Friday, October 26, 2012

Goodbye Peyt's Island... Hello Peyt's Park

The time has come to move forward from the peaceful, serene space called Peyt's Island. It may seem silly to admit I am tearing up about saying goodbye to a silly blog of all things, but those of you who have stuck with me this long know how much heart and soul I have poured into this place. This place very much represents home to me, and sadly, I find that, ready or not, it's time for Peyt's Island to come to an end.

I remember so clearly the first post I wrote. I woke up very early one morning in Guam (jet lagged) and sat on the floor in front of the bed in the hotel room while Nick slept. I clicked away energetically typing out the first paragraphs about our first 24 hours on island. I was so excited to share the initial stories and perceptions of our new home with everyone we were leaving behind. More than anything, I wanted Peyt's Island to become a space where our friends and family felt they could, in some small way, come with us and join us in what was sure to be an unforgettable adventure ahead. Our island did not disappoint and, in fact, far surpassed any expectations we may have had when our feet hit the ground. And Peyt's Island was the place where I tediously and passionately collected each story as it transitioned from current events into sacred memory. It's where a small, faraway island transformed into paradise.

So today, with admittedly far less excitement, I introduce to you Peyt's Park. While not as romantic or exotic a space as Peyt's Island, Peyt's Park will be a place for me to, well, park. Among the many life lessons I learned in Guam, I learned that I love writing for fun and sharing stories about what's going on in my life and in the lives of those I care about. And much like a park, it will be a convenient and simple place in the neighborhood, close to home, for anyone to come and meet me here, just as you are. Together we can catch up, remember the good old days, and share meaningful ideas about whatever the future holds.

So I hope you will consider dropping in at Peyt's Park (or Peyt Spark depending on any scathingly brilliant ideas that happen to emerge). Please bear with me as I try to get excited about life on the East Coast. Paradise is a hard place to leave, but I know it can also, in time, be redefined. I look forward to sharing those discoveries with you.

And who knows, maybe along the way, this new, unfamiliar place will eventually steal my heart as Peyt's Island sure has.

One last order of duty... saying goodbye.

Goodbye, Peyt's Island. You were the place where all my dreams came true. I will not soon forget you, but rather will fold these island epiphanies into the person God continues to lead me to be. For those who have made the journey with me, I owe an enormous heap of thanks. As I say goodbye to these silhouetted palms, I hope to reunite with you all again back on the mainland for more stories and discoveries at Peyt's Park.

Friends, thank you for joining me on this incredible journey! Hope to see you soon at

Friday, October 5, 2012

The lasting gifts of paradise

If there's one thing leaving Guam reiterated, it's how much love we received during our time there from our friends and Guam family. We had two really wonderful going away parties, one from our church and one from our friends in the neighborhood. I received two going away presents that were among the most special of my life. I was completely floored. Twice.

The first party was a complete surprise! I showed up for my last youth group with one of the 8th graders from my street in tow. We walked into the church and there were tables beautifully decorated and a whole bunch of extra people milling about. "Surprise!!"

The sneaky moms in the group came up with the idea to invite the parents and other church members I've worked closely with to have a last meal together and make my last youth group a really special one. I know how much effort it takes to transform our sanctuary into a dining hall and prepare food for 40+ people, so I was pretty humbled by the whole thing. As if the surprise party wasn't enough, they sat me down in a chair and started handing me what seemed like a bazillion little boxes.

As I opened the first set of boxes, it started to sink in what was going on. A chain link bracelet, a charm of Guam, a sea turtle, a latte stone. As I continued to open each box, I found a charm and a note inside each one. Each family had picked out a charm for me and wrote me a sweet note to go along with it. There was a flip flop from the Collins family and a plumeria cross from the Duenas family and a Scuba diving gecko (OOG!) from Noah, one of our 7th graders. Each tiny piece of silver and each note came together to create a beautiful and special charm bracelet to help me remember all of the special people from our LCG family.

Our last Sunday on the island, our friends from the neighborhood and Nick's work threw us a going away party at our friends the Roberts house. I wrote about the party in a recent post, but what I didn't share with you all was the extraordinary going away gift they told me about that day. My amazing, wonderful Guammie friends all got together and published Peyt's Island into a book! Into two books, actually! They told me the volumes were waiting for me at my parents' house in Houston. At that point, I suddenly couldn't wait to get on the plane to go see it!

As soon as we got to town, my parents brought Peyt's Island (the book!!) over to Nick's house. I spent the next few hours pouring over the pages full of the words and pictures and memories that have reflected and molded and grown my soul over the past two years. I couldn't put it down! There were so many obscure posts I had forgotten about... so many pages of discovering our island and trying new things and going new places. So many stories of jungle exploration and sea creature spotting and the extraordinary details of day-to-day island life.

Never in a million years would it have dawned on me to do this for myself. But thanks to Amy, Erin, Erica, Jaime, Kate, Shea, Nicole, Trish, Erika, Lisa, Kristi, Jenny, and Sara, I will forever have this unforgettable experience bound together, page by page, post by post, to look back on whenever my heart longs to return to Peyt's Island. As hard as it was to leave a place I had grown to love to much, my heart is somehow at peace in this transition knowing these stories are mine to take with me in such a tangible way.

So thank you, Guam friends. From the bottom of my heart. I may have written the words and told the stories, but it was all of you who made Peyt's Island such paradise for us. Thank you doesn't seem quite enough to cover such incredible gifts. I hope you all know how truly grateful I will forever be for this time together and for these special gifts to remember it all.