One Year Home

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A year ago today, Zach got home from (what I thought would be) the deployment that never ends. I had started writing a post that I wanted to publish today. I was going to call it “10 Things I Learned from Deployment” and list things I learned while Zach was gone. I had started that post last week and then Friday night, I tripped over Zach’s boots that he had in the middle of the bathroom doorway and stubbed my toe.

A while back I read a FaceBook post about a military spouse and how she tripped over the massive boots too. It was well written and probably made me cry. I flashed back to her post and how she ended with, “Those boots I tripped over might not mean anything to an ordinary person but to me they mean, he’s home”.

I sat on the floor and grabbed my pinky toe that was burning from just being stubbed and stared at the boots and those words ran through my head, “he’s home, he’s home, he’s home”. Thank you, Lord, he’s home.

I think it’s funny, how tripping over a pair of boots can make you think about how for the past year he’s been home for dinner at night. How we celebrated our second Christmas since being married but out first one together. How Max has had to relearn how to sleep on the floor because his spot on dads side is occupied.

For a second I’m thankful for how normal military life has felt the past year. And think about how I haven’t had to worry about homecoming, FaceTime calls, care packages, deployment, moving, and how the hell I am going to survive it all without a serious amount of therapy.

Today, I’m grateful. Today, I’m blessed. And I’ll take tripping over the boots every Friday… because, he’s home.

And I don’t know about tomorrow

Right now the whole world feels right

And the memory of a day like today

Can get you through the rest of your life

I know it won’t always be like this

Life can change as quick as a kiss

It’s not over yet and I already miss

Today

-Brad Paisely

 

Big Picture

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This past trip we went on was a road trip! We left Friday evening after I got off of work and we headed south to Las Vegas, which is just over halfway to Los Angles from where we are in Utah.  Because we left at about 6:00pm, we had maybe an hour and a half of daylight left before the sun set and our headlights would guide our way.

The drive got dark quick. Then we were blessed with a dense fog that slowed us down to 32 MPH and had us following a big truck because his taillights were all we could see. The drive down was quick-there was no traffic and after the fog we were cruising and excited to get where we were going.

A week later, we drove home to Utah on Friday. We left early in the morning so our entire drive was in daylight. At one point I told Zach, “Gosh I think I prefer the fog & dark. This drive is scary”.

You drive through narrow mountain valleys and steep mountain passes that you feel like if a swift wind came it would blow your car over & you would roll into the abyss. The rock formations are insane. Just huge rocks that have nets on them-okay, a net is going to save me from a huge falling boulder? Yeah right, but thanks, Arizona for the thought.

The drive home had me thinking about how if I would have seen all this scary stuff on our drive out there if I would have been anxious & scared & tried to persuade Zach to take a different way home.

One of my most frequent conversations with the Lord is, “God I just don’t get that.” Im constantly confused by what He’s doing. I’m often consumed with how dark our world feels at times. Or confused by a situation someone is in. Wrestling with thoughts like: “I just don’t see how He can make ________ beautiful. I don’t see how _________ is going to bounce back from that one. Where are you at God?”

And then in the midst of my ranting, I try to process it all out loud to my husband, and he usually replies, “We just don’t see the big picture, Elle. God does. God sees the big picture”.

And I think that’s what God was teaching me in the dark. I think God reminded me that I cannot (not even a little) handle seeing the big picture.

If God were to lay out… here’s whats going to happen next year and in 5 years here’s what your kids will look like and in 10 years here’s where you will live and oh by the way this is going to be a really hurtful and scary thing that happened and be prepared on this day to say goodbye to this person forever but then this day will be your most favorite day in your life thus far.

I. Would. Be. Petrified.

Overwhelmed. And anxious to live another day.

But God, knowing me fully as my Creator, (graciously) doesn’t lay life out like that.

When I was leading YoungLife we took our kids to camp for a week each summer. Anytime they would ask us what time it was we would reply, “10:46”. The schedule was a complete secret. And it was good because we did really cool, scary things at YoungLife camp. Repelling down rock walls, hiking 14,000 ft mountains, ropes course suspended between trees, zip lining into the lake, horseback riding, four wheeling, etc. The list goes on and on. We didn’t want them knowing what came next because they might chicken out or try to hide and not go, so when they would ask we would always lie or make up something or just ignore the question all together. They HATED it.  But their faces, coming around the bend and seeing the horses they were about to spend the day with, or the feeling of making it to the top of the mountain after the hardest hike of their lives, or the look in their eyes when they’re handed the keys to the four wheeler. As if to say, “For me? Really?” That made the annoying questions worth it. 

I don’t think God is in the business of hiding good things from His children, but I do think that His concept of time is different than ours. He probably hears my ranting questions and wants to reply, “10:46”. He graciously leads me and patiently walks with me while I learn how to be patient and what it means to trust Him more as His will unfolds. His plan is always better than mine, anyway.

In those moments when He does lead me around the bend and I see for a second what He’s doing I’ll stand awestruck and worship. But I also think that He has things to teach me in the dark, in the silence and in the wrestling and that’s why not all my questions have answers.

And I’m okay with that, because not seeing the big picture is one of the sweetest blessings God has ever given me.

 

“You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked room and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live with them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring Break Recap

For Christmas we decided that instead of gifts we would go somewhere in April for my (Elle’s) Spring Break. We’re still trying to create our own traditions & we are thinking this might be one of our favorite ones. Going & seeing instead of staying & spending. We got to see my dad and Melinda as well as two of our cousins when we got to California. Not to mention all the sunshine to soak up & beaches we got to walk on.  I don’t know if we will do this every year, but I think we might like to try! Here’s a quick recap of all we got to do & see.

Friday: Drove down to Las Vegas!

 

Saturday: Walked the strip & saw Blue Man group

Sunday: Aqaurium and Pool day & Cirque del Solie

Monday: Seven Magic Mountains & driving to California. Saw Craig Monday night!

Tuesday: Pool & Pier Day!

Wednesday: Game Day! Clippers vs Mavericks game in LA!

Thursday: Beach & Pool Day! Got to see Morgan!

Friday: Drove back to Utah!

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Oh! And incase you were wondering what our boy did while we were gone… here are a couple of pictures of him camping with his best friends. He is once again, cooler than us.

wanna run.

This has felt like one of the longest weeks since I started working in the Behavior Unit. We had parent teacher conferences and apparently, kids don’t like their teachers telling guardians the truth about their poor behavior at school. So the behavior and academics really, have been pretty out of control.

It’s fascinating to me in our classroom when a kid gets upset or mad enough…after they destroy our classroom, their next impulse is to run out of class and off campus. This of course has severe consequences and often ends with the police tracking them down and putting them in the back of their cop car and escorting them back to school where their suspension papers are waiting in the office for them.

Because this is such a common thing, if a kid is acting up enough- as a precaution, we tackle them (yes tackle) to the ground and the first thing we do is take their shoes off. Studies show, a kid wont get very far without shoes on, especially in the winter in Utah.

This week, as my boss had one kid on the floor restrained by his arms, I heard “Elle shoes” and I knew it was my time to walk over and take off this little buddy’s shoes. This isn’t a new thing, I’ve done this maybe twice a month since I started back in September. But this week, as I unvelcro-ed the black and red shoes again a thought crossed my mind that surprised me. “You  know what, kid-I don’t blame you. If I was you I’d probably want to run away too”

Raise your hand if when life gets hard enough, the only thing you can think to do is run away.

Me too.

It’s almost like its hardwired in us as humans…

When Adam and Eve messed up in the Garden, they ran. “Adam said, I heard the sound of you walking in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; (so i ran) and hid myself”

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My boss is pretty cool. She will get beat up by kids (literally bitten, punched and kicked to the point where she has to go to WorkMed to get HepC shots). Then she turns around and defends them from a bully and hugs them as they walk out her door. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from her is how after a kid rips all her paper, breaks her $5,000 SmartBoard, and pees his pants on purpose- she forgives them and replies, “tomorrow is a new day, let’s start fresh tomorrow”.

I think that’s how God must have felt seeing what Adam and Eve did- “man you guys destroyed what I had planned, but we’ll make it work.” We really messed it up in the Garden. We actually mess it up everyday. But God just keeps choosing us and believing in us and showing up even when we don’t ask Him to. And when we’re really ugly people- He still looks at us and thinks, ‘I can use it.. let’s start fresh tomorrow’.

That’s why I keep going back to work. I think that has to be why I refuse to give up on these kids- because Someone never gave up on me, even when I didn’t want Him or think I needed Him, He just kept showing up. He says to the runner in me, “you can go, but your feet are going to get cold and there are consequences once you walk out the door. You can do that, or you can stay here with me, where it’s warm and we can talk about it when you’re ready”.

I can’t say as the days go by I wont find any more ways I am like my students, I think I have more in common with them than I care to admit. I can say, though, I hope to be more like Christ in how I forgive them, how I see their heart and who they are not just what they do, and love them well. Cause they need it. They need it big time. And I’m only able to do that because Someone loved me first. What a graceful gift that is to this runner…

2017

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emilymaephotography.com

About a month ago I went grocery shopping. On my way out to my car I was pushing my cart  through the parking lot and had the intense urge to start running and jump on the cart and let it coast while I road on the back…much like my dad would let my sister and I do every time we went grocery shopping. But I looked around and decided that a twenty five year old woman has no business doing such a thing in public.

Last week I went to the grocery store and on my way to my car, pushing the cart, in the same Winco parking lot I had the same urge. And again, I didn’t do it.

Its been bugging me. At what point in my life did I become too cool to ride on the back of grocery carts? At what point did I stop listening to that little voice that says, ‘do a cannon ball’, ‘no you don’t need shoes outside’, ‘the sprinklers are on, someone needs to run through them’.

This month my social media feeds have been full of people I know near and far making New Years Resolutions. There were so many at the beginning of the month I turned to Zach and asked, “Why do people wait until January 1st to start eating healthy or quit the bad habit or start a yoga class, why not just do it when your have the urge to do it?” “It’s a fresh start for a lot of people, a chance to start over, a reset” he graciously replied.

I think the desire for transformation is carved deep within each human heart. We are always wanting better, always craving change, and always seeking what’s next.

I mean this in no negative sense per say, but the older I get with each passing year the more and more I wish for a content heart.

I hate the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” so much because what I do is not who I am. Let’s start asking kids “who do you want to be when you grow up?” Because who they become is so much more important in the Kingdom than what they do.

I have this unrealistic fear that I’m going to get to the gates of Heaven and Christ is going to look at me and ask, “Sweet daughter, why were you not Elle?”

I’m not one for making resolutions, but I want my spend my days this year being Elle. I want to stop trying to be someone who God didn’t create me to be. I don’t want big changes, I’m not aiming to lose 20 pounds or eat healthy for 30 days straight, I’m just ready to be Elle. And the sweetest part about that is listening to God tell me who that is.

Maybe its riding on the back of more grocery carts, or maybe its praying for strangers at Starbucks. Only 2017 can tell.

Humans as a whole have gotten farther and farther from who God created them to be. In turn, we have gotten farther and farther away from bearing His image. The closer we get to being in sync with the One who created us, the closer we’ll get to being ourselves.

So next December if you see a woman riding on the back of her cart through the grocery store parking lot, I may just have kept my resolution this year.

If enough of us refocus on who God created us to be, maybe His story might be more clearly heard and understood throughout the world.

“We die with half our music left in us. Maybe we don’t know the words to our own song. And it’s not just our own little melody that suffers; the whole chorus is not as good. If you leave out enough of the words, even the Song of the universe will sound funny. The Song needs my word. It is not the same song without it. And I am the only one who has ever heard it, the only one who can ever listen to its echo deep inside and know whether or not the life that I am living-what I am doing with my hours and days and work and other selves to love-rhymes with it, and sings it clearly at all. “

-Robert Benson

Oh…Hobby Lobby

img_0267-jpgIf you ever want to regret something in your life just go to Hobby Lobby the day before Thanksgiving. Not only will you be disappointed in most of the grown adults who act like children, but you might just score a 50% off center piece for your Thanksgiving table; that is, of course, if you can elbow through the foaming at the mouth, bargain hunting women.

Here’s my open letter to Hobby Lobby employees.

Dear Hobby Lobby Cashiers,

Today I watched one of your kind hold back tears after fighting with a customer who thought the napkins she was buying were 80% off, instead of the correct 50% off. The dialouge was as follows:

(cashier ringing up items, I’m on deck to check out next so I have a front row seat)
Lady: (cashier scans thanksgiving napkins) Those should be 80% off.
Cashier: Oh I’m sorry, this brand is only 50% off today. 
Lady: No I grabbed them from a shelf that had a sign that said 80% off.
Cashier: No ma’am they are only 50% off right now. 
Lady: (tone get louder) That is absolutely ridiculous. They are in an aisle with a sign that says 80% off. If the sign says that, you should honor it.
(lady grabs bags aggressively, puts them in her cart and storms out of Hobby Lobby mumbling under her breath)

(I walk up and put my two items down in front of the cashier, she looks up at me)
Cashier: I think I should have stayed home in bed today

Me: You’re tellin me, especially with this weather, makes me wanna curl up with a good book.
Cashier: Exactly.
(I grab my bag and say, hey Happy Thanksgiving, I hope its a great one.)

If this is only a fraction of what you endure during the months of November and December, please accept my heartfelt apologies. You do not deserve to be yelled at over napkins that cost $3.99. Perhaps us customers often forget that you too, are a human with feelings. Forgive us for taking out our stress of the holidays and preparing meals for large amounts of people on you. You don’t deserve that either.

You in fact make it possible for us to have the most beautiful of holidays. Whether we want a green Christmas, red Christmas, blue Christmas, or pink Christmas you are always there with options galore. You make it possible for us to set our tables with turkey printed napkins. And decorate our houses with snow-covered miniature villages and any size Christmas tree we desire.

Throughout the years you have provided Christmas crafts and countless decorations that fill our homes and bring the spirit of Christmas with them. Forgive us for forgetting the true meaning of the holidays and stealing your joy in the midst of trying to bring it to others.

Please keep doing what you do. We take you for granted but your value is absolutely priceless.

You’re the real MVPs. Don’t let the haters get you down.

Sincerely,
Just another holiday shopper & also the creepy lady who prayed for you while you were getting yelled at

Gratitude and Hand Turkeys

img_0064I’ve been substitute teaching since September. My first few assignments went okay but I just wasn’t a fan of waking up and wondering if I would get a call to go into work in a hurry. The unpredictable schedule just wasn’t my favorite.

One of those assignments was for a Special Education Behavior class that combines 4th, 5th and 6th grade. I took the assignment not knowing what I was getting into. I went in that day and heard a lot of F words, was called a B word a few times and stood between two kids who were about to fist fight. At the end of the day when they asked if I could come back tomorrow I gladly replied with a ‘oh heck yes’. I have been in this same class since and I am scheduled to be in there until January. There is something about these kids that intrigued me. A class of 10 kids has 3 teachers-if that gives you an idea about how much muscle they need throughout the day. Kids in a Special Ed behavior class/unit might struggle with a mental disorder such as autism, bi-polar, ADD, etc. If they don’t struggle with a diagnosed mental disorder they are in our class because they cannot function in a ‘normal’ classroom-which could be for several reasons. In our case it’s because they talk back, are incompliant and/or run away from the teacher (yes like run out the front doors of the school).

I’ve enjoyed learning about each kid and their specific needs. I’m fascinated by how God made them each so differently and I hope I can continue to learn how to be a better teacher because of them.

Last week was hard. Several days I wondered if a kid approaching me was going to hug me or stab me with their pencil. There was just no telling.

On Thursday we had one kid in restraints and then in isolation because he was flipping tables and endangering his peers and teachers. It was the day of the Halloween parade at school and all the kids were dressed up in costume. He was a chicken. What started his rage was how he took his costume off and tried trowing it away. The teacher was not okay with this-so the episode ensued.

Actual Halloween morning (today) this same kid got off the bus sullen and upset-murmuring F words as he walked to class. His teacher took him for a walk to get some vitamin D and on this walk he explained to her how he hates Halloween. He said ‘bad things always happen on Halloween’. His house flooded this morning and he just wasn’t having it.

They got back from their walk and she sat him down at a table I was sitting at, explained to me what they talked about on their walk and she asked “can you just find something to do distract him?” and then continued teaching the rest of the kids.

I could relate to this kid. I don’t like Halloween either.

Me, “So you don’t like Halloween bud?”

Kid, “Nope”

Me, “Me neither. I start listing to Christmas music on Halloween usually.  Do you like Thanksgiving and Christmas?”

Kid, “Yeah, sometimes”

*Lightbuld*

Me, “You wanna make a hand turkey?”

Kid, “I guess”

We sat at that back table for a better part of the hour. We talked about his farm and how his chickens are about to hatch some eggs or something. We talked about how he goes to horse therapy on Tuesdays and his horse he loves more than life. He told me about the wild cats he puts food out for and the squirrel family living in his tree.

He colored a hand turkey and made it into a card. I asked him if he could write things he was thankful for on the inside. He wrote in all different fall colors, “I am thankful for my family”.

He said, thats all I can think of right now.

I was surprised he even came up with anything. If you knew him, you’d be surprised too.

I said, “thats a really great thing to be thankful for”.

He then asked if we could start his day. Which meant-he was ready to work and get caught up to where the rest of the kids were at since he was about an hour behind. He sat at that back table with me and we did all his assignments for the AM period of the day. No turning tables and no F bombs.

I don’t know how he will be tomorrow. He struggles with bi-polar and rage. But he turned today around -I believe gratitude shifted something in his little heart. He forgot about Halloween and he focused on what he was thankful for and joy began to grow as well as peace and content. Where before he was anxious and fearful of what Halloween might bring.

He reminded me how when we plant gratitude, joy is the result. I don’t know about you but I could use some more joy throughout my day. So thanks, Kid, for once again teaching me more than I could ever teach you and reminding me how a grateful heart can completely turn any day around. Even Halloween.

My Smiths

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Me and Max at Snow Basin. Sporting my Smiths of course.

My new friend here in Utah pulled me aside at a BBQ the other night and showed me two pairs of brand new sunglasses and asked which ones I wanted. “They’re Smiths” she said. I stared blankly at her. First of all; why are you giving me free sunglasses and second of all do you expect me to know what ‘Smiths’ are, cause I don’t. She went on to explain how they are a ski brand who makes quality goggles and sunglasses. Sweet! I grabbed the super trendy Matte Tortoise ones and said thanks.

On our way home from the BBQ I googled Smith sunglasses to learn that no pair is under $100. The pair she gave me was $140. I shouldn’t be allowed to wear anything that expensive.

The next morning I was on my way to a sub assignment and wore my new shades while driving. I nearly pulled over because as I was driving the grass looked oddly green for a crisp fall day. When I looked to the sky it was kind of rainbow-y. I know what you’re thinking… ‘it’s called polarized lenses, Elle. It helps protect your eyes and it’s pretty popular now a days. Get with the times’. You have to understand Zach allows me to buy the 2 for $10 sunglasses at Hot Topic because I’m notorious for sitting on, stepping on, or sleeping in my sunglasses. The longest a pair of sunglasses has ever lived with me is about 5-7 months.

That being said, I am super thankful for Becky and thinking of me to give her extra sunglasses to.

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Recently I’ve been studying the resurrection. I know-weird time of year to study the Easter story but-that’s where I’m at. I’m reading about Jesus coming back to life when life all around me is dying and fading away into the next season.

What’s stood out the most to me are Jesus’ friends on the road to Emmaus. They’re talking to each other when Jesus shows up after He rises from the dead. They don’t recognize Him. And Jesus pulls a prank on them and asks ‘Whatcha talking about?”. Poor Cleopas answers Jesus and starts telling him the story of the crucifixion and resurrection- in a smarty pants tone I’m sure- Cleopas basically says ‘What the heck man are you a stranger in this town? How do you not know what’s been going on here?’ Jesus replies, ‘What? What’s been going on here?’ (this is from Luke’s translation in the AMP Bible)

Man- from the third party this conversation is hilarious. You have to almost feel embarrassed and want to yell ‘dude stop talking’. But Jesus lets him speak. He lets him tell the story of confusion and doubt. About how they ‘were hoping this was He Who would redeem and set Israel free’.

It’s not until many sentences in the story later that Jesus breaks bread with them and their eyes are opened and they realize it’s been Jesus all along.

I’m re-reading this story each morning because I’m Cleopas. I’m sassy with Jesus and letting Him know whats going on down here-I’m letting Him have it about how things don’t make sense and about how He said He was going to do something and He hasn’t so I’m kinda frustrated with that. And Jesus listens. He doesn’t cut me off and yell ‘Hello Elle! Open your eyes it’s me!’ He walks with me on the road to Emmaus as I tell Him a well known story He has authored.

I’m praying that Jesus opens my eyes more. That I see Him better everyday. I’ve been praying I wouldn’t miss His presence or a conversation with Him. Whether it’s in the cashier at Walmart or the the sweet old man who let me over on the highway or the Holy Spirit nudging me to stop baking cupcakes and sit down and pray for each person in my family by name. I don’t want to miss Him anymore.

Omnipresence is the property of being present everywhere- God is the only One who is capable of this. He is everywhere. Even in me. I just miss Him constantly. But I’m working on it.

You caught me- there is no real relation between me studying the resurrection and my new sunglasses except for the fact that when I put my new sunglasses on- I saw the world a little differently. It was a lot more beautiful. And when I choose to see Jesus in the details of my day- it’s a lot more beautiful.

“But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. And as a Christian, I say  this not with the easy optimism of one who has never known a time when all was not well but as one who faced the Cross in all its obscenity as well as in all its glory, who has known one way or another what is is like to live separated from God. In the end, His will, not ours, is done. Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through Him, in Him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen.” (The Magnificent Defeat- Fredrick Buechner)

Love Uninterrupted 

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The infamous adapter. Taken with new iPhone 7.

By Z

We all enjoy a little personal time. Time to reflect about current events, work, or the Oklahoma Sooners football season. (Or what season they could have had thanks to Ohio State. R.I.P 2016 season). 
Our time alone gives us a chance to recharge our batteries, to gather ourselves. And when it’s invaded upon, we can sometimes get a little cranky. 
This happened to me just yesterday.
Elle had just left to teach dance at a place she had just been hired at called Dance Image Studios. I decided I would use this time to take “a load off”, in every sense of the word. I was enjoying some Clash Royale on my iPad when the sound of my phone’s ring began to echo throughout the bathroom. 
It was Elle, she had forgotten her adapter chord for her brand new iPhone 7. (I know I’m name dropping a lot here, but I promise, I’m not getting any royalty checks from Apple).
She needed an adapter to play music from her new phone and she had forgotten she needed it as she is still getting accustomed to a new phone. 
I wasn’t super pumped to get the call. My immediate reaction wanted to be, well that stinks, see you when you get home. But way back in my mind, I mean way way in the back cause I was in the middle of a selfish fit, I thought, she really needs it cause she needs to make a good impression with her new boss. And forgetting equipment to do a job is a surefire way to do the exact opposite. 
So with some reluctancy, I told myself it’s a new phone, she’s not used to it yet and that it’s not her fault, and it will only take 5 minutes to drive there. I told her I would be there in 10 minutes. She said thanks babe, I love you.
I said I love you back with a hint of a snarl.
I grabbed the adapter and Maximus and hopped in the car. 
I complained the whole way there to Max that the 5 minutes there and the 5 minutes back were 10 minutes of Zach time I would never see again. He sat there very tranquil almost as if he was agreeing with me. He’s a very good listener.
As I pulled into the parking lot I texted her I was outside. I waited.
I sat there waiting, in front of Studio B for a couple of minutes steaming that she was invading my me time. But when she came running outside, my personal time didn’t seem to matter that much to me anymore.
With the window rolled down, I could clearly hear the clickety-clack her tap shoes were making as she came prancing over to the car. Matched with a giant smile on her face like she was having the time of her life teaching these little people one of her favorite passions sent chills down my spine. 
I simply thought, I’m married to this beautiful woman. How lucky am I?
I handed her the adapter as she said you’re the best. 
A quick kiss and an I love you and I was already counting down the minutes until she would be home telling me about how it went. 
I wanted to share this story because I learned something very valuable yesterday. Even though me time is important, it is not nearly as important as we time. 
And through listening to God speak to my heart about what we time really was, my attitude began to change.
Being there for each other is what being married is all about. Marriage isn’t about me time, it’s about what the two of you can do together for the betterment of the Kingdom. Plain and simple. 

Thoughts from Bagram III

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Rip-Its

By Z

23 November 2015

Something cool happened today. But before I tell that story, a little history; A long long time ago in a FOB far far away (2010) there used to be a plentiful supply of energy drinks at the chow hall called rip-its. The coolers were stocked with them as far as the eye could see. The general population loved them and would take as many as they could carry or jam in their pockets. Life was good. …Then budget cuts.
Fast forward to 2015 and rip-its are simply a thing of the past. They vanished like a fart in the wind. But every great once in awhile they will bring out a few cases and try to stock the coolers. I say try because when people see them bring them out, they crowd around the poor locals who work at the chow hall like hyenas waiting for them to open the cases. Now unless you happen to be standing near the other drinks when they bring them out, you have a better chance of getting hit by a lightning bolt while wrestling a grizzly bear than getting a rip-it. Now I just so happened to be standing by the drinks when they brought some out. I was there with a guy named Baxter whose eyes lit up like a kids on Christmas morning. Even though we were standing right there when they brought them out we almost didn’t get any. People were crowding around pushing and shoving and bumping into each other grabbing three or four at a time. I managed to squeeze in to await my turn, which might not happen at this rate. But one of the civilian contractors there most likely Easter European, spoke with a very thick accent and in broken english while gesturing who I suppose were his friends or co-workers and he said, “Let soldiers go first, the soldiers go first”. Everyone stopped for a minute and I had a moment to grab two for myself and two more for Baxter who had got pushed back. I didn’t get his name, but I was very thankful for that man. Something little that meant a lot and I think he kind of knew it. I was so inspired by his sacrifice/generosity that on our way back to work when we passed through the entry control point (ECP) I gave my two rip-its to the security forces airmen in charge of the gate guard duty. They young man who took them from me looked at me with a shocked look as if to say, “What’s the catch? Are you crazy? These things are like cigarettes in prison”. But I just smiled and walked away and said enjoy-he replied with a ‘thank you sir’.

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Zach sleeping at work-since he gave his energy drinks away.