Merry Everything and Happy Always

image3Who doesn’t love a fresh start?

As the clock rolled over into another new year, we were surrounded by love, laughter and friendship, good food and champagne. I took a brief moment, almost as if I was standing outside and looking in, to take it all in. I saw a lot of happiness. I saw a lot of joy! I heard conversations. Heard screams of cheer and saw fireworks. I always seem to get nostalgic and semimetal in the New Year. I have always loved talking and thinking about the past year. It’s lessons. It’s losses. It’s new and second chances. What great things happened, how far we’ve come and what we have to look forward t0.

The hubs and I had one last official date of the year on the 30th. In a restaurant full of people, I love that somehow it can still be only us. A hundred people swirling around us and it’s simply he and I. Alone. We talked about the incredible year we had. A BIG year! A graduate. A lot of travel. The sell of a house. A move. A new career move.

Starting it off we had our last baby child gradate high school. That in itself was huge! Empty-nesters.

You know when you’re just starting out and you’re building your family…that word seems like an eternity away and then one day you wake up, and you’re there. It. Goes. By. So. Quickly.

image6Over the years of our life, he and I have had dreams and goals. We’d talked often about life after our chicks were gone and out of the nest. I am grateful and thankful that we have remained a constant with one another. Best friends who have grown up and grown closer over the years of raising a family. Always putting God first, then one another, then our family. We will no longer have carpools, school calendars, dance recitals, swim meets, football games, gymnastics meets, ski club, co-op, homeschooling, trips to craft stores for projects, teacher meetings and the mountain of other actives that accumulate while raising kids. What would life be like when it’s not full of running errands and helping with homework? We dreamed, he and I. We always have. We made goals. We looked forward to the future, all the while LOVING the time raising our kids, but looking forward to that chance to become just a couple again, someday. Isn’t it fun to dream with your spouse? To reach in and pull out one another’s heart and examine it? As we stepped into 2016, we knew that time was upon us. We did it! We celebrated our success at raising the last of our three kids to adulthood.

One of the plans was to sell our big house and downsize. After all….we would both rather collect memories, not things. Travel more and not be tied down to a house that is way too large for two. Not to mention maintenance; lawn care, snow removal. Not our thing. We’ve always thought there are better ways to spend our time. Mission accomplished. The move was tumultuous to say the least. The binging and purging was taking way longer for us than expected. We both felt as if while we were paring our house down, we were paring our life down. Letting go of “things” was so refreshing and it allowed for evaluation of every single aspect of our life.

image1After my JMT trip, I had already come back a changed person (more when I continue that post) I came back ready for change, ready to purge…everything. I had lived 3-weeks out of a tent and backpack. I had nothing but time to process unwanted garbage out of my life. When I returned I had a new focus and new zest for life, that when shared with the hubs, motivated him just the same. He didn’t need to be out in the wilderness to catch everything I was getting at. Taking 6 days to drive the coast after that trip was the best debrief I could’ve asked for. I shared my journaling with him and it came as NO SURPRISE that he and I were both on the same page. LET IT GO!! A fresh start was about to take place. The move….well, it was just the icing on the cake. It sealed the deal that everything we had talked and dreamed about all these years, was about to break free and come to fulfillment.

Our words for last year were Patience and Prepare. Every year instead of resolutions, we wait and listen for ONE WORD. Isn’t it just like our God to give us those two words? Patience and Prepare. WOW! Our ENTIRE year was lived out and based on the fulfillment of those words. I learned patience like I’ve never had before. Through all of my training and racing last year, through injury and sickness, I HAD to be patient with myself, with my body, with my health. Hiking days on end for long hours in the Sierras instills patience like I’ve never encountered. Selling a house…pushes it to the brink. But I knew that God had prepared me/us for all of it.

During the process of moving, we took the advice of those friends who have gone through the same thing. The ones who have dreamed big and had those dreams become reality, some selling their homes to travel and live by RV, some selling and moving different states to chase the sun and some who sold homes to live their dream of living on a boat. Talk about having to purge! We loved the encouragement. Loved the inspiration! The purging became so much more to us than getting rid of our stuff. I literally became clearing out EVERYTHING we felt was holing us back, holding us down, holding us hostage. Baggage. The trunks dragging behind that were getting too heavy to haul. Bad, unhealthy relationships, bills, toxic unauthentic people in our lives, old unforgiveness, walls that were built over time, that needed climbed over or broken down, unhealthy eating and drinking, missed workouts and missed opportunities, resentments. You name it, it was flushed out. God worked on our hearts as a couple and individually. He guided and showed us the way. And when it was done…..we felt a whole new sense of freedom. We felt …. Light. And as 2016 slipped away and 2017 came flowing in God whispered my word for the year: Intention. Be intentional.image2

image4Living with intention to me means, to live with purpose. To continue to foster the REAL in me, verses what people want of me. Live deliberately. Instead of thinking “I don’t have time” really evaluate if it is a priority, and move on from there. And if it’s not, to not allow guilt of any kind creep in. I want my actions to speak more than my voice. I want to be intentional with friends, giving them the undivided attention they deserve while we are together. I want to surround myself with people on fire for life. I want to be intentional in my food choices, my exercise, and the time spent doing the things I love: traveling with my hubs and soaking in salt water. I want things in my home to have a use and a meaning, not just “because its shiny” I want to wake up each morning with my aim focused to my Creator, to listen to what He has in store for me. I want to be a magnet for miracles and notice them everywhere, every day. I want to continue to notice the beauty and abundance that’s all around me. I want to dig deeper and deeper into the Word of God. I want to be intentional in my relationship with my hubs, honoring and respecting him everyday and being acutely aware to his needs and interests and fanning those in him. I want to believe good things are happening everyday. I want to be intentional to giving, to doing everything with a good heart and expecting nothing in return. I want to inspire others in my walk with God. I want to watch less TV and be outdoors more. I want to drink more water. I don’t want to “settle” for anything, realizing life is short and fleeting. I want to NOTICE more. I want to journal and pray more. I want to serve more and be aware of others needs. Spend time with those I adore.image5 I want to take more risks and love fiercely, even if others can’t return that love. I want to let go and let God, knowing I cannot control the uncontrollable. I want to soak in the knowledge that each day starts with new grace and fresh mercy.

This journey into a new year will be radical. Exciting and challenging! I already know it will be filled with more joy than we will know how to contain. Join me in raising a glass, to your ONE word, to your resolutions, to your new year, new you, new career, new marriage, new baby, new chapter or maybe even a whole new book. Get excited!  Flip the page.Processed with VSCOcam with p2 preset

 

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Pressing Pause….For the Beauty of Mushrooms

I am constantly on the look out for beauty, and the result of that lookout is a daily reminder of the splendor of God.  I am fascinated that when I wake everyday, knowing I am looking for beauty, how my mind is transformed.  I cannot have a bad day when surrounded by beauty.  It’s impossible!  This is a daily prayer of mine, “God show me and surround me with your beauty”  How can that ever make for a bad day?

Sandpoint, Idaho trail.

Sandpoint, Idaho trail.

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The places I find beauty are different everyday.  But..in mushrooms?  Mushrooms?  This weekend, while my hubs and I were in Sandpoint, Idaho hiking, beauty was all around us in nature.  Nature never disappoints in this department.  Ever!  Each season, and every day holds within it, something of overwhelming beauty.  Sometimes it’s big and vast, in a mountain range.  Sometimes in a sunrise or sunset.  Sometimes you have to get down to see the smallest, intricate, buds of a wild flower.  But if you look, it’s there, all around.  Stopping to ponder these things is sometimes the hardest thing in our busy lives.  We are rushers.  Frenzied, running from place to place.  It takes slowness sometimes to capture the true essence of beauty.  The phrase, “stop and smell the roses” has to come into play.  When you look closely, you see the magical.  The sinews of a blade of grass.  The crystals in a cube of ice.  The delicate powder on the wing of a butterfly.  You really see the finite wonders of God when you stop and press “pause.”  As we walked, I got more and more engrossed in what was happening on the ground.   MUSHROOMS.  Of all things….  And as I searched, they kept dazzling me with their crazy, fungi-y selves. (If you know me, this would absolutely be a word in the dictionary of Paula)  Even damp, soggy, mushrooms took on such a form of beauty for me.  I was quite taken by them.

Pressed "pause" on our journey to take a look at things.

Pressed “pause” on our journey to take a look at things.

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This mushroom was amazing!

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These would’ve escaped the naked eye at walking level. But when I stooped down to see them, I was in awe of their precious little bodies.

Aren’t people a wonderful form of beauty?  I’m not talking about the outer shell appearance of someone.  I’m talking about the beauty of the heart.  Sweet innocence.  Authenticity.  Joy.  An inner-self that is unencumbered.  Sparkly eyes that are creased with age, and although that is a outer beauty, there is something inside a person, that loves those crevasses of a well lived life of laughter and experience.  A soul at peace, no matter the circumstances.  Friendships that are long and easy, and not hinged on anything but love and loyalty.  The ability to reach beyond yourself, not looking for anything in return, to help someone in need.  That small act of kindness could mean the World to a stranger, family member or friend.  The heart that loves to compliment someone, even when we aren’t feeling our best.  Someone that has amazing confidence, isn’t a braggart, but knows exactly who they are, and Who they live for.  A heart rooted in God, does this….for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7  

As I set out on this new week, refreshed, I am looking forward to the beauty I will find today and everyday.  I will take a minute to press pause and allow something to awe me.  To not rush through my day,  To stop and make eye contact with someone, even a stranger, and beam out a smile.  Try it.  Seek out and expect beauty in your life.  Some days it may be hard, but its there, all around us…waiting to be admired.  I promise, it’s so worth it.

At Riley Creek

Riley Creek. Laclede, Idaho