Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

It's time to break out the scarves! Happy Fall! 
I thoroughly believe it's not possible to own too many scarves. 

PS: James made me the two middle ones. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thoughts on Prayer While My Husband is at War

My mother-in-law invited me to go with her and some of her church friends to an apple orchard today. We carpooled together and the woman sitting next to me has a husband who used to be in the Marines. We got to talking about prayer. Then she said something that really hurt me.

"My parents prayed for my husband's unit every day he was deployed. Not a single soldier in the unit died. Then a week after they got back, two soldiers got killed." 

And she goes on to talk about the power of prayer. As I'm typing this, I'm even getting tears in my eyes again. I wanted to say "But I've been praying every day too." And men in James's unit have still died, and it's been heartbreaking. Thank goodness that I was wearing big tinted sunglasses. I didn't say anything. The other lady in the car mentioned how amazing that was. I noticed that my mother-in-law didn't say anything either.

What part of me wishes I had asked.. Is that supposed to be a good ending to the story? Two soldiers died. What exactly is being implied here? Do you think no one was praying for them? Now these were really sweet Christian ladies.. Lord knows we aren't perfect. I know that I'm certainly not. I just don't think they had totally thought through what they were saying, let alone what they were saying to me and my MIL.. with James still deployed.

Oh goodness, novels have been written about "the power of prayer." My favorite book of the deployment is "The Power of a Praying Wife." There are amazing stories about miracles that have happened because someone prayed. But I think we need to be really careful about how we tell these stories. There's part of me that really wishes that I had said something so that she can stop telling that story before she tells it to someone that has lost someone close. Or at least change the way she tells it.

I talked to my mom about this and she said that she felt a similar sadness when she heard a friend talk about how God healed someone from a life-threatening sickness because of everyone that prayed. She wanted to say "But my friend with cancer is probably going to die soon.. and I've been praying for her too." And so was I. Along with probably hundreds of people networked through the church. She still passed away last year.

I love the song that goes:

You give and take away, 
you give and take away,
my heart will chose to say
Lord blessed be your name. 

Everything that I own is God's. That's hard to swallow sometimes. That means that his plan could be to take something away at any moment and it might not make sense to me why. That means that he could chose to take my marriage away. I pray for James every day, multiple times a day. I hope that God will protect him. But I also realize that he's at war, doing one of the most dangerous jobs possible. When I kissed him goodbye, I had to accept that there's a chance that it could be our last. 

I think people misunderstand what the phrase "Power of Prayer" means. The power does not lie with the person doing the praying. And I think we come dangerously close to implying that sometimes when God grants us what we ask for. 

I still can't really wrap my mind around prayer. I remember asking my parents when I was a kid "If God already knows everything and knows what we want, then why do we have to pray it?" And I feel like I still really don't know the answer. It's something that I wish I could logically understand. Maybe it's less about asking Him for what we want and more about the act of humbly spilling out our hearts to Him, the Savior who loves us. 

So I'm going to continue to pray for James and his men and the rest of his unit. And when/if he gets home safely, I'm going to thank God for that. But I'm not going to say later "I prayed for James every day and so God protected him and he got home safely!" I'm just going to give all the praise to God for giving my husband back to me. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Got Rid of My Countdown

I'm not saying you should too. Get rid of your countdown, I mean. If you have one. But I had to. Here's the thing about deployment countdowns.. they can make you focus so much on how much time is left until that day that you'll be happy he's home, that you might forget how to be happy now.
Day before I said goodbye. At my brother's really cold and windy rugby game. Oh.. those bangs. :/
And time goes slower when you know the exact date. Believe me, it's true. I had a little dashboard widget on my mac. Now it just has a count-up since I last saw him and a countdown to the marathon.
I don't think that counting up is bad. You'll probably see a happy tweet from me when it's been 5 months since I said goodbye to James at the end of R&R. Woohoo! Another month that we've conquered! That's different. When I had the countdown, I looked at it way too often. I got rid of it about half-way through the deployment. I cannot tell you how much "faster" things have gone for me now. And you could argue that maybe it's just because the second half always goes by faster. That could be. But I think my mindset is healthier now. I don't know exactly how much longer is left but I'm going

There's another thing out there called the "donut of misery." Basically it's a little excel document that you can plug the dates into and it will show you how much you have left in a pie-chart (or donut) form.

I think these are kind of fun to show people how far along you are without violating OPSEC. But I don't have it open on my computer and I don't look at it.

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." - Phil 4:11

I know I've talked about contentment before. That's a constant struggle for us military wives isn't it? I think that the whole countdown thing isn't helping. 

Now that I'm getting closer, it's actually kind of hard to not know in the my mind approximately how many days are left. People keep asking me. I kind of have to know for planning on such. But that really isn't so much the point I guess. It's the mindset. For now, I'm only counting down to my marathon. Because that's my next adventure. And when he comes home, it will be amazing. But it won't be until after my marathon, so for now, I don't need to know exactly how much longer it's gonna be. :)

<3 A. 

Note: There's a lot of purple in this post. I swear I didn't do it on purpose.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Miles & Miles Before I Sleep

This title may be overused by running bloggers but I don't really care. I've been proud of my mileage lately. I haven't run this many miles since college. I love dailymile because I can look back at my mileage from the past year.
And the funny part is that I can see how life events have affected my mileage. James left in December for his deployment. I had to finish packing everything up and drive home to Chicago. I didn't feel much like running that month. Then he came home for 2 weeks in April. Hence the drop in mileage there too. I was so excited for him to come home that I didn't run much before he got here, and then I didn't feel like running much when he was here either.

My top 5 longest runs
And then marathon training! I love how much a good long run can boost my numbers. Dailymile even shows me my top 5 farthest runs. All of which are marathon training runs at the moment. And I'm also so excited that I've run 104 miles in September and I still have a week left!

The best part was saying to myself last night "Ah I don't really have to go to bed too early. Only 12 miles tomorrow." Then I had to catch myself. Only 12 miles. I love that I've gotten to that point in my training. 12 miles is a significant run and it's amazing that marathon training has made it no big deal to me now.

I slept in and then ran late morning on this prairie path that I've been avoiding all summer (no shade). But today it was gorgeous. And I ran with a long-sleeved shirt for the first time. Then I got home and had some pumpkin spice coffee. So perfect for the first day of fall.

Just two weeks til Chicago Marathon. I'm not sure yet what my plan is for after. I'm not sure I want to sign up for more races when I'm going to have to focus on starting to pack up. After cross country season, our coach always told us to take off a full 2 weeks from running. Maybe I'll do some biking during that time to try to prevent getting burned out. But after those two weeks, I feel like I should still run like 8 or 10 mile long runs on the weekend to not completely lose it all. But without a race.. not sure yet where the motivation is gonna come from. We'll just have to see!

<3 A.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday (Late.. I know)

So a friend of mine posted a picture of this stuff on facebook. I didn't even know that such a creamer existed. Where have I been? So I made a decision. I must have it. 
Unbelievably Excited
I went to two grocery stores and neither of them had it. This was discouraging. I stopped by a Target. Nothing. Then Meijer.. who does carry International Delight.. but no pumpkin (by the way, I never realized how many creamer flavors are even out there? Butter Pecan, Coconut, Peppermint Patty..). Two employees happened to be standing there so I asked them if they would be carrying it. "Um.. we should be getting that in really soon actually." Then the other said, "Actually, I think I might have seen it in the back." So he went back and got it for me! So I am literally the first person of the season to buy Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer from my local Meijer.

And since I'm currently mad at Starbucks (taking away my gold carb member free syrup and soy options), it's perfect timing. Now I can enjoy my pumpkin spice coffee at home.

Also.. this all happened on Wednesday so it still counts as Happy Picture Wednesday. In case you were wondering.

<3 A.

Monday, September 17, 2012

20 Miles in the Bag! Hello Taper Time.

Yesterday I did my 20 miler! I signed up for this organized training run (so I even got a race bib, but it wasn't a race) with water stops along the way and several hundred people to run with. It was a lot of run! It went by a lot faster than if I had run it myself. And it was my last really long run of training. I'm really really happy about how it went. I didn't walk at all except for a few steps through the water stops.  And I felt like I could have gone longer! Basically I'm totally confident now that I can do this marathon.
blurry iphone #proof pic
Also, I found my little Garmin Connect stick so I was actually able to upload the workout. Here's my splits!

I found out that you're actually supposed to go really slow for your long runs compared to your goal race pace. That seemed pretty dumb to me but then my friend Army Army* mentioned that she did better in her second marathon when she did this.. so I did some more research. 

There's something called Jeff Galloway's Magic Mile. Basically there is a calculation based on a 1-mile time trial that can help you predict what you could run for a longer race (if you've trained for it). Now.. I didn't actually run a 1-mile time-trial but I fiddled around with it until I got my half marathon race time to match up:

So I just ran a 1:59 half marathon the other day, but it was a hilly course so I think a 9 min/mile pace is about right for that. According to this, I could theoretically run a 4:15 marathon (a 9:45 min/mile pace). And my marathon training pace should be 11:45. That's actually not too much slower than some of my long runs have been. I had to try really hard to go as slow as a basically an 11 min/pace yesterday but I think it's partially because a lot of people were going faster than me. I had to resist peer pressure. I was asking some people about their goal times and most people training at my pace had a much slower goal race pace.. I guess most people don't know to go slower? I guess I didn't really know until recently. Or maybe they think it's dumb like I did.

I guess then that 4:15ish is my goal time. But the Chicago Marathon is SUPER crowded so it might end up being more like 4:30. As long as I beat 4:40.. that's what James ran in the marathon he did with a 35 pound ruck on his back. I would feel kind of lame if I didn't beat that.

What do you think of the Magic Mile Pace Calculator? Does it seem about right? Does a 4:15 goal make sense for me?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MilSO Care Package: Deployment Survival Kit

Yep, you read that right. A care package for MilSOs. I decided that MilSOs (Military Significant Others) should get care packages sometimes too. I got the idea from this really cute Deployment Survival Kit that I found on Pinterest by Scraptastic Voyage. I stole most of the ideas from there, so be sure to check out hers too. I have two girlfriends whose men are about to go through deployments, so I made one for each of them. I took pictures of all the things that I included.
MilSO Care Package/ Deployment Survival Kit 
For the nights that it's hard to fall asleep:

For late nights and early mornings on Skype:

To wipe away the tears (of sadness by also of joy when he comes home!)

A Bible for courage and strength:

Mounds: To remind you of the "mounds" of support you have from family and friends.
Laffy Taffy: For remembering to laugh.
Lifesavers: To remind you that you're his lifesaver.

Marbles (for when you've lost yours):

Anti-stress face mask, bath salts, and candle.. for "me time":

Because it's okay to admit sometimes that deployments "suck." Haha. This one might be my favorite.

Stationary for all the letters you'll be writing and envelopes to be sealed with a kiss:

I made one in a flat-rate box to send to my friend Lindsey, who lives out of state. I see my friend Sam every other week or so, so I made hers in a cute little box/chest that I found from Hobby Lobby.
My friend Sam about to open her box! 
If I could have added one thing to Lindsey's it would have been a deployment pin (Sam already has one) but I totally forgot until I already put it in the mail. The tag could have said "For more opportunities to tell people about how proud of him you are" or something like that. Isn't that always how it is? You get done with a project and there's always one more thing you realize you could've done? Oh well. 
Deployment Pin: for more opportunities to tell people how proud of him you are. 
I got those cute little polka-dot tags from Hobby Lobby. I was really happy about how it all turned out! So I'm posting this because I'm kind of hoping it will continue to catch on. I think that we MilSOs need to take care of each other. :) 

What other things do you think would be good to include in a MilSO care package? 

<3 Amy

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

I got my new TOMS today! The writing says "Do small things with great love" on it a bunch of times. I kind of love them! 
Do small things with great love. 
Also, without telling you exactly when he is supposed to come home (OPSEC).. this is where we are in the deployment. :)

<3 Amy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things I Love Lately

This whole year, I've been trying really hard to not buy very many things, because I will just have to fit it in my car to get back to Washington. But James and I have been looking at houses out there and it's really hard to not start buying stuff for our new place. But I figured I could get away with this poster. With a rustic frame, don't you think this would look cool?? I like patriotic stuff.
I'm also working on making this:
Han and Leia is kind of a theme for me and James. :) And I thought this was adorable. I've got the lego pieces.. just trying to figure out the frame now.

And also, the new series of Doctor Who started. It's been amazing.
Speaking of the Doctor, I recently went to a Renaissance fair and saw several doctors there. I'm not really sure why people went dressed as Doctor Who characters, but it was awesome. I met the Doctor, Rose, Captain Jack Harkness, and Idris.
The Doctor found Rose!
I thought Captain Jack Harkness was the most convincing. :) 
So now I've met the Doctor (kind of). And I decided that when James gets back, we should go to a Renaissance fair together. It was fun.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Naperville Trails Half Marathon and Other Stuff

Hi there. I feel like I haven't been writing much here lately. Maybe that's just me, since I usually update only twice a week or so anyway, but it feels like I haven't been writing too much.

But first, the race. MUCH better than that disaster a couple weeks ago. I ran a 1:59:50. My 5th race of 2012 and of this deployment! Not a PR but only a few minutes off of it. AND it was actually a pretty hilly course. After weeks of being totally stressed out, running slow, thinking I might even be anemic (I wasn't.. it was "just" stress), I finally had a really good race.

Then afterwards, my parents took me out to my favorite breakfast place. And James called and told me good job on my race.. AND that he might be coming home sooner than we thought. Of course, the Army could change it on us again. BUT it's still exciting. Having a good race and then that call from him definitely made for a good day. We are in the home stretch of this deployment!

The youth group I help out with is also about to start. We had a leaders retreat this weekend. I actually had to bail out early because of my race on Sunday, but not before the tubing and wake boarding.
Me tubing. Unfortunately no photos of my wake boarding. 
So here's the deal.. I hadn't had the opportunity to get pulled behind a fast boat since high school. Unless you are tight with someone that has a nice boat like that, the opportunities can be few and far between. I couldn't pass this up. And I did get up on the wake board! And it was my first time! Even though I knew it would make me sore for my race the next day. And yes, I definitely felt it in my back especially (and still do- I'm actually sitting against a heating pad as I type this). I went to get stretched-out after the race, and I had tears in my eyes from the lady trying to help my back loosen up. But I still don't regret trying wake boarding. It was kind of a YOLO moment.

Also, at our retreat, there were a couple of stray kitties. One was black and one was gray. I named them Batman and Robin.
Me and Batman- wish I could have taken him home! 
So overall, really good weekend. Wake boarding, tubing, great race, great news from James, and even kittens! Now I'm hunting for a job out in Fort Lewis/Seattle area and starting to try to get ready to head back that way! 

<3 Amy 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

I got my first pumpkin spice latte of the year yesterday! The weird thing is that it was like 90 degrees yesterday so it didn't really feel right. But I still got to celebrate just one more season to go in this deployment!

<3 A.

PS: In case you're new, I've been posting a "Happy Picture" every Wednesday during this deployment. Something to look forward to every week. :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

6 Great Things

Yesterday was a great day. For several reasons.

1. I ran 19 miles. 19 miles! New distance PR. It took me nearly 4 hours. I was going pretty dang slow and my course was hilly so I took a couple walking breaks up the hills in the last 5 miles. And the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were threatening to hit so I didn't pause my Garmin like I normally do for walk breaks. So my average pace ended up being 12:24 per mile. Yikes. There's part of me that is pretty worried about trying to do this faster for the actual marathon. But I got my 19 miles done. So that was pretty awesome. 
The rain started pouring pretty much right after I got in my car  after I was done. 
2. I listening a good chunk of the Hunger Games audio book for the run. I forgot how great that book is. And it took my mind off counting down the miles a lot more than music normally does. I am thinking I might use this for my 20 miler that's coming up in 2 weeks.

3. The Doctor Who season 7 premiere was yesterday. I was pretty dang excited. I wore my Doctor Who shirt.. My dad made margaritas. It was awesome. Molto Benne!
Margaritas and Doctor Who. Two of my favorite things. Sorry for the bad iphone photo.  
4. Yesterday was also September 1st. It feels nice to have another month down. Another month closer to James being home! Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes come out September 4th. I'm already planning on  going that day to celebrate. Oh goodness, we're getting so close.

5. I found an Army wife on twitter. She is my age, has a husband that is also deployed, and graduated Ranger school last year too. He is also deployed from Fort Lewis like James and she is in a different state for the deployment with family (like me). Her husband is getting back about a month after James does. We're already planning on being friends. :) But anyway, her super-cute baby girl just turned 1 yesterday. Another reason for a great day. 

6. Since I ran on Saturday morning instead of Sunday, I got to go to church on Sunday morning (instead of Saturday night like I've been doing when I have a long run). All my favorite people go on Sunday morning, so I was pretty excited to go for the first time in a while. AND I had time to dress up a little more. So I told my friend Sarah that she should dress up a little more too. 
I like feeling pretty with my pretty friend. 
Sorry if you follow me on twitter. This has kind of already all been tweeted. But I decided to do a quick blog post about it all anyway. 

God is good. All the time.
<3 Amy