Since this post is written by Elyse, you should listen to her music while you read it:
Thoughts while traveling through the West:
There is something about traveling through the western U.S.
Something awe-inspiring…..breathtaking….and completely humbling.
I remember my first time driving out here as an adult. I had visited Colorado when I was around 10 years old and loved it, but while I was in college I drove out to Montana with one of my best friends.
I had always loved where I grew up in Wisconsin. It was less crowded than other areas of the state, and I always loved the lush green rolling hills and the quiet. My parents worked hard to instill a love of the outdoors in us. When I was a child, they took the time to take me fishing, to teach me the names of wildflowers and animals and to take me camping. I will be forever grateful for this.
The first time that I was able to travel to and explore the mountains, I was seized with such an indescribable joy. Even giddy-ness. I felt so alive. So free.
Over the next few years I visited the west as much as I could - exploring, climbing, learning. Breathing deep. I began to discover more about myself. More about who I wanted to be. More about WHO GOD IS. I always returned home from my trips with the same conclusion: someday I want to make my home in the mountains.
By God’s grace, I met and married a man who shared that same desire. We feel blessed every day to be able to live where we do.
While driving through the southwest U.S. at the beginning of our trip, I realized that I was finally able to put into words something that I have felt deeply for years but never been able to truly express.
The West taught me about how BIG my God is.
That may sound simple but hear me out: when you are driving through such vast, open spaces or scrambling over huge boulders to try and get an unobstructed view of the mountains, you cannot help but come away with a better appreciation of who God is. No matter what I may be struggling with personally or what problems I may be facing at the time, they melt away when I am surrounded by God’s creation. I cannot help but think how small and silly my problems must seem when they are laid at the feet of a God who created THIS:
Talk about humbling.
….and completely comforting.
My God is bigger than:
MY GOD IS ABLE.
On a slightly different note;
Many of you have asked how I have been handling “motherhood” on this trip. First of all, thank you for your prayers!
One of my biggest struggles on this trip has been to remain consistent in my parenting throughout so many different situations this past month. We have stayed in or visited a total of 8 different homes, slept in lots of hotels, toured multiple parks and museums with countless other tourists, and gone to two formal (i.e. not toddler friendly) events. Not to mention all of the gas stations, restaurants and rest areas along the way. We have experienced everything from helpful and understanding hosts to judgmental tourists videotaping us while our toddler threw a tantrum. Yeah...I’m not kidding.
I. Am. Exhausted.
But not discouraged.
I have always been one who struggles with what many call “People Pleasing”. I never realized how much that can bleed into parenting! It has been so hard to stick to my convictions and remain consistent when I have had at LEAST 10 different scenarios, people or expectations every single day. Thankfully, I was prepared. Jared and I talked so much before this trip about how we wanted to handle things with our kids. It honestly wasn’t that much different from how we normally parent. It was more of a pep-talk to remind each other that “we have each other’s back”.
We could not be more grateful for how it has gone. We have learned so much about our children on this trip and about ourselves as parents. Sure, there were tantrums (from children and adults alike) and meltdowns and exhaustion and failures. But just like I mentioned earlier: MY GOD IS BIGGER THAN ALL OF THAT.
I also need to take a moment and thank my “partner in crime”. Jared is truly THE BEST partner I could ever ask for. Jared, thank you for challenging me to be a better person, for encouraging me when I fail, for holding me when I just need to cry, for directing my attention to the Lord and for bravely leading our family with grace and integrity. I love you!
Fewer things have taught me more about my desperate need for God than being a parent. I cannot imagine being on this journey without Him. Actually, that isn’t entirely true….I HAVE imagined it and it’s TERRIFYING. I am one selfish, short-fused, sinful human being.
“…being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.”