While I was in Belize the kids stayed and my parent’s house and had a wonderful time!
We came home just long enough to do some laundry, check our email and catch up on some reading and then were off on our next adventure…..
Ever since I was a teenager community living has been a part of my life. When my family moved out-of-state, I moved in with a close family while I completed my college courses. I shared an apartment with my brother when we both briefly lived in a small town in Wyoming, and with the exception of Kris and my’s first year of marriage and a few months before and after we moved, we have always had people living with us. Sometimes it’s been short term situations, others have been much longer. Each community living experience has been a wholly positive growing experience and has resulted in deepened relationships. I know that the friends that I lived with while I was single probably saw me at my worst, and yet they still loved me and spoke truth to me. They will be live long friends whose insight and opinions I highly esteem.
Next month we going to a whole new level of community living by combining our family of four with our close friends, another family of four. This is happening rather suddenly and taking all of us by surprise, but several unique events, namely the almost instant sale of their house, have led me to believe that this is the direction we are meant to be moving in. It may sound crazy and is totally not the cultural norm, but I am so excited for the combining of our homes and families. We aren’t just hoping to rent out a section of our house, we are hoping to share life together, to encourage one another, and to share in our strengths and weaknesses. Of course there are many practical benefits to this arrangement. The financial gain for both families has not been overlooked, but it certainly isn’t our driving motivation. The idea of sharing daily life with others is appealing to us. We desire the accountability, encouragement, and even the opportunity to make small personal sacrifices in order to bless the others.
I’ll keep you posted on this adventure. I’m sure you probably think we’re insane but if you have any wisdom or insight, I’d love to hear it.
This week has been a busy one, I have lots on my mind, and lots I want to write about. For now, here’s a summary of our exciting lives.
Saturday was Kris’s 31st birthday and the day my family (Mom, Dad, Liv, and Matthew) would be arriving at our house to spend Easter with us…well, mostly to see Jennika, but Easter was a good excuse. We decided to get up and go for a nice hike before our company arrived. Kris used one of his gifts (a hiking guide book) to find a suitable hike for us, I bundled up Jennika, and we were off. The hike we selected followed a creek up to an old mining cave. We however, didn’t reach the cave because about a quarter of a mile into the hike we encountered a moose! We gave him (0r her?) lots of space and slowly hiked further as he ran further up the trail. Eventually, however he decided he didn’t like this game and just stopped about 50 feet from the trail. We’ve heard plenty of stories about how dangerous moose are and didn’t want to risk aggravating our friend. So we attempted to go up and around our large furry road block by scrambling off trail. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the trail again once we got past the moose so we decided to head back to the car and find another, safer trail.
We drove about a mile up the road and started another beautiful hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon. We had hiked maybe a half mile when I started seeing recent signs of moose. I wanted to warn Kris, who carried Jennika in a front pack, to keep an eye out for moose but thought to myself that I was being silly. After-all what is the likelihood that we’d encounter two different moose on two separate hikes? So I kept quiet, fearing Kris would think I was being ridiculous, and we continued on. The further we got, however, the more I saw that convinced me that we were indeed behind another moose. So finally I did mention it to Kris and he said he’s be watchful. After hiking another 5 minutes we came upon a large older moose, standing about 100 yards ahead of us on the trail….staring at us. We both quickly backed down the trail to give the moose lots of room. He looked tired and a little desperate. I think we’d been chasing him for a while and he was tired of running and ready to face his pursers. So once again we turned back. As we headed back to the car I told Kris how sorry I was that we didn’t get to complete a hike. Both he and I weren’t very sorry though. It was a little annoying to be turned away by a moose, but way cooler to just get to view such a large and amazing creature in its own setting. That in itself was a pretty cool birthday present for Kris.
On Sunday we attended church, an amazing experience that I hope to write about soon. Then we feasted on a wonderful Easter diner together. That afternoon my family drove back home and I took Kris to the airport because he had business meetings in San Jose early the next week.
Monday and Tuesday Jennika and I were on our own. Let me just say that I have a great deal of respect for single moms. It’s tough being on your own with a little one! Wednesday afternoon Bill and Karen (Kris’s parents) arrived from Oregon. They came to see Jennika…and us….but mostly Jennika. 🙂 Wednesday evening Kris flew home and we had a happy and full house again.
I have to pause here for a second and say that I have the absolute best in-laws that a girl could ask for. When I listen to my girlfriends complain about the comments their mother-in-laws make, or the irritating habits and demands of their husband’s family I simply cannot relate. I have been blessed with another mother and father who really do treat me like their daughter, continually bless Kris and I, never criticize us, and are always willing to help us in whatever way possible be it prayer, babysitting, or swinging a hammer. I love it when they come to visit because I know that we’ll get a lot done and we’ll be adored and blessed.
So, having said that, you can easily imagine that our next two days were spent enjoying being together and working on home improvement projects. Bill and I made at least 4 trips to Home Depot in a 24 hour period. I love that store! We rented a rototiller and Bill broke up the dirt in my garden. We also purchased three trees; two Aspen and one Pear, and planted them. I also now have sheeky new light fixtures in my kitchen. They were delighted with Jennika and spend nearly every one of her waking hours holding or playing with her. I know that she felt well loved! Good job Oma and Papa!
Early Saturday morning, despite our best efforts to convince them to stay longer, Bill and Karen started the long drive back to Oregon. We were sad to see them go so soon.
That afternoon we decided to take advantage of the beautiful sunny and warm weather and go for another hike. It’d been a full week since our last hike, which is a really, really long time for us. So we decided to hike up the the first hamongog (Hebrew term for meadow) on the trail up to Lone Peak. This summer we hope to actually climb Lone Peak so this was a good preparatory hike.
The hike was beautiful providing great views of Lake Utah on the way up and a beautiful snowy field with Lone Peak in the background at our final destination. We saw lots of signs of moose on the trail, which made me a little bit nervous, but we never encountered more than a lizard and several very stupid mule deer.
And so that brings us up to date. It’s Saturday evening and we’re sitting in our warm and peaceful house with the lights off to observe Earth Hour Day. Hope your week was full of fun, love, and adventure too!
Anybody who knows me even a little knows that I am a planner through and through. I love love LOVE making lists and schedules. How much you ask? Well, for example, each week I make a menu of what we’re going to eat, a grocery list, and a to-do list. I even have sub-divided my lists into short term to-dos and long term to-dos! Crossing items off those lists gives me such a great feeling of, not only accomplishment, but I think also security. In my mind I’m valuable because I have done something notable. Even if it was just emptying the dishwasher, it was something written down and set to be done. And I DID IT. Good job Nikki!
I know that this isn’t really true. That God doesn’t peek over my shoulder at my crossed off items and say, “Nikki has gotten seven things crossed off her list already! Man, I knew I really liked her for some reason!”
Romans 8:38-39 says:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now I know it doesn’t mention anything in there about to-do lists, but I think that falls under the “anything else in all creation” category. The thing that stands out to me about this verse right now are the first four words. For I am convinced…am I? Do I really believe that no matter what I do or don’t get done today I will still be immensely loved by my Father? Well on days when I do get a lot done, sure I am convinced, because I feel good about myself. But on those sad, bad days when nothing seems to go right, or when I just can’t get going and motivated, those days when my list seems daunting and, rather than inspire me, it seems to point an accusing finger at me, I have to say I’m not convinced. On those days, which do happen all too often, I feel worthless, old, tired and discouraged.
This last week my brother and sister-in-law came up from Durango for a visit. Friday morning we decided to accompany them part of the way home and spend some time rock climbing and hiking in Moab. Then we’d part ways, them heading further south to Durango and us back home. Moab is about 4 hours from our home and an incredible place. We enjoyed the brisk afternoon weather, sunny but still chilly, as we hiked through winding canyons with sandstone towers rising several hundred feet above us. At the end of the hike we were rewarded with an incredible view of the valley. As we ate lunch at the local Wendy’s Kris suggested that we spend the night and then have some more time playing Saturday morning before we headed home. As he jogged across the street to check out hotel rates, a battle began to rise inside of me. The list-making part of me panicked. We haven’t planned for this! We didn’t schedule this! We don’t have any extra food, clothes, or really anything to spend the night!
But then a little part of me was excited. What a fun little adventure! We can “rough it” for one night and then enjoy this beautiful place a little more.
I think I hid my internal battle fairly well. Kris came back and said there were very few rooms left in Moab due to a half-marathon event that weekend. If we wanted a room we needed to make a decision quickly. My first (internal) response was relief, this would be easy to get out of. I played the religious card and suggested that we go on our outing and then decide afterwards if we wanted to spend the night or not. If a room was still available then we’d know we were supposed to stay. If it was “God’s will”, in other words, a room would be held for us.
Kris shot that idea down quickly, his logical mind calculating that it would be very unlikely that we’d come back and find an available room.
“Okay, whatever you think is best is fine with me, Kris.” I said, trying to sound convincing. Deep down the list making Nikki was losing and she knew it. The spontaneous, adventure craving Nikki was rejoicing at this opportunity. Kris quickly made a phone call and reserved one of the last available rooms in Moab.
This seemingly little decision ended up being the beginning of a huge revelation for me. That night as we settled into our hotel I felt young and giddy. I was excited as Kris went to the store to buy toothbrushes and I washed out our clothes in the bathroom sink with hand-soap. I know there’s nothing all that daring or crazy about what we were doing. But I realized that sometimes my desire to have things planned and scheduled can rule out a certain element of fun and adventure.
The revelation continued Saturday morning when we got up and drove out to Arches National Park. We spent the next five hours on a strenuous, beautiful, breath-taking hike. We saw incredible natural arches and sculptures, some that may only exist for a little while longer before succumbing to gravity and erosion. Repeatedly aloud and silently I thanked God for making all the beauty that surrounded us and for giving us the pleasure of being able to see it. I thought a lot about the last twenty-four hours as we hiked and felt like God was showing me how much he loved me in that hike. I had not accomplished a single productive or notable thing since we left home but oh, how blessed and loved I felt. God loved me enough to inspire my husband to extend our stay so that He could take me out into His creation and speak to me about how silly those lists really are. Yes, He made me to be a planner and a list-maker. But He didn’t make me to derive value, blessing, my sense of purpose, or even really pleasure from my lists and plans. He wants me to come to Him for that, and really that’s the only place where my pleasure and true value will ever come from. I’ll never be disappointed when I look to him, in fact, I think I learned from this trip that I’ll end up being amazed.
So now, in the trunk of our car sits a little overnight bag. It’s packed with all the little items we’d need should we ever decide to stay the night somewhere at the last minute. Because all of me, even the scheduler, wants to ALWAYS fully embrace all the adventure that God has for me. 🙂
Jennika and I got to spend the last six days in beautiful, sunny O’ahu. Oh, what a wonderful time we had! My dad was sent there on business and invited us to join him and Mom. He was booked to stay in a hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, the “perfect” beach in O’ahu according to most tour books and the general public. The only draw back to the trip was that Kris was not able to join us because he had to work. If he had come, it could have possibly been the perfect vacation.
O’ahu was humid and warm, a HUGE climate change from cold and snowy Salt Lake City. While there we toured most of the island, swam in the ocean, basked in the sun, snorkeled Hanauma Bay (incredible!), and visited Pearl Harbor.
Jennika was a great traveler. She slept on the airplane, adjusted well to the time and climate change, and delighted people left and right. The locals especially loved her. Many times we’d be walking through the market and be instantly surrounded by “grandmas” and “aunties” (their words, not mine) who oohed and awwed over her. Some tried to hold her, others just wanted a smile. One group even offered to buy her gold rings and bracelets if I brought her back the next day to visit them!
Jennika was not, however at all interested in the ocean. After a couple attempts to introduce her to the warm water she decided she’d had enough. She didn’t want to be in it, didn’t want to be close to it, and in fact, didn’t even want to look at it! Oh well, it is an awfully big body of water for such a small person.
My favorite part of the trip was the morning we spent snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. I’ve snorkeled before in St. Maartin, but this was SO much better. I could be in just six inches of water, put my face under and see fish all around me! The deeper out we went the more colors and varieties of fish we saw. We even spotted a squid hiding in the reef. I think Jillian, Dad, and I could have spent the whole day there and if we ever go back to O’ahu that will be on the top of our list of places to visit.
This afternoon we drove to Big Willow Canyon, which is just about ten minutes from our house. The sun was out and the freshly fallen snow from last night was dry and sparkley. We hiked for about an hour up into this beautiful secluded canyon. On either side of us huge slabs of granite and quartzite towered over us. Behind us lay the whole Salt Lake Valley, the Oquirrh Mountians on the other side of the valley, the great Salt Lake, and Antelope Island.
We “scouted” the area for good summertime rock climbs and planned out a good summit day trip for when it warms up.
We hiked until there were no footprints left, the trail was buried under several feet of snow. Before we headed back down to the car I decided to give into the little girl inside of me who was giddy around all this fluffy, beautitful, clean snow…I made a snow angel. I think that’s the first snow angel I’ve made in a good 5 years. It was still as fun as I remember.