A Week Along Highway 101

Today is day 8 of our first great retirement adventure of 2018. We’ve been on the road a week, and so far, it’s been fun, interesting and pretty restful even though we’ve moved every couple of days. This is our 4th campground in 8 days. We have reservations at 14 different campgrounds in 10 weeks, so things are going to slow down a bit from here on out.

Speaking of reservations… I have to give some kudos to my amazing husband-trip-planner-extraordinaire. I should have guessed from the beginning of our marriage that this guy loved a good adventure, but also that he would do his homework to make sure that we saw and did EVERYTHING there was to do along the way. For our first anniversary, he planned a trip to Colorado in a borrowed Ford Bronco (his brother’s rig) and a borrowed 13 foot travel trailer (his parent’s.) We swam in the Snake River, replaced a U-joint in a tiny little town in Southern Idaho, drove to the top of Pike’s Peak, swam in the enormous pool in Steamboat Springs, and spent a wonderful week at the Christian Artists Camp in Estes Park to name just a few of the memories that I can quickly recall. That trip was 43 years ago, and it was only the beginning.

He spends months researching and planning for these unforgettable trips, and I get to be the beneficiary of his hard work. We have a detailed itinerary, complete with reservation numbers, miles between campgrounds and important sights we might want to explore, but there’s always a little spontaneity built into the schedule. Story of our marriage. I’m grateful.

Here’s a quick recap of the week:

Day One: We were on the road by 10, but had to make a trip in to town to take care of a few last minute details. The weather was pleasant and we made good time once we actually got going. Made it to Pacific City Thousand Trails (one of our favorite campgrounds for the last 35 years) by 3:00. Time for a quick dinner and a nice walk on the beach.

Pacific City selfie

Day Two: A look at the weather forecast told us that if we were going to do a beach walk, we’d better get it done before noon. We headed out about 10 and took our new trekking poles along to try them out. Once we got down to the beach, we discovered the tide was very high and so were the winds, but it was warm. We ended up being glad we had the poles – they helped keep us on our feet when the wind would gust. Seriously – I thought I might fall over a couple of times. We had to walk at the very edge of the sand to stay out of the surf and the sand was blowing in our faces. I joked that I got a free microdermabrasion session just walking the mile or so down the beach! I also noticed that using the trekking poles actually gives you a slight upper body workout. I mentioned to David that I was working harder using the poles. He replied, “Yea. You could slow down. We have all day.” Ha! So true.

Day Three: We drove about 200 miles to the little town of Port Orford with stops along the way to watch the show the Pacific Ocean was putting on. Turns out this was one of the highest tides in recent years. It was pretty spectacular to watch.

Port Orford

Day Four: We explored the town of Port Orford and took in a little history. The Coast Guard station there and the Cape Blanco Lighthouse were particularly interesting. The temperature was pleasant, but we experienced sun, wind, and rain alternately all day, but we had fun and didn’t get too wet! We saw some breathtaking scenery. The Oregon Coast has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Day Five: Today we had about a 150 mile drive to Arcata, California. Driving Hwy 101 isn’t the fastest way to travel, but the views are spectacular. The tide was still high, though not quite like day three. We got settled in to the RV park early enough to set out on a little tour of the area. Nearby Old Town Eureka is filled with beautiful old Victorian style homes and we enjoyed a nice walk and enjoyed a little people watching. The Women’s March was taking place, so it was a great opportunity to observe a little diversity! We decided we should check out where we might want to go to church the next day, so we started searching the web for nearby Assemblies of God churches. It was a little frustrating to say the least. All of the church websites were either out of date, or had a broken link. We finally had a bit of success by going to the Northern California District AG website, but even then the names of the churches had changed and it was difficult from the website to find out when the service times were. We finally found a church, but had to call the phone number to listen to a recording to find out what time the service started.

Light through the Redwoods

A row of Victorian Homes in Eureka

Day Six: It’s a good thing we took the opportunity to explore and sightsee yesterday, because it poured rain all day. We went to church at what we thought was Bethel Church, but had since changed their name to Lifehouse. It’s always an adventure just picking a church to attend in a new town. It’s probably not so much of a risk if you attend a liturgical church, but we Pentecostals are known for our independent spirit. You never know what you are going to get. Let’s just say it was a different experience.

Day Seven: Another 200 mile trip to Cloverdale, CA and our destination of the Russian River Thousand Trails. Meandering through the Red Woods is yet another breathtaking experience. I love how they cut the hwy right through the groves of trees – trees so close you could almost touch them as you drive by. Such a beautiful world our God created.



One Word 365 for 2018

It’s that time of year again; time to reveal my One Word for the New Year. I’ve been trying to think how many years I’ve been doing this now – at least 6, maybe more. Alece Ronzino, founder of One Word 365 says,


In a world where there are often too many words, I love the simplicity of just one word. That one word can take so many directions, mean so many things, apply to so many situations. In past years I chose words like; faithful, courage, and yes. My word for 2017 was joy, and boy was it ever a joy-filled year. I try to find ways to keep the word in front of me. Last year I made this banner that hung in my living room.

Joy Banner

My word is quite a bit longer this year, and I’m not sure what kind of visual to create – particularly since hanging space is limited here in my tiny home, but I’m going to think of something.

So here’s the reveal. Drumroll please…. My word for 2018 is:

Adventure OneWord 365


an exciting or very unusual experience; participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure; a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome; a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.
Verb (used with object)adventured, adventuring.
to risk or hazard; to take the chance of; dare; to venture to say or utter: to adventure an 
Truth be told, I’m not a very adventurous person by nature. I’d rather play it safe. I could probably be content to just stay at home and not venture too far away from my family. But as I have gotten older, I’ve adopted a bit more of a risk-taking posture. I’ve done things in the last 10 years that I never thought I’d do; I went back to school. I moved away from my hometown (only to move back again…) And, I moved (with my husband) into a 30 foot travel trailer as my semi-permanent home – to name a few. So far things are turning out quite well: not without their consequences and downsides, but overall, pretty darn good.
So, this is our year to discover what retirement is like. My husband, David taught music to middle and high school students for 45 years and was finally ready for a change of pace. I’ve wrestled a bit with the whole “retirement” thing. I don’t feel like I’m retiring from anything, just changing. I’ve quit a couple of jobs that I loved, but I didn’t “retire” from anything. I don’t like the word “retire.” To retire means to withdraw. I’m not doing that. Not now, hopefully not ever. Retiring (in the traditional sense) seems like such a waste of some of the best years of a life. Just because I don’t have a “job” doesn’t mean I want in any way to withdraw.
All that being said, there are a few perks to not having to get up in the morning and “go to work.” I don’t mind at all that the alarm doesn’t go off at 5:00 a.m. most days. I can go visit my kids and grandkids pretty much whenever I want. I can dream of and implement new ways to love and serve my family, friends and community since I’m not constrained by a silly old job. The downside is that there is a financial adjustment. But, that in itself is part of the adventure.
So this is a year of adventure. We’re going to do quite a bit of traveling since that is one of the perks of this stage of life. There’s so much to see in this great country of ours (and beyond I hope.) You won’t find us spending too much time in any one place, but always coming back home. Our first adventure is set for 10 weeks on the road through California and into Arizona. I’m not terribly excited about being away from the grandkids (and their parents, too of course) for that long, but it’s David’s first year of freedom, and it’s what he wants to do.
So here’s to 2018 and a year of adventure. Like any of the words I’ve chosen in the past, I will probably find that there are layers of meaning to my OneWord that are yet to be discovered. But that, too is part of the adventure.
“Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.” –Annie Besant
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

A New Way of Looking at the Christmas Season

I wish I had learned the rhythms of the Church calendar 40 years ago. I think I would have approached life in general, but the Advent/Christmas season differently.

We did all we could to keep Jesus at the center of our Christmas celebration when our kids were young, but truthfully, along with most of the rest of Western American Christianity, we just flowed along with the rest of the world’s way of celebrating. “Christmas” starts with Black Friday, officially giving permission to begin listening to “Christmas” music and decorating, baking, shopping, more shopping, buying, wrapping, more shopping and ceaseless activity. Whew. It’s a whirlwind – a mostly delightful one, but a whirlwind nonetheless. I’ve always had this feeling that it could be, should be different. I just didn’t know how. I’m not sure I have all the answers yet, but I think I’m getting closer.

For the last few years I’ve been attempting to honor the Advent season. Since I wasn’t raised with the knowledge of how it works, and still don’t belong to a church denomination that observes Advent, I’ve had to do my own research. It seems that there are not many clear answers on this front. As I understand it, Advent is about preparing for the arrival of the Christ child, and looking forward to his coming a second time in the future.

This year, in an attempt to honor that period of waiting and anticipation, I tried to choose a song a day that focused less (or little) on the baby Jesus and more on the lead up to His birth. It was tough. There are a lot of songs that talk about the birth of Jesus, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, etc., and very few about the anticipation of His birth. What I discovered in this process however was that even when the song didn’t “fit” exactly, as I searched for just the right song – reading and really listening to the lyrics – focusing on the themes for each week; hope, peace, joy and love, my desire to find ways to look for His coming and His coming again grew stronger with each passing day. Many days I found myself moved to worship, deeply touched by the meaning of the lyrics and the haunting melodies. Thanks to Youtube and Spotify, I have a couple of very nice playlists to draw from in the coming years.

But now it’s the Christmas season. Yes, I know, most people think that Christmas happened yesterday and are already taking down their tree and boxing up all their decorations. I don’t really understand this hurry to move on. Not that the tree and the decorations really have anything to do with Jesus, but still. The Christmas season begins on Christmas Day (or at sunset on Christmas Eve, depending on who you talk to) and lasts 12 Days (see The Twelve Days of Christmas) or until January 6. So, please don’t hurry through this season. If you have to take your decorations down – do it. But I hope you’ll continue to ponder the meaning of the coming of Emmanuel for a few more days yet.

I’m thinking about next year and some things I’d like to incorporate into my celebrations.

  • Create a Jesse Tree
  • Continue the #Adventsongaday challenge
  • Write a daily Advent devotional
  • Celebrate Christmas for 12 Days instead of 1. (Give small gifts each day instead of a bunch of gifts on Christmas Day.
  • Celebrate Epiphany of the Day of the Kings by giving gifts to a local charity

Have you given any thought to celebrating the Advent/Christmas season differently? Or maybe you have always celebrated Advent and Christmas according to the liturgical calendar and would be willing to share some of your ideas. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Merry Christmas!






When Your Baby Becomes a Daddy

Today my “baby” is 34 years old.

He is also a new Daddy. I’ve watched pretty much in awe of the way he jumped into parenting with such naturalness and ease. Of course, he’s been waiting for this day for awhile now, and there have been some terribly sad days on the journey to this point. But watching him change diapers and help position the baby “just so” to help his wife with nursing and just being so hands-on from the start has been pretty amazing. At one point his mother-in-law, Joanne looked at me and asked, “Was David (Nate’s Dad) like that?” To which I replied with a resounding, “Nooooooo!” Feeding and diapering were pretty much my department. Holding the sleeping baby was his. Someone asked Nathanael how he learned to be such a good Daddy so quickly. He said, “I watched the videos and I paid attention in class!” Indeed. Its seems he did just that. He’s always been a learner.

All four of my kids are parents now and I’m super proud of the job they are doing. I love watching them with their littles. (And oh, how I love those littles – but that’s a story for another day.)  They are in the wonderful, difficult years of raising families and they are doing it well, but sometimes I catch glimpses of the toll parenting takes. I see the tiredness. I know that it feels like this season – as wonderful as it mostly is – will last For.Ev.Er. It won’t.

I read a blog this morning by Rasha Rushdy titled, “Don’t let Me forget Their Littleness.” The author described all the sweet sights, sounds and smells of babies and toddlers. Toward the end she writes,

“Don’t let me forget their littleness. Because sometimes, that littleness is what makes me wish they would grow up faster, sleep for longer, be more independent, give me more personal space, give me some freedom, and let me just do what I want to do, for once.”

It’s true. For all the sweet reminders like Nicole Nordeman’s Slow Down, or the poem, Babies Don’t Keep, the sweet, exhausting, wonderful, frustrating and rewarding years of “littleness” just fly. At times you will want to hurry to the next stage, and the next moment you want to hold on, hold back time. You can’t. You can only enjoy each season as it comes and try your best to be all in it. Ann Voskamp says,

“Time is a relentless river.  It rages on, a respecter of no one.   And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.  When I’m looking for the glimpse of glory, I slow and enter.  And time slows.”

You can’t slow time, but you can slow you. 

Nate, Ember & Gryff

My Baby with his babies.

Sometimes I look at my four “babies” now all grown up and marvel at how they turned out. It certainly wasn’t because their Dad and I knew what we were doing, or were “perfect” parents (those imaginary people who haunt us…) Neither were they “perfect” kids (those imaginary children who belong to someone else…) I’ve heard it said that parenting is the only time you get the diploma before you get the education. “Here you go! You’re a parent. Now go figure out how to do it!” As a mom of adults, I can attest to the fact that I’m still learning! But if I did learn anything along the way, it was this; don’t miss the moments. Don’t be in such a hurry to get to the next stage, the next season, the next milestone that you neglect the here and now.

So, happy birthday to my Baby, my youngest. I hope you never stop learning, never stop paying attention, never stop cherishing the everyday moments, and most of all never stop loving, because you are so loved.


One Word 365

For the past several years, instead of a list of New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve chosen one word to guide my year. (If you want more information on this concept, look here: )

I was starting to get anxious about my word for 2017. I started thinking and praying about my word for 2017 early in December, but nothing felt right. But the other night as I was laying in bed, watching it snow outside the rented home where all but one of our family was gathered under one roof, it came to me. My word for 2017 is, JOY.


Here’s the thing about joy – it’s a choice. Henri Nouwen says,

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

It’s not that I “feel” joyful every minute of every day. I don’t. The kind of joy I’m talking about is not dependent on the circumstances in my life. I’m thinking of it this way; joy is like an underground spring of water. It is constantly present, flowing, nourishing the soil. Occasionally, it bubbles to the surface bringing refreshment from it’s clear, pure, liquid. Joy bubbles to the surface once in a while and we’re all like,


But more often than not, we have to tap into the spring to feel the joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It doesn’t depend on what happens outside, it’s a deep well on the inside. Someone has said, “I find joy in every day, not because life is always good, but because God is.” Joy is closely tied to faith and hope.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a  glorious, inexpressible joy. 1 Peter 1:8 NLT

So, here’s to 2017 – the year of JOY. Here’s to letting joy have it’s full expression when it springs up unexpectedly. Here’s to tapping into the well of joy, when life’s circumstances are less than joyous.


Considering Posts and Comments

It happened again. One of my Facebook friends began a post by saying, “I’m breaking my rule about political posts…” or something to that effect. I’ve done it. You’ve likely done it, too. You post something, or comment on something with the best intention (at least you think so) and then all h___ breaks loose in the comments section. Or, you read something and add your 2 cents to the comment section, and the responses are eye-popping. Whoa. Where did THAT come from?

It has happened so often in the last few months that I am creating my own set of “rules” for Facebook. Please, please – I’m not perfect at this by any means. I’ve made my share of bad shares and posts and comments. I’ve jumped in where it was none of my business. However, I think we can all do better, don’t you? After all, the people on Facebook are called friends.

True friends not only treat each other with kindness and respect, they treat their friend’s friends with kindness and respect, right?



Good stuff, right? Here are a few more personal filters that I am trying to apply.

  1. Before posting or commenting, have I considered my “audience?” I have a pretty big friends list. Sometimes I’m surprised by the comments generated by my posts. Friends will surface that I haven’t heard from in months – maybe ever. Most of us have people on our friends list that come from very different political, religious and philosophical viewpoints than we hold personally. If I’m going to post that comment or link to an article or blog, I need to be aware of how it might come across to the people I call friends and family. Not to say that we must stifle everything we post because it might offend someone. If it passes the THINK test, go ahead. Just be prepared – some friend or family member might disagree. Publicly.
  2. Before posting or commenting, have I considered my motivation? This one is a little tougher and takes some self-awareness.
    Often when I read an article, post or blog, I have a visceral response. My thoughts go something like this,”OH! This is SO good.” Hit share. Do so without thinking.

    “OH! So and so needs to read this!” Hit share. Do so without thinking.

    “OH! This person is such an idiot!” Comment. Do so without thinking.

    “OH! This is lie, or an exaggeration, or just plain stupid.” MUST SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT! (Because after all, I know everything.) COMMENT IN ALL CAPS TO GET MY POINT ACROSS. Do so without thinking.

    “OH! This will convince ____________ that they are: voting for the wrong person/ have the wrong opinion/are stupid/should think just like me.” Post or comment. Do so without thinking.

  3. Here’s my test to see if any of the above are true of me:
    1. Do I feel my blood pressure rising?
    2. Did my lip curl as I typed? (This is a real thing. Pay attention next time you type one of those stinging responses.)
    3. Does this post or comment give the impression that I am smarter or superior than the author of the post or previous comment?
    4. Am I angry?

If any of the above are true, it’s probably time to go read a good book, or pray, or take a walk, or drink a cup of tea, or remember that I am not God. It’s time to picture that real person sitting beside me having a real conversation. It’s time to remember that they are real life, flesh and blood human beings – regardless of their political or religious views.

Let’s be kind to each other, please. Let’s treat each other with love and respect. Pause before you pontificate. Stop before you speak. Take your fingers off the keyboard for a minute before you type. 

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 The MESSAGE




My country – indeed the world it seems – is locked in the grip of fear and anger. Black, white, civilian, police officer, Muslim, Christian, LGBT, straight; humans all over the world are weeping, angry, afraid, confused, trying to make sense of the senseless. I’ve read the articles and Tweets, and Facebook posts and the ensuing comments. I’ve watched the news as it has unfolded tonight. And I’ve wept.

There are differences; differences of opinion, worldview, religion, race, and culture. But we have one thing in common. The color red.

Black. Red.
White. Red.
Civilian. Red.
Police Officers. Red.
Muslim. Red.
Christian. Red.
LGBT. Red.
Straight. Red.
Human. Red.

The blood that ran from wounds; the life that ebbed from human beings was all the same. Red.

The life that runs through our veins is red. Every. Single. Living. Person.

For just one moment, can we remember that? Can we remember that we are all made of the same stuff? Can we remember that there are broken hearts of every color, ideology, religion, and orientation who are grieving. Let there be a cry of lament. Let us hold one another in tenderness. Let’s stop talking, and writing for just a moment and grieve. Let us pray for wisdom, unity, peace, understanding and hope. And let us remember the color red.