Untapped Fullness

I’ve been on and off about writing in The Time of COVID. I have friends and family all over the place about this crazy time of quarantine, and rationing toilet paper and visiting supermarkets with masks at only certain times of the day.
For us, things haven’t been as hard-hitting as some have experienced. It’s heartbreaking to see the loss of jobs, business, finances, health, and to see so many stricken by fear.
Our area was later to the game as far as quarantine lock-downs and runs to the store to hoard goods. Little by little, we saw a trickle of items disappear but still at any given moment I’ve been able to walk into a store and get toilet paper. My husband and I eat a whole food plant-based diet, so for us, stocking a freezer or pantry doesn’t work incredibly well. When I first decided to grab a couple “extras” it was 2 cans of chickpeas and 2 cans of black beans. Fear has caused people to go… a little off the rails. Throughout this entire time, I have continued shopping every few days. The fresh produce has been PLENTIFUL! My hubs and I joked that with the world ending, the Vegans will live on because as inside isles (packaged & processed foods) of the grocery store were getting barer and barer, the fruits, veggies, nuts, herbs, lentils, beans and seeds were overflowing.

I have had a few days when we watched the news and I thought… am I having a false sense of security? Should I run to the store and stock my car full? I didn’t and here we are, eating a healthy diet, still.

We are not news watchers. We never have been. I like a morning update (online) and the Sunday NY Times which we have delivered. ALL of a sudden I noticed my phone starting to blow-up with all sorts of banners and alerts and warnings. My social media feeds were going crazy with news and photos of cars filled with sanitizer and toilet paper. I started to fall prey to looking more. Finally, I took a step back. The media has been on a feeding frenzy over this and THEY SELL FEAR! Fear is the best way to control people. We can’t allow fear to dictate our stories.
I did a social media cleanse which included cleansing from not only “looking” but also getting rid of articles and groups that were not nurturing my soul. I always say… just like the food you put into your body, what you put in your mind can be just as corrosive. Junk in, junk out. As an athlete, I would never demand or expect my body to perform well feeding it junk. Same with my mind. Watch news all day and see how you feel versus taking ONE day to not check your phone, not check your social feeds and instead get outside and move a little. Go for a hike, bike or walk in the fresh air. Take big full gulps of oxygen. See how things look after 24 hours. You’ll be amazed! Sitting inside during a pandemic may be the worst thing you could do.

My hubs and have a ritual; every morning we have coffee together and read and discuss a devotional. We pray together. It’s how we start the day to set our hearts and minds in a trajectory for the GOOD. It’s grown our faith. Some days challenge us. Much like that morning cuppa that gets people going, this does the same thing for us. Our minds are set above the waves and that’s how we walk through the rest our day. Not getting mired down. Even when things are trending downward globally we can still have the hope for a great tomorrow. We walk in gratitude and focus on things within our control. Not dwelling on the negative or the past. Each day is new and brings along with it, fresh opportunities. No matter who you are, this is a good practice. Set an intention.

We talked this morning about how much change this virus and quarantine is bringing to not only our states and nation, but the world! We have, for years, been a population of technology. Don’t get me wrong technology is fantastic (hello Zoom dinners and cocktail parties!) but the whole “social” part of social media has lent to people feeling more isolated, more alone, more depressed. People NEED people. We talked about how during this time of being more isolated than ever, MAYBE this is what will cause a change. A shift! I can tell you RIGHT now, I am dying to hug ALL the people.
This has challenged me (us)
G and I are very social. We love going out, going to breweries, going to restaurants, wine bars, museums, concerts, the theatre and we love people. We miss socializing with friends.
I have continued to run with friends weekly since this virus started. We’ve been very careful to keep our distance, which is easy when you’re dealing with a bunch of dirt and vert loving trail runners. Not to mention that most of the time we are in the middle of Nowhere, Wild Forest, North Carolina. It’s nothing but space and fresh air. BUT I cannot wait to high-five after a good long run. Or hug goodbye when we get back into our cars. As a social person IRL this has been hard.

We talked this morning about the fact that we will probably never walk by a stranger without talking to them. We won’t ever sit by someone in a restaurant without saying hello. We won’t ever pass up the opportunity for a hug. Our pastor is SO great (in normal circumstances) before we sit in church on Sunday mornings he will always say, “hug 3, 7, 10…14 people!” Some days it is awkward. It will never be again!

There are still ways, even now, to feel the fullness of life. Are you eating well or have you succumbed to boxed foods because you feel like it’s what you hoarded and now need to consume? DON’T! Are you still exercising? Even with 100% of the country on stay-at-home orders and social distancing, the outdoors are still open. Fresh air is still available to you. Get outside! Pick up a new hobby. Read more. Paint. Take the time for bubble baths. Rearrange your furniture. Give your house a good spring cleaning. Purge all of the unrecognizable, unnecessary “things” you’ve collected that aren’t serving you a purpose anymore and are collecting dust. Clean a closet or cabinet a day and donate. A lot of people are in need right now and it feels good to bless with your excess. Learn to cook some new incredible meals. Challenge your significant other to an Iron Chef cook-off (we love doing this) Learn yoga or practice meditation. Lean into God and learn WHO he really is. Play board games. Go outside barefoot and stand or walk in your lawn. (This alone can make you feel better) Contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside is a therapeutic technique. It has positive effects on your body; improving sleep, helps pain management, reduces stress, anxiety, reduces inflammation and boosts immunity.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a sold-out 100-percent glass half full girl! I can make a rainbow out of anything. Find the pony in the manure. I laugh a lot (and always have) and sometimes that’s all we can do. I grew up in a home lacking laughter, so as an adult, a wife, a mother that is something we nurtured and cultivated in our family. We laugh

A LOT.

We played tricks and pranks and had food fights, were silly, and joked about all sorts of things. We are, in general, a pretty un-serious crew. PS: laughing is great for your immune system.

I fling wide open my door and invite laughter right in to sit on my couch and have coffee, daily!

Take some time to laugh about things. Get goofy.

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Have you chosen to change some things up, instead of being mired down in the fear of what “could happen?”
Growing up all I heard from my parents was “what if?” As an adult, that was something I fought against. It didn’t make sense to me to think in those terms. For me, God flipped a switch from “what if?” in the negative sense to “what if!!!” in the excited and expectant sense. I never have the dismal, cloudy thoughts of “what if something goes bad.” And if I start down that road I can easily remember “This is the day the Lord has made… I love the TPT translation; “This is the very day of the Lord that brings gladness and joy, filling our hearts with glee.”

Are you still finding gratitude and joy every day?

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Have you allowed yourself some down-time and self-care and some time to figure out a new plan? A new normal. Sitting and thinking about what could happen only steals the joy of today. Most of the time the “what if” and “this could happen” NEVER does. BUT what if it does? “What if” this is a brand new start to something extraordinary? Find new passions. Soak yourself in new wishes and goals and cravings and hope. Rediscover your spouse and who you fell in love with years ago. Watch your kids play outside and cultivate in yourself some of that youthful curiosity. Make a list of some dreams that you and your husband shelved a few years back, bring them to the forefront, and start creating the plan to make them happen post C19. Reorder your priorities. Allow things that are not serving you to break off and fall away. Make changes. Change is not comfortable and that’s why most people shy away from it, but you can’t grow if you don’t allow it to happen. Prune off the old, dead, damaged buds for new growth to spring forward.

I have done all of the above during this pandemic. Coming back from Central America as COVID was starting to make its way around the globe halted a lot of plans that my husband and I had. It halted our B-days, it halted a trip to NYC to celebrate our B-days, it paused some big races that we were training for and it paused a huge backpacking trip in the South Asia mountains of Nepal.

I’ve been reading a lot in Psalms and noticed that so many say “Interlude” between paragraphs. I have another Bible version that instead of “Interlude” it says, “Pause in His Presence”
I loved this and realized this is where we are right now.
Paused. It’s had allowed us a breath. A gigantic intake of fullness. A gulp of oxygen.
It’s made room for some pretty spectacular new friendships to grow. It’s given us more time for our Life Group (eGroup) through our church; even if currently we have to meet every week via Zoom. Ha! It’s given us a chance to have some fun challenges with other friends that we run with, without the daily training schedule we usually keep to. It has allowed me to bake more. (Still wondering if this is good or bad) Ha! It’s given us the opportunity to explore more of our gorgeous state and the surrounding mountains, trails, and beaches.

How do you see this pause? Are you freaked and panicked and fearful? Are you thinking about what you’re missing right now or looking in the past? Or have you allowed this slow intermission to grow your potential? To allow joy to saturate all the dry places? To allow some healing on your mind, body, and soul? To repair what was lacking and broken? To enable you to find new passions, interests, potential, and empowerment? To let go of things not serving you? To de-clutter not only your house but your heart and soul? To bring your tank to fullness? Are you being refreshed?

Your inward disposition will always determine your outward outlook. You cannot let what’s happening around you affect what’s living in you.

Do you find yourself saying you just want to get back to normal? Back to the old way?

I keep thinking to a few weeks ago at church and the notes I jotted down; what if normal isn’t something to get back to? What if we want to get back to what we were trying to get rid of in the first place? When you are fearful you reach out to what is familiar even if the familiar was killing you. Negativity can feel normal. Keep believing and trusting God by faith or you’re going to find yourself missing today’s opportunities because you were too attached to yesterday’s blessing.

I don’t have all the answers and I know people suffer on various levels but I know what works for me and my house. I know faith and gratitude and fitness and food all work in conjunction for me. I know dancing and prayer and music and laughter is something I have to drink a full glass of every day. I know running gives me sanity and the smell of the forest and dirt and trees nourish my entire soul. It’s how I’m knit together.

“If God can’t get your attention he will change your direction.”
Wow!! Is he changing your direction right now?
Your faith grows in unfamiliar places.

It’s a different time for sure but remember; Faith looks forward!

Keep your eyes above the waves and keep bumping into blessings, my friends.

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*Media notes curtesy of PSF. Wave lyrical quote curtesy of Oceans by Hillsong United

Just a Few Simple Things

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We are apart for our first Valentine’s in twenty-six years. We’ve never been much to celebrate the day because we feel that an everyday love is better than one day of Hallmark devotion. Still,, we are apart….

I DID notice when I unpacked a few weeks ago that a little, secret card slipped out from between my shirts. It’s just like you to sneak that into my bag when I wasn’t looking. It made me smile BIG. IMG_4959

Of course, I am thinking about you today. So I thought I’d be sappy and syrupy and sentimental.

Sometimes it’s nice to show you the funny, quirky ways you have made our lives into this extraordinary love story. 

 

*The way we can sit in a restaurant talking for hours like we’ve just met. 

*Encouraging and celebrating the wild, independent, adventurous young woman in me. 

*How we showed our kids what true love is. 

*Our endless supply of inside jokes.

*The way you sit and really listen with incredible, curiosity when you ask about my day. 

*That one night at that one BBQ when our knees touched and we felt enough electricity to light California. 

*The way your muscles flex when you wrap your arms around our grown kids. 

*The way we can have nothing and everything and it’s never mattered. 

*The way you hold my hand when I need a good cry.

*Our first kiss as young adults. 

*The Japanese love notes you mailed me before we had email. 

*Your bold, expectant prayers.

*When you laugh so hard and I see your retainer and it reminds me of being kids together. 

*Your never-ending sense of adventure. 

*You are truly the biggest romantic I know.

*Our nightly foot rubs before bed. 

*The deep, profound love you have for our children. 

*That first cup of coffee that you bring me and we share in bed together every morning. 

*The tiny specks of silver in your hair. 

*How the simplest things in life matter the most to you. 

*Your passionate, on fire, love for God. 

*Music. 

*The way you find the best Speakeasies.

*Our ease of traveling the world together. 

*The way you make everyone feel at such ease around you. 

*How you always share your last bite with me. 

*Your complete adoration of our kids. 

*That you always have been and always are my biggest cheerleader, supporter and advocate for any and all shenanigans I cook up. 

*The way you have animated my feet with voices. 

*The way you love to hide scary masks in our house to frighten the living daylights out of me and then run to hug me when you know I’m terrified.

*That one night grocery shopping that we can always laugh so hard about. 

*The way our feet find one another under the covers in the middle of the night.  

*Your sweet lips. 

*When you laugh so authenticity and slap MY knee over it. 

*The sweetness when you kiss my forehead every day. 

*Your incredible work ethic. 

*Your remarkable generosity and willingness to help people. 

*Your skin. 

*Your sincere smile. 

*The way you take me by the hand and parade me into a room. 

*The way you get excited about our date nights after all these years. 

*Our cooking show date nights. 

*The love we both share for hitting up hot new restaurants.

*The way you love our fur-kid. 

*When you leave our home and come back to pick me up for a date. 

*Our 3am Netflix binges.

*How you have a way of making me feel like I’m the only woman on the entire planet. 

*Your respect, admiration and, love for your parents. 

*The way we laugh so much and so often together.

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*Our kitchen dance parties. 

*Your unfailing, steadfast and intentional faith. 

*How you always empower and encourage me and make me feel like I can conquer the world. 

*Your easy going and peaceful presence. 

*Your extraordinary culinary skills. 

*How we don’t need anything at all to have a perfect evening together. 

*The way you’ve never expected me to change the person I am deep down inside.

*The way you allow me to cheat a little when we play board games but act like you don’t know. 

How even though we are apart I feel your heartbeat. 

Love~

Your PJ

Patagonia -Coming to an End

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Leaving Paine Grande we headed to Campamento Italiano. It was a relatively short hike, but we knew there were two miradors after we arrived and dropped our packs that we wanted to see.

Francés and Británico miradors. 

We needed to get to camp after crossing a raging river on a one-person swinging bride. As I am standing, waiting for my turn to pass over this unreliable-looking bridge, I am thinking, “one person of normal size with a 20lb pack, or a small child, or a large grown man with a 30lb pack or …?” What truly does a one-person bridge mean? 

It reminds me of how God works in our lives. Sometimes there is no answer right away, and life feels like a risk. Often. But in the end always works out according to plan. 

I could allow negative thoughts, doubt, anxiety, fear, despair, worry, denial, disbelief, or uncertainty fill my head. Fill my heart. I could stand on that bridge and see the massive, furious, arctic river below me and the old, weathered, wooden, swinging bridge ahead of me and stop dead in my tracks allowing panic to grip me, but God isn’t a God of panic. He’s not a God of fear or anxiety. He FREES us from all of that! 

“This is my command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

We crossed and checked in to Italiano, set up camp, filled our water bottles, and set out for the miradors. 

The Valle Francés was inconceivable! The entire trip, I said over and over how beautiful each place was but this…. We stopped and took tons of pictures and then pressed on towards Británico. Patagonia is full of beauty but also full of unpredictable weather, and as we pushed towards our next mirador, the clouds started rolling in. We continued as the wind ripped at us, and then the rain started. Light at first, and then really picking up. We pulled out our rain gear from our slack packs and decided that, as we looked towards the mountains, it was only getting worse, and the view we were craving was going to have too much cloud cover, so we turned back for camp. 

We got back to camp, peeled out of our rain gear, made some dinner, and dropped into the tent. 

We continued on to Campo Central the next day, and we knew as we approached that we were nearing the end of this hike but that the most unprecedented part of our journey was ahead. Los Torres. 

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We waited in line to check-in, found a place out of the wind to pitch our tent, and headed for the showers. Ya know, being clean and showering are things we really take for granted. It’s such a luxury on a backpacking trip! The showers were HOT, and I stood in there way too long! 

Afterward, we decided to hike over to the Refugio. The restaurant was warm, and we ordered GIANT beers that tasted like a little bit of heaven. They made us lazy and sleepy, which was exactly what we needed for a quick bedtime. We had an early alarm for our frigid, dark hike to the Towers before the sun rose in the morning. 

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Our daybreak was cold — possibly the coldest of the entire trek. Most of our days were warm, hot even, with the harsh sun and no ozone. When we did have rain, we welcomed it! We left our tent and belongings at camp, hiking only with our slack packs filled with water, tea, some food items, and warm clothes. We started early, pre-dawn with our headlamps on. 

I was walking in constant prayer on our ascent. Meditative. I knew this was our last day, and I was overwhelmed in my heart with gratitude. The reasons many. The time with my husband, the adventurous spirit God created in the two of us, our friendship, and the fact that we can spend days and weeks together in a pocket-sized tent and still laugh, still love, not argue, and grow even closer together as a couple. Thankful that my husband respects and encourages the wild-girl in me. We get one another to our depths. Grateful for the opportunity to start this journey, and the healing that took place on my body to get us to the trail start. I am utterly floored by this Earth and the paradise that God has created for us. Everything so intricate and complex. I was, and am always so taken by the enormous mountains and how small and humbled they leave me feeling, stripped of everything, deprived of ego and pride. Hiking allows us the opportunity to feel God at a whole new level, a deepening, to see His provision in our lives, to hear him in a way that is clear and simple and uncomplicated. It’s easy when you break it down. He provides all we need and loves us so wholly and excessively. I was most grateful for the way the Most-High spoke to my husband. Revealing to him some areas that we were struggling with direction and trying to find closure. 

We both know when we are in a place of discontent, confusion, uneasiness, or dissatisfaction, it comes from us not being aligned on the path that our Creator has us on. Things in our hearts that God never assigned to us. It’s so easy to veer. Easy to get caught up with our own agendas, eagerness, yearnings, and desires. It’s easy to “think” we are walking in God’s will and to B E N D our intention J U S T enough to feign closeness to what God wants for our lives, but when it comes right down to it… it is a skewed view that ends us up on an uneven, angled messed up path. Not matched or harmonized at all with what God’s plan is. We falter and end up thinking, “how did we get into this situation?” “Why aren’t things better?” “How is this still happening in my life?” 

The mountains make it simple to listen. 

As we continued our ascent, getting to a bouldering area, we knew we were getting closer. The trail was getting more difficult. We were excited about our first view of the Towers. The pinnacle of this entire trek! 

 When we reached the top, we paused — suspended in a moment awe-inspiring beauty!  

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Cordillera del Paine is such a spectacular set of mountains! It’s the area known as the Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine), the three massive summits are gigantic granite monoliths that are UNESCO-declared biosphere reserves. The highest peak of the range is Cerro Paine Grande, at 2,884 meters (9,461 feet).

Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche language and is pronounced PIE-nay

It was COLD, and the wind bit at us. We met up with others that had been in our original group the day we started in Laguna Amarga, each of us making this pilgrimage in our own time. Little by little, we trickled in. We took photos, sipped hot tea, broke bread together, all nestled next to an outcropping of rocks away from the wind and elements. 

Soon, we knew we needed to return to camp and break down to make our busses back to Puerto Natales. 

It was hard to leave. Hard to turn our backs on this extraordinary work of beauty. 

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Returning to camp was somber. It’s hard when you know a journey is coming to an end. Sometimes I feel like I could wander the mountains forever. Every time I hike I love the stripping away it does on me. Peeling off the lamina. I come back changed in some way. Always. Something is left behind, dropped off, and left in the dirt, unneeded, with new lessons learned, and new promises and assurances put in its place. It gives me time to do some soul searching and reevaluating. Where does God want us/me? Where is He placing us for most use? What’s important? What do we genuinely need? What is superficial and fake and inauthentic in me or in those I have in my life? Where do I draw the line? What boundaries need set or reestablished? What do I need to let loose of? Am I harboring unforgiveness for anyone? Have I put unnecessary pressure on myself or those around me in any way? 

 It’s the opportunity for God to pluck me up, and right my path with such clarity, it’s undeniable. 

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We packed up in near silence, only joking about how stinky we were. We headed to the Refugio and met up with our fellow hikers. It was fun to have one final toast to our accomplishments, to hear the stories from everyone about their journey on this incredible trek — their take-away from the trail. One beer down and we loaded our bus back to Puerto Natales, spending a couple of days here before hopping a plane for Santiago, where we almost missed our flight due to falling asleep in the airport. How were we to know they changed the gate?  I joke! We ran for our new gate in a drowsy stupor and reached the jetway only to see closed doors. We stood staring, weary, fatigue ravaging us and just started pounding on the glass doors. As the jetway was moving and the agent approached the doors, she saw us and having mercy on our completely worn-out souls, stopped the bridge, and asked them to let us on the plane. Had we been in the States… no way this would’ve happened. I could’ve kissed this sweet Chilean woman straight on the mouth. 

 

We laughed & laughed after finding our seats because this is always the way for G and I. Always coming in, hurriedly, screaming, with our pants on fire. We aren’t and have never been “planners,” and this sort of thing is just expected in any given circumstance with us. In this situation, however, we were just plain spent and fell into a delicious, deep sleep on benches in the aeropuerto. 

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We spent a few days in Santiago in the spa-comfort of a fabulous hotel. Allowing ourselves pampering and delicious PLANT-BASED foods (boy do we always miss greens and fruit) and exploring the city.

Off and away from the mountains….

Grateful, continually. Humbled, unceasingly. Changed, as always.