the same schools and not have to move around. I “dream” that we’ll finally have a solid emergency fund and cars that aren’t fifteen years old. We’ve even talked about moving back to the Chicago area to be closer to family…

But is that God’s dream for our lives, for our children’s lives? It’s a bit unnerving to think that five years down the road we could be raising funds to go to some remote place to share the Gospel with people who are completely unlike us. Time is short, friends. Jesus could come back at any moment and we need to be ready. As much as I would love to be a stay-at-home mom and live my personal American dream for the next 50+ years of my life, there are dying and lost people out there who have to literally travel 150 miles before they even have a chance of meeting a Christian.

That needs to become a reality in my life. Aaron and I need to continue to cultivate a heart for the lost, and pursue further direction on where we should go and what we should do in 4.5 short years. All our “stuff” doesn’t matter. I think so far we’ve done a good job at not getting too attached to material things. (Check out the link for an awesome blog of a friend of ours!) God has always provided enough. Sometimes, it’s just enough. Our needs are met. Sometimes we’re blessed enough to have excess, and we need to learn how to generously give from that abundance.

We follow a pretty strict budget, but something we haven’t been able to do is save, save, save. Between Aaron coming home for leave from Korea, using our tax return to pay off a loan, and moving and using our travel pay to buy a car, we’ve had slim pickings the past few months. We are thankful for the extra things we get to do, and we have started paying extra on debt again. One of the big reasons we started this whole debt-be-gone ball a-rolling is so we can go into missions with zero, I mean zero, debt.

The truth is that God has equipped us with amazing gifts… every day I am reminded that I don’t teach because it’s what I went to school for; I teach because it’s who I am, my calling. Aaron has an incredible gift with technology, computers, and figuring out technical problems. Imagine how God can use those gifts in a country where they don’t allow declared missionaries, but they do allow teachers and IT guys?

I want wisdom. I want direction. I want a pure heart. I can’t have any of these things until I ask the One who gives all of these things freely… and He’ll give just enough for the need, and more.

I am reminded once again of a quote from A. W. Tozer:

“Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means….All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined.”

Exploring El Paso on a budget.

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend and she was telling me about all the things to do and see here in El Paso. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised as this is a big city (500,000+) with a very unique mix of culture and heritage. I just didn’t know where to find all these fun things to do!

This morning, since I didn’t have to work, we went grocery shopping early at the commissary. It was a good time to go, as we went when they opened and it’s not the weekend after payday. We got everything on our list for $85! We would have spent probably $120+ had we gone to Albertsons or Big 8.

After settling all the food in its new home, we went to a thrift shop that my friend told us about. It wasn’t a bad place at all! We got two paperbacks for 35 cents each.

Then we went to the Museum of Archaeology, at the base of the Franklin Mountains. There was a nature trail walk, and admission was free to the museum itself. I guess I didn’t realize how many cultures are represented in this mecca… Native American, Mexican, Spanish… the list goes on. I should have taken pictures, but didn’t even think about it.

We picked up a free guide called “El Paso Scene” which  lists all the cultural, musical, art, basically anything-you’re-interested-in events in El Paso and the surrounding area. I got out a piece of paper, wrote down all the weekends from this one to the end of October and perused to see what we could go to on a budget.

Tomorrow (September 25):

Red and Green Chile War Fiesta in San Elizario, a short drive east from El Paso. Admission: free.

Socorro Mission Bazaar in Socorro, on our way back from San Elizario. Admission: free.

Next Saturday (October 1):

La Union Corn Maze in La Union, New Mexico, only a short drive northwest. I love that we’re so close to another state! Admission: $10, but $2 discount with military ID. We’ll try to get a group of people to go.

Weekend of October 7: (our “stay-cation”)

El Paso Zoo, downtown El Paso. Admission: $7.50 with military ID (normally $10).

Bodies Human Exhibit, El Paso. This one is a little pricier with military admission of $15. It’s a traveling exhibit, though, so I definitely want to see it!

Weekend of October 14

Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso. Finally hiking to the top of North Franklin Mountain. The park charges $4 per person to get in.

El Paso Chopin Music Festival, Chamizal National Memorial Theater, El Paso. Admission: free! 

Weekend of October 21

UTEP Football Homecoming game, Sun Bowl. Admission: $15.

Israel Houghton, Harvest Christian Center (our church!). Admission: not sure.

Weekend of October 28

Wine tasting at southern New Mexico wineries. Not sure yet which winery we’ll go to.

We’ve been spending quite a bit of money eating out. If we cut back on that, then going to these events won’t be an extra expense.

El Paso is our home for the next few years, and to make it worthwhile, it only makes sense to get out there and see what it has to offer!

So, this is home.

Tonight for a change in view, I decided to get my $10 Walmart patio “furniture” (just a chair and cheapo table) and bring it out front and sit like an old lady with my iced tea and my…. laptop. Yes, like an old lady… who’s up to date with technology. Anyway.

how quaint.
and to your right, you'll see an oasis in the sand.

A friend of mine posted recently about her feelings in her family’s cross-country move, and how she looked at the calendar and it felt like it was just a vacation. We’ll be going back anytime, right?

I think because I’m in a new environment, which isn’t nearly as oven-like inviting as “home”, I revert back to things of comfort. For me, that’s corn and bean fields, sounds of locusts and crickets, tornado warnings, days of rain and clouds, coldfronts that leave you feeling refreshed, and not being in the minority of language or culture. It’s homesickness, but it’s strange because I have my family (my husband), and my bed, and my blankies.

I stare down El Paso sometimes like it’s the bane of my existence, when really, the attitude is all mine. People here are very polite and welcoming, for the most part, and the roads are open with great views of the mountains, sky, and well, desert. I also stare it down like I’ll be in battle with it for the next five years… who knows how long the Army will keep us here.

I just want it to feel like home. I want to transport the comfort of even our third-floor apartment that overlooked a parking lot into our spacious house. I want it to look like the desert, but feel like I could cuddle up on my couch with a blanket and hot tea and welcome in the fall air. I want to see it get dark at 6 PM and see the snow falling… and then I think that and I ask myself, WHAT?! Didn’t you want to get out of the snow and cold that lasts for months? Well, of course I do. Digging my car out of a freakin’ blizzard with a dust pan and shovel were not my idea of fun. But at the same time, no. Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s what I’ve always known.

I’m already thinking of where I want to live after he gets out. On my list is not really the desert, but I could still see myself settling somewhere like El Paso… it’s home, for right now. And when we move on to the next place, I’ll take away memories from here, too.

(Like this little guy, named Jack. We’re watching him for a friend of my husband’s. Cuuuuuute.)