PDX –> LAS –> PDX –> PHX –> OKC –> CMH –> PDX

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The other day, the kids and I flew from Portland to Las Vegas, and back to Portland… just for the heck of it.

Kind of.

Not really.

We were planning to connect in Las Vegas and fly the rest of the way to Oklahoma City…. but Sometimes you need to take a step backward in order to move forward. Or, in our case, you need to fly back home in order to fly to your final destination.

When we arrived in Vegas, we shuffled ourselves from one gate to the next, anticipating a short layover, with time for a quick bite to eat and onto our second flight. We arrived at our gate and were greeted with a longer delay. UGH.

Our original arrival time was already crossing into the middle of the night, and I did not want my parents to have to pick us up further into the night. SO….. I made a split second decision with a thousand thoughts running thru my mind…..

The kids were crying, missing daddy. We had no desire to stay and watch people play slots in the Vegas airport.  Could we hop on the next flight back to Portland? Try this again tomorrow? Was there another flight back to Portland? Does this even make any sense?!?

Yes. Sometimes going backwards makes sense.

I spoke with the airline agent and worked thru the details. We could fly back to Portland, sleep in our own beds, be with our church family in the morning, and catch the next afternoon flight back to Oklahoma City. Makes sense? Not really. Done.

We were excited to be at church the next morning to participate in sharing testimonies from our missions trip to Mexico the week before… yep. We had just returned 3 days prior from a 2,500 mile journey to Mexico and California. So, after I made the split second decision to go back to Portland, which turned into a 15 minute discussion, explaining my brilliant idea to my mom, Adam and the kids….. I spoke with the gate agent who told me – it was too late. The Portland flight was about to leave. Panic. Okay. Kids crying. Again.

Still with a thousand thoughts swirling in around my mind – I felt strongly this was the right decision. Mixed with the questions every human being has when they go on a plane – will we die on this plane? or that plane? or either??? Why am I thinking about dying anyway??? Geez THE PRESSURE!!!

Now the ordeal of a flight delay turned into a bigger ordeal I had complicated with my brilliant idea and now the whole deal was a big ordeal.

I sat down and talked with the kids, who had calmed down, drinking their jamba juice smoothie… and I looked at the flight screen. <> Well. Wha-do-ya know? The Portland flight had been delayed and we would have time to catch that plane.

So we did.  

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We had enough time to grab dinner at Pei Wei, laugh at the irony of the fortune cookie quotes, fly back home to sleep in our own beds, in a muggy 89 degrees in our un-airconditioned house, which reeked of a skunk who a just sprayed our whole street, go to church, share in the beautiful Mexico testimonies with our church family, and fly again… this time thru Phoenix… this time with no delays.

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord… the heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps…” and flights… 😉

My hearts desire is to please my heavenly Father in everything I do. Every decision I make. Every step -and flight- I take. We made it to Oklahoma City in the not – as – late time of night. Greeted by my parents, we have enjoyed a sweet visit with my family this week. This time together has been such a gift. Making the decision to go back to Portland was chaotic, but it was the right step in the backward direction. Yes. Sometimes going backwards makes sense.

…and in a few days, we fly again. This time to Columbus… allowing us the gift of seeing the old and new converge.

Follow the blog and Join us on the journey… the stories are only half written.

In Him, Leslie

 

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east to west

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It has been a year… God whispered GO… the time is now. He stirred in our souls a desire to leave comfort and a place we were known and loved by beautiful people, to a place of unknowns. We responded to God – yes, we will go. Unsure of exactly ‘where’, we knew He was calling us to the Northwest to plant new roots. Our hearts were drawn to Oregon, where Adam’s family lives… and to the Nations, our desire to serve in overseas missions has burned in our spirits since we began dating over 18 years ago.

We said ‘Yes’ to the GO. We began the process of discerning the ‘next step’ early summer. We resigned from our church in Ohio in June, and began the process of saying goodbye to the church family we’ve loved for 10 years. We knew we would miss the hell ‘outta them. It was not an easy process. Some people excited for us, some joy-filled for our journey, some sad, some confused, some without understanding, and some angry we were leaving… It’s hard for a church to lose a Pastor. We’ve walked this church thru that loss before. We don’t recommend it just for kicks or anything.

We became very comfortable with the answer ‘We don’t know…’ We don’t know where we’ll end up. We don’t know which country we’ll be going to. We don’t know which church we’ll be joining. Slowly, the next steps began to unfold, along with many more unknowns and many times the answer to questions about our future was ‘I don’t know.’ He never promises us a map of the journey, but He promises us His presence on the path. 

We began to pursue YWAM. Their mission, their ministry and their movement inspired us. We connected with the YWAM leaders at their base in Canby, Oregon and began the next steps of applying and raising funds for the Discipleship Training School. Meanwhile, we connected with many Pastors and leaders in the Vineyard Northwest region, knowing we would need a new ‘home church’ to plug into. “Our plan” was to attend YWAM, and plug into the Portland Vineyard church.

God had a different plan.

Mid-August, a few weeks before we were planning to move, the Northwest Vineyard leadership contacted us, and we learned another Vineyard church outside of Portland was in need of a Pastor. The same week, we learned there were no other families beside ours attending the YWAM. Regardless, we were moving to Oregon. Now, we were faced with a decision before we began the journey from east to west. Which next step were we to choose? Where was God leading us? What was He calling us to do?

We became more comfortable with the uncomfortable.  

We choose to say ‘Yes’ to God, and Pastor the Hillsboro Vineyard Church. We chose an ‘arranged marriage’ of a Pastor and his family to a church Bride we barely knew. We met her once, we took her hands in ours and said ‘We Do.’ This church was not on our radar. This was never part of ‘our plan’, Yet God knew.

The process has been a journey with confusion and clarity, anger and joy, sadness and excitement as our companions along the path. Yet God spoke. You were made for this. Don’t look back. When the road is expansive and the pathway clear, you just drive… and 4 weeks ago, we began driving.

Wednesday, September 10th 2014 – Day 1. We left our unsold, still-on-the-market, only home our kids have ever known, in Ohio and started driving… Adam, in a 16ft box Budget truck with no cruise control, cd player or companion, towing our CRV chained to the auto transport. Me, in our ’97 Odyssey with our 3 wee Babs, all of our crap, and the beautiful mess of our temperaments and personalities. At least I had a cd player… We made it thru Ohio, Indiana and the torrential rain storms and flood warnings to arrive safely in Danville, Illinois. We were blessed to stay with a family friend the first evening. We even washed our wet towels we left home with. I wasn’t particularly excited about traveling for 5 days with wet towels, but we had to take showers and clean the house until it sparkled, before we left Ohio. We were a sweaty mess from loading the truck, loading Adam’s car and cleaning our house to keep it “show ready”. Barf – house showings make me want to throw up… I digress.

Thursday, September 11th – Day 2. Well rested, we drove on I-80 West, I-80 West, …and drove some more I-80 West thru the rest of Illinois, thru Iowa and made it to Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska is a “I was surprised by its beauty” beautiful state. It’s vast and somewhere along the way, I lost all cell phone coverage, so that became torture for me. We just kept – on – driving. I could handle the kids on my own, but without the ability to make phone calls… I began to doubt my sanity.

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Fun at rest stops in Nebraska

Friday, September 12th – Day 3. Somewhere in Wyoming… which is also a beautiful expansive state with barely any people living in it, and with sketchy cell phone service. While driving, we got a call for 2 house showings. Have I mentioned how much I love hate house showings?!? Oh. but this time, I didn’t have to clean for it & we moved all of our crap out of the house – SO bring on the showings! We continued driving on I-80 West, landing in our super cool hotel room for the evening in Laramie, Wyoming.

Saturday, September 13th – Day 4. We found a super cool coffee shop near our super cool hotel. We can deal with sketchy cell phone service, crazy kids and tiring days driving 2,500 miles cross country, but we can. not. deal. with bad coffee. We’ll be coffee snobs, and drive miles away for good coffee if need be. Driving along thru Wyoming, we made it to Rock Springs and we got a call from our realtor and received an offer on our house. BOOM>>>! Oh yeeeee, of little faith. Why did you doubt ME, thus sayeth the Lord? Oh Lord, forgive us! We knew You would come thru! Some 8+ hours later, after driving thru the rest of Wyoming and the blow-me-away beautiful state of UTAH, we dragged our tired selves into our hotel room in stinky, smells-like-manure- Burley, Idaho and came up with a wicked counter-offer. Would they accept it…??? drum roll please…

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Sunday, September 14th – Day 5. I can’t take it any longer!!! We’re almost there!!! How much longer? When will we be to Grandmas? Blah blah blah blah blah! And this is ME (Mom) asking the questions 🙂 In the meantime, was our counter-offer accepted??? YES! They accepted our counter offer and the real fun I mean, real driving began. Selah became ridiculous and no amount of threatening her while flailing my arms from the drivers seat was improving her behavior, so I screamed at her while I was talking to our realtor (thankfully also an understanding friend, also with three small children) trying to work thru all the details of selling our house… WHILE DRIVING CROSS COUNTY!!! We had to pull over to deal with Selahs craziness, and the only place in cow-town Idaho was near a farm with cows and flies. We rolled down the windows for fresh manure air, Adam stood outside the van, staring at Selah to keep her behavior in check, she settled down and I called Amy back to finish talking thru the house-selling details. Did I mention we SOLD our HOUSE >>> WHILE driving CROSS COUNTRY!!!???  Yep. Yep we did. Oh, Leslie – what did you do on Sunday, BESIDES DRIVE ALL DAY LONG? Oh. We sold our house. 🙂

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Late that evening, tired and weary, our bodies in a permanent driving position, we wedged ourselves out of the vehicles we had come to love hate for the past 5 days, 2,500 miles. We made it to Oregon. Thankful for no injuries. No road troubles. No flat tires. No dead car batteries. No sickness. Full of so much to be thankful for. Five thankful hearts arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s home in Oregon.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our half written records. Our story rages on… In Him, The Babs Fam

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the mom who *wishes* for snow days

Hey there.
I’m the mom who wished (and prayed) for 1 (or 2 – even better!) more snow days.
Yes. It’s true.
Christmas break went by way too fast and I wasn’t ready for school to begin. 
Then, much to my surprise (and happiness!) an Polar Vortex Arctic Blast or something visited us folks here in Ohio 🙂 Yipee! The kids were able to stay home 2 extra days 🙂 On Wednesday, they went back to school.
Weren’t you ready (over joyed, even?) for them to return to school?
Nope. I was still wishing for one -or 2- more…
Just a few days ago we returned from 2000 miles of travel on the open road marked by dirt, asphalt, rocks flying and gritty gas stations lined along the highway, littered with beer billboards and porn shops. Road trips are never dull, when you’re in a race you didn’t know you were in with impatient cars in the next lane over – oh W O W buddy – you can flash your headlights signaling I’m in-your-way because I’m only going 2 miles over the 75 mph speed limit to let me know you can drive 3miles faster than me. You are profoundly talented! I didn’t realize we were racing.
While all that racing was happening around us, we had a sick boy puking the entire 18 hours from Oklahoma to home. He was puking , I was driving, Adam was sermonizing (putting the finishing touches on his sermon while trying to assist our sick son). We pulled in to our driveway at 4am in good shape, safe and sound. Only to return to our dogs little present she left all over our daughters bedroom floor. Sure. We’ll stay up a few more hours to clean that up, shuffle the kids beds around, get them back to sleep and zzzz…. It was interesting
So yes. we’ve had plenty of family time, but it still wasn’t enough. It never is. On the open road I was struck (again) with the fact that it is never enough (like wishing time would stand still) never enough. We only have a short time with our kids -as kids- parenting, fully engaged in their young lives overwhelming them with our deepest love and listening ears.
Wednesday they went back to school and I didn’t get my *wish* of 1 -or 2- more snow days. Salem was convinced he would be going in to 2nd grade. . His teacher kept saying “See you next year!” before the Christmas break, so he thought that meant he was moving up to 2nd grade. 
Don’t grow up too fast, buddy…
Life goes too fast. There will be others speeding past you, flashing their lights at you, challenging you to go with the faster flow, or get out of the way. 
Slow down. Hold the moments. Keep *wishing* for more snow days.
In Him, Leslie 

The Happiest Place On Earth ~ Disney

Nine. Seven. Three.
Seems like the perfect ages to take our kids to the
“Happiest Place on Earth”. 
moon gazing on an evening hike
We love these kids to the moon and back. 
Like most parents,
We want the best for our kids. 
We want them to enjoy life to the fullest. 
We want all their dreams to come true… 
But we probably won’t ever take them to Disneyland.
Or Legoland.
Although we have taken them to Portland.
Several times. 
I know. Disneyland is where “dreams really do come true.” 
But is that really true? 
Has anyone’s life ever been changed by a trip to Disneyland? 
Is it really the ‘happiest place on earth’?
Maybe… 
Perhaps… 
for some…
As much as we want our kids to have the most. fun. ever. on our family vacation, 
we’re not cut out for Disney.
and we’re (all) okay with that.
For our family of five to walk thru the gates of the Magic Kingdom, it would cost us $442 *plus* the cost of travel, food and hotel.
Well, lucky us!
We were staying with a friend, who lives 20 minutes from Disneyland. 
We could see the Disney fireworks from her house every night. 
We didn’t go.
We couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. 
The kids didn’t even ask to go.
The money, the time, the energy to walk around the park all. day. long.
Hmmm… no.
We even had the opportunity to go to Legoland-with 2 of the tickets already paid for.
All we had to do was buy three more tickets, pack a lunch and hop on a bus.
We opted for the beach instead.
As the comedian Jim Gaffigan says, “How can I spend an enormous amount of money, be uncomfortable, and listen to my children complain and whine? *I know* ~Disney!”
Adam and I experienced Disneyland as kids, and went to Disney world as married adults.
We know all the Magic Kingdom has to offer.
Maybe our kids will resent us for not taking them…
Maybe they will need counseling once they grow old enough to realize they were denied going to Disney as children… 
Maybe they will decide to go to Disney as adults…
Nah. Probably not. 
Perhaps we are denying our kids of a priceless life experience…
well, I don’t think so.
Everywhere we turn, someone is trying to sell us an “experience”.
What about the experiences creation gives us?
What about the people we encounter?
We have family in Oregon and California. 
So when we visited this summer, we went to the beach, the lake, the mountains, hiking, to national parks, and quirky places like Portland. 
Portland is a magical city filled with wonder, crazy characters, yuppies, hippies and homeless people, unique restaurants, loads of local shops, farms and markets, and countless state parks.
We visited Adam’s Uncle Gilbert and Aunt Dolores on their farm ~ and their house is a state of California historical landmark. 
They are in their 80’s and have had quite a life adventure.
The kids chased their peacocks and picked fruit off their trees.
We shared stories and had a wonderful meal together.
The kids still talk about their dog, Keepers, and how much fun they had playing with him.
These are some of the happiest places on earth,
where we have created some of the most wonderful memories.
Where is your ‘happiest place on earth’?
Maybe for you it is a trip to the Magic Kingdom…
Perhaps the happiest place on earth can be right in your own backyard… 
Time with our kids is precious.
No matter where you go and what you do with your kids…
live the fullest. love the deepest. laugh the hardest. 
In Him, Leslie 
***
What has been your “Happiest Place on Earth” experience? 
I’d love to hear your stories! Yes, even the Disneyland ones 🙂

Surviving our Family Vacation…

whew. 
my family is just coming off the highs [and lows] of an epic trip – 26 days and 6,000+ miles of travel by 5 airplanes, 2 rental cars and 5 places we stayed, throughout Oregon and California.
we’ve been back almost 2 weeks, and I am still. tired.
seriously, I was so tired.
we were constantly on the go – seeing so many people, places and things.

it. was. awesome.
seriously, it was so awesome.
all the time we spent with people, places we went to, and things we did were awesome. 

…and these are our stories of the stains, pains and gains of traveling across the country for 26 days.

travel is super fun. but it is also super hard… especially when traveling with 3 small kids.
it is taking your work with you 24/7. it is never getting a break. or downtime. it’s wiping butts elsewhere. it’s time out elsewhere. it’s losing count of how many times you turn around and say “stop fighting! keep your hands to yourselves! quit bothering your sister!” it’s not being able to separate the 3 bickering kids squished into a Toyota Camry rental car when they are used to slightly more space (at home) in the luxury of your own ’97 Honda Odyssey. it’s gritting your teeth and clenching your toes b/c your trying to force your 3 1/2 year old on the toilet and scaring her with your demon angry mom face without everyone in Powell’s bookstore hearing you yell underneath your breath at her to “GO POTTY!”…
as one friend coined the phrase: it’s parenting elsewhere.

it’s finding a tick on selah’s head during our picnic at the beach, smelling oil in the ocean as each wave brings a new whiff of the lovely odor, looking into the vast distance of the ocean, only for the view to be halted by the oil rigs doing their ‘job’. discovering the oil stains on their swim suits and bodies after we’ve spent hours playing in the water unaware of the results. the beach trips were some our favorite days, but there was always a little something to remind us nothing is perfect… even on the beach days that were close to perfect… like hearing them whine ~ “i wish the beach didn’t have so much sand! or “i wish the sand was grass!” really?! these kids.

it’s sneaking into the historical Santa Barbara Mission church service, feeling guilty about limbo-ing underneath the rope with a “service closed” sign attached. [well, soleil and i felt guilty… because we try and follow rules] so after a brief argument, we nonchalantly whistled our way under the rope. oh, and Adam walked right in and joined the communion line, no sweat. the usher telling him, “I’d never tell anyone they can’t take communion.” good job usher – you just affirmed my husband breaking all the rules. the Mission was built in 1786 and has been around a while, so i’m sure we’re not the first ones to have “broken in”.

then there’s selah yelling all the way up the hike to Multnomah falls, and all the other tourists giving me their pity – or ‘you’re a terrible mother’ – glances along the way. well, at least she smiled for the family picture. but only after i bribed her into doing so with the promise of ice cream. then there was our visit to Tillamook cheese factory where you can view the workers processing and packaging the cheese and other dairy products they are famous for. i don’t know about you, but i’m not really comfortable with a bunch of strangers staring at me while i work, packaging dairy products and passing them down a conveyor belt. so we quickly looked around, enjoyed some ice cream and headed for our last stop – the cheese sample line. we grab our toothpicks and start picking up the famous “squeaky cheese” when the lady behind me gasps pointing, “Ugh! SHE just put her used toothpick back in the box of clean toothpicks!” i mumble the response, “well… ummm, i’m not sure which 1 dirty toothpick out of the 300 in the box is hers…” so while she’s still staring at me expecting some kind of crazy reaction, i look at adam, shrug my shoulders and grab about 48 toothpicks of the top of the pile, hoping i got the right “dirty toothpick”. after we continued thru the sample line, and enjoyed our pepper jack samples – plus – the ones the kids didn’t finish, we both burst into laughter. what else can ya do?

not too far into the trip ~ our travel phrase became, “Well. they don’t have a Selah.” 

hey, it made us feel better… at least temporarily.

and then the kids’ homesickness kicked in, missing their own beds and space, and the los angeles traffic – which we are pretty sure is the equivalent of time spent in hell – seriously?! a few of the highways had 8 lanes. 8 lanes people!?! and the impatience…, and the kids moving slowly, the length of time it takes to herd kittens, err… i mean, our kids out the door every single day… it takes forever to pack lunches, extra clothes, toys, and books, for whatever adventures awaited us each day…

intertwined in the midst of the stains and pains, were the beautiful gains… 
the quality time spent as a family (we spent a lot of time getting along beautifully ;)). 
the time without television, video games, and videos on our road trips (although at times we were wishing we would’ve had a video player to minimize some of the car drama)…
the time spent without unnecessary shopping, not going into a target the entire trip (and we love target!), minimal responsibilities and material things to keep track of, less toys to fuss over, wearing the same outfits over and over again…  
the time spent hiking, waterfalls, the beach… everything outdoors!
experiencing church in different, unique places ~ the Portland Rose Garden, Crater Lake and the Santa Barbara Mission ~ on the sunday’s we were gone from our beloved home church. 
the time with adam’s parents. 
the coffee dates, and time to surf and boogie board while the grandparents watched the kids.
special memories our kids have made with their grandparents…
time with adam’s sister, our brother in law, and our neice and nephew. 
the squeals of joy when our kids and their cousins embraced each other yet again… after a year apart.
time with my aunt and uncle who had just moved from oklahoma to california the same week we arrived. 
visiting some of the area where adam grew up… the old Grananda hotel his grandfather owned… where rooms were once rented for a few dollars a night are now upwards of $400 a night.
time with adam’s aunt and uncle… whom we had not seen in over 12 years, and it was their first time meeting our kids. 
the kids running chasing enjoying uncle gilberts farm, the animals and adventures to be had.  
and hearing the wonderful family stories our aunts and uncles shared… history lessons of our family tree.
the laughter. the joy. our hearts swelled full of time with our loved ones… 
creating memories. priceless moments made. to be held forever in our hearts.

much of our travel time had a stain or pain ~ and ultimately a gain ~ attached… and we are learning this is all part of the reality of hard core traveling as a family: fighting, yelling, frustrations, miscommunication, impatience, difficult conversations, deep work thru some tough emotions…

it’s the reality of the fam~glam(orous) travel lifestyle.
and yea, we’re crazy… we survived our family road trip… and we’ll do it all again…

thank you for reading… as always feel free to comment, share and follow us our half written records. and be sure to visit the blog again soon for my next post about our experience on the second part of our Oregon / California journey when we attended the Vineyard Pastors conference in Anaheim!

In Him, Leslie