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…

 

Treading water

We’re taking our house off the market.  Sigh…
Around here, the market is TOUGH!!!  There are a couple factors completely out of our control making the selling even harder.  And we are burned out.  Tired of living in a house we are not really living in.  I want to put my family pictures back up and decorate my gorgeous mantel again and leave a mess overnight if I want to.  I want people to quit driving down our driveway for a while.
So we are taking a break for the winter, starting now.

We have some big plans up our sleeve while we wait these few months.  Those will be revealed when the time is right, and then when spring comes we will begin again.

Besides, there is a baby about to be born into this family and that deserves some serious attention!

You all know by now how much I love Lake Michigan.  If you’ve read my summer blog posts at all, you know that there is nowhere on this earth that I would rather be than at my beach, swimming in the lake.  Thanks to this lack of a home sale, I had a delightful summer here.  Well, other than that month of cold that deprived me.

me and my beach 2Two days ago, I found myself alone, happily tucked up in the beach grass, just me and God.  I had sun time and water time.  Best day kinda stuff. Image

As I was going out into the chilly water, I was thinking of the different approaches my family has to getting in.  With the water temp usually hovering between 67 and 70 (occasionally climbing up to a sweltering 72), it takes some courage to go in.  And it’s not like a pool where you can just jump!  You have to walk out and try to acclimate with waves that splash higher into dry, still-warm regions of your body, and it can take some fortitude, let me tell ya!
My husband has what I call the “Lake Michigan Walk.”  Oh, how I wish I could show you.  It makes me laugh out loud every single time I see it.  His arms are lifted at the shoulders, his elbows held up by two invisible strings, and his whole body goes up and then down again with each rise and fall of the water.  It’s fantastic.  And it never fails.
My oldest and youngest always blaze on in at full speed.  When they get to a depth of about three feet, they dive under.  And they do this in May or June when the water may be a balmy 60 degrees.  Not kidding.  Then, my youngest will turn around and start the badgering of Momma.  “Come on, Mom!  Go under!  Aren’t you gonna swim, mom?  C’mon!  Get all the way wet!”
Because there I am up to my waist, happily standing in the sun, half-refreshed, half-warm.  So Happy.  Very Content.  Except this niggling need I have to go deeper.  This little voice in my brain that says, “There’s more, and you don’t want to miss it!  What if you don’t surrender to this and you go home and for the next month, Michigan is 60 and rainy and you will have missed it!”

So, here’s my strategy.  For anywhere from 5-20 minutes (depending on how cold I am), I think about it.  I stand there and wait until the time is just right.  And then I get to the best, bravest part.
I pick my wave and jump.  Head first, headlong into the cold.  Deep into the water that mutes the rest of the world.  I swim suspended in a place where no one else can be. And I come up refreshed and so happy.

There are days like yesterday, however, where there are no real waves.  I stand there and can’t figure out if I want to just stay warm where I am or go all the way under, and there’s no defined wave to spur me on.  No clearly defined moment telling me which way to go.

Kinda like our life right now.  There is no clear answer.  Obviously, the timing isn’t quite right for us to move.  The right family who needs this house isn’t quite ready for it.  Perhaps there are some things being worked out in the six of us before we are ready for the next step.
But this time, we don’t get to pick our wave and jump.  It’s not about being afraid to go all the way in, it’s about surrender to a bigger plan.
It’s completely out of our control.  That’s an interesting place to find yourself, let me tell ya.  You either surrender to it or you rail against it.  I’ve done a bit of each, honestly.  From a place of frustration and regrouping to a place of relative peace.  Again, You-Who-knows-best,  I say that I trust you.  Here’s where the water meets the sand, so to speak.

So, we’re gonna tread water for now.  Not all the way wet, not all the way dry.  Just chillin’ here waiting for the chance to dive.
In the meantime, enjoying the view…