Nephew Time at Garden of the Gods

Ryan and I are here in Colorado working towards getting to Australia but one of the perks of our travel schedule is time with family.  We are thankful that we can celebrate Ryan’s brother’s birthday today.  May the 4th be with you!  But having yesterday with our nephews while their parents were working was extra special.  We did a few fun things (like take the lizard to the pet store to confirm that she was indeed a she) but my highlight was the Garden of the Gods.PanoramicClimbingThis beautiful park is free and open to the public like it has been since the land was bought in the 1870s by a man named Charles Elliot Perkins.  And it’s been called Garden of the Gods even longer because when these large sandstone formations were seen back in the 1850s, one man remarked that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” to which another responded, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”  This place is indeed a beautiful example of God’s creation.JoyandRyanThese incredible rock formations definitely make you feel small.  Yesterday was a beautiful day to explore, climb and enjoy.  We stayed on the path when we had to but the nephews really enjoyed the places where we were able to make our way up and down the rocks themselves.  Ryan and I also took the opportunity to use a nephew’s photography skills to capture just the two of us together.PhotobombAnd of course a day like this isn’t complete without a little photobombing.  Even the most basic backdrop at Garden of the Gods was lovely.  The bright white clouds and blue sky contrasted beautifully with the red sandstone.RyanNephewsRyan already has lots of great uncle memories with these guys but it doesn’t hurt to make a few more.  I love the fact that the memories we are making now will actually have a chance of sticking with them.  Having the boys say that they want us to stay longer and visit more often is a compliment but it’s also one of the many things that makes it emotionally difficult to think of the reality of our move to Australia.JoyandNephewsUnlike Ryan, I have only had a handful of times with these guys.  And despite the wind, I was happy to have this day to get to know them better and hopefully we will have many more special days in the future too.PikesPeakIf you’re in the Colorado Springs area, Garden of the Gods is a definite must see.  It’s easy hiking and the views are spectacular.  Each different angle of Pikes Peak provides another viewing treat as you walk through these amazing sandstone formations.  I’m so glad that I was able to explore this place with Ryan and our nephews.

Please Pray- Drought in Papua New Guinea

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California is facing serious water issues but most of us aren’t seeing any major impact other than dirtier cars, shorter showers, dry yards and some higher priced food items.  Of course it may get more serious but hunger is not an eminent threat for the great majority of us.  However, Papua New Guinea is in a serious drought and for people who rely on gardens for food and life they need rain.

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These pictures are from a few years ago when I was in PNG.  But you can see that the hillsides are covered in gardens.  Main gardens are usually further away from the village but these gardens provide food for a quick snack or an easy meal when needed.  However, drought means that gardens are not growing, water sources are drying up.  This means people are starting to go hungry and if no rain comes, it will get worse.  Here is an article from the UNDP: Frost and drought strikes Papua New Guinea.

Please pray for rain.  Please pray for rain in California and please pray for rain in Papua New Guinea.  Thank you!

The 7th Annual Sunrise Hike

Last year I enjoyed my first sunrise hike up Sandstone Peak.  The 6th annual sunrise hike was windy and cool.  But this year it was warm and wonderful.  There were five of us that ventured up the mountain and it was so amazingly clear.

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The view into the valley was amazing and out over the ocean, I have never seen it so clear.  We could see the close islands as well as the islands further off the coast.

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And of course the sunrise was worth the hike.  It’s amazing to be awake, warm from the exercise and watch the sun slowly peek over the horizon.  The sky was stripped with wonderful clouds and we enjoyed our time at the top of mountain before heading back down.

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Although it’s not our first choice to wake up early on a morning we could choose to sleep in, it was definitely worth the sleep sacrifice.  It was a great 7th Annual Sunrise Hike.

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Brookton and Beyond

We’re back in Perth after a few days of country/bush adventure.  This included an accordion, many meat pies, dead kangaroos, an Elvis sighting and British game shows.  Pretty random but we’ll take it.  Here are some picture highlights.

P1020710These signs are as common as deer crossing signs in parts of the US.

P1020864Brookton on a Sunday morning is amazingly quiet.

IMG_20141026_090302The church where we worshipped in Brookton…

P1020876…which featured hymns accompanied by the accordion.  Awesome.

P1020798We did a lot of driving.

P1020678This is not where we stayed but it’s nice to know that, as a respectable couple, we would have been welcome.

P1020840We saw lot of birds and even managed to capture one on camera. Can you spot him?

P1020820And we saw Elvis too!

P1020764Ryan got in some rock “surfing” at Wave Rock.

P1020805Along the road there were many, many sheep.

P1020749And we took in some amazing views.  This is what the countryside looks like from the top of Wave Rock.

P1020782Last but not least a picture taken just in case you didn’t believe that Ryan is tall. (These are markers used to show how deep water is when the area floods.)

Peek into Perth

We’re safely in Australia and have had a couple days to adjust and allow the travel fog in our heads to settle.  Exploring and admiring, questions and conversation, experiencing and observing is already well underway.  For those of you on Instagram you may have already seen a few sneak peeks into our experiences.  You can follow me at joycandee.  I will do my best to keep the pictures different from Instagram and blog so that each update will be new and different.  So here is a little peek into our day in the city of Perth.

P1020515When I visited in 2012, I only went into Perth once and never had a chance to really explore.  But Perth is a beautiful, busy, multi-cultural city.  Ryan loved the juxtaposition of the old buildings with the new modern buildings.  Each street had something new for us to take in.

P1020602There were lots of street performers and people stopped to watch, take video, dance and enjoy.

P1020594Just a view of one of the main downtown streets from the middle.  It was busy because it was a Friday afternoon but in this shot it looks like there was hardly any traffic on the roads.

P1020611In the evening we came across a street festival with lots of people, food carts and performances.  We watched a group of Aboriginal young men perform.

P1020541But most of our day was spent up at Kings Park.  This huge park overlooks downtown but is still a part of the city.  It’s beautiful and green.  There were lots of people just enjoying the lovely day, picnicking, playing, walking, exercising, etc.

P1020573There is also a beautiful botanic garden and lots of lovely flowers.  This one in particular is kangaroo paw.

P1020588And another view of the city compared to this ice-cream sandwich.

P1020596So there you have it.  A little kangaroo love from down under.

Until next time please keep us in your prayers.  Being here is wonderful, overwhelming and important for us.  No decisions have been made but we do know that we are suppose to be here on this trip.  Keep praying for great conversations, wisdom and for our eyes to be wide open to whatever God would have for us.

 

Wisconsin in Pictures

Here are some picture highlights of our trip so far.  We’re having a great time and looking forward to our reception tomorrow!

P1020329Ryan convinced me that riding a bike was the best way to see Pardeeville in the summer.  Well he’s right but my butt doesn’t agree. I haven’t ridden a bike since college and i’m a little out of practice.

P1020333The nephews were gifted some of Ryan’s prized, mint in package, Star Wars action figures. No longer in package or mint.

P1020341Some of the amazing wildlife at the Baraboo zoo.

P1020381Haskin Dr. in Pardeeville Wisconsin.  Where the party is happening tomorrow!

P1020384The Wisconsin State Capital in Madison.  Last time I was here we could walk on this frozen lake.

P1020393Culver’s.  Butterburgers, fried cheese curds and an after meal frozen custard waffle cone.  Yum!

P1020411Ryan in his happy place.  Storm chasing.  Thunder. Lightening. Hail.  Glory!

P1020403So green!  I’m happier enjoying the Wisconsin outdoors when it’s not below freezing:-)

Watching My Garden Grow

I’ve never been much of a gardener.  In Papua New Guinea this was confirmed when I was helping weed a garden, only to look back and see a couple of kids carefully replanting much of what I had pulled out.  I obviously didn’t know my weeds from other plants.

I might have possibly grown a few sweet potatoes in the fertile hillsides of PNG but planting was under strict supervision and the finished product was brought to my door already removed from the ground so whether or not they were from my sweet potato mounds or if they were just my friend’s generous gift to my fragile ego, I will never know.

But with this great track record I decided to try my hand at planting a few things behind our home.  One of the great perks to this place is our nice little patio and yard area.  We can have friends over and enjoy the sunshine, sleep outside on an air mattress and there is a little bricked off garden plot that I was told I could use.

IMG_0288And so this is how my garden began.  I had a few bags of soil, some seeds and a few plants and was determined to make it work.  I spent a whole morning just digging up old roots and softening the ground.  I had somehow tricked myself into thinking that once I got down below the firm surface, the digging would get easier.  But instead I just encountered more roots and harder ground.

Since I was alone with the dirt and my thoughts, as I dug, I contemplated these roots as a metaphor for my heart and life.  Many years ago I read the book Inside Out by Larry Crabb (I think it was this book but it’s been so long it might have been another one).  But anyway a book by Larry Crabb was read and one of the nuggets that has stuck with me is this idea that we often deal with sin by working on only the manifestations that can be seen.  We cut off the thorns but we don’t often dig down to the roots.  So instead of dealing with the actual problem, we are dealing with the symptoms.  This feels like it helps at first but we notice that it doesn’t really ultimately change anything.

I could have just added some more soil to the top of the planter and hidden the hardened dirt below.  But that wouldn’t have allowed the good roots of the new plants to take hold.  I first needed to dig out the old roots and soften the soil.  In gardening this is painful and I had blisters to prove it.  In life this is painful but fortunately we heal much stronger when this process is done with the Holy Spirit.

IMG_0358My garden is now slowly growing.  Some of the seeds I planted never even sprouted (i’m not sure if that fits the metaphor or just means that i’m still a poor gardener) but we’re happy about the ones that have.  We’ve enjoyed a few meals with these herbs as tasty additions.  And today I re-dug an unused area and planted some flowers that will hopefully bloom and be beautiful.  There were still some old roots that needed to be pulled out but the ground wasn’t nearly has hard as it was originally.

And that’s the wonderful thing about gardens, there will always be work, weeds will sprout, the plants need water but once you start, the good plants will grow and blossom and that is your reward.  It’s the same with our lives, once we start digging down, we can remove some of the roots and slowly reveal the more stubborn ones.  We’re never going to be fully complete, there will always be room for new plants and pruning but once we truly tend the soil underneath, there is hope in the new growth.