Life's Sweet Journey

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Words for Wednesday: To Adventure!!

Ok folks, I currently have a severe case of wanderlust. At least I think it's wanderlust. Though with the way my head has been all over the place recently I also think it may be a desire to live life differently; less conventionally and more "for the world, not of the world". Seriously people, I have been having dreams of composting toilets and have been spending endless evenings scrolling through these guys videos on the like. I am literally watching videos about poo. My desire to buy a camper and just hit the road had already begun before I found the Wynn's site, but after a friend told me about their blog my thirst for adventure has skyrocketed. Babe and me and our camper, just exploring the wild blue yonder, oh my goodness!! A girl can dream, right?! And then her very logical husband can point out all the ways that it's just not feasible. But he often underestimates the power of my persuasion (I most certainly do not call it nagging)! So while I am off to find more ways to make this dream happen (and I mean before we're 60), I figured I would share some of my favorite adventure quotes. And then probably end it with one about growing where you're planted, because I am also trying really hard to find the adventure right outside my front door, because being here growing in community with the people we love, well, that's pretty darn great too!! Though how cool would it be if all those people could come visit us all over the map?! 

If you could pick one place to go to right now, no strings/costs attached, where would it be?! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

5 on Friday: I'm a Bee-liver!

Happy Friday All!
It's been a crazy few weeks. After being in Costa Rica last week, I have been trying to get settled back in here at home. My brain has been a little fuzzy and I am hoping this weekend will reorient it to it's normal schedule. I have been trying to take in the little things since being home, so I figured I would share some garden updates and a few random happies from the past few weeks.

1.) Harvest Time!!

Harvest time came!! It was so exciting! So far the only thing we have really grown successfully is cucumber. We have been eating A LOT of cucumber! Our carrots have stayed little (Carrot Man was our first pull, isn't he cute?). We left most of the others in the ground and are hoping they will grow, but when we checked another just this week it was still small but also a little rotted through. Our tomatoes are starting to really come in. They have been green for a while and are waiting for them to redden. Our watermelon, sadly, has yet to grow. The vines are taking over everything, but no fruit. Does anyone have any tips on watermelon and tomatoes?

2.) Harvest time yumminess!
I really wanted to use our harvest, so I made this yummy (and very easy) lunch! I love making different couscous recipes. They are super easy and a yummy, light option. Clean-up is super easy too! I use one pot. I choose my veggies and then sauté them in coconut oil and a little butter. I season the veggies with garlic salt and balsamic. I usually put the vegetables in twice so that half are more cooked and half are only slightly cooked. Once the veggies are cooked to my liking I add in the water and seasoning pouch and then the couscous. You remove it from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes and viola! A yummy, summer couscous treat! This one included our cucumbers, one little baby carrot from the garden (plus store carrots), onion and chickpeas. The chickpeas need to go in last, just one or two minutes before you pour in the water. Once some of the chickpeas start to pop pour the water in and make the couscous as directed on the box (I used Parmesan couscous for this particular salad). 

3.) Meet Fred, now known as Freddie!!
This is Freddie, who used to go by Fred. I always thought he was a boy bee, but thanks to new bee facts I have learned (see below) I know he is really a she and therefore she has been renamed Freddie. Freddie has been working hard to try to pollinate our little green space, but she needs some friends! She has been working so hard that she wore herself out and even let me hold her for a while.

4.) Bees Galore!!
So two weekends ago I had a dream come true!! I got to be a beekeeper for the day! It was a wonderful experience. Thanks to my sweet mama, who got the experience at her Atlantic Center for the Arts auction benefit, we were able to don our bee apparel and get buzzing. I didn't want to wear the bee suit, I wanted to be up close and personal. And while I wore it for a minute to get the picture it soon came off and it was just me and the bees. I even had one climb up my leg from ankle to thigh and it was exhilarating! There wasn't much honey, but some did come out of one of the combs before the bees capped it over. It was so warm and pure and delicious!! I can't wait to explore more about beekeeping and hopefully someday have my own hive in our backyard. Babe was never a huge fan of this plan, but after our day learning more about the bees (like the fact the majority of the ones you see are girls) he has jumped on board a little more. 

5.) Totally Unrelated!

I recently discovered this book series. Sometimes the best book advice comes from a 10 year old. The School for Good and Evil is a great read! There's adventure, danger and intrigue. In the battle between good and evil things aren't always what they seem. There are currently 2 books in the trilogy, but with the newest book coming out in just 39 days it is the perfect time to pick it up. It is a wonderful summer read! I am a firm believer in the fact that we are never too old to read books meant for children (thank you Harry Potter!) and this series is one that only makes that belief stronger!  

Hoping your weekend is fully of all the bee-a-u-tiful things!! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Living Water

There I was, on the side of a dirt road, surrounded by nothing but green; green lush land and dirty brown water. The water was pumping through a hose, into a huge water tank. It stunk, it had thick brown film floating on top and it was going to help us drill, drill a well to bring clean water to families in Costa Rica. And I thought, "how funny, that such dirty water was ultimately going to lead to clean water." Clean water, the kind that would keep sickness at bay and provide a healthier standard of living. And then I realized how fitting it was. 

Because that is how God works in us. 
He uses the brown, the dirty, the gunk-filled "stuff" that takes up our hearts and clouds our minds. He uses it to create something new. The drill works by pushing the dirty water through metal pipes to break up the dirt below. The dirt is then pushed out of the hole by the force of the water and emptied into pits. Pits that we shovel the dirt out of so that it doesn't clog the pipes up and end up back in the hole it just got removed from. 


God works in us the same way. 
He uses the muck and the sin
 and He washes it clean. 

Like the dirt, we often fight against the pressure, fight to keep control for ourselves, fight to hold onto the things that brought us a false sense of comfort. But He keeps working, slow and steady, always there. He works right through the "rocks" and the "tough earth" and He pushes it out. And He gives us the freedom to shovel it away. He asks us to be a part of the process, to be in relationship with Him and help dig ourselves out of the messes we make. He put the "shovel" there for us, when He sent His son. He gave us the ultimate help. And He keeps working in us. 
He works in us when we forget to pick up the shovel, when we our arms are tired and we feel like giving up and the dirt slips past and back down the hole, letting sin back in. He keeps working and drilling and cleaning, until finally we hit "pay dirt" and the fresh water can flow freely. And that's when all the work spills over and it's not just for us anymore, it's not just in us, but it's all around us. It's all around us, flowing out clean and fresh so that others can rejoice and share in it too. 
God's love is like that in us. It's like muddy Costa Rican water that, when worked through a drill, comes out clean and pure and life sustaining! And it's a glorious thing! 

The work being done through Agua Viva Serves is wonderful and life giving, not just for those in Costa Rica, but for those that get the opportunity to share in the work that is being done. If you would like to know more about the work they do or want put a team together to go you can find more about them at Agua Viva Serves. You can donate and help support their mission here

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Happies for Friday!!

Happy Friday All! 
I hope everyone is getting geared up for a beautiful weekend ahead. 

It's been a busy week over here and I am excited for the weekend! Tomorrow I get to check an item off my bucket list and I can't wait... beekeeper for the day!! More to come later. 

Until then here's 5 more happies to hold me over! 

1.) Escape Artists!! 
We celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday on Wednesday with a trip to America's Escape Game. It was an amazing experience. If you live in the Orlando area I would highly recommend heading there soon and if you live elsewhere then I suggest you search for something similar near you. You have an hour to solve the puzzles and escape the room. From the second we got in there we were going a mile a minute. We choose to complete the Crisis at 1600 challenge and it was really neat to see how they came up with puzzle centered around the history of the White House. I must admit some of us went in a little confident, but they rooms are very hard. The one we did had a success rate of 14%, but there is another with an even lower success rate than that. We did finish, but it was down to the wire... only 4 seconds to spare. We literally tore the place apart trying to beat the room! Having accomplished it was a great feeling and now we are excited to get back and try to conquer the next! 

2.) Old Blue Chair! 
This chair has become such a place of solace for me. It is the place I can sit and be still. I am working on breaking the bad habits I talked about earlier in the week and have spent the last few days heading here as soon as my eyes open. It is cozy and comfy and warm. It waits without fail and I love it! The book sitting on the arm, The Bible Promise Book for Women, has also been a wonderful encouragement to me. It is perfect for the mornings, filled with different topics each one with verses related to it. They fill my heart and remind me of God's grace and promise. The perfect partnership to Jesus Calling. 

3.) New Netflix Love! 
So we got rid of cable! Which in this house, for this girl, is a really big deal! But with the amount of time we are actually home we barely have time to watch it, so it was time for it to go. And so, after finishing my FRIENDS from start to finish marathon, it was time to find a new show to watch on Netflix. I finally decided to give Once Upon a Time a try. And while I do think it is a little hokey, I am entranced. Each episode keeps me wanting more. You are constantly meeting new characters, learning new back stories and while usually I like to keep building the plot of ongoing characters they still do that enough for the mix of if to keep me constantly on my toes. 

4.) Pain Free Weekend! 
This weekend we rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty fixing up the house. As husband and wife our bucket lists are quite different; mine includes things like bee charming, adventure and driving through all 50 states, while his includes things like painting the house, staining the fence, and finishing his shed. So we compromised; two days (and a half) of housework, followed by two days of adventure over the long weekend. Well I know that typically (due to poor circulation and my own unwillingness to be active and stay well hydrated) days of being on my feet all day usually leads to shin splints and pain in my calves. I have recently become one of "those oily people" I always said were crazy. A friend use to try to convince me that essential oils could work wonders and I never thought it was true, that is until I actually gave them a try. And I love them!! I use them all the time. 
This little gem was such a God send. It is an oil blend from Young Living, called PanAway. I would put a drop on my shins and the back of each calf after our work day was over and diffused a few drops through the night. In the morning, no pain!! When my hamstrings (ok thighs, who am I kidding there is no muscle there) were tight and sore on Monday I put some on each one and felt fine within 15 minutes. Even Babe (ever the sceptic) had to admit that it was helpful when I rubbed it on his sore knee after a workout on Tuesday. If you have ever been curious about essential oils and want to know more about them I am happy to answer any questions you have. 

5.) Baby Bump Book Review
No, I am not pregnant, but 1.) I have many friends who are and 2.) it never hurts to plan ahead. So I got this book to review from Blogging for Books. The Bump Pregnancy Planner and Journal is exactly what it says it is. It is the ultimate pregnancy planner, for the ultimate planner. It is full of all the journal-ly bits for keeping up with memories, as well as pockets to hold mementos you have gotten along the way. But it is also full of everything you need to know throughout your pregnancy; what to expect in each trimester, a checklist of things to ask your doctor, how much and what you should be eating, etc.
To me, not the most organized of people, who never does well with keeping up with lists, it would be good to have around, but considering I will most likely forget about it every time I need it, it is best suited for those who really love and get giddy over planning and lists and all things organization. Overall I think it is a great planner with great information! 

However, since it is doubtful that I will use it due to my inability to be organized and a need for a much simpler set of note taking and journaling I figured it might be best served in the hands of someone who would use it. So it is up for grabs to one lucky winner.

Hoping everyone enjoys their weekend! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Darkness and Hope

I woke up this morning and the first thing I did, as I do pretty much every morning, was reach to the floor and pick up my phone. I slid it out of lock and immediately started scrolling, first Instagram and then Facebook, this is a habit that I am failing to break. And this morning it broke me for a bit. I scrolled aimlessly through Instagram, catching up on the "life" I had missed while sleeping, as if it was the best way to start any day. I stopped briefly on a picture posted by a friend that said "Pray Hard." I liked it, thought to myself, "yes, that is what I need to do. I need to go start my devotion." And then after scrolling a bit further, I switched right to Facebook and thoughts of devotion slipped to the back recesses of my brain.

It was while scrolling Facebook that I found a lot of posts about my brother. People who had been thinking about him, missing him, talking about him, commenting on old posts from before he died. One will pop up from time to time. I can expect multiple around his birthday and in mid-July. But when multiple came up and caught me unaware my brain did the thing in does when it tries to just glaze over things; it turned to fuzz. I got out of bed, went to the kitchen, poured a bowl of Lucky Charms and started my day. I never sat and had a moment that I so needed. It was while in the middle of trying to send a work email that I realized my brain wasn't functioning. I stared at the computer screen as if it would answer emails for me and solve the problems of the day. So I closed my laptop. And I went to the spot that I should have gone to as soon as my feet hit the floor (or really before I ever even flipped on the phone). I tucked my legs beneath me as I sat in the blue chair in the corner of our extra room, the one that has become my place of solace, the place to start my mornings and have God pour into me. I have been reading through a bible book for woman with different verses centered around different topics. I have been opening the book and reading through whatever topic the book opens on. This morning it was Adversity. As I read I realized I had been trying to remove my thoughts from the pain that was trying hard to get in.

Once I had taken time to read and pray, my head felt a little more clear, but my heart felt heavy. I showered and while there, the place where a lot of my thoughts seem to pour directly from my head into my heart, I had an overwhelming feeling to share the following words.

These are words written in a hurry, words that spilled from me looking for escape. They were written almost two years ago and they were words that I had never planned to share with anyone, let alone let them out into the world where they can be read for all to see. They were written after a tear filled car ride to work, where my heart broke open and I addressed fears I had been trying to avoid. I wrote them quickly from my office computer in an email to myself, knowing that no work was going to get done until they had the chance to be free.

Since writing them I have thought of them often, over many of the things I had written only for me. I have often felt this small voice saying "share them," but I pushed that voice down thinking the words were too raw, too festering, too void of any semblance of hope. But that small voice would often answer back and say, "but isn't that what we often need most; the words we are too afraid to voice aloud, the ones that tell us we aren't alone and we aren't the only ones who feel lost. Don't you think that there may be someone, who is in the throes of grief, who needs to know that the darkness doesn't last. That there is light and hope on the other side." Most days I let those whispers simmer, I tell them the time isn't right. But today my answer was different. Today I couldn't fight, I could only listen and as I write I realize how freeing this all is. To see the past and the places grief can take you and to also see where I am today and how far that grief has come, how it lingers, but in a different light, with a newer sense of hope.

My hope in sharing the following words is that if you are struggling, if the world you knew is no longer a tangible thing to you, that you know it will be alright. There is hope and you will get stronger. You will not always feel on the edge of darkness wondering how you will ever find your way out.
I am afraid of nothing.  Nothing scares me! And that scares me more than anything.  I afraid of this nothingness.  I am afraid of the fact that I no longer see a clear picture.  I had this vision of my life.  A plan that I saw at the end of my horizon.  And now... Now I see nothing.  The picture is no longer there. I can see today, I know what today brings.  I can see the past, even in all the uncertain terms of what I thought it was.  The future? I can't see that anymore. And that terrifies me. The pretty little picture I had in my head is one I  am now so unsure of that I can't even picture an alternative. I had wanted kids.  Boat loads of them. I wanted my own baseball team. A house full of little boys running around a big yard, with a tiny little girl chasing after them. A little girl who I would often roll my eyes about just because she would  (try as I might to avoid it) be so spoiled, but who I would also envy because she would never need to know fear, knowing that she always had her brothers to protect her and keep her safe.  I know pictures don't ever come out the way we plan, but now I picture nothing.  The world is not an idyllic place. That little girl would never be able to live her life without knowing fear. I would bring my children into a world where I can promise them nothing.  I am not sure I can do that anymore. Maybe my journey is now to love on ones that are already here, to care for them and protect them as much as I can but that picture doesn't come to mind either.  It is all just blank.  And that nothingness, the darkness, it makes me afraid.  Afraid because my husband deserves all those things we had pictured.  He deserves the chance to spoil a little girl with pig tails and his big brown eyes.  He deserves the chance to teach his sons to be good men, like he is. He deserves to lead by example and this world deserves more men like him. And that terrifies me because all I can give, all I have to promise, is nothing.

And it ends there. It ends there because I had no other words, the reality of life was blinded by the hurt, the loss and the fear of future loss. So my world view shut down on me. In the midst of pain we can so often forget the hope of things still to come, the hope of things being alright because we don't see how they can be.

But then slowly, with time, pain begins to heal, leaving scar tissue behind. The pain isn't gone, we are often reminded of it, but it feels differently than it did. It feels lighter, as if somewhere, in all that darkness, someone shone a light and we slowly and achingly began to walk towards it.

The other day while talking to a friend, we were discussing the sense that ultimately we are ok and that really, that truth is one of the hardest things to wrap our heads around. When some huge, fundamental part of your life is just gone, you can't grasp the understanding of "you will be okay." But then life moves around you. It envelopes you again into the daily living, the joyful moments, and you find yourself smiling. You find yourself laughing and loving and hoping. You find yourself "alright." But alright makes less sense, because how can you be alright when something is that broken, when moments that should be shared with people who can't be here are shared anyways? And I have come to realize that I can rest in that because that is what we are called for. We are called to keep living, we are called to keep loving others and to not give up the fight. We are called to make our lost ones memories sweeter and cherish moments more dearly because we know how fleeting it all is.

And so I walk now with hope, hope and fear. 
I think they so very often go hand-in-hand, don't you?!