Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Tension Between Why? and What's Next?

I love the question, "why?" Heavens, a key element of my job as a product manager is to "Define the why". I'm trained and well-suited to spend large amounts of energy pursuing the why.

But lately I've been challenged to see places in my life where my growth and faith and even contentment are stymied by the pursuit of the why. There are times when seeking to understand why can stall my sense of joyful expectation.

Here's my current memory verse:
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do."
In this story, Jesus' followers are so wrapped up in understanding why this healed guy was blind in the first place - who sinned? who messed up? who's to blame? why? - that they choose to focus on the why instead of the miracle before them.

I think of the book of Job, where Job asks God (very reasonable) question after question about why all of this miserable injustice was falling on him. And then when Job sees God's holiness, when God is before him and he can finally get his whys answered directly, all Job can say is:
“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.
    I should never have opened my mouth!
I’ve talked too much, way too much.
    I’m ready to shut up and listen.”
Job realizes that God's glory is so much bigger than his whys that it fulfills every individual wondering question he has in one fell swoosh of awe.

Look, God gave me a brain and he wants me to use it, to seek him, to understand him, to find joy and hope in this life he's provided. I'm not advocating abandoning the why here. God uses the whys to teach me about himself, myself, and areas in my life where I need to grow. I just think I've swung a little too far in the opposite direction - focusing on the why at the expense of hope, of joyful expectation for what God's going to do.

I don't want to abandon the "why?" - I just want to put my best energy into the "what's next?"
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

Saturday, June 16, 2018

So Long, Old Friend

This week I renewed my passport in preparation for our anniversary trip to Spain (sooooo excited!). Today I received my retired passport and was struck with an unexpected sense of the bittersweet seeing that drilled passport.

It's the passport that took me to Kazakhstan and China to bring my babies home.

It's the passport that took me to Mexico 6 years ago and every year since, introducing me to a place and people at Hogar de Amor who have truly become my family.

It's the passport that took me on adventures and work trips to China and Australia and London and Dublin.

And now I have a blank book in front of me, ready to be filled with stamps and visas from the next decade of adventures. It's all so much to be grateful for.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Improvisational Mother's Day Adventures

A disturbing number of our camping blog posts revolve around this theme: What are you going to remember in 10 years? The trips that went exactly to plan? Or the truly improvisational adventures? Regardless of your answer to this question, we're going to go with B because so few of our excursions go according to expectation (example: this selfsame trip last year).

Well, our Mother's Day camping trip started fine. 2 Westys, 2 dogs, 3 generations. But as completed the major climbs on Highway 6 it became obvious that Rainy (our van) wasn't going to make it. So we did some quick thinking, moved stuff betweens vans, and Mom and I, with the girls and Chorney, carried on to Goblin Valley while Steve and Dad and ChenXing stayed behind to diagnose and repair Rainy.

By the time we got to Green River, the guys had decided to return home to complete the repairs in comfort and we pressed on, hoping that the guys would join us the next day. There's no cell coverage past Green River, so all communication would be with notes left on bulletin boards and chance meetings in the millions of BLM acres. It was a foolproof plan.

We made camp in the beautiful desert sunset, did a little climbing, and wondered at this magnificent state we call home. #GirlPower

The next morning was super duper windy (as forecasted) and so we decided to do some slot canyon hiking to try and avoid the worst of the blowing sand. So we packed up and headed out to Crack Canyon, a hike we've started twice but never completed.

Hiking into the canyon
The girls love their rock climbing!
Going up and over one of the slots that was filled chest-deep with water
The tunnels and subways in Crack Canyon are so fun!
Almost to the end!
We did it! We made it to the very windy end of our hike!

The wind still hadn't really calmed down after our 6-mile hike, so we headed back to our campsite to see if the guys had arrived (they hadn't), take a quick snoozer (we didn't sleep particularly well the night before because of the wind, so a nap was a great way to pass the afternoon), and cook some dinner (we voted against cooking over the fire because of the aforementioned wind). So, we hung out in Scratchy (Mom and Dad's van) for the afternoon, caught up on our rest, and pan fried some very delicious steaks.

By the evening the wind had calmed down a bit and we decided to drive into Goblin Valley State Park to do some climbing and romping. Goblin Valley at sunset is one of the most beautiful places on earth (and one of the most fun to explore!).

Morningstar girls enjoy the sun and brave the wind
Goblin at sunset
The girls declare themselves (rightly) queens of the hill. Nobody was there to argue.

By now we figured the guys weren't coming (remember: no cell coverage). We gave the girls the option of going home, but everybody was having a lovely weekend and they wanted to stay until Sunday, so stay we did! Here we are cooking Mother's Day breakfast for ourselves... we had leftover watermelon and blueberry muffins and cooked s'mores and crescent rolls over the fire since the wind had finally calmed down enough to make a fire. It was a fantastic celebratory meal.

S'mores and crescent rolls!

And we capped off our weekend with a few miles in Little Wild Horse Canyon before hitting the road. Chorney was limping a bit and we were all feeling the previous day's miles of climbing and hiking, but Little Wild Horse is such a beautiful hike that we couldn't miss it!

So, there you have it, another Morningstar vacation gone awry. Or, as we like to think of it, another perfectly lovely improvisational adventure.

Oh, and the guys made it home safe and sound. They did a few hours of tweaking and diagnosing but ended up deciding that they had to order a part so they didn't make it down. But that's ok, there will be another chance for a "what are you going to remember in 10 years?" adventure soon. And maybe we'll actually end up wherever we intended to go in the first place.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Little Red Riding Hood

by WanYing

Last week we did 70 miles on a tandem and I was dressed up as Little Red and then Mom was dressed up as the woodsman and my gramma as the grandma and a friend of my gramma came as the wolf.

The best part was there was a giant hill and you can go really fast on it. We went 40-something miles per hour on the hill.

The hardest part was there was a super long hill. It wasn't too steep, but it was long.

There was Oreos with peanut butter and bananas on it and that was one of my favorite snacks there.

At the finish line we got bracelets that said "Little Red 2018" with little charms on it and you got a cool drink.

And after I was really tired.

That was me before the ride
That's my Little Red costume before we started.
That's me and my mom and my brother on the tricycle. He volunteered.
That's us during the ride.
That's us when we finished!
And those are the cool drinks.


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