Years ago I believed God told me I would write my life story. I was not ready then and I knew it. So I prayed and waited - waited to see what He would do in my life to prepare me for such a thing, and now I can say that it’s time.
I have reached a place in life where I have overcome, healed, been restored and am rising above the ashes of my old life - a very dark and lonely place. If it wasn’t for running to the feet of Jesus and fighting for my mental, emotional and spiritual health, I would not be where I am today. Everything I owe, I owe to Him… and to those who stood as His hands and feet on this earth, making a difference in my life. They taught me that I was worthy of God’s love and respect from others.
Now I want to teach others the same thing. Because I believe that EVERY story and person matters.
I believed the lies for too many years that I was stupid, ugly, and worthless. This meant I was not worth other people’s attention or time. I was not worth giving myself what my body needed in order to be cared for, or to look my best, and often didn’t contribute to conversations because I believed I didn’t have anything of value or intelligence to give.
When I close my eyes, I see millions of people out there who are just like I once was. Wanting to be set free and live life without the blanket of shame, despair, hopelessness, doubt, etc. God has called me to stand on their behalf, to give voice to their fears, their hopes, their hurts and their hunger for healing.
I write my stories to be the voice for those who have lost theirs. For those who feel they haven’t one, and for those who feel they can’t. I want to give life, courage and hope through my words because I know what they are feeling.
Please join me on my journey by praying for me. And if you find encouragement, feel free to comment.
TRUST. That’s the big word for this time in our lives. It's the word God gives me every day as I pray and ask Him for His peace and guidance. I can trust Him that He knows our future and will direct us with jobs, housing, hip surgery issues, and ministry.
We made it back home after spending the last week of our trip at the YWAM base in Montana, then driving through Idaho and Eastern WA on our way back to Western WA, stopping by to see friends and family on the way.
Here is my favorite picture from Montana. This part of the lake was just down the road from where we stayed. I couldn’t think of a better way to end an 8 month journey.
Re-entry feels a little like being out of body. Everything looks the same but feels different. We expected it to feel different for a while, but to be living it out is weird – couple that with so much unknown with no idea of when or where we will find housing or jobs makes it that much more surreal. We are in a huge transition while trying to find our new normal. For now it's transition, and could be for a while.
We spent our first weekend back enjoying a family BBQ with all the cousins and the following day had a Welcome Home party at our friends' house with families from our old church.
The house we are staying in for the next few weeks has an amazing view of the bay and plenty of room to stretch out and have some much needed space. We are so thankful the owners are gracious in allowing us the use of their space while they are away. We are treating it with respect and enjoying having a home!
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
I just looked up a calendar on Google because it doesn't seem that 29 weeks have passed since we left home...because, to be honest, it feels like a LOT more. But...29 can be a big number when you multiply it by 7 days a week!
To best explain what I mean by an emotional journey, here is an excerpt from my journal...
Emotions are running high this week – or maybe its hormones…probably both. We’re 6 weeks from being home and I think our brains and hearts are trying to process the change that is happening, let alone the change we will have when we get home.
Life doesn’t go back to normal for us when we set foot back in Washington State. We have to find housing, Josh needs to find a job, and I await what my hip surgeon will say about the condition of my hip and my constant and continued pain that affects what I want to do and us as a family.
God is providing along the way and I know He won’t stop doing so. We actually have a place to stay for 6 weeks when we arrive home, house-sitting. This will give us time for Josh to find employment and get our housing in order while settling into a new normal. We are definitely ready to not live out of suitcases!
During this transition we try to mentally prepare for the future while still trying to live right where we are, but it’s as if we can feel the ends coming undone and at some point we have to let our grip go and trust in the process. We have to grieve what we can’t control – what things we will miss of this crazy lifestyle and what we long for now – stability and comfort of a place to call home and the security of an income. We have to let go of the fears – sometimes daily- of how we will afford to live and wondering if things will get as hard as they were before, with not enough money for haircuts, used clothes and many other things.
God has brought us through many tough times. It has not always been easy. We haven’t had all we want, not even on this trip, but He always provides what we need and often shows His love and blesses us with the funds to get a meal out for all of us, items needed provided for, as well as many amazing experiences.
When at home, God provided by honoring our discipline with money and providing for us to make ends meet when it seemed near impossible, and I know He will do it again or provide something else.
When I depend on Him, I feel closer to Him. I hear his voice more and am sensitive to the needs of others. The more independent we get, the more we forget how much we need Him or how much we can help others with what we have. I know this, but no ones wants to be in that place all the time. Still, I accept and embrace and trust - and that is where I want my heart to be.
NOW onto what we did this last week!
This past week we stayed in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont and had a short stop in Connecticut.
Josh had a TV interview in New York earlier this week and while he stayed in NY, the girls and I were blessed with hospitality by a family in New Jersey. They were so kind, feeding us well, making this swing just so the girls could enjoy their time outdoors, and giving us their bedroom so we could have some privacy.
Any free time we had, the girls were outdoors. I love that they seize EVERY opportunity to be outdoors instead of settling for electronics or even books, because they have so much time in the car and hotel rooms for reading and school time. ;)
We don't have time to stay in every state, but we do attempt to visit each state capital as we drive through.
Below are photos of the Connecticut State Capital. I LOVE the outside detail of this building. Life size figures of famous men, all made of marble, are placed above the front and back entrance. The inside was beautiful too!
On our day in Maine, the State Capital was closed due to Patriots Day - a holiday we do not celebrate on the west coast. But we did stop and get a photo of the building.
The big plans for that day was to tour Acadia National Park. We underestimated the time it would take and ended up in the car most of the day and not a lot of time at the park due to how cold it was, but I have a few photos that capture the memory.
Rhode Island! We toured the capital, found some good seafood for lunch and took photos of the first Baptist church in America - for all my Baptist friends. :)
If you know me, you know I have a love for making bread! I love mixing it and kneading it through my fingers, I love the smell as it rises and the color and texture went it comes fresh out of the oven. I find so much joy in a kitchen and sharing food with others...So it seemed fitting to visit the King Arthur Flour Co while in Vermont!
We ended the week with a visit to a famous cemetery today. It's famous because many of the tombstone makers came from Italy and they would often design their own tombstones before they died. Some are very ornate!
We also had THE BEST maple syrup of our lives today!! Vermont is famous for it and now we know why! Here are some photos of the maple farm we visited.
We head off to Quebec and Ontario this next week. We live just an hour south of the British Columbia border so it will be fun to visit the other side of Canada!
As many of you know, my Grandpa Petey passed away last week. I flew from Boston to Northern California to attend his funeral and be with family for 4 days.
It was a wonderful celebration with lots of laughter amongst the tears. We all talked about how he managed to tell inappropriate jokes while at the dinner table or in front of the children, and how much joy he brought to our family. I'm sure going to miss his sheepish grin and twinkle in those eyes.
He was the rock and glue; marrying my Grandma with her 6 children as a package deal and never regretting a day of it. I'm told he was the best father they could ever have even dreamed for, and I know he was the best Grandpa to all his grandkids!
It's healing to share stories, I think because we can hold onto that joy, even while knowing he has left this earth.
My favorite memories are of the time I was around 8 years old and our cat had died the night before he came to visit. When he arrived, he had hopped out of his truck and said in his gruff voice, "I brought something for you" and pulled a kitten out of the lining of his jacket. I'll never forget it. That was love in action.
I was fortunate enough to have my Grandparents very active in my youth group when I was growing up. My Grandma would be behind the scenes with mostly administrative stuff and my Grandpa would willingly drive his van all over Washington, Oregon and Canada for all our retreats and pantomime performances - Allowing us to crank up our 80's rock music and trash his vehicle. Every retreat when it came time for the youth to give a testimony or repent and turn their life back to God, he would sit in the back and cry - every one of them mattered that much to him. He loved seeing God work in the lives of teenagers and gave so much of himself, expecting nothing in return. A true hero to many and a blessing to anyone who knew him.
The day I flew back to Boston, my husband took us to Plymouth Rock and to Cape Cod for a seafood lunch. I slept in the van most of the day due to coming off an all-nighter flight that morning, but it was just what the doctor ordered.
The following day we walked The Freedom Trail in Boston where we witnessed a line of people waiting to be sworn in as US citizens, took a tour of Paul Revere's home (photos were not allowed), walked the Holocaust Memorial, and viewed other historical sites.
The best part of this week was hanging out with old friends. Jen and Israel treated us to great hospitality and fun times together. We ended today with a stop at the water ... because when else are my kids going to be able to throw a snowball in a lake?? ;)
The plan is to cover 4 states over this next week. As an introvert, I am hoping for some down time and I think my kids could use a routine! But I wouldn't change this opportunity for much of anything.
Till next week! Marilyn
This past week we visited Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York! We only spent a few hours in most states - just enough time to see the state capital and learn a little of the history.
We were blessed to spend Easter weekend in Pennsylvania with friends of a friend. We have not had to spend one holiday in a hotel room or alone. :) God is taking care of us every step of the way.
While in Pennsylvania, we traveled around Hershey, PA with a family we connected with when we were in Florida. We toured the Hershey Factory, enjoyed two dinners at their place, and visited an Amish community- which has the MOST AMAZING pretzels EVER!
We stayed a night in Philadelphia and took in as much sights as possible in one day. The Liberty Bell was a must, as well as Independence Hall, Ben Franklin's grave and a few other historical sites.
That afternoon we asked a local police officer what place had the best Philly Cheesesteaks. It was the perfect meal to eat on a park bench on a chilly but sunny day.
New York City!!
It was a high of 44 the day we toured The Big Apple, but we warmed up half way through the day with a true NYC style pizza...we ate it folded so we didn't look like tourist. ;)
We spent equal time traveling the subway as we did on the streets, but we did manage to visit the M n M factory, Lego store, Central Park and Times Square - where my girls laughed at us calling it, "The land of consumerism"
On our last day in New York state (0n our way to Boston) we toured the state capital.
Oh, how I wish all of downtown was done in this style, it would be spectacular! The simplicity of the sandstone with the elegance of the carvings is absolute perfection.
As some of you may know, my 12 year old and I flew to California from Boston on Friday. We are here to celebrate my Grandpa Petey's life. I received the phone call on Tuesday morning that he was passing and was fortunate enough to say goodbye. That will be a moment I will never forget.
He was an example of selfless love and a hero to us all. I will post photos and share stories of my visit and of my Grandpa in next weeks blog. For now I will say that heaven got one heck of a blessing this week!