Thank you Lord!
Close your eyes with me. Ok, not really with me considering I’m the one typing,just pretend I’m with you. Inhale,exhale you are outside in a wooded area. You hear all sorts of sounds. Some are familiar but many are new to you. Inhale the peaceful smell of an area untouched by human manipulation. Exhale the busyness of life. Just breathe for a while. Don’t count your breaths or let your mind wonder to anything but this moment. The flying bugs surround you,there might be a snake that slithers by(don’t worry just breathe), if you were to open your eyes you’d see a doe and it’s fawn across the way,and all around you are the many shades of brown and green. Open your eyes and take a look around. Ah it’s a breath taking sight isn’t it?
Friend when was the last time you were outside? I’m not talking about simply walking from your car to go into the grocery store or taking a walk on a side walk. I mean when was the last time you were REALLY REALLY outside? If you’re anything like me before my trip to Kansas,Missouri,and Oklahoma it had been a while. In fact it has been so long I had forgotten completely how much my entire being longs to be outside with the sun shining down deep into my soul. The touch of flush pink on my cheeks and the kind of sweat that just smells right as my perfume. Maybe you’re reading this thinking I’ve gone completely bananas. That maybe so but at least I’d be outside with the monkeys!
Recently the opportunity came to go visit my friends and family in Kansas and Missouri. Often times I just lump both states together and say I went to Kansas City because in all truth I don’t have a “home town” and where my parents currently live hasn’t ever been my home. I’m so thankful I get to call it home while I’m there. On my trip two of my best friends took on planning how we’d spend our time without telling me. The entire time was like one big surprise after another. We stayed with my friend Monica’s parents which is a home nestled in the woods at the top of a hill. Every time we head up the steep drive I A. Fear we are going to go rolling backwards and B. Kind of just feel at home. I don’t know why but I just do. I suppose it’s just one of those things.
Like I said, everything was planned by Monica and Lana. Oh how they know how to have fun! We headed to a safari zoo ran by some rather Eccentric people that are crazy about animals. As we drove a long we stopped at the Little House Museum. I’ll tell you what! My entire childhood dreams were fulfilled in that moment and I remembered why I love Kansas so much. It’s not a big place but it had a big impact on my trip! Being outside exploring the schoolhouse,post office,little log home,barn,and gift shop really relit the fire I had for so long to live a “different way”. Yes I’m a romantic at heart. I could almost remember the feeling I had while working on the farms in the spring,summer,and fall of 2012&2013. I could smell the soil around me and feel God surrounding me in the way of His many creations. I wonder will I ever have a farm? How is it a person can have so many desires in life?
After being ripped away from the romanticized life of Laura Ingalls Wilder we headed back down the road to the safari zoo. Let’s just say that the zoo did not disappoint. As we entered, it honestly looked like a waste of time. Soon it became very apparent it was worth every penny and then some! This little zoo packs a big punch when it comes to what you get to see. Lions,and tigers,and bears OH MY was an awesome treat but alligators, lemurs,and kangaroos were there too! Possibly my favorite part was the up close view we got. Every cage was hand built by the owner. When you talk about blood,sweat,and tears going into something you soon realize just how true the owners and volunteers know that all too well. This safari zoo is held together literally by prayer and donations. My untrained Eye could tell that these animals were being well taken care of. I’d highly recommend this stop if you’re looking for a road trip.
After 2.5 hours at the zoo the next stop was the Pioneer Woman mercantile and restaurant. When I say the food was worth waiting outside for 30 minutes in the hot sun I mean it whole heartedly. The place was crazy crowded but I hardly even cared because the food was amazing! I ordered the county fried steak and mashed potatoes. I couldn’t pass up a strawberry lemonade at the price of $1.25! Just the night before I had paid $3.75 for a mediocre limeade at a fancy restaurant ( don’t get me started on that one). From friendly service to a huge gift shop this place exceeded expectations. I have been a long time fan of Ree’s cookbooks. Like think way before her TV was a thing and she only had one book out! My foodie-ish stomach was satisfied.
This is where my heart began to burst. How could we not at least attempt to find Ree’s home even just to take a peek? We meandered along and finally found it. Ok woo who! What happened next really just had to be experienced to understand but I’ll try. The drive around the many ranches was breathtaking. Rolling hill after hill with the sun setting like molasses dripping from a spoon, it was the moment I fell in love with Oklahoma as well as Kansas. We happened upon a little mirror like Creek that we just HAD to stop and enjoy! As I exited the car Monica said “Hey Nicci there is a doe and her fawn!” I almost died of happiness right then and there! So much beauty in such an unexpected place was overwhelming in a wonderful kind of way. If I could of bottled that moment for the rest of my life, I would. However life rolls on just as the grassy green hills of Oklahoma and there is more stunning moments to experience and I’m ok with that too.
The next day I got to experience one of those life moments. It was a little…or a lot depending on who you ask…stretching. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go kayaking and unbeknownst to my gal pals that’s what they planned! So after a swim in the lake we headed to check something off of my bucket list. This is the point that I should let you know that I’m a big fat chicken. As in like I ain’t even afraid of using the chicken exit anymore because I’m terrified of new things that are outside of my control. So sitting in the kayak screaming “Get me out I can’t do this anymore I’m done”, my friends literally pushed me and my boat into the lake. I saw before my eyes the scene where Anne of Anne of Green Gables is laying in the boat and it fills with water. Sure it turned out well for her but as far as I could see, there wasn’t a Gilbert Blithe to save me! After a while it got more comfortable and I can say with certainty that I’d do it again. The next time omitting the freak out. What would I do with amazing friends that don’t allow my fear to hold me back? They know just when and how much to push me so I can fly…or sail on my own. I’m one blessed woman!
This was all just the first part of my trip. It really inspired me to remember to connect with the earth ( in a non hipster way). I believe in nature is where our creator can easily be found. So long ago when I moved out to Ohio I lost my connection with being among the wild things. Something I had cultivated for two years before. I don’t know how I can pick up and start that connection again with an indoor job and no reason to actually be outside. I trust that opportunity will find me if I bring it before my Father.
What do you enjoy doing outside? How do you make time to be among the breeze of the day and the bugs that live unnoticed? I’d love to hear your suggestions!
PS.We also painted ceramics! That was a super fun way to see each of our unique creativity!