Wild Wild West

Well howdy there. G and I have been out traveling, doing what we called our Wild West Tour.

With Corona virus still raging through the country, closing international borders, we thought we would use our time to do some in-country travel. We’ve missed the West, our family and our kids. Since the Hood to Coast Relay was ALSO cancelled, we thought we’d head to the sunset side of the country a little earlier than the late August trip we had planned.

We started off making our first stop in Denver, CO. We will come back around to this at a later date. Denver was also our last stop before returning East, because honestly, we just can’t get enough of that Rocky Mountain area. Both G and I have always had a “thing” with the area, so it’s always fun when we can have some extended time there.

Good Morning Tetons
Day before I finish GVRAT

We wandered our way through the Tetons in Wyoming and Yellowstone in Montana after leaving Colorado. Making note that the Teton glaciers will definitely be in the running for our next long backpacking trip.

Can’t be in Coeur d’Alene and not hike Mineral

Second on our list was Big Sky, Montana. We love it! It’s always been a favorite ski area with our family and when we lived in Minneapolis, it was a trip we took often to get some nice, steep, slopes loaded with fresh pow! It’s just stunning all times of the year. I was working through my mileage to finish off the GVRAT 1000k (and now continuing back across, because I’m a glutton for punishment a lover of running) I chose to finish my 1000k on our last day in Big Sky. Waking up on the mountain, with Lone Peak, still with it’s snowy patches, out our window, just stoked our mountain running love affair. The air was crisp, clear and filled with the scent of evergreen forest. The trails were buffed and soft with pine needles and it made those last few miles an absolutely perfect finishline.

The Finish Line of 1000k
Searching for breath in the thinner air.

We soaked in the mountain vibes, sat outside drinking fabulous Montana beer and just really took in the enormity of those western ranges.

It’s a funny thing, our love of the mountains. I remember when we lived in MN and would take our ski trips to Montana, the anguish my soul felt when we would leave. I’d often be sobbing and it would take the ache days to go away, once we returned to the Mid West. It’s like something in the fabric of our lives was off. Our DNA was made to be steep and it’s why a lot of our trips have always been through hiking and climbing big mountains. With G growing up in the mountains of Northern Idaho and me in Northern California, it is just wound into our pneuma. So it was no surprise when I got that first glimpse of the Rockies and started to cry. Actually I take that back, it WAS a surprise, because since being in NC, we have spent A LOT of time in the mountains. Almost every weekend, hiking, climbing and running and have loved every single second of it. But something inside me broke and I was left longing.

Our time in Denver and Big Sky went by too quickly. We drank in the mountain air, literally. I remember running and saying to G “I can actually draw in huge, full, gulps of air” which if you’re living in the south right now, you have no idea what I mean…. or you do, and are looking forward to fall/winter running when the air isn’t thick and oppressive and slapping you in the face when you step outside. I LOVE humidity, but not when I’m running. I think in a perfect world it would be humid for morning dog walking, firefly watching and porch-sitting and crisp and arid at the perfect time for my daily runs. But for now, I’ll have to deal with the daily beat-down of humid, hot air that constantly assaults me while I run.

Distance like a Grizzly and wash like a Raccoon

When we got to Idaho and Coeur d’Alene it was full-steam-ahead with a steady stream of visits with family and friends. It’s hard living somewhere so long, and coming back as a visitor. You know your time is limited and we always try to stretch it out anyway we can, but it’s never enough. Now looking back, we wish we would’ve stayed longer, since we weren’t really on any schedule. We had fun acting like tourists in a town that is so close to our hearts. Running with our kids at English Point, hiking Tubbs, Mineral Ridge and Lost Man Trail all made it to the top of our list. We had fun watching our Goldie-girl realize she was back where she had learned and trained to run trails with us. Her old stomping grounds.

We were able to see friends who now live in AZ that were back in ID visiting their kids. God had impeccable timing. We were so grateful.

I know one thing; solid friends are solid friends and no matter the distance we are separated by now, when we walk into their homes, sit in their back yards having dinner, and picking up right where we left off on our last visit home, it’s magical! Unchanged and constant in my life, they are my sisters and are such gifts to me.

The time we had with our own kids flew by. We always want one more day. Always. I think that’s the way it is for parents. We raise such independent kids, who grow, and fly off and we are so proud, honored and satisfied with the jobs we did raising them and of their accomplishments and then the go and be adults, and you’re left with with the want of “one more day.” G and I feel fortunate to be able to see our kids often, even on the other side of the country. But no matter the time, the yearning of one more day is always present.

I think Covid has us all revisiting what’s important. G and I have really been talking about this a lot. This pandemic, as terrible as it has been, has also given us all the time to stop and redefine some things. To bring into focus what’s most important. To see things differently and with more clarity. To appreciate, recognize and discover what is paramount for us. It’s brought things that may have been in the back of our minds to the forefront and has made them more acute and pivotal. It’s has us both listening so raptly to that Still, Small, Voice. Waiting patiently, and watchfully. It has turned our prayer life upside down and has driven it to a whole new depth. It has made us both keenly and profoundly aware of some goals and dreams that may have slipped to the back of the lineup, that seem to have new breath being inflated into them. We recently had sweet friends that after years and years living out of the country, decide to come back, saying Covid and a recent birthday really put some things into perspective with a new angle and outlook. Has it had this effect on you? Has it brought around a new vibrancy and newness to chapters you’ve maybe left half read? Has it spurred some new passions that maybe you’ve shelved for a later time? Take the book down off of the shelf, dust off the cobwebs and crack its weary spine open. What do you see?

I think it’s in most of our natures to grow. I also think for some, the thought of growth or change can be paralyzing. I think Covid has either nudged or downright pushed some entirely out of their comfort zone.

For G and I we use our time in the mountains for prayer, reflection and to bust ourselves out of stagnation. We are most inspired on long hiking trips. We have some of our best conversations either hiking or sitting in the ocean on our surfboards. Maybe it’s the thin air and altitude, but more likely it’s the place that’s the most quiet where we hear the voice of God. We are both pretty content people, but are both constantly seeking to evolve. We have been gifted in knowing when and when not to make a move unless we both feel a prompting. Things tend to be disastrous when we put our own plans before God’s plans for us, but we ALWAYS see how even in the confusion and jumbled disarray we can sometimes step into, God works things out for the best. It’s such a comfort to us, having that faith.

Beautiful Coeur d’Alene
This was her back yard for the first three years of life. Happy Doggo

The mountains give us a great escape from the noise and chaos. They are simple. Their scents and sounds, Fauna and Flora provide us soul-blanketing relief. They make us feel small and for me, like a young child.

Their balm was so welcome on this trip.

Make Room

Sitting in the sunshine on a misty beach one morning after a run, I am filming a video for my hubs. It’s been 6 weeks since we’ve seen one another face to face. Our plans for reuniting, fugacious.

I’m in my natural position for prayer...meaning I’m breathing, alive.
I’m on a daily quest for the Spirit to move in me regarding my Word for the Year; PURPOSE.
My walk, expectant. My eyes, upward. My heart, wide open.
I’ve had a great season in Costa Rica and also had the opportunity to fly up to Guatemala to spend some time. What an incredible country! It just drove home in me our love for culture and travel and people and an appreciation for this wide world of experience and chance and imaginings. I pray we never lose our sense of playfulness for adventuring and shenanigans. It’s one on a list of a million things that bonded us as a young 20-something couple, and as we age, I continually pray God’s favor on our health and an everlasting enthusiasm to traverse the globe.
But this morning, as I soak in a few moments of sunshine, I know it’s time to return to the sticky, hot of the South. Leaving one appreciation and devotion for another. One palm-treed, golden sand beach for the city, foodie delights, white sand beaches, and mountains to climb.
I talk this morning, post sent video, to my hubs and we get a ticket home for a couple of days later. Just enough time for those last-minute cocktails, dinners, hugs, and to get packed.
Is there anything better than a homecoming? Both here and there. Trading the friend-filled nights of delicious, home-cooked vegan food, wine, laughter and reunion with the open arms of my readied hubs as I traipse off the plane, suitcase, backpack, and surfboard bag slung over my shoulder.
Being alone for a month and a half (ok truly never alone but you get my drift) has allotted me some wonderful time to soak in the presence of God. NOT that I can’t do this anytime, but there is something about that set-apart, independent time that the Bible talks about. That night-silence, when it’s just you and your prayers and the whispers that you only hear in a placid mind until you fall asleep to a cicada-fueled symphony.
Day after day I felt the infusing of God on my heart as I prayed about PURPOSE.
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After returning, I was flung headlong into dog slobbers, Indian food, trail friendships, morning coffee brought to my bedside, and the bottomless love of a soul mate. Also back to our church family, which proved to be one of the best weeks to come back as we sat in worship with Kari Jobe and her husband Cody to sing a gorgeous song as a blessing over humanity. Joining that with a teaching on our “stories” and how the stories in our lives and what we believe affects us. We all have stories. I have saturated myself in this message over the past week. Considering the ways I have implemented the Word of God into my life and trying not to miss the bigger story of what God is telling me and teaching me. To not fill in the space that is in me, meant for him, with unnecessary baggage, so that His bigger story can be told in me and through me.
Over the years as G & I have made transitions in our lives together... BOY have there been plenty, we firstly go in seeking guidance through prayer and know that when there is tension or conflict to look at it through a lens of goodness. Our God lens. To get quiet and not allow doubt to cut off what God is speaking in our lives.
We BOTH found it remarkable that as we are sitting together in church last week , the title of the message was MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEW.
Oh Lord, how you know our hearts.
“Make room for the new even when you don’t see it coming.”
I love a good Spiritual nudge.
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Just over a year ago, we made a move we were both scratching our heads over BUT are now seeing the fruit from. A plan that worked out, just not quite in our plan-frame, is now syrup-dripping with goodness. The two of us at odds over a few things. He; feeling led in one direction on a major purchase, and me… n o t quite feeling right about it in my spirit. We continued to pray. We both felt the sparks of confusion and tension.
“Did you know,” our Pastor said, “that God can be giving you exactly what you want, but the tension it takes to produce growth is super uncomfortable?” “Things may come into your life in one season as a problem or opposition and are the same things God will use to create opportunities to know him better and make him known.”
Have we made room to receive the new things that God has sent us that we’ve asked for?
Sometimes, I have the feeling that I may NEVER see the purpose, or at least to the extent to how God uses me. I DO know that although it’s not right in front of my eyes, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had an impact. I get glimpses...but we don’t see the way God sees. I don’t always see how something I’ve said or have done has affected others good or BAD minutes or years down the road. I am human and know I am not immune from being a fool sometimes. Then….there are those fleeting moments when I get a small peek and see in tangible ways how I’m fulfilling His purpose. My daily prayer is always “allow me to be open for YOU to use me in any way you see fit and allow me to always turn others towards YOU.”
I know He uses our past experiences, good and bad. The pain I walked through decades ago, that has long-since healed, may just be the balm that someone else needs for their own hope to bloom.
I DO pray for discernment. Because some people are just out for a hurtful story to learn about you and not because they are interested in walking along side you in healing. If you’re out to judge a book by its cover….you’ve come to the wrong illustrator.
I have a confession. It will sound TERRIBLE...but when we knew God was giving us the opportunity to move to the southeast United States, and by saying, “giving us the opportunity,” I mean….uprooting our semi-laid plans, for His flawless recipe...my first thought was “but….that accent!” I know, I know! Hate me now...I’m just being authentic. So….as we are sitting in church together this past week, I am NOT kidding AT ALL...our pastor is talking about CHANGE, and he says “maybe you didn’t want to move to Charlotte...because you hate the southern accent.”
Ummm…. I sat real still and moved only my eyes around through the hundreds in the  congregation because I was SURE everyone was looking directly at me.
Boy, did I prejudge what is and isn’t good for me. What limited thinking.
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I am happy right now to be back with my love. I’ve realized that I’ve allowed some doubt to creep in and cut off mid-sentence, some things God might be speaking into our lives. Like our Pastor has said “When God is speaking don’t stop at the comma! If you stop at the comma you never see the..“but….”
Trust me, that tiny, diminutive, oftentimes inconsequential conjunction can connect you to a multitude of healing. Of fulfillment. Of joy! It can take you from, “I feel stuck” BUT “I know new possibilities are coming my way?” From, “I have guilt from my past” BUT “God is a God of forgiveness and second chances, never guilt. He has washed me clean of my past, only to use my experience to help someone else.” It can take you from a diagnosis BUT turn you towards His healing, learning to rely solely on Him and open an opportunity for family and friends to soothe you with their hospitality, love, and prayer. ONLY later to use you for a future person that may be feeling scared because of their diagnosis. It can take a past mistake that has haunted you BUT now that you have walked the path, you have a voice to share your knowledge with others. From a past prison, into a bright future. It can take you from a place of feeling like you lost something but knowing God just moved it.
Change is amazing. New circumstances grow you so much as a person. You learn so much about yourself, your resilience and your passions. As I look back on the changes we’ve had over the years, God’s goodness is all over them. So prominent. He used some incredible opportunities to sharpen us, to bond us, to realize what’s truly important and what’s just unnecessary. To forge long-lasting, true, friendships over many miles and many countries. To drop off the unneeded baggage. I know God often uses a change in ways that we don’t always feel good about; losses, finances, marriages, sickness...Do you use these as opportunities to turn to Him? Sometimes we are thrust into a position that ALL we can do is rely on Him, which IS exactly where we should be. So if there is change, or tension, be expectant for transformation. Feeling mournful over a situation, believe the miracle. Fear or failure, choose faith.
I pray that we always allow room in ourselves for the new.
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No Better Timing

Want to know how God works and shows up in my life? The confirmations he gives me?

As I continued through the month of December in prayer for my Word of the Year (I’ve always done this instead of resolutions), I was getting nowhere. I battled over this in frustration, my impatience getting the better of me. I was praying with no response. 

My hubs, on the other hand, came home one day mid-December, sat down, and revealed his Word to me. I was so happy for him, honestly, but was feeling stalled. 

I’ve had years when as November/December rolls around and I start praying and asking for my Word, it’s there. Immediately and rapidly coming to the forefront. I’ve also had years when, like this year, God has taken his time in delivery. 

As if, His timing isn’t perfect. 

As if he didn’t have this Word in mind for me before I was even on this earth. 

As if he knows better.

As if the timing that needs to happen for His clarity to shine through and for me to be READY to receive is inadequate.

I continued in daily prayer. I sat for days, silently, in the mornings on the floor of our bedroom in meditation and nothing… 

Que more frustration. images

It’s funny how prayer works and moves. I was FaceTiming with a friend today, and we were talking about how they are teaching their young kid(s) about prayer and how it’s not always for bedtime or before a meal, that you can pray anywhere and always. It’s those silent whispers to God, in the car, on a walk, in the shower or as you’re doing the dishes or laundry or in the case of kids… even on the playground. 

I felt like I was on prayer overload (is there such a thing as TOO much prayer? The answer is NEVER) and my husband kept asking if I’d heard my Word yet, I was getting antsy. 

Man, if that isn’t a terrible place to reside. Antsy. Restless in the desert, feeling deficient and lacking. I prayed on just that for a few days… I mean here I’m just waiting on a WORD for the year when others are waiting for so much more to show up. 

So. Much. More. 

Then it hit me; waiting is a proactive stance of drawing closer to God. Through waiting, at times, our faith can be tested, but it also cultivates good fruit in our lives, such as patience, perseverance, and endurance. It also draws us closer to God. 

When we choose to wait quietly and trustingly, we honor God, and I know God’s goodness is promised for those who wait patiently for him! No matter how long.

Sigh

I knew one thing; I wasn’t going to stop praying, and I wasn’t going to stop anticipating an answer. I waited more eagerly for our Creator to act. 

When my Word finally did show up, I was discouraged at first. My husband, who had weeks before me, came home with his and shared, I thought, “how powerful!” He was almost in tears over it. It both scared him and made his heart pound with hope and expectancy.

I sat down that night and talked with G. Was this really “the word” for the year? What does it mean? I wanted a fun word, a word that sounded more “me,” a word that is fruity and felicitous. Something amusing and cheerful with punch and significant meaning behind it. Me, me, me… why are we always drawn back into making everything about ourselves? 

I mean… what am I to do with THIS Word? 

Nothing. I am to do nothing with it. 

I wrote it down. 

P U R P O S E 

I quietly uttered an enormous “thank you.” and then thought… “I am going to do absolutely nothing with this Word, but the Maker who gave it to me is going to turn my life upside down this year with it. I’m quite sure of this.”

A few days later, my daughter and I decided to attend a different campus from our regular church. We did this because my husband was mixing sound at this campus for the worship team (on a day that he wasn’t originally scheduled to be there) so we thought we’d go. It was a Saturday night, not our regular Sunday service, and this particular week each campus pastor was speaking individually at each campus instead of our lead pastor. Which hardly ever happens. 

A L L of this is out of the norm… but you know… When God shows up, it’s always out of the standard norm. 

After worship, the pastor comes up and says his title for his message that night was: 

PURPOSE REVEALED THOUGH PROCESS. 

Read that again. 

PURPOSE 

Revealed 

Through

Process. 

I stood in complete reverence and amazement! 

As the pastor spoke, I felt the nudge of God. His breath all over me. Then the pastor said;

“Never feel so common with God that you’re not expectant.” 

Oh, me of little faith. 

He continued saying, “God is a God of the process, not the product, and God reveals himself and his purpose in the process.”

In my process of waiting on my Word, He showed up. Just like He always does. In His own time and in His own way. 

Then something came to the forefront;

Maybe I’m running after things that are not my assignment (my purpose.) Things that are in my heart, but God never assigned for me. 

My hysterics and tantrum about my Word dissolved right there onto the floor of that unfamiliar church. 

Full stop & Mic drop. 

Unknown-1       Allow me the honor of praying for you friends. In whatever way you need. Text me, call me, message me. And I ask one favor of you; Pray for me. Pray that this year God works in the most unimaginable, unthinkable, incomprehensible, intentional ways to reveal what this Word will bring to life in me. His purpose. My purpose in Him. What use (purpose) is He calling me to? Pray for me to live with a more God-driven purpose and ALWAYS to live a purpose bigger than myself. 

I believe to live a life with both passion and purpose; we must continue to learn who Jesus is. God has better plans for us that we can even imagine.