Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Palm is Tree

Sparkling seas and blazing blue,
The waves lap at the sand.
One palm is waving happily
Into the sun it stretches its hand.

Paradise is painted with flowers,
Rich smells of coconut and salt.
A perfect circle with scattered white seashells,
The sea tosses with foam and cobalt.

Life here seems rainbows and sunshine,
Posters made with “wish you were here”.
But at whom is that palm tree waving?
It’s alone, that much is clear.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Guiding Hand

Sunset at Tahunanui at low tide.

Recently, Jeremiah and I learned to dive. It was one of the scariest, most amazing experiences I have had in a long time. Standing on the bottom of the ocean and looking up was completely surreal. Where my sight ends, the sky begins. I loved the feeling of being weightless and the ability to see this underwater world. Glimmers of light flashed everywhere as the light scattered over fish and coral and sand. My panic of being deep under the surface shifted to wonder.

Snorkeling photo - our camera doesn't do deep water.
Before this dive we went through training. We had to show that we were capable swimmers and that we could navigate all of our equipment above and below the surface. Part of the test included taking off our masks underwater and replacing them. For me, this was the most daunting task going into the training. I wear contacts and I was terrified of having my mask taken off and essentially having to sit there, sightless, while I fumbled around in the water trying to put the darned thing back on. I made sure to tell my instructor this, and he did an amazing job teaching me in steps. First try it in the shallow end, then the deep end. Finally, remove the mask completely and swim a few laps around the bottom of the pool with him guiding me with his arm.

Not being able to see has always been a fear of mine. My eyes are not great and the fact that I had eye surgery very young has also added to the fear of loosing my sight. It's right up there with my fear of my teeth falling out (I know some of you are laughing because you've got this same silly fear). When I took off the mask and allowed myself to be guided around the pool, I was astonished at how relaxing the experience was. I had to give up control completely. With my eyes closed the instructor took me in laps around the pool while I simply enjoyed the sensation of the water flowing through my hair and over my skin.

Jeremiah Ready to Dive
I bring you this story because our move to Nelson has been just this. I was so stressed and afraid moving back over here, more than I like to admit. I had done this move before, but I was so comfortable in Wilmington. Thoughts of, it would just be so much easier to stay put, and why are we doing this again? were constantly floating just below the surface. The stress leading up to the move built up and up until we made the leap. Just like removing those goggles at the bottom of the pool. I am walking by faith, not by sight. And the amazing thing is that the seas seem to have parted as each piece of our new life here falls neatly into place. Worries that overwhelmed me are being vanquished one by one.

How are we ever going to get a job when it's so competitive?  - Contract Signed
What if our friends have forgotten us? - At least 5 offers to pick us up from the airport.
How are we going to get around? - Borrowed bikes, then bought bikes, then car.
Immigration is impossible! How can we navigate this? - in process but nearly sorted.
Where the heck are we going to live? - Fingers crossed that this one is nearly sorted too.

As we revisit places we love and work to find a place to live, I feel that I am moving forward without really seeing the next step. Following my guide is so necessary - where the heck can I take us without my sight anyways?

Sunrise at Wakatahuri in Forsyth Bay

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:9-10

Now this looks familiar!

Ru and Jeremiah hiking the Hackett

Boing is hoping to grab some of Jeremiah's breakfast.

Tim, Jeremiah, and Ruby enjoy the view.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

3 Inches of Karma

"Hey look at this inchworm! It's on a garbage can. What are you doing little buddy?"

Jeremiah proceeds to pull a tiny lime green inchworm off of the side of a garbage can in the shopping center of North Hills.

He places it on the tree nearby, "There you go!"

Having a quick scan around we find 2 more inchworms in odd places where they will likely get stepped on by shoppers or actually get thrown away. These are the small acts of kindness that I love in Jeremiah. Literally no one else I know would have pulled a tiny bug off of a trash can to save its little life.

Smiling at him I laugh, "Well, there you go universe, we've just gained 3 inches of karma!"

Now I'm sure you're wondering how on earth this silly story relates to a huge move overseas... and I'm getting there I promise.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Change of Heart

I, along with many have been struggling with this political season. There is nothing more to do now, America has chosen it's mouthpiece. I felt extreme despair at first, there has been so much anger and so many words that have cut deeply. But after talking with many family and friends, I feel something new...

I feel change coming.
America, we need a change of heart.
If the president is the mouthpiece, let us be the body.
America I am calling you,
Challenging you!

Be the heart that loves.
Love that is patient and kind,
Love that serves others so much more than yourself.
Be the heart that is brave,
And does not fear the unknown.

Be the hands that heal.
Be the shoulder to cry on.
Be the feet that bravely walk
Where no other has gone before.
Be the back that carries the burdens of others
Who cannot walk in this world alone.
Be the mind of the student,
Ever humbled by all that is left to learn.
Be the ears that hear and the eyes that see
The soul looking back through the windows of another.

Be the body we need.
Be the heart we need.

And perhaps if we can change the heart of this country,
the mouth will reflect the heart.

Luke 6:45 "....for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Albatross On The Wind

Writing comes so freely to me once the sun has set and the crickets begin to sing. It is only in these quite moments when I can truly listen to my thoughts and allow them to land on the page. These quite moments have been fleeting for me lately but I have finally grabbed a moment to complete my story of our latest adventure to New Zealand.

At the Moeraki Boulders

After visiting Akaroa, Jeremiah, Julia, and I continued our travels down south. Our next stop: Dunedin. I believe this was my favorite place that we visited on our road trip south. Dunedin seems to have a young feel, with a bustling city life, a chocolate factory right in the middle of town, and the university making up a good majority of the population. We stopped to visit Julia's sister Claire who lives in Dunedin. Claire showed us some of the greatest spots in the city, including the steepest residential street in the world, Baldwin Street. It was hilarious walking up the steep hill and watching the cars climb up the road at a crazy angle. Apparently every year there is a festival held there where people race Jaffas (a small round orange chocolate candy) down the road to see who's Jaffa will get to the bottom the fastest. Claire also lead us to some amazing views at Tunnel Beach with cliffs rising out of the ocean. Tunnel beach has a fantastic staircase that takes you down through a stone cliff right out onto a secluded beach. The four of us had a lovely time playing in the waves and clambering up and down the rock faces.

After visiting tunnel beach we moved on to my favorite place of the whole trip, the Taiaroa Head Peninsula. It is a very pretty drive following the curves of the bay as it heads out to the end of the peninsula. Rounding the last curve we could immediately see what we came for. A giant bird dwarfed all the other seagulls as it soared and glided around the lighthouse and out of sight behind the cliffs. The Taiaroa Head Peninsula is world's only mainland location where you can see the Royal Albatross. The Royal Albatross spend nearly their whole lives out at sea, only landing to nest. Even during nesting season it is rare to see them taking flight around the peninsula. For us the weather conditions were just right. I loved every minute of watching these enormous birds soar around us, sometimes flying within a few meters of where we were standing. With wingspans up to 3 meters, it was a surreal once in a lifetime experience.

After Dunedin we moved on to Queenstown, a lively tourist town full of outdoor adventure. It was very crowded with international travelers in a way that I haven't experienced anywhere else on the South Island. For the adventure seeker, Queenstown will not disappoint. The three of us enjoyed exploring Queenstown and riding the gondola up to overlook the lake. However our favorite part of Queenstown was definitely the bungee jump! Jeremiah and I booked with the Nevis Bungee and Julia booked the Nevis Swing. We were taken up over a canyon where we proceeded to jump and swing our way into some adrenaline rushes. Jumping head first 134 meters towards a rocky bottom was something I will not soon forget. You might ask why on earth someone would ever willingly jump off of a solid platform out into nothing. All I can say is that it was exhilarating! Bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand so it felt appropriate that we should try it here.

Our final leg of the journey brought us up the West Coast of New Zealand to the Franz Josef glacier. The hike in is beautiful. It follows the cold glacial river up a valley where waterfalls pour out of the cliff sides into the river. The glacier itself is quite beautiful but it melts a lot each year. Because of this people are not allowed close to the glacier to protect you from any falling ice. It is possible to take a helicopter ride over the glacier to see it more fully, but we enjoyed our walk and the distant view. On the ride home we stopped in Hokitika, the Pounamu capital of New Zealand. Here Julia was able to pick out a special jade necklace for her partner Tyler. The Pounamu was blessed by a Maori priest and Julia cleansed it in the creek. It was a special gift from her to him and I was excited to be there when she gave it to him.

Franz Josef Glacier
I love New Zealand and could write about it forever. It is my home away from home. Until next time, I am Sending my LOVE to YOU!

Sister Pic with Claire and Julia

Royal Albatross

Seals playing in the water at Otago Peninsula

Riding the Gondola Up

Franz Josef
Road Trip Buddies! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Full Cup

Reunited and it feels so good!
Our New Zealand trip this past month seemed to have a reoccurring theme: Beach and Barbecue! As Jeremiah put it so eloquently, we have attended more barbecues in the past three weeks than we have in the past year. Kiwi's love their barbecues! Summertime in Nelson is warm, dry, and beautiful. I think it rained once during our entire stay in Nelson. Luckily it offers so many swimming holes and beaches that it can be difficult to choose... So we sampled several! Whether it was swimming at Tahunanui, jumping off the steps on Rocks Road, swimming the Maitai, snorkeling at Cabel Bay or jumping off the rope swing up the Lee, Jeremiah and I were in the water cooling off. I decided to try my hand at iMovie and put together a little mash up of a few of our favorite swimming holes that we visited during the trip.  

Music 'Sweet As' by Katchafire

We are both so full of amazing memories right now that they seem a bit scattered trying to write them all down. My cup is full from the many visits we had with friends on the other side of the world. Nelson is a piece of home to me and Jeremiah, it's not just a vacation spot anymore. The more time we invest in New Zealand, the more I feel my heart splitting into two. I definitely left a good portion of my heart back in Nelson and it is meant to stay there with the people I love. It seems this is destined to happen the more that you travel, leaving little pieces of your heart with the people you come to know and love. But God made this heart for travel and it seems to grow in capacity rather than shrink every time I give another piece of it. 

While we did spend a good portion in Nelson, we did manage to scrape together an amazing week down South with our lovely friend Julia. Our trip itinerary included stays in Christchurch, Akaroa, Dunedin, Queenstown, and Franz Josef. Road tripping definitely brings you closer together. We had a lot of driving to do so we cranked up those tunes and took turns napping in the back seat. 

In Nelson we spent the morning at the Orana Wildlife Park Zoo. Not too long ago the zoo allowed visitors to drive their own cars into the lion exhibit for an up close lion encounter! Julia has a photo of these great big lions crawling all over her parents van! They still offer lion encounters, but it is no longer in your personal vehicle... I imagine their might be some damage to the paint job :) We were able to feed the giraffes, see a live kiwi for the first time, and watch the gorillas explore their new enclosure. They were so inquisitive, coming right up to the glass to lick it like an ice block (popsicle). One of them was even playing a version of peek-a-boo with the kids on the other side of the glass, jumping out to scare them and then hiding behind the concrete again. The interactions with the animals at this zoo is a unique thing to see. 

Getting my good side.

We then popped off to the French town of Akaroa for a chance to shop the downtown and swim in the harbor. Akaroa is well known for the opportunity to swim with dolphins out the harbor. Unfortunately our time was too short for us to join in this activity, maybe next time! From Akaroa we traveled south, going to place Jeremiah and I had never traveled before. Dunedin and Queenstown were so rich in adventure that I will dedicate another post to those amazing towns. We barely scratched the surface of what the South has to offer but it was amazing! More to come soon. 

Currently I am writing from the San Francisco airport where we've been stuck for quite some time now... no more delays please! Hopefully we will arrive home in Raleigh soon and have a good sleep. 

Sending my LOVE to YOU!!!    ......  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Feeding the Giraffes

Nom Nom Nom

Juju's turn! 

Thinking very hard about something

Goofing off at Tahuna

Sunset in Akaroa

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Florida Days

It is such an amazing experience to visit a town you've visited many times before and stumble into something that you've never seen or done before. I believe that every town has its hidden gems that you have to unearth. How many times have you visited friends and recommended an activity and their response is "Oh! I've always wanted to do that!" We had such an experience visiting Jeremiah's parents in Venice, Florida. They have lived in Venice most of their life but we were able to delve into some very fun and new experiences during our recent visit. 

I would say that my favorite day was the day we rented out a boat and drove it down to Cabbage Key - the true home of Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise." It is also the place Steve and Kathleen were married. To get there we had to navigate Charlotte Harbor and there are some beautiful sights to see on the way. I have never seen so many dolphins concentrated in one area. We stopped the boat for a bit to watch a small pod of dolphins play. It was a mother and her two babies and she seemed to be teaching something to them. I was ecstatic when she poked her entire head out of the water to get a good look at us. I definitely have a soft spot for animals so this was the highlight of my day. I could have sat there and watched them all day. As we moved along the intercostal we saw some really cool old landmarks including a decommissioned bridge and watch tower and a sunken sail boat. I also loved our brief moment with an Osprey mother guarding her nest on a sign post. She posed long enough to give me some great shots of her gorgeous eyes. Unfortunately we spent so much time meandering and watching the dolphins that we didn't get a lot of time at Cabbage Key. We did enter the restaurant and bar to check out the legendary restaurant Jimmy Buffet would frequent. When you enter the building there are just hundreds and thousands of dollars taped and stapled to the walls from floor to ceiling with people's names on them. In some places people decided to create dollar chains that are taped to one another, creating money streamers. It is quite an amazing site. Of course the money has all been defaced so it no longer holds its value but it is crazy how many people have left this mark on the building. We were also able to climb the tower and recreate some of Steve and Kathleen's wedding photos so they could have "then and now" picture. Too soon we had to swing the boat around and head home. On the way back the sun even popped out a few times to say hello.

Jeremiah and I have been camping many times, but I can honestly say that neither of us had ever been RV camping until this Florida trip. Our family friends, Tom and Elizabeth, have retired and are constantly traveling around in their cute little RV when they aren't in Florida. It's quite a sight to see it coming down the road with two kayaks and bikes in tow. Being the great friends that they are, they let us borrow the RV for the night to test it out and see how we might like this mobile life. We camped out in Mayaka State Park and had a great time bird watching and biking. We saw tons of GIANT 'gators sunning themselves on the bank. We were sure to keep an eye on Kathleen's little dog Bella. The alligators really didn't show much interest in anything but sleeping and sunning. We did some nature walks and climbed the observation towner that gives you a great view of the park as it stretches out below you for miles. During one of our walks we stumbled across some deer in the marshes, enjoying their afternoon grazing. I even glimpsed one of the rarely seen Roseate Spoonbills on the water's edge. Mayaka State Park is huge and has tons of camping and biking trails to explore. We'll have to come back some day to see more of it. 

It was a bit too cold on our visit to swim or beach but we had a great time walking along the ocean with Bella at the dog park and shopping the downtown strip. Venice Florida has so much to offer in culture and history. I am thankful for the many trips we get to make there and the time spent with family. 

Currently I write this post from the airport as Jeremiah and I are about to embark on a trip to - you guessed it - New Zealand! I am so excited to continue to post new finds about this spectacular country and photos of the gems it holds. 

Sending my LOVE to YOU!