Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Duct Tape

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to climb one of the best peaks in Colorado with a few friends.  If you know me well, you have probably endured my retelling of the infamous hiking boot fiasco that befell me on this wilderness adventure.   Still, I think it’s a story worth repeating once more for the blog world. 

As we stood in the parking lot before making our ascent to the grand peak, I contemplated which shoes to wear.  This wasn’t a fashion dilemma. I was vacillating between a pair of high top boots or my more comfortable low-top hiking shoes.  Knowing that we might be facing some snow at the summit, I regrettably chose the boots.  Never mind that I had purchased them in college, which in my head was not that long ago. 

We were about three miles into our nearly fourteen-mile journey when my friend, Brian asked if I had a blowout.  Considering that we were in high altitude and he was behind me on the trail, I misinterpreted his question and assured him that I had most certainly not experienced a blowout.  He laughed and then pointed to the sole of a shoe lying on the trail behind me.  

Having not felt the sole detach from my boot, I assumed it wasn’t mine and we continued forward.  We hiked no more than a few feet before my other boot began to fall apart.  It was then that I realized the sole on the trail was indeed mine, and I was about to lose the other one.  Remarkably, I couldn’t feel the difference without the soles on my shoes, so I made the hasty decision to continue the ascent. 

If you haven’t ever climbed a “fourteener”, let me assure you that placing one’s self in the middle of the wilderness without functional footwear is an unwise choice.  This holds especially true in an environment where weather can wreak havoc on your safety and well-being.  Regardless, I was determined to reach the summit with my friends.  After all, we had risen in the very early morning and driven several hours for our adventure.  I wasn’t about to miss out on the prize. 

I marched onward for another mile or so until my toes began peeking out the end of my boots.  I realized then that I was in trouble.  I was miles away from civilization on a rugged and rocky trail with no shoes.  My friends and I began rummaging through our backpacks for anything that might hold my boots together.  We had nothing.  We were completely unprepared. 

As we were sitting on the trail debating what to do, a fellow hiker approached us on her descent.  She offered an Ace bandage, which we tore and used to tie around my shoes.  That worked for a while until the trail took its toll and my boots fell apart again.  At just that time, we stumbled upon a group of geology students who were doing some sort of mountain project.  Fortunately, one of the students offered us some duct tape, which we used to wrap around the bandage. 

The duct tape held for a mile or so and then fell apart.  It was then that we passed another group of hikers who offered more duct tape.  We secured my shoes again and continued our hike.  On and on this went throughout the entirety of our climb.  Each time my shoes fell apart, we were met by someone who happened to be equipped with exactly what we needed to get a little further along in our journey. 

Eventually, we summited and then made our descent.  It wasn’t comfortable.  Snow and sediment from the trail crept into my tattered boots and nestled under my weary feet throughout much of our hike.  Furthermore, layers of duct tape, bandages, and medical tape created a less than ideal platform on which to walk.  Still, we made it.   The views from the peak were indescribable, and the satisfaction of reaching our goal was worth the arduous climb. 

I have thought back to that adventure many times over the past few years.  Isn’t it so much like our faith journey?  The Lord gives us what we need exactly when we need it.  I sure would have preferred to stumble upon a new pair of hiking boots as I was desperately straining up the mountain, but that’s not usually how God works.  He gives us just enough duct tape to stimulate our dependence on Him.  It may come as a word of encouragement, an unexpected financial bonus, an answered prayer, a phone call from a friend, a verse of Scripture, an opportunity to serve, or anything else that might sustain us for a few more miles down the trail.  

We might be uncomfortable at times.  Rocks and sediment might creep in and make our climb more painful.  But, someday we’ll summit.  Someday, we’ll reach the indescribable, unfathomable peak and realize that the climb was so worth the prize.  In the meantime, we walk a journey of faith along a grueling trail with tattered, imperfect shoes…trusting Him to provide just one more piece of duct tape. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Dance

A few weeks ago, I attended a music festival.  It was a casual setting in an open field with vendor booths lining the perimeter.   The crowd of people, spread across a sea of picnic blankets and lawn chairs, enjoyed the music and conversation with friends. As one of the bands played a familiar song, I caught a glimpse of a scene I hope to never forget.  A man was dancing with his daughter who had special needs.  His adoration for her was obvious.  She clearly had his heart and every ounce of his attention.  She, on the other hand, had difficulty focusing.  She looked away at times and struggled to follow his lead.  Each time she wandered, he lovingly looked into her eyes, brushed the hair out of her face, smiled, and continued the dance.  

The song that serenaded them could not have been more appropriate.  It began, “I am sure all of heaven’s heard me cry as I tell you all the reasons why this life is just too hard.”  I get that.  I understand “hard”.  I have a brother with special needs.  The sentiment of the father resonated with me…his resolve, his fight, and his determination to trust and believe in spite of his circumstances.

My mind has wandered back to the dance on that field over and over in recent weeks as I have struggled through a new trial.  Each recollection left me fixated on the courage and determination of the father.  I focused on his steadfastness and persistence.  I wanted so much to look into the face of my own challenge and valiantly fight through it…as if that was my primary function in this battle.  I felt like I was failing miserably.  There were days I could hardly breathe, much less fight.   My life didn’t at all reflect the resolve that was so beautifully demonstrated for me that day. 

And, then it hit me….it was never my role to lead the dance.  I am the broken daughter.  I am the one who is so desperately in need.  I am the one who can’t even walk without His hand to guide me.  And in those moments when I lose focus, I am the one who needs Him to lovingly look into my eyes, brush the hair out of my face, smile, and continue the dance.  My only job is to follow the lead of my Father, to experience Him, and to embrace His courage and His persistence.  He will do the fighting for me.  He is faithful.  He adores me.  He is a marvelous God, and knowing Him is everything.   

Listen by clicking on the link below:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catching Up

HELLO BLOG WORLD! Oh, how I have missed you. I have no good reason for walking away, so I'll take the easy road and blame it on Barack Obama...and the fact that Oprah is canceling her show. I don't actually watch her show, but I'm pointing fingers nonetheless.

Much has happened since my last post four months ago. I did manage to snap a few photographs during the craziness of it all, so I'll attempt to quickly recap my life in pictures...

I mentioned in my last post that a few friends and I climbed Mt. Massive in July. This is the "before" picture taken in front of the mountain.

...and the "after " shot. What you can't see in this picture is that the soles of BOTH of my shoes fell off about three miles into the climb. My toes began to peek out of my shoes about 3 1/2 miles into the climb. It was then that I began my love affair with duct tape and Ace bandages.

Not long after the Mt. Massive hike, a few friends and I hiked from Aspen to Crested Butte in the peak of wildflower season. We stayed in Crested Butte for a couple of days before hiking back and had a great time. The scenery was amazing even though the pictures don't begin to capture what we saw.

A few days after the hike to Crested Butte, I loaded up the car and headed south.

You'll be happy to know that Jed and Granny arrived safely.

Job one after arriving into town was to take a trip to Brenham to visit the little creamery. I was introduced to Nutty Chocolate and a few other flavors, and I haven't been the same since.

I was only in town a few days before I began school. I honestly love my job....I mean, as much as you can love a job. I have great kids, a great administration, and a great team of teachers. The atmosphere is incredibly positive, and the building is beautiful. For the first time, I have a window in my classroom. I love it!

I have also spent much of my time with family and trying as best as possible to catch up with old friends. I did manage to sneak in a trip to Colorado Springs a few weeks ago, however. I stayed with my friend Kari for the weekend. The weather was beautiful on Saturday, so we went on a short hike. I got to experience the best of both worlds though because it snowed on Sunday. It was a great weekend to catch up with friends, and I'm very excited to visit again soon.

Moving back has definitely had its ups and downs. I miss Colorado desperately, but I am enjoying the blessings of Houston. Among them are...




and Reid.

I'm also looking forward to sharing in the blessing of the birth of a new niece in April!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


It's official. I moved out of my Colorado Springs home Tuesday morning and have taken up residence in my car. It's a cozy existence, to say the least. Actually, I am staying with several different friends here in the Springs before heading to Aspen to spend some time with Beth next week. Right now, I am sitting in Pike's Perk Coffee Shop in downtown Colorado Springs where the people watching is well worth the price of my mango smoothie. I think my favorite customer is "The Cackler" sitting to my right. She thinks everything is funny...everything. I am also intrigued by the fact that her lips cease to move long before the laughter stops coming out of her mouth. It's weird...and fascinating all at the same time.

The last few weeks have been quite eventful. My mom was in town for a few days, and then Beth came with her two daughters just after my mom returned to Houston. I don't have much photographic evidence of either of their stays, but suffice it to say that good times were had by all.

Sadly, one picture I did take was of the "Mother Load" pancake at The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls. My mom and I made an attempt at it while she was here, and then I took Beth and her girls for round two a few days later. I'm not sure what more to say about the Mother Load except that it is like manna from heaven....really BIG manna. Not even Paula Deen and her double burner griddle could produce this delectable wonderfulness.

The day after Beth left to go home, I headed up to Leadville with a few friends to hike Mount Massive. This is a blog post in and of itself. As soon as I get the pictures from Kari, I'll fill you in on this little adventure.

After all the fun of the fourth of July week, I started the long and tedious packing process. All was going well until I discovered on moving day that my "pod" was entirely too small for my belongings. Unfortunately, the items I could have left behind were packed in the BACK of the pod leaving me to choose from the "pack last" items in the front of the pod. This included my clothes, important files, and school books and supplies for my classroom...all things I might just need once I arrive in Houston.

I'm not kidding when I say that I considered selling my car and purchasing a mini van in an effort to find a solution to my problem. I also called PODS to assure them that their room estimate was off and that they should credit my account with the amount of money it would take to purchase a new mini van as well as a mani/pedi and a massage. They assured me that they would not meet my demands but would be willing to send over a second pod at full price. I assured them that I would not be paying for a second pod and that I would be blogging about them which meant that at least four other people would know of their shenanigans. They didn't budge. So, my latest plan is to pack all of my excess items in a soft side carrier on the top of my car... along with a some sort of bench so that Granny and Jethro will have a place to sit on the trip home. It should be a fun ride!

After the PODS fiasco, I stayed up late into the night to finish all of the last minute packing and cleaning. I think I finally laid down around 3:30am. I had planned to wake up at 6:30 and finish the final details which would have been plenty of time since the new tenants weren't due to arrive until noon. Instead, my doorbell rang at 6:17. Standing at my door was the new tenant, seemingly unaware that it wasn't noon quite yet. He informed me that his movers would were scheduled to arrive between eight and eleven, leaving me to wonder why we were having a conversation on my doorstep in the wee small hours of the morning. So, for the next few hours, the new tenants and their cat watched as I packed what remained of my life in Colorado. It was a special time...just how I had always envisioned it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Swept Up In The Current

I was having lunch with a friend last week, and she asked if I ever felt as though I was being swept up in the current of life. I was thankful for her question because it perfectly illustrated my journey over the past few months. There have been times throughout my life when I have taken deliberate steps toward a particular goal or decision. Then, there have been situations where I have felt as though I was simply swept into the current...where I have eventually looked back and thought to myself, "What in the world just happened?" This is one of those times.

When I planned my move to Colorado Springs, it was a long process that required nearly a year of preparation and prayer. At every step of my journey, God confirmed that I was headed in the right direction. I never feared my move here, and I never worried that I was making the wrong decision. It wasn't always easy, but I knew it was right.

Today, I find myself at the end of my time here in Colorado. I will be moving back to Texas at the end of end of next month to take a job at a new middle school in Cy-Fair. While I am excited about my job and the idea of being close to the people I love most in the world, I don't want to leave Colorado. I have prayed for the Lord to keep me here...to throw a boulder in the stream that would change my course, but that doesn't seem to be His plan. I feel as though I have been swept into the current, and all I know to do at this point is to hang on and follow God's lead.

I am not dreading my move to Texas. I love Texas, and I love Texans (and I love that I can get Blue Bell, Tex Mex, and a good pedicure on just about every street corner in Texas). But, my time in Colorado has provided me with an opportunity to focus on my relationship with the Lord with few distractions. I have just begun to learn what it means to trust Him, to worship Him, and to rest in Him. I can stare at the mountains for hours and get lost in their Creator...His enormity, His vastness, and His greatness. I am enveloped by His beauty every single day, and I have never gotten over it.

Journeying into the familiar is more frightening to me than stepping into the unknown because it is in the familiar that I tend to trust myself. Perhaps, that is why the Lord led me into a current that is noticeably uncontrollable. Maybe I needed to be reminded that an essential part of trust is the acknowledgment that I am not in control. Whatever the case may be, this I do know...the God who controls my course is the same God who controls the river, so there is no safer place than when I am swept into the current of life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kari's Big Day

When I moved here a few years ago, I prayed that the Lord would provide me with at least one close single friend. He did. I met Kari almost immediately after I moved here at a Bible Study across town. As it turned out, we "just so happened" to live less than a mile from each other. We have spent countless hours shopping, talking, running, exercising, eating, hiking, laughing, worshiping, and praying together. Kari has been one of my greatest blessings in Colorado, and I can't imagine this adventure without her. Yesterday, Kari got married.

A few months ago, Kari asked if I would be willing to carry a walkie talkie at the wedding to help coordinate the wedding party during the processional. Feeling somewhat empowered by the idea of carrying a two way radio at a ceremonial event, I enthusiastically agreed. However, somewhere along the way I was promoted to the role of "wedding coordinator". I'm not really sure when that happened or why it did because have I mentioned that I've never actually coordinated a wedding...or planned one?

I'll admit to you that I didn't take my new found responsibilities too seriously, especially after learning that the reception would be at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. But....as it turns out, I really was expected to provide believable answers to complicated questions at the rehearsal on Thursday. Fortunately, my job as a middle school teacher has provided me with a number of opportunities to fabricate answers and then speak them with authority.

In spite of an incompetent wedding coordinator, the ceremony did manage to flow quite smoothly. Kari chose a picture perfect Colorado day for an outdoor wedding, and everyone and everything looked absolutely beautiful.

After the wedding, we had about an hour and a half before the official start of the reception. I had hiked quite a few hills in the hours leading up to the ceremony, so I decided to swing by my condo and clean up a bit before heading to the zoo. I also wanted to change into my khaki shorts and white button down shirt. And safari hat.

I rode to the reception with my friends, Brian and Chris, who had both been in charge of distributing driving directions at the wedding. Of course, navigating our way to a zoo we had all visited at least once seemed to be such a simple task that we chose to disregard the map and take a shortcut.

This is a picture taken from the inside of a mountain along our "shortcut" route. Yes, what you see is a dirt road. And...yes, I'm pretty sure we were in the middle of the national forest during at least part of our journey. We considered turning around a time or two but chose instead to forge ahead and hope that we didn't land at the top of Pike's Peak. The good news is that we discovered some new hiking trails and waterfalls and even spotted some wildlife along the way. The bad news is that the wedding coordinator arrived with the flowers for the cake table approximately forty-five minutes after the start of the reception.

Chris and me

Brian and me

After dinner, we had the opportunity to continue our pre-zoo wildlife adventure with a tour of the "Into the Wild" section of the zoo.

We also had the opportunity to ride the carousel after dinner. But, apparently the wedding coordinator's duties spill into the reception, so I spent the rest of the evening cutting cake and pretending to be in charge.

Congratulations, Barry and Kari! Thank you for including me in your special day. I wish you both the very best in your new life together, and I look forward to watching the Lord work in and through you in the years to come. May you be richly blessed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

8th Grade Trip 2009

I returned from the Goodson Middle School annual 8th grade trip a few days ago. As always, I had a complete blast and came home absolutely exhausted. Our trip started in Washington D.C. then continued to Hershey, Amish Country, and New York City. This year, my trip concluded with a bonus stay in Minneapolis courtesy of Northwest Airlines and their broken airplane.

After five days in four cities and three hotels with seventy-five eighth graders, I was very ready to be home. As you can imagine, I was less than thrilled to learn that I would be spending an extra night in a hotel. Wanting to get at least one step closer to home, I chose to take a later flight to Minneapolis and spend the night there instead of riding it out an additional day in Queens.

Goodness knows that I hold myself to a relatively high standard when it comes to airplane etiquette, but I was past the point of caring when I boarded the plane five hours after my scheduled departure. I fell asleep as soon as I slid into my seat and only woke up to enjoy a cup of cold water and a package of peanuts. To be honest, I really wasn't interested in food or drink at that point in my journey. I'm not sure what prompted me to even wake up long enough to partake of the airplane delicacy, but I did. I do remember struggling to appear as if I was alert enough to be feeding myself. I'm quite sure I failed to pull it off. Certainly, nothing about me was very appealing at the time.

When the plane landed around midnight, I was deep in the throes of a restless night's sleep but managed to make a grand entrance into the airport when I lost my footing on a misplaced rug. Fortunately, my carry-on suitcase provided me enough support to regain my balance. I might have been embarrassed under normal circumstances, but at that point I was too tired to concern myself with the cares of others.

I somehow navigated my way to the ticket desk where I retrieved my hotel and meal vouchers and then stumbled through the airport to the hotel shuttle. My shuttle driver, who had apparently just arrived from the year 1974, was clearly oblivious to my pathetic state of affairs and attempted to carry on a meaningful conversation with me throughout our fifteen minute ride to the hotel. When the front desk called to alert him of a security situation, he informed me that his job also included night time security guard and coffee barista...and from what I gathered in our seemingly endless conversation, "hotel historian".

After a brief stop to pick up my key at the front desk, I headed to my room only to be greeted by the overwhelming stench of body odor. Considering my journey to that point, I did check to see if it was my own. It wasn't. So, I proceeded to engage in some sort of incoherent conversation with myself where I questioned my justification in requesting another room. My high maintenance self won, as it usually does, so I called the clerk at the front desk to notify him of the situation. When I arrived downstairs to claim my new room assignment, he laughed and informed me that maintenance workers had been in my room. Come to find out, guests had complained of the smell all week. Feeling somewhat validated and equally puzzled by the fact that the scent from a human being can linger that long, I made my way to my new room and finally went to bed.

After a restful four hours of sleep, I caught the shuttle back to the airport. I won't go into my whole security line fiasco, but suffice it to say that Homeland Security has likely opened a file on me. Eventually, I found my gate and boarded what I hoped would be an uneventful flight to Colorado Springs.

As luck would have it, I was seated next to a fourteen foot cowboy who was sporting a plaid button-down and a purple bolo tie. Since his shoulders were too broad to fit within the parameters of his own seat, he chose to share mine and I was forced to shift a good portion of my tired self into the aisle. It would be too long and painful to paint an accurate picture of my unusual seating configuration, but know that I considered requesting compensation for the shoulder abuse I sustained throughout the duration of our flight.

One of the many highlights of my trip was when the flight attendant drove her drink cart into my arm and then tactfully informed that I was sitting in the aisle. Apparently, her critical thinking skills failed to alert her to the fact that Cowboy Dan had left me with nowhere else to go. She was also short on solutions when the tall man's cup of coffee found its way into my lap. Fortunately, he was kind enough to offer his spare bandana so I could clean up the mess.

Exhausted,wet, and with minimal fanfare, I finally arrived safely at the Colorado Springs airport. Give me another week and a few shots of whiskey, and I think I would be willing to do it all over again.

B.O.'s new house. "YES WE CAN!"

The FDR Memorial. Apparently, the sound of rushing water really can make you have to go to the bathroom.

SWEET kids!

These girls were obviously overwhelmed by the images of the Great Depression. I really think they got it.

Only an illusion

I could have used these on my trip home!

Putt Putt Golf at Hershey Lodge. I'm not really sure where the kids were at the time.

Like the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land...

Notice the New Year's Ball just above the lights that say "2009". As it turns out, items really are smaller than they appear on TV.

Again...only an illusion

The Seinfeld Restaurant

In front of the bridge where Kevin met the bird lady...