The “Why Not?” Trip

About a year ago we started lightly kicking around the idea of taking time off work to travel. Now it’s actually happening. We are leaving in July. We expect to spend around 3ish months road tripping.

Only one campsite reservation has been made for one night, so the trip is pretty wide open. But so far it’s looking like….Montana, Canadian Rockies, BC, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

When we first started testing this idea of travel out on unsuspecting friends and family- we wanted to hear how it sounded coming out- did we believe ourselves? Could we really give this a try?

One of the best responses we received was from a family friend who shared this story:

It’s from a commencement address attributed to Brian Dyson, who held several senior management positions with Coca-Cola during his long career. He told a class of Georgia Tech graduates, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air: work, family, health, friends and spirit. You’re keeping all of these in the air.

“You soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. It will never be the same.”

We knew it was true.

And we realized this trip would be giving space for nurturing and growing our faith, relationships, and hopefully our health too.

If you live in or have connections in these areas and want to give us recommendations of places to see or people to stay with- we’d love to hear about it. Please share your tips in the comments!

It’s time to bounce that rubber ball! 

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Doing the Right Thing- Taking a Sabbatical

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Photo by Andy in Badlands National Park

Andy and I have made the decision to travel for a few months. A whole bunch of prayer, conversation, and planning with calculators, library travel books, and maps have led to this choice.

We talk about this travel time in a bunch of different ways. There are a couple words we keep coming back to in an effort to describe it. We’re hitting the pause button on our day to day life, or maybe more of a “reset.” A time to try something different.

Taking a few months off is a risk, to be sure. And this trip is also full of potential to be restful, refreshing, and maybe even life changing? It’s been a tough few years in some key areas of our lives, and we’re looking at this time as a sabbatical of sorts.

The word sabbatical comes from the biblical word “sabbath” which reflects the human need to stop and rest. Shabbat in Hebrew literally means a “ceasing”. Other language describes a sabbatical as simply a break from work.

While we are on our road trip we will take time to reconnect with each other, and with family and friends we’ll visit along the way. When we’re not bumming a spot on someone’s couch or spare room, we’ll be camping and exploring National Parks. 

In some ways, this was a really easy choice to make and in some ways it was hard. But mostly it came down to the fact that we had talked about it so much- we knew if we didn’t give it a try, we’d always regret it. And we knew if we actually did it, we’d never regret it. The short question we asked ourselves was, “Why not?”

I saw a photo of a piece of paper on Instagram recently with the handwritten words, “I did the right thing for me.” The note was a reminder for when they’re making big decisions filled with risk and possibility to make decisions based out of love instead of fear. I really like that way of thinking, especially as it relates to our desire to take this sabbatical.

After all the prayer, conversation and planning, in this moment of time– this is a good thing for us.

Does Grief Have a Timeline?

This morning as I was backing my car out of the driveway a song was just starting on the radio. It was a song that reminded me of Justin because he had said something about it once. “I almost stopped believin’ once, and I bet Journey was pissed!” So I smiled, laughed at the memory of how funny my brother was, and .02 seconds later I was full on ugly crying. I cried through the entire song, up the hill, through the stop lights and into a new town, until it ended. I hadn’t had a long cry like that over Justin in quite a while.

So I started thinking, it’s been over a year and the missing him waves can be just as strong as it was the moment he was no longer in this world.

A friend’s dad recently died and he describes the void in the world as a hole he lives with where his dad used to be. I saw an author say those feelings are the cost of loving deeply, and I think that’s true too. If there wasn’t such great love there, there wouldn’t be such great pain and grief without them.

Facebook memories reminded me this morning that a year ago, a friend posted a picture on my page of an hourglass that said, “There is no timeline with grief, take all the time you need.” I like that. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “done” grieving and I definitely don’t think grief is something to “get over” or “move on” from.

But I like the language about moving forward, in spite of the grief, continuing to live around this hole where our person used to be, acknowledging their life and the sadness of their absence for as long as we need to.

Even if it’s as long as we live.

 

Recent Reads- When we were on fire

This spring I started and finished Addie Zierman’s first book in two days, When We Were on Fire: A memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting over.

A friend recommended it to me based on her honesty in the book. My very favorite part was at the end during her Q & A. She was asked, “Where are you now in your spiritual life? What kind of church do you attend? What qualities attracted you to it?”

I would say that I’m still in the place of rebuilding and redefining what I believe. Our church journey was a long, difficult one. The church we ended up at in the final chapters of this book is not the one we attend now- though it was a safe place to land for a while. We connected with a few other couples and had a chance, for the first time, to share our story vocally and honestly. Our years there played a major role in my own journey of relearning to love “Church People” and in making peace with certain aspects of the evangelical world.

The church we’re at now is a small community church, and it’s really not all that different from any other church. But when we walked in, I could feel my heart expanding- and it was almost inexplicable to me, the suddenness of it. The pastor spoke, and he wasn’t saying anything new, but for the first time in years, I could hear it.

And I think in the end, you’re not really looking for “the right church.” You’re looking for yourself. Finding a church is about finding a place where your specific, beautiful heart can hear good news and take it all the way in. A place where they talk about God in a language you understand. A place where you can serve with your whole, broken heart and be healed in all that giving. 

I don’t really know. All I know is that we landed in this tiny church one Sunday morning and I felt entirely myself. And we’ve been there ever since.

This resonated so much with me because I’ve felt that heart expanding feeling before. When I got my driver’s license I visited a new church because it was the first time that I could choose to go somewhere on my own. They met in a large gym and we sat on wooden bleachers and I thought that was cool. I loved listening to the pastor and I remember walking up and challenging him on something he preached a few years later when I was in college. We disagreed, but he was kind. I wandered around a bit but kept coming back there for the next 10 years.

The next time I felt at home at a church was when I walked into a new (to us) church 8 years ago. We were there for five minutes when I turned to Andy and said, “Can we go here?” And we did, for 7 years. And so many wonderful things came out of that time. Deep friendships that feel like family. The opportunity for us each to serve in a bunch of different ways. Years of volunteering with teenagers who are simply amazing and many who have turned into incredible twenty-somethings that we still get to hang out with! There we learned the value of vulnerability by hearing others stories, told openly and honestly and in turn we were able to share our own.

In the last year I’ve felt that heart expanding-ness again at a new church (okay, technically it’s the same first church I found when I was sixteen but it’s changed and I’ve changed in the past 8 years). As I read Addie’s words, they rang so true. I can hear the good news and take it all the way in– in a language I understand and relate to. I look forward to the serving part. It’s been a year with very little volunteering and I think that’s okay. This season has required some extra space for healing.

Thanks Han, for suggesting that book. And thanks, Addie for writing true words.

Visiting Vegas

My dad and I started taking trips together after I finished college. On one trip I woke up early in the morning to text this guy I liked. I squealed when he invited me to a movie with him once I got back in town. Dad looked over and asked, “This is the last trip we’ll take together isn’t it?” I said no, of course not. Dad said, “I’m going to stand up at the wedding reception and say ‘I knew it was real when I heard her go oooooeeeee!'” Wouldn’t dad know it, a year later I married that guy.

This rainy spring, my dad and I went to Vegas for some sunshine. I had never been there before. My entire idea of what Vegas is like is from watching movies like Oceans 11. And yes, we totally stood in front of the Bellagio fountains and yes, they were magical at night!

On the ride from the airport I stared out the window at all the lights. When we got to the hotel there was a casino just inside the door. The casino ceiling was painted like a blue sky with clouds and the lighting made everything look like daylight even though it was 10 pm. I touched my face to confirm that yes, my jaw really was hanging open.

The hotel room had the tv on when we entered the room which temporarily made me think I was in the wrong room (it’s happened before). But when I noticed it was left on intentionally I realized aloud that there isn’t such a thing as silence in Vegas.

(*Side Note* We did actually find one quiet corner of Vegas by accident while wandering back to the hotel after wandering through Caesar’s Palace. All of the sudden we were in a mini-park with a water fountain and trees that had branches hanging over a bench for a little shade. We sat for a bit and enjoyed being just off the strip. With the fountain so loud we couldn’t hear the noise from the nearby street- it was one of my favorite parts of the trip.)

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Dad and I enjoyed the sunshine, the pool, a field trip to Zappos (nerd alert), Container Park where we ate some ridiculously good tacos, and we saw a Cirque show, Zarkana that was absolutely amazing. It had been on my bucket list for a long time and I loved it. My childhood dream of being on the flying trapeze was reignited. We also read books, ate some really good food (Burgr that Justin would have loved), walked around the city, but my favorite part was our conversation. We talked for hours on just about every topic possible. I loved that time together with my dad.

Dad was almost right when he asked if we were on our last trip together back in 2005. But eleven years later, we took another one.

Next time we won’t wait so long.