Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Goodbye Virginia

As I am typing this blog entry, we are somewhere in Ohio already on our cross country journey during our move from Virginia to Colorado.  Joel and I have now been married for 13 years. In that time frame we have had 4 kids born in 3 different states, and are now journeying to state #5 to have lived in and our 8th move. Yes we are veterans to this life but it never gets easier, especially when you have to watch your kids go through the pain on different levels every time. We have done our best to capture moments over the past few weeks and jam pack those days with quality friend time!

The moments started with our annual trip to Busch Gardens. It is free for military in the summers and we always take advantage of this! We also bring along "cousin Alyson" to help mange having kids running in every different direction.
 Jesse and cousin Alyson on the swings

 Josie is definitely not getting her license anytime soon!

 Anna's favorite ride is the swings. Since she nearly had a heart attack on the roller coasters last year, we didn't push the issue this year. We just kept riding the swings!

Asher is our roller coaster junkie! He rode every single one in the park 
(and a few he rode multiple times!)

We had farewell parties with Hawaii military friends, church friends, the swim team friends, and our neighborhood gang. The tears never seemed to end! I am just sitting here struggling with which pictures to post because there are so many dear moments.

Me and a few of my best running girlfriends. In a period of 6 months, my running gals have come to mean so much to me. They even surprised me with a girls farewell night out! This was my last run with the group...a beautiful 11 mile trail run. I cried the whole way home.

Joel with Graham Boutz, Jeff Beers, and Russell Foxworth-dear Hawaii friends. DC has been an amazing opportunity to reconnect with this group of friends. Funny how the military separates you but always brings you back together again! We had a blast hanging out a the base pool at this farewell. We had a diving competition and the girls worked together to perform a synchronized swimming show for the adults. Then the kids clung to each other at the end.

 Anna had one last sleep over with her best neighborhood (and swim team) gang: Ava, her, Jillian, Maddie, and Katie

 Jesse being silly with his swim team friends Jackson and Chance. They were doing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle poses. Jesse had a great first year on summer swim. He won his first blue ribbon which sent him squealing and running laps around the pool. He won it in the 25 breast stroke-all the other kid his age DQ'd! He also won the end of the year "Coach's Award" for his ability to always make the coaches laugh and hard work. He went to the moon and back when they awarded it to him at the end of the year banquet.

 Our summer swim team, the Ashburn Village Aqua Jets, has been such a blessing to us during our time in Virginia! We all made such amazing friends, felt like a part of our community, and watched our kids grow in joy and confidence. Our last swim meat was Divisional's where Asher's group won the most points in our Division in their age group of 9-10 year old boys. This group has also been his best friends over our 2.5 years here. This last meet was just another day for him to be with his friends. In his last race, the 100 IM, he won his heat and dropped time and qualified as an All Star-the joy on his face is a moment I will bottle up and keep forever.

Josie with our dear neighbor's daughter Heather Stone. The Stone family was...well, there are no words. Their 2 daughters are like members of our family. We were quite a spectacle to watch as we said goodbye each other-a mass of sobbing and tears. We can only pray that our new neighbors will be half as amazing as the Stone's!

Joel's last day in his Air Force uniform-bittersweet.

 And we are off! 
We were a little unsure there would be room for the kids.

Finn found his space!

Goodbyes are so hard. It has killed us to watch each kid walk through it in their own way. Although we are sad, we are so excited to see what blessings the Lord has in store for us as we go on this journey together. We have spent time praying for that space carved out for us in Colorado, a space with good neighbors, a friend for everyone, a running community, a church, great school experiences, a place to plant our feet and grow roots.

Monday, July 21, 2014

To Colorado We Will Go

I have left a lot of you in the dark about our upcoming move to Colorado. I have not done this on purpose but more because of the lack of information there has been to share. The past 4 more months leading up to this move have been quite a roller coaster and now that all the puzzle pieces are fitting together I am super excited to share the journey!

In early February, after much prayer and discussion, Joel applied to separate from the Air Force through a "buy out" program. That decision alone was one of agony as it is all we have known since we got married in 2001. We didn't find out until March 6 that Joel's application was accepted with official separation happening in September. There was no turning back! We felt like the whole world was at our fingertips. For 12 years the Air Force has told us where and when to go. Now we could go wherever we wanted! But where was that? We weighed areas we had always wanted to live, areas that were familiar, areas where our families lived, areas with the best job opportunities for him, and settled on a few choices. I wanted to head to Seattle (I think Joel was game with this) and then our back up was to stay with the familiar here in Virginia. But we stayed on our knees talking to the Lord about His will for our lives, asking for wisdom and His blessing. Every time I was deep in prayer over where to go I felt the Lord gently say to me "I already told you where you were going". Now I get to back up a little, but maybe a year ago when Joel and I were discussing whether or not to buy a house in Virginia, I had a dream that we were moving to Colorado this summer (summer of 2014). At that time I interpreted it as a sign that this was not our final home, and we decided not to buy a house. But now as I am praying, this dream vividly came back to me and I heard His urging. So then I finally get the guts up to go to Joel and say "Joel I want to move to Seattle but I believe the Lord has told me we are moving to Colorado....so if you see any job opportunity that way and in any way have a desire to look there, I am OK with it". Joel turns to me slack jawed and said "Oh my gosh Mary, I think God told me the same thing!". So then all efforts were put towards job hunting in Colorado with the prayer that if we were hearing wrong, then the Lord would make it clear. This whole process has kept us truly truly on our knees. At one point we finally decided that job or no job, we were moving to Colorado in August trusting in His provision. That is how confident we were in this calling. Every move we have made in the past 5 months has been a step in faith and the Lord fills in behind us as go.  It has been weeks of waiting and preparing and uncertainty. Joel landed a job interview for the one job he was the most excited about in late June and then had days and days of silence. July 10th comes around, and Joel and I head to Denver on an "area scouting" trip for 6 days without the kids. I had always prayed that this trip would end up being a house hunting trip but without a job, there was no way we would put an offer on a house. As we packed up the car, I was frustrated and wondering why we even going. Joel was very excited to pray over the area and decide at least what neighborhood of Denver we actually wanted to end up in. On the drive over (on his birthday), Joel got a job offer for the only job he has seriously interviewed for and had his heart set on.  Then we entered the "negotiation" phase which still left us unable to put an offer on a house. We did have a wonderful kid free time exploring our new home, falling in love with it more every day, but it was a time filled with a lot of anxiety as we waited every minute for the offer to be finalized. After looking at 20 houses, we decided on the neighborhood we wanted, fell in love with 2, and were still waiting. As we were sitting in the airport to come back to Virginia, Joel got the final job offer from Lockheed Martin, accepted, and we put an offer on our #1 house (with they accepted right away). I can't even explain the relief that has flooded over our lives having these giant pieces in place.  But it has not been an easy process by any means! I can't recall any other time in our married life that we have made decisions like this, stepping out in faith, being filled with His peace knowing we were going the right direction, but still having so much unknown! We are so excited to see what blessings He has in store for us in Denver, a move orchestrated by His amazing grace and provision. We pray that this is our final home and will be a place of stability for our family. We are so grateful (but now I have to learn what the word deductible means!!!). The movers arrive tomorrow and we plan to arrive in Denver on August 6th (school starts on August 12...yikes). Bon Voyage!

Our new home in Castle Rock, CO 
(we close on September 9th so fingers crossed the the whole process goes smoothly and it does in fact stay our home!)

 OK, so this picture is the day before we left. It has nothing to do with Colorado but it was my birthday on July 9th. I got Georgetown Cupcakes for my birthday and then Joel got a job offer on his birthday (July 10th)-YAY!

 Road tripping to Denver. We stopped in St. Louis for some amazing BBQ at Pappy's Smokehouse. Joel LOVES road tripping. Let's just say I was a little less than enthusiastic about 28 hours in the car over a 2 day time frame.

 Eating at the Cherry Cricket in Denver, CO-ranked one of the top 10 burger places in the US. We LOVE our burgers and it lived up to its name! Joel and I had a great time having "dates" every day without worrying about finding a sitter. Thank you Mom and Aunt Priscilla, Uncle Pat, and Alyson for taking care of the troops for us!

 I enjoyed a few runs while we were there, but running at 5,000 feet is NO JOKE! I was sucking wind bad. At one point during a run on the hotel treadmill I started feeling light headed and I though "how bad will it hurt to fall on a treadmill? What will these people around me do if I pass out?". But I didn't! It will definitely take some time to adjust to running there but I hear it will make me faster!!

 We went to a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

We saw the Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, and Plain White T's. I will not reveal how many songs we knew...we were totally there for the scenery! A truly breathtaking place.

I fell in love with it while we were there. I can't wait to enjoy it with my family!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

...And We Run!

So I LOVE the fourth of July! So what better way to kick off the holiday than with a 5K so that 2 of my loves can be celebrated on the same day! Sharing the event with my family made it even better. It was an awesome morning (I feel a new tradition coming on!). 

Asher and I both ran the Firecracker 5K in Reston Town Center, VA. Is was such a well organized event that truly celebrated the military and their service for our country. I was super happy to PR another race with a 22:56 (7:23 minutes per mile) 5K placing 7th in my age group. It has been a great racing season for me! Asher ran his 5K in 30:20 - he will be passing me in no time!

It was also joy to run this race with my Tuesday/Thursday morning Moms Run This Town (MRTT) running group. We have trained together for this race and it was so much fun to have the whole gang there. Such amazing encouragement! I started running with this group in April and in such a short time they have come to mean so much to me. I am going to hate leaving these ladies!

This picture just cracks me up! That is Asher to the left with the green socks and shoes on. He always lines up with the elites at the front. I am sure they give him some dirty looks but it never seems to bother him! Go Asher!

 Josie, Jesse, and Anna did the kids fun run. Josie is crossing the finish line with pure determination as Joel cheers her on. I think she is taking after her mother! She now keeps showing me how fast she is as she takes off down the sidewalk.

 Anna, another chip off the old block!

Jesse is the one right in the middle looking around taking it all in.

The Thorson runners proudly displaying their medals! 

Anna's biggest excitement of the day was running into Anna Duggar from TLC's 19 kids and Counting. Anna and I LOVE watching this show together and Anna was the one who spotted "the other Anna" and insisted to Joel on who it was! We knew her and her husband Josh Duggar had recently moved to DC but never thought we would actually tun into them! Josh Duggar did the 5K and his kids did the fun run. It was fun watching the cameras buzzing around them and we actually had a normal conversation with them-they were so nice and gracious. Our Anna was just glowing.

Then it was on to barbecue's and fireworks! I am so grateful to have had such a special morning with my family, being the proud momma watching my kids find joy in something that means so much to me. And again I am so grateful to Joel, my biggest supporter who always rallies behind me as I keep dragging us to races. I am so blessed. We pray you all also had an amazing holiday sporting your red white and blue and American flags and cherishing some precious family moments.