Farewell to Washington

Washington has been a beautiful, glorious rest.

From the sweet family we’ve spent time with, to the kind and gentle people we’ve loved, to the majestic mountains and woods.

Every day has been restful, a blessing in the midst of all of our decisions and emotions this month.

We’ve had to drive to find it most days. but we’ve even had the gift of a bit of Christmas snow.

We’ve had time to figure things out and find peace, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Like mountains shrouded in coming snow, our paths are sometimes unclear.

But we can be certain that a glorious path lies ahead of us, just beyond what we can see.

That’s what faith is all about.

I’m grateful for this place and all it has taught me.

Though it was only meant to be a small part of our journey, I’ll have it in my pocket wherever I go.

Our people

I’ve written so much about this year without writing about it at all.  I’m sorry about that.

This week, so much has come to a defining point for me.  There is so much this week that might have been.  I find myself, at every moment, choosing, again and again, God over myself.  That’s good.  It’s a good place for me to be.

“Grief is messy.”  Grief, at the core, makes me want to run.

We have been celebrating Christmas and all its joys this week with the town that we are currently visiting.  At first glance, it is almost sad.  We are longing for home.  This isn’t our town.  These aren’t our people.

But, if I’ve learned anything on our journey, I’ve learned that they are all our people.

I’ve learned, more than ever, that everyone has a story, and everyone is connected, and that we belong to each other.  People are good and kind, and too often, we cut ourselves off from each other in an effort to save face or be strong.

The more we travel, the more I sit back quietly and listen.  I listen hungrily to all of the voices around me.  Some I’ve come to know more intimately, some I’ve passed in the shop and will never see again.  But each has left a piece of themselves with me.

I sat in church last Sunday with our grandparents, in a chapel full of people I have never met.  I cried as I listened to them share their joys and their deep, deep sorrows, asking for one another’s prayers.

 

I think when we run away emotionally, we forget that we have each other.  We forget that we are connected and that we all hurt and that we all want to help.

That’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this.  One of the great healing gifts we have is each other.

I have been floored lately, as so many people have contacted me in some way to let me know that they have been reading in this space.  So, to each of you who have listened to me this year, thank you for being part of me.  Merry Christmas, my friends.

Cascading

“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”

-John Muir

I believe our parks have two great secrets.  One is nighttime.

The other is winter.

I have dreamed of seeing the Cascades for years.  The girls and I had the park entirely to ourselves…miles and miles of frozen cascades.

We were lost in wonder.

Time stood still.

It was a moment of rest, a glimpse of heaven and who we really are.

“By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs — now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in the fullness of time an outburst of organic life.”

-John Muir

Family

The weekend was magical.

We took a trip to Whidbey Island, a place made special by those who live there.

Great-grandparents were loved and soaked up as much as possible in the short time we had.

I can’t begin to describe the healing love of family this week.

As my own heart has worried over various trials in our life, I have been swept up in genuine love this weekend.

 

Sitting in church together, kids helping spin salad.

Visiting around the table, hugging lots of teddy bears.

Sharing stories, trying not to slip on ice.

Laughing till we cried at trying to get a picture together.

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Tearful goodbyes and happy, happy memories stored away.

Arriving home tired, to then find exciting help from my mom with a Christmas present I am making the kids, as well as a box filled to the brim with Christmas magic from Matt’s mom.

Ornaments for our sweet, tiny tree.

I cried, truly, unwrapping them, because of the warm embrace of love I felt, from those who love and know us.

Each one a sweet memory of home and what we love.

Christmas and family are in my heart tonight, though I am far from home and loved ones again.

Love remains.

A very camper Christmas

Adventure and all, it’s Christmastime in the camper.

Preparations are underway for a very small, simple Christmas.  The best kind of all.  Our happiest Christmases have always been the simplest.

As rain pours around us, and our feet are constantly wet, we are warm, safe, and happy together.  I’ve looked forward to this all year.

Love makes it magic.  Love makes it Christmas.  May your days be merry and bright this month!

Launch out into the deep

“He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets…”

Luke 5:4

I have been amazed at the changes in myself during this past year.  I asked to know Him, He has given me a path, and I have launched into the deep.

The path is continual.  I admit, I was relieved to see my birthday approaching, that this near-drowning year may end.  But in my heart, I have known that any true path of commitment never ends.

My will is, again and again, the greatest gift I can offer.  To give something I dearly love and want in order to become what He wants.  Trusting that what He has in store is even more right for me than what I so dearly wanted.  Trusting that hope and happiness lie ahead.

So, I cast away from the shore, and launch out into the deep.  I will let my nets down and trust.

Take a look inside

So many people have asked me lately what it’s like to camp for so long with so many kids.

I think that the biggest question I get is, “Do you actually all fit?”

The answer is, yes. Yes, we do.

Even this drooly guy. :)

There is somehow a nook and a cranny for everyone.

We’ve been on an incredible adventure, and I feel blessed for a camper that has sheltered us like home.

There is room for everything that matters.

The key has been to live much more simply, and I believe it’s something anyone could do.

The lessons in a simple life are profound.

Life slows down and becomes much more focused.

Though laundry and dishes are long processes, life still feels so much less cluttered than it once did.

I don’t think that we will ever go back to having quite such a complex life again.

So, while I must admit, I am pining away for Yellowstone and my dear Tetons, I want to give you a tiny glimpse into the home that holds all of our love while we are adventuring.

Everywhere there are little reminders of where we’ve been and things we’ve done and places we have fallen in love with.

Each one is a sweet reminder, and usually an integral part of our day and play.

Each daughter has her own little corner, featuring a painting of her that I did last year.

At night, stars glow overhead.

I’ve learned, more than ever, that “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Though we look forward to real roots again, we are together, and together, we are home.

Home is where your heart is set in stone
Is where you go when you’re alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It’s not just where you lay your head
It’s not just where you make your bed
As long as we’re together, does it matter where we go?

-Gabrielle Alpin

A decade and a dream

When she was six years old, she saw Soul Surfer.

She’s never been the same.  Something in her clicked on, and every day since then has been all about surfing.  On Saturday, she turned ten.

I have wondered how in the world this mountain-dwelling family would give our daughter such a different dream.  Luckily, the Lord has even this little girl in the palm of His hand.  It’s amazing to me how a way was provided.

So, for her tenth birthday, our daughter learned (or at least began to learn) how to surf.

She had an excellent and patient teacher.  Even so, watching my baby walk out into the surf was enough to stop my heart.

It was a small taste of what is to come in my life…all too soon, I will let them each go, to fly to their own dreams.  Luckily, each of us is given the right people in our path to help us on our way.

Surfing isn’t an instant skill for most people.  So, as with any new thing, there are obstacles to be met and fears to overcome.

On her first try, she got up, but the rush of the water under her feet was both terrifying and thrilling all at once.  It got her into her head a bit.  She struggled after that.  Luckily, her teacher was patient and gave her lots of breaks and calm pep-talks.

Just when I was worried that she didn’t have any more in her, when I was worried that her fears would overcome her and that she would be left with a feeling of failure, the troops arrived.  Her sisters, her dad, and her dog came running down the sands, yelling, cheering, and overjoyed at her efforts.  All it took was a hug from her dad, and she was a new woman.  She would do this.

She didn’t completely pop up, but she made it up to her knees and rode the wave.  It was enough.  She overcame that fear and felt the thrill of the ride on her last try.  More than that, she felt the thrill of courage.

And it struck me…this is what a family is.  This is what a family can do.  A family doesn’t say, “Hey, sorry kid, you live in the mountains.  We don’t surf here.”  A family can make dreams happen.  A family overcomes their own fears in order to let you dream.  It took all the love I had to let her go out there.  But most of all, when you feel like you’re failing, when you feel like you can’t succeed, when you feel like you’re on your last breath, your family comes roaring down the sands telling you that you can do this.

This is what a family does.  Blessed, blessed am I, to have a family like this.

 

 

Worldwide.

 

Worldwide.

WORLD. Wide.

It still amazes me.

It really started to sink in when I started getting emails from Portugal, Australia, London…

Pennsylvania, Portland, and so many other places.

I really can’t describe how it felt to join with people all over the world like that.

It was like watching a miracle unfold, right in front of my eyes.

Sometimes, I get so discouraged.  So discouraged.

Sometimes I feel like the crazy lady on the street corner, yelling and shouting and begging someone, anyone, to listen.

There are times when I just want to quit, but I can’t.  I loathe apathy.  Congo is just something I can’t ignore, no matter how hard paying attention may be.

So, I keep going, wondering if anyone will hear.

And then, a rush of love so great I literally have no room to receive it.

It filled my heart and then ran over.

Just as I despair at mankind’s apathy, I marvel at its generosity.

Yoga, love, and donations, from all over the world.  Some small, some so very great, and all so completely perfect.

I am amazed at what love does.

It changes everything.

I am made new by your love, and now, we have four sisters who will be, as well.

Thank you.

Overwhelmed

one day

I don’t have the words tonight to even begin to talk about it, but I will soon.  If you’re reading this and you did yoga, I just want to say thank you.  I am amazed at how this cause makes me physically hurt at people’s complacency and ache with love for good, good people, all at once.

More soon.  I love you. xo.