Monday, May 24, 2021

Colors and Sunsets and Emotions and Jesus

The colors are what make a sunset beautiful.

I know. It seems like a shallow thing to say, but it made me think today.


Nothing more or less than wavelengths of light scattered around us.

But the sky is clear, you know.


I woke up this morning, and the first thing I said to God after opening my eyes was, well, here we go again.

Because another day loomed large, and I’m tired. The monotony of life is feeling heavy and overwhelming, and the kids and I are feeling it.

It's just that sometimes I get tired of taking care of things. And I know the kids do, too, because they respond very strongly to simple requests like, will you please brush your hair? Or statements like, if you pee on the floor, here are the Clorox wipes. Or informational comments like, did you know that eating hot dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner is not a good way to take care of our bodies?

But most of our daylight hours are spent doing just that. Taking care of things. And we do it day after day after day under a sky that looks so blue.

But the sky is clear, you know.


This evening two of my boys ran off in opposite directions, both crying wailing at the unjust actions of the other. They are fighting all. the. time. these days and I feel frustrated and powerless about it. As I walked up the stairs towards one of them I said to God, well, here we go again and asked for some guidance because I am in completely over my head.

We sat on his bed and talked for a while. And when I thought we were finished I moved to the kitchen, but we weren't finished because the conversation ripped open again and we talked about it again in the kitchen. And then we moved outside to the porch swing because hard conversations always feel better in the fresh air.

We talked about relationships and kindness and humility and love. We talked about forgiveness and compassion and learning our lessons the hard way. It was messy and disjointed and heated at times, and we did it all under a sunset sky that burned with oranges and pinks and reds.

But the sky is clear, you know.

-- -- -- -- 

That night before I went to sleep I kneeled on my bed in the funny way I do, careful to position my injured foot in just the right place, and cried while I told God all about how weary and frustrated I am about this foot pain. It's been eleven months now. Two doctors, seven doctor visits, two x-rays, two MRIs, three months in a surgical boot, and I don't feel any closer to a solution now than I did eleven months ago. The tears that fell were from a deep sadness about all the things I am really starting to miss.

Hiking. Walking. Flip Flops. Actually, shoes in general. Currently I only have one pair of tennis shoes and one pair of ridiculously expensive, ugly, clog-like 'recovery shoes' that I can wear somewhat comfortably. And now that we've gone back to church I feel a little silly picking between the two of them to go with my Sunday dress.

I miss squatting down to the level of my little kids, pickle ball, biking, playing the piano for more that 20 minutes at a time. I miss swimming, I miss boating barefoot...

... and the list goes on.

What if I'm never be able to do those things again? I prayed. 

As I lay awake in the darkness, the emotions of my day cozied up to my center and sat down together. Heaviness. Overwhelm. Frustration. Powerlessness. Weariness. Worry. They spread their colors all over the canvas of my day and created a picture of chaos.

And right outside my window, the sky looked so black.

But the sky is clear, you know.

-- -- -- --

Our sky looks blue during the day because of our relative position to the sun. When the white light from the sun comes straight into our atmosphere, it scatters into a full rainbow of colors, but it's the blue wavelengths that scatter in the perfect way for our eyes to pick up.

During sunset hours the earth has shifted our position to the sun in such a way that the sun's light must travel through more atmosphere to reach us. Through the longer journey, the shorter blue waves scatter so much they eventually get lost to us, while the longer waves of red and orange and yellow power through to our eyes.

And at night the earth has shifted our position to the sun yet again. This time in a way that the sun's light cannot reach our eyes at all, and so we see black.

The point is that even though our sky is clear, our perception of what it looks like is all about our relative position to the sun. (And the amount of pollution in the air, but let's keep it simple, yeah?)

Is the sky blue or orange or black? Well, it depends on where the sun is. 

Which made me think, what if my own emotional atmosphere is clear? What if frustration and weariness and worry are just colors in the atmosphere of my soul, and could their colors be influenced by my relative position to the source of emotional light?

When Jesus Christ (or the Son, if you'd like to be punny) shines his light into my soul, it scatters into a full rainbow of colors while it travels through the atmosphere of my mortality, and those colors illuminate my perception of my circumstances.

When the flow of my day gets interrupted, is it frustrating to me, or funny? Well, maybe it depends on where my position to Jesus is. Does frustration motivate me or shut me down? Depends on where Jesus is. Does sadness help heal my wounds or keep them festering? Do my busy days taking care of things deflate my feelings of self worth or inflate them? Well, where's Jesus?

I can't figure out exactly how to tie this up here... all I know is that life seems to look different when I'm facing the Son directly verses when I'm watching Him over my shoulder.

My favorite time of the day is the sunset hour, when the sun's warmth and light are a bit more tempered by the atmosphere, when the shadows are long and the colors seem to glow. But not for my soul. For my soul, I like the kind of light that destroys the shadows and illuminates as much as possible. It's in that light that things feel much more manageable and fun.

So here's me, turning again to put Christ front and dead center in my life. Because I like that view best.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021


After basking in the tropical sun of Maui with the Theodosises, we gathered all of our kids together the next weekend and headed to their cabin in the snowy mountains of Utah.

Two thoughts about this: 

1) You know how they say that the more hours you spend with a person the closer your friendship is? We're really starting to love the Theodosises. 

2) The tropics and the snowy mountains have something in common. They both smell a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Give me plumerias and pines forever.

Skiing is what drew us up there. The Theodosises cabin is right on the slopes of Eagle Mountain Ski Resort. In the days before we left I took inventory of our snow gear, bought the extra things we needed for the kids who keep sizing up, packed it all into bins, and loaded it into the Sequoia. On the morning of I helped kids into long underwear and gloves and hats, and then sent them out the door with a wave and kisses. Turning back around I felt a slight pang of disappointment that I could not join them on the slopes but my foot needed care, and so did my little lady.

It didn't take long after everyone else left for me to cozy up with Eliza on the couch, and my attitude shifted quickly. We had a wonderful time!

She is such a fun little friend. We read story after story after story, watched some cartoons, played in the snow, and even put together a 300 piece puzzle of an African safari landscape. It was so wonderful to be with her without any other distractions. 

She's had a different toddler/preschool experience than my other kids - homeschool takes me away from the day-to-day play that I was able to engage in with the other kids... they didn't have to share me nearly as much. But, then again, none of the other kids had quite so much entertainment throughout the days. I suppose it all shakes out in the end, but I was grateful for this entire day that I had to spend with just. her.

When the other kids came back home they went straight to work building a long sledding hill and eating the fresh snow.

This is a pack of really, really great kids. 

Bonus picture:

On the way up to the cabin, we stopped at Cafe Rio for dinner and this wall made me feel a strange mixture of happy and sad. Sad because so many of the tables were closed and uninviting due to the pandemic; happy because of all that color!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Maui, Maui - 3 of 3

Honolua Bay

It's a little funny that I don't have even one picture of the actual bay at Honolua Bay. I was much more mesmerized by the trees.

We parked in a small, dirt parking lot and then walked toward the water along wooded paths through a quiet forest. 

All along the way there were signs asking us to stay on the paths to respect those spirits of the ancestors who were buried within the forest.

The path was so, incredibly beautiful that I didn't have any problem at all heeding the request to stay on it.

In fact, I think I would have been happy to have built a small shelter to have lived on that path forever.

Ho'okipa Beach

This was the coolest beach we visited. I was glad we got to it - even if it was during the very last hour of light on the very last day. 

The sea lions seemed to agree that this was the best beach, too. As did the turtles.

Goodnight, Maui.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Maui, Maui - 2 of 3

Snorkeling at Molokini Crater and Turtle Town

One morning we awoke before the sun and boarded a boat that would take us to Molokini Crater for some snorkeling. 

I wouldn't say it was my favorite thing of the trip. But even though I'm not what we'd call an early riser by nature I did love watching the sun come up over the mountain. And even though I don't fancy snorkeling (sharks are scary and if you have your ears underwater they are more likely to get you #irrationalfear) I did love swimming in the water. And even though navigating a multi-level boat on crutches was a bit difficult, people were very kind and cleared the small staircases for me as I crashed and teetered up and down them.

For those who wanted to push their snorkeling limits, SNUBA was available. Snuba is a fancy word coming from a blend of snorkeling and scuba and, essentially, that's exactly what it was. One end of a 15 foot rope was tied to the Snuba-er and the other end to a floating raft. They put scuba gear on you, taught you how to breathe underwater, gave you tips on how to regulate the pressure in your ears, and then took you 15 feet down through the water to explore a tiny bit closer to the ocean floor. Neither Allison nor I had any desire to do it, but Brian and Raymond did.

Here's Brian with his cute little raft, getting the instructions:

And here Brian and Raymond are practicing their breathing underwater technique without really going underwater. 

Soon they both disappeared from the surface of the water and all we could see to indicate their position was the raft. They had a pretty great time, actually, and Brian came up so excited about the clear call of the whales he could hear at that depth.

While the guys were immersed in the water listening to the whales, Allison and I were snorkeling around on the surface of the water... well, mostly I was just swimming and splashing with my pool noodle. I don't know exactly what it is about snorkeling that gets to me - I just end up feeling all of this anxiety when my ears go under the water. If the water is crystal clear with a plethora of colorful fish and turtles, then the beauty and my interest can override that anxiety... but if the water is kind of murky and the fish are small with muted colors, no thanks. I'd rather just swim around. And this experience was the latter. Plus, since I couldn't wear a flipper on my bum foot (or even flap it against the resistance of the water), my 'chasing fish' looked quite a bit more like 'spinning in circles'.

Anyway, in my opinion, the coolest thing of the whole excursion was on the way back into the harbor. An albino whale literally came up for air right in front of our boat! Close enough that she almost touched the metal siding. I wish I had been able to get a picture of her. There were hundreds and hundreds of whales just off the shores of the island and we saw them all week long spouting and jumping and slapping the water. But that albino whale, swimming right alongside her jet black companions, was incredible.

Up the Volcano, Haleakala

Volcano. It just kind of gives me a little thrill to say it. Volcano. Such a cool and powerful sounding word for such a cool and powerful force of nature. I mean, glowing, molten rock from inside the earth shoots. out. the top. of a mountain! (I get that the volcano on Maui is not active anymore, which really makes it not all that different than a regular mountain, but still! Vol-ca-no!) 

You can drive all the way up to the very top of Maui's most famous volcano, Haleakala, starting at sea level and rising higher and higher until you drive through the clouds and pop out above them, park at 10,000 feet, and snuggle down against the chilly air to watch the sunset.

Sounds. Freaking. Magical.

It was our top thing to do.

Here we are, embarking on our journey at sea level:

The drive itself was most incredible.

And watching the clouds go from above us, to around us, to below us was my favorite. 

Less favorite was feeling the temperature go from warm, to cool, to cold, to freezing in that same timeframe. We had been warned that it was cold up on top of the volcano so we had packed our coats and hats and gloves, but oh how we f.r.o.z.e as the biting wind whipped around our bodies. None more than poor Raymond and Allison in the backseat of a convertable with the top down. At least Brian and I had the windshield to protect us a little bit. You might think that it would have been smart to pull over and put the top up on the convertible, and now, three months later, I really can't remember why we didn't. But I do have four ideas: number one, there really weren't all that many pull-outs along the way up the mountain. Number two, we had miscalculated the time and were slightly concerned that we might not actually make it to see the sun set below the horizon, so we feared that there were no extra minutes to spare. Number three, it was quite windy, and we were concerned that the gusts would rip the top right off before it latched completely. Number four, there was a whole lot of joking and laughing about it, and it sort of kind of almost made it more fun that way...

Anyway - for whatever reason or for all of them, we didn't. 

I thought I was getting the full brunt of the weather as we drove, but when we finally reached the top we opened the doors and stepped out into the fiercest, coldest wind I can remember ever feeling. It ripped the air right out of my lungs! I had brought an extra pair of pants, gloves, and a hat, and it was all I could do to stand outside of that car to put them on.

There was no time to spare. The sun continued setting and cared not if we were warm. Brian pulled out his black gloves and realized, quite unfortunately, that he had grabbed a rolled up pair of black socks to bring along instead. But being so cold, he opened them up and put them on his hands anyway - while we laughed. 

We climbed the last few feet and found a spot behind a mildly protective rock to sit, 10,000 feet above sea level. We had towels for blankets and sat to watch what was left of the sunset.

It was beautiful, but I'd be lying if I said that we were able to enjoy it much because of the sheer misery of the weather. Brian mustered up enough courage to unveil one of his socked hands for a photo, though. 

A friend had suggested that we stay until after the last light in the sky had disappeared, because the stars up on top of this volcano are breathtaking. In fact, they have a whole star observatory set up up there. We tried to stay outside as long as possible, but after the sun went behind the horizon it got so much colder and we couldn't even wait for the last of the colors to fade in the sky before hightailing it back to the car for some warmth. We carefully put the top up for insulation, blasted the heater, drove to a better spot for stargazing, and waited for the rest of the light to disappear. It was much more fun to sit in the warm car, but it wasn't quite as beautiful.

We passed the time telling stories and jokes while the hunger pains intensified. I think all of us probably wondered if it was worth it to wait up there - even me - who generally would move heaven and earth to catch a glimpse of an incredible night sky. It was just so dang cold! No one wanted to open a door or roll down a window because of the whipping wind, so we sat in that tiny car until we felt it was probably appropriately dark enough to put the top down for a few minutes to enjoy the stars. And as the top went down - oh my gosh!

The clouds had come in and covered the entire sky.

So there were no stars. Only cold. We grunted in frustration and decided we had waited long enough. It was time to go back down to tropical weather and some pizza.

Whale Watching on a Kayak

The next morning we, again, awoke before the sun but this time it was to go whale watching on a kayak. Apparently, the best time to watch whales from a kayak is early in the morning because the winds kick up later on in the day and the kayaking becomes much less fun.

Is it weird that selfies with a mask feel normal now-a-days?

I remember taking selfies with masks early on to document the strange times, but now we just take selfies and sometimes we have masks on because... well... that's just the way we look.

The water was calm and beautiful and I was reminded again about just how much I like being awake during the early hours of the morning. If only I didn't have to get up early in the morning to be there.

Our guide... well, he tried hard. He was young, and the thick self confidence he portrayed was most likely covering a bed of deep insecurity because, while he spouted off all of his accomplishments and credentials (over and over again), he sure needed a lot of reassurance that he was doing a good job.

He wasn't doing a bad job, but we all agreed that we probably would have seen a bit more whale action if we had been out there with someone else. The other kayak groups seemed to have much better 'luck' all morning, and towards the end, even I (a whale watching extreme novice) started questioning the guidance of our guide and would have gone a different way.

But, we did get to see some tails out there, and I didn't have to zoom in too far. (Notice the other group sitting right. there!)

More than that, it was just beautiful to be out on the water.

For most of us anyway. One of us got a bit seasick at the end and stopped having much fun. Poor guy.

The Grand Wailea Resort

For a couple afternoons we simply stayed put. How could we not take advantage of such a fun resort?! A giant lazy river, waterslides, and relaxing with specialty drinks and a good book. Yes please.

It kind of made me feel like a kid. And it helped me forget about my foot for a while because bobbing along in a lazy river is something I can still do. And boy I do it well!

This next picture doesn't look like much, I know, but it really is. As Brian jumped up like a hot kernel of popcorn to fix the flapping umbrella so the sun wouldn't cast the tiny little sliver across my face, I thought, 'This is Brian'. 

It hadn't been bugging me, but the second I laughed out loud and pointed it out, he was up and fixing it just to make me more comfortable.


And here's a little picture to represent the craziness of life right now. Full-sized posters reminding us to wash our hands, wear a face mask, and follow the social distancing guidelines.


Sunrises and sunsets are probably my very favorite thing about this world. Especially when we're on or near the water. 

Whenever we travel, I try to structure our days around being outside for the magical sunset hour. I hate to miss even one.