Conquering A Sleeping Bear…..

This morning I woke up to sore muscles. See, last night I decided to finally take the plunge and walk on our treadmill. I know you are probably thinking, “Oh wow! She probably stayed on for like, 20 minutes.” But you would be wrong-o. 😛

2:00. I stayed on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Total. I stopped once.

I was pretty upset with myself for getting this far off the fitness track. Although I think, fingers crossed, part of the issue last night was the belt on our treadmill appears to be a skosh off center, so it was running a bit slower. Maybe.

But my ever encouraging husband still made sure I saw the obvious: “I’m proud of you babe. At least you tried. You did it!” And thinking about it the next day, it’s true. I need to feel proud of myself for getting on the treadmill and doing what I could. Even if I didn’t go for 20 minutes like I had wanted, at least I tried.

It reminds me of something I did this summer. I went with my family to Michigan. One day we took a trip to Sleeping Bear Dune. It’s one of the biggest dunes I’ve ever seen. For those of you unfamiliar, a dune is a GIANT mountain of sand that, in most cases, can be climbed by people. This particular dune, from top to bottom, is 450 ft. That’s roughly the equivalent of a 40-story building.

We went there for two reasons, Chad had wanted to see it for a couple years, and my 6-year old nephew was with us, and we thought it’d be a fun activity for him (read: climbing a 450 ft dune is a good way to burn off the natural energy of a 6-year old. It worked nicely as he slept the entire drive back to our cabin).

When we arrived at Sleeping Bear Dune, this is what lay before us:

Sleeping Bear Dune 1

What you are looking at is the ground level up to the first plateau. When you reach the top of the first plateau, it flattens out again, then inclines to a grove of trees at the very top. Those that reach the very top are treated to a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

My nephew asked me to come with him and climb the dune. I swear I will do anything that kid asks, so we brought my wheelchair and crutches along to give me options. After plenty of sunscreen was applied and I chugged some water, our climb began.

I started out on crutches. After parking my chair at the base of the dune. But the heavy sand made it challenging, especially with the heat, so I gave up the crutches and continued the climb on all fours.

Sleeping Bear Dune 2

Sleeping Bear Dune 3

Now, admittedly this is not my most attractive photo, but I was getting it done, not worrying about what I looked like. The first thing I noticed when I switched to all fours was, “Holy Hannah Montana the sand is HOT!” I didn’t think to bring gloves, but that may have helped.

Now, before I started climbing I was a bit nervous. With a history of anxiety, one thing I’ve learned is that if I exert myself too much, I can be thrown into a panic attack (I know, it’s a lovely symptom 😛 ). I didn’t want to have one in front of my nephew, but I wanted to see how far up the dune I could go. Chad and I took it slow. My goal was to reach the top.

Little Eden Sleeping Bear Dune

After what seemed like hours, and many breaks, we stopped for a photo. It’s kinda hard to tell here, but we were 5 stories up, all at an angle. See that red circle around that black object? That is my wheelchair at the edge of the sand.

At this point I listened to my body and it told me I was done. To head back. I gotta say I was disappointed. I wanted to get to the very top.

But you know what? I freakin’ climbed a 5 story mountain on my own! I moved my body more that day then I had in a LONG time!

Dear friend, if you’ve made a goal and only have gotten so far, don’t despair. We are only 18 days into the New Year. You didn’t get as far as you wanted today? Try again tomorrow.

And be happy that at least you tried.

I’m proud of you!

Cheers!

 

 

Advertisements

When Questioning Your Path: Trust and Obey

 It happened a few days ago when Chad and I visited friends who had a new baby. The baby, who we’ll refer to as our niece, is one of those babies. You know which ones I’m talking about; the tiny and cute ones. She even exuded more cuteness when she sneezed. I’m pretty sure glitter fell out of her nose.

Then I got to hold her. And it happened.

I don’t know what God did during the baby makin’ process to make them give off that aroma. You know the one I’m talkin’ about. That smell found at the top of their peach fuzzy heads that can make most women’s uteruses (uteri? ) leap around like a Jane Fonda workout session.

I swear, that smell messes with your head, even if you are adamant about remaining childless. I turned to Chad and said, “I need you to tell me something to snap me out of it.”

Chad took the “sleeplessness” angle. Well played, husband.

Here’s the thing, I tend to need more sleep then Chad. But he also needs a certain amount. He works with heavy machinery and if he got any less than what he’s currently getting, things could get dangerous fast. “Oh, well,” You say, “he needs to start drinking coffee!” I’m here to tell you that the amount of coffee this man drinks could be a whole separate blog post. Actually I think I’ll do one at a later date. 😉

When I asked Chad to “talk me out of it,” it was because I was having a twinge of doubt that we were on the right path. I had seen what our friends had and thought maybe the path that they were on was one that we could follow.

That is a dangerous thing to do. Especially when you know that God told you to take a specific path. Remember Jonah? God told him to go to Nineveh to talk to the people there. But Jonah thought he knew better and disobeyed. That’s how he ended up in the belly of a whale. Had he gone to Nineveh as he was supposed to, he would have never ended up smelling like fish guts when the whale finally barfed him up on dry land. (Sidenote: anyone else naturally assume that the whale was male? Food for thought… 😀 )

So that’s a bit of an extreme example. But as Christians, we are taught to do two things; trust and obey. Even if it’s a scary proposition.

I remember when I was still living in a big city in the south, after Chad and I became engaged, the question of where we’d live came to the surface (we had been long distance up until that point). I was adamant that I wanted to stay in the big city. I had a supportive church community, friends, and I was able to travel back and forth on my own via public transit. I thought it was the perfect scenario. Except for one thing. Jobs in Chad’s field were hard to come by if he were to relocate, and the current position he was in was full time with benefits. On the other hand, I only had a part time job with zero benefits (unless you want to count unlimited free soda at the sandwich place located next door to my office 😉 )

So there we were, Mr. Full-Time-Job-with-Benefits and Ms. There’s-No-Way-In-Ha-Ha-That-I’m-Moving-to-His-Small-Town.

Then one day we were having a conversation with a family friend. We were discussing who was going to move and our friend asked us both one question. Who had a full time job with benefits? The answer was Chad. Right at that moment it became crystal clear; I would move to Chad’s town. And honestly I was finally OK with that path.

Can you guess what happened 3 weeks after I moved to Chad’s town? Yep. He was let go from his full time job with benefits.

My reaction was modeled after the years of adult maturity I had under my belt; I internally threw a fit of Biblical proportions, just like Jonah. How dare God allow this to happen! At that moment I wanted to move back to my city. Back to my comfort zone (yes, I would be taking Chad with me).

But then a still small voice said, “Trust Me.”

Chad quickly found a new job that he loved and, as an added bonus, we were able to spend more time together. We were able to go to church and have a rich social life. A life that continues to flourish today.

Had I continued to look at the wonderful things others had in the midst of our crappy situation, I would not have experienced the blessings of God’s grace, love and mercy.

So back to my brand new niece. I can’t explain how much I love her. Each time a new niece or nephew is born, my heart grows. And I now understand my purpose and path; to show her how much God loves her through my actions and to be there when she needs someone to talk to. To encourage her parents to stay on the same path when things get tough.

Because the end result is more than worth it. All we need to do is trust and obey.

 

 

 

This One Time At Summer Camp…..

The following blog post is dedicated to my late Grandma B who asked me for years to write down this story. ♄


Every summer for as long as I can remember my family has gathered in Michigan once a year for a week-long reunion at a family camp. This year was extra special because my 6 year-old nephew was able to come along. For the first time I got to experience camp through the eyes of a child. There were fantastic climbing trees, a huge sandbox (beach) and of course, a giant pool (lake). At the end of the week, there is also a Kid Olympics, put on by the camp counselors. The events included are a sailboat race (the kids construct small boats out of any item and then they race in a small creek), a frog jumping contest (the kids catch frogs in the creek then race them on the basketball court. Fastest frog wins), and the watermelon race (all the kids get into the lake with a greased up watermelon and try to get it up on the beach-you’re right, this one doesn’t make much sense, but it is safer than it sounds-the watermelon is then eaten later at dinner).

Many moons ago, this blogger participated in the frog-jumping contest when she was about the same age as her nephew is now. Her older siblings and cousins went about collecting potential winning jumpers to cheer and cajole across the finish line. They put them in a large bucket, and let the younger cousins pick their frogs first.

When the bucket came across to me, I looked inside and saw frogs of varying sizes and shapes. One in particular caught my eye. About as large as a saucer, with stripes down his back, this particular frog caught my eye because he almost flung himself right into it.  Instead, I panicked and flung my head back, just in time for the amphibian behemoth to land squarely on my chest. I let out a scream and the frog jumped back into the bucket. I recovered, picked a more docile specimen then waited for the contest to begin.

Now, the way I remember it, the contestants and their human handlers sat in a line on the tennis courts. The handlers sat with their hands firmly grasped around their frogs. When the whistle blew, the frogs were released. The hope was the frogs would hop, in a straight line, over the finish line, and onto victory. But anyone that is familiar with frogs at all knows that they are pretty unpredictable. So, expecting them to jump in a straight line is a pretty lofty goal.

Another rule of the contest was that the handlers were not allowed to touch their frogs after they were released. If they needed “help” to jump, the handlers were told to simply smack their hands beside and behind the frog to startle them into jumping. One could also yell if need be.

And so the contest began. All around me, kids yelled, smacked the ground and their frogs jumped straight into the air. My frog, the one that I picked after the saucer sized behemoth scared the crap outta me, just sat on the hot asphalt and blinked his beady little, lazy eyes. When I did convince him to jump, the prize was being awarded to the winning frog. Adding insult to injury, the winning frog was as large as a saucer. With stripes down his back.  I’m pretty sure when I approached him after his win, I saw a smile on his little punk froggy face.

My sweet Grandma B tried to cheer me up after the race, saying that we’d go back to their cabin and make s’mores. I guess s’mores cured anything that ailed you back then.

Later that night, after the s’mores had been made and devoured, I lay awake in bed. Remembering the events of the day. Mentally kicking myself for letting fear overtake me and thus making me lose a contest. Seriously, the stakes of the contest couldn’t have been higher–the winner got free ice cream. Our entire family stayed over at my grandparents cabin for the night and the walls were pretty thin. Finally my anger from the day just boiled over and I yelled loudly, “I could have KILLED that thing!!” Apparently my pacifistic world-view didn’t extend to lazy frogs that refused to perform on cue.

Fast forward to this past week at camp with my nephew. The time for the frog jumping contest was nearing, and I didn’t want him to go through the same torment that I had. So I took him through a couple exercises that helped hone his handler skills. We practiced slapping the pavement. And having positive thoughts. But the biggest change from my story to his, is that he was not afraid of a large frog. Well, he was in the sense that he refused to touch it, but he wanted to race with a big one, so he went down to the creek with his grandparents, pointed to the largest one he could find, and watched as his grandpa retrieved the specimen.

The contest set up was a bit different from when I raced, in fact the kids didn’t actually have to get on the ground with the frogs. First of all, the contest was moved from the tennis court to the basketball court. All the frogs were set inside the middle circle. At the whistle, the frogs were released and the first frog to jump out of the circle won. And yes, it still counts if the child handler stands next to his grandpa who’s really the only one that can control the frog, watches grandpa set the frog on the ground, and then take a few steps back and watches the frog leap to victory. The child handler then celebrates his victory by eating the awarded banana flavored Laffy-Taffy, and the frog is quickly escorted back to where he had been retrieved.

Two similar stories with two completely different endings. One ended in victory, the other in defeat. The lesson in all this is to do your best, and be gracious when things don’t go your way. At least in public. 😉

Cheers!

20150814_140227

And here we all are, surrounding the winning frog as he basks in the glow of victory. If you look closely, you’ll see a teeny-tiny medal around his neck. 😀