White Mountain Hiking Adventure- 2017

hikingmap1.jpg

I’ve packed and unpacked, repacked and repacked again. I think I have everything I want and maybe some things I do not need but I most certainly feel prepared. It feels a little different going into this year’s hike. Last year, was my first time hiking longer than a day trip.  It was an amazing time with four other brave and beautiful friends who scrambled over boulders, hiked miles of trails, bagged 4,000+ ft. peaks, and enjoyed each other’s company and God’s creation.

This year, there are four of us and we are tackling the highest peak in the east- Mount Washington. According to the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) White Mountain Guide, Mount Washington has “a well-earned reputation as the most dangerous small mountain in the world, more than 140 persons have died on its slopes, many of them from exhaustion and exposure to the mountain’s severe and rapidly changeable weather. Storms increase in violence with great rapidity toward the summit.” Sounds fun, right? For some of us, yes. I am excited about this challenge and if I am nervous about anything, it is not physical health or the endurance needed to climb the mountain but the chance of thunderstorms and quickly changing weather (obviously out of our control.) If you think about it,  please pray we have good weather and the storms stay away.

This hike will also take us to 1 AMC lodge, 2 AMC huts (different than last year) and 4 other summits to bag. I have new expectations for this hike and am looking forward to the adventure that awaits. I’ll be taking pictures, journaling and will update my blog when I get back. Until then, the mountains are calling and I must go….

 


A Safe Place with a Pint of Ice Cream

icecreamandtheblessingoffriendship

Twelve hundred. That is the exact number of calories in an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Super New York Fudge Chunk. Long before my hips showed any adverse signs from indulging in excessive amounts of sugary treats, I would down a pint of ice cream in one sitting.

I was never alone in the endeavor and I always had two pints of Ben & Jerry’s with me. One for me and one for my best friend. Eating a pint of ice cream was the extent of our high school craziness. This was one of the many reasons why I loved her. Instead of going out and partying, we were both happily content staying in, talking, and watching the TV edited versions of Dirty Dancing and Ghost.

I vividly remember the laughs, the tears over broken hearts, the questions we tried to answer, and sharing our hopes and dreams. When I think about these times, the thing I treasure the most is the feeling that has lingered all these years. I remember feeling safe.

My friend had provided a space where I could be vulnerable and authentic. She was always the first one I wanted to run to and tell the things on my heart. And she always received me with patience and kindness.I knew I was loved no matter what I shared.

I am sure we had our disagreements and differences but I seem to remember more agreements and similarities. Boys, distance, and life took a toll on our friendship and eventually separated us. Over the span of twenty years, I have thought of my friend often. At every big life event. When hopes and dreams have come true. When loved ones have passed. When I watch a romantic comedy. And every time I eat Ben & Jerry’s.

It’s because of her that I think the solution to most of life’s problems can be worked out with a good laugh, a good cry, and a pint of ice cream shared in a safe place where hearts can be exposed.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my friend and the gift of friendship. It doesn’t take much to see and hear the scary, confusing, unjust things happening in our world. In all of our interactions, I wonder if we are thinking before we speak (or post.) Are we responding to others in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?1 Or are our responses filled with hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, or envy? 2  Are we providing a safe place for hearts to be exposed?

There is a little piece of scripture I have read a thousand times but I keep going back to read. It captures the interaction of two women who were very dear to each other. Two women who were thrown into unplanned circumstances.Confusing, possibly scary circumstances that included many unknowns in the days to come.

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”–Luke 1:39-45

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then returned home.”–Luke 1:56

This passage makes me think of God’s power, his glory and the miracles in impossible things. But I also think of God’s incredible KINDNESS. Kindness to knit two women together, to be there for each other, to support and help each other through their callings and life’s situations. I wish I could have eavesdropped on Mary and Elizabeth’s conversations in those three months. The passage highlights the joy they shared. Wonder, amazement too. But did they also share a lot of laughs and cries? Did they discuss their futures-share their hopes, dreams, and fears?  Did they expose their hearts?

I think yes to all of those questions. Mary and Elizabeth were like us in many ways and I think God shows the same kindness to us. He brings people in our life that pour into us when we need it most and who can help us navigate through callings and life together.

In a world that might not feel safe, we can be safe places for each other. We must think wisely before we speak. Pray for patience, kindness, and self-control before we hit “post.” Listen with our hearts. Speak life with our words. Find purpose in our days to use our time wisely and leave people better than how we found them. We can provide safe places for hearts to be exposed, allow raw emotions to be displayed, and with joy share in people’s hopes and dreams. And finally, we can praise God for the gift of friendship, community…and good ice cream. 😉

devotional2gospelofluke

1.- Galatians 5:22-23

2- Galatians 5:19-21


WONDER-FULL WEDNESDAY

wonderfullwednesday

Everyone needs a friend who encourages and gently prods-or pushes- them to try new and adventurous things. I have a friend who is like this. She is one of my best and dearest friends and one of the things that I love most about her is that she believes in me wholeheartily. So much so, that if she believes I can do something, I know that I can and usually execute it with much more confidence and grace than I thought possible!

So when my friend sent an email invitation to “a few dear friends who might be interested in spending a few days in the midst of God’s beautiful creation in the mountains,” I did not give it a second thought. My answer was an enthusiastic “YES!”

New Hampshire has 48 mountains over 4,000 feet and we plan to “bag” four of them. This is not a day hike. It will involve three days of hiking with three overnights all while carrying a 25+ pound pack on our backs. Three other, brave and adventurous friends will be joining the expedition.

I feel excited and a bit anxious all at the same time. I have a lot to do to be physically prepared for the trip. I am hopeful that this will kick my rear into gear and help me get back in shape. I also have some emotional preparation to do. The longest hike I have been on have been day trips and camping has involved being close to a bathhouse. Sleeping overnight miles into the woods, in a mountain hut, with strangers is stretching me big time. (Those who know me well will understand this.) There is a lot to learn especially about packs and equipment and I want to take it all in.

I plan to blog through the preparation in the weeks leading up to the trip, partly for accountability but also for reflection.  I will be posting my hiking  updates on “WONDER-FULL WEDNESDAYS.” Why not give it a name? The definition of the words are a perfect fit.  I hope that you will consider “joining” me  and cheering me on as I prepare to embark on a challenge that will stretch me physically, emotionally and spiritually. With wonder and enthusiasm, I can’t wait to find out what God has in store for me!


Wonder

  • desire or curiosity to know something.
  • a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

Full

  • possessing or containing a great amount

Wednesday

  • the day of the week between Tuesday and Thursday


A Selected Winner

A Selected Winner

I love receiving mail! I ogle over the Pottery Barn catalogs, shake my head at the quantity and quality of political advertisements, and I used to open up almost every single Publishers Clearing House envelope. The envelopes quite clearly stated that I was a “selected winner” and commanded “final steps were required” to take.

How could I argue and what did I have to lose? For four months, with delusional hopes of winning, I painstakingly stuck every sticker/stamp in the correct place of the catalog all while avoiding household duties and screaming children. After the finalist papers had been mailed in, the house was still a mess, the kids were still screaming and no Prize Patrol, balloons, or an oversized check came to my door.

But the other day, a beautiful, handwritten note of encouragement arrived in my mailbox. The real mailbox. The one located in front of my house on the side of the street.

The envelope did not proclaim that I was a “selected winner.”There were no blaring, red words stating “final steps required” on the front. No stickers to be stuck, no catalog to go through, no other mailings required. Yet, I knew that this letter represented that I was a winner and a prize worth more than money was waiting for me within the words the note contained.

The card was sent from a dear friend (and mentor.)  A friend whom I can depend on and who I trust with my deepest fears and insecurities. A friend who laughs with me, celebrates with me, mourns with me, prays with me and for me.  But best of all, this friend allows me to be me. She loves me for who I am. The good and the work-in-progress. If you have a friend like that, consider yourself an ultimate winner!  There is something liberating and powerful, so divine in a friendship like that. And I am so blessed to have more than one friendship like that.

I did not wait to get into the house but opened the card in the driveway. Each word I read, sunk into my heart. It was a card about me. All the good things that my friend noticed in me.  Leadership skills, vulnerability, faith, and friendship. She called them out one by one in careful, thoughtful, and encouraging way. Have you ever received a letter like that? It is life giving.

The envelope did not state there were “final steps required,” but there were final steps that I wanted to take.

1.) I praised God for the blessing of friendship and the encouragement of others. If you do not have friends in your life, why not pray about it. Ask the Lord to put some people in your path that will be a blessing to you. If you a mom, a MOPS group is a great place to find some friends.

2.) Be an encourager! Each week, one of my goals is to write at least two letters/cards of encouragement to friends and family. It doesn’t need to be a long letter. Just a note to let them know that I am thinking of them, praying for them, and to call out something good that I see or admire in them.  And then pray that the letter arrives at just the right moment.

Make someone a “winner” today.  Mail a “prize winning” envelope today that includes a prize worth more than money. A prize of encouraging words that bless their day.

—————————————————————

PS….One final note on Publishers Clearing House, if you happen to be curious, purchasing something (let’s say three super sharp, never dulling, crystallized scissors and two amazing, can’t-find-them-anywhere-else-yes-you-really-can pencil sharpeners) from the PCH catalog, that really, REALLY does not give you a better chance of winning (exactly as the fine print says.) JUST SAYING!