Sunday, August 7, 2016

goodbye july

Late summer is on our doorstep and that makes me a tad anxious. Winter will be here before I know it and that means less time outside. >_<  While locals complained of the dry heat that accompanied this past month, I was savoring it. It was wondrous and made me feel alive! July was non-stop busy and mostly involved working extra hours at my job. I didn't do as many fun summer activities as I had wanted to, but August is my second chance! Even still, July was semi-productive. I have been somewhat of a recluse lately due to some creative goals that I am working on. For those who don't know, I am in the process of copyrighting a collection of my songs so that I will be able to share them via the internet without fear of some weirdo laying claim to my originals. This goal has been slow going so I cannot say when I will have it completed. I am recording each of my songs for this and that takes me quite a bit of practice and time. I am halfway there, though! Woot! Also, in the creative department, I have been putting up some finishing decor touches in our master bedroom (which takes money and time, ugh!), but I hope to share photos of the results in a couple months or so. For now, here's a sneak peek of two adorable side tables I snagged at a consignment shop right across the street from us. These tiled tables are from Mexico!


While I didn't "get out" as much as I had hoped this past month, I did enjoy some peaceful moments at Lemon Lake and along the Animas River. I have been taking lots of walks lately and it has done wonders for my mood. My time at physical therapy has really begun to pay off as I have had more days of no pain this past month than in previous months! Long days at my job are a challenge for me in this regard. Because my job is very physical, it is easy to feel "set back" in the progress I am making with my muscular health. However, as I have increased the number of exercises and weights that my physical therapist recommended to me, I have felt more consistent results in being able to recover sooner from long and exhausting days at work. This has been a wonderful breakthrough in my battle with chronic pain and I am incredibly grateful!

The harvest has slowly started to come in at the Rhodes' homestead. Nolan's parents' are so generous in regards to the amount of food they give us. It's difficult to come up with recipes with some of the vegetables they give us (particularly since I work and feel too lazy to cook complicated meals), but I made pretty good use of a large cabbage head by cooking some deliciously divine cabbage beef rolls. I am not a fan of cabbage, but I ate these three nights in a row and did not complain! I can't believe I was able to make something so good! Also, I threw together some nourishing quiche pies from the eggs from his parents' chickens.

Chocolate, almond butter, coconut milk popsicles!

Blueberry and coconut cream popsicles!

 Also, these two photos below are but a small glimpse of their peach tree harvest. This peach-obsessed fan is all jittery about it! We will be picking these for the next few weekends, but the load that was ripe towards the end of July were incredibly juicy and sweet. I was dreaming about peaches that whole weekend! *sigh*

My husband purchased himself a motorcyle in July and I am so glad for him. He first mentioned his desire for one when we were dating back in 2012. Over the years, he has continued to mention it in passing. Well, I was thankful that he was done talking about it and finally decided to just pursue buying one! haha! It's his perfect escape during the days that he needs to recharge and find solace along some back roads through the mountains. 

Near the end of the month, Nolan's family came to Durango to visit for some quality time. My brother-in-law's husband, Brian, and his family traveled from Ohio to join in. It was my first time meeting Brian's talented and spirited family! We had several days together to get to know one another and visit. Much time was spent enjoying fine dining at Durango eateries and we even got to take some of them on a hike along the Colorado Trail. It was a great way to end a long month!

My husband will kill me for sharing this, but it's not every day that I get to capture him and his siblings in their environment! hehe!

Also, I just cannot forget to mention...the Outlander season finale aired July 9th and my heart was a-flutter! While there was a certain, new, main character that grated upon my nerves as much as she does in the books (seriously! The trauma that await her in book 4 I feel absolutely no sorrow about! She's obnoxious!), it was still glorious to see the final events of book 2 on screen! It was exhilarating!! While there were two departures from the book this season that I wasn't entirely happy about it, everything was perfected in this scene....

It was more breathtaking and moving on screen than in the book! <insert a million heart/tear emjoi's here> Loved the tender changes they made to this scene as it captured their relationship powerfully.

Anyway, I haven't been *this* obsessed with a fandom in a long time. I must be allowed to squeal!

Oh yeah, in case one couldn't tell from my July photos, I chopped my hair off shorter a couple weeks ago. After watching Downton Abbey (just completed season 5), I was inspired to go with the bob, a style that I haven't worn for at least 10 years. My hair doesn't really know what it wants to be right now, so I am just having fun with different cuts this past year.

In other news, now thinking about August...this next week marks a full year that I have been working my job at the preschool! What an insanely busy year full of new experiences and learning! I am so full of gratitude towards my boss who has really opened the door of opportunities and education for me in the field of early childhood development. While I first began this job just as a means of money and experience, it really has grown into something more meaningful with the children, parents, and coworkers that have filled my weeks for the past year. It hasn't been without its share of downs, but I am thankful that I have been given a second chance at doing something for myself. It has been a good path of learning more independence and growing into my adulthood (for my homeschooled, sheltered, naive-self, haha! Okay, I over-exaggerate). I am continuing to pursue my teacher qualification in this field and look forward to what this next year will bring in my learning!

Well, there's food to be cooked, more photos to be edited, rooms to be cleaned, songs to be practiced, family to call....I am signing out for now! The weekends are never long enough!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Living Word

These are words that flowed from me last month. It's somewhat of a streams-of-consciousness type poem. I penned these words after an introspective moment of looking back on the past few years of my life. It's very much a peek into my relationship with the Living Word versus the Bible. I have struggled (mostly since 2014) with reading the Bible because of the lens through which I read it for so long. Even to this very day, I struggle with the words of Scripture, not because I don't believe they are truth but due to the myriad of interpretations and misuse of them that I endured without question for a long time. I felt sad as I reflected on where I am now in relation to the Bible. I don't read it very often and I don't find any passion welling up in me for it. I just want to know how such words meet me in this broken and meandering and frustrating and blessed life. Lord knows I have desired to read the Word as I once did! But I believe His patience covers me now. The reminder that He is the Living Word through the Holy Spirit in me calms my fears. All the systems, rituals, practices, rules, and regulations that once bound me whenever I opened Scripture (and even dictated how and when I should read it) have long since been broken. My faith rests in the reality that He is Living, present and near. Perhaps it is this unshakeable truth that He means to fully restore in me before guiding me along in the "practical application." Maybe all the "doing" and "being" wore down my natural love for this simply glory.

It's been so long
Change has shaped my days

It's been so long
I wonder if this is a life
And decay

I'd say I'm sorry
I'd beg again
Forgiveness to wash me clean

You you have me speechless
Because I'm already pure
Words, simply, will not do

To plead
For what already is mine
A laughable thing

It's been so long
Your words are the same
But I,

It's been so long
I wonder how such words
Find home
In me

My hands tremble
Hesitant to receive
Fearing that in them
I might seek life again
They are they
Which speak of You

It's been so long
I don't know how to do this
Never have I known

It's been so long
I want to name myself

I'm so far removed
From condemnation
It produces
In me now

I will
With Uncertainty
That will not fail

In the earth
Of Your

All of You
Upon flesh and blood.

Monday, July 4, 2016

at long last, summer!

It's difficult to comprehend that this past June marked one full year since Nolan and I moved to Durango, CO. Our first year here marked so many highs and lows, as well as new routines and transitions and people. Durango has been my second chance. Second chance at life, health, and pursuing goals and small dreams. Recently, I came across this post on transition, uncertainty, and empty spaces and found it so very well captures this season I have been in since we moved here. When we left Albuquerque, I found myself going through yet another transition, gobs and gobs of uncertainty, and empty spaces (I purged large amounts of our stuff before we moved, so we were traveling fairly light when we arrived in our current apartment). I really needed to hope again. I mean, really hope in something more than this ever-changing life. Now, reading these words below from the above blog post, I find the child in me really just wanted to hold onto something as good and wild and full as this kind of hope:

Hope invites us to linger in the empty spaces without rushing to fill them with something – anything – just to avoid the pain of loss or the discomfort of longing.
Hope asks us to leave our certainty behind us and to let our imaginations run wild, at the risk of being disappointed and feeling foolish.
Hope tells us there’s more goodness and beauty waiting to fill us, if we can bear to be emptied in order to make room for something new.
A hope-filled life is costly, but a life without hope is far more so. A hopeless life is a limited life – clutter-filled, cramped, and awe-less.

I know that only such a hope is offered in the person of Christ and my wandering heart is constantly in a cycle of fleeing and returning to Him. In letting the knowledge of the hope He offers sink into me, I hope that I will become more anchored to this Hope in time. In so many ways, I feel like I'm such a beginner at this whole "believer in Christ" thing. So many questions, doubts, and fears flood me all the time. I get sick and tired of my constant struggles with anxiety, the ups and downs of living with chronic pain (which is becoming much more manageable since continuing physical therapy, but still an everyday nuisance to me!), the uncertainty in the lives of those closest to me, as well the uncertainty of life in general. But He whispers to me with His steady, unwavering promise that He is my certainty. And when I hear the Spirit in me press in this truth, I remember that He is good and I wonder on how earth I doubt His goodness so often. Every new day, the prayer of my heart is, "Lord, let the Hope of You be real to me today. Let it transform my thoughts, the way I see, the way I hear, and how I perceive myself, others, and my day."

Berry & Beet popsicle - recipe courtesy of Pinterest!
My first popsicle attempt!

To intentionally choose hope in the midst of my every day, I am seeking to enjoy the "simple things" this summer. June was a full month of trying out new eateries in town (Earth Girls and Rice Monkeys! So much yummy!), our first camping trip of the year (during which, I learned that I simply cannot and will not camp again without an air mattress!), watching my husband's little garden bloom on our balcony, binge watching Downton Abbey for my first time, and taking long walks. Every time I am strolling out in the sun, I think on how good its warmth feels on me. Having grown up in a desert-valley, I still thrive best in warmer weather. I need some kind of heat. Not only because I get to wear skirts and dresses, but heat brings with it a sense of being at home. I think summer has always done that for me. So, while its warm outside, I am living it up! Below are a summary of photos I took during June.

Camping essentials! I did lots of coloring that day!

After an exhausting and difficult day at my job, I came home to these flowers from my husband. It was a precious blessing because I know it was his way of showing that he thought of me after I texted him how tired I was half-way through my shift.


The greens from our garden have already made their way into quinoa patties and salads and tacos. It pays to have married a guy with a lineage of farmers. ;) The green thumb comes naturally! 

And, now, I must depart and take my daily walk in that wonderful sunshine.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A weekend in the Switzerland of America

So, the end of May found my husband and I spending a whirlwind of a weekend in Ouray, CO - the Switzerland of America. It has been a much anticipated trip for us! It has been on our bucket list for awhile and it was a dream to finally experience all this town in the mountains has to offer!

 Here we are experiencing the San Juan Mountains in all the glory, complete with some miraculous waterfalls!

Upon our arrival in Ouray, we made a stop at a delicious cafe for some breakfast. It is not often that I come across cafes that carry gluten free bread as great as Roast and Toast. Five stars for them!

Our first adventure was a tour through the Bachelor Syracuse mine. It did not disappoint. About 1500 ft in, our tour guide turned out the lights to have us experience the reality that miners faced in the late 1800s - having to make their way through the dark! Our tour guide was of good humor and very hospitable.



Next on our list was horseback riding! I put this high on our list of things to do because I knew it would not disappoint. The lead wrangler of the stables was eccentric and awkward - probably very common for a 60-something-year-old man who has only lived in small towns and been around horses his entire life. Thankfully, he wasn't our trail guide for the afternoon so we got to escape his quirkiness for an hour. During the ride, I was in absolute bliss and felt as if I was floating on happiness. The view was simply breathtaking and our horses were spirited. It was fun to have energetic horses for this ride as they did much trotting and I was pretty much bouncing in the saddle the entire time. The warmth of the sun and the gusts of wind as we rode worked wonders on me! I haven't felt such a swell of unexpected happiness in a long time and I gladly invited it in! The photos below were taken with our cell phones, thus the poor quality compared to the rest of our Ouray photos.

 That afternoon we explored quite a few shops along Main. There are plenty of adorable little nooks in this town, as well as beautiful old structures! It was all so lovely.

Before checking in to our B&B, Nolan thought we should make a quick visit to Box Canon Falls. This was a fascinating little place to behold - and all within the town limits! There are water falls at almost every corner in Ouray! This gem is the culmination of the rushing waters of Canyon Creek which eroded this canyon. We took the walk through Box Canon as well as the trail that went overhead which led to a bridge over looking the falls and town.

A selfie on the bridge, of course!

We arrived at the B&B, The China Clipper Inn, with the surprise of them giving us an upgraded room! Since it was the weekend before Memorial Day weekend and business was slow, the owners generously gave us the choice of one of their themed rooms for the same price as one of their basic, smaller rooms. We chose The Sovereign of the Sea, which was conveniently situated right near to the outdoor hot tub, which we enjoyed later that evening. It's fun to pretend that you live in the lap of luxury for a day! The other photos beneath the ones of the room are of the parlor room/library, dining room, and entry way of the bed and breakfast, which we made use of the following morning. 

 After settling in and relaxing from the long day, we dressed up and went out to enjoy dinner at the Rooftop Brewery which overlooked Main St. It was a pleasant end to a great day!


The next morning, we took a stroll around the neighborhood and then arrived back at the B&B just in time for a glorious breakfast which consisted of homemade blueberry muffins, sausages, quiche, fresh fruit, and so much more. I couldn't stop eating! Afterwards, Nolan and I documented our stay there by taking a photo outside the inn together. Then, we made our way to Cascade Creek Falls, which is another incredible place just near the town. One of the neat aspects to visiting Ouray is that wherever you go, you feel extraordinarily small! The mountains, the waterfalls, and the structures are all towering there!

 As we left Ouray, we made a stop just around the Million Dollar Highway (oh those gloriously terrifying winding drop-offs with no rail guards...yay!) to take some photos of yet another waterfall gushing out from underneath the side of the road.

Do you see me?

 The last two photos above are the landscape between Ouray and Silverton. While there was a lot of snow along the drive up, I was happy that Ouray was pretty warm and green (aside from the snow capped mountains, which were perfectly gorgeous!). Ouray was everything special and unforgettable! It was the highlight of my year and probably the best place I have ever vacationed. It was worth the two years I spent waiting to make this trip happen! And after a difficult and rocky beginning to 2016, Ouray was therapeutic for both my husband and myself. Mountains and waterfalls do wonders to ease burdens and create bonding moments for any relationship. At the end of our weekend, I found myself whispering my gratitude for the memory of Nolan and I together in that quaint little mining town. These are moments that will bring back smiles for all of our years together and that makes me grateful.