Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Las Vegas

We are back from our trip to Las Vegas.

All nine of us are here at home together after a week apart!

Here are some photographic highlights of the time out west:

 We had the treat of tagging along with some of BB's coworkers, as they rented a van and explored the not-so-neon-and-plastic scenes to be found near Las Vegas. BB took the above photo while we were exploring Valley of Fire State Park. 

 We perfected our selfie while on this trip. This was one of many times I had to find a place to sit for a minute - we walked a lot in all our field-tripping that day!

 Here's another amazing photo by BB of the dry, rugged beauty in the State Park.

 Loved the layers of color here

Some rocks in the park had graceful, circular places worn out of their surfaces. The information we read said they believe the carved out spots are where the desert wind has blown away the softer, sandier parts of the sandstone.

I would have loved to have climbed these rocks. And the kids would've had a blast clambering over them - so many hand-holds and hiding spots!

Our time away that day also included lunch together at a fun mom-and-pop diner where BB and I shared a very satisfying piece of pie with ice cream.

We also got to visit Hoover Dam and the fairly-recently finished highway that now spans the space above the river. Both the dam and the new bridge are just staggering in their enormity.

 I got to add a state to my Been There list: Arizona. The state line runs up the middle of the river, so you get to walk out of Nevada and into Arizona while you check out the dam.

The Dam was completed in 1936. There's a lot of beautiful art deco style to be seen all around, including this statue, one of a pair at a monument dedicated to those who lost their lives building the dam.

It was a long, fun, exhausting day in the sun. One of BB's coworkers had an app that was tracking our number of steps - I think it was near 20,000 steps we'd taken once the day was done. It was worth it!

Meanwhile, back in Vegas, we did take a spin on a new-ish attraction, their 550-foot tall High Roller, aka Ferris Wheel. That was a lot of fun, too. It was cool to see the strip and outskirts of town from so high up! Each pod can carry up to 40 people, they say. I was glad ours only had about 10 riders.

 There was a little seating in each of the pods. The ride lasts about 30 minutes, so it was nice to have the option of sitting or walking around.

 Looking down at Las Vegas

Check out the ceiling inside parts of our hotel. Very convincing fake cloudy skies. Beautiful!

And I almost forgot: we took a walk to the Bellagio on our last night, so that we could see their famous water-fountain-light-and-music show. We were not disappointed! It is free - people just gather around the perimeter of the large pond in front of the hotel, and every 15 minutes or so, a new show starts. It was startlingly beautiful - graceful, powerful, poetry. We stood for an hour there. My body complained about this later, but again, very worth it.

The time away together was restful and quiet. We were able to have some great, needed conversations and do some thinking together.

And I did some thinking alone, of course, during the hours BB was at the conference in the daytime. I've been thinking about what I can or should do in order to become more disciplined and skilled in my writing.

One big, lingering impression on my heart before, during, and since this getaway has to do with "snapshots," which was a word we used in therapy to mark moments that ought to be noted. I've not been able to get away from the vast difference between life as it was three years ago when I got to travel to this same conference with BB, and my life today.

Snapshot of three-years-ago me was of a very overwhelmed, stretched, stressed mom of six. I cried for a lot of the time away in Las Vegas that year. I needed to. It was good to have the space for that, and I'm so grateful to the Lord He provided that restful break at just the right time. I was really about to snap and just did not understand how to live day-to-day or how to parent my transitioning, adjusting family.

Of course, it's not that I don't feel overwhelmed, stretched and stressed at times these days, as mom of nearly-eight, but as we prepared for this trip and enjoyed the time away, I had such a sense of confidence and ease and peace, because the Lord has brought me, brought our family through so many struggles and hard times and it's wonderful to say that in this season, we are enjoying some of the strength and fruit that have resulted from wrestling through and having our hearts enlarged, made stronger, and made wiser, more capable by the Lord.

I thank Him and praise Him for the dark days, the painful struggles, and the hard work He chose for us; and I am delighting in the other side, thanking Him for this contrast, this journey, this progress.

I hope and pray it has informed and grown my faith, as inevitable dark days and struggles undoubtedly lie before us down the road. Maybe it can encourage you in your path, especially if you are facing circumstances that you can't make sense of, or situations that you feel are going to take you down...

God's purpose is good. He makes no mistake. There is fruit and light coming. There is the more Christ-like you, who will glorify Him more and more. And nothing ever will separate me or you from His love.

A couple more pictures, last but not least:

We got to see ancient Indian petroglyphs while at Valley of Fire State Park. It was fascinating to see the different symbols and pictures they carved into the orange rock.

And look, there's a a happy couple, holding hands!

(and perhaps some of their children, too? Made me smile.)

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