August 31, 2015

Summer Road Trip

Vacation was vacation.  It was relaxing, and fun, full of play, naps, good food, and a measure of hard and stressful too because real life happens even on vacation.  We had our share of misadventures and unexpected hiccups, like having to replace the steering on Todd's new truck the day we were supposed to make the drive back home.  Let's hear it for warranties!

I was unsure about the road trip idea from the beginning.  It was Todd who thought we could do it, even with two young boys.  And to my surprise, it was great.  Fun even.  The boys stayed occupied with sticker books and Disney Pixar movies on repeat in the backseat for hours on end.  Apparently, junk food and movies will make any long trip bearable.

We traveled first to North Dakota to spend a little bit of time with Todd's extended family and Todd's parents who were also vacationing there.   We stopped for a day in Minnesota to see the Mall of America and spent the rest of our time in Michigan to catch up with our dear friends who moved there a few years ago.  We got to do life and have dinners and share adventures with Darin and Bethany and their boys Wyatt and Sawyer.

As I get older, and my boys keep growing, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the memories we are getting to make with them.  The stories we make together as a family and how experiences and times away together will shape their hearts and minds.  There were some days I had nothing better to do than read a book or take a nap.  One afternoon, I laid down with Jacob and watched him sleep and felt myself enter into a kind of rest I have not known in a long, long time.  As all vacations go, it had to come to an end but we made so many fun family memories and were so grateful for the time we had with our friends.

Below are the highlights of our trip, and in no particular order whatsoever.

August 3, 2015

Finding home away from home

Over 1,300 miles away from home and I have found pieces of my soul along the way as we have journeyed through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas.  Somewhere in waving fields of corn as far as the eye can see, in red barns and blues skies stretched wide and long, something about North Dakota feels like home.  Maybe it's because my husband feels at home here.  Maybe because we are one flesh - I am part of him and he is part of me - maybe there is part of me that is supposed to feel at home here too.  Perhaps it's God's way of tangling a couple together so intimately and deeply that when something fits for one, it can certainly fit for the other too.

But this is definitely his place, much like the crashing waves of the ocean's shore is mine.  And it's fitting for him I think.  North Dakota is much like Todd.  Quiet and calm, gentle and easy, rugged and down-to-earth.  I can literally feel a different pace of life here.  Nothing is hurried or stressful.  Things green and grow in a way that the heat of Texas' summer sun never really can.  And something about this places invites you to slow down.  I've needed that slow down.  We both have.

Today I took in a giant sunflower field.  It was nothing but pure yellow sunshine and joy as if it was created simply for me to delight in. 
I have to say - North Dakota totally gets me.
Even when we were ready to pack up and move here two years ago, me - sight unseen - it never sounded like an exciting destination or a place I would ever choose.  After all, there are so many other showy-offy places to live.  The grand mountains of Colorado Springs, the painted deserts of Arizona, the trendy, fast-paced excitement of New York City, and Florida with beaches that put my gulf coast shores to shame.  And of course Texas - there is no greater place to live than Texas.  But North Dakota?

This place has surprised me.  I wasn't expecting to fall for it and I have a little bit.  Much like I fell for Todd almost 10 years ago - I was surprised that I fell for him too.  He was different than any other man I had known, but I was drawn to him.  I still am.  Even now, in this place that feels like home to him, he feels a bit more alive and vibrant than his normal at-home-in-Texas-self. 
And I'm sure North Dakota is just trying to romance me.  It's showing off with stunningly perfect weather - 76 degrees and breezy.  The grass is so soft you could literally fall asleep in it.  And the neighborhood where his uncle lives feels like something I have read out of a story book where neighbors don't have fences and everyone grows vegetables in their back yards and goes to a family fish fry on the weekend like we did yesterday. Plus, it's summer and I'm not here during blizzard season.  Snow would not be the way to my heart.
Somewhere between the sunflower fields and evergreen tree-lined streets and taking a break from my normal routine and pace of life, I've found rest for my heart.  My mind is alive and buzzing and everywhere we have gone, I'm writing some sentence, some story, some piece of poetry in my head.  Even now, I feel as though I'm spilling over.

My soul feels at peace here.  I'm curious about how at home I feel when I'm so very, very far away from it.