Just a Few Simple Things

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We are apart for our first Valentine’s in twenty-six years. We’ve never been much to celebrate the day because we feel that an everyday love is better than one day of Hallmark devotion. Still,, we are apart….

I DID notice when I unpacked a few weeks ago that a little, secret card slipped out from between my shirts. It’s just like you to sneak that into my bag when I wasn’t looking. It made me smile BIG. IMG_4959

Of course, I am thinking about you today. So I thought I’d be sappy and syrupy and sentimental.

Sometimes it’s nice to show you the funny, quirky ways you have made our lives into this extraordinary love story. 

 

*The way we can sit in a restaurant talking for hours like we’ve just met. 

*Encouraging and celebrating the wild, independent, adventurous young woman in me. 

*How we showed our kids what true love is. 

*Our endless supply of inside jokes.

*The way you sit and really listen with incredible, curiosity when you ask about my day. 

*That one night at that one BBQ when our knees touched and we felt enough electricity to light California. 

*The way your muscles flex when you wrap your arms around our grown kids. 

*The way we can have nothing and everything and it’s never mattered. 

*The way you hold my hand when I need a good cry.

*Our first kiss as young adults. 

*The Japanese love notes you mailed me before we had email. 

*Your bold, expectant prayers.

*When you laugh so hard and I see your retainer and it reminds me of being kids together. 

*Your never-ending sense of adventure. 

*You are truly the biggest romantic I know.

*Our nightly foot rubs before bed. 

*The deep, profound love you have for our children. 

*That first cup of coffee that you bring me and we share in bed together every morning. 

*The tiny specks of silver in your hair. 

*How the simplest things in life matter the most to you. 

*Your passionate, on fire, love for God. 

*Music. 

*The way you find the best Speakeasies.

*Our ease of traveling the world together. 

*The way you make everyone feel at such ease around you. 

*How you always share your last bite with me. 

*Your complete adoration of our kids. 

*That you always have been and always are my biggest cheerleader, supporter and advocate for any and all shenanigans I cook up. 

*The way you have animated my feet with voices. 

*The way you love to hide scary masks in our house to frighten the living daylights out of me and then run to hug me when you know I’m terrified.

*That one night grocery shopping that we can always laugh so hard about. 

*The way our feet find one another under the covers in the middle of the night.  

*Your sweet lips. 

*When you laugh so authenticity and slap MY knee over it. 

*The sweetness when you kiss my forehead every day. 

*Your incredible work ethic. 

*Your remarkable generosity and willingness to help people. 

*Your skin. 

*Your sincere smile. 

*The way you take me by the hand and parade me into a room. 

*The way you get excited about our date nights after all these years. 

*Our cooking show date nights. 

*The love we both share for hitting up hot new restaurants.

*The way you love our fur-kid. 

*When you leave our home and come back to pick me up for a date. 

*Our 3am Netflix binges.

*How you have a way of making me feel like I’m the only woman on the entire planet. 

*Your respect, admiration and, love for your parents. 

*The way we laugh so much and so often together.

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*Our kitchen dance parties. 

*Your unfailing, steadfast and intentional faith. 

*How you always empower and encourage me and make me feel like I can conquer the world. 

*Your easy going and peaceful presence. 

*Your extraordinary culinary skills. 

*How we don’t need anything at all to have a perfect evening together. 

*The way you’ve never expected me to change the person I am deep down inside.

*The way you allow me to cheat a little when we play board games but act like you don’t know. 

How even though we are apart I feel your heartbeat. 

Love~

Your PJ

No Better Timing

Want to know how God works and shows up in my life? The confirmations he gives me?

As I continued through the month of December in prayer for my Word of the Year (I’ve always done this instead of resolutions), I was getting nowhere. I battled over this in frustration, my impatience getting the better of me. I was praying with no response. 

My hubs, on the other hand, came home one day mid-December, sat down, and revealed his Word to me. I was so happy for him, honestly, but was feeling stalled. 

I’ve had years when as November/December rolls around and I start praying and asking for my Word, it’s there. Immediately and rapidly coming to the forefront. I’ve also had years when, like this year, God has taken his time in delivery. 

As if, His timing isn’t perfect. 

As if he didn’t have this Word in mind for me before I was even on this earth. 

As if he knows better.

As if the timing that needs to happen for His clarity to shine through and for me to be READY to receive is inadequate.

I continued in daily prayer. I sat for days, silently, in the mornings on the floor of our bedroom in meditation and nothing… 

Que more frustration. images

It’s funny how prayer works and moves. I was FaceTiming with a friend today, and we were talking about how they are teaching their young kid(s) about prayer and how it’s not always for bedtime or before a meal, that you can pray anywhere and always. It’s those silent whispers to God, in the car, on a walk, in the shower or as you’re doing the dishes or laundry or in the case of kids… even on the playground. 

I felt like I was on prayer overload (is there such a thing as TOO much prayer? The answer is NEVER) and my husband kept asking if I’d heard my Word yet, I was getting antsy. 

Man, if that isn’t a terrible place to reside. Antsy. Restless in the desert, feeling deficient and lacking. I prayed on just that for a few days… I mean here I’m just waiting on a WORD for the year when others are waiting for so much more to show up. 

So. Much. More. 

Then it hit me; waiting is a proactive stance of drawing closer to God. Through waiting, at times, our faith can be tested, but it also cultivates good fruit in our lives, such as patience, perseverance, and endurance. It also draws us closer to God. 

When we choose to wait quietly and trustingly, we honor God, and I know God’s goodness is promised for those who wait patiently for him! No matter how long.

Sigh

I knew one thing; I wasn’t going to stop praying, and I wasn’t going to stop anticipating an answer. I waited more eagerly for our Creator to act. 

When my Word finally did show up, I was discouraged at first. My husband, who had weeks before me, came home with his and shared, I thought, “how powerful!” He was almost in tears over it. It both scared him and made his heart pound with hope and expectancy.

I sat down that night and talked with G. Was this really “the word” for the year? What does it mean? I wanted a fun word, a word that sounded more “me,” a word that is fruity and felicitous. Something amusing and cheerful with punch and significant meaning behind it. Me, me, me… why are we always drawn back into making everything about ourselves? 

I mean… what am I to do with THIS Word? 

Nothing. I am to do nothing with it. 

I wrote it down. 

P U R P O S E 

I quietly uttered an enormous “thank you.” and then thought… “I am going to do absolutely nothing with this Word, but the Maker who gave it to me is going to turn my life upside down this year with it. I’m quite sure of this.”

A few days later, my daughter and I decided to attend a different campus from our regular church. We did this because my husband was mixing sound at this campus for the worship team (on a day that he wasn’t originally scheduled to be there) so we thought we’d go. It was a Saturday night, not our regular Sunday service, and this particular week each campus pastor was speaking individually at each campus instead of our lead pastor. Which hardly ever happens. 

A L L of this is out of the norm… but you know… When God shows up, it’s always out of the standard norm. 

After worship, the pastor comes up and says his title for his message that night was: 

PURPOSE REVEALED THOUGH PROCESS. 

Read that again. 

PURPOSE 

Revealed 

Through

Process. 

I stood in complete reverence and amazement! 

As the pastor spoke, I felt the nudge of God. His breath all over me. Then the pastor said;

“Never feel so common with God that you’re not expectant.” 

Oh, me of little faith. 

He continued saying, “God is a God of the process, not the product, and God reveals himself and his purpose in the process.”

In my process of waiting on my Word, He showed up. Just like He always does. In His own time and in His own way. 

Then something came to the forefront;

Maybe I’m running after things that are not my assignment (my purpose.) Things that are in my heart, but God never assigned for me. 

My hysterics and tantrum about my Word dissolved right there onto the floor of that unfamiliar church. 

Full stop & Mic drop. 

Unknown-1       Allow me the honor of praying for you friends. In whatever way you need. Text me, call me, message me. And I ask one favor of you; Pray for me. Pray that this year God works in the most unimaginable, unthinkable, incomprehensible, intentional ways to reveal what this Word will bring to life in me. His purpose. My purpose in Him. What use (purpose) is He calling me to? Pray for me to live with a more God-driven purpose and ALWAYS to live a purpose bigger than myself. 

I believe to live a life with both passion and purpose; we must continue to learn who Jesus is. God has better plans for us that we can even imagine. 

Patagonia -Coming to an End

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Leaving Paine Grande we headed to Campamento Italiano. It was a relatively short hike, but we knew there were two miradors after we arrived and dropped our packs that we wanted to see.

Francés and Británico miradors. 

We needed to get to camp after crossing a raging river on a one-person swinging bride. As I am standing, waiting for my turn to pass over this unreliable-looking bridge, I am thinking, “one person of normal size with a 20lb pack, or a small child, or a large grown man with a 30lb pack or …?” What truly does a one-person bridge mean? 

It reminds me of how God works in our lives. Sometimes there is no answer right away, and life feels like a risk. Often. But in the end always works out according to plan. 

I could allow negative thoughts, doubt, anxiety, fear, despair, worry, denial, disbelief, or uncertainty fill my head. Fill my heart. I could stand on that bridge and see the massive, furious, arctic river below me and the old, weathered, wooden, swinging bridge ahead of me and stop dead in my tracks allowing panic to grip me, but God isn’t a God of panic. He’s not a God of fear or anxiety. He FREES us from all of that! 

“This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We crossed and checked in to Italiano, set up camp, filled our water bottles, and set out for the miradors. 

The Valle Francés was inconceivable! The entire trip, I said over and over how beautiful each place was but this…. We stopped and took tons of pictures and then pressed on towards Británico. Patagonia is full of beauty but also full of unpredictable weather, and as we pushed towards our next mirador, the clouds started rolling in. We continued as the wind ripped at us, and then the rain started. Light at first, and then really picking up. We pulled out our rain gear from our slack packs and decided that, as we looked towards the mountains, it was only getting worse, and the view we were craving was going to have too much cloud cover, so we turned back for camp. 

We got back to camp, peeled out of our rain gear, made some dinner, and dropped into the tent. 

We continued on to Campo Central the next day, and we knew as we approached that we were nearing the end of this hike but that the most unprecedented part of our journey was ahead. Los Torres. 

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We waited in line to check-in, found a place out of the wind to pitch our tent, and headed for the showers. Ya know, being clean and showering are things we really take for granted. It’s such a luxury on a backpacking trip! The showers were HOT, and I stood in there way too long! 

Afterward, we decided to hike over to the Refugio. The restaurant was warm, and we ordered GIANT beers that tasted like a little bit of heaven. They made us lazy and sleepy, which was exactly what we needed for a quick bedtime. We had an early alarm for our frigid, dark hike to the Towers before the sun rose in the morning. 

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Our daybreak was cold — possibly the coldest of the entire trek. Most of our days were warm, hot even, with the harsh sun and no ozone. When we did have rain, we welcomed it! We left our tent and belongings at camp, hiking only with our slack packs filled with water, tea, some food items, and warm clothes. We started early, pre-dawn with our headlamps on. 

I was walking in constant prayer on our ascent. Meditative. I knew this was our last day, and I was overwhelmed in my heart with gratitude. The reasons many. The time with my husband, the adventurous spirit God created in the two of us, our friendship, and the fact that we can spend days and weeks together in a pocket-sized tent and still laugh, still love, not argue, and grow even closer together as a couple. Thankful that my husband respects and encourages the wild-girl in me. We get one another to our depths. Grateful for the opportunity to start this journey, and the healing that took place on my body to get us to the trail start. I am utterly floored by this Earth and the paradise that God has created for us. Everything so intricate and complex. I was, and am always so taken by the enormous mountains and how small and humbled they leave me feeling, stripped of everything, deprived of ego and pride. Hiking allows us the opportunity to feel God at a whole new level, a deepening, to see His provision in our lives, to hear him in a way that is clear and simple and uncomplicated. It’s easy when you break it down. He provides all we need and loves us so wholly and excessively. I was most grateful for the way the Most-High spoke to my husband. Revealing to him some areas that we were struggling with direction and trying to find closure. 

We both know when we are in a place of discontent, confusion, uneasiness, or dissatisfaction, it comes from us not being aligned on the path that our Creator has us on. Things in our hearts that God never assigned to us. It’s so easy to veer. Easy to get caught up with our own agendas, eagerness, yearnings, and desires. It’s easy to “think” we are walking in God’s will and to B E N D our intention J U S T enough to feign closeness to what God wants for our lives, but when it comes right down to it… it is a skewed view that ends us up on an uneven, angled messed up path. Not matched or harmonized at all with what God’s plan is. We falter and end up thinking, “how did we get into this situation?” “Why aren’t things better?” “How is this still happening in my life?” 

The mountains make it simple to listen. 

As we continued our ascent, getting to a bouldering area, we knew we were getting closer. The trail was getting more difficult. We were excited about our first view of the Towers. The pinnacle of this entire trek! 

 When we reached the top, we paused — suspended in a moment awe-inspiring beauty!  

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Cordillera del Paine is such a spectacular set of mountains! It’s the area known as the Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine), the three massive summits are gigantic granite monoliths that are UNESCO-declared biosphere reserves. The highest peak of the range is Cerro Paine Grande, at 2,884 meters (9,461 feet).

Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche language and is pronounced PIE-nay

It was COLD, and the wind bit at us. We met up with others that had been in our original group the day we started in Laguna Amarga, each of us making this pilgrimage in our own time. Little by little, we trickled in. We took photos, sipped hot tea, broke bread together, all nestled next to an outcropping of rocks away from the wind and elements. 

Soon, we knew we needed to return to camp and break down to make our busses back to Puerto Natales. 

It was hard to leave. Hard to turn our backs on this extraordinary work of beauty. 

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Returning to camp was somber. It’s hard when you know a journey is coming to an end. Sometimes I feel like I could wander the mountains forever. Every time I hike I love the stripping away it does on me. Peeling off the lamina. I come back changed in some way. Always. Something is left behind, dropped off, and left in the dirt, unneeded, with new lessons learned, and new promises and assurances put in its place. It gives me time to do some soul searching and reevaluating. Where does God want us/me? Where is He placing us for most use? What’s important? What do we genuinely need? What is superficial and fake and inauthentic in me or in those I have in my life? Where do I draw the line? What boundaries need set or reestablished? What do I need to let loose of? Am I harboring unforgiveness for anyone? Have I put unnecessary pressure on myself or those around me in any way? 

 It’s the opportunity for God to pluck me up, and right my path with such clarity, it’s undeniable. 

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We packed up in near silence, only joking about how stinky we were. We headed to the Refugio and met up with our fellow hikers. It was fun to have one final toast to our accomplishments, to hear the stories from everyone about their journey on this incredible trek — their take-away from the trail. One beer down and we loaded our bus back to Puerto Natales, spending a couple of days here before hopping a plane for Santiago, where we almost missed our flight due to falling asleep in the airport. How were we to know they changed the gate?  I joke! We ran for our new gate in a drowsy stupor and reached the jetway only to see closed doors. We stood staring, weary, fatigue ravaging us and just started pounding on the glass doors. As the jetway was moving and the agent approached the doors, she saw us and having mercy on our completely worn-out souls, stopped the bridge, and asked them to let us on the plane. Had we been in the States… no way this would’ve happened. I could’ve kissed this sweet Chilean woman straight on the mouth. 

 

We laughed & laughed after finding our seats because this is always the way for G and I. Always coming in, hurriedly, screaming, with our pants on fire. We aren’t and have never been “planners,” and this sort of thing is just expected in any given circumstance with us. In this situation, however, we were just plain spent and fell into a delicious, deep sleep on benches in the aeropuerto. 

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We spent a few days in Santiago in the spa-comfort of a fabulous hotel. Allowing ourselves pampering and delicious PLANT-BASED foods (boy do we always miss greens and fruit) and exploring the city.

Off and away from the mountains….

Grateful, continually. Humbled, unceasingly. Changed, as always.