Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Sharing Our Stories and Slice of Life: A Seventeen Day Road Trip!

The year was 1984 and I was almost six months into my first pregnancy. The trip was punctuated by hot weather, nights at Motel 6, and long days of car travel. So why would I consider it one of my favorite trips?

We made meticulous plans. Our in-advance research yielded a brown manila envelope for each destination. Each night we would pull out the envelope for the next day and decide which of the many possibilities to pursue on the next day.

We ate out of our ice chest and a cardboard box in the back seat. I’m sure we had an occasional restaurant meal, but those meals haven’t lingered. Instead I remember the box of cereal, the loaf of bread, the jar of peanut butter, the carrot sticks (prepped the night before), and fruit purchased from grocery stores or roadside stands along the way. I remember a very delicious cantaloupe ripened to perfection and cut using a knife carefully wrapped in a dishtowel and secured with a rubber band (a travel technique learned from my mama). I remember picnicking in parks in small towns and a hillside picnic in New Mexico where we carefully gathered pine cones that I still decorate with each Christmas (despite the fact that we now live where pine cones are ubiquitous).

I remember one particularly unfavorable restroom stop after Lance had ignored my suggestions for more favorable stops, and I had reached the point of absolutely having to stop “right now.” A pregnant woman’s bladder can be very insistent! By the time we returned home seventeen days after beginning, I knew that we had taken this trip at the perfect time. My pregnant body was finding riding in the car for hours-on-end less than desirable.

I remember the book that I was reading, The Clan of the Cave Bear, enjoyed after I scanned the envelope for information about our next day's destination. I remember enjoying magic mattress massages available for a quarter at some of our Motel 6 lodgings. I remember a leisurely float trip down a river in Idaho. I remember visiting Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, and the crown jewel of the trip for me, Grand Teton National Park. We may have even splurged with an overnight stay at the lodge and enjoyed a meal there.

The best parts of our 1984 road trip? 

  • It was taken before Lance had a laptop or cellphone to keep him tethered to the office. 
  • We visited some of the most beautiful and memorable places I’ve ever been. 
  • It lasted for seventeen days, the longest vacation we’ve ever taken!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Slice of Life: A Birthday to Remember!

 I wasn't sure that I wanted to be away from home for my birthday, but I decided that being with my sister for a birthday would make it special. We've not shared many birthdays in person as adults. So I booked a flight for early June to visit my sister in Bryan, Texas, my first visit in two years. Little did I know at the time that it would turn out to be one of the memorable birthdays in my life. 

First of all, my nephew and his family live in College Station, so of course they would join us for birthday cake and ice cream.

I invited my niece who lives in Texas (about three hours away) and my sister-in-law who lives in Oklahoma (almost seven hours away) to join us. And was thrilled when both responded that they could come! We loved attending church together on Sunday. 

My sis, me, my sister-in-law, and my niece
The biggest surprise came when my nephew and family (who live in OK, seven hours away) decided to join us! I failed to get a family pic while they were here, but here's one they took for me on their return trip home. 

The first cousins!
The second cousins
 The birthday girl!

The birthday girl's view!

At some point during the evening's festivities, I escaped to the bedroom for a little peace and quiet. Only it was filled with five cousins playing together. Some of them didn't even notice that I was in the room at first. I began questioning each in turn about their grade in school (funny how teachers prefer knowing that to knowing ages). And that's when we discovered that we had a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader in the house! I insisted they line up by grade for a fun pic. And yes, those are my toes in the pic!

And that's how we ended up with sixteen people at my 66th birthday party. Thanks to everyone who joined the celebration. Because of the pandemic, and because we lost two siblings in 2020, and because I'm one of the elders in our far flung family, this gathering was a dear occasion and a birthday celebration that I'll hold forever in my heart.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Comfort

is hosting Spiritual Journey Thursday this month 
with a call to revisit our One Little Word for 2021. 

I putter about my blog, search for posts that include the word comfort, and seek to come up with a way to revisit my One Little Word for this Spiritual Journey Thursday post that will do double duty with the Sharing Our Stories community. 

I chose to approach my OLW for 2021 through the lens of these three phrases: Snuggle into comfort, reach out to comfort, and step out of my comfort zone. I've probably snuggled into comfort long enough. This quote by Kay Arthur that I shared in my January post reminds me that the Lord is beside us and willing to comfort us in our daily walks and trials: "Snuggle in God's arms when you are hurting, when you feel lonely, when you feel left out. Let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all sufficient power and love."               

I'm relieved that vaccinations have enabled me to actually reach out to comfort and embrace dear friends. I've resumed walking with friends and our church congregation has slowly moved back  to "in person" gatherings. This week will mark the first Sunday that we will gather in person for two hours of worship instead of one hour church followed by Zoom gatherings for second hour classes that has been our schedule for the past two months. I'm looking forward to hosting our first in person book club in June. 

But the comfort that I'm leaning into is the comfort of being with friends and family for the next week. I traveled to Austin, Texas yesterday (traveling is one way that I'm stepping out of my comfort zone). My good friend, Mallory, picked me up at the airport and will drive me to my sister's home in Bryan, Texas today. It's been almost two years since I've seen Mallory's family. We shared a pew with them on Sundays for almost ten years and they shared their children with us. We were so sad when they decided to move to Texas. Here are pics taken from their last visit to our home in July 2019 and one of the family taken just yesterday.

And today I'm off to see my sis in Texas. It's been two years since we've been together. I can't wait to see her. Her son and family, my sister-in-law, my niece, and my nephew and his family are joining us for a family weekend together. It's a sure bet that we'll be doing a bit of embracing and comforting. It's our first time together since my brother's death. Covid-19 has stolen so much from us. We are looking forward to this time together to share our love, remember those we lost (a sister and a brother in December 2020), and comfort each other. These words from 2 Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 remind us that as we are comforted by God, we have a responsibility to reach out to comfort others:
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."             

Finally, it's time to step out of my comfort zone and get to work on some projects at home. I've been gentle with myself and spent a lot of time snuggling into comfort and giving comfort. When I get home from this trip, I'll make hay while the sun shines (and while the garage is not cold and dark) to join husband in his efforts to declutter the garage and our home in preparation for downsizing at some point in the future. (I welcome all helpful hints from friends who have already walked this path.) The words of this quote will help me remember that outside my comfort zone is real growth. "Be comfortable with being outside your comfort zone. That's the only way to grow."

I look forward to reading your posts about your 2021 journey with your OLW!

To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.