One year ago today, Brent and the kids and I were in the middle of our incredible sabbatical. What a trip! On July 23, 2014 we were walking through the humid heat of Washington, D.C. There are so many things to visit in the city, it’s almost overwhelming. We didn’t necessarily enjoy the heat, but we did enjoy all the museums and monuments.
If I could describe the city with one word it would be this: impressive. You simply cannot see all of those amazing sights without leaving with some kind of impression. There was so much we experienced that was big, bold, historic, and on a grand scale. Nothing about the nation’s capital is small or subtle. But with all of that, the one thing that made the most lasting effect on me was something much more personal. At the National Mall, standing in front of the Vietnam Memorial, I could not keep the tears from coming. And although there were patriotic reasons for the emotions, most of the tears came because the little girl inside of me just loves her daddy. Here is the prayer I wrote on that day:
“Dear Lord, these last few days I have been humbled by some very poignant reminders of the sacrifices that our country’s military make. Some of them give a few years of their lives. Some of them give many years and make a career out of service to their country. And then there are some who make the ultimate sacrifice. They give their lives. They give up the futures they and their families had planned. Lord, please help me to never be flippant or take for granted what these soldiers have done. May I always remember that every soldier, whether living or dead, matters.
Lord, on this day, there is one soldier for whom I am especially grateful. I walked along a memorial wall today that was filled with names of soldiers who never returned home, who had given their lives. And I was overwhelmed with the feeling of gratefulness to You for the one name that was not on the wall. I’m thankful to you that this soldier was able to make it through the fight. It wasn’t quick, or easy, or peaceful. But somehow You found a way to get him home. As I looked at the long black wall today with so many names, I don’t know why some made it home and some didn’t. But Lord, from the bottom of this daughter’s heart, thank you for bringing my daddy home. Amen.”
The kids and I did some shopping tonight. When we’re not pressed for time and have the freedom to look around awhile, you never know what kinds of treasures we’ll find. It’s only October, but we knew we had to get this cute little ornament to commemorate this summer’s cross-country trip. Later we found some super-fun foam hats at Target. We didn’t purchase any, but we sure had fun trying them on. Shopping with three kids can be quite an adventure!
Here’s a list of things I missed about home while we were trekking across the country. This is a list of things, not people. Of course we missed friends and family and church, which is made up of people, more than any mere thing. Nevertheless, here’s the list:
1. the Cascade Mountains
2. New Life Radio
3. Bend’s drinking water, which is probably the best tasting tap water anywhere
4. my computer, so I don’t have to write blog posts from my phone
5. Pizza Mondo, especially the yummy chewy crust
6. Jackson’s Corner restaurant
7. all my favorite consignment and thrift shops
8. Deschutes River Trail
9. Pilot Butte State Park and the view when you reach the top
10. Goody’s: the ice cream, the chocolates, and especially the caramel corn!
After more than 9,000 miles over 2 months, we made it home just before Labor Day. The first thing people said when we got back was, “You’re so tan!” I guess we spent a lot of time at the pool. The trailer is all cleaned up and sitting in storage awaiting our next adventure. We had an amazing time in that trailer. When we got back to our house, we felt like we had so much room compared to the trailer.
For the last month, we’ve been in what I like to call “reentry mode”. We honestly had to adjust our mindset to get used to abiding by schedules, and keeping track of our calendar, and staying in one place for more than a week. But I think we’re pretty much back in the groove now. Things are rolling along at church. School is underway. And autumn is upon us, which proves that time has moved on from the summer, just like we have.
Getting away on a sabbatical was every great thing we thought it would be. But we know that you don’t rest to be lazy. You rest so you can go back to work refreshed and energized. You rest because God tells you rest, and you can’t rely on just you and your work to get everything accomplished. Some things you just have to leave in God’s hands. You rest to take a deep breath and step back to see what’s really going on, what’s really important. For us, what’s really important is our family and God’s call on our lives. The truth is, once we focus on those few things, there really isn’t room for much else. It turns out to be a simple life (as simple as family and ministry can be). And I like it. It’s a good, simple life. Anything else just makes it too complicated.
That’s enough deep thoughts for now. Here are some pics from the return journey from Minnesota to Oregon. We traveled through North Dakota, Montana (our last pool day), Washington (visiting friends in Yakima), and finally home to Oregon.
On another FYI topic, I’ve set a goal for myself that starts tomorrow. I am going to try to write up a blog post every day in October, just to challenge myself to share more, to write more. We’ll see how it goes. See you tomorrow!
Just some shots our time in Minnesota. So fun! We are having to deal with an RV issue, though. While our trailer has been sitting for a few days without electricity, we didn’t realize that our refrigerator was no longer getting its energy from the propane tanks. The fridge and freezer weren’t working anymore. After a few days, we went back into the trailer to store a few things, and we thought we smelled something weird. Then Brent opened the freezer door. Oh no! He almost gagged from the overwhelming smell of rotten meat! I can’t even explain it. It’s a smell that I will never forget, even though I wish I could. So of course we’ve done a massive, thorough cleaning. And now we’re using every method possible to get rid of that lingering odor. We’ve almost got it back to normal, thank goodness.
Well, enough of that stuff! Enjoy the snapshots! They have nothing to do with an unplugged fridge unit. It’s just a lot of smiling faces.
During our week in Minnesota we took a break from the trailer and stayed with friends. We’re grateful to the Gahagen and Schultz families for their hospitality. Brent has been back here a few times, but the kids and I haven’t been around these parts since we moved over 6 years ago.
We took one day to relax and explore Lake Calhoun. Then at lunch Brent ate the most Upper Midwest kind of burger I’ve ever seen!
Of course we visited the MOA! Otherwise known as the Mall of America. We told the kiddos months ago that we would go to the MOA amusement park and they had been looking forward to it the entire trip. We went with our friends, the Schultz family. It was so cool for Emma to be reunited with Sophia, her special Minnesota buddy. They both have grown and changed so much!
Being back here made us realize once again how grateful we are for the years we had here. It was a very influential time for our family and God used it to shape and mold us in big ways.
Last Sunday after church, we drove over to Stillwater, MN to spend a relaxing afternoon on the St. Croix River. Our friends, Pat and Melissa, were our gracious hosts. The weather was beautiful, the river was beautiful. But, as with the Twins game, the best part is just hanging out and catching up with friends that we haven’t seen for a long time. When I spend a day like this enjoying the sun and the water, it’s easy to forget how super-cold this place gets in the winter!
The last time I went to a Major League Baseball game, the Twins were in the playoffs and the stadium where they played was actually a dome with a funny looking roof. That was about eleven years ago! That dome still exists (sorry Vikings). This time, it doesn’t look like the Twins have much of a chance to make the playoffs. But I have to say that the stadium situation has been upgraded in a big, big way. Target Field looks great and creates a fun atmosphere for the game.
Having said that, the truth is that the best part about the evening had nothing to do with baseball. The best part was spending time with friends that we hadn’t seen for a very long time. A summer evening, a baseball game, and good friends; what more could we ask for?
The next morning was full of more happy reunions when we went to a place of special importance to us- Prairie Oak Community Church. All the kids look older, all the men look exactly the same, and the all the women look even younger than before! That almost sounds like something Garrison Keillor would say, which makes sense since we’re in Minnesota. Go Twins!
Here are some more ways we spent our time on the road trip from New England to Minnesota. It’s hard to believe that we only have a few weeks left of our cross-country adventure. Time flies when you’re having fun!
– Cedar Creek Church in Toledo, Ohio
– hours and hours of pool time!
– our favorite way to torture the children: stop at every roadside antique store that we see
– pretending to be Shoeless Joe Jackson at the movie site of Field of Dreams. So cool!
We took our time getting to Minnesota. Here are some stops we made along the way.
– a beautiful field of sunflowers in New York. We just had to stop and take pictures.
– skipping rocks in the Delaware River in the Catskills Mountains.
– filling the gas tank.
– our favorite kind of pit stop: the local drive in (or walk up). This place, Pee Wee’s, was celebrating 50 years of business.
Now it’s time to hang out in the central time zone for awhile. We’ve got about two weeks of sabbatical left to go!