Sunday adventures

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We have sort of unintentionally made a little family habit of drawing away on Sundays after worship, pulling away from our ordinary and escaping to the wild places nearby.  I love revisiting the same familiar haunts, but my husband is best energized in exploring.  So, we’ve sort of made a loose rule to get out somewhere new most Sundays.  We pack a bag of easy snacks + quick bites for lunch/dinner (think cold cuts, cheese, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, cold pasta salad, veggies + hummus) and usually skip naps and hit the road after church.  The kids love our adventures.  We don’t do it primarily for them, to be honest.  We do it because it refreshes and quiets and reenergizes us + our marriage in the best way.  We do it because we need the shift in perspective. But we definitely do it for them as well.  Children are so full of wonder, awe, and a natural ability to enjoy and to go slow.  Familiar black swallowtails, bumblebees and wild mountain blueberries become brand new again through their eyes.  We love (and sometimes hate) how they continually force us to slow our pace to keep in step with them rather than our usual habit of hurrying them to keep up with us.  It’s good for us.  Being with them reminds me almost daily of Jesus’ words:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”  (Matthew 18:3).

What is it about children that Jesus found so essential?  I wonder if it isn’t their simplicity.  Their easy joy over the simplest of wonders.  Their unhurried ways.  Their bright hopefulness and trust, their dependency without worry.  I want to be more like that.  When I watch them running and laughing I find myself thinking, they really are the best of us, the best of humanity.

These pictures are from a couple weeks ago.  We went back up to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.  We used to be in the Mitchell area a ton during our college days (Outdoor Ed majors) and I think the last time I was up there was when my husband and I led a 21-day wilderness backpacking course together in our early years of marriage.  Pretty awesome to be back there with kiddos in tow, showing them this beautiful place so special to our hearts + story.  It was actually up on commissary where our story together really began.

Afterward we had a little picnic at a nearby overlook, staying long and soaking in the quiet and the evening light.  I think these will be some of my favorite snapshots from the summer.

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summer + family gatherings 4: into the clouds we go

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There will always be something other-worldly and magical about this place to me.  While my sister + her fam were visiting, we headed up to Black Balsam, a nearby hiking spot rife with stunning vistas, wild blueberries, rocky outcroppings, and dramatic clouds + sky.  We had a little picnic along the way and meandered back down, always thankful to get up above our ordinary lives and look over them from a fresh perspective.

Go on wild adventures

I see my dusty, rusty mountain bike lying forlornly in our garage. It’s crammed behind things like double strollers, a dishwasher we’re trying to sell, a radio flyer wagon + tricycles.

It reminds me of former days.

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Days when we had dogs instead of kids.
When we had freedom + spontaneity instead of nap + nursing schedules.
Days when we didn’t have to schedule a babysitter to go on a run or a bike together.
Weekends that were spent entirely outdoors on a snowboard or a bike, looking long into the sunset.. instead of weekends rummaging through massive consignment sales and looking long at piles of laundry.

And yes, Brandon had long hair:

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I don’t mean to be too nostalgic.. but let’s face it, I’m a nostalgic type.  When we were first married we were fools and moved across the country to Colorado and had the best adventure ever.  Just a newly-wed couple on an adventure together.  I introduced Brandon to my favorite mountains and got to teach him how to snowboard.  We hoped to settle down out there (idiots), but God led us back east not too long later.  I’ve often regretted those years, wishing we had been practical, gone and gotten our graduate degrees, saved up for a downpayment for a home (still working on that one).

But, listen.  You can’t buy the memories we made.  And now that we have three little minis running around??  Let me tell you it will probably be awhile before we get a season like that in our marriage again.  It was a blast.  It was the gnarliest test of faith for us in SO many ways.  We went out there without a clue where we would live or work.  We drove a gorgeous dreamy Land Rover across the country and had car problems along the way, toting a heavy trailer with all our (scant) earthly goods behind us.  We (read: I) journaled and cried and prayed the whole two (or was it three?) days of traveling. We showed up in Breckenridge, Colorado, my old haunts, and reached out to the body of Christ there and promptly were given a place to stay temporarily till we found a rental.

I cannot tell you all the fun and adventures and heart ache we had in those many months.  How God shaped us in so many ways as a couple.  It wasn’t all fun at the time, but looking back, it was GREAT fun and I’m so glad we did it.

So.. to you younger girls, maybe to you newly-weds, here’s what I have to say:  Go have an adventure with your spouse, if you can.  While you’re young.  While you have a little time to waste.  Don’t be afraid of making impractical decisions, sometimes.  Our investment in those early years into having fun together and taking risks together has VASTLY paid off in these years where we are a little more tethered to home and to the mundane.  It is a storehouse, a treasure-house of memories and laughter for us.  AND it is motivation for us to continue to pursue what we love together and to dream about a future where we can set off on those kinds of adventures again.

Don’t get me wrong.  We fasted, prayed, sought counsel.  That move was BATHED forward and backward in Scripture and prayer.  So don’t get me wrong: Be led of God.  PRAY about it.  We did, and we were convinced it was what the Lord was calling us to do.  At the time, I couldn’t make sense of it.  At the time, I thought unless we were heading off overseas for missions, it couldn’t possibly be God’s will.  I had no idea that in order for God to prepare us for some of the seasons we are facing now (and, I’m confident, that we will face in the future in the long haul and crazy faith-walk of raising a family together) He needed to take us through some of the faith-tests we experienced there.  In a lot of ways we flopped and flailed on that journey of faith, we were hurt and we hurt others.. But even that has not gone to waste.  We have learned so much about loving better.  If I’m honest, I’m only now starting to make sense of some of what we experienced during that time. I’m only starting to realize God’s infinite wisdom in using what is foolish is man’s sight to accomplish what is mighty in God’s.

It wasn’t practical.  Many of our friends went on to grad school and to secure jobs, many of them have homes they own while Brandon and I are still working toward that goal.  And I don’t think they made a poor choice and we made a better one.  We simply have to trust God’s process with each of us to be unique and different.  But I can tell you, in a culture that is wildly practical and tells you to be sure you take all the proper and wise steps (yes, even the Christian culture is guilty of this at times) and only calculated risks, you may not be hearing many voices that are telling you to trust God.  To not live in fear of making some missteps along the way.  To be wise, to seek counsel, yes, but not to be afraid to take wild risks.  To trust God’s leadership when so many are criticizing.  To be brave in pursuing God’s voice as the ultimate source of authority in Your life.  To not be afraid to be a pioneer.

Maybe for you that means pursuing going overseas when family is telling you it’s too dangerous.  Maybe it means looking into that start-up.  Maybe it means going back to school.  Maybe it means trying for a baby when you don’t have all the finances worked out yet.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not talking about just doing whatever you want and calling it God’s will.  I’m talking about that thing you may know deep in your soul that He’s beckoning you to do, but you are pushing down because the practical voices and the fear of stepping out are telling you to resist.

The wildest adventure you can ever go on is the adventure into God’s will.  The adventure of trusting Him entirely with your life.  Your finances, your education, your location, your future.  It is the scariest, most foolhardy, most hilariously terrifying and exhilarating adventure.  He is NOT boring, my friend.  Walking in obedience to Him has been the wildest ride and craziest joy of my LIFE.

The reality is, all of our journey with Jesus is just one wild adventure after another.  Some are more fun than others, some are painful and dang hard.  DANG hard.  Parenthood is the next big adventure we’re entering into.  But now, Brandon and I know each other, we know how we handle the unknown.  We learned in that early season of marriage how we each handle adventure and risk and unknown.  We fell in love leading adventures together for a backpacking organization, for pete’s sake.  God built so much into our hearts and marriage in that season where the adventure was FUN and the risks were relatively small in comparison.

And one day, we will decline and our strength will fail and we will enter the face great adventure, death.  And then we will just be carried right into His presence.  I mean, come on!  What greater joy than to know that all of our earthly experience has great purpose, is leading us onward toward Home, and is going to culminate in seeing HIM.

I adore Him so much because He is so much fun.  He loves to give us good gifts.  He calls us to seasons of walking through darkness and deep valleys.  He beckons us out into spacious places where are souls breathe huge.  He leads us in ways we cannot quite fabricate.  I promise you, He is so much the better boss of our lives than we could ever hope to be.

Trust Him.  Lean in.  Listen.  Obey.

It’s going to be awesome.

Okay.. enough rambling, I have to wake the kids from their naps.  And just in case you were wondering, yes, I’m planning on getting back out on that bike SOON.

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