Tales From the Trail -Wash Your Spirit Clean- Muir, Seldon and Silver Pass

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Hooray! We made it up and over Muir Pass! We sat and marveled inside the Muir Hut for quite some time. It’s a great gathering place for hikers and we talked to people hiking the PCT and JMT from all over the world. The trail will be a cake walk from here. HA! We still, despite my desire, haven’t seen any bears. I am hoping as we get closer to Yosemite that we will.

fullsizerenderI had so many conversations with God today. Layers continue to peel that I hope to share, but honestly, some are SO personal, so intimate that I’m not sure it would be entirely appropriate for a blog. I acknowledged and allowed God full control in healing some pretty deep-rooted hurts in me. One thing I know, I need to be more discerning with people and my tribe. Years and years of feeling that I didn’t measure up when I was younger and feeling the need to people please always opens me up to relationships that I really should be more discriminatory about. I have learned to be better, but every-so-often I get unexpectedly involved. I love too hard and oftentimes can get caught up in a little too much drama, too much stress, too much emotion, and crisis. I am natural “fixer” I want to fix the problem, fix the outcome, fix a saddened friend, fix, fix, fix, to the point of exhaustion. That’s a by-product of the constant need to feel that I was enough in my younger years. Sometimes wanting to help and fix is a great quality to have but I can also become a magnet for the passive aggressive. As God rolled this out for me and I saw the scenarios play out in my mind, I realized He is the only fixer. “Send them my way,” He whispered. I only need to be praying daily, and allow their burdens to become his. That’s it! I cannot “be” a better friend than that! Of course I’ve known this, but sometimes God needs to really give me another nudge.  Before this trip, I had a conversation with someone, who had shared that they felt I wasn’t being a good friend to them. I love the honest, real conversations I can have with the people I love. I only look for authenticity. Transparency. I don’t shy away from difficult conversations and in fact encourage them because I feel like they grow you. Communication is key in all relationships and when you love someone you cannot be closed off to the difficult and messy. Speak the hard things in love and ask for discernment. You’re always better on the other side. You learn things about yourself that maybe you don’t see and learn things about others as well. How can you have an honest, pure, genuine relationship without it? I appreciated the freedom as they spoke to me, but I immediately wanted to fix the situation. To be better. To do better. God showed me that sometimes that’s just impossible. My best is my best is my best, and sometimes it isn’t about me. I can only be the person and friend I am capable of being, that He created me to be and sometimes that’s not going to cut it for some. What I know is that is perfectly ok. I am completely incapable of filling the void sometimes. Does that sting? Yes! As a recovering people-pleaser, that can bite, but I cannot fix everything. I cannot fix broken family members, heal broken/unloving marriages, joyless relationships, un-met dreams, hurt from abuse, hurt from abandonment, the deep, sadness from a lack of feeling unloved, bitter minds, unforgiveness or feelings of feeling less-than. That’s where God steps in for those who are willing. That’s why HE is God and we are human. WE NEED HIM! He is the balm that heals what’s broken in all of us. He steps in and fills the cracks, fills the holes and fills the soul. He does what I am completely incapable of doing.

Many miles passed today and mile after mile I felt like I was coming undone. Unravelling. God was so real and so present everywhere as we camped at Evolution Lake, my second favorite of the trail. The way the sunset bounced off the walls of this canyon onto the water was so spectacular! It was like a painting. I marveled as reds turned to pinks and purples then greens and blues, at the way the mountains took shape under the water as if they were admiring themselves in the reflection and as the stars appeared how hugely magnificent they were. They shot out, bold in the black sky, so close as they reached out their light towards the earth putting on a show to all those laying below to see.

The next morning we stopped at MTR (Muir Trail Ranch) for our resupply. What fun place! We loved all of the hiker buckets, 5-gallon buckets FULL of items that hikers have left behind or didn’t need anymore. They lined the bench and were labeled according to what was inside. Sunscreens, books, MRE’s, oatmeal, peanut butter/Nutella, oils and spices, granola bars, tuna. You name it, it was there for the taking. Like Christmas morning gifts. As I looked through them and gave some of my own resupply for the cause I was SO tempted to take the FULL jar of Nutella. Seriously? An entirely, full, unopened jar! I still wish I would’ve, but pack weight is everything, and a full jar of Nutella, c’mon, really? I battled that one out for a good 30 minutes as we refilled our bear cans with our cache that we had mailed in the weeks before. I still hadn’t had that much of an appetite and had ALOT to get rid of. Maybe the Nutella would make the cut… I opted for a few extra packets of Justin’s Peanut butter. Much smarter! And quite frankly for me; dip anything in peanut butter and I’ll eat it!

At this point of our hike, I was starting to feel like a fish out of water. Hiking styles vary by person, and on a hike this long you learn to adapt to your crew. I am much more lenient, savor nature, beauty, sounds, breathe and smell the air, taste, swim in lakes, waterfalls, and streams, dunk in the natural hot springs type of hiker. “Chase the butterfly!” I stop, take pictures and am captivated by God’s blessing of this gorgeous Earth. I get completely emerged and caught up in the beauty, I rarely keep to an agenda, other than getting to camp by nightfall. I knew God was working on my patience, my willingness to bend for others, my capacity and compliance to endure and yield to others plans, especially when in a group. I was grateful for that but had a few times that I felt a little joyless. Things happen while you’re on a through hike. People get tired, they get overheated, things break, they’re hungry, dehydrated, muscles hurt and frustrations on this particular day were at an all-time high. What a valuable lesson to all of us, that things, OFTEN if EVER go the way they are planned on a trip like this. You bend and lean in, and adapt and go with the flow. You have to, or you break. Even so, just being out here, doing this, living this dream that has been nestled in my heart since…forever, was amazing. I was grateful! I was grateful for all of it. The hard days, the tiredness, the lessons, the leaning into the uncomfortable. I was completely thankful for friends doing life together through the good and bad and in the end loving one another enough to pass the bumps in the road. I was grateful for a husband that appreciates our together dreams as well as the wild dreams of his crazy wife. I was grateful that he encouraged this! Applauds my wild! Inspired me, prayed for me, and talked sense into me on my lowest of days. After feeling a sense of mutiny and revolt on my “natural carefree hiking-self” this night, I cried in my tent reading my resupply card. Which…was a THANK YOU card.

-Paula (to myself) Aug 22, 2016

Be thankful and grateful for the place you are TODAY! You’re at MTR. Easy? No! Worth it? YES! You’re a strong and courageous woman. Keep remembering to look up and out at God’s unbelievable creation! ~I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high. O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the Heavens. Ps 7:17-18:1 Amen. Happy Trails Paula

And from G

-My PJ, Where you are right now, STOP, sit down if possible and be still. Now imagine one of those kisses we do where we breathe in that deep breath. Close your eyes and do that now. Breathe in this amazing world and life God has given us. Exhale, deep and full. Open your eyes and kiss the beautiful sky. Enjoy the journey and all that it is. Love, G xoxo

I popped out of my tent to talk to my camp partner K and told her I was sorry. Sorry if I was quiet the entire day. Sorry if I seemed out of sorts, but also that I recognized I was like I said, a fish out of water on this hike. I read her the Thank You note, she cried.fullsizerender

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Put a cape on a woman and she will SOUR (K with her pack cover on that made her look like Super Woman)

Seldon Pass- We got caught in a thunderstorm. Tons of rain and hail coming down. We broke out our rain gear and pack covers and hunkered down for a while, not being able to get over the pass due to lightning. The last thing we wanted was to be atop a 10, 898 pass with lightning overhead. Once we realized that the rain and hail weren’t going to let up, we continued on. We still weren’t in danger of the top at this point. We had the opportunity to meet the sweetest couple while taking our little rain break. It was their 50th (yes, FIFTIETH) wedding anniversary. They told us that they were meant to hike the entire JMT in 1969, just 3 years after they were married. There was record snowfall in the Sierras that year and they had to postpone their hike. Well, like life sometimes does, it takes a turn and gets in the way of the best-laid plans. She explained that careers, kids, moving, houses, PTA, soccer games, gymnastics, football, swim meets, diving headfirst into family life, etc took precedence. What an incredible story of never giving up on a dream that they made as newlyweds. They FINALLY made it! A little later than expected, by 40-some years, but they kept their dream alive, and made it happen. I hiked with that story floating around in my head all day. It made me miss my hubs, as we are big dreamers and have been since we met. I cannot wait to kiss that man straight on the mouth when I see him!fullsizerender

img_55848-23-16 Made it up and over Silver Pass. Eleven passes in 17 days. Silver seemed easy for some reason. Maybe because it’s a shorty at just 10,754 ft. Or maybe it’s because we are on track to reach Red’s Meadows in 2 days. We camped at Duck Creek and as my pasta Primavera cooks my mouth is watering for a cheeseburger at Red’s. We got to camp early enough today to do laundry. ALL of it, including my night clothes. Thank goodness. PeeEw!

Start my JMT journey from the beginning HERE

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Day 24-Thankful For the L-Word

Love.

Is there anything better than love?  Being in love, loving someone else, feeling loved by your spouse, your family, your friends?  There are books about it.  Songs about it.  Poems about it.  Movies, art, and lectures on it.  It’s everywhere.  Inescapable even if you want to.

Today I am thankful for love.  Love is something of an anomaly.  It’s the biggest thing we crave but it can obliterate you within seconds.  Take our children for instance;  they are born and you cannot imagine a better feeling.  Your heart swells to unbelievable proportions.  It oozes from every crevasse of your being.  And then those children begin to grow and you start feeling a difference as they play on the playground, go to school the first time, or drive away in a car for the first time.  They start spreading their wings, and all you want is to hold on to them.  That love…can make you sick.  That love that you feel is now walking outside your body.  images

Or what about your family?  The love of family is an up in the air circus ride.  It can lift you up and toss you right back towards the ground.  It can be beautiful and coarse all at the same time.  On occasion you wonder how you can love someone so intensely and hate them all at the same time.  I think families have a way of calling you on things and behaviors that can build up and tear down.  They can be as sweet as honey or as bitter as acid.  Family love can leave you empty as well as overflowing, uplift or destroyed all in a matter of moments.  It’s a strange and unusual sort of love.

images-2The love of a spouse.  I have been with the hubs for 20 years.  We have moved all over the country, bought and sold houses, raised kids currently in the house and out on their own, traveled the World, argued, been in situations that we weren’t sure how we got into or how to get out, cried together, laughed together, prayed together; you name it, over twenty years there has been a multitude of life lived.  One thing about us, no matter the situation, is our fierce love and respect for one another.  It’s solid, resolute and unwavering.  It’s the thing of fairytales, chick flicks and romance novels.  It was truly orchestrated from above.  No other way around it.  When you meet and fall in love in a God-harmonized way, it is magical.  It’s a love that will never be severed.  images

Then….there’s God’s love.  Agape love.  So intense, so unconditional.  God’s shows us a love that transcends any earthly love.  It’s whole and complete.  Never failing.  His love reaches us beyond all circumstances.  It’s the highest sky and deepest ocean and nothing can separate us from it.  It’s never failing, and will never leave us abandoned.  He can pick up the most broken of people and put them back together with His love.  It’s earth-moving and tangible.  Isn’t that something?  Who doesn’t need that?images-1

love that God designed us to love and be loved.  He crafted our hearts to feel the intensity of this LOVE-emotion.  I love also that He has taught us how to love.  His “manual” is full of love.

Even on the worst days, I am thankful for love.  I am thankful that I feel.  I am thankful to know that no matter what this life hands to me, I am loved and am loved exceptionally and that I love exponentially.  Regardless of circumstance the love that fills me is outer-world, secure, stable, reliable, durable and hugely surpasses any love I will ever have on this earth.

I am thankful for that L-Word…even when my heart is walking around outside my body.. I know that something else is there that fills up every space perfectly and completely. Unknown

The Beginning

I’m awake early. My mind is in complete process mode still sorting out all of the information it has taken in so far this week. It has been an incredibly overwhelming, exhausting, joy-filled, tearful, heart-swollen, God orchestrated type of week. I have been taking notes, and was prepared and planning to write this week about our time here in Honduras….what I didn’t plan for was the fact that it will take some time for me to collect myself enough to write and the fact that by the time we get home at night to the hotel and have dinner, I would fall, completely used up, into bed.

I’m sitting here in the early morning as sounds of Tegucigalpa fill our room. It’s a cool morning, and the open window feels amazing on my sticky, humid skin. I have laid here for about an hour now, listening to the sounds of the city. Motorcycles, dogs barking, beautiful birds chirping, gun shots, cars honking, music school warming up their instruments across the street, roosters calling, trash trucks…..a big difference from the quiet and silence of a morning at home.

Our team leader has decided that we would read through a book of the Bible while here, and each morning as we gather for breakfast and devotional time, we could talk about what God has brought to our attention in this certain book. The book, James! Which, struck me immediately when he said it. I just finished a Life Group that worked through the exact same book. Coincidence? Absolutely not! God doesn’t work in coincidences. I see that God was preparing me for this trip right down to the day we got here, and showed me that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

It’s a huge leap of faith to do a mission. One of the other leaders here said she constantly has people say they want to go with a team….and out of the hundreds that say they “want” to go…only a few actually do. It takes a lot of faith to step out of your comfort zone. But I know when God has whispered a mission into your heart, you better go. And that’s how it was for us. It wasn’t out of curiosity, it was out of obedience.

So I will collect the thoughts, images, sounds, smells, and prayers in my heart and mind, and soon they will spill out on to these pages. I will tell you this, I am so thankful for my faith, I am thankful that we stepped on to the ledge, I am thankful for my team’s obedience, I am thankful for the opportunity that we had to serve. I am grateful that God said, “Paula, go and be a blessing and a servant of mine to the people of Honduras” I am grateful that I listened. I am thankful for the support we have back home. I know I will never be the same. I know my life is forever changed in ways, that I’m not quite even sure is explainable. And I know that even though I planned on coming to Honduras to work hard and be an instrument of God’s love and blessing to these people, the blessings that we have received far surpasses anything I could ever imagine.

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