End of the line

This is coming a few days later than I had hoped. Sorry. I’ve been dealing with strep throat since the night I got back. Not exactly the kind of homecoming with Mandy I had been hoping for, but nevertheless I could not be happier to be home with my wife. We haven’t been able to do a whole lot since I did get home because I’ve been sick, but we have managed to go out to eat a couple of times and we went and watched a movie.

As Karen pointed out after the last post, we made it over halfway through the miles. I’m pretty impressed with that. I’m also thankful that so many people cared enough to read and donate miles for me and Mandy this past year. That and all the prayers were much appreciated. Plus, having other people posting miles was a good motivator for me on most nights to go and at least run a couple of miles at the gym. And I did need every bit of motivation I could find. Most days the past year I was so tired by the end of the day I didn’t want to do anything but sleep. The runs were good for stress relief though. Harder to be anxious about something when you’re completely worn out.

So for the past year I dropped from 241 when I got on the plane for Iraq to 211 when I got back off the plane at Fort Hood. Not where I wanted to end, but it’s something I suppose. Mandy and I are going to keep it up and try to drop a little more before we take off for Scotland in October. Hopefully we’ll be unrecognizable when we get to Ohio in October (and yes, we are going to find a way to make it down to visit the Florida crew!). 194 is my goal and I am going to get there if Mandy has to steal my fork from me.

The other accomplishment from this past year was that Mandy and I read the Bible from cover to cover. Now that I’m home, gonna start that one over and do it with some type of devotional and take some notes as well. Either way, I learned a lot through my reading this past year. Four chapters a night….not that hard.

Anyway, I’m gonna pass the computer over to Mandy and let her close out her portion. To everyone that read, posted miles, prayed, or just thought about it every once in a while, thanks and you have my love.

I can not thank you all enough for all of your prayers. There were many times when I cried to God to save Rod and struggled quite a bit with the balance between having enough faith to know that God will bring him home and worrying about his safety. Without a doubt, God’s unbelievable grace and your prayers are the only reasons I am not a widow.

Rod’s homecoming was pretty emotional. I thought he was mad at me the entire time he was in Kuwait because he hadn’t called me. Finally when he got to Ireland he called and said that he thought I was getting the emails from the Family Readiness Group about his movements (which I was but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to talk to him!). I guess it’s a man thing. I wish we had a picture to post of when we found each other but as soon as Rod found me we raced for the door to get his bags and go home. I think he likes the house really well which makes me kinda happy considering it took me a good month to get things the way I thought he’d like them…and the way I like them too! The doggies were elated to see him too. Yadier did his usual insane crying out, jumping all over the place, pouncing on Rod routine which is always a hoot to watch.

Like Rod said, we were able to read through the whole Bible which was a first for me. I’ve learned a lot and look forward to re-reading it and doing a little devotional to get us thinking about the deeper meaning of some of the passages we have read.

As far as my weight goes, I went from 175 to 180 and was 158 the day Rod came home. It’s definitely not as much as I had hoped to lose but I feel a lot better than I did last fall…or any other time this last winter/spring. My goal is to be at least 140 by the time we leave for Scotland. NOTE TO ALL: We do not intend on getting pregnant before that time! I think we’d both like to enjoy our time in Scotland without having to worry about morning sickness and my not drinking alcohol. I think everyone has made it pretty clear that they’re excited for us to have little ones of our own and, trust me, I’m excited to finally be at that point in my life where it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we did.

That’s all I’ve really got! I hope everyone enjoyed reading and keeping up…we love you, are praying for you always, and can’t wait to visit you all!

…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.   HEB 12:1

Miles:

Mandy: 5.77 miles

Rod: 2.20 miles

Phil and Karen: 10.25 miles + 13.08 miles

Meagan: 100 miles

3,777.35 miles left

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Almost done……3908.65 miles to go

Without going into specific dates for opsec reasons, this will be my last post from Iraq. I couldn’t be happier. I’ll probably try to make one more post from Kuwait before I get home for good, but the dangerous part is almost over. We obviously won’t get the miles tab down to zero before I get home, but like Mandy said, we finished the Bible reading and did it in well under a year. I finished the Old Testament about a week after my last post. I then went back and read Zechariah and Malachi again just to go over some stuff. I’m now finished with Matthew for the second time and into Mark. I’ll probably go back to the beginning with Mandy once I get back home so we can start over together.

I can’t believe this is finally almost over. This was the first time in three tours where I was actually nervous on a daily basis. The security agreement that our governemt allowed us to work in Iraq under was nothing short of criminal. Having to beg to be able to defend yourself for a year has definitely taken a toll on me and most of my fellow soldiers. It’s been enough (with some other concerns) to make me seriously doubt my desire to keep doing this. But none of that is is forefront in my mind now. Right now I can’t stop thinking that by this time next week I should be home with my wife.

We’ve been trying to plan a camping trip for labor day weekend, but unfortunately the drought has made most of the lakes around us in Texas and Oklahoma un-swimmable and un-fishable (I don’t think those are real words). Many of them have no water contact rules thanks to blue green algae forming in all of them. Either way, we’re finding a spot because we’ve already rented a trailer from MWR on Fort Hood for the weekend. I don’t care where we have to drive, I’m finding a spot to relax.

Well, this is getting cut short, we’ve just been called out for a quick brief. Hopefully this means some new information on when I’m getting out of this country for good. Here’s hoping I never have to come back.

Miles Run: 16.17

Miles donated: 32.05 from the Scotts

Bible read: Through Mark chapter 5.

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Light… 3,956.87 miles to go

I think it’s fair to say we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Despite being weeks away from having Rod home again, I’m trying to stay grounded and prayful because he’s not out of the dangerous woods yet.  This past month I have been finishing up two of my summer classes and am in the middle of my third one.  I’ve also been fixing up things around the house (within reason…being that it’s a rental)…stuff like washing the walls and fixing the caulking in the bathroom (it was HIDEOUS!).  I finally got the loft and spare bedrooms unpacked and ready for visitors too which is a really nice feeling.

My 4th of July was  pretty awful honestly.  I had planned on relaxing and not doing a darn thing all day but instead ended up running in the morning only to find out that the air conditioner went out…before the heat of the day even hit!  The rental company and their maintenance guys weren’t working because of the holiday but I got in contact with one of the maintenance off-duty guys who informed me that it was a holiday…like I didn’t know or something!  I resigned to being miserably hot and cried out of self-pity.  Thanks to a miracle from God, a maintenance guy stopped by around 1pm and fixed the air conditioner so that by bedtime it was again 75 degrees inside.

A week later my friend, Mary Beth, came back from Georgia where she was visiting family so I’ve had someone local to hang out with and talk to from time to time.  We have been to the pool and had dinner together.  Her husband was deployed to Iraq this past May so it’s nice to have someone wearing the same shoes as me who can feel the pain and loneliness of deployment.  I’ve also been able to meet some of the people living around me.  I feel much safer in this neighborhood than I did when we lived here last year and we have neighbors who seem to watch what goes on in the neighborhood too.  They noticed that it’s just me living here and that I have two dogs.  It would worry me except they all seem like good people.  We don’t have the obnoxious kids running through the streets like we had last year either and there aren’t sirens going off every evening either.

Speaking of violence and crime…you all have probably seen the news about the soldier arrested outside of Fort Hood who had the intention of doing some sort of damage on Fort Hood again.  Thankfully, the police reacted quickly enough and were able to foil his plan and everything is fine here so no worries!

With Rod’s insisting I’ve begun taking personal golf lessons with the hopes of being able play a decent game when we get to Scotland…without fighting about my form! :)  It has given me something else to occupy my time and I really enjoy golfing so I’d like to eventually be able to say I’m not too bad at it!  The trick is getting out there before the heat of the day hits.  I’ve gotta say, I’ve never wished for a tropical storm more than I have been for the last couple months.  The heat and humidity are just plain miserable!  Arizona and Kuwait were pretty hot but it was dry heat so it didn’t feel as bad.

As far as my running is concerned, I’m in a bit of a slump.  Not sure why…I want to workout but when I wake up in the morning I feel like crap!  Like I’m congested and my body just hurts…feels like I didn’t get a full night’s rest.  So I’ll sit down and watch some of the news while I drink a cup of coffee and maybe lay down on the couch and go back to sleep.  Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this…Rod’s going to think I’m being super lazy.  I don’t go back to sleep often…promise!

Bible Chapters: Ezekiel 21 – Zechariah 7

We’re finishing up reading through the Bible, which is more than I can say for our mileage.  It’s been a great learning experience and makes me want to keep reading or do a devotional or something to dig deeper into the text.  Rod and I are very interested in the history and significance in a lot of what’s in the Bible so that will definitely be a focus for us.  I think we’d both like to read through a bit slower than what we did this year in hopes that we’ll have more time to ponder and research what we’re reading.

Miles:

Mine: 29.84 miles

Grandpa: 10 miles (That’s 100 total miles! Thank you, Grandpa!)

Phil and Karen: 8.8 miles

Mom and Dad Deerfoot: 8 miles

-M (159.0)

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Iraqi summers, not a big fan…….4013.51

So I tried to go outside for a while to take on one of my soldiers in some basketball (yes, I put a ton of sunscreen on my bald noggin). It was a breezy 125 today when we went at about 1400. By breezy, think standing behind a window unit air conditioner as it expels the hot air and just letting it blast you in the face. Needless to say, we didn’t even make it for forty minutes before I had to stop. My teeth were buzzing and I seriously thought I was going to puke or pass out or both. I really don’t like this place.

So I’ve finished up Ezekiel and moved into Daniel. The last few books Mandy and I have read have made numerous mentions of Babylon. That is exactly where I am at, in Babil province (Arabic for Babylon). We aren’t really that far away from the ruins of ancient Babylon. When I found out last year that this was where we would be going, I was hopeful that the security situation would be good enough that I might be able to go by the ruins some time. I seriously don’t see that happening. I’ll save my personal thoughts for actual conversation, but sometimes, I admit, I find myself cheering for the destruction of this place in the Old Testament. Either way, I can say without reservation that when this contract is up, if the US is still at war with any country over here, I’m walking away from the Army. I’ve been in ten years and this is my third deployment. I’ve been lucky. Many are on number four or five. The current projection from the Department of Defense is that they want to TRY to be able to give us two years at home for every year deployed. If that’s the case, I’m looking at a MINIMUM of three more years in cesspool countries away from my wife just to be able to retire after twenty years of service. The pension and health care benefits just aren’t worth that. Especially not considering that I could be making much more money with my degree. REALLY not worth it considering our wonderful government can’t seem to pay their bills now so who knows if that pension and retirement will even be there in ten years.

Sorry for the rant. Honestly, I’m just tired. I miss my wife and I’ve missed out on the better part of ten years with my family to help provide “freedom” to countries that weren’t on the enlistment oath I took. I got to watch my youngest brother play football once. Once. I missed out on much of his years growing up and now he’s a grown man about to graduate college. I can’t complain about it all, because without the Army I wouldn’t have Mandy and her family. Right now though, I’m ready for some folks in D.C. to say “Enough” and mean it and start focusing on the citizens of this country like they were elected to do. It irritates me to no end that most people I speak to these days can tell me more about some stupid TV show than they can about the policies and intentions of the people they vote for. It’s really no wonder these snakes are running our country into the ground.

I’m tired. Be home soon though. Please keep praying because this place is getting worse if you’ve noticed (if the news even mentions it) and it’s going to keep moving that way before it gets better. Love you all and thanks for the prayers you’ve already made.

Totals through Sunday

Miles run: 14.81 (Almost have my five mile time down to 40 minutes, which is the Army Ranger minimum. Not that I’m thinking about doing that, but I’d like to be able to say I could at least run their minimum).

Miles donated: 8.1 from the Scotts

Bible read: Through Daniel chapter 4

Weight: Not sure, but I will be under 200 before I step off the plane.

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How time’s-a been flyin’! 4,036.42 miles to go…

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I last posted on the blog.  I honestly didn’t mean to drop off the map!  My mom flew out to Arkansas to help me finish packing up and take a mini tour around northwest Arkansas.  I think she had a pretty good time and fell in love with the natural beauty…despite being a bit of a work horse (sorry again Momma!).  She was really a trooper cause then she hopped in a packed down car and helped me get everything down to Texas without losing clothes and boxes on the highway.  My father-in-law, Gary, and Paul met us in Killeen to help us move everything out of the storage unit…so, another long day for all of us.  I couldn’t have made this move without them all…thank you again!

After the storage unit was empty our focus was on unpacking the extreme amount of boxes in the garage and scattered around the house.  Mom and I finished the garage, shed, kitchen, and master bedroom before we finally took a break and had some fun down in Austin.  Ever since she left to go back to Ohio it has been a slow but steady process to finish off the remaining boxes in the loft/office area and the spare bedrooms.  Did I mention I was in the middle of two accelerated summer classes through all this?!  The weight is finally starting to come off my shoulders though.  I’m done with one of the classes and finishing up another here at the end of this week.  Then I’ll start my last summer class the following Monday.

Our backyard was mostly leaves and rocks…very little grass…so I’ve planted seed and have been slowly growing grass so the doggies don’t track dirt and dust into the house.  I know it’s only a rental but it’s worth not having to dust every day for the next year and a half/2 years! :)  I’ve also been dealing with birds trying to eat my tomatoes and blueberries and strawberries…so I had to build a wood box (4 feet tall, 4 feet deep, 6 feet wide) and stapled plastic “wildlife” netting to keep them out.  They’ve been pretty pissed ever since…hehe!  I did have to deal with a dead lizard that got stuck in the netting yesterday.  YACK!  There are some things that I like Rod to handle…dead animals is definitely one of them!

Anyway, the house is starting to feel like home and I’m a lot more comfortable here than I was when we lived here before…sleeping a lot better and all.  Now if I could just figure out a running path and schedule I’d be doin’ even better.  Thankfully, I’ve been able to lose weight still.  I’m down to 164 (lost 14 inches total) and feeling great.  The shorts I couldn’t wear last summer are starting to fit better which is just more motivation to keep going.

Well, I guess that’s all I have really!

Bible Chapters: Isaiah 29 – Ezekiel 20

Had to catch up on some chapters but I’m finally up to where Rod is.  Isaiah was a fairly long read and unfortunately got a little monotonous.  Jeremiah was the same and Judah was making me angry.  By the time I got to Lamentations and they were whining about how God had betrayed them I was ready to throw my book.  I see the importance of Lamentations…if you really are grieving it could be a bit of a comfort or give some guidance on dealing with your grief but I don’t think the Jews had much reason to feel betrayed by God considering they are the ones who betrayed the covenant they made with God.  To say the least, I’m excited to be on to Ezekiel! :)

Miles:

Me: 4.3 miles (gotta get this up!)

Grandpa Williams: 10 miles

Momma Deerfoot: 4.5 miles

Josh: 59 miles

Phil and Karen: 26.1 miles

-M (164.0)

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4140.32 miles to go and not much time left!

Which means we probably won’t get down to zero by the time I get back.  That’s ok.  I’ve had fun doing this.  Managed to get in somewhat decent shape, and drop some weight.  Still have about twenty pounds to go, but I’m holding out hope that I’ll be able to reach my goal before I leave here.  Just gonna have to kick it up a notch.  Plus, I’ve had a good time interacting with everyone donating miles, even if the interaction is for the most part over the internet.

On another note, I got promoted two days ago.  I couldn’t be more relieved to have this promotion.  Plus, it was one of the milestones I had marked on my calendar to let me know that I was getting close to being out of here.  I pray harder and harder every day just to get back in one piece to Mandy and never have to come back over here.

Anyhow, here’s a pic of the promotion ceremony.

Well, that took me about fifteen minutes to get the picture to upload properly.

I just got back from the gym and I stink, so I’m going to go get cleaned up.

TOTALS THROUGH FRIDAY

Miles Run: 16.53

Miles Donated: 57-Josh, 22.01-the Scotts

Bible Read: Through Jeremiah chapter 40

Weight: 215

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Hitting the home stretch…..4235.86 miles to go

Well, I’m past the three-quarters mark now.  It’s been a good while since I’ve posted anything.  It’s been an absolute whirlwind since I got back.  I’m just now getting caught up with everything.  Every time I think I’m about to get over the hump, something new comes up and I’m back even further.  I’m sleeping in my office now.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  I actually like it.  I can wake up, put on a pot of coffee, lay back down for a minute, and then get up and start the day without all the normal walking a quarter of a mile to get to a bathroom or shower or to work.  I’m kind of lazy like that I suppose.  My dream job would seriously be something, anything I could do from home.

It didn’t take me as long to get back into the swing of things as I thought it would.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate being here and don’t want to be here, but I jumped right back in.  I had no choice.  Plus, the dirtbags over here gave me some wonderful “welcome back” gifts to let me know they missed me.  That’s always good motivation to get in gear.  The biggest shock about getting back is the weather.  We were pushing 100 when I left.  It was in the 70s most of the time I was home thanks to all the storms.  When I stepped off the plane it was 118.  I don’t think it’s been lower than 110 since I got back, and we haven’t even reached the hottest part of the summer yet.  When you’ve got all your gear on, you just sweat like crazy and you can’t ever seem to drink enough water.  I’m definitely looking forward to the cool, overcast weather in Scotland this fall.

I threw a ton of hard work right down the drain when I came home.  I gave up on eating healthy about, oh, two hours after we got back.  I really screwed up Mandy’s work too because she was eating all that mess with me.  I put on eight pounds while I was gone.  Thanks to the pace of work, I haven’t really taken any of it back off either because finding time to go to the gym can be hard when you have to pull 30 hours straight thanks to mission requirements.  I am not coming home weighing over 200 pounds though.  I’ve got about two months to make my goal and I plan on being there when I step off the plane in Texas. 

Mandy is in Texas right now getting the house started.  We found a place right outside of base about 200 meters from the house we were living in.  I’m excited we got this place because we are familiar with everything in the neighborhood already.  The best part, though, is that I can be home from my office on Fort Hood in about seven minutes, meaning I can come home and see my wife at lunch daily.  Plus, we’ll save a ton of money on gas being so close, especially since it’s been creeping up around four stinking bucks a gallon.

I’m up to Chapter 60 on Isaiah.  I love this part of the Bible.  I’m going to have to go back and read it again with Mandy once I get home, because there are so many passages that I want to discuss with her and get her ideas and share mine.  I really am blessed to have a wife who enjoys just sitting in bed and reading the Bible with me and then taking the time to chat about what we just read.  There are so many other things about her, I could go on forever.  But seriously, I don’t think I could possibly imagine my life with anyone else.  There is not one single thing that I want to do that I don’t want her right by my side enjoying it with me.  Lucky for me, just about anything I love to do, she loves doing just as much.

Anyhow, I’m going to go stretch out and hit the sack.  Just finished up at the gym about 45 minutes ago and if I don’t stretch before I sleep, I won’t be able to move tomorrow morning.  Thanks for all the continued prayers.  See you all soon.

Totals through Thursday:

Miles run: 13.55

Bible read: Thru Isaiah 60

Weight: 216 :(

 

 

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