Sunday, July 1, 2018

Palm Springs

{A post written Friday afternoon from a waiting place.}

It's been the week of VBS here. It's been filled with mornings where people are up and out in the 6 o'clock hour with multiple car loads going out at ungodly hours, and the delight of serving and being with people we love. It's a summer highlight each year. I enjoyed my own group of 14 VBS kiddos - sharing the gospel and getting to know their families in new ways. I've loved seeing my big kids take part, too. Michael has been serving for the last seven straight days, sometimes up to 10-hour days (heading up audiovisual with another teen). Olivia has put in just as many hours with the drama team, and assisting alongside me, then heading off to the ice cream shop where she worked some evening shifts. I love seeing my kids work hard and enjoy it.

Summer hasn't been for resting much, but heaven will be!

Several weeks ago we took off for Palm Springs for a couple nights. The goal was to rest and reconnect after the end of the school year. Two nights in the desert was nice. It would have been nicer if there had been more rest, but early morning swims in the desert heat was just too much for us to pass up. Maybe if the younger boys would have slept in, the rest of us would have as well. Andrew set his alarm for 6AM so that he could have breakfast out by the pool alone. He's cool like that. Then Jack would join him shortly after, and, well, the rest of the family would appear one by one in swim wear and a coffee mug in hand. There's something so wonderful about the desert heat to welcome the end of the school year. 

We stayed in an Airbnb house (below). Specifically, we got to experience an Alexander house; much more enjoyable than a hotel or resort.

Even Jack got to have coffee every morning. 

I didn't take a ton of pictures, but these are from the walk Jon and I took around the block. Jon absolutely loves mid-century modern architecture and design. He'd live in the desert, whereas two days was just the right length of time for me. My urge to get out and move interprets the intense heat as far too limiting.

(I didn't have the right lens, which explains why the homes are cropped as they are below.)

Orange everywhere. It gave me the impulse to buy Creamsicles for the first time ever, I think. 
I found out my kids prefer fudge. Yay for learning something new every day!

Jon with our kids, below~

I was going to post this picture for Father's Day, but instead he was chasing down some stolen property and I was on the phone with the police. There's nothing better than grilled steak with the family and a little adventure with the boys for Father's Day. Then we topped it off with gelato in La Jolla.

This man, though... How did I score like this? I've seen his commitment to his kids and to their mother rise to new levels again this year. Life gets tough and commitments either collapse or are reinforced. By the grace of God, Jon's commitment is on display in the countless ways he sacrificially loves us day in and day out.

The daylight was dim and my shutter speed was too low, resulting in blurred images (above and below). I'm happy anyway because moments and memories were captured. I'm pretty sure Michael shouldn't have been laying on the "Lawn Chair" art, but we so enjoyed his burst of playfulness during our time away.

For some of us, the wild whispers our name and beckons us to come. If you know, you just know.

Family getaways are some of my favorite things ever. The experience of them seems to get better with time, with each memory remembered and recounted. Even the unpleasant parts somehow become humorous, or at least they are lessons learned. You should know and expect that there are always unpleasant parts to family vacations. And since this is my personal blog, not Facebook or Instagram where only the happiest parts are celebrated, I get to be a little more upfront and genuine.

As much as we may wish, vacations have no rules against difficulty. There are no personal spaces against heartache, no zones for happiness only, no defenses against the trials of life. We can get hit hard during our happiest times, exactly when we least expect it; or maybe there are seasons when the trials just seem relentless.

One night I lay restless, sorrowful, questioning. I'd sleep a short while just to wake and start my teary prayers over again. Pleading. Grieving. Begging God for hope, for wisdom, for miracles.

Trials have taught me the faithfulness of God. Ironically, the very circumstances that cause me to wonder if he hears and if he cares are the conditions that force me to cling to his promises with greater fervency and expectation. Trials are what force me to believe in the faithfulness of God to keep his promises and to never change. God takes me to a point of complete dependence, unable even to sleep on my own. Restless nights of prayer eventually bring rest to my soul.

Palm Spring mornings are special. The sun rises and a great mountain wall shimmers in gold. A new day shines afresh, mercies new.

That majestic Palm Springs mountain I could see through the slit I'd left open in the blinds recalled passages of scripture to mind, like a balm. I'm a Bible passage underliner. Some say this is a bad practice because it means your eyes always fall on underlined verses at the neglect of others. That was definitely the case for me that morning, and I'm still thankful, still reaping the benefits. Chapter by chapter, page by page, my eyes picked out some underlined verses:

"I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber."
Ps. 121:1-2

"To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! ...Our eyes look to the Lord till he has MERCY on us." Ps. 123:1-2b

"Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Ps. 124:8

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever."
Ps. 125:1

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him." Ps. 126:7-8

The entire chapter of Ps. 130 is underlined in my Bible, but I'll just type out a portion:

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O lord! O Lord, hear my voice! ...I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I HOPE... For with the Lord there is steadfast LOVE, and with him is PLENTIFUL REDEMPTION."


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