Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Choose Joy Weekend

A few weeks ago my family took a weekend trip, and it was so wonderful that I just have to share it with you! In January there was a Choose Joy book signing in Sioux City, Iowa. I live too far away from most book signing events to be able to attend, but this one wasn't too far away! Will said he could take me. 

I was very excited about it, but as the day drew nearer I kept wondering if I should actually go. I was so tired, and I knew that the trip would set me back and make it even harder to recover from Christmas. In the end I decided to go anyway. I knew that it would cost a lot physically, but I also knew that I would regret it if I didn't go. So we packed and planned and prepared. And we traveled to Sioux City, Iowa for two nights. It was a wonderful time away. It was a weekend for choosing joy, escaping the house, having fun, and dealing with the consequences later. I have spent the past three weeks recovering, but it was worth it!

"I choose the joy. I choose the conversation, the relationships, the breeze and the sunshine. And I especially choose the French fries." - Sara Frankl

During my Choose Joy Weekend I kept thinking about Sara and her quote, "I especially choose the French fries." It was a physically taxing weekend, but I determined to choose the joy, the relationships, the conversations, and the fun. And I chose the French fries twice!

Rachel, Adelaide, William

The day before we left on our trip I had an IV to help me make it through the weekend. During our trip I put on a lot of make up so that I wouldn't look so tired in pictures. I still felt tired, weak, and exhausted, but at least I didn't look like it!

Eating supper at Chick-fil-A!

One of the best things about visiting Sioux City is that they have a Chick-fil-A! We had supper there on Friday night, and I chose the waffle fries. :)

Meeting Mary Carver at the Choose Joy book signing

On Saturday afternoon I went to the Choose Joy book signing, and I got to meet Mary Carver, who co-authored the book with Sara Frankl. Mary blogs at Giving Up on Perfect and is a contributing author at (in)courage. It was a delight to meet her and have her sign my book. She was just as sweet and kind as could be.

riding a carousel with William and Adelaide

Earlier that morning while I was sleeping in, Will had taken the children to walk around the mall. Adelaide came back at noon excited to tell me about the carousel in the mall. She asked me to ride it with her, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ride a carousel again. So after the book signing that afternoon, we went to the mall, and I rode the carousel with my children. It was fun to get to do something so normal with them, but the ride itself was not entirely pleasant...

riding a carousel with William and Adelaide

What you can see is a moment of pure joy and delight with my children. What you cannot see is that I was dizzy, nauseated, and struggling to sit upright, and it hurt to sit on a carousel horse. But I chose the joy. I chose to have fun in the moment and pay for it later. I rode the carousel because my dear daughter asked me to. It is a memory we will always cherish.

Rachel and Laura

The biggest highlight of the weekend was spending over two hours with Sara's sister, Laura. The moment when online friendship steps into real life is a beautiful thing. Laura and I talked and talked, sharing about our lives and about our sweet Sara. I never had the opportunity to meet Sara in real life, but I heard about her hugs. Shannon said that Sara "hugged so tight that you never wanted to let her go." And Laura hugs the exact same way!

Adelaide, Will, and William at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor

On our way back home on Sunday afternoon we drove through Le Mars, Iowa, the Ice Cream Capital of the World. So of course we had to stop at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor!

Rachel and Adelaide at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor

Adelaide and I wore our houndstooth scarves, which was fun. It was the first time we had worn them together outside of the house.

Winter Fields in Iowa

As we finished our drive home, I enjoyed looking out the window and taking pictures of the fields. It was wonderful to escape the house for a few days and see the outdoors. The time away with my family was special, and meeting new friends was such a treat. I have had a lot of hard days in the past six weeks, and the Choose Joy Weekend was a bright spot in the midst of it all. It has taken me a few weeks to recover, but I'm glad I went. The whole weekend was overwhelmingly wonderful. It is a memory that I will always treasure.

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