Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One Year

One year ago today we were arriving at our new house, heart-sick, road-weary, and miserable.  The heat, humidity and almost-constant rain; broken a/c; boxes everywhere; grit and grime of the former owners' 25 year residence; unfamiliar smells and sights; and complete lack of knowledge of the area only contributed to the misery.  

We were strangers in a strange land.  

We spent the first night all camped out in the family room because it has a small wall unit a/c.  

Not as much fun as it sounds.  

Bodies were lined up side-by-side on the floor or draped over couches left by the previous owners, heads propped up with favorite pillows, a desperate attempt at familiarity and comfort.  

Despite the small comfort of being all together, no one slept well.

Over the next days, we got the a/c fixed and started to sort out boxes.

Sorting out this new life was harder.  Where do we go for groceries?  Why do none of these streets go in a straight line?  Where should we go to church?  When will we be comfortable here?  Will we ever be comfortable here?  Will it ever feel like home?

Home for us was 20 hours and a million miles away.

And yet, the Lord knew.

Even as we planned our move in the months before, I had told the kids and tried to convince myself that God was already there, in Philadelphia, and He knew.  He knew all about our church, our school, our friends, our grocery stores, our neighborhood.  He knew how we would struggle and how many tears we would cry, where we would fit, who would help us and who would befriend us. 

He knew that a year later it would feel more like home, even if we still long sometimes for our friends and church family in Minnesota and miss the Midwestern pace of life.

He knew.

I am so thankful for our new church, our school, our neighborhood.

(Edited to add that John's work community has been very welcoming to us as well, and that has been so helpful.)

I still haven't found a favorite grocery store within easy driving distance,but I must be content with church, school, and neighborhood, I suppose. 

Thank you, Lord, for your provision, your promises, and your peace.  You led us out from a green pasture, through a deep and treacherous valley, and into another wide and pleasant place, never leaving or forsaking us.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


John's job requires a lot of travel, and usually he gallivants around the country while I stay home and keep the home fires burning.  And that's okay.  We knew that's what the job would require.

A few weeks ago, though, I had the opportunity to travel with John for a week to Alberta, Canada.

We flew into Edmonton and, just to get the kinks out, walked around the city a little bit.  More than we intended to, actually, since construction and bridges got in our way, but it turned out okay as we got this view of the city at the end of our walk.

And as you can see we had gorgeous weather to be walking.

The next day, we headed for the mountains.

I have long wanted to see the Canadian Rockies and they did not disappoint.  

I'm not going to make a comparison between the American and Canadian Rockies because it's pointless.  They are both absolutely stunning and I could spend endless amounts of time in either.  

This is Castle Mountain.  

I think the name comes from the fact that it looks a little bit like a castle, but I'm just guessing here.

And then...Lake Louise!

(I was here 42 years ago, but being in utero my view was limited.)

I was disappointed that there was still so much ice on the lake and we couldn't see the famous blue-green color of midsummer, but it was still gorgeous.

We walked the path around the lake until snow blocked our way.  

(We couldn't go up the the Lake Agnes Tea Room because of snow.)

This might give you some sense of scale.

It really wasn't as cold as it looks.  With the sun shining, we were plenty warm with a single, long-sleeved layer.  Another hiker did the walk in shorts and flip-flops!

We took a different route back toward Banff and stopped for many a scenic overlook.  I never get tired of looking at the mountains.

Pictures are wonderful, but they cannot capture the pure mountain air or the rich pine smell which are just as much a part of the experience as the visual.

That night we stayed in Banff and ate on the rooftop patio of The Rose and Crown, surrounded by mountain views on all sides.  In the square below, a bagpiper played all the greatest hits for bagpipe.  I can't even remember what I had to eat, but that meal was a little bit of heaven for me.

From Banff we went on to Airdrie and back to "work" for John, but that was our mini-vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Of Birthdays and Baptisms

The last two weeks have been filled with amazing, memory-making moments spent with some of the best-loved people in our lives.

It's all wonderful, but, I will confess, a little tiring! 

So, yesterday, after I got the kids off to school, Evie and I spent the day being slugs.  The only things I accomplished, other than surviving, were a walk and a shower.

But it is so sweet to rest when you've gotten tired out having as much fun as we've had!

Last Saturday, we had a birthday party for my mom's 70th birthday.  

She knew there was a party, but didn't know any details about it.  This drove her *crazy!*  

I'm still deciding whether or not to confess that my sister and I took an unholy delight in this.  Heehee!

We surprised her with a room full of her friends, an ice cream sundae bar, and a new computer.  

(Since she is retiring, she has to leave her college-owned desktop behind, so we fixed her up with a new Dell.  For one brief moment, she is the most technologically advanced member of our family!)

The kids and grandkids did a little walk through time which featured world events from every decade of her life (1944, 1954, 1964, etc.), including a reading from our Lord of the Rings (1954) fanatic, Maggie; a song from Camelot by Will; a song on the piano by Johanna; and "Stars" from Les Miserables by Sean; all accompanied by John.

Hardly as polished as one of Mom's Broadway Revue shows, but charming in its own way and offered with much love.

The next day, June 1, we celebrated the baptism of my new niece, Leyna.

This is the combined Copeland/Donaldson gang who gathered that day.

Leyna wore the dress Johanna and Evie wore for their baptisms.  Can we call it a family tradition yet?

John had the privilege of baptizing her.

Thank goodness, he got her name right!

Here's my beautiful sister with lovely Leyna. 

We had lunch in Sean and Katie's backyard and had a gorgeous day for being outside and enjoying good food and good fellowship.

So, this was our whirlwind weekend back in The Falls.  Tiring, but oh, so sweet.