Travels With Ellie

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
― Marcel Proust

Recently, our little family traveled from one coast of the country to the other. Of course, the closest airport that will fly you to Washington for a reasonable amount of money is Boston; this means you have to leave at 4 AM. Not so fun, especially when you have an 18 month old. It also doesn’t help that I despise air travel and typically get sick. I have learned to depend on Dramamine to prevent unpleasant flights (although it never seems to help when we land for a layover in Chicago). So into our packed up car we went before the sun had risen, shipping down to Boston. I thought that Ellie would have slept on the way down in the car, and I thought that I might have too since I basically hadn’t slept that night. Of course, she started dozing when we were only minutes from the airport; isn’t that the way it always goes? Ellie have her Mam ( my mom) a hug and kiss before we set off our our journey; it’s always great to have someone drop  you off. And off we went. 6:30 in the morning at the airport is not my favorite place to be. Thank goodness our bags were under 50 pounds…those fees are outrageous! And then came the part that I dread. Well, really I dread all of it. I hate flying. My anxious nature doesn’t help, nor does my vivid imagination in which I can see at least 10 different scenarios of something going wrong. But we weren’t there yet. We were only to the security line (I have a vivid imagination when it comes to this part of traveling also…what would they do if you didn’t have your I.D? If your child took it out of your wallet and threw it down a drain right as you were entering the airport? Who knows…). Luckily the security line was moving fast; and luckily we both had our I.D.’s. My husband and I joked that it must be a requirement of Logan International Security Officers to be completely grumpy, impatient, short and relatively scary. I mean, if you hate your job that much please get a new one; I don’t need your attitude at 6:30 AM. Now it was time to have our belongings and selves checked…good thing my husband insists in traveling light and we didn’t have to deal with the whole stroller/car seat thing. It takes enough time to make it through without these cumbersome items. Ellie was all but devastated when she had to let go “danky” (blanket) and “hoo hoo haa haa” (monkey). Then she frantically started signing and asking for “tursty” (water) as the security people were screening the exemption. It’s amazing how much having a child has relaxed me. Last time we did this whole traveling thing Ellie was 8 months old…it took us a long time to make it through security because I had so many exemptions for her; I didn’t want to be caught unprepared, so I over compensated and wound up over prepared. By a lot. Oh well, you live and learn. I was far more relaxed this time around, with only her sippee cup (instead of a grocery bag full of baby food, drinks, etc. Literally, it was a grocery bag). Ellie looked at us with wonder as we put our shoes back on, and we set off to find out gate. I’m always afraid that I’m going to be that parent with the screaming child waiting at the gate, only to have to get on to an enclosed plane with the same screaming child. However, my fears were never realized. We enjoyed our last visit to Dunkin’s for some time (there simply are not any out West, I swear), and waited for our plane to start boarding. Ellie loved this part, much more than I could have ever imagined. Ever time she saw a plan take off out of the over-sized windows she would shout “loooook! pwane!!!! Hi!!! Hi pwane!!! Byyeeeee!” Seriously, it was every time. And a lot of planes took off that morning. I just love that untamed excitement that children have. They make even the most mundane things so much more exciting.

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Before we knew it we were into out seats. Ellie insisted on buckling me. Again, it’s amazing how much this little girl has relaxed me. The last time we traveled with her I had the Clorox wipes in hand scrubbing down everything in our little space on the plane (not that this is a bad thing…it’s just a little obsessed). Now to stay calm for take off. Ellie loved watching the airport staff loading the plane with luggage, driving the vehicles around, and watching more planes take off. She was definitely the most awake and excited person on that entire plane. Really, the things that children find exciting; they are usually the things we see as boring. And yet, through their little eyes the interaction of the world is a wondrous sight. Ellie looked out the window in awe as the plan raced down the runway, she seemed a bit confused when we lifted off. I tried to explain to her that she was in the sky now, to which she answered “tweet, tweet, cawwww, caawwww”. She was mesmerized by the sight out that window until the plane rolled to the side to turn and she tilted quickly, suddenly looking down and the world beneath us. It must have occurred to her then that she was somehow above those trees. At this point she jumped out of my arms and quickly into her Daddy’s. She clung to him so unsure of what was going on for quite sometime. This might have been the cutest thing she has ever done.

The remainder of the flight, layover included, was uneventful. Ellie enjoyed the snacks the flight attendants gave her. As the anxious and nervous one I imagined scenarios of a screaming Ellie who would not fall asleep on the plane. This might be due to the one time that there was a screaming infant on a plane; I remember the father walking up and down the aisle trying to calm that poor little baby down. And I remember feeling so bad; and hoping and praying that someday that would never be me. Well, to date, this hasn’t been me. Ellie ate her snack, snuggled up with monkey, put her head of my shoulder, closed her pretty eyes and was out cold. She seemed to sleep comfortably; I wished I had been able to sleep, or even  be comfortable. But those seats were not designed for the comfort of mother and sleeping baby. At least she slept. My worries were for nothing; she slept, was happy, and the flight was uneventful. Perhaps next time I’ll be even more relaxed. Ellie always surprises me. I get all uptight and freaked out about things and she basically behaves in a way that says “psshhhh mom, chill out.”

Our vacation was busy and fun.  We attended a family reunion, visited all of our favorite restaurants, spent time with friends and family, went hiking, and sightseeing…it was a great trip. 20130703_172957

I faced my fears on many occasions. First, by driving a large F250 on very narrow roads surrounded by drop offs (the tops of the trees were nearly level with the road, not the trunks), and apparently the state of Washington doesn’t believe in guardrails. It was a gorgeous drive though. Wish I would see this every day on my way to work. Maybe someday.

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Fourth of July was fun. Ellie is just like her Daddy. She loved the sparklers…what is it about fire? She loved it so much that she ended up burning a hole in his brand new fleece. The joys of being a father?

2013 036We hiked Beacon Rock. Perhaps the most dangerous, scary, insane, impractical, exhilarating, and challenging thing I have ever done. Ellie laughed at me several times as I almost crawled up and down, clinging to the rock wall, trying hard not to look down, or out, or up. It was worth it at the top though. God made a beautiful thing when he created the Columbia River and the landscape around it.

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We visited Multnomah Falls. Is there anything more enchanting and mesmerizing than waterfalls? Ellie loves to  hike; she was so cute when she put her head on her Daddy and fell asleep.

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Mount St. Helen’s has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time now. It was such an adventure! Ellie enjoyed the car ride, the sightseeing, the museum, and picnic that we had. We were glad to have been able to share this adventure with some great friends!! Adventure always loves company. I know that Ellie will not likely remember this adventure, but no matter how young, experience shapes us. Seeing the world, and experiencing its beauty first hand is an experience that is sure to shape wonder, excitement, and  awe for the beautiful world that God has created. Not matter how young children are, they deserve to experience the world and its adventures too.

Yes, it was a wonderful trip. Ellie got to have tea parties, take care of baby dolls, play in the sandbox, and go swimming with her cousin Nevaeh; and enjoy time with her older cousins too. She got to go to breakfast, and walk hand-in-hand to go shopping with her friend Myah. We were able to go garage saling; which Ellie was unusually unhappy about. Before I had her, crying used to bother me a lot. Now I know that it’s sometimes just a part of life. Kid’s cry; so you can either stay home and listen to them cry, or get out and just deal with their crying. You rule them, or they rule you. Besides, most people are very understanding if your child is crying; so don’t let it stop you from going out places!

Traveling with a toddler is not a scary as some people might tell you. I have found that the key is to be flexible, be calm, and just relax. It’s probably not going to be as hard or as bad as  you think it is. Enjoy the experience together; enjoying seeing the world through the eyes of your child. Traveling has much to offer; not only will you see new places, but you might even learn something new about yourself. For me; sometimes it’s worth it to face the fear of highest heights, and sometimes you need to relax and calm your anxious heart. No matter where you go, or what you see remember, the where is not as important as the how you got there and what you learned along the way. And so Ellie, I hope that this experience leads to another equally as exciting and adventurous. I hope you learn from your travels as your set forth upon the road that God has planned for your life. I hope your eyes are open to see the world around you; and to appreciate the beauty that is everywhere. I hope you never lose that excitement and wonder for what you see, and always hold on to that heart full of joy for all that life has to offer.

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And How Do They Know?

“If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing what you behave.” – Fulton J. Sheen

Ellie, Daddy and I have traveled across the nation these past few weeks. Of course, this means that we attend other churches. I always love visiting other churches…though I must admit I get lost people watching. This must be the psychologist in me; I love observing the interactions of strangers and considering the causes of their choices and behaviors. Visiting a church in the beautiful state of Washington was no different. I kind of got lost in observation. Getting lost in this sort of way typically causes my introspective rivers to flow. And flow they did. I began to wonder…here is a great church, full of great people, worshiping God…but if I passed them in the grocery store tomorrow would I know that they were a believer? And then it kind of hits me like a water baloon: if they passed me, how would they know that I am a believer? Standing in a church that I am unfamiliar with, looking around, considering what exactly sets us apart…in this church, in my church, in any church…how do people know who we are?

I think about myself, and others who are a part of my generation. So caught up in life. I mean, for most of us it is in full swing. Busy careers, time with family, time with friends, time cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping. And in it all, how do they know? Co-workers, bosses, the teller at the bank, the bagger at the grocery store. What sets us apart? I think it is so easy to make excuses. I’m too busy to smile, I’m trying to get a promotion so it’s best to keep my faith to myself, the teller was a jerk so I am going to be a jerk back. Yeah, I have made these or similar excuses. But sitting in this church surrounded by strangers I see the heartbreaking truth behind the excuses that I tell myself. They don’t know cuz they can’t see it in you. And I just let that sink into my heart…consider the implications of this revelation…and resolve to behave as I believe. Jesus was kind to even the annoying pharisees, He was friendly with beggars, He shared His message of salvation with everyone He met. And here I am perpetuating anything but everything I believe about Jesus. So they can’t know, they can’t see it in me.

And really, how important do we really make God in our lives? I fear that my generation, myself included, fail to behave as we believe more often than not. Some of us go to work and get angry at our co-workers. Some of us cuss whenever we get the chance. Some of us chose to play video games instead of reading our Bibles. While some of us forget everything that we believe, everything that we hear on Sunday morning and go out and live the opposite. This is the scary part. A slave cannot serve two masters. Eventually it catches up with us. We don’t behave as we believe anymore, we believe as we behave. Yeah, cussing is ok, yeah smoking is fine, oh speeding is ok, telling that jerk off – he deserved it! In the blink of an eye the lies we tell ourselves become the truths we believe. We act on these twisted truths forgetting everything we once held in our hearts. It’s almost like an act. We take bits and pieces of our faith, the easy ones like going to churchon Sundays…and the rest of the time we live our distorted realities that look nothing like what God would chose for us to live. Still, they do not know. While we are saved from ultimate judgment our actions deliver judgment to those who are not saved.

And there I am, still sitting in that church surrounded by strangers, and they heavy burden of failure settles on my heart. I ask myself, is this who I want to be? Is this who I want Ellie to see? Is this who I want anyone to see? But how do you go about demonstrating what you believe? How do you make them see? I think it is partly rooted in pride…we have to be willing to give up that promotion, or cuss words, or the satisfaction gained by behaving rudely to the cashier. It’s not always the words that let people know, its the behavior too. It seems like we have to remind ourselfes to stop and think…think about what you really want to say or do…and do the opposite! Our fallen nature is first to respond but never right. The more you think about it, the more you surrender pride, precautions,  fears, and failures to God the easier it gets. So cliche I know; but the truth is, the more we do something the better we get at doing it. Our words and actions may be the deciding factor in someone’s decision regarding eternity. So take a moment to consider: how do they know?

“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good.” – C.S. Lewis