“Wild and Free”

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This is one of my favorite all-time photos of my two kids together. We were driving from California to visit our family in Wisconsin, and we decided to do some camping along the way.

Our first stop was in Utah, where we camped in this nice little state park by a river. The next morning, I went to get gas while Mark packed up the tent, and they had these huge green beetles all over the gas stations. It was horrible. I finally found a gas station where they were hosing them off the pumps at least. But how do people live there?

One of our next stops was in Nebraska. There was a hill behind this little lake separating it from a bigger lake, I believe, with railroad tracks at the top. It was hot and humid, and we decided instead of sitting around our tent all evening, we would drive into town to get Dairy Queen. I took this photo of the kids playing together outside, while we were setting up camp. I loved how the sun was shining in their blond hair, how they’re off by themselves, exploring, doing something imaginative together, the water next to them calm and reflective.

My parents camped a lot when we were kids. I loved it, loved hiking and exploring. I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, playing outside, riding my bike with friends, sledding and making forts in the snow, taking long walks. Sometimes in middle school, we would take off in the morning and not come back until dinner. It was a free, unplanned childhood that’s now so rare.

I always hoped my kids would grow up to love the outdoors. I tried to take them camping almost every year, on cool hikes, and to beautiful national parks with rivers and mountains. I wished that they could have that free, unplanned childhood that I had, but it doesn’t seem to exist out here. It’s not the same world as it was when I grew up. Nate has enjoyed being in Boy Scouts and has done a lot of camping, hiking, and backpacking. Rachel would probably rather do anything else but camp! Oh well, I tried. Maybe someday when she’s in charge of where she goes, she’ll come to enjoy being outdoors more. We realize as parents we can only guide them as we know how, but it’s most important to give them the freedom to be their own people, wonderful and unique in their own ways. My prayer always is that God will help me to be the mom I need to be to my kids.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. – Psalm 19:1

Christmas 

I took this picture on Christmas Eve at the Service of Lessons and Carols. I was so pleased with how my camera took this very low light picture. Gloria Dei is a beautiful church, we’re a close knit family, and I am blessed to receive God’s gifts here.  God loves me well through this church, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank Him for Gloria Dei. It was a beautiful service!

We had the best Christmas that we’ve had in a few years.  Last Christmas was tough because we just got back from Israel, I was sick, we had no pastor. The year before, we just heard a really great sermon from Pastor Matt on Christmas Day, but then Rachel fainted in the bathroom and had the stomach flu after that for the rest of the day.  So, while we were thankful for all our blessings, they weren’t the best Christmases.

This year was filled with love and joy. We all felt well, we attended all three church services, and had a fun and relaxing Christmas day. We ate duck, and I made my mom’s best jello (which is always requested at every holiday). It felt relaxing. I am grateful for my family, the new friends I have made this year, the “old” friends that stay with me, the hiking I have been able to do, the work that I have been able to do at church, and my health.

I have to admit to having a bit of writer’s block about this blog lately. I started it when I was processing two very specific things: our call process and our trip to Israel. Now, I am processing neither of those, and it’s difficult to find time to write a substantial post every couple weeks. I think those kind of posts will continue to come, because I’m always thinking about my faith, but less frequently. So instead of putting pressure on myself to write so much, I thought that I’ll also start posting some of the pictures that I have been taking and also write about some of the hiking I’m doing, both things that I also claim no special talent for, but that I really enjoy.

God bless you in this new year!