Who Says the Mountain Ain’t Too High? Persevering to the Mountaintop Experience.

What’s your mountain’s name?   Or do you have a craggy range of them?  You know, the looming canyon walls that try to convince you to turn back ?  A sneaky one has suckered me in, and as I near the summit, it tries to convince me there is a dead-end with no alternate routes.  Little did I know the encouragement I craved would soon climb its way into my path.

Recently two of my daughters (Casey and Misty) and son-in-law (Karsten) rumbled with dreams of climbing Southern Colorado’s West Spanish Peak in a mere morning.  Any climber would roll down the mountain, laughing hysterically.  After thoughtful consideration, they plotted a trail of 13 miles.  This is when I said ‘yes’ to the careless offer from the Three Billy Goats Gruff going on the excursion, explaining  Colorado and Kansas miles are pinnacles apart.

 “Here is the formula I figure it with.  Take this 3.5 mile trail;  times it by 2 for the return trip; add the elevation; divide it by 4 — the number in our party–, and multiply it by our decreased oxygen levels…”  Their eyes glazed over, conceding to the AARP doorstep troll, twice their ages. 

I really wanted to go because 1.) Even when my muscles screamed the next day, the adventure would be worth it, 2.) Because my survivor-man brother and I had attempted this same route a few years back, but had to turn back. How fun to say, ‘Remember that trail, Clay?….” (Insert evil older sister laugh here.) And, 3.) I like truly like my family. Slap me on whatever bronc bucks our way, I’m riding it with them to the buzzer.  (Shhh….For back-up, I packed a book in case the road was too much for me.)

Here is what God showed me on Mt. Perseverance.

1.       Wear a good attitude like a backpack. Setting your mind to enjoy the journey is crucial including off-key singing.

2.       Prepare as much as possible, but pack only the necessary. Sturdy shoes, water, and snacks protected us.  Of course, I packed pen, paper, and a camera. Karsten declared himself the Water Boy and carted  all our high quality H2O, increasing the challenge for him. 

3.       Take breaks and check out the scenery. My companions began at breakneck pace.  I was not shy about stopping the crew.  Not only to catch my breath, but to catch glimpses of glorious view, being passed. Eventually, huffing voices filtered back to me. “Mom, you ready to take a break, yet?—pant, pant.”  We’d never make the top if we didn’t take care of ourselves, and stop to look for the blessings.

4.       Keep looking up and forward. As we got closer to our goal, the shafts of light increased, spurring us onward.  But, don’t forget to expect declines, dips, stumps, and thorns.  The farther the path went, the less traveled it was.  A sign few had persisted this far.

5.       Take whatever help is offered.  A walking stick, a change in the group’s hiking order, and encouraging words  reassured success for the group.

6.       The harder it gets, the more you pray. “Repeating, ‘Oh Lord, have mercy!’ saved my life.,” shares Almost 50 Year Old from Kansas..

7.       Laugh as much as possible. If I disclosed even a smattering of the stupid jokes of the Kahn Bus Mountain Rangers, (that’s us) you would think even I, the Elusive Mongoose, had lost it.

8.       It’s not a competition.  Everyone’s journey is different. About 100 foot from the top our Misty Goat’s back muscles clenched up, grabbing on to the hardware imbedded in her L5 vertebrae.  At her feet were stacks of small stone monuments made by someone before us.  “Or tombstones’ thundered the heartbeats pounding in my ears as my lungs tried to whirl the crank, hoping to restart potential respiration in the ol’ chest area. Truth be told, if I had known how hard this would be, I’d planted my book and I half-way up the path and knocked out a good 50 pages.

After muscles stretched and the blood pressure calmed, the steepest section of the climb’s tauted us with its severity. But we had come so far.  Our flag was ready to be staked and the mountain claimed!

Fatigue left as quickly as a mama’s exhaustion when she hears the first cry of her baby she’s worked so hard deliver.  Shouts of victory, mixed with the buzz of  robin-sized  hummingbirds shook the peak, blaring the theme from Rocky. Pictures engraved this victorious moment for the family archives.  But that wasn’t all.

 Over the jagged privacy fence of boulders, a secluded valley unfurled its carpet of lush pines, while jolly grasses bobbled on the bottom’s dance floor.  What an awe-filled display!

9.         Share the story.  I scribbled thoughts. The girls scaled extremely dangerous rock outcroppings, causing my if-you-fall-no-helicopter-can-rescue-you-here mom knees to buckle into a sitting position. Karsten honed his Spiderman skills, skittering along sandstone ledges. Down in the valley, a guy with swollen knees, a son with a pulled groin, and the lumbering form of our very pregnant daughter wisely had taken the route of reeling in their own personal fish stories.  A time of relaxation and just being.  It simply was not their day to encounter our particular quest.  Sharing it would be our responsibility. .

That night we feasted on grilled fillets, eight shy from the ranch’s pond. Our fishermen ogled over mountaintop photos, and we imagined as best we could landing their catches.  Two different trails with seven different points of view and revelations.  As varied as the colors on a rainbow trout.

So, how’s your journey?  Are you passing on the experience, no matter your location on the trail?  Do you drink in others excursion testimonies and wisdom?  Only God knows which of us will end up walking a similar path. Whether it runs through an easy-going valley or ends up struggling to the peak of an arduous mountain, we need to remember He created them both.

 

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Traveling with the Griswolds….I mean Longs: Pondering the Vacation Experience with Adult Children

 

The idea was hatched last May, when Cliff and I had our first vacation without a kid or four dragging along behind us.  Despite loving the ‘us’ time and the rustic little mountain town of Cuchara, CO, our children still haunted us.  Enough we knew we needed to share the experience with them.

Last week the dream came to pass.  A better trip could not be had.  No breakdowns, everyone relatively healthy, and perfect mountain weather.  Completing our party of our three daughters and son was our son-in-law Karsten. He added another facet to our family’s sparkle.  (For some reason he insisted on taking the family pic at the Coolidge, KS sign instead of us flagging down Cousin Eddie to snap the pic)

Surprisingly, traveling with 20 somethings isn’t that different than when they were tots. 

Priming the argument pump before we left someone shared that Lee Harvey shot Abe Lincoln. (Insert head hang here)  Since we are the History Buff Family that mixed up soul almost got to stay behind and take care of the cat.  

Packing and finally getting everyone out the door was a miracle of epic proportions.  With Cliff tapping his watch, we finally got on the road 15 minutes behind schedule. Of course, our first stop ended up being at the quick shop about a half mile from our house.  I thought Wagon Master Cliff was going to have a heart attack. 

Seven month pregnant Robin took her doctor very seriously to drink lots of water.  Every bathroom and a bush on HWY 10 between La Junta and Walsenburg, CO was inspected by her on the 8 hour drive.   This act of bravery was commended since she was the one who we could never coax, bribe, or threaten to pee outside because ‘a snake might bite my butt.” While she was ‘busy’ everyone would unload, usually followed by ninja moves in the parking lot.

Along the road, other life and death controversies sparked.  Can potatoes and onions be stored in wheat elevators?  Can a prairie dog town really stretch 40 miles?” And my personal fav: Would Jesus wear sunscreen?  Due to traveling in two vehicles we did not have to draw lines down the seats to separate debating parties. 

Cole, who’s life mission has always been to antagonize his sisters, did not leave the quality at home.  Bare, hairy feet were flopped in laps, and he loved suckering them into some farfetched story with a dead pan face, then twisting it to make them the brunt of the joke.  His mission accomplished.

Once we made our destination, we settled in loading all seven of us in the crew cab truck to trek to the area attractions.  It wasn’t so bad, so the next day we trekked to the San Luis Valley.  People squirmed and jostled to get comfortable.  Any excuse to stop landed us taking pictures at the roadside with giant chickens, an enlightening romp through a UFO watch site, and the grandeur of Old LaVeta Pass’s scenery. 

Our cabin was almost as close of quarters.  Seven in cabin built for 4-5 max.  But if that’s what’s available you take it.  Close quarters made for nights of giggles, whispers, and sneaking out for early morning runs.  And disputes over Abe Lincoln’s last hours.  (How he managed to stowaway on this trip is beyond me.)

One evening after a successful trout fishing trip, Cliff grilled mouthwatering delights any gourmet restaurant would be envious of—even leaving the heads on.  Casey dove in, flicking its mouth back and forth and talking in a made up voice.  Robin and Misty were not so friendly with the fish.  Both were gagging and convinced this was the grossest idea ever.  Cliff patiently pulled the meat from the bones, just like when he’d cut their meat for them when they were 4.  “Just try it. One bite,” he persuaded. Rolling up their noses, they cautiously took bites like they were on Fear Factor.  In the end they decided it wasn’t so bad.

We gals retreated to the porch to finish our supper.  Cole opened the screen and in an ultra-calm voice said, “Everyone get inside.  There is a bear behind the cabin.”

A chorus of ‘Yea, right, Cole,” and “Ha-ha, Cole,” chimed together. Over his shoulder, Karsten, popped up, his eyes as big as basketballs.  “There is!”

Immediately our school of trout was forgotten as we scrambled inside.  Voices spiked, and everyone was clamoring over each other, grabbing cameras and fighting to see Gentle Ben out the one dinky window in back.

Sitting back on his haunches, this black bear seemed quite comfortable garbage can diving—like this was one stop on his nightly scavenging route.  He could have cared less if the paparazzi were trying to capture the moment. I got a great shot of my finger. From around the corner came a bigger meaner opponent strode towards the beast.  Cliff waved his spatula and calmly demanded, “Hey you bear.  Get on out of here.”

‘Bubba,’ we later learned his name, sauntered on up the hill. Grabbing cameras Cole and Karsten took off to try to get shots, much to the mama-to-be’s chagrin.  “Don’t you want to meet your child someday?”  But, he was out the door, on a wilderness adventure with his brother-in-law. 

Sadly, the nature boys were too slow, and the sun had had left faster than the terrified bear. But what a great story, they have to tell! (and a claw mark on Cliff’s new truck)

What priceless moments given to us to bond us closer together.  Of course there are many more which I will share at a later date.  In the book An Arrow Pointing Heavenward about the life of Rich Mullins, who wrote Awesome God, there is a great section on family.  A small portion says, “The home is the workshop of God, where the process of character-making is silently, lovingly, imperceptibly carried on. We have families because we are weak creatures, and God knows that we need them.  Through our lives, those people who knew us first are a part of our makeup even if they are difficult to live with.  Old men and women can see their parents in their minds as if it were yesterday. Jamming seven people in a care that seats five may not be comfortable, but it is family.  In the terms of soul shaping it is the most powerful place in the world.”

 

Pinterest is the Devil!!!

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What would Pinterest do with this? Give me a minute and I’ll think of something……

Pinterest is the Devil!

Have you been sucked into the swirling vortex of this website of totally awesome recipes, fashion, books, photography, craft adventures, etc?  Are you scavenging back alleys and loading docks for shipping pallets to repurpose into a house full of furniture for next to nothing?  Did you print off the 40 Ways to Tie a Scarf and have it posted next to your dresser?  Or maybe you’ve stepped up your blah manicure with nails that look like peacock feathers? 

If you have managed to steer clear of this magical land, let me explain what it is.  At  www.pinterest.com  a wandering soul can join and suddenly this amazing world of ‘pinning’ opens up to them.  Your own personal file is available for you to save whatever frolics across your path and tickles your fancy.  Just one click, and it is saved for you to run back to and find where-oh-where on the Internet is the instructions to make, buy, visit, or simply enjoy that desire of  your heart. 

For the person with the self-control of a monk, this is a wonderful site.  Most projects are very cheap to do and saves you money.  It encourages repurposing items headed to the dump pile and opens new doors to getting those creative juices going.  Did I mention all the handy tips to make life a breeze?  No kidding.  It is the Holy Grail of Imagination and Creativity. 

But, then you have me.  I’m the gal, who when working 60+ a week with three little girls, decided she needed to take a wheat weaving class.  Cliff calmly questioned the announcement with: “Kelly, the first grade teacher sent a note home your daughter can’t see out her hair?  If you don’t have time to trim her bangs, when are you going to have time to weave wheat?”  Point taken, so all the wheat in Barber County has straight stalks thanks to Mr. Killjoy.  Then, when we were moving all the possessions of our six family members and two dogs across town at Christmas, while both of us were working full time and fitting in Christmas programs, Band concerts, and the company Christmas parties, I had the brilliant impulse to tan a deer hide.  Again, that deep voice asked kindly, “Why?” 

Stuttering because I hadn’t really thought out the finished result, I stammered, “Because, I want to make moccasins???”   A deer hide was brought in and rotted in a trash can of some kind of goop while I proceeded to teeter on the edge of a nervous breakdown.   I’m the luckiest gal in the world because when we bought our house, I would say “I have an idea!”, and Cliff would immediately threaten to block HGTV.  But he never did.  

 That is love, my friend. 

 Isn’t there something about the freshness of a new project, a clean slate, an unmarked canvas.  There may be mountains of half-finished projects scattered around, but a new one……ahhh!

When my mono-stricken daughter introduced me to the site in November, I knew to ‘just say no!” I knew me too well.  After Christmas, I pinned a little, but held fast to my resolve.

Until about a month ago.  We were on a long vacation weekend with some free time on my hands.  Life had been a little crazy, so I told myself, “You are on vacation. Why not?  You deserve to go there—for just a taste.”  (Yes, I would have caved to the White Witch in Narnia. No doubt about it. )

Three hours of time escaped somewhere, because I could verify it was only 15 minutes.  I’d pinned about 4000 new ideas, and my blood pressure was pinging off the ceiling from the excitement of trying things I didn’t know existed a few hours prior.  The minute I got home I was painting rocks with a fun font to identify herbs in my garden (very cute) and up for whipping up a new squash casserole (wonderful).  Success!  Since I could not afford to miss a thing, I was up way too late scouring for more ideas.  Before long I was stirring up natural weed-killer (works), setting up a fairy garden which we do not have evidence any tiny winged people or gnomes having staying there yet, and debating if I should jump on my periodic roller coaster of should my hair be long or short with the cute style pics

My brakes suddenly wore out due to screeching to a stop for random garage sales. And auctions!  The Mother Lode for tons of great stuff for my good intentions-who knows if they’ll ever be actually used?

My guys gave me ‘the look’.  You know the one you’d get if you announced that the package from the mailbox is supplies to make mozzarella cheese.  (Kind of interesting process—debating if it will become a life skill I will delve in regularly.)  But, stuff like this makes me think I can do anything.  Some of the fascination is in the challenge.

They, also, pointed out Pinterest had invaded my conversations.  “Oh, I saw where if you spray your pepper with Epson salts mixed with water, they will produce more.”   “Did you know if you spray a wine bottle white and glue Epson salts to it, it looks all glittery and very chic?”  Suddenly, I can tempt  future employers when they see ‘Epson Salt Expert’ on my resume’.  

Last week I got to share some Pinterest delights since the theme was about night and being in the dark.  A glowing xylophone was a hit. Writing on ourselves with a highlighter in the black light suddenly turned the Lincoln Library into Miss Kelly’s tattoo parlor.  But the glittering “Fairies in a Jar” project?  Epic fail.  Once again, let down by the Tooth Fairy and her friend swarm.  

I find myself clearing my name to friends who are other Pinterest pinners and saying, “Really, I don’t live on there all the time. They nod sympathy because they know.  They’ve seen my name on there every day and the black circles under my eyes from my wee hour Pinterest meetings.  It’s evident I can think of nothing else and prayed to be checked into a PA (Pinners Anonymous) Rehab. 

Then my intervention pinned me to reality.

Not meaning to lead anyone astray, my new sister-in-law was wringing her hands with what to do about her overly abundant produce from a garden quite possibly to be featured on “The Victory Garden” next month. (I don’t know what she’s doing, but she’d put Martha Stewart’s garden in the dust.  That’s dangerous ground  if you outdo the Queen.  After the prison stint, I’m sure she knows people, if you get what I mean.)  But I jump to help  “Why, you can make salsa, and pickles, and relish, and taco sauce, and…..” I encourage her.  I have recipes I can send you.”

“I don’t want to can.  Ever,” she says blandly.  I gasp.

 But, in no time she has caved.  She’s so excited and chopping peppers like a Ginsu commercial and racking up a storehouse like she’s living on Walton’s Mountain. 

She says to me, “You’re my own personal Pinterest!”  Eeeekkkkkk!  What have I done?  I have dragged someone down the checkered path with me. 

Saddest to me when God has given me the gift of time, the partially finished project of my dreams hasn’t moved as quickly.  Who has time when you are learning to make the perfect tortilla?   Or maybe it’s an excuse to put off the project, because the next steps you have no idea how to do them?  And that’s a scary world.   But, there is no doubt it’s one I’m supposed to step into. 

Here’s the deal.  There is nothing wrong at all with Pinterest.  It’s an awesome site.  I am the Compulsion Queen, who cages up Self-Control in a cool chicken coop made out of wooden cable spools (looks too cool and easy to make) and then forgets to feed it , let alone releasing it to run and scratch out the grubs and worms in my life. Exactly like my husband’s deep voice, I need to stop, listen, and take into account what I am giving up by getting distracted and consumed.   Consumed to the point offering to deliver my new grandbaby as a nice little shower gift, (Kind of hurt my feeling when they declined) or looking for DIY instructions on “How to Install a Pacemaker Using a Couple of  Wire Twisty Ties and a Timex.” 

Hmmm…don’t think those things are God’s purpose for me.  And would be about as successful as keeping fairies in a jar.

The end of all things is near.  Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  1 Peter 4:7

photo credit: walt from masterpieceintheworks.wordpress.com