May 13, 2020

life lately {the march edition}

March feels like it was a lifetime ago... but in reality, it's only not been March for 43 days, despite reports that April lasted five years. We had some fun, and life took an unprecedented turn. And still... we had fun, making it where we could.
1. Jenn joined the 50 club with Eric, and after months of wondering how to celebrate,
she chose an elegant dinner party. It was a such a beautiful celebration,
and we were honored to help plan and execute the party. A night to remember!

2. I had all but forgotten we took a little road trip the first weekend in March...
and here I am, jokingly showing off my soapy hands at Disney Springs. 

3. The actual destination of our get-away was Wild Florida,
where Eric has been wanting to visit for years. The timing was right, and our
adventure even included an airboat ride!

4. One week later we were shopping for some food, just in case...

5. And decided to brave it all and go to the county fair
the one night it was open, to show our support.

6. I've been working from home since March 17th.

7. A little takeout from our favorite craft beer place. It's such a fun place for us,
and we hope to be able to support it any way we can!
For now, it's growlers and an extravagant tip.

8. Cam had a job interview, and he has waved goodbye to Target
and is working for our county in the water lab. 

9. Oh the walks... everyday after working remotely we needed to get out and breathe.
Jenn & I walked miles and miles until they had to finally close the trail.
The neighborhood streets just don't compare. 

May 12, 2020

the lenten letters

Some of my zoo days are my best days. The conversations that happen around the table, amidst peanuts, palm fronds, and paint splattered everything, always leave me smiling. Sometimes it's all out laughter, and other days it is downright holy.
Ash Wednesday, after I was lamenting our King Cake debacle, the talk turned to Lent and forty days and did you have any plans to navigate those days? Terrie shared her plan and I was already in love with it before she finished describing it. Forty letters, to forty people, in forty days. Letter to say... you mean the world to me, I love you, you are important to me. When was the last time you received mail like that? 

When I got home that afternoon, I gathered my supplies together {note cards, envelopes, stamps} and made the list. And then I started writing, and my daily trips to the mailbox became a prayer walk. Did I miss a few days? Yes. Did I play catch-up? Yes. Did I finish in time? No. But I kept on going.
In my own little bubble, I sent out these messages to the people I love and let them know. What I did not expect was that there would be a return. Over the next weeks, often a text would pop into my phone. I just received the kindest note. This is a keeper. I love you, too. I needed this today. While I might have imagined a friend opening the note, and smiling, I hadn't thought that far... and I didn't expect to be so blessed in return. And it was beautiful.

I'm not sure why I was so surprised, because isn't that just like God, to pile on the blessings...

May 11, 2020

in the stillness

Sometimes I need to be reminded that sweat is not the only reason to go for a walk, and perhaps the reason to follow the beckoning of the tree line, backlit with the pink promise of sunrise, is simply to breathe.
In maybe the stillest May I can ever remember, I find myself having to slow down even more, which honestly seems like a cruel reverse. Last week I was chasing the 15 minute mile, and this week, trying to hold off the bronchitis, the medicine combo has stopped that race in its tracks.
But this morning, I needed to get out and center my soul. A slow steady stroll. Cool morning air, which has been glorious after the early spring heat. The birds singing their song under the moon, still standing watch over the cul de sacs for just a few more minutes.

And then there was that promise.
All worship. Be still and know, indeed.

May 08, 2020

{the long lost} virtual coffee...

Oh dear friends, how lovely it would be to sit together and visit. Today there is actually tea in this cup. If we were sitting right here, together, I know we'd be talking and laughing for hours, about everything, and nothing, and all of the moments in between.
I want you to know... I had really great intentions for this break from the busy. I updated the blog template, and intended to write! and I didn't. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to say, because I feel as though my whole heart has stored up a thousand words. I suppose I was feeling motivated from many points and couldn't accomplish them all. The things that did get checked off my list? Painting baseboards, almost all of our living areas, and the front door. I have also checked off several little projects that resided in the someday portion of my head.  At this point I'm just hoping that I might be able to find some of those words again, buried in deep.

I'd tell you that while the thought of working from home sounds nice, I didn't think it was something I could be disciplined to do... but I was wrong. It's coming up on almost two months, and while I wish I had a better chair, I am doing just fine. I miss my people, especially my car pool buddy and my office-mate and our marketing "department"... and I'm thankful for the texts and laughs that fly all day long, and into the evening, too.
I might tell you that my husband has been reassigned to the 911 office and is missing his elementary school kiddos. He sometimes records a story for them and sends it off into the portal, and he's shown them his new desk where he answers all the phone calls. Once in a while he'll drive over to his school and see some of the kids out in the neighborhood, and it's probably hard to tell who is more excited to spot the other. Well, probably they are more excited to see the police car... we see it in the driveway every day. Our own kids are doing fine, too. Cam working, Laura not... but both okay.

And when I stop to take a breath, and realize that this has all been about me, I would stop and look you in the eyes, and ask... how are you? Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to make your load a little easier to carry?

My prayer list is long, and you are on it. The list of blessings, also long. And perhaps the one that crosses my mind the most is that I am not having to teach my kids while I juggle all the rest of life. My heart aches for the parents that are struggling to find a routine for this monumental task.

Until we can meet, know you are on my heart, and I miss you.

March 27, 2020

getting out...

 And into the forest I go,
to lose my mind and find my soul.
-John Muir

All of this staying home has been a growing experience. I have to say, I haven't minded it a much at all. Between conference calls and texting, I even feel like I have been in constant communication with my people. Our Zoo Crew texts up a storm, and the laughter brings us together when we have to stay away. This morning one coworker sent an email with his list of good mornings as if he were walking into the office and greeting each of us.

While working from home I have fit small projects {and naps} into my lunch hour... and tried to be productive during my commute time. It is as if I have won back two hours of my day, and I don't want to waste them or take those extra minutes for granted. I could get used to this...

And when afternoon comes, I escape the walls for the trails...
The sun warms me while the air refreshes my soul. And walking along, the sights entice me to look closer, pay attention, fall in love with God's creations over and over again.

March 25, 2020

some light advice...

The other day, my friend posted a few pictures from one of my favorite spots, and they spoke to my soul... so much so that I made a trip to one of her favorite spots so we could share and share alike. I love that our favorite spots are the same, though she lives there, and I am here... and we can be transported, along with all of our memories, with just a glance. That lighthouse... it brings me joy. She stands tall in the storm, and is beautiful, no matter the season.

Advice from a Lighthouse
-Stand Tall.
-Be shore of yourself.
-Look on the bright side.
-Weather life's storms.
-Stay Alert.
-Set a shining example.
-It's OK to be a little flashy.

-Your True Nature

March 24, 2020

the photo...

After a million years {...or maybe twelve} I changed that picture of me over to the right. I'm not sure it is staying, as I do love that shot of my smiling eyes, but for now... it brings a sweet memory to my heart and mind.
: :
Did you ever have $50 burning a hole in your pocket? This fall, due to an airline change, we each had these vouchers. Fifty dollars is not much when you'd like to get away, but I decided to play in the search anyway... and you know what? It was only $45 to fly to Chicago... and only $25 to get back home. Was a weekend in Chicago with a forever friend worth $50? Absolutely. And so... we went.

I love the decadent feeling of a weekend trip... the Friday afternoon quick change, from work to play, and the celebratory cheers while you wait to board. And on this December Friday, our destination was winter. Would there be snow? Probably not. But it didn't make a difference to me because it had been too long since I laughed, in person, with Amy. The plane arrived early and by 9pm Amy was whisking us away from the curb towards our weekend adventure.

We didn't really have grand plans, just one must-do and a few that sounds fun. It was mostly the being away and the being together. We explored the ChristkindlMarket, deserted the crowds for tacos, and admired the holiday windows. Back in her neighborhood there was this little store that beckoned me in... markers and pens might be my love language.

My hands were toting a few treasures around the shop when I noticed the snow start to fall. My squeal of joy led to Eric's warning don't run out of the store with that stuff and so I dropped it all into his hands and bee-lined for the door. 

Two minutes. That's all there was.
Sometimes you really need to just grab the moment and dance in the joy of it, and I'm so glad I did...

February 24, 2020

life lately...late.

Last week was busy... well, work was busy, which exhausted me. After work I was just busy recovering. I started this post, but never got back to it. Some weeks are like that...
1. A walk on the trail... I'm always looking for the red lichen!

2. Eric & my sister... enjoying food from our favorite food truck {Sweet Cheesus} at Zoobilee.
I had a bite, but that was long enough to be off the dance floor. 

3. This lavender trumpet, complete with a heart shaped leaf, caught my eye as I walked by.

4. Stained glass lights on the carpet... one of my favorite things. 

5. I finally have a few more pictures of Laura...this one really makes me smile.
Outdoors, in her element, new city behind her. 

6. I talked Eric into going to a soft opening of this new place.
He grumbled about how it would be crowded and we'd have to wait and... on and on.
He couldn't resist me though, so we went and... the wait was an hour.
Lucky him, he is married to a star bar stool sighter! We were eating in no time!

7. February wine tasting. Wine is better than bowling...

8. Clearance Valentine candy - I wish I could resist, but on this day I could not.

9. Another trip to the farm to pick strawberries and sunflowers. 

So there we go... another quick catch-up on this life I love.

February 19, 2020

from miles away...

I saw it and smiled. Polar bear. Bubbles. Immediately my thoughts went to Laura...
The next steps? Screenshot. Save. Send.
from zoo_aquariums instagram feed. seneca park zoo.
My phone is full of screenshots... quotes, photos, SnapChats, any social media my children pop up on. Sometimes it seems the only way to capture them at this hard stage of young adult life. I save them with intention. To print, to compile...create. It's been a while since I created a photo album of memories, but maybe one day soon. I crave the finished product, but I always seem to have a mess to clean up before I can begin. One day...

Laura replies, and my heart... it skips a beat. I count thanks, and I ache.
Oh, that's so cute. Haha. I needed that. She went on to share a little frustration of her day.
Her new life fills me with joy, but in these moments I want to be within her reach. To ease her heart, to bolster her spirits, to reassure. To squeeze her hand from miles away.

February 18, 2020

the weekends...

Some weekends leave you rested, and other leave you breathless... and honestly, I don't know which I love better.

A quiet Friday night can ooze into a Saturday, where I find myself stretched out on the couch arguing with the day. The sunshine and blue sky call me to play, but there seems to be nothing I want more that to sit in the stillness, and enjoy the view of the beauty. Basking in the warm light, letting the cool breeze waft in seems not a waste at all. My hands may pick up a book or a discarded project, the laundry spins, a sappy t.v. movie calls to us... and maybe we trek down the road for a walk in the woods.
Sunday morning pancakes and a trip to the store, with a little more lazy afternoon rest. Sometimes just us is all we need, and tucking ourselves away from the world feels just right. Monday comes and we are rested, centered for the week.

Last weekend? Breathless.

The clock couldn't find its way to quitting time fast enough, and before six, we had made a wardrobe change and a quick turn around, back out the door, for a party under the lights and stars. What a night! Family and friends. Food and drink. Dancing and lights and fun... all in one of our most favorite places. Saturday afternoon we said yes to a last minute invitation to basketball and an afternoon with friends, because...why not? We knew by the time we were home, we'd still have an hour or so before making good on on our long overdue (three years?) bowling date! We laughed into the night, knowing a bowling league wasn't for us after all - we're much better at wine club. Of course, Sunday afternoon finds us pressing to get ready for the new week, accomplishing all that tasks we had set side to make room for play... but all the while, the happy glow of the days before lingers loud. Monday comes, and we are still reveling in the fun of the weekend.

Breathless or rested? Somehow I think each speaks its own to a life well lived.

February 17, 2020

a little nostalgia...

live in the sunshine.

swim in the sea.

drink in the wild air. 


February 10, 2020

my cathedral...

Perhaps most moms-to-be hope for one of each... a girl and a boy. But, I had such vivid memories of my childhood best friend and her brother fighting, fists and teeth and loud words, that I was scared of that dream. I thought that was the way it was, would be. And then... here I was, with a baby brother for my little girl. I knew that I didn't want what I already knew of brother/sister relationships, and somehow in that, God helped me create something beyond my wildest dreams.

A couple of weeks ago my sister re-posted a monologue by Nicole Johnson, The Invisible Woman. I have seen her perform it a few times, and I believe she has written a book about it. Re-reading the words brings me right back... to the days when so much was asked of me, and I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified. The days I felt I wasn't included because I was a Mom... with kids who would need to tag along. All the times when I just couldn't answer one more question, or feel one more touch. Motherhood can be wonderful and terrible all at once.

But these two have brought me more joy that I could have known. God showed grace upon grace through the seasons of bickering, and now, as I have said time and time again, their chatter is my favorite thing. When they would be getting ready for school, in the backseat, on the phone... I am so thankful that they will always have the other - to talk with, to be championed by, to laugh with, to hold each other up. They are silly, and quirky, and two halves of my heart. If I have done nothing else right, there is this...

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re
doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel,
not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the
world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.” -Nicole Johnson

February 07, 2020

being light...

Never would I have thought how much I would enjoy sharing an office with someone... but I do love it. I'm sure it has all to do with who she is. We chat and we laugh, we get our work done, and then we might laugh a little more... and sometimes we share hearts. The other day she told me that she was telling her husband how nice I was, genuinely nice, and how she has always wanted to be that. Humbled by her statement, I let her know that she is, because she has a really kind, beautiful heart! But then she went on to relate it to being a Christian. Now that has made me think...

While I certainly don't believe that Christians have a monopoly on kindness or being nice, I do think, for me, my faith is who I am and it directs my heart towards kindness, and making someone's day a little bit brighter if I can. People pleaser? Yes. Once it was out of fear of not being liked, but now? I take these statements to heart...
You may be the only Jesus someone sees today.
Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. - Mother Teresa 

Later, the topic came up in conversation with someone else. Though I know that the words and joy that flow from me are genuine, I wondered... do people feel the truth in me? My breath caught as I waited on her reply, but there wasn't a need. She spoke what I hoped to hear, and went on to qualify it and reinforce it. Exhale.

Live your truth, let your joy shine in the skip of your step, the smile on your face {or in your eyes}, and your actions. Live out loud... because you really might be the only glimpse of Jesus in someone's day, and I think it is the easiest, most beautiful way, to share the Good News.

February 05, 2020

the playlist...

We sit, and I wait for him to choose a show. Oh look what's on again?! I just laugh... because he has faithfully chosen this pilot episode of Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist every time he scrolls through. There is something about it that connected with his heart... so much so that it has played five or six times on our t.v., as he impatiently waits for the series to begin {Feb. 16th} Maybe it's the flash mob dancing, or perhaps just the music...
: :
Bumping along the winding, dusty roads of Africa, songs popped into my head and became a part of my day, and a lasting addition to my memories. My African playlist. I have carried it home, in my heart...

Sun's coming up... 
This bird squwaked his good morning song while we admired our first sunrise of the safari. Good morning Amboseli National Park.

I wonder where the lions are...
With rumor of lions, we circled 'round and back... stared, and tried to make clumps of golden grass into the sight we sought. We never did see any that first morning, but later in the trip we were reward plenty!
 There are places I remember...
Eight years and a world apart, and the memories of my heart didn't betray me. On that first trip, I made a desperate effort to imprint this place in my mind. I could feel the familiarity of a road, a river, a tree... it was a feeling of relief, that my memories were not just a dream.
I saw the sign...
I probably did not capture all the signs I wanted to, traveling quickly over bumpy roads. But these...they made me smile.

Walkin' along singin' a song...
The wildlife meanders through the trees, along the plains. Coming up towards the start of the migration, zebra & wildebeest were headed to the rivers. In Tarangire, the elephants headed to the water...

Gary Gnu coming right at you...
Did you ever watch the New Zoo Revue? It was one of my favorites... Henrietta Hippo, Freddie the Frog... and Gary Gnu {who, of course, did the news...} I could watch the wildebeest all day. While we didn't witness THE migration, we saw the early stages, which was so special to me!

Here comes the sun...
Sunrise in Africa? As beautiful as any sunrise or sunset over the ocean. The colors of the earth come alive right before your eyes.

Just around the riverbend...

Same river, different bend. When we returned to camp in the evening, we chased the sunset, and the baboons played in the shallows.

Hills and vallies...
Up and down, over head and along the rim. This part of the world is so magnificent... and God is Lord of all.