Breaking News: “Top Nine” Doesn’t Capture Most Important Moments

I use Instagram fairly regularly, probably with more regularity now that I have opted out of Facebook. I know, I know, Instagram is owned by Facebook blah blah blah.

Everyone’s been posting their “Top Nine” recently – the most liked photos in their feeds. Once again, social media panders and quite frankly takes advantage of our desire to be liked and seen and celebrated.

I share my Top Nine, because why not? But I have to add that my top moments most were not shared on Instagram for the world to see.

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I can make quite a few assumptions about 2018 from these pictures. I traveled a lot, spent some time in the hospital, exercised a bunch, and am apparently still in love with my spouse. These are all true, but there’s so much more that happened in 2018 not pictured here, like that kid who was absent on picture day.

I will spare the weary reader nine things that happened in 2018. But I will share that one of the best memories is sitting with my sister on my parents’ porch late at night pondering the recent death of our grandmother and watching an amazing Midwestern thunderstorm. I will share that the reconciliation of a friendship was culminated in lovely time spent with her and her family. I will share that the financial and childless freedom to travel to new places has really helped me settle into my unforeseen reality. I will share that my husband and I are indeed more in love than ever. I will share that modern medicine is amazing and I am forever grateful to the surgeon who listened to me and finally was able to diagnose me with endometriosis.

All those moments and more made up a painful, wondrous, family-filled year. They say that one’s formative years usually happen before age 25, but I argue that all years can be formative, some more than others. I’m thankful I have the maturity and wherewithal to really appreciate the important work that time and openness can do for our souls.

Here’s to a blessed, wonderful, hard 2018. And let’s welcome 2019 with open arms.

 

Home from my US tour

The past three weeks have been a blur. They’ve been a mix of grief, celebration, family time, traveling, sightseeing, and lots of time on a plane.

First, I went to Illinois for my grandmother’s funeral, which I posted about. Then, I came home to a full house with Aaron’s brother and his family, who flew in from Chicago. We had a fabulous time. This was the first time they visited us, and we loved having focused time with just their family. We went to Washington, DC, and saw so many things that I had already seen, but had a new or different meaning. I actually didn’t take a lot of pictures for either my trip to IL or Bruce and Katie’s trip here; I was still taking a step back with my Lenten commitment to decrease time on social media and therefore didn’t have my phone out 24/7.

In DC, we saw all that we could see along the National Mall, including the White House! I hadn’t visited DC since I was 16, and since it was the summer right after 9/11, a lot was inaccessible. We visited Arlington National Cemetery, as well, and visited graves of friends who had passed away while on active duty. Arlington is always a humbling place that takes your breath away. The next day we visited the National Zoo, where they have a baby panda.

We saw some sights closer to home, including Havre de Grace (only 5 miles away from our house!) and downtown Baltimore. Needless to say, we ate tons of crab in all its forms: crab cakes, crab dip, and I even had a fried soft-shell crab sandwich at a roadside shack off of Route 22.

On Good Friday, I flew out to Seattle from Philadelphia on a nonstop flight. I stayed with my sister Emily and her husband for a week. This was the trip that had been planned the longest. Historically, Emily and I have spent one week per year together, and in the past she’s usually visited me in El Paso. Of course when she moved to Seattle, I knew I had to see her this time.

The morning after I got there, Emily dropped me off at the Snohomish Centennial Trail, and she did yoga while I did my long run. Sunday we went to a local Methodist church for Easter service and then headed to Pike Place Market in Seattle. Many businesses were closed, but we still managed to have a great time.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in Portland by way of Amtrak. We explored the city mostly on foot, and rode the bus occasionally. We used AirBnB to book our room, and I loved the experience of actually staying in someone’s house. We hit up Powell’s Books (of course!) and a couple yarn shops. We ate great pizza and had gourmet ice cream. We literally ran into Deschutes Brewery, which we didn’t realize was on our walk back to the train station.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent mostly in Snohomish. We went wine tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle and had lunch in Woodinville. We did laundry, and as with my sister(s) in any mundane activity, it was fun. We hiked in Wallace Falls State Park, and it was gorgeous. We ended the day with dinner in downtown Snohomish at a Mexican restaurant right on the river.

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Wallace Falls State Park, Gold Bar, WA

March was a whirl of a month, and I am glad to be home and get back in our normal routine. The ‘new’ normal of eating dinner together, not being apart for months on end, and having the ability to plan things more than a month in advance. I’ll take it.

 

Pacific Northwest Buzz

I’ve been in Portland for a little longer than 24 hours and I am in love. Is it really any surprise? I basically love any new city or place within minutes of being there, whether it’s El Paso, Texas or Madrid, España. I’m quite impulsive like that. 😉 I’d never been to the PNW before, and coming from the desert, the intermittent rain and high humidity were a welcome change, as well as the hilarious conversations with my sister Emily, who has wanted to move out here for years now.

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Chinese Garden

I arrived at PDX yesterday and then took the train to a stop just a block away from my hotel. I was exhausted; I’d only had about four hours of sleep the night before and I can never sleep on planes. Especially not when I feel motion sick. So I was tempted to crash in my room. However, knowing that I had less than 48 hours in this city, I decided to explore.

I was more than excited to explore this city on my own, and to get a break from normal, everyday husbandless life (Aaron spent a couple weeks with me in El Paso and then went to visit family for a couple weeks). I got settled in my room and then went out with Google Maps in hand.

After hitting up a coffee shop, Powell’s Books, and the most beautiful Target EVAR, I had the most perfect opportunity to go for a run along and over the Willamette River at sunset.

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Stumptown Coffee Roasters, only one of the places I had a “real coffee”
As seen on my run on the Willamette River
As seen on my run over the Steel Bridge, which spans the Willamette River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to present!
Ready to present!

 

 

This morning I presented my research at the TESOL Master Student Forum, the whole reason I came here. It went well, and I had a great time getting to know the other presenters in my room. It’s crazy to me that I was able to shrink my nearly year-long thesis project into fifteen minutes of PowerPoint.

 

 

 

 

Maybe it’s the real coffee (here, Starbucks is “not real coffee”), the fresh air, the rain, or all three, but I am on a high… manic even. I feel filled with confidence and direction in life, as this conference and environment have confirmed to me that my life’s work is in linguistics/ESL teaching and research, and that I am PhD material. I feel so blessed to have found this passion so young, and to have had so many wonderful opportunities to pursue it. Go get your dreams, guys, overcome the fear. The reward is sweet.

Now that this presentation is presented and my thesis draft is written, the rest of the semester is going to be all downhill. I defend my thesis in about a month, and graduation is in less than two months. What’s next? I honestly don’t know, but I’m ready for the next phase.

P.S. I’ve been bingeing on Portlandia and I know the show is legit because I heard the theme song IN PORTLAND. Whoa.

This place is the inspiration from the Women and Women First bookstore in the show.
This place is the inspiration from the Women and Women First bookstore in the show.
Conversation with my sister
Conversation with my sister

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.

Staying missions-minded

As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more evident to us that we are being called into missions. “Called” can be a term thrown around in the Christian circles.. but basically what I mean is that we have a very strong inclination and desire to go. Aaron still has four years left in the military. He’s just passed his three-year anniversary. (I know. Seven years. Unfortunately his year of training wasn’t included in his six-year enlistment. Someone screwed up.)

But really, four years isn’t that long. That’s… high school. College. A car loan. Actually, in about three years we’ll need to start formulating a plan for life post-Army. I’m really really excited about that. And nervous. But mainly excited. We both have portable careers (me=teaching, him=computers), and we could take it around the world. We could become Assemblies of God missionaries. We could support missionaries who are already in the field. Who knows?

Where will we go? What will we do? How long will we do it? I have no idea, and I’m thankful, because being the planner I am, I would be going crazy right now.

It’s exciting to me that we will raise our family to be in the world, but not of the world. While we (well, I) wouldn’t mind moving back to Illinois, central or the Chicago suburbs, I don’t think settling down, buying a house, and having a picket fence is what God has in mind. And this isn’t a new development; we’ve felt for most of our nine-year relationship that we’re meant to travel into the world.

It’s encouraging to think that, hey, we won’t really need to buy new furniture, or appliances, or cars, for the next 3-4 years. Our cars now are old, but what’s the sense in buying newer ones if we can make these last? So many people we know are settling down, having children, buying newer and bigger cars for the children they’re having. And as well they should… we’re in our later 20’s now. It’s what happens.

It’s hard to not center my desires around what most everyone else is doing. Then I hear about some distant relatives of mine who are doing various things in Afghanistan, Uganda, Tanzania…. all over the world, and it makes me want to go somewhere, too, and leave the comfy American lifestyle behind.

I think the military was always in The Plan. I never could have guessed that it would have been. I think it’s preparing us… 1500 miles from home is only a drop in the bucket if we go to Asia, or Africa, or the Middle East. Seven years pales in comparison to a lifetime of serving globally. Trusting God for our personal finances now is small when you think about having to trust God for the finances of an entire non-for-profit, or school, or orphanage. 95 degrees in El Paso is cool compared to 115 in the Middle Eastern desert….

This is big stuff, people.

Spring in January

Ahhhh. It’s a LOVELY 70* here today. I don’t even care if I’m rubbing it in to all you folks in Illinois… if we have to live in the desert against our will, we need to get something in return! 😉 Jess and I went on a walk around the neighborhood today and I might go for a run before I pick up Aaron from work. It’s my day off, too, so I’m in a super-good mood today.

This week has been pretty good. My work schedule will be changing a little from week to week to accommodate my boss’s strange schedule with conferences at different places. I got to leave work before 5 on Wednesday, and it was nice to actually be home and make dinner and have time to relax before Google+ Hangout-ing with family. Here we are…

My father-in-law (second from right), my mother-in-law (second from left) and my brother-in-law (on the far right) were all in the same house. Hilarious. Later in the conversation our cousin Anita (well, Aaron’s cousin) joined us from Ohio. So we had three time zones represented: Mountain, Central and Eastern. In the famous words of Kip, I love technology.

i don't care what y'all say, i will always love this movie.

So, we hung out. And then it was Friday. Already! We fly back to Illinois THREE WEEKS from tomorrow! Woohoo! We could have chosen a better time of year to go, but it’ll be good. Maybe we’ll take some warmish weather back with us. Illinois kind of boycotts these temps so early in the year.

But seriously. I opened up the window in the kitchen and I have the front door propped open. The air smells fresh and warm and…. just awesome. It really really makes me want to go on a roadtrip…

Over my birthday weekend (April 22) we’re talking about taking a long weekend and going camping in Silver City, New Mexico. It’s on my list because it’s a new place to visit, it has some cool art and history, and they’re close to the Gila National Forest. Temps will be nice with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 40’s. Even if there’s nothing really going on in town, a relaxing weekend of camping and hiking in the fresh mountain air will be a perfect way to celebrate my 26th birthday. (This will be the first one in four years Aaron’s been present for.) We’d like to stay at the KOA Kampground… I’m quite partial to them. And at ~$30 per night for a site, how can you beat that?? Here’s a pic I found on their Facebook page:

One word: Yes. So, if you remember, I had a race tentatively scheduled for this same weekend, across the state from Silver City in Hobbs. Welllllll, Aaron might get to join his company’s team for Bataan AND they’re trying to get it paid for by the company. In that case, I’d then be able to pay for myself for Bataan. After my recent success in the half marathon, I realize I could train to run 26.2 just two months from now. That is definitely heartening!

The next few months will be good! January is almost over, which is good because I HATE January. February we’ll be back in Illinois for half of it. In March I have my spring break from work and we have Bataan, then in April is my birthday!

Now, excuse me while I sit outside and enjoy the sun and blue skies. 😉