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Blue skies, soft breezes, mild temperatures, not a cloud in the sky for miles ahead of us- this is how we began our journey.   Kids in the back, sister as co-pilot, armed with the best playlists and snacks- we were ready to cross the great state of Texas.  We got this.  Classic road trip.

Then, there it was.  A wall of clouds stretching from north to south as far as the eye could see.  The wall cloud was so tall that my sister actually thought it was a mountain range.  The ominous wall seemed to be rolling towards us.  It was something out of an apocalyptic movie.  I had never seen anything like it and I have seen my fair share of snowy days after living in Minnesota for four years. It was enormous.  It was dark gray. And we were heading straight for it with my two babies sound asleep in the back.  From the outside there was no way of telling what the driving conditions would be like from within the strange cloud wall.  But if we wanted to get home we were going to have to go through it.  There was just no getting around it.  I mean, we were literally in the middle of the desert.  Nowhere to go but through.

As soon as we entered the cloud wall it was as if someone had waved a magic wand and had frozen everything in sight.  It would appear that queen Elsa had just passed through.  Just seconds before we were looking at sunshiny skies over dusty cacti and suddenly everything was frozen solid.  There was no snow or rain.  It was as if the air was too frigid to mess with moisture and instead everything was thick with white ice.  The scene reminded me of what my freezer looks like if you leave the freezer door open all night- everything coated with a thick layer of white ice.  It was beautiful.  It was quiet.  It was frightening.

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Maybe it was the vulnerable position we were in, two women with small children idling through a sinister mist, but I quickly realized that I felt very alone. It was the kind of alone in which you have this desire to go back home but you are not exactly sure what you mean by “home.” I thought about my beautiful house and my loving family and it was immediately apparent to me that I was being ridiculous. How could I feel alone when in reality I am surrounded by loved ones and I have a beautiful home?

Except that it wasn’t ridiculous.  For the past couple of years my little family has been on a challenging journey of sorts.  We have experienced all manner of frustration and doubt as we continue to pray and have faith that this “thing,” this goal will somehow come to fruition.  We don’t know how this dream will be realized or how long it will take or if we will even live to see it.  Let’s just say that we kind of feel like Noah at times.  Here we are building our ark even though we don’t exactly know why because we have never seen rain.

That is the journey that we had been on when I was fortunate enough to experience the crazy winter weather in the middle of the desert.  My soul was aching with melancholy doubt; I was just trying to hold onto the dream when I first got glimpse of the ice cloud wall.  When I began to feel alone I took a hold of those feelings and harnessed them to make sense of this journey that really feels like a ship lost in the fog.

What I came up with is that on this journey you never really know what is going on in your life.  You really have no control and that fog of not knowing what lies ahead is scary and seems dangerous.  It makes you just want to get back to a place of comfort and security.  And so you try to find that security.  You look for that warm fuzzy blanket or your favorite lovie- something, anything to cling to.  But sometimes there is no way to attain comfort and security in this world.

Sometimes you have nothing to turn to and nowhere to go but through.

Through the journey.

Through the unknown.

That beast of not knowing must be faced and conquered and tamed. And yes, you should feel a little scared and vulnerable.  The vulnerability heightens your senses; it pumps you up with the adrenaline you need to be brave.

You just have to have faith that God will bring you through this journey.

Not long after the drive through the freak polar vortex of Texas, my husband and I took a drive down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Francisco.  It has always been on my bucket list to experience the majesty of the great giant Sequoia Redwood trees.  While driving through the redwood forest I felt claustrophobic and insignificant.  I was sick to my stomach from the winding roads and change in air pressure.  At times the forest was so dense that the trees completely blocked out the sun.  It could be a sunshiny day but you would never know that in the redwoods because the trees had conquered the sky.

I had a hard time taking a good picture of the Redwoods because they are just too tall to fit into frame.

I had a hard time taking a good picture of the Redwoods because they are just too tall to fit into frame.  “The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” John Steinbeck

Naturally we drove past huge cliffs and bluffs that dropped into the icy Pacific ocean.  The cliffs were breathtaking and catastrophic looking- an insurance company’s nightmare.  Each wave that crashed upon the black rocks was a warning to stay away.  So of course this meant that we just had to climb down the rocky cliffs despite a rain storm and warning signs that we were entering tsunami hazard zones.  But who could resist getting a closer look at the ocean filled with all manner of mystique?

Here's hoping the tide doesn't come in!

Here’s hoping the tide doesn’t come in!

In places like that, places in which nature demands your attention and announces its strength by simply being there, I am reminded once again that I really have no control of my life.  I could run my day on schedules and events and budgets but an gigantic wall of ice could just go ahead and sweep through my life and commandeer my plans for the day. Or, a tsunami could just come on through and knock all of my kingdom down just as it would knock out all of those stately redwoods. Just like that.  And of course I know this already but I am hard headed and sometimes I have to be reminded.

Those of us who have chosen to be on this journey.  Those of us who have our heads in the clouds. The dreamers.  The crazies.  Those of us who keep the faith and muddle through the unknown focused on a mission.  We have to know that we are not alone.   It’s going to be murky and it’s going to be a windy road and a little scary at times- you might get nauseated- but we can’t be afraid to take that first step into the cloud wall.  We can’t be afraid of climbing into the tsunami hazard zone.  We must trudge on through. Something you have never seen before can be a little scary like the height of the redwood forest or the fluorescent looking moss on the trees in Oregon or like an enormous cloud of ice in the middle of a Texas desert.  We just have to go through it and maybe allow ourselves to get swept up in the mysterious beauty of the unfamiliar .  Perhaps if we take the time to admire the beauty of the unknown we will begin to feel more like we are home.  Maybe we can learn to live within the fog.

I have never seen fluorescent looking moss on trees before.  I don't know what kind of trees these are but they were everywhere in Oregon.

I have never seen fluorescent looking moss on trees before. I don’t know what kind of trees these are but they were everywhere in Oregon.

Yours on the journey,

Elizabeth

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