Seeking normal

Hello everyone! I was determined to get a post in this week. Better late than never. Last week we did not have any cell service at the school where we stayed so I could not post anything.

Wedding over. Move over. Mission trip over. Now it is down to finding all my stuff, creating a realistic schedule and settling into a new normal. This week none of that happened. My car has been undergoing repairs the whole month of June. Changing my name has taken a ridiculous amount of time. The garden has required work to get it back in shape after being gone for a week and unexpected farm chores and family/friend visits have slowed down planned projects.  Maybe this IS the new normal!

I did get my work space somewhat workable, found my paints and managed to squeeze in time to do these tiny paintings this week. It’s a start!

First painting in my new home and new life.
First painting in my new home and new life.

Here are some pictures of our life events of the past three weeks.

My bouquet and table arrangements
My bouquet and table arrangements
Our walk in the woods to the ceremony.
Our walk in the woods to the ceremony.
Vows by the lake.
Vows by the lake.
Our simple, vegan wedding cake made by my daughter.
Our simple, vegan wedding cake made by my daughter.
There were threats involved here. It was too hot to have chocolate cake smeared on my face.
There were threats involved here. It was too hot to have chocolate cake smeared on my face.

The ASP mission trip involves a caravan of rented vans to get all of the humans and equipment to our destination.

Our customized ASP van!
Our customized ASP van!

This was my 7th and Danny’s 3rd year on the ASP trip.  Each year there is a core group involved who believe in having a good time.  Pranks and jokes are daily occurrences.  One of the men stated that he laughs more in this one week than he does the rest of the year.  This year… well see for yourself.

First night at the center we found this in the hallway.
First night at the center we found this in the hallway.
Can you read the sign? Honeymoon Suite
Can you read the sign? Honeymoon Suite
Who can beat this for honeymoon accommodations???
Who can beat this for honeymoon accommodations???
Our team hard at work on dry wall.
Our team hard at work on dry wall.

We got home Saturday and slept the whole afternoon and most of Sunday as well.  There isn’t much rest on ASP.  This week I managed to get my office/studio is some sort of working order and just had to get my hands on a paint brush.

 

If all goes well, I will be back on schedule next week.  For my American readers, I wish you a fun, safe July 4th weekend.

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What I did on my summer vacation

Hi Everyone!

I am back from vacation and have almost recovered.  Hopefully by the time this post shows up in your inbox I will have unpacked.

Let me tell you a little about how I spend my time for a week each June.  For the past nine years I have packed up my WORST clothes, a bag of tools, and an air mattress to head into the Appalachian mountains with one or both of my kids and van loads of other adults and teenagers from my church youth group.  This year there were 62 of us that divided into eight groups that worked to repair eight homes for people in that area who, for various reasons, have not been able to keep their homes either warm, safe or dry.

We go as volunteers for the Appalachia Service Project. Normally we reside in an unused high school, sleeping in either the gym or old classrooms, eating in the cafeteria and if we are lucky, showering in the old gym showers.  Hot water is often a luxury.

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I wish I could clearly explain why I do this, but there are so many layers of reasons that it is hard to separate them out.  All I know is that each year this trip resets my heart/soul dials back where they are supposed to be.

The richest country on earth is not immune to serious poverty.  Each year we have teenagers who suddenly see for the first time what poverty looks like.  Each year, as adults, we remember how close we all walk to the thin line of disease and unemployment that can devastate a family. Each year, we are all reminded of what is truly important in life.

Sometimes we are on the roof.
Sometimes we are on the roof.

The last evening of our trip is spent in a “share circle” where everyone is welcome to share special moments of the week.  This year the overriding message seemed to be “you are where you are supposed to be”.  Many of the stories relayed events that in the midst of being busy, frustrated, delayed, something happened that made the individual(s) realize that if they had not been there at that moment, a bad thing could have been much worse.  Several of the teenagers were on the verge of losing faith or dealing with difficult life/family situations and the events of the week renewed their faith/strength/determination. The adults are not immune to the power of these trips either.  While we go there to help complete strangers and hope that we make a positive difference in their lives, as volunteers, we may be the ones who come away with the most change in our lives.

Sometimes we are working on the ground.
Sometimes we are working on the ground.

It’s not all work and seriousness by any means.  I may not laugh all year as much as I do on this trip. I also don’t eat as much junk food and ice cream as I do on this trip! Not only do we get to know the people we help, we get to know each other.  My crazy vacation reminds me that the next generation includes some amazing young people who will still bring goodness and humor into the future.

Sometimes we are in dark, damp, scary places.
Sometimes we are in dark, damp, scary places.

My advice to anyone who is finding life to be hard, busy, routine, boring or empty is to go and volunteer somewhere that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in service of others.  It is the best anti-depressant on this beautiful earth.