Happy August, friends! As much as I enjoyed a two-week break, I have missed this space; I am back now and ready to write my heart out! So with that, let’s get caught up …
As mentioned in my last post, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary at home and then the following week, we jetted out to Washington for an adventure in the Pacific Northwest. We explored the main attractions in downtown Seattle, then worked our way down to Oregon via the coast. After visiting Multnomah Falls and touring downtown Portland, we then made our way back up to Mt. Rainier National Park where we hiked for two days in one of the most beautiful mountain gardens I have ever seen. (I’m pretty sure I got a good glimpse of what Heaven looks like while we were there. It was breathtaking!) From Mt. Rainer, we headed to the northwest coast and made our way up to Olympic National Park where we stayed on Lake Quinault and hiked the Quinault Rainforest. (And yes, this is a REAL rainforest – incredibly awesome.) To wind down our trip, we left that area and headed back to Seattle to spend our last full day on Bainbridge Island. This part was inspired by all the books I’ve read by Sarah Jio who mentions it frequently in her novels. And it lived up to the great expectations I had from learning about it through her words. (Perks of being a book-nerd – LOL!) Overall, our trip was FABULOUS! Gorgeous weather, majestic sights, and quality time spent with my one and only … nothing better!
The nine days I spent away from the normal, busy, and hurried routine of life was needed. Greatly. I didn’t realize just how much I was desperately in need of the breakaway until I was physically out there, surrounded by all things new. One thing I’ve mentioned on here before is how I am a person who needs things to look forward to. It’s part of my self-care – knowing I have something coming up helps to keep me going, especially when the going gets tough. And honestly, it’s been a tough year. Not bad necessarily, but tough in a hard-working, thinking a lot, getting things done kind of way. While there have been some great blessings this year, I’ve been faced with the challenges that come from growth. And as great as growth is for us in the long run, when we’re going through it, it can feel very messy at times, and that’s hard for this girl! Because of all the busy-ness that has occurred over the past year, this was actually the first full vacation we had taken together, contributing to the specialness of this time away.
Something I really appreciated while out west were the moments we embraced the peace and quiet. Although we were busy going here and there, we had several times where we were just together in silence. We wouldn’t talk or be listening to music, but rather drove and hiked in quiet. And it was so good for us. Speaking for myself, I sometimes find it easier to be surrounded by the noise of life because it distracts me from things that I’m not ready (or maybe that I’m not choosing) to deal with at the time. I’m a thinker, and because I tend to over-thing things, I sometimes need that healthy dose of distraction to escape a bit. But last week, the quiet was medicine for me. As I beheld the amazing scenery and breathed in the fresh, clean air, I found clarity and contentment in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while. Some revelations, if you will, came to mind, reminding me of essential truths about God and myself, that in the midst of life’s demands and stressors, I all too often forget. And getting back to that foundation is exactly what my heart and soul needed in order to get recalibrated for life after vacation.
Returning home, feeling refreshed and more like myself, I’m ready to get started on some things that have been bubbling within me for a bit. In my travels, I read the latest book by Annie F. Downs, Let’s All Be Brave and I loved this quote she made toward the end:
“This is your map. This is your story. Be brave for yourself, be brave for your God, and be brave for the onlookers, the ones who will be inspired by you to inspire others.”
In the weeks leading up to my vacation, I had been feeling unsettled about my current “place” and wanting to make some changes, and with that, feeling anxious because I don’t have it all planned out and tidy in my mind (have I mentioned I’m a perfectionist?). On that long flight home, in a window seat behind the left-wing, Annie’s words spoke right to my heart, telling me that the time to move forward with my dreams and vision for the future is NOW. Because even though I don’t have all the details worked out, I know in my bones that as I get closer to turning the big 3-0, my heart’s desire is for the next decade to be one that defines me in a more whole and complete way than my 20’s did; one where I say “YES” to God more and not worry so much because I actively trust that He’s got it all under control; one where I really find God, find myself and find my place, and use my education, gifts, skills, and talents in a way that helps and inspires others – essentially, living my best story and helping others live their best story as well. That is my hope, my prayer, my goal.
So in this first week, post-vacation, I’ve been praying a great deal for bravery and courage to take those steps, to take that leap toward the good and better things that God has in store for me. The break from life-as-I-know-it gave me the grace to accept where I’m at currently and the perspective to see the direction I want to go more clearly for the future, and for this, I am truly grateful and excited to see where God leads.