Thank you.

I wanted to post this on Facebook, but it got too long… so here it is. My emotions are running high this week (and today I’m hopped up on Sudafed, because of course I would get sick this week), but you can be assured that I mean every word.

As this deployment comes to a close, I want to thank everyone immensely for all your support and prayers throughout this time. While I’ve stayed busy and managed to hold down the fort (sometimes it felt like just barely), I could not have done it without your support.

A special thanks goes out to my adopted El Paso family who have taken me in as their own for holidays and just because, laughed with me, cried with me, run with me, served youth with me, enjoyed a coffee, lunch, or sushi date, prayed with me, gone camping in Ruidoso, taken me to or picked me up from the airport, come for me when I got lost in the New Mexican desert on a trail run, inculcated me into Mexican culture (always a dream for this former Spanish teacher), and taught this huera some border slang. 😉

When we moved here three years ago, it was the first time I’d moved more than 15 miles away from both our families. I knew that we’d find a church and make friends, but I never could have imagined the amazing relationships that would be grown as brothers and sisters in Christ. I would have gone (even more) crazy without my church family. And that’s why I encourage anyone who moves away to find a church right away. If anything, it’s just a great place to find great people who will surround you with optimism and encouragement.

Thank you also to my sister Leah (and nephew Benjamin!), my friend Jackie, my Aunt Brenda, and my cousin Anita who spent time and money to visit while Aaron was gone.. I enjoyed counting down to your arrival, and the airport became one of my favorite places in El Paso. Those times are unforgettable. The best part? I got each of you all to myself. 😉

This separation has been rough, but adversity can build character if you let it. From my perspective, it’s been the most difficult of all the separations, and I pray to God it’s the last, at least for awhile. I’ve learned to take things to Him in prayer right away. I’ve learned to dive into His Word and intercede for my friends and family. As amazing as friends are, no one can be everything to you all the time. I’ve learned to put my trust in God, the only one who can really comfort us.

I just could not imagine this journey without you all, especially those in El Paso, suffering together in the desert :p. No matter what the future holds, my life has been forever changed by your obedience to “love each other deeply” as the Lord commands.

A Very Beth Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the Thanksgivings I’ve had since getting married in 2008, I’ve realized that we’ve had exactly one tradition: no tradition. And I kind of like it.

Thanksgiving 2008: I honestly don’t remember what we did, but I know we (my husband and I) spent it with our families. This was pre-layoff, pre-Army, pre-moving. Little did we know how much life would change….

Thanksgiving 2009: Aaron was in training in Arizona, and I flew out to Phoenix to spend the weekend with him. We stayed at this resort Thanksgiving night and had the dinner the hotel offered. It was awesome. We spent the rest of the weekend at a cheaper place, haha. One night at that place was enough for our bank account!

Thanksgiving 2010: Aaron was in Korea, and it was the first set of holidays we spent apart. I spent the day with my family and his, and I remember Skyping with him in my in-laws’ living room.

Thanksgiving 2011: This was our first Thanksgiving just he and I, and it was our first here in Texas. We had signed up for the Turkey Trot, but we decided to skip it to make a huge meal with all the fixins, including my first turkey. We had leftovers for dayyyzzzz.

Thanksgiving 2012: Aaron had just returned from an exercise overseas, so we were so happy to be together. We did the Turkey Trot in the morning (now one of my absolutely favorite things to do every year), and then stayed downtown for the parade. Later we spent the day with dear friends Alvin and Lacey and Lacey’s family just a few miles from our house. It was nice.

Thanksgiving 2013: This is what I have dubbed A Very Beth Thanksgiving. Even before Aaron deployed in the spring, I knew who I’d spend Thanksgiving with, my “adopted” family here in Texas. It was 24 hours of crazy fun. Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house and had a delicious ham dinner with friends from our college/20-somethings small group. Then, early Thursday morning Leah Beth, her oldest son, and I went downtown to run the YMCA Turkey Trot.

race2013

I had my sights set on running a new 5K PR this year, but after I took a little over a week off because I was sick last week, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I was shooting for 26:30, but I’ll take this! My previous official 5K time was 27:33. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my 5K time since my first 5K in 2010 where I had a time of 32:17. I really think though that if I’m consistent with speed and hill work I can improve even more. I also was hoping to see Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life and we ran into each other!

I PR'd! 26:49 official time!!
I PR’d! 26:49 official time!!

After the race, Leah Beth, Nolan and I were freeeezing from being sweaty. We headed back to their house, destinkified (yes, it’s a word) and finished up dinner. We did not cook our own turkey; instead, we ordered a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s Texas BBQ. We had a slightly unconventional menu, including fruit salad, cranberry walnut salad, Texas potatoes, corn casserole, Hawaiian rolls (um, duh), apple pie, and Mississippi Mud. I have to say, this is the first holiday where I have not overindulged!

So, we had Leah Beth and her family; me, Elizabeth; and my “Mexican twin,” also Elizabeth, for dinner. We call each other “twin” because even though we have different cultures and first languages, it is freaky how many things we have in common. Seriously freaky. I just love having wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! We truly are a family away from family.

Elizabeth, Leah Beth, Elizabeth (me)
me, Carson, Elizabeth
me, Carson, Elizabeth

Do not be deceived; our day wasn’t over after dinner. We watched Elf, which I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen. Elizabeth left and Leah Beth and I left to work a shift as “friends and family” at Old Navy. We worked together at a table giving cards to people who had received wristbands as they walked in for a chance to win a million. Most people were really nice and even offered to share a portion of their winnings with us, and we also of course had a couple interesting characters. After our shift was over, we shopped at Old Navy (50% off!) and then went to Target expecting it to be pretty busy. However, since the sales had started so early, at 1 AM it wasn’t busy at all. It was probably the calmest Target experience I’d had here.

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Working at Old Navy

We got home roughly at about 2 AM and we crashed. Hard. I’d been up for almost 24 hours because silly me, I had caffeine late Wednesday night and couldn’t stay asleep. The Very Beth Thanksgiving was undoubtedly a Thanksgiving to remember!

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to be half a world away from your spouse anyway, let alone during the holidays. But I’m thankful for a family who’s adopted me as their own (I’m Aunt Biff in that house ;)). Not every military wife with a deployed spouse has that. Several times this week when I thought about how many people I know here who love me and would help me out at any time, I became teary-eyed and felt overwhelmed with gratefulness.

Now the countdown is on for the end of the semester. Monday begins the last week of classes, and then we have finals and then I’m DONE until the third week in January. My favorite aunt comes to visit soon, and then we spend the weekend together here before flying back to Illinois together. Both of my sisters have come to visit me this year at different times, but my family hasn’t been together in one place since last Christmas. A year is a long time to go between visits!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Run When: Transmountain Challenge recap.

Run when you haven’t trained in awhile.

When I signed up for the Transmountain training group, I was more hopeful than nervous that it would help push me over the mountain. Aaron had just left and I needed something to keep me accountable, especially for long runs. Every long run was hilly except for when I went to Colorado. I’ve always hated hills, but I ran anyway.

Run when it’s hot and dry.

Desert heat is no joke. 95* and 12% humidity will can make for a slow, frustrating and dehydrating run. But I pushed through and ran anyway.

Run when you’re sad.

My husband’s been gone five months now, and I’ve missed him.. a lot. I’ve been wanting to share this whole experience with him, and he ran his first marathon this month. And I’m sick of sharing experiences with him secondhand. But running is something we have in common (and we’re both ultra-hopeful in 2014), and I ran anyway.

Run when you’re sick.

There were a couple times I was sick and still did the long run, and they were both eight-milers. For one I had been feeling sick to my stomach for a couple days and had only a few hours of sleep the night before. I seriously considered skipping the run, but I woke up on Sunday at 5:15 anyway. I figured since I was up, I might as well run. The other time I was coming down with an upper respiratory infection and at the top of the first hill I had a coughing fit. But I knew the next day I’d get some antibiotics and rest,, so I decided I would run anyway.

Run when you’re on vacation.

I went to Colorado in August and was soooo excited to run at lovely pre-autumn temps at 8,000 feet among trees and mountains and rivers. So of course I ran anyway.

Run when you’re busy.

I was busy with a class and work this summer, and now that the fall has started I am working on, but not limited to: grad classes, thesis, teaching a college class, preparing my teaching portfolio for a competition, and submitting research to conferences. Whew. But I made my mental and physical fitness a priority, got up early, and ran anyway.

Run when you have to start early(er).

There were two Sundays where I had to start at 5:45, and that meant getting out of my house at 5:15. That’s eaaarrrllllyyyy. Even the dog thought I was crazy. But I ran anyway.

Run when you have to do the long run alone.

September 15 I did the Color Run with some girls, which was a Sunday, so I did the long run the day before… a 13-miler on my own. That was more of a mental battle than anything. I finished with a 12-minute pace, and was pretty sure that was a good indicator about how I’d do on the half. I ran anyway.

Run when you feel good.

The last month of my training, I really hit it hard. I kept on top of my mileage, scoring 90 miles in August and 100 in September. I did all my speed workouts at the gym, up to 6.5 miles on a treadmill. I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill, but I ran anyway.

Run when you’re thankful.

Running encourages my relationship with God. It gives me perspective, helps me focus, and reminds me of how our bodies are created for such amazing feats. It gives me time to meditate, think, pray, and take in nature, so of course I ran anyway!

Run when you’re ready.

Sunday morning I woke up with a conservative 2:30 goal in mind. That’s roughly an 11:27 mile. My first half was in January 2012, and it was extremely flat and I finished with a time of 2:19:17. I knew I’d trained way more for this race than I did for that one, but I had a huge 6-7 mile climb in my way this time. But then I thought, my last two long runs were great — the 14-miler (10:51 pace) and the 6-miler (10:12 pace) — so I knew I was more than ready.

transmtn

We started at 7 AM with cloudy skies (thank you El Paso!) and in the low 60’s. Miles 1-4 were up a steady but slight incline. Mile 4 was pretty flat, and then miles 5-6.5 were TOUGH. However, by the time I hit mile 4, I knew I had this whole race in the bag. By the time reached the top (5280 ft) I resisted the urge to lean over the guardrail and scream. I was so excited that I had run to the top without stopping to walk. On virtually every long run, I walked a small portion of the inclines.

miles 1-6

At mile 7, we started the descent. Oh man, people, THIS is the reward I’d worked for for 15 weeks. I FLEW down that mountain and I felt AWESOME the whole way. The mountain really does look different when you’re not zooming past it at 60 mph. During the descent, I picked up a couple PRs along the way: 10K (58:26) and 5K (26:56).

miles 7-13

Mile 13 was HARD. The descent on a paved road through desert scenery had turned into a flat concrete road, and I really challenged myself to run fast. I was doing the math in my head, and knew I had blown the 2:30 goal out of the water, and probably the unsaid 2:25 goal as well. I predicted I’d finish somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20. I crossed the finish line at 2:19:58! I had put that mountain under my feet and finished a race on my bucket list. BAM. DONE. All the training was 100% worth it. Besides the Illinois Marathon in 2011, this was my favorite race so far. Our bodies can do so much more than we think they can. The battle is in the mind.

Run when you have bigger goals in mind.

What’s next? I signed up for the Turkey Trot 5K with hopes to PR. The first week of November I start marathon training for the El Paso Marathon in February. I’m going to add in more strength training, yoga, clean eating, and trail running this time around, and in 2014 I want to run my first 50k or 50mi with my husband. Now, go get you some!

Ready to roll

A 15-week training plan sounded like a long time, but here we are, two weeks away from putting that mountain under our feet, literally. Today we had the last really long run (14 miles) before we do one more “normal” week, run 8 next Sunday, and then we have one week of taper.

Just in the past few weeks, I’ve really been ramping up my training, following our printout of all the runs to the T… and guess what? It’s starting to show. My running was consistent during the summer, but it was hot and I hadn’t trained for a race in a long time. I was happy with just getting the miles in. Now, I’m hitting paces that make me proud and really feeling good on the runs.

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It was a chilly 53* when we started. I’ve become such a pansy to cool/cold weather since moving here. But what can I say, it just makes me fit in with El Pasoans more. 😉 I wore a long-sleeve shirt which was a good idea; I encountered my running high a few times during the run and it always gives me goosebumps.

I felt strong going up the inclines; there were three big hills. Going back over Scenic after I’d already come over the other side AND run to the edge of the canyon (Alabama is straight and uphill) I still felt strong. When I hit mile 7, I knew I had this run in the bag. I didn’t have negative splits like last week, but I was smiling from ear to ear when I reached the top of Scenic on the way back over and hadn’t stopped to walk. I felt like a rock star.

I bypassed the last water stop at mile 11-ish because I had my Camelbak and I was rocking a good pace (around 10:00), so I just kept on runnin’. Around mile 12 my legs started burning, but it was just a sign that I was almost done and I was gonna make it!

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I mean, look how consistent those last four miles were! That’s what I want when I race in two weeks.

I confess that when I completed this run, I almost started crying. I’m like Kristen Bell that way: “If I’m not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying. I’m crying if I’m too sad, and I’m crying if I’m too happy.” I just couldn’t believe that I’d come to El Paso HATING running, I mean… HATING it. It was too much elevation, too much like an oven… and now I feel like I’m back to where I was mentally before the Illinois Marathon in 2011.

The other fantastic thing about today was that I felt comfortably vulnerable during church today. When I get there, my body and mind are spent – I’m tired, sore, and still HUNGRY (but caffeinated with a venti extra hot extra vanilla nonfat caramel macchiato), but the transition from runner’s high and to the presence of God is pretty great. I love worship and I really gave Him my all today. I was in a place of complete surrender.

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Moral of the story: I’m not gonna be upset. All that’s left to do for today is take a nap, foam roll the heck out of my legs, and feel satisfied because while y’all were sleeping, I was running. Go get you some.

Jericho prayers: in progress.

Back in November I made a list of huge, crazy, possible impossible prayers. Looking back at my journal tonight, I found that some of them have been answered. Not that I’m surprised, really, because God is God and He does awesome things. But I did think, Man, wow, He really did hear me! Ummm, you fool. Of course He did. #derp

#1 – That our debt will be paid off & finances released in order to give more to missions and do God’s work more effectively.

A summer research assistantship basically fell into my lap, and the professor heading it up told me that he wasn’t expecting to get the grant money for it at all. Aaron got deployment orders, which secures tax-free income and a bunch of other financial goodies, and I got word that I will be keeping my assistantship into the fall. Making progress!

#2 – That we could be missionaries in the Middle East/North Africa

We went to the World Missions Summit in December and met an amazing couple who serve in Jordan and hit it off with them quite well, actually. Making progress!

#4 (#3 is there, still working on that one!) – That Aaron and I would have an opportunity to travel over there (Middle East) soon.

Aaron’s over there now, deployed. Making progress!

#5 – #9 – Still working on those.

 

So… I guess it’s safe to say that I brought this deployment down from heaven. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I feel so “okay” about it?? I dunno, just thinking out loud here…

I’m posting this as a testimony to God’s faithfulness, and as a reminder to myself that I need to be diligent in praying for these and other “Jericho” prayers. Remember Joshua, and how God told him to march around these ginormous walls and they would eventually come tumbling down? No need to go and fight any dudes.. just march around the city. And it worked! Imagine that.

Imma keep marching.

 

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. 😉

Thankful in November

I’m not a fan of blowing up my own Facebook news feed every day with stuff, so I’ll keep a blog entry for the month.

I’m thankful for…

11/1  …all the opportunities I’ve had to travel the US and the world. It’s such a blessing to be able to see all of God’s people in action, and to minister to His church.

11/2 …the safety we’ve had while traveling. Even when I was in Bolivia in the midst of their president resigning and there being transportation strikes all over the country, I was able to get home safely.

11/3 …God bringing us to El Paso. I’ve always felt connected to the Southwest, but wasn’t sure why, and I actually cried (not with joy) when Aaron told me we were moving here. But I can truly say we love it here.

11/4 …my parents and sisters, and that we’re so close. So many people can’t stand their families or are estranged from them, and although we’ve had our moments, we forgive each other and move on. My sisters are my best friends.

11/5 …my relationship with my husband. We’ve been apart for over half of our almost 10-year relationship, and because of that we are expert communicators with each other. We can pick our battles and not let the small things get to us (most of the time…;))

11/6 …the fact that God provides everything we need. We may not always have extra, but we have enough. If I didn’t have my job I have now, we wouldn’t be able to go home for Christmas or to the World Missions Summit. Coincidence? I think not.

11/7 …that I discovered my professional calling at a young age, 17 to be exact. I knew I would go into education before I graduated high school, and I found out that I love teaching. It makes me happy, especially when I’m having a crappy day. I love interacting with students, and with my international students, I’m learning so much!

11/8 …beautiful fall weather in the desert. Highs in the 80’s, lows in the 50’s. Sunny every day with barely a cloud in the sky.

11/9 …for the years my grandparents had together, and for the years I had with my grandpa. We got closer as I got older. Today would have been their 60th anniversary.

11/10 …growing up in the Midwest, and the fond memories I have. Things weren’t always perfect, but I had a stable childhood and lived in the same house practically all my life. I doubt our children will be able to say the latter. 🙂

11/11 …all the veterans that have protected our freedom, and especially for the veterans in my family.. my husband, brothers-in-law, father-in-law, older cousin, grandfather, friends… our country is free because of their sacrifices.

11/12 …for the desert sun in the fall and winter. It may be chilly (now it’s in the 30’s at night!) but that sun feels amazing.

11/13 …for my parents taking us to church when we were little. I spent a lot of time at the church behind my house in service, Sunday school and volunteering. I learned a lot and many of the Bible verses and hymns have stuck with me throughout the years.

11/14 …this opportunity to study further and to have a job that I love. Thank you, Lord. A year ago I was in a horrible horrible job situation and I’m thankful to be doing this now! In fact, I think a year ago I was saying to Aaron how great it would be to study for my Master’s in linguistics, and here I am! Now to apply for a scholarship that would pay for my whole year next year…

11/15 …for our Pit bull mix, Missy. This girl is the best companion when Aaron’s gone and such a sweetheart. Glad we decided to adopt her!

11/16 …that my parents raised us in a way that we were thankful for what we had, and we didn’t always strive for the newest/most expensive things. It makes me appreciate what I have now; if we didn’t have used furniture (family hand-me-downs) then we wouldn’t have anything to sit or sleep on!

11/17 …our cars, which are both 15 years old but still run well. I will have my little Camry until the day it bites the dust. 183,500 miles and counting! We got Aaron’s car, a ’96 Honda, over a year ago when we expected him to deploy only a few short months later. Over a year later (and after a little pocket change…) and it’s still running well!

11/18 …simple evenings. Homemade chicken and dumplings in the crockpot for dinner, and relaxing and watching TV on the couch.

11/19 …my husband’s approval of my coffee budget for school/work. Sometimes (or a lot of times) you just gotta have Starbucks.

11/20 …our church friends who feel like family here… Alvin, Lacey, Marc, Leah Beth, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Karla, Gabe, Doug, Priscilla, Rachel, Mando, and many others. We’re spending Thanksgiving with some of our “family” from church eating and playing games.. can’t wait!

11/21 …for “us”. I love everything about us, the way we love each other, that we’ve been together for almost 10 years, married for almost 5. That we don’t feel the need to have kids in order to enjoy parades or pumpkin patches or corn mazes. That our family, though it’s just the two of us, feels totally complete right now.

11/22 …for our nieces and nephews. We miss them so much!

11/23 …for the fact that we like to stay active. Today was Day 2 of the Holiday Run Streak and it’s fun to go for a run/walk with Missy in the mornings.

11/24 …for our junior high students. We’ve been working with them for over a year now and they’re such a blessing and teaching us a lot in the process!

11/25 …for our house. We had an apartment for three years, and while it wasn’t tiny by any means, it’s nice not having to go up three flights of stairs to carry groceries in!

11/26 …for my health. I thought a year and a half ago I might have heart issues, but I learned that it was something easily controlled by diet and lifestyle, which is also the same for my migraines.

11/27 …for the means to go to Illinois for Christmas. We weren’t able to go last year.

11/28 …for our nieces and nephews. Joel, Rhianna, Zaia, Lena, Rand, and little Benjamin is in the oven. 😉 Being an aunt is the BEST.

11/29 …for a full fridge and pantry. So thankful for all the delicious food!

11/30 …for my in-laws and the rest of Aaron’s family. Thankful to  have a good relationship with them.