Timing is everything. Or at least that's what they say, whoever they are. But I tend to agree. I just got back from a visit home to Minnesota, an overdue trip, an impromptu trip that landed with the best possible timing, and the best soul-timing.
I had a span of five days off from work, and although I knew it would be a solo trip because Nicholas needed to work, I booked a trip north. Nicholas and I woke up at 5 AM to make it to the airport on Friday morning, and I packed all that I needed for a (warm-weather) weekend in one tote, which is a feat as a chronic over-packer.
My mom picked me up from the MSP airport, with puppy Gingersnaps in tow, as a sweet surprise. On the way to my parents' house, we stopped by a local coffee shop for a latte, and mocha, a donut (for me) and to see my brother's photography exhibit. It had rained all morning. We sat outside on damp chairs so Gingersnaps could be with us, a table over from a man with dala horse tattoo, and talked about life. When we got home, my dad was home too, and we prepped a lunch of "egg in a tom," or a whisked egg + basil + salt and pepper + parmesan baked in a scooped out tomato. Basically, the tomato is a cup to bake the egg in, and it is so yummy. While lunch was in the oven, we ventured across the street to my parents' neighbors/friends and talked to Bonnie about sock construction, since she's a quilter/knitter, but wants to maybe try knitting socks. I learned how to knit socks with worsted-weight yarn (faster results and less fiddly) and a printed pattern from a local yarn shop, but this online tutorial is really good.
After lunch, we wandered around the yard, past the geraniums on the front porch, looking at my mom's gardens, picking raspberries, and getting mosquito bites. I always seem to visit home during raspberry season, when the bushes put on their best show.
That evening, we went over to my brother's house. He and I made supper together and we played Majesty, a new-to-me strategy card game. The four of us ate dinner and then took a long walk around my brother's neighborhood, catching glimpses of the lake through the trees, talking to his neighbors, getting a few more mosquito bites. It was nice out, and I wore a cardigan and jeans while the rest of my family thought I was crazy, but that's heat acclimation, I suppose? We watched the sun set below the tree line, with wispy clouds (conditions for the nicest sunsets, according to my brother). And then ventured back to Matt's house for chai/vanilla milkshakes, which were as incredible as they sound.
On Saturday, I had breakfast at home with my parents, with french pressed coffee, a frittata (havarti cheese, mushrooms, peppers), smoothies (pear, blueberries, cashew milk, spinach), and blueberry muffins. The forecasted temperatures were rather high, so we filled our bike tires in the morning and headed out for a ride to a new bike trail near my high school. It was a hot/humid day, the kind my brother refers to as "drinkable air." We rode past my middle school and down streets that were on my bus routes, which always makes me feel nostalgic, in a way. After the ride, my mom and I changed and went to meet our friends Lauren and Julie for lunch: salads and a hot summer breeze and catching up after so much time away. After lunch, my brother, my parents, and I went over to my brother's house for another round of games (Dominion this time, I think it was) and then back to my parents' for salmon on the grill and rosemary potatoes. We watched a documentary about evidence for the Exodus and drank milkshakes my brother made with raspberries from the garden. There were more and more ripe berries every day!
Sunday morning, we went to church, and sat with my friend Lauren and her husband. And the worship and sermon made me tear up. It felt like the timing of the trip couldn't have been more perfect, with the sermon topic being Prayers, Presence, and Provision, on 2 Chronicles 10:1-12. Some of my favorite excerpts/concepts he mentions:
- "Self-sufficiency leads to praylessness"
- "Trials make seeking the Lord your first instinct, not your last resort. Going first to prayer because He can do far more."
- "Fear comes from looking at our circumstances and then looking at ourselves. Faith comes from looking at our circumstances and then looking at God."
- "He meets desperate prayers with fresh grace."
- "God gets the glory and we get the help."
(but really, this chapter of the Bible is so cool! and I loved the sermon and the time set aside to pray together).
After church, I headed to the our friends' home, the same route I've driven about 1,000 times through high school and college, before we were married, and before we lived in other states. We had more quality time and conversation with Julie and Lauren and had chicken taco bowls and sparkling water for lunch with the rest of their family, and talked (and laughed) about different northern midwest accents.
And then, we got ready for one of the other reasons I came home: a housewarming party for our friends Kyra and Daniel. The timing was such that their party fell on a weekend when all of my closest girlfriends (including myself, reside in 5 states) were all in the same place, at once. Seeing these girls brought tears to my eyes. I got to see Tahnee and her new husband of two months, Jaden. I held Kyra and Daniel's newest (sleepy, and so sweet) little boy, Ezekiel. And I saw other friends from high school that I haven't seen in a long time. Between moves and weddings and babies, it's been years since we all lived in the same place, but these girls feel like family, in so many ways. It was an afternoon filled with sandwiches and cake, with barefeet, a cherry pepsi (a big treat for me), and so many long hugs (a way bigger treat for me).
After we all said our goodbyes and managed a few pictures, we left the party. I rode with my brother and we talked and caught up about life and headed back to his house where we met up with my parents to play some more Dominion. We all had a late dinner together and then talked in the living room together before bedtime, in anticipation of another early flight out.
Other favorite little bits from this trip to Minnesota:
- multiple trips to the backyard to pick raspberries
- sneaking in some rows on my More honey hat, here and there. The perfect travel knit.
- thinking about how we're so different (and not that different ) than we were in high school
- reading Matthew 12 in my childhood bedroom
- curling up under my mom's quilts
- browsing through my mom's fabric stash and her current projects
- snuggling with Gingersnaps
- a quilted kitchen heat pad my mom made for us
- walks around the neighborhood, at a brisk pace to beat the bugs
- seeing the cutest "little free library," I've seen to date
- listening to spotify playlists and a podcast episode from The Minimalists on the plane
- sprinkled doughnuts and a latte
- a mom who is the best at getting (raspberry, or any other) stains out of clothing
- listening to the Interstellar soundtrack while we played games
- hearing my brother's plans for his upcoming (incredible) photography trips
- drinking water like nobody's business (I think the tap water tastes better in MN)
- that Twin Cities skyline
- this video of a hurdy gurdy, an instrument I had never seen before (fascinating!)
- a song made with a marble machine
- finding a pair of overalls in the closet, not knowing where they came from, trying them on, finding they fit, bringing them home
The timing of this trip seemed perfect for my typically more-restless-than-usual summer heart. These hot months often leave me longing for change in my own life (and partly why I'm a bit quieter on the blog front). But between quality family time, games, walks, a bike ride, a party/reunion, holding a sweet baby, drinking milkshakes, lunches with friends, I arrived back in Texas, feeling refreshed, more hope-filled, more joyful. And again, I felt reassurance that even though we moved across the country four years ago, these wonderful friends will always be friends. And family will always be my wonderful family.
Returning to a familiar place, always seems to remind me of how He's been faithful in all those years I grew up, through high school and college and into adulthood. With a God who is steadfast in character, we can remember His past faithfulness, and let that give us more hope that He will be faithful in the years to come.
Whatever your prayers look like right now—prayers of thanks or prayers for dreams not yet imagined, He meets us with fresh grace, He gets the glory, we get the help. Whether far away from family, or in a waiting season, or with literally anything that weighs on our minds, we can trust Him. He knows my heart, what fills it with joy and what hopes are hidden within. He made raspberries and 3-month old sleepy babies with long lashes, soft green grass, those wispy clouds in twilight skies, and Minnesota summers, after all. He is a good God.
A few weeks ago, our little family of four made plans with my father- and sister-in-law for an early Saturday morning at the Lake. When we arrived in the eight o'clock hour, it was breezy, in the low seventies. At this particular beach and time of day, we had our pick of spots; only a few families were there before us. I chose a spot pretty close to the water and Coop dumped out his new beach toys out of his mesh bag and got busy building and digging. Soon enough, Nicholas, who had been parking the truck, and my SIL and FIL joined us.
Here we are, on the very cusp of July, and I've neglected to share about our garden. Nicholas and I had a plot at a community garden when we were engaged back in 2013, but we haven't had a vegetable garden since—until this year, that is. I wanted to share a bit about our garden this year: what we're growing, how we're growing it, and how it's going so far.
If you missed my last post, I shared about the passing of my beautiful mother-in-law. I don't want to continue on in a "business as usual" style, nor do I want to neglect to share about joyful things in our life. Again and again, I'm learning that grief and joy coexist in this life. And what a grace that is! Grief can highlight the joy, make it more precious in my eyes. And so, I wanted to share about a little day trip I took with my SIL, Katelyn, Cooper, and Finn back in mid-May, since it was a good thing, a sweet day spent with some of my very favorite people.