How We Vacation

In about three hours my hubby and I will be driving out of the 116 degree temps of Tucson and hitting the road to tour Northern California! I’m so excited that I couldn’t stay asleep. So while, my husband is still sleeping, I’m going to share with you how we vacation.

My Idea of Vacation

My Idea of Vacation

My sweet husband and I vacation very differently! It’s one of those differences between us that we didn’t realize until exactly 17 months in when we were on our postponed honeymoon to the Cook Islands and New Zealand (it was awesome by the way). I am the type of vacationer that likes to sit by the ocean or on the back deck and read till my heart’s content or talk walks along the beach or hikes in the mountains. My husband loves to be doing something, seeing something because in his mind if we traveled there, don’t we want to see as much as we can?

Jason would tour this city all day!

Jason would tour this city all day!

I totally get that, but I am an introvert and an HSP (highly sensitive person…I should post about that sometime…), so having a lot of noise, people, and just stuff stimulation wears me out and makes me feel a bit crazy. My husband is a high extrovert and is amped up by all of that stimulation that makes me lose my marbles. How do we balance those two personalities and vacationing styles?

We are still learning. Last year when we went to the Cook Islands, we laid out by the beach and snorkeled in the ocean for the majority of our time (my perfect). In New Zealand we caught all the sites we could in two of the three cities and I slept through most of the other one because I was so exhausted. It was in Rotorua where we learned that we have differing vacation styles 🙂

This year as we tour Northern California, we are balancing our time. I want Jason to be able to see the sights and feel energized by the new surroundings. And I know he wants me to be able to be in the quiet and be near God’s beautiful creation.

So we devised a plan. We sat down a few nights ago and made a list of all the things we would like to see in San Francisco, Monterrey, & Sonoma. We then narrowed that list down to a more reasonable number and left the rest of our time as coffee shop time, beach time, or walking in the natural beauty time.

We are extremely happy with our google spreadsheet itinerary (we are both the first child in our family…it shows) and we are both willing to tell the other if we want to do something more or less.

We are hopeful that this vacation will meet both of our needs, but mostly we are hopeful that as we separate from this busy season of life, we will come home refreshed, reconnected and ready to take on what ever life has in store for us!

Have you found that you and your significant other have differing vacation styles? How have you managed that?

Now we only have 2.5 hours before we hit the road, so I think I’ll head out for a run to expend some of this energy. 🙂

Live with Eyes Wide Open

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I returned from my weekend getaway with my husband yesterday. It was a great weekend of resting, but it was also a time where I started to recognize that the reason I was needing to feel refreshed wasn’t because I felt too busy or anxious about our adoption process. It was a heart issue.

I’ve always been the type of girl who looks to the next thing in life. When I was in high school, all I could think about was college. When I was in college, my thoughts were on where I was headed after. When I was single, all I could think about was when I would meet Mr. Right. I never felt like I had enough in the season that I was living in. I wanted more. I wanted something better. I wanted to be in a different season because the current season was either too hard, too boring, or too fill in the blank. I have a strong propensity to live in discontentment.

The past six months have snowballed into a heavy season of discontentment. It was initially the desire to be pregnant, then the desire to start the adoption process, and then it was to bring home our girls. The feelings of discontentment didn’t  stay within the desire to be a mom. I started to look at our house and feel like it wasn’t enough. Even though I knew we signed up for a fixer-upper house, I was frustrated it didn’t look like it could come from a Martha Stewart magazine. My daily thought process sounded like this: “when we have the money we will finally be able to get the kitchen done and then we’ll be happy”, “if only our backyard was landscaped, I could spend more time outside” “if we just had a little more space, I wouldn’t feel so cluttered” or “when our girls come home, then I’ll finally feel like a true woman” and “if I could only have the right entry-way organizer and set up, I would feel better” (ridiculous I know)…

This weekend all of that came to a boiling point over ice cream on Saturday night. What I didn’t realize was my attitude was deeply affecting my husband and as a result negatively affecting our marriage. I had become focused on what we didn’t have and how next year was going to be so much better because we’d finally have our girls home, our debt paid off, our kitchen done (maybe) that I wasn’t seeing the gift of now. I wasn’t living with my eyes open to what God was giving me in this season of life.

Jerry Bridges, author of Respectable Sins, says that discontentment most often arises from ongoing and unchanging circumstances that we can do nothing about. He also bluntly calls it sin. “Whatever situation tempts us to be discontent, and however severe it may be, we need to recognize that discontentment is sin….We are so used to responding to difficult circumstances with anxiety, frustration, or discontentment that we consider them normal reactions to the varying vicissitudes of life…When we fail to recognize these responses to our circumstances as sin, we are responding no differently from unbelievers who never factor God into their situations.” Ouch…this truth stung…

I had stopped factoring God into the midst of my situations. And this thought process leads to bitterness and resentment towards God and the people in our lives. I don’t want to live like that…so where do we go from here?

Thankfulness.

When we choose to live our lives filled with gratitude, the things that we thought were so important for us fade away.

Living with my eyes open to the blessings of today.

Look for the blessings instead of seeing what’s lacking will change your heart’s attitude.

Over a year ago I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and was challenged to begin writing down at least three things a day that I was thankful for. That lasted about a week…I’m not so good at follow through.

My wake up call this weekend challenged me to once again pick up my journal and write down each days gifts of grace from God.

So today I began my list and snapped pictures to have a visual reminder…

A quiet morning of reading on my new adirondack chair while the birds chirped away.

A quiet morning of reading on my new Adirondack chair while the birds chirped away.

Our dossier is complete and headed to our agency to be submitted!

Our dossier is complete and headed to our agency to be submitted!

Mornings by the pool this weekend.

Mornings by the pool this weekend.

My prayer is that through repenting of discontentment and seeking to live a life of gratitude, the Holy Spirit will work greatly in my life so that I will be a joy and an anchor for my husband, friends, and future children. Do you struggle with discontentment?  How could you make small changes this week to live with your eyes wide open to the gifts that God has given you in the here and now?

The One Where My Husband Hijacks My Blog to Say Happy Birthday (A Day Early)

THE HIJACKER

Hi, this is Jason, and I’m Sarah’s husband.

Insert maniacal take over laugh here. Mwahaha.

Insert maniacal take over laugh here. Mwahaha.

THE WHY

Tomorrow is Sarah’s birthday, and in honor of that, I have hijacked her blog to let all of you know what I love about her.

You may ask, why are you doing it the day before? Well, Sarah has been doing this blog thing for a bit now, and she has seen that not many people read blogs on Saturdays. And since I pay attention to what she tells me about blogging, I decided to post this today, so more of you would see it. Because I want as many people as possible to see this and know how much I love Sarah.

28 things I love about Sarah

(28 for no particular reason… 😉 )

1. She laughs at my horrendously lame jokes. If you know me, I have an ODD sense of humor, and somehow Sarah either actually finds it funny, or just indulges me.

2. She takes really, really good care of our house. Former roommates of mine will admit to moving out because of how messy I was, so the fact that the house is clean is a testament to Sarah. I mean, she makes our laundry soap.

3. Her smile. I mean seriously, have you ever seen it? How can you not love it?

She still smiles like this today. I think that means she still likes me :-)

She still smiles like this today. I think that means she still likes me 🙂

4. Her heart for people. Sarah inspires me to care more about people. Not just the people directly in my life, but people everywhere, all around the world. Her heart bursts and breaks for the injustice of the world.

5. She is smoking hot.

6. She takes care of me when I’m sick. I’m a HUGE baby when I get sick. All I want to do is lay around and do nothing. So I do. And Sarah lets me, and then on top of it, she makes me food and takes care of me.

7. She encourages my dreams. I tend to dream big. REALLY big. A lot of people would be scared off by that. Sarah instead asks questions and asks what we can do to move toward those dreams.

8. This blog. I love that she has found her creative outlet, and I love reading about what she has to say. This one about my grandpa even made me cry.

9. In addition to reading the blog, I love that she trusts me enough to be the IT manager/Editor. I have no real experience with either thing, and yet she defers to me on almost all questions related to either topic.

10. She is likely faster and stronger than you. Sarah loves working out (and sometimes puts me to shame in the gym, which I’m learning to be ok with). But I just love that she’s willing to push herself, which leads to the next one…

Look at those guns! Good thing AZ is an open carry state.

Look at those guns! Good thing AZ is an open carry state.

11. She kicks my butt when I’m lazy. Sarah is a great motivator. I am not always the first one out of bed (ok, almost never), to go to the gym. So she gently encourages me to get up, and go. Or she just pushes me out with her foot. Both seem to work well.

12. She lets me keep my beard. I love having a beard, it’s almost like I can’t exist without it. Once, when we were dating, I shaved it off at her request, and she said, “You look really handsome without, but you can grow it back.” SCORE!

13. Adventure. She’s one brave lady. She took a chance on agreeing to marry me when I had no job, and then agreed to move 2000 miles away from everything she’d ever known when the only job I could get was in Tucson, AZ. Then she let me buy a fixer-upper house that needed a lot of love. And now we are adopting internationally. We’ve been married 2.5 years, and we’ve had an awful lot of excitement.

14. Her resolve. We’ve had some tough times in the first few years, but she keeps on going.

15. Sarah is my taste tester. I like to experiment with food (I do a lot of the cooking around here), and she is always generous with her reviews. Even if I’ve really thrown a dud on the plate, she thanks me for it.

16. She encourages me to pursue my passions. I’ve long been into photography, but only recently, I’ve been getting back into it. We are going on a trip this summer, and Sarah has already given me permission to stop at random when I see things I want to photograph.

17. Watching her with our friend’s kids. She is at home with kids, they still make me a bit nervous at times…but I know that when we have ours home, she will be the greatest mom they could ever have had!

18. There is nobody I would rather drive in the car with. Some of our best conversations have been while driving somewhere.

19. She gave up bagels for me. You may have seen all her Whole30 posts recently, but she came to the Paleo side kicking and screaming when we first got married. But she did it for me (at first).

20. She doesn’t yell at me when I come shoeless because I gave them away again.

21. Sarah is patient with me as I learn how to love her. I stumble on this a lot, and sometimes our dates are less than stellar, but she always thanks me for trying.

22. Still smokin’ hot. I doubt that’s ever changing.

You got nothin' on this girl. She's got style for miles!

You got nothin’ on this girl. She’s got style for miles!

23. CAMPING! I love it, and I’m glad she does too so I don’t have to convince her and drag her along.

24. She lets me fail. I’m stubborn, and sometimes I like to do things my own way, which doesn’t always work out. But Sarah lets me take things at my pace (like remodeling the bathroom).

25. I wouldn’t love coffee like I do if it wasn’t for Sarah. She made me start, and now I can’t stop. (I was the first to start drinking it black though).

26. She tries to figure out my surprises for her. Sarah loves surprises, but I think she loves figuring them out early even more. But I bet she had no idea I was hijacking her blog!

27. She loves me with everything she has. Don’t believe me? Read these posts: Proof of Love 1Proof of Love 2Proof of Love 3Proof of Love 4.

Yup, we're in love.

Yup, we’re in love.

28. She loves Jesus even more than she loves me. And she really desires for other people to love him as well. I have seen so much growth in my personal life with Jesus, and I know a lot of that is because she prays for me, constantly.

So there you have it. Sarah Wood is the best wife ever, and you should all wish her a happy birthday (tomorrow).

Happy birthday (a day early) Sarah!

The Final Post of “So, there’s this guy…”

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Yesterday marked three years since Jason and I had our first date. I’ve been chronicling the story here and here as a way to remember and rejoice in what God did and continues to do in our lives.

This last post on our first date is a sweet one for me to write. I don’t remember all of the things we talked about, but I do remember feeling comfortable with a man who I had just met…and how odd yet familiar it was. I remember he wore a blue-plaid button-down shirt with khaki shorts and I was wearing my North Face jacket and a black Gap t-shirt (barely took the jacket off because I was so cold the entire time). I remember laughing at the numerous stories Jason had to tell and shaking my head at how crazy this guy seemed.

That first date lasted till mid-night. We closed out the coffee shop and walked up and down Main Street. We never ran out of things to talk about, but I was getting tired so we decided to call it a night. As he walked me to my car, I asked him how he actually heard of me. I had a hard time believing that he had just seen me at a coffee shop and wanted to take me out. I was right, Scott had found a way to get us connected and through a lot of  high school shenanigans we ended up together on this night. I think we were both surprised at how well the night went. Jason would tell you that he walked away from that date knowing that he had just met his wife…it took me a little longer to come to that conclusion.

I hugged him good night and we set up another coffee date for Friday morning at the same place. Then our relationship started to moved fast! I met his parents that weekend and the following weekend he met my family (including my three crazy siblings!). About 6 weeks after our first date, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We were engaged August 7, 2010 and married January 1, 2011. I look back on those 8 months and my eyes fill with tears as I think about the way that God moved in our lives and how He provided.

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God gave me a beautiful gift in my husband. He once again revealed to me that His plans for my life are far better than my own. I thought  my plan was good (see part 1), but during those 8 months of dating & engagement, God continued to whisper confirmations in my ear…”Sarah, I know the plans that I have for you and they are very good. They are much better than yours, so trust me. Jason may not be where you thought you were going, but life with him will bring ME so much more glory than life without him. I will use you two together to be a light to your neighbors and to the nations. Just not the way you thought.”

Since then Jason and I have been on a wild journey that just keeps getting crazier! I think back to what life may have been like if I held onto my plans with tightly-gripped fists and I am thankful that He gave me the grace to trust and be obedient. Life without Jason would be so boring! I wouldn’t trade this life  I have with him for anything.

Are there plans that you hold on to so tightly that you may be missing the joy of walking in faith with our loving and all-knowing God?

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Thanks to Mandy Blair Photography for all of these pictures!

“So, there’s this guy…” Part Two

I don’t remember how many days had passed after that day at the store, but one sunny afternoon I was training on the Cedar River trails for my marathon. I had passed Scott, the running store-owner, on the trail and did the runner appropriate wave and continued as he moved on at his gazelle-like pace (professional runner). It was only minutes later that I hear what sounded like a heavy-footed sprinter fast approaching so I moved over and when I turned my head-it was Scott! He was running me down!

He had decided that this would be a proper time to ask me about my initial thoughts of “Woody” and if I’d consider going on a date with him. (On a side note-he thought he had slowed down enough to be running my pace, but after 1.5 miles of his “slow” pace, I about passed out!) I told him that I thought he seemed like a good guy, but I only had five minutes of conversation with him. I wanted to know from Scott what would make him dateable and not some creepy stalker. I trusted Scott’s opinion because I knew him to be a committed follower of Jesus and that he would have my best interest in mind.

Scott proceeded to run with me telling me all about Jason (I finally learned his real name). He shared with me about how Jason loved people, was computer smart, was “green”, was funny, etc. When Scott told me that Jason was the kind of guy you could share any of your problems with and know that he would pray for you and help you through them, I knew that I could go out on a date. So I told Scott that if Jason asked me on a date, I would say yes. But only for coffee…I didn’t have time to eat a full dinner on a blind date J.

Scott told me that he would encourage Jason to get in touch with me via Facebook, but it might be a little bit. Jason was in Madison taking classes on solar energy installation (because he’s green). I hesitated that our first connection would be on Facebook, but I didn’t fight it… (I should have)

About a two days had passed and Jason had “friended” me on the good ol’ Facebook.  And then it was nothing…for two whole weeks…

I had figured that he decided that he didn’t really want to take me out for coffee, so I didn’t worry about it too much. I was way too busy working, leading a Perspectives class, and raising my support so I could go on staff with The Navigators to add another stressor in my life!

After two weeks passed, I was training Ron on a Thursday afternoon (the husband of my 5 am client who first told me of Jason). I mentioned to Ron that I hadn’t heard from Jason at all and was curious as to why. Ron said that he would look into it.

On Monday, I was at the gym waiting for my next client, so of course I was on Facebook. It was then the little red dot appeared on my page, indicating that I had a new message. It was Jason asking if I’d like to go to coffee with him!  As any girl would do, I squealed and told the closest girl that I had just been asked out! After I calmed myself, I gave him a few days and times that worked that week. Within the hour, we had decided on coffee at Cup of Joe on Wednesday night at 7 pm.

I had two days until April 28th. I also had no idea how much my life would change after that date…

The spot of our first date!

The spot of our first date!

To be continued…