Sunday, October 20, 2013

Phoenix rising.

Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore
Last week, I watched the sunrise over the New England coast – this morning I watched it peek over the poolside palm trees in Arizona. I could write about it but at this point, my thoughts would read more like a TripAdvisor review than anything else…

No, really. I’m kind of in love with this place. Madly.  And just last night, room service delivered chocolate covered strawberries and a note to let me know the feeling is mutual.

The impending break-up is going to be tough…

The thoughts do not run deep when I’m grasping to take in beauty that I haven’t seen before. Bewildered awe begets few words.

And so, I watch the sunrise reflecting onto the Phoeniz mountain preserves in the distance, behind the grounds of the resort.

In silence.

And all I can think of here in the middle of the Phoenix sunrise, is the proverbial, mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes.

And my own life, rising still – amidst the rubble and ruins and ashes.

And I realize that this rising restoration, just like the sunrise isn’t the end of our story; it’s only a new

And so, for today, I'm somewhat wordless and as I struggle to find the words, the only ones that come arrive in the form of lyrics on repeat in my head.

And so I’ll let my words be few…
“You are God in heaven
And here am I on earth
So I’ll let my words be few
Jesus, I am so in love with You
And I’ll stand in awe of You, Jesus
Yes, I’ll stand in awe of You
And I’ll let my words be few
Jesus, I am so in love with You
The simplest of all love songs
I want to bring to You, oh yeah
So I’ll let my words be few, hey
Jesus, I am so in love with You
And I’ll stand in awe of You, Jesus
Yes, I’ll stand in awe of You
And I’ll let my words be few
Jesus, I am so in love with You”
Phillips Craig & Dean lyrics

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Photography Gallery

a link to my online photography gallery is here: 

This.  This is the chasing after beauty... 
and catching it.  ;)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Waiting on the sun to rise... and other musings from the road.

Waiting on the sun - Cape Ann - Rockport, MA 10/9/13

I’m on the plane home from my bucket list/business trip to New England. The lost rental car key fiasco now long behind me, I turned my second rental in without incident… Although, I still find myself checking for the keys at least one every fifteen seconds or so.
I’ve already completely freaked out on more than one occasion, as if there’s some sort of delay between the searching and remembering that I’m not responsible for those keys – or any keys in particular at the moment.
This was my solution for most of the trip…


I have a confession to make, although it’s really more of a fact than it is a confession: often times, I have a smallish cocktail at the airport prior to boarding the plane. I just do. It’s not that I’m scared of flying – I’m really not. No, it’s just more that the notion of flying has the tendency to sway my mental frame of mind from that of pragmatic logic to a sort of prolonged, silent panic.
 In those moments between boarding and reaching cruising altitude, while everyone else is busily chatting or texting or thumbing through the latest skymall magazine, I’m sitting upright, deathgripping the armrests of my seat, eyes closed trying to pray while my brain is suggesting that we recount every detail of every major commercial airliner crash of the twentieth century instead.
So yea, I’m just saying - it helps with that. Or at least I like to think that it does.
Swiping through my Instagram images, I’ve decided I should self-publish my own little photojournalistic book of my collective travels. I think I’ll call it How not to lose your rental car keys… or something like that. I’ve decided that it will have to be more photographs and fewer words, because as much as I’d love to spend all of my free time writing when I travel, more often than not I find myself speechless, utterly wordless, taking in all that surrounds me.
Yea, this trip was like that.
Words aren’t really requisite for describing the beauty of New England in the fall. Even the photographs fail to do justice. It’s one of those things you have to see and feel for yourself.
I hadn’t been on a solo trip in a long time – as long as I can remember, in fact. And though I had meetings interspersed among scenic routes, I stopped along the way to take photographs. I explored coastal towns on foot, ate my lunches and dinners alone and watched every sunrise and sunset that I could. Taking it all in one step, one photograph and one breath full of sea salty air at a time.
I don’t know where to begin to write about it all. It moved me and the words will come in time, like aftershocks reverberating from within. Eventually, they will have to spill out. They always do.
The coastal town of Rockport was my favorite. I was only there for one night and when the sun had disappeared my vantage point, I’d chased it in my car all the way down to the port, capturing it just before it disappeared into the westward horizon. It was pure adrenaline. “This”, I thought, “is my fix” … or “my jam” as my friend Amy would say. This rushing after the beauty – and capturing it.
That night, I could hardly sleep with anticipation of the morning. From my room at the inn, I could hear the waves lapping and lashing onto the rocky coast and the sound of wind lightly howling between my door and the exterior screen door. It was far past midnight, but I was wide awake. I tried reading, and counting sheep, and reading some more, and at last, literally praying for sleep to come…
I’d set my alarm for 6 knowing that sunrise was at exactly 6:48. As soon as it sounded, I hurriedly dressed and began to walk the road winding in front of the inn. I knew I’d need to walk around a bend to be facing fully east. I knew because I’d used my compass.
Yea, I was serious about pursuing this sunrise.
I found the perfect spot on some rocks down below the road and carefully stepped onto them, finally settling on one that looked the most comfortable for sitting.
And I waited.
And waited.
And waited some more.
Had I always been so impatient?
Just last night, I’d literally chased it down and now here I am, in the cold predawn hours alone on the coast of northern Massachusetts, just waiting for it.
Yea, life’s like that.
And you know, it’s always in those moments that you know, there has to be a lesson in this. Isn’t this the ways of our Lord? Always reaching, always teaching..
I thought of how many times I’ve chased down things of my own will, of my own accord, and on my own terms.
How many times I’d chased the wrong things because I was so unwilling to wait, so ridiculously impatient.
At exactly 6:46, I positioned my camera, looking through the lens. The next two minutes seemed to last as along as the previous twenty. And at 6:47, the eastern sky came alive with color, taking the night captive – and my breath away. At 6:48, the first rays of bright light peeked over the horizon and though my camera was perfectly positioned, I was no longer peering through its lens.
In that moment, it was as though the while thing was just for me. All of it.

Sometimes, we are called to pursue, to chase after His calling, His purpose, His beauty.  Sometimes, we are called to wait.  Sometimes, we are called to simply be still and know... that He is God.  (Psalm 46:10)
And still, as faithful as the rising sun is the faithful Son – whose will is always accomplished, in His perfect timing.
Learn to wait on the sun. And on The Lord.
“Wait patiently for the Lord. 
Be brave and courageous. 
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
~ Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bucket lists, sunsets and random misadventures ...

Cape Ann - Rockport, MA 10/8/13  © Nadia Wilder

For some time now, I've thought that perhaps I should've been a travel photojournalist.  It would've been the one career path that combined three of my great loves: travel, writing and photography.  

And then I went on this sort of bucket list trip to New England... 

I say "sort of" as it was one part weekend wedding, two part weekday business and a distant third part bucket list trip.  I've always wanted to visit New England in the fall and it has, in every way, exceeded how beautiful I'd imagined it to be.

No really, every random street pretty much looks like a postcard...  
See?  ... Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA 10/5/13

I literally took a photograph of a local Family Dollar store earlier today because it was so ridiculously nostalgic.  Cute, even.

I sat on the edge of the rocks to take the photograph (on the top of this post) this afternoon.  The wind was fiercely whipping my hair into my face and the smell of salt was so strong in the air, I could literally taste it.  The sun was slowly fading into the west and the last few rays seemed to bend and reach upwards and outwards across the horizon, painting the sky with strokes of pink.  It was breathtaking, in exactly the kind of way I'd always expected a fall evening in a New England coastal town to be.  

It was one of those moments.  You know, where every misstep and misadventure up until this point felt so worth it all.  It seemed it should've been one of those profound moments that I heard from the Lord or had some sort of epiphany... And yet, the one pervasive thought that kept repeating incessantly was: 

Do I know where my keys are?

Followed closely by:

Yes - they're attached to your wrist.  Still.  Just like they were fifteen seconds ago when you last checked.  And the five seconds before that.

If you were to ask me how one manages to lose keys to a rental car, I'd tell you I have absolutely no idea.  Then I'd probably also tell you that it's an entirely possible scenario which may or may not have left me stranded on the cape for an entire afternoon while I waited five hours - yes, I said five - for the rental car company to tow - yesI said tow - a new car to me.

I watched, in mesmerized confusion, as they then loaded and towed the keyless car away.  Which is the most ridiculous thing ever.  Do these people not keep spares?  I digress, that's an entirely other post, scathing review and strongly worded letter to the folks at Budget.  Folks from whom I will never ever rent another car from ever again as long as I live.  Never.  Ever.

In the span of one stranded afternoon, I'd suddenly morphed from solo traveler/adventurer to helpless, stranded tourist.  My friends having all left to return home from the wedding, I was scheduled to begin the solo leg of my journey.  I had planned to take my time driving up the coast that afternoon.  Instead, I ended up wandering the streets of Falmouth like a vagabond.  A vagabond with a really nice camera...

It was there, hours later, in the parking lot of the inn that I succumbed to the sobering reality that any travel photography books of mine would be less beautiful landscapes and a lot of pictures like this....  

My new rental arriving - Falmouth, MA 10/7/13

They towed the keyless rental away along with the notion that I could've, should've, would've been a really great travel writer... Yes, anything I write about travels will have to be more or less tales of what not to do, which - let's face it - isn't all that much different from my writing about life in general.  

It was a slight consolation that I actually like the new car better.  I thought, for a brief moment when I first caught a glimpse of the tow truck pulling it in from the side view that someone had messed up and sent an Audi.  I was ecstatic.  Until I realized it was a Kia.  But still, it is a really awesome Kia.  The Optima is where it's at.  

Seriously, I may buy a Kia just like it when I get home...

And so tonight, I used that Kia to chase down the sunset.  

It was fading fast on this end of Cape Ann and I raced northward along the coast hoping to reach another turn that would allow another vantage across the water.  A couple of lucky turns in the dusk and I caught it down at the wharf in Rockport.

I stood breathless in the freezing wind as if I'd chased the sun with my feet rather than my rented Kia and took this photograph...

Sunset at the wharf -Rockport, MA 10/8/13

And in that moment, I didn't think about my keys, not the ones I lost nor the ones attached to my wrist.  I didn't think about the heel I lost today on the brick sidewalk in town.  I didn't think about the wrong turns I've taken on this trip - or in this life.  

I just thought for a moment, how I'd chased the setting sun, relentlessly - just to catch a glimpse of its beauty, His beauty - the skies proclaiming it with every sunset and sunrise. 

I thought of how thankful I am that He instilled in me this love for photographs - the ones that tell His story, the beauty of His creation; and this love for words, the ones that tell His story, even through my messes and middle places and missteps and random misadventures.

And then I thought of the Father's relentless pursuit of me.  

All to reveal the beauty of His grace and redemption to me.  

He sought me.  And bought me.  And I'm so thankful that He caught me.  

"Yes, You were there, I know. . . . How ever far and fast I’ve run, still over my shoulder I’d catch a glimpse of You on the horizon, and then run faster and farther than ever, thinking triumphantly: Now I have escaped. But no, there You were, coming after me. . . . " -Malcolm Muggeridge

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.” - Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

Friday, October 4, 2013

In the Middle of Restoration

Several of my friends welcomed their second babies this week and my newsfeed was flooding with images like the one above, reminding me of this day – the day we became a family of four.
Chloe, just twenty-two months old at the time, marched right into the hospital room with her Nana, clad in her “big sister” shirt and matching bright, polka dotted bow, with her purse on her shoulder and said, “Hi Mommy!  Hi Daddy!  Ooooh, hii Baby Paka!” 
She crawled up onto the bed and laid her eyes on her little brother, forever changing the dynamic of our family – and our hearts.  In those moments she transformed from the baby in our family to the big sister… and a second mama of sorts.
Kids are like that, you know – so astoundingly adaptable.  She immediately embraced her God-given role, even as I was still struggling to grasp hold of my own...
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