Unexpected Beauty

I love Colorado! Our family has taken many vacations to this beautiful state. We are currently here with our adult children. We have been relaxing and enjoying the cooler temps and beautiful surroundings.

Today was a family hike. And it affected me in a way I had not expected.

I knew this hike would be challenging. 6.2 miles with an elevation gain of 941.6 ft., beginning at an elevation of 8,913 ft. But the thought of family time witnessing mountain scenery, wildflowers, and a waterfall was motivating. The views did not disappoint! But that was not what consumed my thoughts as we trekked up and back down this mountain trail.

No doubt, my hiking pace would be the slowest of the group. All the kids are in their twenties. And Gart is in a little better shape, stronger. This truth was quickly realized as we headed down, or should I say, up the trail.

I am at a disadvantage, I thought.

I was bringing up the rear. Keeping my own pace. Telling myself that was ok. But also falling behind. And we were just getting started. And then this thought popped into my head.

Is this how some students feel at school? Ones facing a disadvantage? Whether in ability, family support, or resources. How do they feel when they sense they are falling behind? Are they, like I was, afraid of not reaching their goal?

My family slowed down and waited for me to catch up. After a short break, I was placed in the middle of the pack. No one seemed to mind the slower pace. They encouraged me.

You can do this, mom! Remember, take smaller steps. Breathe and relax your shoulders.

And even though still afraid, I kept going. Even picked up my pace just a little. At our next stop, Gart suggested I take the lead. They would follow me. Of course, he remained close behind. Constantly saying I was doing great. Reminding me that I am strong.

I still had doubts, but my determination was growing. I wanted to reach the top of the trail and gaze at that majestic waterfall with my family.

We told the kids to go on ahead. They needed to move a little faster. We would see them at the top! It felt good to let them go ahead of us. Gave me even more reason to keep going. Even though my body hurt. It was hard to catch my breath. And it would take every drop of energy and willpower I could muster.

Gart and I continued together. I asked him to take a picture of an unusual flower for me. We walked over log bridges across the flowing creek several times. The water flowed underneath from the waterfall that would soon be in sight.

I was going to make it! I struggled not to cry. Needed to keep breathing. As we rounded the last corner, I saw our daughter, Rachel. Smiling, hands up in the air. You made it! A big hug and tears came. I felt so proud.

Our son, Robert, and his wife, Erin, had hiked above the falls. They waved and smiled. Ryan, our youngest, was sitting nearby on a rock and soon walked over. You made it!

The waterfall was mesmerizing. A roaring cascade of water flowed over the edge to the stream below. I sat and had a snack and some water. We took pictures. And then the inevitable. We had to go back down.

Yes, most of it was downhill, but my body was exhausted. Some spots required careful steps. But thanks to the continuing encouragement of my husband and some light, cooling rain showers, I made it back to the car.

I can’t believe I did it! Pretty sure I said that at least ten times.

In all my relief at completing this six-mile hike, I couldn’t shake those earlier thoughts about students who are at a disadvantage.

What if they had someone to pull them from behind to the middle of the pack? What if their confidence grew enough to take the lead? What if they fluctuated back and forth, working hard, supported, and encouraged until reaching their goal?

I guess today’s hike made me focus on the beauty of humanity over nature. Realizing the ability each of us has to make a difference in the lives of others. Grateful that today, I was on the receiving end. ❤️

There are times we all need to hear-You can do it! Don’t give up! You will not be disappointed when you look back at the journey and see how far you’ve traveled.

Moving Day

Moving is a multi-faceted project that takes on a life of its own. Packing all your belongings in boxes, bags, and tubs. Strategically placing said containers, along with furniture, in the moving truck. Like playing a championship game of Tetris, according to my husband.

And then, after driving to your new abode, you work backward. Unloading all your belongings from the moving truck. Not wasting any time making the new place feel like home.

For most, if not all, of our many moves, our parents were there to help. College dorms, apartments, houses. Each new stage of life took us blocks or states away and back. Moving was a family affair.

Today was another moving day. But this time, I was the proud parent, listening and helping. Though my helping was more moral support than heavy lifting. Cold drink runs and a dryer plug from Home Depot.

Our son and daughter-in-law were moving to a new apartment. A different town, more space, a new home. As they loaded the truck, I overheard several neighbors.

You guys were great neighbors!
We will miss you guys around here.
I was planning to ask your husband if he could mount my tv on the wall.

After the truck was unloaded, we had a nice lunch out. And once the washer and dryer were hooked up, my husband announced it was time to go. I sighed. Not before documenting. A snapshot of the three sweaty guys-dad and his two boys. And a picture of the happy couple standing by the fireplace.

Another moving day in the books. A hot, sweaty, full of laughter, family moving day. Not the last in our family, I’m sure. Just need a little rest before the next one. 😉

Simply Sunday

Hearing Again, Listening

Some stories we hear over and over. Ones from our childhood, our family’s history. It is easy to hear without listening. But when we really listen, we often learn something new. View that familiar story in a new light.

Yesterday, I heard a story I’ve heard before. But somehow, this time was different. This time, I saw the parents, my parents.

I was two years old. We lived next door to my grandparents in the country. (My parents still live in the same house.) Mom had done office work but was not working at this time. Dad worked as a carpenter.

One morning, I woke up covered in red whelps. Quite upsetting for young parents. They loaded me in the car, and we headed to see the doctor.

I had an allergic reaction, most likely a food allergy.

Grandpa and Grandma had a milk cow. And I had been drinking fresh, raw milk. Apparently, something in the cow’s feed did not sit well with me.

The prescription was simple. Go to the grocery store. Buy ham and applesauce. Only feed her those two things for an entire week.

Here’s the catch. Mom and Dad only had eleven or twelve dollars to their name.

They went to the grocery store. Bought ham and applesauce. And all three of us had the exact same menu for the following week.

Mom always laughs when telling this story. It is not viewed as a negative story. It is a doing what you must story. But this time, I heard it as a sacrifice story.

My parents did not ask anyone for help. They did not complain about eating ham and applesauce for a week. They did what was needed to take care of me, thankful for a solution.

I can picture them as I’ve seen in photos. Young, first-time parents. Nervous and concerned. Loving their little girl. That little girl just happened to be me.

Deep and Wide

So simple
So completely
Disarming
We celebrate
Its appearance
On babies faces
Then proceed
Doing everything
Possible to
Encourage
Its return-
A sweet smile
Lighting up
Faces
Lighting up
Rooms
Lighting up
Hearts
When noticed
By a friend
Mine somehow
Grows wider
Reaches deeper
Prompting
Inward
Reflection
Inspiring
Outward
Awareness-
Are the faces
Drifting by
Genuinely
Beaming?
Or are they
Searching
For a reason
To smile?

These five drove four-and-a-half hours to celebrate Christmas with my parents. The visit may have been short, but its sweetness will last a long time. ❤️

All packed Up and Ready To Go

Laundry
The night
Before
Means
Packing
The night
Before
Means
Bedtime later
Than normal
Restless sleep
Like a child
Waiting for
Tomorrow
To arrive
Except
No longer
A child
And though
My heart
Will be ready
My body
Will be tired
Counting on
A little caffeine
A little music
A little conversation
To carry me safely
Down the road
From home
To home
And back again…

As I head to Arkansas to spend a week with my parents, I am thankful.

Thankful for my husband who says-Go! This is most important.

Thankful for my adult children who say-We understand! We will see you there!

And for extended family and friends who say-We will miss you! See you another time. Safe travels!

Merry Christmas!

Simply Sunday

Ok, well…maybe not so simple this Sunday. 😉 This Thanksgiving was not what I had planned or expected. It did, however, remind me of what is truly important. And it reminded me to be thankful for time with those I love, no matter the amount. So many reasons to be thankful. ❤️

Already in Motion

A child
Growing
In love
Protected
Encouraged
Carried when
Stretches of
Road turn
Curvy and steep
By those
Refusing
To give up

A parent
Fluctuating
Between
Carrying
And being
Carried
Discovering
A profound truth-
Once a child
Always a child
Once a parent
Always a parent

Each role
Evolving
As the years
Slip by
Until a choice
Becomes
Necessary-
Whether
To embrace
Or ignore
Shifts already
In motion

Although
Avoiding
May seem
Easier
Embracing
Offers
Promise-
A heart
Filled to
Overflowing
Even when
It is broken

Thanksgiving Anniversary

Every seven years or so, my parents’ anniversary falls on Thanksgiving Day. This is one of those years. Today marks fifty-seven years!

We had planned to celebrate together this year. Due to my dad’s recent hospitalization and health issues, those plans changed.

Although disappointed we are not together today, I remain thankful.

Thankful for time spent with my parents earlier this week.
Thankful for the example of their marriage.
Thankful for the encouragement and support from my husband, Gart.
Thankful for our three grown children and daughter-n-law.
Thankful for the family I grew up with and the one I married into.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! ❤️🧡💛🤎

Tended Hearts

Tend to the one
Sitting near
Let them
Tend to you
Better, worse
Richer, poorer
Sickness, health
Isn’t that how the promise goes-
No longer
Left alone
With only
My thoughts
Fighting a fight
I will never win
Now together
Your heart
Close enough
That I can
Feel it beating
In time with mine
Better, worse
Richer, poorer
Sickness, health
Thankful
For each day
Our hearts
Are tended
By each other

Update on Dad. He is home from the hospital, feeling much better. With doctors’ guidance and mom’s help, learning to live with congestive heart failure. I plan to visit again soon. ❤️

A New Day

Bright
Sunshine
Ushers in
A new day
Along with it
A new perspective
Yesterday
The sky was
Sleepy
Gray
Still
Do you think
Like us, it also
Needed rest?
Thinking
Quiet
Still
Appreciating
Each moment
Given
Accepting
Each goodbye
Spoken
Certain
The sweetest
Symbol
For love
Rooted deep
In our hearts
Is a smile
Accompanied
By tears

We will be driving home today. And though I am confident in my dad’s medical care and progress, it was hard to say goodbye.

This morning, the sun shone brightly on Pinnacle Mountain. A landmark that was crucial in my growing up years. Whether viewing it from a distance or standing on its peak, always enamored with its beauty.

When trying to explain where I grew up. Have you heard of Pinnacle Mountain? I grew up out in the country, about three miles from there.

I was thankful for its beautiful colors this morning to guide us out.

I will be back soon! ❤️

Simply Sunday

Transformation

Look at you
Standing there
Confidently
Exposed
Pieces of your
Outer shell
Left shimmering
In the light
Gentle reminder
Of what was
Before
The release
Of all that
Was heavy
Smiling at
Passersby
No longer
Concerned
With hiding
What is
Underneath
Instead
Baring a gift
Story of
Transformation-
Beauty may
Only be
Skin deep
But love
And truth
Grace your roots

Driving to the hospital this morning, I couldn’t help noticing the trees. Colors are still beautiful, though beginning to fade.  A birch tree caught my eye.  Only a few of its yellow leaves remained.  As the leaves fluttered, I smiled. Look at you! 😊

My dad has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  I had heard this term but now have a better understanding.  It does not happen overnight. And though treatable, it does not go away. He is breathing easier and hence feeling better.  Doctors are working on a treatment plan which hopefully includes going home soon. 

Not having a definite timeline is frustrating.  But that is ok.  Life is precious.  And I continue to be thankful for our time together. ❤️

Woo Pig From the Eighth Floor

Here we are again. Not sure I know anyone who likes hospitals. Some display more adverse reactions than others, I suppose. But when medical care is needed, I am thankful for their existence.

My dad had open-heart surgery eight months ago. During those scary moments of the unknown, doctors and nurses were caring for him. Giving value to his life, even though they did not know him personally.

He is back in the hospital. Difficulty breathing led to the discovery of fluid in his lungs. No complete answers yet, but there is comfort in the familiar. Walking the same halls. Experiencing the same level of care.

No, it’s not where any of us would choose to be on this sunny Saturday. But I am grateful. Sitting here, talking to my dad. Excited to watch Razorback football with him this afternoon. Even if it is from his eighth-floor room at the hospital. Woo Pig Soooie!