I mentioned in a previous post that one of the unexpected surprises for me personally along our sabbatical journey this summer was the way I saw God everywhere. The God who made me made the Grand Tetons. The God who made me made Old Faithful to spout, spray, and show off every 88 minutes or so. The God who made me saw Pike’s Peak before Katherine Bates hiked up in 1893 and was so moved that she composed the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” at the top.”
Our friend Steve at the Potter’s Inn made a point to tell us as we sat on his porch with his wife Gwen, “See that mountain over there…Pikes Peak? God made that mountain. God made you. Katherine Bates wrote a song about how beautiful the mountain was. But God wouldn’t sing a song about a mountain. He’d sing a song about YOU.” And we all got it. God loves US, His Beloved.
The beauty we saw while wandering in the west this summer stunned our souls. We had so many moments where all we could say was “Wow”…or even better, just nothing.
So, I made a video today of some of the pictures I took along the way. The very last photo of the lightning hitting the Grand Tetons was taken by my amazingly gifted daughter Maddie.
Twenty one years ago this month, I was flying in a 5 person airplane over the African savannah. I spotted a lion running down a path, watched the Nile river stretch as far as I could see, wondered at the endless hills and treetops, what sorts of animals were playing in the jungle below me. I was on the adventure of the lifetime just as Rob was in Indiana, starting the adventure of his lifetime.
I remember flying and praying, and praying and praying for him, knowing our lives were about to change drastically. We were engaged, a world apart. My engagement ring shining on my finger, a promise of a new life together. He was moving from the South Suburbs of Chicago to Granger, Indiana. He was starting a job at Granger Community Church, and picking out an apartment for us to live in after we got married.
Our first few years together were action packed non-stop, leading an amazing group of young men and women through their years of middle school and high school. We poured out our lives to them, lived life with them, called them our own in so many ways. Our hearts were moved by their commitments to Jesus, to each other, to us. We chased rainbows together, following God’s promise of His faithfulness to the Ends of the Earth. We saw amazing things happen.
Then we started having babies of our own. And everything changed. Our hearts expanded more than we ever could have imagined. God’s blessing and purpose so obvious as each one of them were born. Sisters. God gave me three sisters to raise. What a gift. An amazing and perfect gift I don’t deserve. A gift I am still trying to unravel the mystery of every single day. Raising girls is the most rewarding yet challenging thing I’ve ever done. I grew up with all boys and all boy cousins. I am a 40 year old woman, still trying to figure out how girls think and why they do what they do…but it is a joy. A deep, deep joy that faces me every day.
Rob and I have been on this long journey together. Twenty one years of serving at Granger Community Church. Twenty years of marriage. Fifteen years of being parents to the most amazing girls in the world. And now, we get to rest. We get a sabbatical for two months this summer. We get to write and think and dream and rest.
The first night of our sabbatical started with a rainbow over our house. A stunning, fire blazing rainbow that lit up the whole sky with its light and color. A promise I don’t understand, I don’t have figured out, but a promise I recognize as hope and joy. And we’ll take it. We are looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime this sumer.