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…

 

All Things New

Tomorrow we can say it’s been a month.  One official month since our family got all of our vehicles and belongings in the same general vicinity and we all slept in our new house(es) on our new land, in our new town.  In most every way, I feel like we’ve adjusted amazingly well.  Perhaps the lengthy trips we’ve taken over the past several years in various living conditions have helped us be prepared for new things.

But it doesn’t hurt that waking up here every morning is an utter joy.  We all feel like we are on vacation!  Except for the working part.  But like a vacation, we have new things to do and see when we are not working!  And it doesn’t hurt that we moved to a place we’d only laid eyes on once before we moved in.  Not only had we not seen the house but one time, we’d only seen this area and all of its surroundings once before we made it our permanent home..  It sounds crazy even to my own ears.  But in our defense we’d read a lot about it!  Ha!

IMGP3921No, really, we researched this area and all it has to offer us and our dreams and when God showed us the house and  acreage that accompanied the dream, we were all in!  And after having road-tripped forty-eights states, this place, well, it captured our hearts in a huge way.  It has all of the elements of our favorite locations from coast to coast.   It has mountains and lakes of all sizes and rivers and the breathtaking vistas to go with them.  And lots of privacy.  We fall in love with it every time we go the many miles it is into town, or to see the sights, or right here on our lots-of-land.

And before you ask or comment about where we are, this location will remain a mystery for now since this is the *www* and all.

We went from a ranch house in the city limits to a three-story home on lots of acres.  Before, we had a garbage man.  Now…not so much.  Then, we could walk to town.  Here?  Ha.  Hahahaha!  Going to town by car is an event!  At night in our old house, we fell asleep near street lights and hoped the neighbors couldn’t see in if we left a light on.  Now, we are lulled to sleep by the sound of wolves howling, and frogs, and birds we’ve never heard before.  Here, at night, I awaken in the dark and look out my third-story, feels-like-a-treehouse-window, and see the blackest of nights lit only by a blanket of a gazillion twinkling stars;  below me a carpet of green lightning bugs twinkling away for their audience of one.  Here, I have wildflowers and roses and apple trees and waterfalls and quaint little towns dotted with friendly people and fresh slices of Americana.

And room to breathe.

What I haven’t gotten used to yet are just little things.  How does one possibly collect laundry from three different stories without it becoming a full-time job?  And vacuuming?  Don’t even get me started.  This house is just going to be less vacuumed.   And where in the world is my box of summer sandals?  Summer is half over and I have little hope of finding them in time.  Sigh.  And then this big dilemma:  in which drawer should the cheese grater belong?

And another thing that will take some time…somehow, we stick out like a sore thumb.  Maybe it’s the car we drive?  Perhaps our lack of an accent?  It could just be that everyone knows everyone here.

We do know that we belong here.  But like with anything new and shiny, there was a price to pay.  To get here, we had some cost.  I don’t mean literally, though that was a certainly a part of it.  I mean that God has His own plans for us — big, BIG plans that exceeded our own imaginations.  But to get to them, we really had to be willing to lay everything else down and follow His call.  I see that now in our story.  With even a month’s worth of perspective, the massive trials we went through were tuning us into His voice more than ever.  Before we could follow Him into this new and promised land, He needed to make sure that we were listening with all of our might.

If I was leading my kids blindfolded toward the biggest, most amazing surprise imaginable, I would hope that no matter how rocky the path, or how many obstacles along the way that they would trust my heart for them.  That they would listen for my voice and trust me to hold their hand and gently guide them to what awaited them.  And once they got there and the surprise was revealed, I would hope they would see the absolute love behind not only the gift, but the heart and hands that led them on the journey to get there.

That place, of obedience and listening is where I long to be.  So that makes this place, the one on the map, even sweeter.

And with that, I think I have a box of dish soap to find…

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