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…

 

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It’s a jungle out there!

It literally is!

And I have never been more aware of my scaredy-pants self as I am in the rainforest. I mean, seriously, I am currently on the continent with the 25 of the 29 most deadly animals, and they make me, perhaps for the first time in my life, want to stay on the designated path.

Typically, I’m not much of a follow-the-blazed-trail kinda girl. And I’m pretty proud of that.
On our previous adventures, when faced with whales, bears, and unidentified dorsal fins I have a tendency to instinctively run, swim, or paddle TOWARD the big, dangerous animal so I can get close enough to SEE it!! Even while my family is saying, “Momma! STOP!”

A bug? Not so much. I will cry hysterically and scream like, well, like a girl and make a boy take care of it for me.
Now, make the bugs deadly or extra huge…I might stand in one spot and I might, maybe wet my big girl pants.

So, we went to the rainforest yesterday (Mossman Gorge) and saw some epicness. Epic trees, epic water, epic native people.

And, yes, epic bugs…

We hiked 2.5 km through the jungle to find a stunningly beautiful river made up of waterfalls and rushing water that provided any number of swimming holes free for the enjoying. Thanks to the 100 degree heat, a place to cool off and not worry about crocs or stingers was welcomed beyond words.

We found two spots that called our name, the first of which looked like something out of my imagination with a waterfall gently flowing into tranquil water, palm trees, little fish nibbling at our toes…

Toward the end of our hike, we ventured off to the trail to swim in a swimming hole upriver from the rest of the folks. Our spot is best shown by our pictures and video. My words cannot do it justice.

*photo and video credit is shared with Justin and his new GoPro camera

 

And Aussies! They are so friendly and helpful! People in the market or in service positions have taken upwards of twenty minutes to stand and talk to us and tell us about the land, or stories about the animals, or about their personal property that’s croc and tourist free (really, which is worse?) that we can go visit. They look us in the eye and want to make our experience the best it can be and they give us their time.
And that fascinates me. The hurry, hurry, rush to the next thing feeling is absent. Every sentence ends with, “No worries!” in a delightful cadence.

We met an aboriginal man. He took time to tell us some neat facts about this place and its animals. He showed us an Australian coin that has a kangaroo and an emu holding an Australian coat of arms and asked us if we knew what those two animals have in common.

Of course we didn’t and he told us that those two animals cannot walk backwards. It’s symbolic because as a country they have decided to only move forward and not look back.

Americans have a lot to learn about choosing not to look back.

And about friendliness, and respecting each other, and slowing down to see the people with which we inhabit the earth.
In the land of pushing and shoving to get ahead and forgetting that there are roses–let alone that they need to be smelled–the place where the phone and the clock rule, I wonder which place really is the dangerous jungle…