Well. How are things going in California?
Oh great. I’ve founded a book club and sometimes all the other military spouses and I meet up and perform impromptu musical numbers in the street because there are so many of us in this neighborhood that it breeds the kind of joy only dancing can express.
Alrightalright. The truth is that tonight in bed and wept because I missed my friends and I don’t want to make new ones. I wept in that way that your tears sort of fly off of your face and commingle with your mucus to make some sort of sick nasal cocktail that really does convey the depth of your grief. “The salt from my tears is what feelings taste like.”
Try as I might, I can not kick the loneliness and general bummer that moving is. I want to, for your sake. People only want to hear about your sadness for so long, then they move on to watching Gilmore Girls reruns. Is this a dark night of the soul for me? I’d rate it somewhere between how Rory felt when Paris told everyone her mom made out with her English teacher and when Lorelei married Rory’s dad instead of Luke.
I could be wrong, but as a believer there is a certain amount of fear and shame that comes from admitting that you are not thriving. “Nope! Still sad!” Doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you are supposed to say. I wanted to stay in Norfolk, but God had other plans. It’s not like I can tell Him I have nothing left to say to him and leave it at that. Clearly there is purpose in this duty station. So tonight I am really trying to pull my head out of the sand, look around, and see Jesus. I am sad, I am disappointed, and I am adrift. But no matter what I am feeling, I am reminded that I am never beyond the reach of His grace.* It is so easy for me to despair and forget that the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.** That when I sit with my head buried that He is not ignoring me, but sitting next to me with His hand on my shoulder. The temptation remains to feel that His presence is gone when I am sad, that when I am failing, He abandons me until I can pull myself together. But the truth is that He is near and accessible.
I don’t predict that the road ahead of me will be easy, but I do know that the Lord will throw unexpected blessings my way. I also know that He will delight me with the comfort of His presence, if I would just maybe stop crying for, like, maybe even a minute and just let Him.
I will remember His faithfulness to me, like when I was able to sit in the perfect spring weather, propped up against the brick and mortar of the most imperfectly perfect church around and spend time with the Lord. I’ll remember that He doesn’t give up on me even though I’ve been reduced to googling tips for parenting strong willed children. I’ll remember that He is for me and not against me when I am embarrassed by a toxic mix of my subpar parenting and my children’s willful disobedience in front of my neighbors.
“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” Psalm 119:176
Please seek me Lord. I’m the one yelling “YOU LOOK LIKE YOU WERE RAISED BY WOLVES!!!!!” at my 3 year old. Monterey, California. Turn right past the sea otters and the kelp beds, past that forest fire, and you’ll find me. Oh wait, you’re already here!
*Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace
***I didn’t really start a book club. If I did, do you want to come?!?!
Well, I just got sucked into a black hole of hipness. One Instagram picture led to another and suddenly I wondered why I wasn’t the kind of person who could get 216 likes on a picture of a potted succulent.
Why am I not hip? How do some people become hip and others don’t? I will list here some reasons that I don’t think I’m hip:
-Hip people are generally sincere about their likes and dislikes. That sincerity translates into confidence. And so it is with confidence that they purchase and wear a fedora.
-I am lazy and finding hip restaurants takes research and effort and time I’d rather be using to watch “Lakefront Bargain Hunt.”
-I could pick up a book. Hip people have used book store memberships. And read poetry. They’re not into reformed theology or HGTV magazine.
-Trendsetting is not my thing. Let something get good and established before I go after it. Oh hello UGG boots that I just got!
– I’ve never thought: “I should buy those overalls.”
-I’ve also never thought “What’s a good hashtag for my juice cleanse.”
If I tried to Instagram a picture of tiny hearts, people would view it as a cry for help. I need to accept my glaring banality and celebrate it!
I’m a card carrying member of the struggle bus. But maybe I should get a succulent, just to see how the other half is living. Will I think outside the box the closer I get to my succulent? Will I start thinking in Toad and the Wet Sprocket lyrics?? What if I not only get one succulent, but build an entire pallet wall of succulents?? Think of how hip that would be.
I think I could have been hip, I was just plopped down in the wrong era. I mean, liking manatees in middle school would probably be so ironic it would be cool now. But alas, I was not. So I will stay the non cold press coffee drinker that I am and remain forever faithful to my Keurig.
Oh hey! I’m writing to you because I just won a fit mom award for my vigorous participation in Stroller Strides! Oprah is flying me out to film a featurette for Weight Watchers and FYI I look great.
So, it’s been a year (and change) since I gave birth to a 9 pound baby, bless his heart.
Things are lumpy. Things are stretched. There are wrinkles and this one weird patch of skin where Henry kept his toes.
I prioritize exercise and diet somewhere down there with mopping the floors and baseboard maintenance. Not that there is anything wrong with those things, it’s just that I have so many other things I would rather do than eat a steamed sweet potato while jogging my three kids around the block. Those things include, but are not limited to: reading, watching HGTV, smelling my kids heads, thinking about coffee, doing my job, where is that smell coming from, can baseboards start to smell?, googling baseboard maintenance, the Joss and Main app on my phone, praying, thinking, bible, napping, coloring pictures of My Little Ponies, using baby wipes on everything within reach, magazines, hugs, Calico Critters, hangin with Mr. Cooper, texting, nap time, and various and sundry and other stuff too.
The point is, I’m busy even WITHOUT exercising and meal planning. So, what next? I do believe the next step is accepting and celebrating that this is how I look now. Limit myself to one donut hole per offer to eat donut holes. Stop buying giant bags of m&m’s and then tell yourself you are beautiful. Because you are! Focus on being kind and the great mercies of the Lord unto you, and sing Frozen songs!
I look like I had three babies. And that. is. oh. kay.
It sure is true that I could go to the doctor on Botched and say “Can you please fix my saggy left boob, cuz it’s just a mess!” and probably no one would blame me. But when I think about this verse:
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
I just can’t see Jesus looking at me and saying- “Good work Kaley. Now about that boob job” Jesus wrote each one of my children into my life, and gave me the kind of genes that don’t wear a bikini to the beach after birthing those babies. It’s probably because He wanted to protect well meaning Christian men from being sucked down into temptation. Okay, it’s not that. I think it is enough to say that HE is enough. Being a good stewart of your body is great, but it’s not the only thing. I like making other people feel comfortable around me. I don’t think people would feel comfortable if I looked like Gigi Hadid. They want a gal pal akin to Molly Weasley. And great comedy can not come out of flawless beauty. It can only come out of relatable looks. Squashy butts and laugh lines. So I am thankful, because Jesus gave me the perfect body for my personality. I’m not thankful about getting a neck pimple at 30, but it’s just a fallen world people okay?
I am back. Which begs the question- where was I? I was saying goodbye to my favorite place, tidewater Virginia. And my favorite people. And my favorite church. And my favorite house- that had a rat infestation, but that’s a blog for another day. In May I said good bye to every dang body.
Then I went home for a chunk- to tidewater Maryland and commenced saying goodbye to every dang body there.
Why was I saying goodbye? Only because for not the first time in my life, I was moving away to California. Bye East Coast! Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.
And so we geared up for the longest and most grueling road trip of ever, please Jesus say this one was the worst.
Start of Road Trip Day One. Maryland- Kentucky
Singing “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. Feeling thankful for car dvd player recently installed. Ready to learn the origin story of Ponyville for the first time (but not the last time.)
Driving through Wild, Wonderful, West by God Virginia was firstly very hard, because it is tres mountainous, and secondly very beautiful and heartwarming because my kinfolk happen to be friendly hillbillies from these here parts. And I grew up going to WVA every summer. So, memories. My face is weird and puffy from realizing that I am, in reality, actually moving across the country. And also McDonald’s.
Day 2. Kentucky-Illinois. 8th Wedding Anniversary.
That romantic beam of golden light is shining down on us, for it is our eighth year of wedded bliss. We had just woken up and loaded the car and I am angling the photo just right so that you can not see the dog poop clean up station behind us at the hotel. Kentucky. Nick and I decided to take a selfie in every state. So prepare yourself for just so many selfies. Like really a lot. And I don’t think I ever change these sun glasses, so good luck with that.
Just wow. What the heck state is this? I want to say that this is Illinois. Henry is doing Blue Steel. Things I remember about Illinois… would be this rest stop and that it was there. I have terrible news. I deleted the selfie from Indiana on accident. But kept all three drafts of the Kentucky selfie. All aboard the hot mess express! This would never happen to a successful travel blogger.
Here we are in MISSOURI! I always type MISSOURI in all caps because it is such an exciting state. Behind us is the arch. It is a giant arch of some significance. And all I wanted to do was stop at Covenant Seminary while reading a book by R.C. Sproul and listening to Sovereign Grace so I could have the world’s most reformed selfie… but time would not allow. I will keep dreaming big though. You can’t keep me down.
I really enjoyed day 2. The drive was beautiful, I got to eat dinner with a dear friend, and our hotel was actually gigantic because the Midwest is crazy affordable.
Day 3. Kansas. So. Much. Kansas. Also- Colorado.
This is Kansas. Kansas is big. Kansas is rural. Kansas has got some farms. And look! I did change my glasses!
At this rest stop Maisy Jo found this bird nest that had blown down. It blew down because flat and wind. I’m married to a meteorologist, that’s how I know all this weather jargon. The nest was made up almost entirely of the stuffing that fills the discarded cigarette butts found at this truck stop.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Speaking of Jesus- he showed up a couple of times in Kansas. Most notably here:
This is a billboard I encountered somewhere deep into Kansas. And that billboard of Jesus made me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. Before I left on my journey one of my pastors wished laughter for my journey – and here it was. In this wheat field in Kansas. I don’t know what Jesus is trying to say here- that His power can overcome gluten intolerance? That when you least expect it He might sneak up on you bearing a wheat frond? Something about chaff? I don’t know what it said to other people, but I know what it said to me. That Jesus was with me on my journey. That He understood my need for laughter and that He loves me.
Day 4. Colorado. Rest. Rejuvenation. Being scared of heights.
On day three Kansas slowly morphed into Colorado. Because everyone knows that Kansas is flat and Colorado is mountains. And if you’re like me- you didn’t know they were border states until the day you drove across one into the other.
On day 4 we stopped to spend the day with Nick’s sister who lives in Colorado, just around Colorado Springs. Nick took Owen and his cousin to Pike’s Peak. That’s a high peak. And I stayed at home because I
am scared of heights needed to let the little ones take a nap.
I also needed Jesus to intervene in how grumpy, yell-y, and generally terrible I had been being to all of my family members, especially the dog. I hand wrote a blog while I sat on the porch of my sister in laws house watching that deer and drinking that coffee. I’ll post it sometime soon. When Nick got back we began our mission of tourism in the few hours we had been allotted.
Off we went to explore Manitou Springs. Apparently the mountains are a boon for springs. The sink water is off the hook and people drink from natural springs all around the town and no one even gets ebola OR dysentery. We also bought several Colorado souvenirs because Nick and I collect magnets and post cards and there ain’t no shame in our game. Hipsters be damned. I need me some souvenir magnets. I have a magnet from Guam. Do you? Yeah. That’s what I thought.
Next stop: Garden of the gods. They were very tall rocks. I don’t get out much.
Day 5. Colorado- Utah
I was dreading Day 5, even though I was so thankful for the rest we had just experienced. Nick and I had to drive through the mountains, at elevations of 10,000 feet. With twists and turns and brake checks. Day 5 is when I stopped being judicious with lollipops and began to throw them in the back seat with reckless abandon. By this point the car had developed an abnormal toddler stench and crumbs were prolific. “Do whatever you want guys, just stop screaming. Here’s a bottle of cheez whiz. Go crazy.” I also can not downplay the bloating effect of five days of fast food on the body. Okay. It’s BLOAT. I ACTUALLY AM SKINNY IN REAL LIFE. Now that we have that all straightened out, let’s get back to my captivating story.
Vail Pass, Colorado was only the most beautiful place in the entire world. I think they filmed the Sound of Music here. Behind me is a colony of Prairie Dogs. Every time I come to the realization that North America has cool wildlife, I lose it a little bit. That’s why my face looks like that. I never wanted to leave this rest stop. That’s right. This is a rest stop. That’s how beautiful Vail is. Even their rest stop can’t be marginalized.
Speaking of terrible bathrooms, after Colorado and this neat valley we couldn’t get a picture of because we were both driving, and a nail biting descent, we hit Utah. OhhOohhhh Utah. The toilets in the Utah desert are simply very, very deep holes dug into the desert. With a toilet lid. I had a moment of anxiety when I imagined tiny Maisy Jo plunging into the toilet hole and me with no recourse. I did not let MJ fall into the toilet hole, thank you Jesus and amen.
The desert is bleak y’all. Not my favorite thing. I’m not sure what to say. There were plants and birds and rocks and things, there was sand and hills and rings. After much desert and many gas stops, we made it to Salt Lake City, Utah. For not any other reason than that of my love for cults. After nine hours of driving I did not stop for dinner. I did not stop at the hotel. I did not pass go. I went straight to the Temple. The Mormon Temple.
The Mormon Temple was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, especially because on many highways around the country you may think you are coming upon a theme park castle, only to realize that it’s just the Mormon Temple and you forgot your holy underwear so what is even the point?
This is me taking a selfie in front of the temple which might be really disrespectful, but I just really wanted to and did you just say one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control, and oh gosh I’m the worst. I went in excited and came out thinking “there but for the grace of God go I.” I really hope to tell some Mormons about grace someday.
Day 6- Utah- California
And here is the most unexpectedly cool part of our journey. The Great Salt Flats of Utah. It needs to be mentioned that Utah felt really prehistoric. I get why there are so many dinosaur fossils there. It’s like hella mesozoic. (Is that factually correct? I only got up to teaching third grade science and we don’t cover paleontology) Pictured above is some weird statue that Nick thought was interesting and I thought was lame, but was game enough to stop and look at.
The flats were bright and crusty and crunchy and surprisingly delightful. (I mean, look at those mountains in the background. They’re really t-rexy aren’t they??)
They were the perfect place to execute my road trip dubsmash.
Next up was Nevada. Nevada, surprisingly has a lot of wild horses, and unsurprisingly has terrible 4G. I know this because I was streaming the HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone audio book off of YouTube. Because Day 6 there is none songs that I want to listen to. Not. A. One. The kids had destroyed their earphones pretty much off the bat and kept asking me to turn down my music/audio/weeping, but I refused. I’m selfless that way.
Enjoy this time lapse of my children trying to return feeling to their feet after being constrained in harnesses for almost a full week.
Nick and I decided to spurge and stay at Lake Tahoe for our last night of our journey! #worthit
Going back to Lake Tahoe is high on my list of priorities. It’s so pretty! Which you can’t tell from these low grade phone pictures, but maybe I’ll treat you to some pictures Nick took with his actual camera, and then it’s just like you’re there. Sticky car seat buckles and all.
Day 7. Lake Tahoe- Monterey
Oh easy. Quick drive. Let the kids take a quick dip in the lake. Get a donut. Then SIT IN TRAFFIC FOR FIVE HOURS.
Maybe the craziest I have ever actually been is day 7 with my kids. Not moving. Ugh California! Stop being so cool and overpopulated. California is in a drought, so it is crispy and brown and about to catch on fire every single moment. People beep their horns a lot here- I had forgotten that.
We made it to California. And after living in a hotel for many moons we made it into our house. The only thing that got us through was the grace of God and lotsa prayers.
Now that we’re all caught up on each other’s lives I can start blogging again. About what I do not know, but I’ll think of something. I always do. :)
The Navy won’t let me stay in Norfolk any longer. But the Navy brought me to Norfolk, so I am at an impasse when it comes to a logical reason to hate them.
This is where I dump all the selfies I took of all the people I have grown to love in Norfolk, and when I am sad in California I can look fondly on these pictures and know that someday, God willing, I will come back to Norfolk, retire here, and play mahjong with my Community group on Thursday mornings.