God’s Provision for Camping

Do you see Him?
I look.
every.where
all.the.time

I watch for God and I see Him.

My pottery Angel

I mentioned that Joy encouraged me  several months ago to “Go!” and “Do!”
I signed up for a camping trip,
but I just wasn’t sure how I would finance it.
Money is tight and I couldn’t run out and buy everything I needed.
I needed
– a single-person tent (our tent is a four person)
– a sleeping mat (as a buffer between the cold ground and my sleeping bag)
– a lighter weight sleeping bag (easier on the back when carrying a long distance)
– a filtering-water bottle (because you can’t carry 36 hours worth of water in your backpack)
– convertible pants
– hiking boots that I could comfortably hike in for two full days.
These things can easily add up to several hundred dollars.

Even though I had no idea HOW these things would come to me,
I signed up for the trip in faith
and watched for provision.
If they didn’t come, I would bow out at the eleventh hour
and assume that God didn’t want me on the trip.

I have to say that I felt a kind of urgency in going on this trip. I’ve wanted to take an overnight, backpacking trip for years and years. Several years ago, I shared that dream with Stone. He told me that we would take a trip like that … but we parted ways before it came to fruition. I can’t go on a trip like this ALONE .. because I am not experienced and female. It would be foolish.  And I don’t have many friends …. ANY friends that camp like this. So, when one was posted on one of my Meet Up groups, I knew it was now or … who knows when?

So, I signed up in faith
and waited to see how things puzzle-pieced together.

I had a borrowed backpack. It belongs to Glory. We picked it up at a yard sale for $2 several years ago. This style – with an external frame – is not really popular any more, but I saw great benefit in using it. It helped distribute the weight inside well. It sat up off my back a little bit so it was not as hot as  backpack-style gear. And, of course, I loved the price. My backpack at home

I remembered about two weeks before the trip that I had two options for a tent that might possibly pan out. I gave away a small pup tent several years ago.  I called the person I believed I had gifted the tent to see if I could borrow it. I also loaned our larger tent to a friend and her family a while back. I contacted them to see if they could return it. I was considering cutting that large tent and sewing it into a single-person version. I wasn’t sure if I could pull this off … but I really wanted to go on this trip.

When the couple showed up with the tent several days later, we stood in the driveway to catch up. We chatted for quite a while before they asked me about the camping trip I was planning. I told them of my idea to convert the big tent into a smaller one. Jocelyn asked, “Well, how much does a tent like that cost?” I explained it could run between $30-$50.00 I had done a little research on Amazon to get prices. Little did I know a lighter weight, small tent is much more … especially in a local, brick-and-mortar store.

We finished talking and my friend and her family left ….
only to return about thirty minutes later to put two $20.00 bills in my hand
with a hug and a squeeze.
“Enjoy your trip,” she said as she dashed away.
I’ve learned not to refuse God.
I was so blessed to receive this gift!
“One step closer,” I thought! “Praise you, Lord!”

When I stopped by my other friend’s house, she had a tent in her front yard. It was drying out from a camping trip a week earlier. It was actually lighter weight than the pup tent that I had given away a few years ago.  They happily loaned their tent to me. And they had a sleeping mat, as well!

My tent beside Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

So, I still needed a water filtering system.

I was surprised at how expensive they were. They average between $59.-$125.00. I did lots of price comparisons and settled on this $30.00 option from Cabelas. Aquamira Filtering Water Bottle

As I walked in the store on Sunday, I was one of the first 100 customers in the store
and I was handed a gift card
for $10.00. Thanks Cabelas!

I teared up
and almost broke down in sobs.
Really, Lord? Cash? AND a gift card?

I had a backpack, a tent and a water-filtration system.
I had an answer (that I wrote about here)  for how to make the hiking boots I already owned work for me.
And I found a way to buy a pair of pants that should have cost me $45.00 …. for only $30.00. (I wrote about that here)
I also learned (here)  how to pack my backpack in a way that it was so light that carrying a more heavy, older sleeping bag wasn’t a burden at all.
Everything I needed had been provided in some way.

You know what I am really, truly enjoying about divorce?
I don’t look to my husband for provision.
I have always looked to God …
but I’ve looked to God T.H.R.O.U.G.H  the filter of my spouse.
Since that “go-between” has been removed,
I am no longer distracted.
And I’m so much more at ease.
It might not have worked for me to camp.
I would have been sad, but not devastated.
If I couldn’t do, I would have assumed that God didn’t want me on that trip …
and I would have been okay with it.

But, I watched Him piece it all together for me.
He offered me adjustments in a few areas,
loans in other places
and outright gifts for other needs.

As I walked those trails
and looked at His glory in creation,
I knew I was supposed to be there
soaking it all in ….. enjoying every moment,
because He had made a way.

Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

What a blessing.
What a gift.

Watch for Him today – this week – this month.
Follow your heart.
When doors close, don’t be angry. Maybe it is protection of some sort?
Yet, when doors open and provision comes along,
walk through those doors
and bask in His provision and glory.

Autumn hues in the North Georgia mountains

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The Beauty in the Treacherous

It has been several years since I have been camping. Money has been tight. A dependable vehicle has been elusive. And parenting alone means you struggle leaving your children at home. Thankfully, I have older children who help me with the youngest from time to time. And it was actually the youngest who said, “Mom! You need to do something for yourself. Go out. Camp. Go see a movie. Ride your bike. Do SOMETHING for yourself. Go!”

So, that day, about four months ago, I turned notifications back on to a Meet-Up group that I used to play with.
And that same day, I signed up for a camping trip.

Wildflowers along the Panther Creek Trail

I have always wanted to go on an overnight, backpacking camping trip. But, I certainly can’t go alone. And I wouldn’t take my youngest without first getting some experience.

The Meet Up group offered just the experience that I needed.
Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

I met with the group about a week before the trip. We sat at the outdoor table downtown on the sidewalk at Soy Noodle and discussed things we needed to pack and things we didn’t, what to expect and the plans for the weekend.

I took notes and paid close attention to lessons like ….
Pack your clothes inside large ziploc bags. It will keep them dry if we get rained upon and will keep sweat from soaking through the backpack into them. I found it also kept them dry from the condensation inside the tent overnight. That was super advice.

They also mentioned that hiking boots were important. I have a fairly new pair that are about three years old, but have been seldom worn. They have not been comfortable.My hiking boots

One of the guys suggested wearing them every chance possible between that night and the trip. I took the to heart and found that each day I wore them, they became more comfortable. Several times on the hike, my ankle turned one way as my leg went another.  I firmly believe that wearing those boots on the trip saved my ankle from a painful  injury. 

Panther Creek Falls, Clarkesville, GA

Packing as light as possible was really good advice.
I really wanted to buy a lighter weight sleeping bag for the trip. Backpacking sleeping bags can weigh as little as under two pounds! But, we already own around five sleeping bags so I couldn’t justify buying another one! The $75. price tag that I found on the CHEAPEST lightweight bag just seemed like too much to pay when we already had a shelf full of similar equipment. In the end, the excellent advice on how to pack light (like wearing the same pants in that I wore out on the second day) was pivotal to keeping my pack light. My already-owned sleeping bag weighed a five full pounds, but I packed light enough that it wasn’t a big deal.


So, we left Augusta around 7am Saturday morning and arrived at Panther Creek Falls in Clarkesville, Georgia around 11:00.

Our hiking crew

We hiked in on a trail around three and a half miles and set up camp beside the creek.

My tent beside Panther Creek, Clarkesville, GA

We arrived and set up around 3:30 in the afternoon and had several hours to explore, eat, and rest before sundown. A few of the others brought along camp stoves, but I chose to eat food that didn’t require cooking. I brought along cashews, granola bars, tuna in a pouch, a small delicious loaf of whole grain bread, cheese and pickles. And I brought powdered coffee creamer for the morning.

Morning coffee

I knew I didn’t want to leave my morning warm-coffee ritual back at home.

My backpack at home

(Looking at my backpack above, you see; a sleep mat at the top, a {brightly colored} pillow in the middle and my tent in the bag at the bottom. The sleeping bag is on the outside of the pack and the ziplocs hold my pjs, food and clothes for the second day. My filtering water bottle is sitting upright at the far left. It weighed around 20-25 lbs)

A little fire to keep us warm after sundown

After we arrived, the trip coordinator and our guide, got a great fire going. We sat around talking until I finally wilted and headed into my tent to snuggle up and rejuvenate for the next day.

DSC09724

Surprisingly, though we were at least around 45 degrees that night, I didn’t really get cold. The mat underneath me blocked the cold air from coming into my sleeping bag. I wore double socks and flannel with a hoodie to sleep. I also brought along a hat. While I did find that I woke up several times in the night, I stayed warm and toasty. Several of the guys slept in hammocks and weren’t as fortunate.

One of the only photos that proves that I actually went on this trip - a tent selfieAs the sun crested up over the hillside behind us, it slowly brought warmth back into the valley. It was a beautiful sight to watch it creep down the mountainside and illuminate the trees and then the creek. Sun coming up over the ravine

I really expected to have more trouble keeping up. The men were all in their mid-forties making Sandra and I were the oldest in the group. I was sore Sunday morning, but all the guys were stiff, too, so I felt a bit proud that I hung in with them well.

Andre and I often brought up the rear.  He stopped to talk to every passerby.

Andre talking to a group

And I took photos while he chatted.

Beautiful mushroom

We made a perfect caboose combination.
Panther Creek Trail

As we walked, one thing I thought about was how narrow  … and even treacherous  …. the path was along much of the way.

Panther Creek Hiking Trail
While there was a reprieve from time to time
with nice wide walking space

Panther Creek Hiking Trail, Clarkesville, GA
that was comfortable and easy,

Panther Creek Trail along Panther Creek in Clarkesville, GA

much of the trail teetered narrowly on a ledge.

Looking down from the trail
A stumble, trip or mis-step could easily land you 20-50 feet (or more) below.

And what stood out to me was how rooty we found the trail.
It is an obviously heavily traveled path.
While the exposed tree roots offer great risk of being stumbling blocks …

Roots along the trail

they also offered a foothold.
Often, I found myself strategically placing my feet between the roots
and using them to steady my next step,
especially when climbing
and on the more narrow sections of the trail.
So, in truth, they were a double-edged sword.

Climbing

There were times when walking across smooth rocks
that offered no resistance and often appeared  slick and polished
felt much more risky and uncertain
than when you once again found yourself
with those uneven, tricky roots underfoot.

So, in reality ….

Exposed  roots COULD be a stumbling block to cause you to trip …..
or  provide a reliable stepping stone to your next, more steady position. 

In reality, how you viewed those roots
had to do with your personal perspective.
And I thought about how true this is in our lives.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

This is a spiritual/physical parallel
of how we view life’s difficulties.
As the path of life turns and dips
with the valleys and hills that unfold before us,
we will find things happen that we can view as a hindrance
or stepping blocks
to whatever comes next.
We can be totally surprised by the new distraction or difficulty.
We can bellyache and be frustrated that there is a tangled, mess in life in front of us.
OR  … we can expect the unexpected.
We can know that life is going to happen and it won’t always be easy.
And we can use those tangled roots in our path to give us better footing
as we strengthen our legs,
take a deep breath
and get stronger with each “next step.”

And those messy roots can take absolutely any shape or form …  like a flat tire, a lost library book, a bounced check, being abandoned in a relationship, a car wreck, a broken arm, a burned dinner, a disgruntled friendship, a spilled cup of coffee on a new bedspread, a broken lawnmower, a wayward son, a positive diagnosis, a speeding ticket, a split seam in a dress while you’re away from home, a broken phone screen, a sentence taken out of context and used against you in your absence, a heart attack, a lost job, a revoked license, a tree limb through your roof, an angry daughter, a sideswiped plan, a smooth-talking friend who turns out to be a Sociopath, a lost job, weeds in your grass, an unanswered prayer, a computer crash, a tax hike to take more of your earned money, cobwebs that are out of reach, a setback in recovery, a hole worn in your favorite shoes, a cracked window pane, a lost pet,  ….
Truly ….  the list goes on and on.

The question isn’t whether these things will happen to us,
the question is when … and which ones.
But more importantly, how will we handle them?
Will we become angry and frustrated because these “roots” are in our path
or will be see them as part of the obstacle course of life
that allows us opportunity to grow, increase in agility and balance
and move on to the next thing, stronger than before.Panther Creek, Georgia

I see it all as an adventure.
Yes, I become weary …
but life involves people … and people are messy.
We’re all broken.
We’re all hurting.
And with the right perspective, life offers us opportunity
to love on each other
offer a helping hand
and continue moving … getting stronger as we travel.

Autumn color along Panther Creek Trail

The hike was set in a weekend of perfect weather.
The trail offered beautiful explosions of autumn color
among the still green hills.
And as always, the life lessons God shows me along the way
are the most precious of all the gifts involved.


Fall color - Maple Leaf

Run Away

I love the process of figuring things out. I want to know why we do what we do.

This summer, I found the phrase, “I just want to run away,” whispered in a text to a friend and stated with tension in conversations with others.  I confided in more than one person. The statement was always accompanied by angst in my spirit. I found myself returning to reminders from other friends: “Breathe.  Just breathe.”  I often wore the necklace that was gifted to me by my friend, Della. It was a physical reminder to … calm.down. To be honest, the “run away” thought concerned me. Because, I’ve never been one to run away from messes. But, when things got tough and I didn’t know what to do or what to think or how to handle what was going on … I found myself thinking, “I just want to run away.”

So, I began to question. Why did I want to run away? What was I running from? Where did I want to go? Why would I prefer to be there than where I currently was? How would the other destination be better? Would it actually help me to go … because … eventually I would have to return home.

Stone and Joy, on a hike

The answer to the question “Where did I want to go?” … came fairly easy. I wanted to camp. After several years of wonderful adventures … this summer felt dry and still.  Lack of traveling money and a weak vehicle left me unable to “go.”  I learned a long time ago that living small was more important than leaving my children. So, I preferred to stay home with Joy than go off to work. I would rather do without than have her bounced from place to place all summer … or sit at home alone. And last year was a terrible year in school for Joy. I was asked to bring Joy home again to homeschool (though, those plans changed) so I knew a job wasn’t in the future for fall. This meant … being still all summer and fall.

And I could feel … an emptiness in my soul.

Our tent .... after we set up Friday evening

Why did I want to camp? I pinpointed that, when I camp,  I feel most connected to God. A hotel is not an escape. And a cabin in the woods is not an escape. It is specific for me: tent camping is when I feel most close to God. When there is only a thin fiber between my body and the great expanse of creation is when I feel Him. I inhale the dew when I breathe.  He surrounds me in the night air when I sleep. He cradles me with the lapping of waves at the beach or the stealthy nocturnal movement of life so close. God is right.there.

And when I camp, I leave absolutely everything else behind. There is nothing to clean or tidy. I don’t have to replace the toilet paper when the roll spins empty. I don’t have to stack towels that others have left around. I don’t have to worry about being in the way when house cleaning comes to tidy. I don’t have to wipe down a kitchen counter or tell anyone to turn off the television. I crawl out of my bed and pull up the covers and the bedroom is clean. I cook and clean scantily. The “mother/female-in-charge” duty is very, very minimal. And, when camping, there is never this draw to just sit around the tent site. We get up and we are ready to head off on an adventure! There are trails to blaze, paths to explore and adventures to be experienced. It’s a wonderful thing! It is the greatest freedom I know.

So, I realized that
I didn’t want to “run away from ….. ”
I wanted to “run to  …. God.”

North Georgia Waterfall

One thing I realized was that this feeling of wanting to run away was accompanied by intricacies in relationships – rejection.   2012 brought with it several male rejections.  And I’m such a FIGHTER! I WANT relationships to work. I WANT to stick it out. I WANT to work through the tough stuff. But, each of these men, in their own way, said, “You’re too much.” “You’re too much work.” “I don’t want you to ___________. I don’t like that. I want you to __________.” And “________” would leave me … without authenticity. It would mean being someone I was not.
I’m finished with that. I’m just too tired to try to be someone I am not. I’m going to do my best … to just be myself.
And if I never, ever find anyone who likes me for who I am … so be it.
Marriage quote

And this running away …. was more of a “rejuvenating” or “refueling.” When I camp, I come home new and whole and relaxed. It’s like an entire weekend of quiet time with God.

And during this season when I am unable to camp, I find that same release and connection
when I run for exercise.
I am outside without interruption.
I can think and fellowship and hear from God.
He speaks to me with stories of spiritual/physical parallels.
I see Him in creation around me
and He speaks to my soul in ways that I cannot hear in other environments.
It’s a wonderful thing!

I am really looking forward to spring. I hope that this next year will be sprinkled with weekend camping adventures.  It’s been too long. But, I’m thankful that God has shown me some answers … to the whys and whens in my world. And I’m thankful for my morning jaunts with Him, as well.

How about you? Do you ever want to “run away?” Where are you running to … and what are you running from? Where do you feel most connected to God? 

Makes Me Happy Monday : Elizabeth’s Driveway View

I spent the weekend with my friend Elizabeth
and was privy to see what Sarah Beth’s grandma did with my wedding dress.
I was able to spend time in beautiful downtown Madison
remembering the spring when I spent three days there on the BRAG Spring Tune up bike event,
riding the beautiful, gently rolling back roads of the county.
And I was able to help Elizabeth with another art show 
and make some wonderful new friends in the process ….
a midwife who is a grand seamstress, a stuntman who plays with fire for a living,
a very talented wood artisan whose work looks ceramic and a beach-loving, shell-collecting  jeweler
just to name a few. 
The weekend was truly splendid.

As I drove away yesterday afternoon
I was struck by the beauty at the end of Elizabeth’s drive.

 

Her drive is flanked by fields with a few horses.
Friendly, mild-mannered and curious, they are so beautiful.

Elizabeth has a sweet protector-of-the-horses, Cookie, who is part  Great Pyrenees.

Cookie - part Great Pyrenees

Each time Elizabeth leaves her home, she rolls down the drive past the grand Guardian.
Herding rules her instincts.
She sits out by the drive most.of.the.time to keep an eye on the horses …
Cookie by the drive

And at the end of the drive, just across the street
beside a handful of long-standing mailboxes ….

Oak on Broughton Road

is a tremendous oak with strong, hefty branches
and a wide, substantial base.

I wonder if …
when she turns left to go towards town
… she doesn’t even see the tree any more?
She’s been on this property for …. 25+ years, I would guess.
That oak sprouted eternities before she was born.
He stands there with arms outstretched … reaching skyward
towards blue expanse, cloud texture and the occasional lilting hawk …
week after week … season after season.

She has never driven to the end of the drive and found the tree NOT there.

His beauty struck me as pulled away last evening.

We …. people … tend to look past or look over or look around
the things that are common in our lives.
Our brains can only acknowledge so much stimulation
and so we filter the static.

But … what if the static is beautiful?
I don’t want to miss it!
I don’t want to muffle the charming.
I don’t want to become numb to the beauty around me.
No matter where I live,
no matter who lives with me,
no matter my surroundings or my situation,
I want to  …
I  ::pray::  to
live with eyes.wide.open
and spend my life soaking in the rich and wonderful.
I pray I would see the beauty
in the tiny and the grand.
I pray that I would remain keenly aware of the daily charming around me.
And when I’m out-and-about,
that I would not be so busy in the process of the to-and-fro travel
that I miss the magnificence of the sights and experiences
along the way.

Again …. I want to remember …. Life is a journey … not a destination.

Life is a journey ... not a destination. - Emmerson

….. just a reminder ….

I feel a strong needful urge
to share the gentle reminder …
*whispers*     LIFE is a journey …
not a destination.

Today is not about hurrying
to move on to tomorrow.
Today is meant to be lived for today.
Love on people.
Forgive people.
Invest in people.
Ask questions and listen to the answers.
Slow down and open the door for others.
Make a phone call, send a card, offer a hug.
The smallest of tasks
can be investments in the future.
Take time … make time … to enjoy the “moments.”
For, life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

A Lavish Weekend on a Hill

Have you ever traveled to a lavish hotel whose halls were carpeted in burgundy, hunter green and caramel with a replicated pattern that included a fleur-de-lis? Where you had to hand over your keys to a valet and wondered how much you should tip him, and more importantly, WHERE would your car be throughout the weekend? Where towels were stored in a heated cabinet and handed to you by a friendly cabana attendant when you stepped out of a chilly whirlpool? Where your came into your room in the late afternoon and found that your bed had been turned down for you in preparation for slumber?

Did you feel fully comfortable there?

I didn’t.

I suppose I might be able to become accustomed to this type of pampered life if I was immersed in it for a time,
but the feeling that I remember from those experiences is one of  feeling … like … I … didn’t …  belong.

But … oh.did.I.belong this past weekend.

We traveled packed into a white station wagon.

Even as we began our journey,

we shared our hearts … no pretense … just open sharing.

I got to go up on Thursday with the hostess, speaker and lead photographer who knows the grounds.
I’m so glad.
It would have been difficult for me to soak in the glory
had I been put into the position that I had to jump straight from traveling to worship.
I reveled in the preparation for the coming of others.
Details … details …. I drank them in like a cup of warm tea on a cool fall morn.

This home is ancient … a homestead from generations past
passed down from one to the next
and deeply treasured
as is.

That’s the way we all want to be cherished, isn’t it?
As is.
We all need repair.  We are all in search of mending.  We all need healing.
Christ is our Savior. He is our Mender. He is our Healer.
But, He loves us
“as is.” 

I walked through doors and thought of the decades of slamming screens ….

How many times had a weary parent
walked these stairs to carry a sick child
to another level to rest and mend and recover?
How many nights had this landing been a pivot point
as heavy feet carried a burdened heart
to the second floor to sleep
not knowing what tomorrow would bring?


How many times had these two huge stone steps –
monoliths laid sideways to rest and offer secure footing for visitors of all kinds –
been leapt across entirely
by rambunctious young men or twirling little girls
full of happiness and joy
that is shared among family and friends?

How many meals had been suds’ed-and-swished from pots and plates
as hearts were splayed open
and eyes entertained by clouds that trailed their way across the sky
and shadowed the grasses, trees and fields.

How many hands have reached for this knob …
waiting ….
praying ….
pondering the hows and whens?

Snuggled under decades of blankets …
there was no chill in the night.

And safe inside these doors,
there was no reason to fear.

Amongst mismatched dishes from one era and another
and puzzles pieced together during sultry summers, then glued together for the saving,
we shared hearts … lives … and worries.


We spoke of being brave
and pouring out of our words on paper …
when we don’t know where to begin
put pen to paper and let the Lord write the story.

In the dim still light of morning and evening
and all the hours in between,
we listened for His words
and asked Him to help us be brave.

In need of mending and saving, we carried our mismatched spirits
to the mountains of North Carolina
where we spent a weekend in an ancient home upon a hill
and shared our hearts.
There was no valet … but exquisitely lavish were the days.

The Gifting of a Trip

I received a message from a friend in my inbox last week.
It said,

“This weekend is a ladies retreat at my mountain house and a spot has opened up.
I’ve been praying about who to ask and your name keeps popping up everywhere… literally…just saw you on FB. HA! ” 

She sent me a bio of the speaker and told me a bit about the weekend.
I didn’t even finish the email.
I wrote her back quickly.

“I haven’t even read the bio. I don’t have to.
I know that I would love to go. I’d especially love to go on Thursday,  so I can help you prepare. “

I will tell you that one of my first thoughts when I received the invitation was, “I was not a ‘first choice’.”
Where does this originate? Is this something we were taught?
Is this something we have heard along the way?
Are these thoughts from the enemy?
I’m not sure …. but  just.as.quickly as that thought slithered into my brain,
God replaced it with this one,
” This is a special gift just for you. You weren’t an afterthought,
I opened up a spot just.for.you. I want you there.
Maybe the person that couldn’t make it … just needed to know they were invited.
Maybe that was the point of the invitation. That was all that was needed right now.
But, I was now invited and I could go!

So the only mystery to unravel
was “Where does God want Joy to stay while He takes me aside to work on my heart?”
As I dialed the numbers to ask two of my closest friends here in Augusta if they thought they might be able to help,
I spoke these words out loud to God,

“Lord, I’m accepting this trip as a gift from you. If you want me to go, then please help me with arrangements.” 

Within ten minutes, I had spoken to both friends. Both families are large with several teens. Translate: both families have children going in opposite directions all.the.time. And both friends said, “SURE! I would love to have her!” One even said, “This weekend would be a good weekend for her to join us because she would fit right in.” Within twenty minutes of the dialing of the first number, I was able to tell the hostess, “Yes! I can come! God worked out the details before I even asked.”

And so I tied up loose ends at home, typed out a schedule for where Joy would be throughout the weekend (two days with one family, next two days with the other) with phone numbers and times so there would be no confusion. I shared the info with my big kids, as a back up.  I washed laundry and packed and made sure that the pets were handled.

All the while,  I continuously prayed that God would speak to me through the weekend
and use me to bless others. 

We pulled onto the property as the sun was sinking below the ridgeline. We watched the last rays of light gently caress the hills and
then the shadows envelop the homestead where we would stay, sup and fellowship for the next few days.

Joy spent time at school, enjoyed an after school sports event, frolicked Saturday at a fabulous Fall Festival, went to church and saw a live performance of the ballet Peter Pan which included several of her friends dancing, dub-stepping and acting on the stage. She even told me how much she enjoyed singing show tunes in the van with one of the families! I’m still amazed by that one.

All the while, I lived in “pinch me” mode as I tried to soak in every moment. I haven’t traveled much in 2012. I only drive as far as my towing plan will allow so that I know that I am “covered.” I have never, ever, ever had trouble on the road with my van. Every time I crank it I thank God for it. Yet, it’s been a still, quiet year.

And I have pined for the mountains. 

Not only did God take me to the mountains,
He took me to the mountains at a price I could afford,
He let me ride in someone else’s car,
and He surrounded me with gorgeous women who love Him dearly.

what.a.tremendous.treat

Dreaming of Stones

After Stone and I spent four full hours at the rock and gem show in Atlanta,
we went back to his house and continued our rock adventure.
He has a few finds out on display in his home,

but doesn’t currently have a display case that will house them all
so many of  his rocks, minerals, fossils and finds
are tucked away in boxes under his bed.
When he mentioned that he had more rocks than those out on display,
I asked if he would show them to me.
And he did.
One by one, he carefully unwrapped
and told me stories
of where these riches were found,
how they formed
and why they are special.
He referenced back to stories he has shared,
rocks that we had seen earlier in the day
and earlier trips and studies he has experienced.


He told me how a past girl friend told him he was a “geek” or a “dork”
or some other demeaning word
and laughed as
he unwrapped his discoveries and talked.
And I thought how sad … that a passion so deep and rich
could go unappreciated … even mocked.
We all have gifts and passions
and it just seems right that each of us is appreciated
for who we are …
and that others would accept and approve
whether they understand and share the zeal or not.
…. *sigh*   …. Such would be a perfect world, wouldn’t it?

.
So, I listened intently with fascination ….
was amazed
and, of course, asked questions
as Stone told me stories of history and point of origin.
And he even shared a few of his treasures with me …
one that I will return, should our relationship not continue
because the rock is
just
that
beautiful and special.
(A Makes Me Happy Monday post, for sure!!)

I have long been a collector. When I was a teen, we camped often.
We camped on a beach that was littered with shells …
many that are hard to find whole and intact in other places.
I have a Sundial and a Helmet
that are favorites because they were found without blemish and still rich with color.
I still have them today on my shelf of treasures.
(The helmet is the shell on the top in the collage on the right)

Many people have a “Bucket List.” My “Life List,” as I call it, includes things that I would like to find. I would love, for example, to find a meteorite, enough sea glass to fill a small bowl and
a Petroskey stone.

After spending some time yesterday on Pinterest and searching around the web for inspiration of all sorts,
I found myself  searching through the night
as I dreamed
about looking for Petoskey Stones.
These stones are actually some that I marked on my Pinterest account.
They are decorated by an artist, Yoran Morvant,
and look very much like they are Petoskey Stone inspired.
The Petoskey Stone is actually a fossilized coral remnant and is named the State Rock for Michigan. They can be found around the state and are beautiful in their natural state, but are absolutely gorgeous when polished.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that I had actually dreamed about my hat and gloves …. that have a pattern that mimics that of the stone.

Stone and I have begun to share a verbal list of places we would like to go and things we would like to do. Though he is a Geologist and has studied out west, he’s never visited the Grand Canyon. NOTHING would be cooler than to visit the Grand Canyon … with a Geologist! *swoons* THAT trip is definitely on our “List of Places to See!”  I think I am going to begin a journal with a page for each destination and activity, with space for details and a photo of the event when it comes to fruition.  Going to Michigan to find Petoskey Stones will have a page, for sure.

So, in my dreams last night I walked, searched and asked for help from people along the way.
I thought about these gorgeous stones all night …
and now
I’m all the more intent
on beginning a “Life List” journal.

How about you? Do YOU have a Bucket List or a Life List?
Would you share a dream or two?

“Community” friendships

I spent the day searching. I soak it all in …
years since I’ve made a visit to her home (August ’09)
high up on a “hill” (by south Georgia standards) … nestled against pines
stoic and still amongst fields of grazing bovine, barbed wire and paths of dirt.

I am reminded why we are friends ….
as I peek into corners and crevices of her life
on display on ledge, table top and shelf …
We share affinities for things of old …
like an antique nut grinder that sits in her windowsill.
I have one almost identical on my hutch
four hours north and east as the crow flies.


A jar of candy corn graces the other end of the kitchen window sill ….
candy corn; my favorite autumn treat.

She, too, has a flat bottomed whisk.
I quiz Nina and Bonnie, “Do you reach for it often?”
“Is it your preference?”

She chooses to give thanks ….. a striving goal for me.
Rather than a Christmas tree, she puts up a “Thankful Tree” this year ….
bearing the weight of emblems of faith ….
feathered friends, statements of faith and cones from pines …
that she might focus on being thankful in December ..
this the first year after the death of her mother …
untimely … only a few days before Christmas last year.

The shadows became long and narrow as I looked at this corner of her life ..
like Della and Jeff, I have watched Kevin love Bonnie for years …
always tender and thoughtful in kindness towards each other.
And I teared as I told her how hard it used to be to watch them …
knowing that I would probably never have such.
Little did I know ….

As the afternoon wore on, we sat on her front porch and conversed.
We moved and moved again
as the heat of the sun caused us to need to find shade …
I swung to and fro in the afternoon breeze in amazement
remembering that south Georgia Novembers can be this warm.

Then the sun dipped low behind pines and hardwoods
as the Canada Geese made their way across the sky ablaze with glory.

She told me stories of her mama, her childhood and today.
Mostly, when it was my turn to share,
I spoke of the subjects that sit on the tip of my tongue: God and Stone …
and how He has used him to teach me wonderful new lessons …
about life, myself and Himself.

We began our day
bare and honest,
bathed in sunlight …
unmasked …
and came to a close in the same way.

At one point, I found myself
admiring Bonnie’s gorgeous bracelet
again.
It seems to me that I admired it last time we were together.
This time, I lingered at her wrist ….
not remembering the details in the gorgeous fish.
I thought of Jesus’ words to Simon Peter and Andrew,
Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19)

Before my visit ended, she extended her arm,
bracelet in hand …  and said,
“I want you to have it.”
I hesitated and even refused …
but Bonnie’s persistence melted my heart
and I agreed under one condition:
this beautiful work of art
would be a piece of “community jewelry”
that I would wear
and return again at another visit.

I find that I have many of these things ….
Heather and I share “community furniture”
in the form of a gorgeous little table
that we found while yard saling together almost a decade ago ….
It has lived at her home, but for the time being, resides in mine.
We share a “community tile ”
because we both love trees and leaves and, yes,  rocks.


Della recently shared a dress with me for several weeks …
it was never named a “community dress”
but I wore it
over and over and over again
in that month or two that it was “mine” …
and thought of my affection for her
while feeling beautifully funky
in the wild brown-and-pink-on-white retro pattern.

And so, I accepted Bonnie’s gracious gift
knowing that we would share this cuff bracelet
inscribed with a reminder
that He calls us all to be
“fishers of men.”

I accepted her gift
as a gift from Him
that I might wear a gentle reminder around my wrist …
a community message that she and I share …
of redemption, love and mercy.

And so I close November
giving thanks ….
for candy corn, the love of a man and woman on display and a Rowdy pup ….
for “community” friendships,
symbols of His love
the blessing of a kindred, gracious heart.