49 for 25 (and some turtles)

My youngest daughter isn’t sure it’s fair.  She thinks that twenty-five years of happiness is reward enough.

But darn it, twenty-five years of happiness is stinking hard work!  Yes, it is most certainly a gift in and of itself, but big ol’ dollops of grace, some serious stubbornness determination, gobs of love sometimes pulled out of nowhere, and best friends deciding to make every effort to remain head-over-heels in love are things worth celebrating.

And did we.

The two of us ventured off to our 49th state last week (yup, only one more to go!), and had the time of our lives. One of my best girlfriends says it’s okay for me to show pictures because it’s inspiring for other folks to see not only is it possible to stay together, but it is possible to thrive together.

This was our first time with an entire week, just the two of us, since our honeymoon.  We were young parents once, and quite happy to wait until *someday when our kids were grown* to begin our travel together. We invested all we had into them and into my husband’s career (he had such a hard time taking time off when he worked for other people due to his intense desire to be the best employee he could be), but now the time is here and right and ours.

tunnels beach

Thanks to the advice of some dear friends who found Eden on the island of Kauai, we got tips and pointers for the best beaches, and soaked it all up for seven perfect days.  We’d wake up early, my sweet man would go get coffee for me, and we’d head out for the day — tasting all the local foods, exploring the tropics by water, land, and air.  He made my dreams come true with a helicopter ride deep into the canyons of the island, and we flew with the doors off and the wind in our hair, and as the little girl sang in my headset about how dreams really do come true somewhere over the rainbow, I wept.  As a little girl and a young mom, I would have never dreamed that I would ever be so lavished upon.  I beheld the breathtaking creation from my flying glass bubble and worshiped a God Who would do this just for me.  All at once, I felt so small, yet so significant that I should find myself in this moment.

We motored around in a little catamaran for half a day, backing into sea caves, and jumping into the cobalt blue waters.

Cave

na pali

Christian got a full view of a breaching whale — quite a miracle two months after their season.  We got massively sunburned and then brown as acorns.  We laughed and best-friended and read novels and spent days at the turquoise beaches, swimming and snorkeling alongside majestic sea turtles.

our snorkeling buddy

our snorkeling buddy

We went to a coffee plantation. We ate fruits we didn’t even know the name of from the farmer’s markets.  We often found ourselves with pineapple juice running down our chins and arms.  We picked and ate bananas fresh from the tree, and took about a gazillion pictures of tropical flowers.  We ate pig from a pit at a luau and more than our fair share of shave ice. We marveled at the shaking hips of dark-haired Hawaiian beauties dancing the hula.

We desperately missed skinny-arm hugs from our grandbabies, and loved being missed by, and missing, our now-old children.  :o)

We came home with our bags too heavy with shells, and bamboo t-shirts, and sarongs, and maracas, and hula skirts, and flowery leis for our sweet family and all reunited with laughter and pictures and much joy.

We experienced so many full-circle moments.  God has such a way of weaving a tapestry of legacy and love and intertwining all of the threads in a life with color and beauty amidst the threads of pain and trials.  Some perspective from a few thousand miles away on a mountainous island and thirty-thousand feet up in the clouds really helps you see some purpose in each of the pieces of the puzzle that make up this lifetime.

We have struggled, we have crawled sometimes, but we have survived.  Like the little sea turtles that make up the 10% that survive from their hatched egg-self to their ancient-eyed, full-grown self, we are proud of ourselves for not getting distracted by the other starry lights that distract from the goal, and purposefully scrambling toward the water with all we’ve had in us and with the most thankful of hearts.

To my love who has lived up to more potential than anyone on this earth had imagined as a husband to me for this quarter of a century, I am grateful for the love with which you lavish me.  I’m thankful for the tough times that grew us, the good times that cemented us, and the fact that somehow, we still haven’t run out of interesting words for each other.  For the times your heart beat with mine, the times it beat for mine, and the times it beat against mine, I thank you.

To our Daddy Who wrote our love story, I am, as always, in awe. What an amazing Author You are.

To those who read these words, I pray nothing more than that you first find your True Love.  The One Who both created your heart and its longings, and holds your tears in a bottle.  If your heart is searching for its mate, be sure your Daddy knows and has the absolute best in store for you.  I can attest, that dreams really do come true.

 

yes, it's a thing

yes, it’s a thing

hula dancers

hula dancers

luau

candlelight dinner with a view thanks to a dear friend

candlelight dinner with a view thanks to a dear friend

dressed for dinner (finally out of our swimsuits)

dressed for dinner (finally out of our swimsuits)

yeah. that hurt.

yeah. that hurt.

luau

luau

flowers

eating poke (raw ahi tuna)

eating poke (raw ahi tuna)

the roosters are everywhere there. even starbucks.

the roosters are everywhere there. even starbucks.

fruits from the farmer's market.

fruits from the farmer’s market.

me in the water

me in the water

coffee tasting at kauai coffee plantation

coffee tasting at kauai coffee plantation

coffee

4 million coffee plants growing us our brew.

4 million coffee plants growing us our brew.

wameia canyon

falls

view

view

shave ice

shave ice

art walk, downtown hanapepe

art walk, downtown hanapepe

heading home...

heading home…

 

Of the Herculean Sort

I have some people I love dearly in absolute crisis at this moment.  My texting thumbs are screaming in pain, but also in proof that I have their backs no matter what.  Each of these women are going through situations the likes of which could make up the stuff of best-sellers.  Seriously, we’re talking about folks going through heartbreak that is monumental.  They’ve all been betrayed in the worst kinds of ways, and my heart breaks with theirs.

As I look at each, I am wowed by their exquisite beauty and strength even through the worst.  These women are made of the toughest stuff, and I swear I can see their emotional and spiritual muscles forming before my very eyes.  There are things they have experienced in the last year that no one should have to survive, and I can promise there were moments that they thought they couldn’t — but they have.  They’ve not only survived, but they have turned positively Herculean.

Beautiful brutes, all. Don’t even mess with them now.  :o)

I know how it feels on the flip-side.  I hated my extreme growth period.  Hated it.  But, wow –I earned the crap out of those spiritual and emotional muscles!!

I have these bum arms.  Well, especially my right arm.  It’s been giving me grief since I was a teenager; not sure if it was the car accident or the dog bite, but something hasn’t been right.  In my early thirties, I was told I’d never regain feeling in my fingers.  Through much massage therapy, I do indeed, have feeling.  I also have really bad spells with lots of debilitating nerve pain, swelling, and numbness.  It gets worse the more I use it which is kind of a big bummer since it’s my right hand and all.  But, life goes on.  My family helps pick up slack for me when I’m in a rough spell, and I really vacillate between the *screw the pain, I have stuff to do* mode and trying to let it rest and heal.  This last year has been the worst with it, by far.

I have been also dealing with some, ahem, later-in-life-female-stuff.  This has caused some weight gain and screwed with my metabolism.  In an effort to get that revved up a bit, I’ve been doing this neat metabolism-boosting workout program.  Pretty stinking proud of myself!  Day one, the agenda included about 50 push-ups.  I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of these arms doing ONE push-up — let alone 50.  I used to be pretty great at them a few years ago.  Wait.  Maybe that was a couple decades ago — oh well, who cares how long ago! I was, okay?  But when workout guy told me to do some push-ups, I was committed to the process and I just got down on my mat and did the stupid things.

And I kept going.  I was doing push-ups!!!

The next workout, with the sorest pecs of my life, I did more.  And I added some fancy, scoopy moves to my push-ups.   My arms did not rebel!  They maintained their position.  No better, but no worse.

Man, I’m stronger than I thought!

There were some moments on some epic hikes we did last summer where I found myself waaayyyy stronger than I thought possible.  Something about being out in the middle of absolutely nowhere with no help available and camp on the other side of a mountain and maybe even with a fever in the rain with eight more miles to go until you get help, makes you dig deep and find some deeply buried something that you didn’t know you owned.

There are moments in life were you are 110% convinced that you just can’t — but somehow, you can and you do!

Last fall, I brought a dear friend of mine on too long of a hike.  She didn’t feel well to begin with, and she hadn’t conditioned with crazy, stupid hikes like I had all summer.  We went way too many miles up and down mountains (she’s a flat-lander, geographically), and in order to get to the car at the end of the loooooong day’s hike, we had to literally climb a mountain.  At the top was going to be the view of a lifetime.  I knew this.  At the top, we would finally get to the car and a drink and a snack, and be done walking.  But first, we had to hike some serious switchbacks.  Looking back, I’m surprised she still loves me at all.  The last 15 minutes were rough.  She just looked at me and I think she was pretty sure she couldn’t go any further.  I decided to give her some visual goals.  I would walk ahead to a tree and stop and turn to her and ask her to just make it to me.  She did.  She would stop when she got to me, and breathe, and I would go on ahead and do it again.  This is how she made it victoriously to the top.  Once there, she took an epic picture with her arm showing her muscles as she overlooked a mountain range.  She looked weary and a little glisten-y, but she looked absolutely beautiful and positively Herculean.

Australia

It reminds me of a verse about finding strength.  “I look to the hills; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.”

He put it in us, friends.  He gives us just what we need when we need it.  Like manna-food from the sky that comes out of nowhere, He gives us strength and courage and wherewithal that we would’ve sworn we didn’t have.  Just when we’re ready to call it and not only throw in the towel but douse it and burn it, we get some muscles out of nowhere.

We might end up all glisten-y and not smell the prettiest from the fight, but you cannot PEEL that victorious look off our face or SCRAPE that smile off or DAMPEN the light in our eyes.  If you’re fighting for all of your worth, look to some hills.  If the hills seem too big, look to the next tree and put that shoe in front of the other one and just step.  You’re going to love your new muscles and the view from the top.  I absolutely promise.