Three years ago… and a few months, we got married a week and a day after we graduated college.
Sounds like foolery to those who marry when they’re “secure”, but we married for love… and we had no money.
We adventured to California on the dime of loved ones who managed to bless us with the adventure and it was one for a life time.
When we were deciding where to go, I remember thinking to myself, “I want to go somewhere I have never been and likely won’t be able to go to again for a long time.” So California it was. An excursion to set off the adventure of marriage we were about to embark upon.
The honeymoon was over quickly and reality set in faster than we could grasp.
Long nights working jobs that paid nothing and squeezing by on rice and beans and a newly discovered sweet potato recipe that still never gets old
We would go to Wal-mart to buy pop tarts and coke and come home to watch an episode of Parks and Rec as a date night.
We sold rainbow cleaning systems and I waited tables for extra tip money to put towards groceries.
We figured out how to roast coffee and realized it was a cheaper way to have coffee in our house, and that “hey, maybe we could sell it!”
We had to decline social trips and events because bringing the side dish cost us more than the meals we were eating at home.
We renovated a house and sold it not long after to pay off debt, moving us in with my parents.
We renovated another house and finally moved into it a month ago, making that move the 5th move in 3 years. We know most poeple timeline their lives according to the year, but the Bells do it according to what place we lived.
I have about a million more stories where these all came from. I am happy to share with any who need a sense of relief.
What does this even have to do with California?
Well, kind of everything for us.
Because our lives have felt like chaos, and not just a few days of chaos, but years of what feels endless and non stop. A lot has been hard, a lot has been laughable and a lot has been rewarding.
But we have been tired.
So, a few months ago, while I am sanding floors, sealing them, and doing it all again, trying to hold back exhaustion tears, and my husband lays it on me “hey, i’ve been saving money for a couple of months and for your birthday, I am taking you to California.” Words can’t describe what my heart felt. But, joy and dancing, to name a few.
So, almost two weeks ago we packed our bags and flew to California for an adventure that neither of us really knew we were about to embark upon.
We rented a car and drove to San Francisco, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and shamelessly played the full house theme song. We spent 30 minutes parking for a 5 minute stare at the Painted Ladies houses.
We drove up to Pointe Reyes National Seashore and let the ice cold ocean burn our toes with its freezing temperatures and didn’t care one lick.
We spent the night in Bayside, CA at an Airbnb that puts any southern cottage to shame with its charm… murphy bed and all.
We drove up the coast, I would point and Cody would pull over so we could dip our toes in more ocean and breathe cold air that let our southern lungs rejoice in our moments away from the scorching south.
We hiked all day in the Redwood Forest and touched century old trees that seemed unreal at their enormity. I felt like every few steps we would stop and gaze. For the first time in 3 years I saw the adventurous look on my husband’s face again. The one he carried in college when paychecks came from mom and dad and the greatest stress was calculating our chapel absences.
We drove towards Redding and were stopped by forest fires closing off roads for hours, so we stopped at a bar in Big Flat, CA with the population of 36 people and a pup named Olive. The bar was no longer a bar, but a place with frozen food and a microwave, hotpockets and ramen noodles it is!
We talked to the owner and sat outside with our paper plates and hearts that only wanted to listen.
Our flight home got canclled because of Hurricane Irma and we were rerouted to L.A. for a night. An opportunity to spend the whole evening with a friend we feared we wouldnt see for years. A hike up Pointe Dume and sunset over the pacific before heading back to Alabama.
We felt full of adventure and exhaustion, but the kind that sends you home with renewal and vision for what’s to come.
I felt like I finally had my turn to have adventure or explore, the kind that I watched other young people and couples experience through a phone screen, envying what they had.
Finally, it was my turn to have the experience and the places to go and see. But coming home, driving down interstates that are slow paced and foliage is the median, laying my head under the roof a duplex that the two of us poured literal blood and sweat over, seeing my nephew running down the driveway to see “RaRa and DoDo” after our time away, when I go church and faces hug me and ask how it was “out west” and my mom makes pot roast for Sunday lunch, I stop and I realize … this. this is the experience I want.
Sure, I wanted and I think we both desperately needed our trip to California. We needed a breather. Thank God for a husband who pinched our pennies to make it happen!
But it’s the simple, the small, the even frustrating moments that I want.
I even want the ache. Because when I ache, I know I’ll smile too. When I cry, I know I’ll laugh too, and that’s the adventure that I crave.
Isn’t it funny how when we are in season of mundane, hardship, or disappointment we tend to think we are in it alone? How the enemy isolates us and tells us we are the only ones. Can I get an amen??
I know that ache. The kind where you feel it in your gut.
I know the exhaustion, the kind where you feel like there is no light at the end of your tunnel.
I know the envy, the kind where you often question if God sees you or if He just wants you to cheer everyone else on in their excitement.
But adventure is in your now. And I hope you know it. I hope you know it’s in the life you are facing. The school you are struggling through or the job you feel swamped by, the children that you are rearing or the loads of laundry you are folding. It’s in the coupon clipping and Sunday lunches. It’s in the rice and beans and rainbow cleaning systems. It’s in it all. It’s your story. It’s your adventure.
I would really love to encourage anyone who needs encouragement today! Email me and let’s chat!