Sunday, October 30, 2011

Running


I started running just after I started blogging.  I'm not sure I do either very well, but I can say that I am starting to find my place in them both.  I had my first big race last November.  My dream race, the Army Ten Miler.  It was amazing and I enjoyed every single step of it.  Before I die I will do the NYC Marathon, but I've not set a date for that just yet (as I just might die when I finish it, so I'm not in that big of a rush:)!).  For now I am signed up for the Second Annual Soldier's Marathon at Fort Benning.  I'll keep you posted on if I actually make it there or not.  Balancing everything when you're flying solo is sort of tricky, but I'm getting there.  I started back cross training in April and I am hooked. (And when I say back, I'm talking it's been around 11 years since I was in a gym.)  I am a very little person, so it was intimidating to be in the middle of a bunch a meat heads daily at the Y.  But after five months, I'm sort of recognized and accepted as a regular and it's getting easier.  And I must say I'm almost as addicted to it as I am to running.  But running, running is my first love.

There's a little 5K in our community this time of year to raise money for the local schools.  It is becoming quite a big deal.  There are vendors,music, face painting and even karaoke.  The participants range from complete families walking, high school cross country runners, all the way to serious runners.  It is quite the event for just a 5K.  Last year I decided last minute to run it.  I hadn't raced in several months and I wanted to have a little more experience before the ten miler.  The route of the race is the route I run once I'm about two miles into my normal run.  I feel sort of like it is my route.  I started running it during the little one's nap time, during the summer when it was in the upper 80's, and I ran it when it was in the 20's.  For the longest time I hated it.  Felt like I would never get the hang of it and never ever enjoy it.  But now ... now I love it.  Beautiful rolling hills ... just perfect.  I've run off many worries of the day on these hills and planned the most perfect getaways with Richard (that I one day hope to actually have) on these hills.  The hills no longer present a challenge, but encourage me to run hard and run strong.  I realized last year at the turn around point that there were no other females in front of me.  I was like, "Wow, I might be the first!"  In the end I was.  I couldn't wait to get home to tell my girls.  (Of course Richard wasn't here, but in Egypt.) They were super excited to hop in the van and come with me to pick up my trophy.

(October 2010)

This year when they saw the signs, they instantly proclaimed, "Oh Momma!  You should run it again, AND WIN!"  Oh, no!!!! I am most certainly not a competitor.  Don't like it at all.  Not why I run.  But they were relentless and so this past Saturday morning, I decided that I was going to go for it.  When I arrived, there were so many more people than there were last year, and people were doing warm up laps around the Publix parking lot, etc!! My heart started beating almost out of my chest.  I went to the registration table, signed up and quickly got back in the van.  I closed my eyes and tried to settle myself down.  I hadn't really been running the past couple of weeks.  In an extreme moment of mine one day at the gym, I injured my feet and for several days I could hardly bare to stand.  And, because I had started back with weights, my time spent running was far less than it was last year altogether.  But I knew I was stronger this year and I knew I was more confident in myself and I knew that I ran more for me this year than running to prove something.  So I just prayed that I would do my best and praise God no matter what.


I was in maybe the second row this year.  The race starts on a pretty decent size downhill.  Not my favorite way to start:).  When the horn blew, the young bucks up front started running like it was the hundred yard dash!  I thought "What are they thinking?  They are crazy and are totally going to run out of steam very soon."  But of course, I was right there with them!  I have issues with the feeling of being left behind or like I have to "catch up."  (Okay, maybe I am a little competitive:)!)  I really had to focus on getting my heart rate back down very early on in the race because of this.  I prayed a lot and just kept thinking about all of the wives who were manning the fort while their husbands were deployed.  I thought about the girls and how much they wanted me to win this silly thing.  I thought about Richard and all the crazy things he has done running with me ... for instance when we would run up the big hills he would say "Push that ball! Push that ball!  Push it!! Push it!!" and on my long run days he'd drive up next to me in the van with the windows down and blare easy listening music while looking straight ahead with the most expressionless face one could possibly have:).  He is so crazy I can't stand it sometimes!

Not only were there more runners this year, the runners were so much better!  I was never alone this year as I ran the course.  And when I turned the turnaround point, I could have sworn I saw a pink shirt out of the corner of my eye.  So I picked up my pace and I ran with all my might.  The last bit of the race is uphill and I thought I was going to die.  My feet were killing me! But I knew I was not going to give up and lose after working so hard. So I kept going and low and behold, I was able to keep my title:).  So silly, I know, but hey, it was big deal to five people waiting for me at 57 and one soldier in Logar Provence.

In the end, I was only 23 seconds before the next female.  I won't be here next year, but I will think of this race.  I am going to miss my route and the beautiful hills that I once dreaded but now enjoy and claim.  God is so gracious.  And I am so thankful.


(October 2011)

To Him be the Glory.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Friday In October





It is pouring down rain right now.  Makes me think of the last visit Richard was here when we were throwing the football and it just started to pour.  We just kept throwing.  Neither of us said anything or missed a beat.  We just kept throwing the ball.  I guess we both just wanted to hang on to that moment for as long as we could.  I guess we both knew it would be a while until we would be able to have a moment like that again.




Today was a very dreary Fall day, but the lack of color in the sky was more than made up by the beautiful red, yellow and orange trees that seemed to glory in all the attention the grey day brought to them.  I love the sunshine, don't get me wrong, but I more than soak up a quiet grey day every now and then.  For some reason my mind is stronger on these days.  There is a stillness in the grey that almost seems to shut the busyness around me down and bring the specialness of the here and now into the forefront.  The trees reminded me of that.  They were just as red and yellow and orange yesterday, but it took a negative to make them stand out.  I think there's a lot to learn in that observation ...

It is Friday night.  Like many families, that means movie night at 57.  I have to be honest, I usually spend movie time cleaning.  I have five girls, I homeschool, my husband is (always) gone … there just aren't enough hours in the day.   So while little people are occupied watching a movie, I clean.  But tonight the girls wanted to watch Polar Express.  That movie starts out so quiet and is unbelievably captivating and magical to me.  Seeing three little people cleaned and cozy in their pjs, I just couldn't resist taking in at least a little of this moment.  This movie isn't new, but they are young and they are still able to see it with new eyes each year.  Just sitting there watching them I wondered how they have grown so much in just the past 6 months that Richard has been gone.  I wondered what they think about without him around.  I wondered what they remember when they think of their Daddy.  Richard told Kate on the phone today, "I'll be home soon, ok." Kate just responded with "OK" in a "it is soooooo long past soon" sort of way.  They can't grasp his absence … not at this age and especially not with living in a civilian community.  None of their friend's Dad's are Military and none of their friend's Dad's are
 gone.  Sometimes I feel so sad for them.  I don't want to say that they miss not having anybody in their life but their Momma, but I know that they notice it.  But then I remember that God has a plan and that new days begin with happy little faces coming downstairs to excitedly tell me good morning. It is then that I am reminded that God is bigger than all of this and that His plans are perfect and that I need not to worry at all.

Tonight is the last Friday in October for the year.  That means next Friday it'll be November.  November!  I knew November would come, but I tell ya, last April November just seemed too far to grasp.  Folks, we are making it.  The Battalion Richard is assigned to has the motto "Forward Always."  What a perfect motto for this journey.  Yes, we are moving forward … forward always.

Soon it will be Christmas and to our surprise we found out this week that Richard will most likely not only get R&R, but that he'll get it over Christmas. There is no way I'm spoiling this surprise for the girls!  What an amazing blessing out of nowhere!  Nothing is ever 100%, but he's put in his dates.  We'll just have to wait and see what happens.  I just can't imagine.  Richard home … home for Christmas. There is nothing more I'd rather give the girls.  Nothing.  They have been the biggest heroes over the past 9 years.  Such my little inspirations.  They've had to sacrifice way too much, but they are so much stronger already than I could ever dream of being.  



Little girls in pjs with blankets and stuffed animals.  I didn't get done what I wanted to do tonight, but I got done what I needed to.  


The gift of being a military wife is that the grey of sacrifice illuminates the beauty of life.  This week wasn't perfect and I think I had a day or two that were probably some of the hardest days I've ever had. But the week's over and it ended in a super sweet way.  I am thankful for the hard that not only refuses to let me miss the good, but that forces me to seek it out with all my might.  


God is always present.  Always.


To Him be the Glory.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Half a Year


Today marked the six month point since Richard left to train and then deploy.  We are not quite at our half way point for the deployment, but being that today marks a half of a year that we've been separated is something to reflect upon.  If there is one word I could use to describe the past six months, it would be the word, "busy."

Wednesdays are the only day of the week that both Kate and Olivia attend preschool.  Wednesdays are also the only day of the week that we have zero afternoon activities.  To put it simply, I like Wednesdays.  

I heard from Richard today, finally, via phone.  A wave of emotion hit me about half way through the call. Hearing his voice, from a combat zone, just sounding like he always has any other day is surreal.  I love the way he always seems to have to clear his throat:). I love how I haven't talked to him in forever, and yet he starts out with "Hey.  I love you.  Whatcha doin'?" just like it is any ol' day.  Richard's ability to maintain a constant normalcy in all situations, is so comforting to me.  He is who he is  no matter where he is or what's going on.  With so much separation over the years ... with so much change during them ... it is nice to be reminded that somethings, the basic things, the core things are changeless.  

I found this photo of Parker, our 9 year old, recently.  It was taken at our home on North Churchill Drive in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Our house there was in the historic section of Fayetteville, well, okay on the edge of this section known as Haymount. A beautiful area with great older homes.  This house was so tiny and had really only two true bedrooms.  By the time we moved out of it, we had made four bedrooms out of it ... it was cozy for sure!  Richard started his traveling/deploying six months after we moved there.  I remember sitting on that couch alone watching the start of the Iraq war on Fox News, really having no idea what changes the next years would bring our family.  I wish I could say that it's all been fine.  It hasn't.  There have been so many ups and downs.  But God has been so faithful to our family.  We are stronger (and bigger) than we were when 9/11 happened, and we have more wonderful memories than tough ones.  

I look at this photo and I can't help but smile.  It reminds me of a simpler time in the Davenport family and a time I hold so dear to my heart.  It reminds me also how time doesn't necessarily go by quickly, but you do really wake up one morning and realize how far you've come.  It reminds me to embrace the little things, even if they aren't perfect and even if times are tough.  And it reminds me most that when I feel beyond inadequate to raise our five girls alone, I just need to remember the simple advice Richard always gives me, "They just need you to love them, Mary Katharine.  Just love them."  Yeah, he's so right ... having a perfect school day for them everyday and enrolling them in fun dance classes and making sure they make every church get together, and every homeschool field trip, etc. ... that's all great, but sometimes it's just not doable and it never really is, or should be, the bottom line.  They are happiest and most content not when things are "perfect" but when they are loved.  When I look at this photo, I am reminded of that. 

Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week because on them I get a glimpse with each of my girls of a simpler time when things weren't so busy and I had time to just enjoy the day.  We had a full day of school, I got the house cleaned up and laundry done, I made a good dinner, Hanson Ellis made cookies, I got a great run in, and most of all, I sat between two sets of girls for two separate story times tonight before bed.  The house was quiet, heads were leaning on my shoulders and for an hour or so, the worries and stresses of the days ahead seemed completely nonexistent.

Richard is doing great.  Learning his job and enjoying so much the relationship that he already has with his Afghan counterparts.  Richard is kind and has such a heart for what he does.  It gives me so much joy to hear the contentment and motivation in his voice and read it in his words.  I know it's a combat zone, but oh what I wouldn't give to walk along beside him behind the lens of my camera ... He knows that and assures me he's doing his best to capture at least a little something each day for me.  Who knows, maybe one day he'll share his story with you, too.

For all of you who pray for our family, thank you.  
Just eight more months to go! 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;  my heart trusts in Him.  
Psalm 28.7

  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ode to Mother

video

We bought a refurbished macbook for the girls to use the night before we said our last goodbye to Richard.  Hanson Ellis and Parker both have online classes this year and so it's just nice to have an extra computer as well as to not have everyone in our room all day long.  The girls have had so much fun sending me emails from upstairs and making videos.  
One morning last week I woke up to a sheet of music stuck to the coffee cabinet.  The piece was titled "Ode to Mother."  I'm thinking to myself, "What is this?!" Of course life can get away from you very fast with five kids when you're flying solo.  Tonight I get an email with audio of the music attached.  Sweet thing, she was determined I was going to hear this song she wrote for me:).  

Missing Richard so much, but I'm in pretty good hands with my girls.  Super proud of my first teenager.  She is definitely my right hand many times.  Love her quiet strength and joy.  So many days we have spent keeping each other company over the years while her Daddy has been gone.  

This song is quiet, peaceful and thoughtful.  More of a reflection of who she is rather than of me. 
(and the fret is split on her guitar, so excuse the out of tune sound at times ... it's because of that)

A great way to end my day.
Love her ...






Friday, October 14, 2011

Classic



There's this great little roadside produce stand at the corner of a major intersection by a gas station.  When I was looking for houses before moving here, I passed it and saw all of the pumpkins scattered about and knew I had to find a house near there, because it was the cutest pumpkin patch I'd ever seen.  We've gone there the past two years that we've lived here.  This year, however, I decided I wanted to go back to a real pumpkin patch like we used to when the girls were little.  You know, one out in the country with hay rides and a corn maze and apple cider and a gift shop and most importantly, pumpkins to pick right off the vine. We've been so crazy busy that I've just not had a chance to make the drive, but I was determined this week to check this off our list.  So today when I picked Kate up from school, we made the forty five minute trek. We get there and no one's there.  There's a corn maze, but it was too long for the little ones.  The hay rides and vending, etc., didn't open for another three more hours ... but at least there was a pumpkin patch.  Right?

I found someone working there and asked where the pumpkin patch was.  They motioned around the corner.  The girls and I proceeded forward, turned the corner and saw the most pathetic batch of pumpkins we had ever seen.  Kate and Olivia didn't care:), but Hanson Ellis commented, "Let's just get a small one since we drove all this way, then go by Farmer John's (the curbside market I mentioned) and get one to carve."  My thoughts exactly.

It was classic MK moment.  Oh well.  It was a beautiful drive at least!!











Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Nights



On Thursdays, Parker has dance for two hours, then Hanson Ellis has dance for an hour.  The dance studio just so happens to be right across the street from the YMCA, so I drop her off and take the others with me. Hanson Ellis packs a dinner (soup, usually),and I do my thing.  Then I get the girls and let them climb the climbing wall for thirty minutes before we have to pick up Parker and drop off Hanson Ellis.  Between the dance studio and the YMCA there is a Chick fil a.  And every Thursday night, the younger four and I sit around a round table and eat.  It's usually not very crowded at all.  Tonight it was packed!  But as I sat there and looked around the table ... and watched Olivia enjoying every single bite of her ice cream sundae:), it hit me how thankful I am to have a husband that provides for the girls and me.  How awesome to have someone work so hard and never question how we spend "his" money.  Okay, well he did ask once when hung up a towel and saw the mass of hair bows on the back of the door how much money we had spent on those (ha!!!), but overall, no ... he doesn't question.  Now maybe that's not a big deal for you, but sitting there I was thinking about how anxious I was for him to get his router and hook up his ipad so he could send me his journal entries from the last three weeks.  I cannot wait to get lost in his words and photos.  How different our lives are right now.  Just knowing a teeny bit of what he did most of his day yesterday and observing what we were doing just then ... it is very surreal to say the least.  Very powerful and very humbling to just recognize the blessing of the moment; the gift of life.  People often talk about how "they found God."  But what struck me tonight was how really wrong that statement is.  We don't find God, He finds us!

Olivia and Kate attend a Baptist preschool.  I love that they do.  My favorite part is probably the great oldies but goodies of songs that they sing there.  For instance today Olivia came home and decided to rearrange all of the magnets on the refrigerator while singing "Oh, how I love Jesus! Oh, how I love Jesus!  Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!"  Did you get that, "because He first loved me."  No, it is not us who find Him, but the other way around.  And one of the greatest things about our God is that he never lets us forget that no matter what, He is always there.  The evidence of His love is all around.  Yes, times can be so hard.  There are so many issues from relationships, to finances, to health ... or to just a lonely day.  But God is always there loving us through it all.  And when we forget this, how often does He find us there and remind us.

It is so lonely without Richard ... especially since we are not in a military town.  I know everybody has different things they go through in life, but for a military wife whose husband is deployed, the loneliness felt while sitting in a room full of people just cannot be described.  It is always there.  Always.  And I don't care if I've had the best day ever, as soon as I have just one minute of down time the lonely feeling instantly starts screaming for my attention.  At this point in our marriage, I've learned to expect it and I'm able to handle it so much better than in years past.  But it's there and always will be.  And to extent I am glad.  I'm glad that no matter how much time we've spent apart, I am always yearning to be together.  It doesn't happen that way for everyone, so while I dread the lonely moments, I recognize the gift.

Tonight it really hit me the gift of it just being a Thursday night.  There are a lot of blessings in those four hours for the girls and me.  And I am so thankful to be reminded once again that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.  Nothing.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose." "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."  Romans 8:28 & 35a & 37

Missing my PSYOPER tonight.  Praising God for His protection over him the last 24 days.  And giving thanks for not just getting through another week flying solo, but for conquering it.

To Him be the glory.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Girls


We are almost at the one month point for boots on the ground.  Even Richard has commented that he will be so glad for that milestone to pass.  I've not posted a lot here because I've had the gift of very little communication with Richard.  Yes, that's right, I said gift.  Something beautiful happens when communications via email, phone or FaceTime are gone.  When they are gone, letters are written ... and it is a beautiful, sweet thing.  And so with my focus of writing there, I haven't had time for a focus on writing here.  And that's okay.

I finished Sara Horn's study, Tour of Duty, the day Richard deployed.  Absolutely amazing study.  I cannot praise it enough.  If you are a military wife or if you are interested in serving or ministering to the military community, do this study.  I need to devote a whole post to to it, but for now, I'll say I did not want to do the study, but I did and I don't think I've ever done a study or read any book that I scribbled notes on every single page as I did with this one.  It was really that good.  I'm now working my way through her God Strong book.  I read it in the morning and save the Survival Sisters stories for night.  As I finished one tonight I was struck by a blessing I totally missed.  

Several friends have asked recently how the girls are doing with Richard gone.  My response is always very nonchalant and basically, they don't like it when we have to say goodbye to him, but they are fine, this is their world and it's what they know.  Well, lately I've sort of been thinking to myself, "Why don't they ask more about him?  Why isn't my enthusiasm for sending him care packages and letters spreading to them?  Why are they so unaffected by all of this?"  I guess because they haven't seemed to miss a beat since he left, I haven't really spent a lot of time thinking about their hearts.  I mean, of course, we've done a lot of special things to make this time a positive one, but really until others started asking, I just didn't really stop to think about how they were.  So when I did, and I didn't see any signs of struggle or deep concern, I started struggling and having deep concern as to why they were not.  (Such a classic mom moment!)  But it hit me tonight ... totally by surprise that "Mary Katharine, they are fine because you are fine.  God has blessed you with the strength you need and it's providing them with the strength they need."  Now note, I'm not saying that it's been easy the last three and a half weeks (or the five and a half months prior to that) and I'm not saying there hasn't been an increase in behavior that is lacking self control:) ... and I'm certainly not saying that if we were really struggling that God would not be providing for us.  What I'm saying is that God provided an amazing blessing and I almost missed it.  And I am so thankful that I didn't.  

It is only the third week and I just can't even begin to tell you how hard the next few months are going to be for all of us.  I have never been so busy, or worked so hard in my life.  I am tired.  Bottom line, I am tired.  But you know Richard and I were talking last night (our first real conversation) about how hugely God has provided for us in a "I'm one step ahead of you" sort of way in just these three weeks.  Before we even knew that there was a need, the need was provided for.  I've really been blown away by it.  So I know God is present and I know He will provide.  I'm gonna make it to the top of this mountain, evev if the incline is steep!  What a gift to be reminded to keep my perspective in check; to keep my eyes on Jesus.  

I love my girls and struggle so much with what they don't have ... with what I am unable to provide when their Daddy is away.  But their perspective is so much better.  Gracious God; sweet girls.  

Another day down.  Not a perfect day, but a good day.  Thanking Him for the strength He provided me today and for the endurance He'll provide me with tomorrow.  


One day at a time ...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stars


Week one down.

We are keeping in step over here at 57 and have had lots of giggles and joy.
Richard is at his location and very motivated about his assignment.  
He met his counterpart and just thinks it's going to be a great next few months.

He is also enjoying seeing the stars again in the Middle East.
He says they are spectacular.

I love my PSYOPER.  
Wish I was looking up at the stars with him ...