My life is simply that. A weaving. We live in small town USA and I'm living a life I love…

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[ The West, Day 01 ] : Take-Off

Our flight departed from Columbus at 7am on a Wednesday.  This was the cheapest flight option for us…  (whenever I’m look at flights I search for departures from Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus and Indianapolis.  We are centrally located between all of these and sometimes there are hundreds of dollars of difference between these departure cities…)  The only downside… leaving our house at 3am which made for a very short night of sleep.

If you’ve ever gone on vacation you will probably know exactly what I mean by this:  It takes more work to go on vacation than it does to stay home.  The days leading up to our trip were crazy.  My lists were at an infamous stage and I literally was working day and night on stuff for home, kids, trip, vbs, work, church, etc.  But…  when the alarm went off at 230am and we headed out the door at 3am… I was ready… prepped and walking out the door with a pretty clean to-do list.

So our flight took us through Minneapolis and then landed us in Salt Lake City around noon.  (Sidenote… that airport was nice.  Clean, easy to navigate and pretty friendly…)

Once we landed in Salt Lake City we grabbed our rental car and headed to the nearest Walmart where we stocked up on bottled water, granola/protein bars, bread, peanut butter, jelly, chips, pretzels, fruit and carrots.  This is pretty much what we ate for lunch and snacks for our time on the road.  We grabbed laundry soap pods as well which have lasted me our entire trip.

We also purchased a Booster seat for Addison.  The car rental company charged around $12/day to rent a booster but we were able to purchase one from Walmart for $14.88 which saved us tons over the course of our trip.

After that we hit… the… road.  We were amazed at the beauty in Utah… we never anticipated that.  (It reminded me quite a bit of Anchorage… the mountains seemed like they were touching the backsides of parts of the town…

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Our ultimate destination that night was Idaho Falls, Idaho but we made a fantastic pitstop along the way… Lava Hot Springs.  

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Lava Hot Springs was a super cute, small town that was apparently world famous.  It was home to two swimming facilities.  One was a very large, family aquatic center with slides and pools.  The other one, where we spent our time, was the Hot Springs.  (It just so happened that Wednesdays were discounted family days so we got to relax in the Hot Springs for a pretty discounted price…  for more info check them out here : http://www.lavahotsprings.com/hotpools.html

The Hot Springs area was made up of five hot spring pools.  The pools ranged from 102 to  110 degrees.  They were filled with beautiful, clean mineral water that didn’t smell and felt amazing… okay, if I’m being honest the 110 degree pool… it just felt like your flesh would be falling off your feet at any given moment but… they really were amazing.

After that we headed to our hotel in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Our total drive time here was probably around 3.5 hours…

We found a really great BBQ place in Idaho Falls that we would recommend and return to… (and if you know us… you know that we like our BBQ and can be picky about it…)

PitMaster BBQ : http://www.pitmaster-bbq.com

[ T R I P T R I C K S ]

  • At Walmart we purchased a Booster seat for Addison.  The rental car company would have changed around $12/day to rent a booster… Walmart sells them for $14.88.  We ended up saving tons of money by purchasing one even though we didn’t bring it home with us.
  • All of our hotels were book through Priceline (except for two…)  I ended up doing some research on areas that surrounded each park, did multiple searches on Priceline to see which areas were more cost-effective to stay in and then finalized them by bidding on them.  My bottom line bid criteria was 2.5 stars…  for us, this was as low as we were willing to go, especially since we were bidding and couldn’t research a specific hotel prior to purchasing our stay.  Almost all of our hotels had hot breakfast with them… a couple only had continental… This alone saved us tons of money on food.

The Oregon Trail…

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The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
[ P S A L M 5 0 : 1 – 2 ] 

Okay, not really the Oregon trail but this month our family had the opportunity to pack our bags and head west for a couple of weeks.  We had been anticipating and making plans for this trip for about a year and were excited to break away and explore a part of the country that neither Stephen nor I had ever experienced.

We packed our bags strategically and carefully.  We plotted our course.  We mapped our path.  We searched out the Diner, Drive Ins and Dives that we wanted to check out and we hit the road, or rather the air, on May 31.

We have one more night away from home and at this point home seems far away and more and more desirable.

I want to try and catalog and document our trip before too much time passes and before we forget some of the details so bear with the multiple posts…  it works best for my brain to do it this way.

Pictured Above: Zion National Park at Sunset

Cloudy skies 

I do not enjoy clouds.  Simple as that.  

Okay, so maybe I do most days but when I’m flying I do not enjoy them. We have seen some wickedly awesome clouds this week.  From floating wisps to angry dark ones… And currently… Fluffy white ones that make this stinkin small plane bounce like crazy.   

Clouds are a part of our everyday life as well…   In our lives we have clouds that cross our path that block the view temporarily.   We have clouds that dump rain on our plans and alter our paths, especially if the rain has caused current roads to wash out…   Some clouds are wicked and then reveal gorgeous rainbows…  And some just make you bounce from here to there…

Life is full of clouds.  And in the midst of bumps or uncertainties it’s important to hold steady…  Maybe duck below them, maybe rise above them, but most of the time it’s necessary to go through them…  There’s always purpose.  We are never alone. And there’s always someone that has the full view…  

(Trying to enjoy the ride…)

Generators

sitting in a plastic lawn chair inside a very hot upper room on our last night in Haiti I’m listening to the generators run outside the Byxbe’s home.  It’s a white noise that is incredibly comforting to hear.  The few times it has slowed and become silent the lights go dark, the fans stop and you hold your breath…  And wait to see how long the generator will take to kick back on. 

In America it’s a simple thing that you can own or rent…  It’s a spare.  Or a means to power an event such as a concert.  It’s not necessary to everyday living…  Here generators have a different daily purpose.

Last year when we stepped onto Haitian soil it was all new.  All different. My eyes were glued to everything around me…  This year it’s a bit like going to grandmas house.  It’s not your home but you know where things are, how they work, and what to expect (except for the rat/mouse I literally just saw run across the floor… No joke.) 

Instead of watching the environment this year I watched the people on our team…  I have been so excited for this team to meet this part of our family…  And to experience this culture and to see what God is going to do in their lives in the coming weeks months and years because of their obedience to the come…  

I have found myself on the brink of tears often on this trip.  Sometimes I’m able to pin point exactly why and sometimes it’s more than words…  A lot of them are tears of gratitude.  

I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to introduce 35 of our dearest friends to the ministry of together we can.  We love the Byxbe’s.  We love their heart for the people of Haiti.  Their vision and passion for the gospel.  We love their children.  We love their bold-faced spit-at-the-impossible attitude…  We simply love them…  And it’s been such a privilege and exciting honor to intro friends to friends. 

I’m grateful for our team.  These 13 men and women have been incredible.  Incredible.  We have experienced the most bi-polar weather ever!!!   We have sweated until our faces are melting and then froze half to death within the same 12 hours.  We have gone without 8 bags of luggage… 4 of which were personal clothing bags.  These folks have gone completely to the brink physically…  Buckets of water and gravel up and down hill after hill… Foot after foot of trench digging, pushing a concrete mixer up and down hills that are ridiculous, and ridden for hours in the back of a pick up truck (28 people plus 4 days worth of camping supplies in an extended cab truck…  No joke.  No lie.) there has not been one… Count it… ONE meltdown on this trip.  Not one. 

The Haitian lifestyle had made me grateful for the American lifestyle and sorrowful for the ways that we squander it….  

I’m so incredibly grateful for my children.  For the fact they are clothed. Fed. Educated.  Loved.  Clean (85% of the time). Heathy.  When you see children walking on cliffs with the most ragged dressed and no shoes yet waving fanatically and smiling from ear to ear as you drive by it sucker punches you…   The simple life of a Haitian child.   Oh how bittersweet.  

I’m beyond grateful for a man that loves Jesus.  Stephen had the opportunity to meet with 15 local pastors a few days.  Some of these men walked over an hour and half to spend time in the word and be poured into as pastors.  Each day as we traveled the mountain road and stopped where the conference was being held I watched as my man hopped off the back of the truck and walked away to talk about the thing he loves most in his life… His savior.   There’s nothing more endearing that seeing that.  The intesifying burden and passion for the gospel in my husband over the last year is one of the biggest blessings in my life…  Then to see him spend the afternoon swinging a pick axe or using and shovel and laughing around the fire with him under the stars…  Gratitude.  Nothing better.  

Gratitude is such a small word for the welling emotion that summarizes much…  Gratitude should be a generator…  It should generate a thankful attitude.  It should generate love and compassion for people.  People I want to love and show compassion to and people that I have no desire to love.  Gratitude is fueled by recognizing and resting in my Savior and the grace He has given freely to me…  Completely undeserved. Completely unmerited.  And completely for His glory. 

Mission trips tend to be extreme in some, or many ways… But the emotion, convictions, and challenges they present shouldn’t be left on foreign soil…   They should generate change at home.  They should stir and prompt growth in my everyday life… 

Perspective 

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! (‭Psalm‬ ‭92‬:‭2, 4-5‬ ESV)

Laying on an air mattress (with one hip digging the ground), listening to crickets and creole… Bracing for the cold that may or may not come…  I’m reminded again and again of Gods steadfastness and faithfulness.  

The last couple nights have been physically tough…  Melatonin is at a low point and dark cold nights have seemed endless at moments.  But, every morning…  The sun rises, the warmth increases and we lived to see another day…  

Each afternoon as we’ve shoveled and dug… Just when the heat has seemed too oppressing, the sky opens up… And the lightest, coolest, sweetest drizzle spits sweet relief on us…  

Then the night breeze picks up and the fog rolls in and a beautiful evening is spent around a campfire surrounded by rainbows and mountains and just plain beauty!! 

So… It is good to give praise to the Lord!!!  I will declare his faithfulness in the morning and his steadfastness in the evening!!! God is good. God is faithful.  He is sovereign. And He and all that He is doing is exciting!!!  


Blessed the Lord…

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning 

It’s time to sing your songs again

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,

Let me be singing when the evening comes… 

Bless the Lord oh my soul

Flying into Miami we were able to see. The sun rise over the wings of the plane and the ocean.  Gorgeous.  

At night here in Montroise, the nights are blacker and the stars and more brilliant.  

The smiles of these dark skinned beauties are beyond gorgeous.  

Gods hand is eve ident everywhere… Sometimes discomfort can hide Gods majesty and sometimes when comfort is stripped it becomes more evident… 

There are still eight of us with missing luggage.  Five of us without clothing…  I’ll admit the thought of no underwear has almost brought me to tears if I’m honest… 

However…  It’s a make it work situation. The passing of clothes from one person to another is another small evidence of grace found in a body of believers.  Like the church in Acts, every need of the believers were met by the excess of other believers… 

So this morning we enter the mountains… We enter with full hearts, hope, or rather, dreams of luggage being delivered, and readiness to take the Gospel through love and deed to this new area in the gorgeous mountains of Haiti.

Until Tuesday… May the Lord bless you and keep you…  Please continue to pray for our team.  

All Things As Planned

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭10‬ ESV)



I remember last year in Haiti hearing that nothing ever goes as planned… And for the most part that rang true… Nothing bad, just nothing according to our plans. 

This year we are following in those same footsteps…   We had great flights and made it through immigration without a hitch…  Then came baggage.  

Let’s just say there are several of us without clothing and toiletries at the moment.  

But… First, in the end…  That is minimal.  I could wear the same clothing for seven days straight and the Gospel would still move forward and second… How awesome to know that we were created to do good by, through and for the sake of Christ and those works were laid out for our team way before any of us purchased our plane ticket or even had the thought to step foot on Haitian soil… Nothing is a surprise to Him.    

Pray for our team as we hit the ground tomorrow… Pray for the hearts we encounter and that the love of Christ and the power of the Gospel be evident in our lives… And selfishly please pray we get our luggage.