Simply Sunday

One More Time

Mountain breeze drifts by
Meadows and pines gently sway
Whispering my name

I couldn’t resist sharing our trip to Colorado one more time. Grateful for time with family in this beautiful place. ❤️

I lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

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.

Closer to Clouds

Not sure which
Took my breath
Away first…
Beauty
Or elevation
A 360 degree
Perspective
No formations
Blocking my view
I could see
Where I was going
And where I’d been
All of it
Storms ahead
Storms behind
Cool breezes
And sunlight
In between
Clarity of lessons
Learned quickly
As well as those
Requiring repetition
Each one
Revealing purpose
In passing landscapes
No wish
To speed ahead
No wish
To slow down
Only the desire to be
Only the desire to live

I love spending time in Colorado. One specific area holds many memories. Family vacations with parents, kids, grandparents, grandchildren, and great-grandparents. Honeymoons and holidays, hiking, and fishing. Feeding the chipmunks. And, of course, beautiful scenery.

Gart and I are traveling to this spot with our three grown kids and daughter-in-law. What a treat! This sentimental mom can’t help looking back and looking forward. But mostly, I’m just enjoying all of us being together.

Tiny Little Steps

Our last full day in Colorado, we chose to hike the Agnes Vaille Falls trail. This particular hike is not long, about a mile and a half round trip. The problem for non-locals is elevation. The trail begins at around 9,000 ft. and another 500 ft. is gained by the falls overlook.

I hiked this trail for the first time twenty-six years ago. Gart and I were on our honeymoon. Younger, and in much better shape, it was not a tough trek. And the views were amazing!

I’ve hiked the trail several other times since then. The last time was in 2012, a little harder for me than that very first hike on our honeymoon in 1993.

Gart, Rachel, and Ryan wanted to make the hike on this trip. I wanted to as well but wasn’t confident I could make it to the top. I am a tad older, and not exactly in tip-top shape. But I had to give it a try.

We headed out, water bottles in tow. Gart reassured me we would take breaks. We let the kids go ahead of us. Not long on the trail, and I was breathing heavy. I kept telling myself, “You can do this. Just keep moving.” But honestly, I was worried.

Then I heard the most encouraging words coming from my husband. “You can do this. Remember, tiny little steps. One foot in front of the other. You’re doing great!”

Gart knew how much I wanted to succeed. He also recognized my doubts. Perfect timing, his words were exactly what I needed to hear. The higher we went, the more confident I became. My thought changed to, “You are going to make it!” And for just a moment, I fought back a few tears.

About three-quarters of the way up, there is a huge flat rock on the trail. It provides a perfect spot for photo ops with a beautiful mountain backdrop. We have a picture of us standing on this rock from our honeymoon and then again in 2012.

Despite some changes to the trail, that rock still sits in its place. And when we reached that rock on this hike? I was so happy! There were no remaining doubts in my mind. Our daughter, Rachel, snapped our picture in the same spot we first stood twenty-six years ago. And me being mom, we also got a pic of her and her younger brother, Ryan.

Once we reached the peak of the trail, the waterfall was clearly in sight. We stood there, looking across the rocky ravine at the beautiful falls. We snapped pictures, talked to another hiker, and studied how the area has changed.

On our way down, we chose an alternate loop trail. A few turns and steps lead down to the flowing stream. I heard Gart’s voice once again. “Well, Mama, how much of an adventure are you in for?” I certainly couldn’t quit now!

Moments later, we were crossing the stream. Carefully placing our steps, we walked across some fallen trees. Further down the trail, we did it again!

The remainder of the hike was easy, all downhill. The hardest part long past. As we reached the car, I was smiling. “Yay! I did it!”

I’m sure Gart would argue, but I would not have made it without his words of encouragement. Seeing those falls again, taking our picture, experiencing this beautiful place with my family…it was worth each tiny little step.

No Signal

Living in this age of technology, the words “no signal” are usually unwelcome. They mean no calls, texts, posts, emails. There is no way to know what’s happening in the world, at least not quickly.

I spent last week in a place with no signal. The choice was intentional. Gart, Rachel, Ryan, and I vacationed in the mountains of Colorado. Our cabin was in the middle of Chalk Creek Canyon.

We talked, laughed, played card games. We also spent time fishing and hiking. Each of us enjoyed this place in our way.

I listened to the rushing mountain stream behind our cabin. Smelled the fresh scent of pine trees towering all around. Intently observed the creatures who inhabit the surroundings.

As I sat on the front porch, hummingbirds hovered at bright red feeders sipping the sugar water. They perched on tree branches for a brief moment. And just as quickly, they flew away.

Chipmunks were the next to arrive on the scene. They chased each other around the trees. Poking their heads up from behind the rocks, they scouted out the situation. “Yes, there are people here. But I think it’s safe. They’ve got food!”

All of these sights and sounds brought peace. There were no distractions, no to-do lists, no world news tonight. These few days in the mountains provided much-needed time away to rest and recharge.

Today we are driving home. There are only a few weeks of summer remaining. It is time to prepare for the upcoming school year. This week I will begin planning, setting up my classroom, and attending meetings.

I am ready to be plugged in and connected. Ready to greet a new school year. Ready, thanks to a few days of quiet in the mountains with no signal.

Continue reading “No Signal”

Mountain Morning

The mountain stands strong

In my sightline

Majestic, unmoved

Its chalky cliffs

Warmed by the sun’s rays

Clouds drift slowly by

Gracing the mountain peaks

Persuading no response

They continue their journey

Across blue skies

Trees sway, leaves flutter

Moved by a gentle breeze

Water rushes over rocks

As mountain streams

Travel to the valley below

Humming birds chatter

Flitting back and forth, up and down

Hovering, they sip red nectar

Perching only a moment

On pine branches

Chipmunks scurry

Over smooth stones

Across pine needle beds

Cautiously approaching

Searching for seeds

I sit-motionless

A quiet observer

Hopelessly searching for words

Adequate to capture the beauty

Of this peaceful mountain morning

Read the Sign!

Today, our family drove from Tulsa, OK to Garden City, KS. This was the first leg of our trip to Colorado. Long stretches of straight roads. Wheatfields, cattle yards, and wind farms cover the landscape. It’s not exactly a scenic drive.

After we stopped for lunch, it was my turn to drive. My daughter, Rachel, moved up front and sat in the passenger seat. A little road trip girl time, with the boys in the back seat. She chose an interesting podcast to keep us entertained.

A few miles down the highway, I noticed a road sign. Bright blue, with a large sunflower in the center. Below the flower were the words “next 2 miles.” ”Oh look, Rachel. Sunflower fields for the next two miles!” She loves sunflowers! And this would be a welcome sight on our not-so-scenic drive.

The miles passed. No flowers. We repeated this scenario several times. Each time with the same results, a sign but no flowers. We formulated hypotheses concerning the absence of flowers. Was sunflower season over? Were they harvested for their seeds? We chuckled at our ideas.

A few hours passed, and it was Gart’s turn to drive again. I mentioned the sunflower signs and our disappointment. ”Are you talking about those blue signs with the sunflower in the middle?” he asked. ”Yes! Why?” ”Uh, honey, those are not advertising sunflower fields. I’m pretty sure those are highway clean up signs.”

Needless to say, we had a good laugh. And then as soon as he could, my sweet husband pulled over so I could snap a picture. A closer look revealed the truth. The signs were definitely not advertising sunflower fields!

In my defense, the words “adopt a highway” are a little hard to read when you’re driving by at 70 mph. 😉

We may not have seen any sunflower fields on our drive today, but there was lots of laughter and an important reminder: Always read the sign!

Dreaming of…

Dreams are fascinating. I don’t often remember mine. When I do, they are usually crazy. Last night I had two vivid dreams. This morning I felt compelled to write them down.

In dream number one, I stood in the middle of an auditorium, possibly a church. A stage with rising levels in front of me. People stood all around me and on varying levels.

I noticed water seeping in around the edge. It rose quickly, but no one else seemed concerned. I began to panic. Looking up, I saw Gart standing on one of the higher levels in front of me.

I frantically made my way up to him. Despite the now chest-high water, Gart was calm and collected. I was terrified. He pointed towards an open door to our right side and said, “Look. We can get out right over there.”

Dream number two involved our youngest, Ryan. Gart, Ryan, and I were driving near the ocean. Once again surrounded by people. Once again surrounded by water. Huge waves lapped at both sides of the road as if driving through the middle of the ocean.

Needless to say, I felt anxious, ready to turn around. But Ryan said, “Let’s drive a little further. There’s a sinkhole up ahead I really want to see.” We drove forward, and sure enough there it was; a huge sinkhole, spreading and quickly filling with water. We finally decided to turn around, but the car just spun around in circles.

Back to reality. After describing my dreams this morning, Gart said “Well, that makes sense. You’re under a lot of stress and worrying about things you can’t control.” Hmmm…he’s probably right. Shhh…do not tell him I said that. 😉

As I type, the house is full of moving boxes. No longer neat and clean like it has been for the past month. Until now, my summer days have been filled with making sure the house was ready for showings. There was routine. I knew what needed to be done each day.

Now we have a contract on our house. Yay! The past two days involved signing papers for selling our current home and buying our new home. Closing dates are set, tentative moving dates established, and moving boxes everywhere. Definitely cluttered, the house and my thoughts.

But what about the second dream? Why the addition of Ryan? Well, he is our youngest. He just graduated from high school, is working every day, and begins classes at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in September. My baby…making his way in the world. Saying I’m emotional is an understatement.

Today I may be swimming in a sea of moving boxes, but there is no rising water. I may be figuring out how to let go of my youngest, but there is no engulfing sinkhole. Those scary images came from my dreams. Dreams which brought laughter and a reminder that I need to let go.

Next week we are heading to Colorado for a much-needed vacation. Time to unwind and relax, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The mountains are calling my name! As are the peaceful, flowing streams. Not the mighty ocean waves. Not this trip, anyway.