Happy Festivus -Airing of Grievances

Take a look at your life. What do you see? 

I try to keep my social media positive and inspirational all while being authentic and real. OF COURSE like everyone I have bad days and situations and I definitely SEE them, acknowledge them and accept them but they never destroy me and I don’t see a need for complaint. So often all I see on social media is complaining.

”The house isn’t perfect”  But does it hold a loving family and friends? Do you gather around a table for incredible meals and talk and laugh and make memories?

”The government isn’t perfect”  When has it ever been? George Washington owned slaves and made mistakes on the battlefield due to his lack of experience as a general. Those mistakes cost him the lives of many soldiers. They almost cost him the independence of America. Or Hoover’s belief that raising taxes would somehow fix the “Great Depression”

”The new car isn’t perfect” Neither was my 1989 Honda Civic that I bought in 2002, but that car represented my freedom from domestic violence and is still my most favored car. 

”My marriage isn’t perfect” How can you ever have the expectation of living with someone other than yourself and have it completely copacetic? How completely boring.

“My kids aren’t perfect” Thank goodness kids aren’t clones and they all have individuality and their own identity. 

”My body isn’t perfect” 🙄🙄 It is strong and healthy and capable? 

The list goes on. Oftentimes things aren’t as we planned and that’s part of life and growth.

 We ARE NOT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. 

To live in a constant state of compliant really shows a lack of happiness and gratitude all around.

 Ya know what’s perfect? Nothing. 

So it’s either a situation where you honestly can’t be happy no matter what the outcome and you’re completely unable to please OR maybe you feel so out of control that you need to control everything to create perfectionism OR maybe you just love the drama. Maybe you’ve never been in a situation where you’ve dedicated time in your life to something other than yourself. 

I can’t be certain, but it’s heartbreaking, honestly. 

We live in a society bent on being perfect, which has created nothing but stress and drama. 

Stop and take a look at your life. 

There is a laundry list of things I could be adding to this but I’m trying to keep this short and sweet. More than likely my passion will run more wild on this than the crazy curls that grow unruly out of my head.. but I digress. 

As Greg and I travel the world and meet people the one thing we notice is the perfectness in imperfection. We travel to places where people are (to American standards) struggling, without complaint. I fact it’s more often the people who have less-than are the ones more likely to invite us for dinner. It’s the people who worry about their water sources being polluted, knowing it could be worse, invite us for tea. They smile, they tell stories and they don’t complain. They know things aren’t perfect but have decided to rise up and see the greatness, not to strive for perfection but to see things through another lens. 

Over the years Greg and I have had more times of looking at one another and thinking Whiskey Tango Foxtrot than you can imagine. We raised kids. HaHa, that right there should reveal our skill-set.  We’ve built houses for ourselves and for others in foreign countries. We’ve had no money and an abundance. We endured sickness and long-distance-moves. We’ve served on missions, we’ve lost friends, we’ve had delays and bad flights, we’ve had plans change that weren’t in our control to begin with, BUT we’ve always ALWAYS been grateful. In the 5 seconds after a tragedy, we may look blinded, but within another 5 we think… 

“Wait, look at our life!” 

This year I have had an abundance of friends suffer. Through decades of marriage that came to an abrupt end. Through the diagnosis of cancer that has decided to take a young, healthy body and ravage it. Through losing a home to a natural disaster. Loss of a spouse and children. Unexpected moves from an area they love. Loss of jobs. 

Stop and take a look at your life. 

I can’t help but think 100% of us have something better to do than complain.  EVER! 

Please stop. Please stop making mountains out of nothing. Please stop feeding drama on social media.  Please stop being petty. Please do something for someone other than yourself. Please look around you to those who are REALLY hurting. Please get out of bed and stop complaining about your health and DO something to move towards change. Please see someone and/or admit that maybe you’re depressed and seek help. Please stop posting things that make people roll their eyes. (Ok maybe it’s just me) 

Please be delicate with one another. Please forgive someone. Please spread kindness. Please give to someone in need.  Please agree to disagree (HONESTLY) Please extend grace. Please be humble. Please love without condition. Please…. just be a kind human. 

The Love Story

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Over time things ebb and flow. Like a swell and the waves of the ocean, that at one moment looks calm and in a blink turns to a rolling sea. This is the way of marriage. To me, that’s living a long life with someone. The high and low. The up and down. The good the bad… which is indeed still good. It’s the waking day after day to the same person staring at you and choosing to smile because you’d never imagine another way to wake up.

Marriage is complicated. And even after being together for 24 years, I can’t even start to think I have anything figured out.

The majority of days for us, for me anyway, are completely unimaginable. This guy, who I met in a pub when I was practically a child, has somehow morphed into this brilliant man with specks of silver in his hair. Who adores and loves every ounce of me, and not only on my pretty days. Who has dedicated his life to me, in the messiest parts and the more extraordinary parts. His smell to me is the same. And that smile… The days have turned to weeks, have turned to years, have rolled into decades and have gone by so quickly and have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride of wild excitement! We have worked at keeping things fresh. We still date. Did you read that? Yes, we still date and always have, even during the child-raising years, choosing to carve out time, just to be a couple. We still surprise one another, still chase one another and challenge one another, because….how could you NOT? We’ve never been ok with the status quo. We don’t take one another for granted. We love one another deeply and wildly. We allow room for error and growth and never require perfection.

Today is our anniversary. We’ve been around the block a few times. I always want to be real and authentic with our family, our friends, with our kids, because people see us and think we are kind of that “Unicorn” couple…and we are, but some days…..some days you fall asleep on the couch the night before, and you wake up disheveled and disoriented, so early and pass one another in the kitchen for that first cup of coffee and you’re so dazed and confused, the morning not quite rubbed out of your eyes yet, and you talk, and you laugh, and grumble about “why did you leave me on the couch overnight?” and you….forget.
For ten minutes, you forget that over two decades ago, you took vows for better or for worse. Is that normal? I honestly think everything and anything in a marriage is normal. Because you cannot spend your life with someone and not mess up. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies.

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Now, I DO have to say, this is the VERY first time, in our entire life together, I have been left on the couch. I am going to blame a headache that forced my hubs to bed early, and the night owl in me that likes to stay up until stars twinkle late into the night sky. The music on my iPod and being zoned on the couch reading over marathon training plans, that eventually lulled me to sleep until I heard the french press being filled with grounds and felt a wet nose against mine. No, not G’s!

Sometimes, this is life.

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Sometimes….this is real life!

The real parts of life.

What I do know about this day: I would without thinking for a second, walk my cute, little self down that aisle again. I would still behave in my feisty, “YES, you’re going to pay for that beer” way from 24 years ago. I would always choose to make every life change, job change, globe-trot, move across the country, dive into the pool head first, jump out of the airplane, let’s move out of the country, chance and adventure that has come our way. I would say yes again, and I will, every day. G, you are still it! When I look at you, I still see that boy I met so many years ago, with a head full of dreams (and guitar riffs) with the fullest, kindest heart, who was as scared as I was to take the risk on one another. Who is so dedicated and sold out to God, your family, your friends. Who still, honestly, daily, gives me butterflies. There is no one I’d rather live a life of shenanigans with than you, Mister. Our friends know this. Our family knows this. People who are around us for more than 10 minutes know this: we are a force to be reckoned with.

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So, as we sit, blinking wildly at one another in utter amazement that for the very first time in all of our years together, there was not a marching band and banners strung, the pomp and circumstance to remind us of our years together…we can laugh without fear of the future. Because, yes, even unicorns get sleep deprived. In the real world anyway.

Happy Anniversary my Love~

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The Miracle of a Gas Station

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If I had a dime for every time I thought our lives would be ordinary, I’d be a wealthy woman! Instead, gratefully and thankfully I am rich beyond measure in a million other ways that money and possessions can’t come close to buying. Living an ordinary life..this just isn’t in the works for us.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of visitors, with more on the way over the next two weeks, which we love. It’s fun to be a “tourist” in the place you live. There is something about sharing your dreams with people that is so magical. Giving them a glimpse as to the WHY we do, and act, and live the way we do. As adventurers and joy seekers my hubs and I relish these sweet moments to bring people to off-the-beaten-path places that we have known and loved for so long here in Costa Rica. We love sharing why this place is so special to us, and the decisions and (many)prayers that went into this and making it our home. We love sharing the obstacles that God put in front of us, the wait, and the right path that He finally put us on to get here. We are thankful for the friends and visionaries that we met over ten years ago, who we’ve stayed in touch with, and continued to inspire us on this journey. IMG_4924

Costa Rica isn’t for everyone, and we fully understand that. The way of life here is  S L O W (unless you’re driving) and rides on a timeframe that most people don’t roll on. A slow-roll vacation is one thing, but living by that day to day is a whole different experience. Thankfully my hubs and I are very patient and don’t get overly-excited when things aren’t in our time frame. It’s just part of life here. The water goes out, and the electricity goes out, sometimes during the hottest times of the year. Things break quickly, but it’s not always easy to fix them or have them repaired quickly. There are bugs. (have I mentioned that on a few past blogs HAHA) Some days the language barrier can be hard, although I can speak and understand Spanish pretty well (and am still learning and taking classes) there are times that it’s rough. Living on the beach, things rust and just quit working that you wouldn’t suspect. Phones and computers die quickly due to salt air. Growth is slow, and in fact, the village where we reside in is the same as it was ten years ago on our first visit. In fact, it has gotten smaller. It was these types of things we LOVED about it and why we fell in love with it. However, there are days that I just feel out of sorts, weary and this day happened to be one of those days.

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After a wildly-fun week with our daughter and her roommate visiting, going to some incredible places, playing tour guide, and driving the milage of a drive from here to Belize, I was ready for a quiet night at home on Saturday. My daughter and I drove into the city to take a tanned, sleep-deprived CW to the airport. I have to admit, I was a little….tired myself (a lot), unraveled and on the fray already. After leaving the airport we got onto the highway, to make the 90 min- 2-hour drive home. There was a lot of traffic as per the usual for a weekend. Then I could feel it. The air in our SUV started to feel “off” and a little warm. I looked at my temperature gauge and noticed that was rising towards the H! Hmm. I pulled to the side, which was a flat-out act of playing Frogger, and I turned the A/C off. When we left our beach town yesterday it was 91 degrees F (with a real feel of 109) IT WAS A LITTLE TOASTY! I thought…in all of my mechanical wisdom (none) that maybe using the air in such heat, the car needed a rest. I surely did! Once I shut the air off and sat for 30 seconds, the temp went down. “OK..good!” I said to my youngest Cub who was riding shotgun. We merged back into traffic, passed a tollbooth, paid our colones, and I looked at the gauge again…it was now all the way to the H. Hmmm! That means HOT! Which we were coincidentally, with no A/C, 100 degrees of sun on us, in the middle of the highway, just out of the city. I pulled back off onto the side of the road and shut the car off. I took a 30-second “Jesus take the Wheel” moment and texted my hubs who is in the States. THIS POOR MAN! This Saint of a husband of mine. What is he possibly going to do? What he did is what he does so well; calmly, coach me through a couple of different things. By the grace of God, we had water in the car. As surfers, we carry it as our after-saltwater rinse. I popped the hood, added some water where needed, but could tell the radiator was much too hot to open, and went to turn the car back on. Nope. Still overheating. I climbed back into the car and looked at my daughter. I said, “well….hmmm.” I got back out and stood in front of my open hood as cars raced by coming out of the tolls like racehorses on a track. Semi trucks were whizzing by and honking their horns. Tourist vans and shuttles screaming by, jocking for their position into two lanes after the width of the tolls. I stood staring at a steaming engine and for a brief second felt very vulnerable the helpless. We were far (12-15K) from the next gas station that I could tell on Google, but had mountains to climb to get there. I got back into the car to check on my daughter; I said: “Aren’t you happy that I don’t panic?” Which is true, but to be completely honest, inside I was feeling a slight tinge of alarm and dismay. I was in a “mother’s protection mode” but under the shield I felt a heave of my chest and was spinning a million things around in my head. Things that were coming into play; no mechanic, in a fair amount of traffic, the sun getting lower in the sky, which was great for the heat factor, but meant that sunset would be coming, leaving us not only in the dark on the road, but to drive (if we could) back home in the dark (worst thing ever) and EVEN if someone stopped, thinking about our vulnerability, being two gringas stranded, and the language barrier to explain the situation. I stood outside the car and whispered, “God. God in all of your power and mercy and saving, I NEED a miracle right now. Right this very moment, because honestly, I do not know what I am going to do.” 

IMG_4940Within 5 minutes of that whisper, a car pulled up. I was a little nervous because I couldn’t quite see who was in the car. I couldn’t tell who was getting out. Up walks this young guy followed by his sweet wife and baby. He said “You OK? I know you. From the gas estacion en Jaco. I work there, and I recognize you on the side of the road.” WHAT!? I was completely dumbfounded at this point, staring at this guy. And he says again “remember me? I know you from Jaco.” The miracle. I snap back together and say “YES! Oh my gosh, yes, I remember you, of course!” This young guy, from Jaco, 100K away, where we frequently get gas, and now will be THE ONLY PLACE we ever get gas, just happens to be driving back from San Jose with his wife and baby son and they recognize me. Sweaty, hair in a top-knot, baking on the side of the road, in a maze of cars, looking like a hot mess, they recognize me? The miracle. 

He starts peeking and poking around in my car and asks for mas agua. I pull out the few remaining bottles we have that are half-full, he wets the radiator and slowly starts to work the cap off. At this point, we were completely out of water. As this is happening another car pulls up, and an older man and his wife walk up. He brings out of his vehicle two big jugs of water. The miracle. The two men converse back and forth and look into the engine. They get the cap off and fill it with water. It was DRY, and the fan is not working. Nothing to cool the engine. The older gentleman pulls out a knife and starts to cut wires. I look at my daughter and smile as she’s Snapchatting this to her world fan base. and say, “is this really happening right now?” I ask the younger of the two guys if this is his amigo? “No” he replies, with a shake of his head. Just a random man and his wife. Good people. This older gentleman is slicing and splicing car wires and sparking wires off of the battery, all in an effort to get the fan running. He definitely knew what he was doing. Then he says “broken.” Ok, well there it is….. He splices wires back together and pulls out some electrical tape to secure them. Meanwhile, behind us, pull up two semi-truck drivers to add to our roadside party mix. They got out to share some conversation. They were great at blocking the oncoming traffic for us out of the hustle of the toll booths. Finally, the young man says “OK it’s holding a bit of water, but leaking. Please drive in front of me to the next gas station, so I know you get there safely.” I offer to pay them, and they would not accept the money.

The Cub and I hop into the car, the gauge is reading in the normal range, and we take off for the next gas station where we pull in, and the guy and his sweet wife and baby hop out, he pops the hood and fills the radiator again. This continues at EVERY gas station until we hit Jaco around 6 pm. (We left San Jose and the airport at 2:30p!!) Once in Jaco, he says “I can follow you to Esterillos if you like.” I knew at this point I was close enough to get home without running out of water. I was holding back tears. I could not believe the genuine, sweet gift that these people were to my daughter and me when we were in such great need. A random act of kindness from complete strangers. Once again I pulled money from my wallet and offered it to them. The only way I could think of besides my continued words of gratitude in my fragmented Spanglish, to repay them. I said, “Please, you saved me today! You were an answer to a prayer.” His sweet wife looked at me and shook her head no and said: “We do this for you de nuestro corazón because we love you.” (We do this for you from our heart because we love you)

Queue the tears. QUEUE. THE. TEARS!IMG_4932

The sweet guy asks if I have a phone and he puts his cell number into my phone. He says,  to please let him know if I need help explaining to a mechanic what’s wrong with the car (because as far as my Spanish goes I missed the Automobile Engine Course to explain) By the time my daughter and I got home, he had already texted me to see if we made it safely. The miracle. 

When we got home, our kids were waiting with our dog which they had kept all day. What a sight for my eyes. I was so happy to be back home. I FaceTimed with my hubs to fill him in. I laughed and cried a little over the story and sequence of events that played out. Laughing because nothing is ever ordinary and crying because of the enormity of graciousness, helpfulness, and love that I felt from complete strangers.

Number 5-million of WHY we love living here. The people. The kindness. Given, taken and shared. I try and talk to everyone, everywhere, even when I pull into the gas station and greet the attendant. Yes, I can be busy. I can be on my phone. I can be fidgeting with my radio controls, but I always think about people, because they MATTER. Maybe they aren’t having the best day. Maybe (doubtfully) I am the only gringa that decided to pull up and TALK that particular day.  I always share a smile. They are entirely free, and people LOVE receiving them. Thankfully, yesterday that came back to me. 

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38