Canadian Rockies

Oh, Canada!

4,500 miles driven, 15 days, 7 National Parks. Whew!

We did so much during our 2-week trip to the Canadian Rockies that I know I will begin to forget details like the places we saw and our timeline, so I wanted to make sure to chronicle it here while it’s still fresh in my mind.

We tried to take this trip 5 years ago but our plans changed drastically. Two days before leaving, I suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that sidelined us for a long time. We cancelled the trip and thankfully got most of our money back from all the reservations we had made. I still thank God for the timing, for not allowing that tragedy to happen while we were deep in the wilderness. So. This was a re-do trip. Except this go-round we had more time and a little more money, which is always a win!

We started in Glacier National Park in Montana. Montana has been hit hard by forest fires this year and we were so sad to see just how much of the park had been devastated by fire, not only this one but from years past. We saw thousands of acres that had been scorched by fire. Some areas burned in 1967 and some burned just a few years back. The haze and smoke was so thick that it was pretty difficult to see the mountains on our first day there.

Lake McDonald with lots of smoky haze

 

On our 2nd day in Glacier, we hiked the famous Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet, which is a cool stone backcountry lodge where you can stay if you make reservations like 18 month in advance. We got an early start because this is the most popular trail in the park and we really wanted to avoid crowds. We spent almost the entire time hiking in the fog and clouds which was so cool!

 

After another day in Glacier, we headed on towards Waterton National Park in Canada. What a remarkable place! We stayed at the Prince of Wales Hotel, which sits perched atop a hill looking over the Park and town of Waterton. We really only had enough time in Waterton to eat dinner, stroll through town, get a good night’s sleep and drive around in the morning. Of all the places we visited, this is the one where I wish we had more time to explore and appreciate.After Waterton we made a quick stop at a Canadian healthcare clinic because David got the Shingles. We were super impressed with how fast, easy and cheap the whole process way! After a stop at the pharmacy, we headed towards Banff. To be totally honest, I didn’t love the actual town of Banff. It was overly crowded, commercialized and it had a vibe like it was just catering to the rich tourists that were in town. Meh. Not a huge fan of all that. I did love the mountains surrounding Banff however – beautiful! We stayed in Banff long enough to talk with the Rangers about out backcountry trip, buy a topo map and set up camp while we prepped for our multi-day backpacking trip into the Assiniboine Provincial Park the next day.

This backpacking trip almost didn’t happen. Wildfires had forced the closure of Assiniboine and nearby areas for almost a month and we didn’t think that it wouldn’t open up in time for us. As luck would have it, it opened the day before we had planned to hike in. We did 10 miles on our first day and camped out at Marvel Lake. Bear activity was high and we saw…umm, evidence, of bears everywhere but we never actually encountered one thankfully.

 

Our goal on the second day was Lake Magog  which sits at the base of Mount Assiniboine (also known as the Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies) and it has a campground that we were originally planning to stay at. But upon arrival we learned that the campground was actually not scenic at all. 20 miles in to this beautiful area and the camp sites were all tucked away in dense pine forests with no views at all. I was sooo frustrated!

Thankfully, the Assiniboine Lodge is also at the base of Mount Assiniboine. This is a luxury lodge and the only way to it is to either hike in or take a helicopter and they usually book out 12-18 months in advance. Rooms go for $650/night, cabins are $800/night and then they have cute little backcountry huts as well. We hit another streak of luck, the Lodge had so many cancellations due to the fire evacuations that they had several backcountry huts available for $20/night. Yes please! We took them up on that offer without hesitation.

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Lake Magog at the base of Mnt. Assiniboine

We spent several days hiking around the Assiniboine wilderness, reading on lakeshores and sleeping soundly in our little primitive backcountry hut.

Next came the highlight of our backpacking trip….the helicopter ride! We decided long ago that if we were going to hike 20 miles in to this place, we were going to enjoy a wonderful ride out and get an aerial view of the terrain we hiked. It was AMAZING!!! I loved not having to carry all our gear back out after hiking a combined 40 miles in the area, we were ready for someone else to do the work in getting us out haha!

We stayed the night in Canmore with enough time to do a load of laundry and grab a burger and beer before heading north. Our next stop was Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and the Icefields Parkway on our way up to Jasper.

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Lake Louise
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What some of these amazing places are actually like….bleh. so. crowded.

Jasper was the place we stayed the longest and it was probably my favorite. It’s absolutely huge and the opportunities to see and do amazing things are endless. It was also much less crowded, it seemed like most people just didn’t want to venture up that far north. We did so much in Jasper! Boat cruises, mountain biking, hiking, fishing. It was awesome! I was really sad to leave this amazing place because I knew that it meant our trip was coming to a close.

We headed back south and made our way over to YOHO National Park, Glacier National Park of Canada and Revelstoke National Park. These 3 parks are on the smaller side but they were all beautiful and I’m glad we had a chance to explore them! Glacier was the only one that felt relatively inaccessible. In order to see a lot of Glacier, you had to embark on a 10-12 mile hike which we just didn’t have the time for.

My overall impression is that the Canadian Rockies are incredible! We saw so many jaw-dropping sights, I lost count. The mountains are rugged, jagged and steep. The glaciers are thick, the water is silty blue and the people are kind.

I could have done without so many tourists at a few of the places we went to, but that’s what you get when you only hit the National Parks. I frequently got overwhelmed by the crowds and had to leave certain sites.

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Out of the Blue

A while back, David and I left our old church. It was something we had been feeling the Lord calling us to do for a while which we had initially resisted. We had friends at our old church, enjoyed the teaching and generally felt at home there. We eventually stepped out in obedience and began the search for a new church. It didn’t take long before we found it. And when we did, it was like spiritual fireworks went off in both of our hearts. This was the place for us. From the very beginning, we have had nothing but stellar experiences, from easily finding a multiple places to serve, to having very meaningful conversations with the head pastor, to joining a small group that was full of a diverse bunch of awesome people. Everything has just been amazing.

Our small group is probably the biggest source of life-giving spiritual encouragement I have ever experienced. In the past, Christian community always felt hard. I never quite felt like I belonged. Our current small group is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a mix of people from all stages of life and it’s lead by one of the teaching pastors at our church named Charlie (we have 3 teaching pastors who rotate preaching, it’s brilliant!). Over the last year, David and I have gotten to know Charlie and his wife and they have been so great to us. Encouraging. Kind. Supportive. Challenging. Friends.

3 weeks ago as we walked into their house for small group, Charlie greeted us at the door and said “Hey! has Brad (lead teaching pastor) called you yet?” I looked at him quizzically and said no, then I inquired about why Brad would be calling me. “Oh, your name came up as we were talking about ministry leadership positions at the church. I’m sure he’ll call you soon.” And that was all the info I could squeeze out of him.

Sure enough, the next day Brad called. He talked to me about how my name had some up several times as a recommendation for a position at the church that would soon have a vacancy. I was excited and anxious to hear more about it, I couldn’t wait to understand exactly what Brad was referring to. As he kept talking, my excitement and anticipation kept building. And then he said 4 words which came falling out of the blue and are still ringing in my ears today: Director of Women’s Ministry.

Nooooooo! Please Lord, anything but this. Anything but women’s ministry.

On the whole, except for a few positive experiences, women’s ministry and I have a pretty bad track record. It has made me feel like an unworthy infertile woman. Always overlooked, insulted and excluded. It is where I’ve received all sorts of awful “advice” like, “maybe if God saw your faith grow, He would bless you with a baby.” It’s where I quietly sat and listened to moms complain about their children, swap childbirth stories and give each other parenting advice. It’s where eyes would land on me and then quickly move on to someone more relatable.

It’s where I experienced some of the deepest pain in my infertility and childlessness journey.

So me? Try and lead an entire women’s ministry? Yeah…no thanks.

That was my gut reaction at least. My knee-jerk reaction of oh hellllll no. Find another girl. Find someone other than me. I’m not strong enough and I don’t have the fight left in me to keep trying to turn people’s eyes to Jesus instead of their children.

That was 3 weeks ago.

Fast forward to today and I’m singing a different tune. God has been patient and gracious with me, slowly changing my mind and giving me perspective. I had a meeting with Charlie last week to talk more about the position because he would be the overseeing pastor of it and my boss. He told me that he specifically recommended me for the job because of, not in spite of, the fact that I do not have children. He thought it would bring further health to the ministry to have a somewhat nontraditional woman leading it. He thought it might help bring other women who lurk in the shadows forward. Maybe they would see me and feel like it was a safe place for them to come too.

This was probably the first time in 8 years that I have felt any benefit whatsoever to my status as a childless woman in the church.

So I’m finally at a place where my head and my heart agree that this would probably be a really good fit for me. Charlie is very spiritual formationally-minded so he has his eyes fixed on the same things that I do, like listening prayer workshops, spiritual retreats and deep and theological teaching for the women in this ministry. Our visions couldn’t align better and it would bring in everything I’m currently learning at Denver Seminary.

At this point, there is really just one little pesky problem standing in my way. My schedule.

Charlie feels this is a 20-30 hour/week job. I work 20-40 hours/week with my photography business and another 10-15 hours/week with grad school. I’m maxed out as it is. I’m not quite sure how I would even have enough hours in the day to fit ministry in. I have weddings booked through December 2017 so it would be at least 9 months before I could scale back and probably 1-2 years before I could stop it altogether. I just added a 2nd employee to my team so it’s not just me I have to worry about either.

As I pray about this (which it seems like is non-stop these days) I keep getting the sense from the Lord that this is the right opportunity but the wrong time. I think He is delighted that my heart did a 180 and that I actually feel excited about this prospect. I think He is overjoyed that I am willing to step out of my fear and into this position. But I also hear Him cautioning me to be careful with my time. Going 90mph and 60+ hours per week is not exactly a healthy way to enter into ministry.

I meet with Brad on Thursday to discuss things further. Maybe there is room for negotiation about how much time I commit to this position. Or maybe I tell him that for now I will take my name out of the hat and trust the Lord’s timing to bring me back one day when I’m able to fully devote myself to the ministry. Either way, it’s been so encouraging to see how God has used a source of pain in my life for His glory. How He has used something that has historically hurt me to now encourage my heart forward in ministry.

A Little Catch Up

For the first time in almost 7 years, I let my blogging lapse. It’s been a little over 3 months since I last visited this space or even had a thought to begin writing. I’ve actually enjoyed the break and there might be more in the future. I’ve also found that since starting a personal Instagram account that is separate from my business, I’m sharing a lot more over in that space which has kind of almost replaced blogging. I don’t have the energy to write anything in-depth, so I thought a little bullet point update would suffice.

  • The house. Oh this house! We’ve had a love-hate relationship ever since moving in. The previous owners opted to not clean…ever, so we had a pretty gross situation on our hands after we closed. It took me a solid week of scrubbing + professional cleaners to finally get to a point where I’d walk on the floors barefoot. Immediately upon buying this house, things began breaking: air conditioning, pipes, sewer lines, electrical system, toilets. You name it, it broke. In the midst of that, we decided to do a little updating too. Hey, if you’re already sinking gobs of money into repairs, why not just keep your wallet open and do a few fun things too?! So we installed hardwood floors, solar tubes and redid most of the kitchen. And now we are officially done. Done with updates and hopefully done with repairs. At least for now 🙂

    To be honest, I haven’t been in town enough for this place to feel like home yet. It feels like a wonderful place to lay my head, but it doesn’t feel like home. I hope that changes in the months to come because I really do love it and I’m very thankful to be here, even if it’s only for a few days at a time.

     

  • Bahamas! We went to the Bahamas for a week to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a decade! We had to wait until after closing to make any travel plans so as to not throw off bank account numbers for the underwriting of the loan. So with 3 weeks so spare, we made a last minute decision to go to the Bahamas. We stayed on the island of Great Exuma, which is a smaller and quieter island compared to Nassau or Paradise Island. Our hotel was great, the beach was gorgeous and it was a great way for us to decompress and reconnect. We didn’t do much other than hang at the beach, read, drink pina coladas, golf and enjoy yummy food all week.

    Everyone kept asking us if we were on our honeymoon which always made us laugh. Either we’re aging well or we act like newlyweds…or both! 🙂

     

  • Photography insanity. With fall came 21 weddings and elopements for my company to photograph. They were all over the state so consequently every week I was traveling and running from one place to the next. The leaves here in Colorado are just gorgeous in the fall and I have a lot of out of state clients who travel here to take advantage of the beauty. Our window is pretty small for how long the leaves stick around so I wound up packing in as many weddings as possible. One week we had 8 weddings in 7 days. Bananas. It was beautiful but oh-so exhausting. I’m actually pretty mad at myself for allowing things to get so crazy. I live an intentionally slow life with a lot of breathing room and margin, so to take on this much work is really not my norm. I think it was a combination of needing money for the house, trying to prove that “I’m back” after taking most of last year off due to surgery, and pride. Bad combo. Lesson learned.

     

  • My heart. As life is slowing down, I’m starting to get a handle on my emotions, my heart, the pace of my life and my focus. This has been a hard year with David’s health, coming to terms with life after brain surgery, family problems, selling our dream house, living 8 months in a basement, moving to a new town and a new church. My emotions went wild for a few months, dipping to the lowest of lows as depression returned. David was right there with me for a while at the bottom. We hung out there for many months, looking for hope, looking for reasons to keep going.

    Now that we are in our own space again and the cloud has lifted a little I can feel my heart settling, calming, lifting. It’s tempting to say that I’m “returning to normal” but the thing is, there’s no returning to anything. Things are different now. So much has happened in the last 2 years (err, 7?) to shake up my normal that there’s really nothing left to return to. Now it’s about pressing forward.

  •  School. Fall semester at Denver Seminary started at the end of August, right when the pace of my photography picked up dramatically. At the last second, I switched to an on-line class taught by one of the professors who founded my Christian Formation & Soul care program. I couldn’t pass up learning from him! Studying on-line this semester has been helpful since I just don’t have the time to drive to campus each week but it’s also hard in that you don’t have an opportunity to really interact with people in a classroom. I am looking forward to the rest of the semester because we’re going to make use of some video conferencing and I’ll finally have time to focus.

I guess that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll write sooner than 3 months from now. Or maybe not! We’ll just see how the Spirit moves 🙂

Warming Up

We have been living with my in-laws since January, when we sold our previous home. It’s been a really hard 6 months. Absolutely nothing has seemed to go our way in these few months. So when we went under contract on this house, I had a very hard time believing something wouldn’t go wrong. The seller is a bit odd- he’s very unpredictable, a little unethical, he lies and I think he has a touch of dementia as well. Not a great combo. Each week that went by, I held my breath for The Big Let-Down. News that he decided to keep the house or that he wants to renegotiate to a higher price. News that there were structural issues or that the house didn’t appraise and the deal would fall through.

I realize how impossibly pessimistic that sounds. I’m quite aware of how far I’ve fallen from my previously endlessly-hopeful self. But I think that is starting to change.

We are now 2 days away from closing and the seller has officially moved out. I went over to the house yesterday to try and match flooring samples. I had a key and I let myself in (with his permission of course). And there it was. This beautiful, empty home sitting before me. A home we have prayed for. A home that made me cry when I first walked in. A home we have agonized over. A home we almost lost to a higher bid. It’s lovely really. And in 48 hours it will be ours, Lord willing. I stood in the doorway and let it sink in a little bit. This house, this wonderful, quirky house is about to be ours.

For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to warm up to the idea that maybe the winds are shifting. Maybe a stream of good luck and God’s favor is coming our way. Maybe things are going to be less hard. Or maybe not, but at least we’ll have a cute house to weather the storms in haha! 🙂

I would love for this house to represent a new chapter in our life. I don’t want to walk into it with armfuls of baggage. I’d like to carefully store those bags in the garage and walk into the house with a fresh sense of hope and a renewed perspective on life. If our old house represented the ICU ward of a hospital where we recovered (sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively) from the wounds of life, then I want this home to represent a retreat center.  A place of restoration, refreshment, relaxation, healing, inspiration, peace and wholeness.

And as I stood in the empty spaces of what will hopefully soon be ours, I was overwhelmed by the possibility of what could be as I picture us enjoying summer evenings on the patio and snuggling around the fireplace at Christmas. I finally let down my guard and allowed myself to indulge in the possibility that this house will be a place of comfort for us. It is evidence that perhaps the seas of life are getting a bit calmer.

Picture time! This was the first time I have ever been in the house alone. The first time where the seller wasn’t sitting around in his pajamas eating food and brushing crumbs everywhere (this was a For Sale By Owner situation, so he didn’t play by any of the traditional real estate rules like leaving the home for a showing or not getting in a fight with the inspector etc). The first time where I haven’t been distracted by his incessant talking to actually have a solid look around. The first time I’ve seen it empty.

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Looking down from the loft onto the main great room. Yes, that is shiplap you spy above the fireplace 🙂
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The master bathroom and closet have these gorgeous tiles with radiant heating underneath. That is going to feel so good in the winter!
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Our seller ripped out brand new white carpet and installed  navy carpet (with polka dots!) in the lower level of the home.  We want to replace that (obviously) and do hardwood. The wood in the rest of the entire house is solid strand bamboo and it is in fabulous shape. My attempts to match hardwood have been fun. In the 3 years since the initial wood was laid, the stains have changed ever so slightly and now nothing is a perfect match. I stalked  was able to get in touch with the prior owners and she graciously told me where they purchased the wood from so I think I’m getting closer to a good match. And if it’s not perfect, that’s ok too!

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Our precious patio. This spot sealed the deal on my love for this house!

Photo Jul 06, 5 28 42 PMI’ve been staring at various shades of white paint for a long time. I’d like to find one with just a subtle undertone of grey which would contrast well with bright white trim/fireplace/doors/kitchen cabinets. There’s not a ton of natural light in the house so anything we can do to brighten things up will help, like skylights and solar tubes (getting an estimate on those next week!).

We have our closing set at 11am on Friday, then we’ll grab lunch to celebrate before a few contractors come by for bids on flooring install and random jobs to be done. Our POD is scheduled to be delivered on Saturday. Can we just talk about what a huge surprise opening that thing is going to be?! David and I were in the hospital when the movers packed it and it was carried away, so I never supervised any of the moving process. To be honest, I still don’t know where our POD is being stored. All I know is that we will see it soon. It should be fun to rediscover our stuff after almost 7 months! Thank you Jesus that the end of our nomadic basement-dwelling life is near and that we are about to have a space of our own again. This is going to be a good good good weekend!

 

Meetup Success!

Well, I did it. I hosted my very first Meetup for women without children in my town. I was so afraid going in. Afraid no one would show up. Afraid I would say something presumptuous or embarrassing. Afraid of awkward silence. Afraid that maybe God is just determined to keep me isolated from anyone else who might have circumstances that resembles my own.

Honestly, it turned out better than I could have imagined.

I went into that restaurant not knowing a single woman without children, and I left with 5 new friends who share a common bond with me. We sat down at the table and all breathed a collective sigh of relief that we were in a safe place. You could just see it in some of their eyes…the joy of finding a whole table of people who just “get it.” The contentment of knowing there would be an entire dinner conversation without mention of breastfeeding, nap time, soccer schedules or some other trigger. Sweet relief.

I dare not assume that all of these women are in my boat. I honestly don’t know their stories yet. My guess is that most of our boats are so unique that there is only room for 1 person to row. But we each managed to drift our rafts into the same radius of calm water on a clear evening, close enough to wave to each other and chat. Thankfully, everyone was pretty darn normal (relatively speaking, ha!). We all knew how to converse well, ask good questions, laugh at each other’s jokes, share stories, attentively listen and not overshare (tempting though, isn’t it? The second I met them, I wanted to just gush my entire life story). It was just a fun, simple evening getting to know one another over chocolate. Yes, chocolate. The restaurant we went to specializes in chocolate; chocolate martinis, chocolate ravioli, truffles, soufflés, pie…chocolate everything. And it was fa-bu-lous!Photo Jun 07, 6 05 11 PM

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve had over 30 women sign up for this group. Many of them emailed me to say thank you for creating a space where they can meet others like them. One of the members even took the initiative to help me schedule a future meetup in 2 weeks: dinner at a local food truck rally! There is talk of brunch and evening hikes too as the year goes on. Fun!

So all in all, I have to say it was a surprising success and I am so thankful I had the guts to go out on a limb. I learned that there are indeed others out there who are like me. We may not share the same path, the same beliefs, direction in life or worldview. But we have a common bond over something that is markedly absent in our lives. And sometimes, it just feels good to know you’re not alone.

 

On The Road

The first half of 2016 was not terribly kind to us. David got seriously sick with 2 pulmonary embolisms in his lungs and almost died, I was still trying to fully recover from brain surgery, we lost a house we were trying to buy, a crazy lady surfaced at David’s work and took him to mediation (if you know my husband at all, you know how craaazy that sounds. He is maybe the kindest, quietest and most caring person in the world), we became basement dwellers in my in-law’s house as we waded through the hopeless housing market, I felt depression begin to resurface after a 10 year hiatus. Everything was looking pretty dismal.

We’ve had some crazy nights during these last few months. Nights where we bought cold beer and drove out of town to sit under the stars and have conversations I never thought we’d have. Nights where the tears wouldn’t stop. Nights where I worried about David. Nights where he worried about me. We took walks in the dark of night. We clung to each other for dear life before falling asleep. 7 years of trials had finally caught up with us.

We had many nights where we tossed out crazy ideas and discussed “what ifs.” Like, what if we just got the hell outta here? What if we just left? Like, leave it all behind. What if we took the equity from our house, bought an RV and just left town. Didn’t tell anyone. Just left. We could kiss our attempts to live a “normal” life with the rest of society goodbye and just do our own thing.

We were ridiculously close to doing it. Still are at times, if I’m being honest.

Ultimately, God intervened with a house. We bought a precious little bungalow and decided maybe we’d stay in town a little while after-all. If it weren’t for that house, we’d be long gone by now.

When we were on our trip to Utah, we encountered many people living the life that we almost lived. We’d pass a VW van barreling down the highway with the windows rolled down and sun-tanned faces smiling in the wind. We’d walk by a camper that was stocked with food from the latest grocery store, 80 miles away. We’d smile at a single woman and her dog as they walked back “home” which was a campervan with a doormat laying on the wet pavement. We’d catch a glimpse of a solar panel powering someone’s laptop in their RV as they answered emails and got a little business done.

It made me realize that there is a whole other world out there. A community of people who are perpetually on the road (and I’m not talking about retirees who are strategically vacationing in their motorhomes). These wanderers are not homeless. They are very much at home. Home is the road. They work from their RVs and Airstreams. They make a steady income. They live simply, in no more than 400 sq. feet of space. They see new things and meet new people with each week that goes by.

For whatever reason, these folks feel that life on the road is better than life at home, wherever home may have been at one time. Some of them are surely running away from their problems, like David and I would have been. But some of them seem utterly content to maintain a nomadic lifestyle, they aren’t running from anything or to anything. They simply enjoy life in the moment, wherever that may be. Call it perpetual wanderlust.

Instagram is a fascinating way to look at the lives of this wandering sub-community. Hashtags like #vanlife #airstreamdreams #sheroams #homeiswhereyouparkit bring up images of hundreds of people who are living in this countercultural way. They’ve given up their mortgages and desks for camp stoves and folding chairs.

Honestly, there is an entire community of landscape photographers that do this full-time. One of my photographic inspirations, Sarah Marino, lives in her Airstream with her husband and travels throughout the US taking photos to sustain her business. Photography is a beautiful way to sustain this way of life.

Since being home, our conversations about buying a camper, RV, Airstream or some other type of mobile housing have continued. We talk about early retirement, living on the road full-time vs. part-time. We talk about the benefits of having a “home base” here in Colorado. We talk about passive and active revenue streams. We are not talking in what-ifs anymore. What-ifs have morphed into strategic vision and meaningful plans for creating a different kind of life. It stopped being about running away. It started being about cultivating a life that we both feel drawn to, and have been for many years.

I read a book for class the other week called Searching For Home: Spirituality for Restless Souls by Craig Barnes (great book if you’re interested). It’s all about how we wander through life in search of meaning and a destination. Some literally wander in their VW van, across state lines and through National Parks. Others wander through relationships, jobs, churches, friendships, the newest technology. They get married because they think it will make them happy. They have children because they think they will finally feel fulfilled. They switch jobs. They move states, thinking that a change of scene will bring happiness (I literally see this in Colorado every day. People flock here in droves looking for a better life.).

Everyone wanders at some level. But it is possible to wander with a purpose. If you know where our true Destination lies, you’re never just adrift. There’s a difference between wandering aimlessly through life and being a pilgrim with your eyes set on your Heavenly Home as you journey along. As my professor said, “In Christ, home is within us.”

Heck, Jesus was a nomad. He wandered from town to town. Paul roamed an entire region, as did most of the apostles. The Desert Fathers intentionally removed themselves from society in order to seek God in the wilderness. Who says the only way to live a godly life is by following American society’s standards of living in a stationary house with a lifelong career, freshly mowed lawn and 2 weeks of vacation each year? Couldn’t you live an equally obedient, prayerful, God-pleasing life while traveling? Ministering to your RV neighbors and campground hosts? Helping a fellow traveler who has broken down on the side of the road? Volunteering to do trail maintenance and picking up trash in the parks? Reading the Bible and praying while taking a walk through the forest? Is that life any less honoring to God?

The whole point to life with God is to receive His love, love Him back and love others in the process. I believe this is possible whether you are living on the road, at home or somewhere in between. If we do this thing, we want to do it well. I want to live a life that deeply fulfilling and also glorifying to God. I think we can cultivate a life on the road that has purpose and is full of meaning, focus, beauty, simplicity, community, friendship, formative growth and intentionality.

I’m pretty sure this will happen. One of these days we’ll have our mortgage paid off, we’ll rent our house out and buy something to travel in. Maybe it will be in 6 months, maybe it will be in 10 years. We’ll just listen for God to whisper now is the time, go. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s to never count on your own plans. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail”(Prov 19:21). But holding your plans loosely doesn’t mean you can’t keep a dream in the forefront of your mind while you continue to refine a vision that might become a reality.Photo May 15, 6 44 55 PM (2)

Out On A Limb

Have you heard of Meetup? Essentially it’s a website that organizes “meetups” of people with different interests. There are book clubs, hiking groups, music groups, political groups…basically a group for anything you can imagine. People just gather around a common interest.

Well, I was on Meetup the other day looking at the groups they have for the town we just moved to. It was more of a curiosity thing, just looking to see what they had. I happened upon a group for women without children in a town about 50 miles away from me. Just as I found that group, a little box popped up and said “75 Meetup users in your town have expressed interested in a “childless” group. Would you like to start one?” Ummmm, no. I really don’t want to start one. I’m not interested in organizing anything, starting anything or really doing anything outside of my comfort zone. I closed the website and moved on with my to-do list for the day.

For whatever reason, it kept popping into my head throughout the next few days. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit, maybe it was curiosity. Who knows. I just kept thinking…75. There are 75 other people in my town who are interested in meeting up with other people who don’t have children.

I currently do not know anyone, aside from my sister, who is married and does not have a child. Not a single person. Zero. Not in my old church. Not in my new church. Not from college or grad school. Not in my network of photography friends. Not a local friend. Not a distant friend. Not even a remote acquaintance. No one. And to be honest, it would just be really nice to have a friend who also did not have children.

Not that I need to bond with someone over infertility, I have plenty of friends who have been down that road whom I can bond with if needed. Not that I need to have someone understand my story, I have plenty of friends who understand my story. I don’t need further understanding. And it’s not that I can’t relate to my friends who have children, we all get along beautifully and I love them (and their children) dearly.

I guess it would just be nice to meet another outlier, like myself. To have a full conversation with someone that didn’t include talk of swimming lessons, Kindergarten registration, soccer schedules or breastfeeding. I’ve been having those conversations for 7 years now. It feels a bit like a paraplegic talking to a triathlete (shout out to Sarah for giving me that fitting analogy).

So, I went out on a limb and I created a group. It’s for Women Without Children. In the group, I specified that you could be childless not-by-choice, childless because of loss, childfree by choice, childfree by circumstance…whatever best identifies you.

The group is still in moderation, awaiting final approval from Meetup. But if it gets approved, maybe a few of those 75 people will join. And maybe we’ll meet up for coffee or a hike. And maybe we’ll find camaraderie. Maybe I’ll make a friend who not only understands the place where I am, but is there herself. 

Yes, it feels weird. Almost like internet dating. It feels contrived and forced and awkward. A little sad maybe, if I’m being honest. Because it really shouldn’t be that hard to find a group of friends who are in a similar boat as you. Or even just one friend. But when you reside in a minority subsection of society, it’s just not always that easy to find people who are like you, you have to intentionally seek them out to form community.

So we’ll see what happens. Maybe the group will get approved, maybe it won’t. Maybe people will join, maybe they won’t. Maybe it will be a bunch of old, bitter infertiles, or maybe it will be a wonderfully diverse group who share a common bond. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I put myself out there and tried. Can’t fault me for trying!

**Edited to add: So my Meetup group was approved yesterday evening after I wrote this post. Within 4 hours it had 16 members and our first event (happy hour!) is already 75% full with confirmed RSVPs. Wow! tumblr_no7kt8IZPV1teoi3lo1_500
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