The Adventure Begins!

Earlier this summer, my dad and I randomly started talking about visiting Ventura, CA where my great aunt and uncle live-- it's one of our favorite places! One of my bucket list items for this year was to visit two new states, so I thought it would be awesome if we could take a road trip and knock that off along the way as well.

We mapped out three potential routes we could take, and settled on two of them. One took us through several cities where relatives of ours live, so we decided to make that our route coming home, with the route going out to CA taking us through several states new to me!

Once we checked in with family and friends and everyone was free on the right dates (what are the odds of that?!), we finally committed to making the whole trip a go!

Now, the time has come, and we're off on our big adventure tomorrow!


Follow along on social media with the hashtag #radndadventure if you want to see what we're up to. I'll be back when we're back-- no guarantees on posts from the road :)

The Playlists Your Summer Needs

With all the sun and afternoon thunderstorms and endless hours of daylight, summer just calls for a soundtrack all its own. Thanks to Spotify and having access to basically every song ever, I've been building these playlists over the last few weeks to set the tone for the summer they are! Enjoy! 

For cruising around town with your windows down:

These are the perfect, upbeat, wild, bang on the steering wheel while you dance in your seat like a crazy person kind of songs. They get me going every time, and if I'm not on a country road with my hair blowing in the wind, I want to be.

For a dinner party with friends:

I created this playlist for Yellow Conference and wrote a whole post here about why I picked the songs-- it really is perfect soundtrack for any evening soiree you host or attend this summer!

For those rainy, summer thunderstorm evenings:

This playlist is full of songs that all have storm-related words in the title (think: hurricane, wind, thunder, etc) and they're a great mix of upbeat, mellow, and everything in between.

For when you need to get those chores tackled or that to-do list done:

I swear, nothing gets me into gear like this playlist. It's my go-to for when I need to do laundry or clean my room or just really crank out some work.

For when you just need to relax and unwind (or read and write):

This is my favorite mellow music-- calm and tranquil, but enough melody and lyrics to keep me focused and awake. Really though, I could just listen to Ben Howard or Sleeping At Last for hours and hours and it would make me the most zen person ever.

Happy birthday, America!

Dear America,

Happy official birthday! I'm a big letter writer, so since we're friends, I thought I'd write you a little birthday note.

My family took a six-week road trip up the West Coast in 2004-- best summer adventure of all time. I'll never forget experiencing so much of America like that.

My family took a six-week road trip up the West Coast in 2004-- best summer adventure of all time. I'll never forget experiencing so much of America like that.

I love so much about you, America. I love that you came to life because men fought for freedom and for the things they believed in so much that they did radical things and made crazy moves. I love that you're still alive because men and women are constantly fighting for freedom and the things they believe in. I'll never fully be able to comprehend all of the sacrifices that have been made to keep me safe and free, but I'm deeply grateful for the people who have made and will continue to make them.

I love your beauty. I love the way massive clouds of dust roll over the desert city I grew up in, I love the way saguaro cacti were scattered around every rocky mountain, how mountains surrounded my world on every side and the heat of the day turned into the most vibrant and fiery of sunsets every night. I love the lush greenery of the east coast, the majestic waterfalls of Yosemite, the rolling fields and forests of Yellowstone, the scathing heat of the stark and barren Death Valley, the immensity and peacefulness of the oceans that surround you on two of your edges. I love that I can drive just a few hours and be in a whole new scene that feels nothing like the last. I love your bustling cities, each with such an enchanting personality, all with little pockets representing the countries our ancestors came here from. I love your small towns, your untouched stretches of land, your historic old town main streets and even the suburbs where families are growing up together.

I love that every one of your fifty states is uniquely different in character and I can't wait to explore every one of them. I love that the sounds of the voices around this nation are as diverse as the colors of our skin, that even the ways we speak a common language are different depending on where you are.

I love that everywhere I go, I meet new kinds of people. I don't see a melting pot where everyone is blurring and blending in to one kind, I see a mosaic where all types and kinds and colors come together to unite as the American people.

I love that you are a nation under God. Even when battles rage on and controversies divide us and politics seem to stir up debates daily, I see God at work in this nation. I see God moving, stirring, rising up a generation of passionate believers and kingdom-builders.

I love that you stand for independence, for freedom, for strong beliefs and work ethics, for big dreams and equality. I don't always agree with the decisions made to rule over your people, and I don't always think people in power make the right calls, but I'm grateful to live in a country where I can share my voice and my disagreement and choose to live and worship as I please without fear of death or persecution.

I'm thankful for the life you've given me, America. The times I've spent in other countries have opened my eyes to the very best things about you and also the things I wish we could improve, but I know I'm glad to call you home.

You're full of good people, America. You have a lot of people who live and die for you, and I like that about you. I've spent time in countries where patriotism and pride were hard to find, and even if it's not my style, I love that people are crazy about you. Your people are a rowdy bunch, but they make this place great.

I hope this next year of your life is a wonderful one. I pray that the Lord would wake up eyes and move in hearts and spirits and that the body of Christ would come alive in undeniable ways across this country in the coming months. I pray that your leaders seek You above all fame and power and success. I pray that we work to protect the beauty of your land so it lasts for future generations. I pray that we give glory for the best things about you to the One who made them all. I pray that we would truly be a nation united under God, a nation seeking peace and love and freedom, a nation of all different people living together in harmony despite the things we disagree on.

Today is a day to celebrate freedom, and I'm reminded today that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. We are free in Him, we are free in the USA, and that's something to celebrate.

Happy birthday to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Happy birthday to the United States of America, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. May that be true every day.

Love, one proud American