Archive for July, 2010

Most of my days have been full of unpacking boxes, making various appts (doctor, DMV, license, etc.), and organizing a new home (new to us). It’s been a couple of weeks of various emotions for sure. Meeting new people, trying different churches, reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in a while are all wonderful things. It just feels like a whirlwind of sorts.

During this time, I’m also getting ready for a speaking engagement at a church in a few weeks. I’ll be speaking to an intergenerational Sunday School class (more geared towards children) and then preach in the morning service. This church is a wonderful family of faith who is going through their own period of “new-ness”. They are undergoing major renovations to bring up to date their facilities as a space where all can worship. They are updating the outside to communicate the excitement that is happening within the spirit of their congregation.

The theme for the Sunday is “Creating the Beautiful”. As they work on their outside “building”, we’ll be considering how we create beauty on our “inside”. How do we join God in creating and making space for beauty in our own lives so we may share it with others in our world?

If we listen long enough to the voices in our world, the mark for what is beautiful is lofty, unreachable and simply put, fading. As Christians and Christ followers, what do we count as being beautiful in our lives? It’s easy to get caught up in the world’s version… certain look with your wardrobe, style your hair, newest gadgets, shall I go on? How do we stop and take notice of the true beauty that exists around us and join God in creating beauty that will lasts?

I’ve had this hymn on my mind all day as I’ve read and written down thoughts.

Creator God, Creating Still
by Jane Parker Huber

Creator God, creating still, by will and word and deed,
Create a new humanity to meet the present need.
Redeemer God, redeeming still, with overflowing grace,
Pour out your love on us, through us, make this a holy place.
Sustaining God, sustaining still, with strength for every day,
Empower us now to do your will. Correct us when we stray.
Great Trinity, for this new day we need your presence still.
Create, redeem and sustain us now to do your work and will.”  Amen.

Where do you recognize real beauty in life around you? In what ways is God calling you to be a co-creator of beauty in this world?


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We left the Grand Canyon as the sun was setting and it began raining. After hurrying to the car, our minds switched to where we would eat dinner since we hadn’t eaten anything yet and it was about 8:00 pm or so. When we got in the car, my dad started saying he needed to eat soon, he was starting to feel sick.

My dad doesn’t complain about his health often so this made me begin to worry. We were 80 miles from the nearest town. He said he didn’t know what it was but felt like his sugar was low. I drove and prayed and instructed him to drink water, eat what snacks we had left in the car, etc. He also admitted during this time that he hadn’t felt well since eating pizza the night before (yes, in Las Vegas!).

We made it into Flagstaff and immediately stopped for something to eat. Of course, your options for healthy dining are not great at 10 pm at night. We ate dinner and checked into a hotel for the night to get some rest. At about 4 am, my dad woke us up complaining of not feeling well again. He said he wondered if it was altitude sickness. I worried about dehydration. We checked his blood sugar which was fine so I set off to get some Gatorade.

He fell off back to sleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning but I couldn’t sleep a wink. In addition to my dad not feeling well, Ma kept asking, “Shouldn’t we take him to the hospital?” It’s always a difficult situation with your adult parent but I felt like as long as dad was telling me his symptoms, being honest with how he felt, and could verbalize it, he could tell me what he thought we needed to do. So, I stayed awake and watched him sleep. Ugh, scary times.

At a decent hour, we called the family doctor who went through all symptoms, especially those starting after the bad pizza in Vegas and the man with the real medical degree determined dad would be fine. He needed to stay hydrated, eat healthier (no greasy pizza!), and rest. The plan was to drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see a friend of mine from Camp Pinnacle days. We weren’t sure if we’d make it or not, we’d take our time.

The only awful thing about traveling across the desert is that you can’t plan your bathroom stops. This is particularly hard when you are traveling with a pregnant woman, 80 yr old, and man who is now sick. Yea, fun times.

We eventually made it to Santa Fe and met Holly and her family for dinner. We stayed at the Glorieta Baptist Retreat Center where they work which is beautiful. I got to go and play with her cute kids. It had been way too long!! The last time I saw her was when her oldest daughter was 1!!

Me & K who is still waiting for me to come back and read her a bedtime story!

The only way we could get J to agree to be in the picture– protect us with his bear claws!

By bedtime that night, dad was feeling much better! We had a pretty good night’s rest and were ready to tackle our biggest day of driving yet– destination: Desdemona, TX!

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Sorry for the delay in this post but we moved into our new house yesterday!! YAY! So, I’m taking a break from unpacking boxes to remember and take another peak at my pictures as I share them with you!

We got to bed so late in Vegas that we slept too late on Tuesday. We got our stuff together and went to find something to eat. Guess what? It was just as hot when we loaded the car as when we had arrived!! We quickly got on the road and headed towards the Grand Canyon.

After getting off for a bite to eat, the GPS redirected us a different way back to the road we “thought” we wanted. We enjoyed the sights of beautiful Lake Mead.

As you approach the lake, the road veers to the right and we met up with a solid wall of traffic. We were convinced it was an accident or road construction. But, we hadn’t encountered any real traffic messes yet so it wasn’t that bad. The only thing we were worried about was the heat outside and how it would affect the car.

We soon realized we were in traffic heading towards the Hoover Dam. Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security does security checks on every car crossing the Dam. I can’t imagine being the folks having to work the security patrol that have to stand out in the heat! We crossed the Hoover Dam and noticed they are building a bridge which will be better for security. Here are some photos of the Hoover Dam:

We arrived at the Grand Canyon at about 5 pm. I don’t really even know how to explain what I saw with my eyes. The Grand Canyon has always been on my top list of places to visit. I knew it would be beautiful but there’s really no way to describe it. I love how everything is still in it’s natural form. In Florida or Georgia, they would have fences everywhere blocking people from falling off. Yes, you take your own life in your hands, but it’s nice to enjoy it in its natural form.

We saw beautiful elk. I think we ended up seeing about four or so. We could get close because they are used to being around human beings. I wouldn’t want to be camping out though when one of these enormous came up on my campsite!

The road we drove gave us many different opportunities to see places along the South Rim. Seeing the sun hit on different places in the Canyon was beautiful!

We reached the Desert View just as the sun was setting.

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We stayed at a lovely Ramada Inn in Santa Barbara. It had a beautiful pond surrounding their pool area. My family loves ponds and ducks because it reminds us of our own property in Chipley. We started the morning off with breakfast and a tour of Santa Barbara by Rachel.

Here’s a picture of the end of the wharf. We enjoyed watching people fish but couldn’t believe there weren’t railings to keep people from falling overboard. What if you hooked a really feisty fish?

The classmates reunited

We left Rachel’s house on Monday afternoon. Our goal was Las Vegas. Yes, that’s right. We were traveling to Vegas. My dad put it down on his “why don’t we travel through there” list when I was planning the road trip a couple of weeks ago. So, we ventured that direction.

Beautiful sunset we saw on our way to Vegas

We arrived in Vegas after making several stops (pregnant woman & grandmother remember?) along the way. We arrived around 10 pm. We got to see Vegas in full swing. Barry had done a priceline deal and scored us a room at the New York, New York hotel right in the heart of things.

Overall impression: Vegas- chaotic, people everywhere until all hours of the night, people lose their sense of time apparently because there were several parents who had their children on the casino floor until 1 or 2 am. Ridiculous, the weather this time of year is so hot it was miserable. There was no relief between morning/evening temps. It felt like someone had turned a heater on full blast.

Yep, while it was fun to see the lights and see the action, I don’t have any desire to go back anytime soon. If we go back, I’d rather stay off the strip and venture in by shuttle bus.

This is outside of our hotel. Do you see the roller coaster? Yes, a roller coaster. It apparently runs until about 2 am and you can hear it from the room 🙂

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We woke up early on Sunday morning to get our stuff packed in the car, take some last minute pictures at the apartment, and begin our journey. B had to work that day so we were all in motion that morning! Here are some last photos of our family in front of our apartment…

Our plan was to travel to Santa Barbara, CA. It wasn’t really on the way but we were making a special stop. Ma traveled with us because we were going to visit a friend of hers from her middle school/high school years. Basically, with the exception of one time at a funeral home visitation they had not seen each other in over 50 years. They had their first two children around the same time but she didn’t even know about my dad who will turn 55 this fall. At that funeral visitation about 20 years ago, they exchanged contact information but neither of them initiated contact. (What would we do without facebook?)

Last summer, when Ma came to visit me she told me about her friend who lived in Santa Barbara. She still had her contact information from all those years ago in her address book (which stays in her purse). I encouraged her to call Rachel many times and finally towards the end of her two week trip, she did!! They talked and laughed for 20 minutes. In the last year, they have kept in touch and Rachel invited us to visit before leaving California. So, we headed to Southern California!

I decided to take Pacific Coast Hwy 1 because it’s beautiful and I wanted to see it one last time! I knew it would take us a little longer than traveling directly there. There are beautiful photos some of which I posted here and some on facebook (see Big Sur). I was so excited.

And what did we encounter? California FOG!! I was so upset but it still made for a beautiful drive. Here’s another one:

Want to see the bridge when it’s not completely foggy?

When we couldn’t see the coast, we had beautiful sunshine against the mountains. I loved this one with the yellow wildflowers covering it!

We stopped at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see the waterfall that hits the beach.

Thankfully, the fog lifted eventually.

We reached Rachel’s house by 5 pm and had a great time visiting with her. We had a wonderful night out at a delicious restaurant across from SB’s Fisherman’s Wharf. It was so much fun! We slept really well that night after a long day of travel!

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sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?

This describes the scene in our car if you were to have driven past us over the past 7 days. And clearly, it was not a joke. Lots of laughter took place in our car driving over 2500 miles from California to Florida. My traveling companions were my dad & my grandmother. We had a great time!

I had hoped to blog along the way but I was too exhausted each night when we reached the hotel. So, I’m hoping to blog about our travels over the next couple days.

Dad and Ma arrived on Friday, June 25th. We hosted our neighbors for my dad’s famous french toast. It was also our last time to see them. Saying goodbye to them was the hardest of all our friends in California. It’s so hard to find good neighbors!

We loved the picture of the whole gang but it took us 6 tries before we got it. Yael is pregnant as well! She is due about a week before I am. So, we’re already planning a trip to meet up for our baby boys to meet once they are born!

We all enjoyed my dad's french toast!

Getting some tickle time in before saying goodbye!

Later in the day, we headed into the city for one last time… we ate at Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a bright and beautiful day!

We had made plans for months to attend the Giants vs. Red Sox game. It was a lot of fun! Here’s a picture of me and my traveling companions.

Stay tuned for more details of our trip!

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