The older I've gotten, the more I've gotten excited about the idea of settling into one area. My college summers and the year after graduation were all spent in different places. I know I was meant to be in each of them. And when memories come flooding in from all of those places, when the faces I remember come back to mind, a smile comes on my face, followed by a sweet sadness.
When the memories flood in, I realize how fast time truly went. I immediately want to go back, to remember.
I want to snap my fingers and be back in the ice cream shop in New Orleans, that one night when camp was over, and we would all be leaving soon. I want to stay in that space, laughing forever. I want to hop a plane and be back on the shores of Lake Tahoe and I want to walk the Rim Trail knee deep in snow for just a mile longer. I want to always be among the snow covered pine trees when the wind blows and snow falls gently to the ground. I want to go back and sit with all the kids I've met for a little while longer. Read one more story as they sound out words, color one more picture. I want to go back to that one hill in Arizona, and sit there every night as the sun sets in the desert. I want to go back to the first time I saw the Grand Canyon and sit on the edge for just a little longer.
I want to go back. I'll trade my days of being settled and in routine, to go back to the days that I want to last just a little bit longer.
Like the college nights spent sleeping over at a friend's house when we watched nothing but The Office and made pallets in her living room. Or the nights spent cheering on our favorite football team. The nights we would fill up our favorite restaurants and stay until they turned out the lights. Those nights we made blanket forts and ordered way too much pizza. When we would push together the tables in the dining hall, so we could eat as one big family, going back for countless bowls of ice cream. The time we crammed more than enough people into a beach house. The night we went looking for a meteor shower and never found it, so we turned on music and just danced beneath the clouds.
I want to go back. I want to make myself stand back for just a minute longer and take it all in a little deeper and longer. To remember the smells of the summer night, how the water felt when I ran through it, the excitement of family all around, the breeze as it gently went by, the smiles and laughs of friends who wouldn't be friends always...
I've become used to the idea of being settled. But one thing I will never be completely settled in doing? Saying goodbye.
Saying goodbye to family, to places, to friends. I never want my best memories to become hazy, or worse, lost.
It's true that each day there are new memories to be made. God has written this incredible story that only He could write. The only thing I can do is walk into the new page each morning and see what He has written. I've walked quickly through some of those chapters in the past, barely stopping to see what He wrote on the pages beneath my feet. And that's why I want to go back, that's why I want to trade my settled routine. I want to go back and see those pages again. I want to go back and read them a little slower, as my feet move from one word to the other, syllable by syllable. With each step I want it to be stamped into my memory bright and full, like I'm living it again.
But, with the turn of each page, it becomes just another memory. Another goodbye. Another part of a chapter, filling a book, with a story where I vaguely remember the beginning and don't know the ending. Memories don't keep the goodbyes from happening. But, I have to look for the greetings of each new day.
I have to look down at the words on the next page. Because new memories are unfolding and, for today, I can be settled. Today I can walk the pages a little slower, take in the words a little slower. Because in another five years, ten years, twenty years, I'll look back and want to come back to this chapter. I'll want to come back to lazy rainy days, to the nights spent on roofs, to the sound of waves rolling in from the Gulf. Back to the moment your best friend finds out she's having a baby boy, when you watch a friend graduate, when families invite you into their homes.
I need to read these words slowly, Lord. Don't let them pass until I've taken all of their meaning in. Keep the memory bright and full. Keep me settled in today, so I'm always looking at the pages that You've put under my feet.
While in Las Vegas, we had the opportunity to do a little exploring. We either were heading to The Hoover Dam or Red Rock Canyon. And although I hate that I missed out on making dam jokes, I'm so glad we chose Red Rock Canyon! After leaving California about three years ago, I have missed getting outside everyday and hiking outside in the beautiful west. While the South is beautiful, the West is equally breathtaking! Red Rock is about 30 minutes or so outside Las Vegas. Huge rocks with red stripes plopped down in the middle of the desert. Put it against the backdrop of a bright, blue sky and it's magnificent!
Have you ever been to Red Rock Canyon or Las Vegas? Where is your favorite place to get outside?
Check out more photos from this trip here.
I sometimes think it would be fun to have job where travel is a big part of it. Then, I realize that I very much like to stay at home. I love traveling, I love flying, I love exploring new places, I love meeting people from everywhere. But, I also really love the weekends where I don't leave my house. Those are the weekends that I look forward to after nights spent out or weekends spent traveling. April was a month filled with busy weekends! Something that usually doesn't fill my calendars. While it physically and mentally exhausted me, I absolutely LOVED all the moments and getting to spend time with friends and family. The first week of April was spent celebrating my mom and dad's wedding anniversary (aka our familyversary). They stayed in Mobile, explored during the day, relaxed, and then we had dinner each night they were here. (It was great for me! Thanks for all the meals, Mom and Dad!) One night they were here we watched the movie Vegas Vacation, all in preparation for my trip to Vegas. It is a hilarious movie and if you haven't seen it, watch it. So funny!
My trip to Vegas was actually nothing like Clark Griswold's. One, the only time I set foot in the casino was to eat at a buffet and grab Starbucks. And we didn't visit the Hoover Dam, but if we had, I wouldn't have veered off the tour and tried to climb the thing. I would however have made plenty of "dam" jokes. It just required people. You can't pass up that opportunity. Just like the many times we would travel to Sardis Dam in Mississippi when I was younger. On the way we always passed The Dam Store. And every time, it never failed, my sisters and I would make dam jokes. And the whole car would laugh and we would just lose it! We still make those jokes and laugh today.
So, there was no veering off tours or winning of cars (seriously watch the movie, it's hilarious). I was in Las Vegas to partner with a church plant and help them get ready for their neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. We stuffed 15,000 eggs and passed out thousand of flyers around the neighborhood. 15,000, you read it right. It was at times monotonous and annoying when the plastic eggs wouldn't close. But, once we had a good assembly line going, easy peasy and smooth sailing. While there we got to visit a couple church plants and it was great! One was pretty similar to the church I attend (and work at), the other two were plants with small congregations. I really enjoyed being a part of their fellowships for the weekend. It was refreshing and encouraging to be reminded of the simplicity of the Gospel, and how ultimately, our mission as believers is to love people where they are at. It's what Jesus did and it's what I want in my relationships. How can I not offer that to others? That's a post for another day. Today is for a photo dump of photos from Las Vegas!
One of my absolute favorite things about flying out west is that there is a good chance you will fly over the Grand Canyon. I've stood on the rim before, but flying over it gives a while new perspective! So amazing. One of my favorite places and sights. When we weren't stuffing eggs or passing out flyers, we got to visit around and see the city some. One evening we went and walked The Strip. Each casino is themed differently and it was literally like we went to another country when we walked through them. The architecture was awesome! At The Venetian there was a Carlo's Bakery, from the man behind Cake Boss, and it was delicious! I got a Hazelnut Lobster Tail and oh my goodness. I want one every day. We watched the fountain show at The Bellagio and went to the conservatory inside. It has tons of flowers! I read somewhere that all the flowers are changed out every two weeks there! The top of The Bellagio offers a great view of The Strip! And lastly, I can't head out west and not hit up In-N-Out Burger. So yummy, I love it. Those cheeseburgers, fresh fries, and chocolate shake. Yes, please! Glad we got to stop there for a bite to eat!
Have you ever been to Las Vegas?