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.)

Hell-bent on expectations

Before I get into organizing my thoughts (which could be scary!) on this lazy Friday afternoon, I just have to say that I love being at home… the house is relatively clean, I have flowers on the table, and all I hear is the whirring of the fans and the purring kitteh. I love it.

a surprise from the hubby... he even picked them out to match our kitchen! what a man.

Anyway. I was wasting time playing mindless games on my iPod (yes, still have one of those) and I was just thinking about life, and all this philosophical mumbo-jumbo that’s hard to put into words concisely. Do I ever write anything concisely? Not really, but I will try.

But lately I’ve been thinking about how I had planned out my life, as if I could control and obtain certain circumstances that would make all the things I wanted possible. Like, I had thought that I’d still be teaching, probably still in Middle of a Cornfield, Illinois, and we’d have bought a house and popped out a kid by now. But have any of those things come to pass? Obviously not. Obviously life has taken us in a very different and unexpected direction.

What percentage of events in life can we really predict or expect anyway? Why are we so “hell-bent”, as the title says, on making things go our way and meeting our expectations?

They say that 95% of our worries never come to pass, and I’m starting to think it’s the same way with expectations. We can have all these supposedly grandiose things planned to do in life, and then when they don’t happen according to our timeline, we throw a little temper tantrum like a two-year-old, except we’re actually a 25-year-old mature(ish) woman with more blessings that she can count…. (yeah, that would be me in case you’re wondering…)

How does that even make sense? Things, so far, have turned out just fine. Sure, some times are rough, but that’s life. Things would be rough in an Illinois cornfield with a baby, too. (No, not Children of the Corn… though I think we joked about that sometimes where I worked…)

Lately, as in this week, I’ve been moving towards a more grateful and accepting attitude of my life and how it’s turned out so far instead of being bitter and resenting certain things like the United States military (cough cough).

My God is bigger than the military, bigger than my expectations, and certainly bigger than my hell-bent dependence on me. I think once we grasp the inevitability and uncertainty of life, we can move towards making better decisions that actually have our spiritual well-being and eternity in mind.

The expectations and deadlines seem to fade away, as memories of what we once thought we’d be, and then our future and even the present seem to brighten… suddenly we’re actually living life day by day instead of striving for something that’s not certain to happen anyway. We move to a clearing in the woods where we’re free to trust more instead of holding on to a plan that’s really not the plan.

We realize that everything is always Plan A, and never “second best”. A good friend’s thoughts on “Plan A” really stuck with me when she was describing how her husband of 27 years had passed away, and ten years later she fell in love and married again. Her second husband wasn’t a replacement or a Plan B… he’d always been part of Plan A from the start, unbeknownst to her.

This is just another one of those things where I realize how much God loves us… that He’s always had our “Plan A” in mind, and will continue to execute it in our lives as we allow ourselves to trust. When we trust, we have joy. When we have joy, we find contentment, and when we find contentment, we have peace.

And when I think of peace, I think of this…

 

What a great place for my mind (& heart) to be.

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.

Only two days??

We can’t believe it’s only been two days since we arrived in El Paso. So much has happened already! Aaron goes to work tomorrow for inprocessing. For those of you who don’t speak “Army” (sometimes I wish I didn’t!) that means that he’s getting acclimated to this post and will be learning more of what he’ll be doing while he’s here. Not to mention attending tons of briefs with a lot of useless information.. a lot of hurry up and wait.

I have driven everywhere we’ve gone. Aaron doesn’t care when I drive, normally, as long as I don’t try to kill us. Or maybe he sends us into oncoming traffic… yeah. That happened when on our way to church today. “If you swing out wide, you could make a left here and turn around.” Yeeeaaahhh. Okay. Or not.

So. We went to church this morning at Harvest Christian Center, which is an Assemblies of God church. I had been listening to the podcasts and doing research on this and other churches before we got here. We really enjoyed it and will probably be returning next week. People were very friendly and welcoming, and we met the pastor, his wife, and his daughter, who leads worship with a baby grand. The message was great… he spoke on 2 Chronicles 20 and standing strong through hard times. He also shared a very poignant story from Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala (pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle). I read the book last year and loved it.

After the service was over (it lasted about an hour and a half) we got coffee at their coffee bar and sat down for a few minutes. Silly us… we got hot coffee when it was probably over 90* out by that point!

We went on post because Aaron needed to get new rank insignia for his uniform and PC (stands for patrol cap… no more berets.. yay!. We wandered around the mall there.. looks brand new. We got lunch at Subway and ate the rest of it tonight for dinner.

———————

We came back to take a nap and for the life of me I could not fall asleep. I got on the computer and had a slight freakout about finding a job. I know, I know. Take it easy, Elizabeth. I’m still getting paid through August. And technically, I don’t need to work… but I want to. But I’m picky. I want a “normal” job, no retail, no food, no weekends or evenings (the only exception is Starbucks, naturally). I’ve looked a lot of places… school districts aren’t hiring for Spanish right now, or even aides, and it will cost around $500 to get certified in this state. I’ve looked at places like Sylvan… not hiring.  I have applied for a job on post, so we’ll see if that turns out.

Big sigh. I honestly don’t have an inkling right now what I should be doing, besides being a wife. I’ve been a “single” wife for two years to my “single” husband, so maybe it’s about time I focus on us and our house (but no kids!!).

I don’t know. I’ve been praying about it for awhile, and I got nothin’. Patience is not my strong suit… maybe it’s time I make it my strong suit.

I do know, however, that I need to spend more time in prayer, and more time studying the Word. I can be a judgmental person, and irritable, and rash, and impatient. I need to work on that.

I think I’ll start with that.

Well, it’s a dry heat.

Really. The heat isn’t that bad. We’ve been in El Paso for about two hours… and it’s not so awful. At least not humid! Oklahoma was waaayy worse.

We have been up the last two mornings to work out… go us! Before we left for El Paso this morning, we also went to the botanical gardens in Albuquerque. Very pretty.

We got to our hotel, right off I-10, and got settled in our room. It’s a nice room with a microwave and fridge, and good thing because we don’t know how long we’ll be staying here. We already have a few appointments to see houses over the next few days. We drove past one today and it was in the ghe-ttttt-o. Well, what I perceived to be the ghetto. Just not a very safe-looking place. I hope not all of El Paso is like this.

We can literally see Mexico from the view in our hotel room. We saw exits for Juarez, and lots of Mexican license plates. Being a Spanish major, this was fascinating to me. I’ve never been to Mexico. I know, I know, bad bad Spanish teacher. (Honestly, I’m not sure if we’re even allowed to go right now because of the military.)

We’re sitting at about 4,000 feet and it’s really not all desert-ish. There are trees and a little grass… the Rio Grande is, like, right there. We actually crossed it a couple times today on our way from Albuquerque.

I had a little freak-out this morning… or maybe I’ve  had a lot of little freak-outs over the span of our trip. I’m in a new place, and know virtually no one except my husband and a couple Army wives. So many people are fluent in English and Spanish, and I’m the gringa from up North who doesn’t remember slang from my first semester at Bradley….

All these doubts and fears could really run me over and cause so much anxiety, but I just have to go with the flow. I won’t know where to go or what to do but that’s okay. That’s what it’s like to live in a brand new place. It’s exciting because guess what: My husband and I actually get to live. Together. For longer than three weeks at a time. Really?! This shall be interesting….

at the botanical gardens in Albuquerque this morning

 

yeah, so there's mexico, waaaayyy beyond.

 

relaxing side by side... finally here!

 

kitteh's relaxing too.

>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?