As much as I pray and trust God with our future, there are times that a roaring voice interrupts my thoughts and I must silence it by leaning on Him.
It’s the voice that wants to bring up the “what if’s”, the one that wants my own place to rest my head and call home because living on the road for 8 months makes you long for that. The voice that wonders if we will go through more financial hard times in the immediate future. I also worry if my hip surgeon will tell me there is no hope. I usually push these feelings away quickly and convince myself to stop being ridiculous.
This week we have our own home for a few days at a YWAM base, which is the most amazing feeling ever when you have not had your own personal space to think or relax much! On Tuesday we make our way to WA and land “home” on Friday. This is when I will see my hip surgeon and Josh will start working on his future job options. We will have temporary housing for most of the summer if needed.
Onto what we did this past week!
On our way out of Colorado we visited The Garden of the Gods on Sunday, then stopped by Arches National Park in Utah on Monday and ended the week with 2 days at Yellowstone in Wyoming.
I still cannot express how much beauty and open land there is in this country! I hope you enjoy the tiny pieces I captured of these amazing places.
Most everywhere we have gone has been wheelchair accessible. If not, I walk the equivalent of a couple of blocks with my walking sticks and sit down somewhere and enjoy the view while the family explores.
Arches is a drive-through park with many stops to park and get out, but once you are out of your car, it is not very wheelchair friendly. I understand this because it could take away from nature to build a smooth path to the arches.
Being determined not to let my pain stop me from enjoying life, I set foot, and I mean I set one foot in front of the other without looking back and made it to the top of one of the arches! I shared this moment with my daughters and got a photo to remember that I chose to not let my pain stop me. NOW, this did mean that I had intense pain for the remainder of that day and night with moments of nausea, pain and discomfort for several days after. But I’m thankful I can do these things if I choose too! The pain is always there, but it becomes worse with the more movement I do, so I sit when I can.
I will admit that I underestimated Wyoming. When I think of vacation I often think of somewhere warmer, like California, Florida, Mexico, or Hawaii - Never Wyoming. I have since changed my mind! It’s beautiful! There are so many options and some are things you can't do in bigger tourist town.
Ranches are available as a bed and breakfast, but with dinners and horse back riding too. Skiing in the winter is crazy popular and a visit to Yellowstone (You’ll want 2 days to do this) in the spring and summer. The drive alone is breathtaking. Mile after mile of fields and mountains to be seen, along with wild deer, free range cows and other wildlife. It’s so peaceful….so peaceful I allowed myself a nap or two on those long driving days! ;)
For those of you curious why there are geysers and why the water and mud boil at Yellowstone, here is an article that explains it much better than I could! http://www.livescience.com/18813-yellowstone-hot-water-source.html
We have been well taken care of these past 8 months, and with many surprises along the way. We've received hospitality from complete strangers, giving us warm meals and a safe place to sleep.
We've visited old friends and family who have moved around the US.
We've also been able to get discounts at attractions, as well as hitting as many free ones as we can. We've experienced all the seasons, even having a break from the cold in Florida.
We have sacrificed having a home and security, but we've gained a lifetime of memories and a closer relationship as a family.
I know we're going to miss some crazy aspects of this lifestyle, but I think you'll find me enjoying the normally of life for quite a while!
We have less than 2 weeks till our tires hit home soil! (Washington State)
We passed through 4 states this week. The highlights were The Arch in Missouri, another free zoo for the kids, Garden of the Gods in Colorado and seeing old FRIENDS! Oh - and we celebrated our 16 year wedding anniversary. :)
For someone afraid of heights, I was pretty brave! All I had to do was think about how much I would regret not sharing an experience with my family, and I chose to fight the fear and do it. I'm not only pushing myself, but I hope I am setting an example for my children to not let fear get in the way of something you want to do!
Once inside the arch, the view is spectacular. The space is very narrow and folks move along quickly to accommodate all the tourist. Josh did mention how he had to not think about the fact that there was just air below us!
We toured 4 state capitals this week. Each building is built with something unique to its state or to what the builder chose for time period or personal liking.
Here are the top 2 favorite photos from each one.
The Kansas capital boast copper stairs, the Colorado's pride is rose onyx used all over the building, Illinois capital was very colorful...and the Missouri capital was beautiful with impressive stained glass windows but we were not able to enjoy it with all the protestors yelling under the rotunda -which is "great" for acoustics.
While in Illinois we took the opportunity to tour Lincoln's home and burial site. It's always a great opportunity to see the places where people who once influenced our nation spent their daily lives. We also learn a bit of their culture and time period.
After the first 2 or 3 sons were born the Lincoln's added another story onto their home. They did so with the inheritance Mary Todd received from her parents. The addition has taller ceilings than any other houses in that area due to Abraham's height.
*Notice the colorful wallpaper and carpets in the bedrooms. In order to clean the floors, the maid would have to pull the carpet up in strips, shake it out, place it back down and sew the strips back together!
While in Colorado we stayed with my friend Diane and her husband Trent. We were so fortunate to not only be with them, but to be there during our anniversary so that my kids could be with people we trust while we got a much needed date night out!
While there, I found out my former coworker and friend, Ladawan was visiting her daughter Jan and we stopped by for a quick visit, some hugs and a photo. This woman was a source of comfort with her kindness each day at work while I went through one of the hardest times in my life many years ago. I'm so honored to know her!
Next week I will be sharing thoughts I have been having about transition, as it will be only one week till we arrive home. There are a lot of changes and unknown ahead. But life often has stages like this and we take it one day at a time, trusting in the process.
Till next week!
I've had more time to read and think this week, and also to enjoy being a tourist. Sometimes the things we do feel like a check off list because we are either trying to do something outdoors in miserable weather or trying not to stress because we have to get to our next location in good timing (Of course, spring is here, so this part of the trip is much more enjoyable with spending so much time touring outdoors!).
Our time in Indiana and Michigan was enjoyable. We visited both state capitals and stayed with some very hospitable host families. But the most fun was Chicago!
Here are some favorite photos of our time in Indiana & Michigan.
During our travels, we have been blessed with some amazing hospitality. What makes it amazing? Well, that's what I've been asking myself. We appreciate every home that takes us in and have had positive experiences and memories with every family. But I've been asking myself, "How can I give the kind of hospitality to others that has meant so much to me?"
I have tried to put my finger on what it is and of course there are some things that make being hosted more comfortable, but this weekend I think I found out what the difference is. It's the attitude you have towards your home. At least that's the way I see it.
This weekend our hosts Laura and Mitch (Laura is a childhood friend of my husband's family), welcomed us into their home and made us feel that we were not just welcomed as a polite gesture, but as people who they wanted to enjoy life with - and enjoy life we did - Pizza, parks, a backyard BBQ, and lots of play time for the kids!
From now on, when I welcome others into my home, I not only want to have a cozy place for them with good food, but I want to have the attitude that my home is a place for others to feel at home and not just a place for them to relax a while. I feel this is the biggest difference in the way we do hospitality. We can view it as inviting others into our homes, OR inviting them to share life with us as they enter our homes. I prefer the later and am so thankful for this revelation.
Here are the photos of the fun weekend, including Chicago deep dish pizza, and a downtown park for the kids to enjoy!
Our 8 month tour is coming to end and as we head west, I keep having the feeling that we are SO close, but yet so far away...because it's true. We still have much land to see and are looking forward to the connections we make and the things we find to do in each state for the next 3 1/2 weeks.
This Friday is our 16th wedding anniversary. We will be staying with my friend Diane in Colorado and she will be watching our girls while we have a date - what a blessing!!
We do hope to celebrate with a little more time away when we get home. I think after 8 months of sharing the space of a car and many hotel rooms with your kids, it's ok to have some expectations for alone time! ;)
We saw both sides of the falls this week. :)
On Monday, we saw the Canadian side and endured the fierce breeze with ice cold splashes of water coming off the falls - right onto us pedestrians! However, it’s a very impressive view from that side of the border.
After crossing, we stayed with an old friend of my husband’s in the city of Niagara Falls, New York and were able to see the US side a couple days later. It isn’t as magnificent, but you actually get a lot closer – and the weather was better that day. So, if you have the chance to go, I recommend making it a 2 day trip so you can see BOTH sides.
We headed off to Cleveland Ohio for a few days and I was able to visit my grandparents old house, where I spent several summers growing up. I loved this place. Running through sprinklers in swimsuits, fresh beans from the garden, placing pennies on the railroad track just past their property, and causing trouble with my cousins are just some of the memories I have. I was so thankful to have my husband and children see the place of so much joy from my childhood years.
I also visited my grandparents grave site. Something I thought I would never be able to do living on the other side of the US. This trip has allowed more opportunities than thought possible.
This week was just what I needed. We had no schedule or expectations.
The weather was perfect and the beach was within reach, so we took advantage of our situation and enjoyed a couple hours at the beach both Thursday and Friday. The sun on our skin felt amazing and the tranquility fed my soul what it's been missing with the busyness of the past few weeks.
An early Mother's Day!!
We celebrated Mother's Day on Friday and it was a perfect day. After a couple hours at the beach, we cooled off with an ice cream treat and later that night attended a Cleveland Indian's game!
Every year I ask to see a baseball game for my birthday but it's always over our budget (never stops me from asking though!), So this year my husband knew how much it would mean to me to see an Indian's game - because this was the place I fell in love with baseball.
Anytime my sister and I were able to visit Ohio while growing up, my uncle would take us to an Indian's game. Now my daughters will share this memory too!
Oh, and the place that looks like an outdoor arcade is a play area in the stadium for kids - how great is this?! There is a large indoor area that is fully staffed for young one's who get bored during the game. I think other ticket holders appreciate this as much as the parents as it keeps active or bored kids out of the seating area!
We're in Indiana now - Our 31st state! We will have covered 40 states by the time we hit home next month.
In closing, I want to share some photos of today in Columbus Indiana where church members spoiled us with a great lunch out at this historical diner.
Afterward we visited a beautiful park where we rested before heading to another church for the evening. ...By the way, pretzel buns are my new favorite! ;)
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there!!
Quebec was our first stop over the border last Monday. We ended up with a killer deal on a hotel thanks to Expedia and then used points to upgrade AND get discounts- thank goodness it was all used for a more expensive hotel!
We heard about a Notre Dame in Quebec and considered not touring because of the admission. HOWEVER, we are SO glad we went (I feel like I say this a lot but with being unemployed, we do have to be careful!).
Anyway, as you can see, this place could not be more impressive. Actually - the highly decorated and ornate stage was once a VERY large stained glass window. They had removed it years ago because it was built facing the east, so every Sunday, the sun would be blinding everyone in the pews! However, I do wonder if people listen on Sundays with so much to look at. I know having beauty in a church building is important in many churches and cultures. I can appreciate that, but personally would have a hard time focusing on the message.
We had some unique experiences while in Quebec, like trying "Pizza Pizza" brand for the first time (really good cheap pizza by the way!) and ate lunch at a Lebanese restaurant that made my taste buds oh so very happy. We also walked a good mile or 2 that day around the city, enjoying the culture and old buildings.
We were hosted by a family whom the husband works for a Member of Parliament (very similar to a US congressman) and were fortunate enough to be treated to lunch in the parliament building with our hosts and the M.P. It was a unique opportunity and we learned a little more of how the Canadian government works as well as enjoying some amazing food.
Lynette (our host) is originally from Trinidad and spoiled us with a curry dinner - both nights! It was served with authentic flat bread - stuffed with smashed peas. YUM!
Having a home cooked meal is always appreciated. One of my wish lists is to take cooking classes so I can better show love to those I serve through food. I can't wait to have a kitchen again and start practicing meals so we can have a turn hosting others!
BLESSED ~In Toronto, Canada...
We consider ourselves blessed in life because we have a relationship with God and know He watches out for our best interest. However, there are times where we are in need and God provides. This was one of those times. We were in need of encouragement, support, and connection with community - all the things you would get from a church family - and we received that this weekend.
We connected with a pastor in the area after he read Josh's book and began tweeting quotes from, Radically Normal. Josh connected with him and was invited to speak at their church. This is what brought our USA tour to Canada. How fun is that?!
They spoiled us all weekend. My kids made new friends, we had a host family give us our own room, good food and conversation. We had play time in the sunshine, a visit to a local ice cream store, and the pastor's wife and I even got in a little shopping time-without kids! :D
Here are some photos of the pastors family and us enjoying our time together.
We are back state side today with 2 nights in New York. We are down to less than 5 weeks till we transition back into "normal" life. But still many memories to be made - like my Mothers Day gift I can't wait to share about in next weeks post!!!
Till next week! Marilyn