About hopesquires

I've left behind the daily grind to write full time and to figure out what my own flourishing tree looks like. I'd love to help you flourish and grow along the way, so that you, too, can cultivate a life that pleases God.

Road trip across America: A memorial for Holy Week

Oklahoma City marked our midway point of the trip from California to North Carolina. So it feels appropriate, here in the middle of Holy Week, that I share with you a memorial that carries its visitors from horror to hope. After all, that’s what Holy Week is all about: a walk through the horrors of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion to the hope of Easter’s empty tomb.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial sits at the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and serves as a reminder of the unspeakable terror that, on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people, including children who attended a daycare on the building’s second floor. The memorial is somber and serene, a way to honor those lost and to remind us all that life continues.

9:01 marks the moment before the explosion.

A reflecting pool leads across from the 9:01 gate to the 9:03 gate, a time that marked the moment when healing would have to begin.

A field of empty chairs, nine rows for the nine floors of the building, with smaller chairs for the children killed.

The small chairs for the children were the hardest for me to see, especially for the same last names on some of the chairs and the knowledge of what that meant for those children’s surviving families.

The Survivor Tree still stands, and though not yet blooming when we visited, it has just recently begun its springtime renewal.

I recommend watching a video of the outdoor grounds of the memorial, whether you are planning a visit in person or simply want to make a virtual visit. You can also follow the memorial on Twitter (@OKCNM), where they have just this morning tweeted an update on the Survivor Tree.

I’ll leave off today with a wish for your journey toward Easter to leave you filled with hope.

Road trip across America: Piedras Marcadas Canyon

Each day of the journey from California to North Carolina, I tried to plan at least one beautiful or interesting stop. From the Grand Canyon, we drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to spend the night. I wanted to find a good place to walk the dog that next morning and spent the evening sleuthing on the internet.

Early in the morning, I headed to Piedras Marcadas Canyon, part of the Petroglyph National Monument. I had seen petroglyphs before in Hawaii but wasn’t sure what to expect at this park. The park website led me directly to a small parking area. From there, the dog and I took off for an easy walk. The park offers a few helpful signs, and once I knew what to look for, I could see petroglyphs on a number of rocks.

Can you see the moon and the faces?

The view looking back into Albuquerque filled me with peace and made me wish my mom had joined us for the walk.

It’s a beautiful spot to spend a few quiet minutes, and though the park site suggests an hour and a half to walk the area, the trail is sandy and easy to walk, and you could spend less time if you don’t need to find all 300 petroglyphs. We encountered only a few other people, also out walking their dogs, and only one other native to the canyon.

Posing for me? Or more likely trying to hide from my dog.

Have you seen petroglyphs before? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience and what you thought about them.

There are a lot of wonderful places to see in this country. Get out and explore it, y’all!

Road trip across America: The grandest stop

My mom, the dog, and I made it home to North Carolina after almost a week of driving. We took the southern route across, driving I-40. Each day, we tried to see at least one fun or amazing thing. The first big stop was the grandest (and also my favorite): the Grand Canyon.

Though pictures don’t do justice, and, quite frankly, neither do words, here are three photographs from our visit there. We arrived in the dark and woke up in the park.

The first shot I took as we reached the rim

That white stuff you see in the foreground of the photo above? Yep, it’s snow. The bitter wind and cold made it hard to linger, but the beauty made it hard to leave.

Below, you can see people to give a bit of perspective. I think you really have to see it for yourself, though.

The morning was quiet and cold, with just a few visitors braving the elements to visit the rim.

Look closely, and you just might glimpse the Colorado River.

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?

The long road home

Three years and three months ago (almost to the day), I stopped along the Blue Ridge Parkway to take this picture. I thought it would be my dog’s last time seeing this beautiful view. She loves to ride in the car, and she loves the mountains—almost as much as I do.

She’ll be fourteen this year, and though she can no longer hop up into the wayback of my car, I’m thrilled to be bringing her home. Would you pray for safe travels for my mom, my dog, and me as we head home?

A final love letter to the river

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I anticipate additional frenzy for another few weeks as our move back across the country happens. I’m saying goodbye to the river this week, along with all the birds and other wildlife the river attracts.

To say goodbye—even typing these words—brings a lump to my throat and the threat of tears. I have loved this place: the American River and its banks. And the river’s last surprise for me (one I first shared with you in January) has brought some of my most cherished memories:

The sea lion visits the river by the fish hatchery.

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