Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are we there yet?

This weekend, we headed out to Manhattan to spend a day reliving my college days and also to go check out Konza Prairie. It's sad that the whole 6 years I was at K-State, I never once visited it. So I decided it was time to go exploring.

The day started out great, with us visiting one of my favorite hangouts in college...Java (now called Bluestem Bistro). We enjoyed a great cup of coffee and then decided to head out to Konza. I, being the bright one in the family, went off and left my trail maps and also the maps to Konza, but I figured, no big deal, we can find it. We had success in finding it and were on our way to enjoying the trail.

We decided to take the 6 mile route. We've run 13 miles, I think we can handle 6, right? Well the beginning of the trail was wonderful. We saw lots of deer, beautiful prairie land, peaceful streams. The bummer was that I had to use the restroom, like I have to do every 30 minutes. We came upon a restroom, and I thought we hit gold. I had Jason check it out for me, and there was a toilet...lacking a flushing valve though. Poot. So I thought I can hold it.

We continue walking and it was really beautiful and peaceful. The Lord's creation is so vast and peaceful. We came into a valley area covered with trees. Jason suggested this might be a good place for me to relieve myself. After some deliberation, I thought, I can't do this. This is not me...I'm a Marriott kinda girl, not a camper! So we moved on. Of course, 30 seconds later, here comes a runner through the trail. That made me really happy I didn't try, because he would've gotten an eye-full...that is for certain.

We continued hiking and we reach the summit and it was just beautiful. Hot, but beautiful. We were descending the hill and were happy to see that we had more well traveled paths ahead of us. We had been walking on some rustic trails previously. We're walking along and then we see the trail hits a closed gate. On the other side of the gate, it says, "Restricted Area". Hmm... So, where do we go? We decide to backtrack thinking we may have missed the turnoff. We find another area that has a slight trail and we follow that. We come across this flowing stream which felt so good to walk through...we had sloshy shoes for awhile, but it was worth it! Then we saw another hill...no tracks. GOODNESS! So we decide to turn around. I am starting to break down....it's 90 degrees and we're both hot and wishing for shade and a water fountain...or maybe even a puddle.

We decided to climb over the gate and look for a main road, and maybe we'd be lucky and come across an ambulance. No such luck. We found the main road and thought which way do we go now? We both felt that going left was the right direction, but the landscape didn't look too familiar. The Lord was hearing a few prayers from me that day! We kept walking and walking and walking. Every time we'd see a bin in the horizon, we thought, it has to be around that corner. And nope, it wasn't! Jason suggested we need to turn around, but I couldn't imagine backtracking only to find we picked the wrong way. So we trudged on, and would try and run to get there faster. Of course though, we were exhausted and out of water. So we didn't last long.

Finally the surroundings were starting to look familiar and we saw the Konza sign. Hallelujer!!!!! After 3 miles on this main road, we were smoked! I have never been more happy to see the cemetary located near the park entrance! After 3-1/2 hours of hiking, we were so thankful for air conditioning and water!!! And that whole having to use the restroom, well, I think my body used that for reserves! So if Konza is interested, they can add our 12 mile route to their map now!

All in all, it was worth it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This is not the end...

This is not the end, it is a new beginning.
(This post dedicated to Kelsey Smith)

I felt compelled to write in response to watching a video of Kelsey Smith's memorial service. I saw that our church's pastor was giving the sermon, as this was also the Smith's church, so I decided to watch it. Watching the service moved me in many ways. In ways that I hope I will always be affected.

It truly is such a tragic story...an 18 year old girl being robbed of her dreams, her hopes, and her life. And yet, I remind myself that her life is just beginning...in heaven with her savior. It's hard not to be sad at a time like this. I didn't even know this beautiful young lady, and yet watching the family speak about her life moved me to tears over and over again.

What I know to be true is that her life on earth, though short, will be touching lives for a long, long time. Her death is not an eternal tragedy. It is a temporal tragedy. Eternal tragedies occur everyday when we choose to put earthly items, desires, insecurities, and anything above our Lord. It is so easy to live for this earth...we have nice houses, pretty yards, good friends, but they can never give us what we need - LIFE...the Lord, through Jesus, gives us this. But the Lord being so gracious also gives us CHOICE. And many days I choose to put earthly items in front of Him. Those earthly items will not go with me when I die.

Things that will go with me when I die are: my love for the Lord, my love for His people, my trust in Him, my hope in Him, and the time I spent getting to know Him more. What a blessing to know that Kelsey understood this.

A few principles I'd like to adopt in memory of Kelsey:

**Live everyday with FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE
**Life is precious, don't wait until tomorrow to tell that person what they mean to you
**Focus on what truly matters
**Boycott violent tv shows and movies (Kelsey's killer was shaped largely by these)

One of Kelsey's favorite scriptures:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~John 10:10

Friday, June 8, 2007

A new hiker emerges...

I just wanted to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to our wonderful friends Amy and John...they're our friends who hiked the Appalachian Trail and took a break to come to our wedding! So I imagine it'll be just a few weeks before their new addition is hiking with them!

Meet Miss Hannah Elise!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Always be thankful...

After some desert experiences lately, I feel like I am coming to an oasis. And, wow is it refreshing! I have learned so much through it all and I witnessed and felt this powerful scripture played out in my life.

"Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In the midst of my struggle to understand why God could allow the miscarriage to happen after Jason and I prayed so fervently for a child, I came to a reality I had to adopt into my core. It was 2-fold.

1. Always be thankful for everything. You may not understand why, and that's ok. Just choose to be thankful.

2. Praise God through all circumstances. The Lord takes us to new levels when we praise Him.

During the tough times, these were not easy things to do. But in all aspects of life, God gives us choices, and I choose to do it. Sure, I still questioned God, and I still got mad. But my spirit, when focused on the Lord, chose to be obedient to those 2 principles.

If you haven't read Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place, I highly recommend it. I read it in college and one major principle from it has been planted in my heart since then. Quick background: Corrie and her family have been placed in a concentration camp and struggle everyday to stay faithful and stay alive. When they were taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp during WWII, Corrie and her older sister Betsy found that their barracks were infested with lice. Betsy insisted that they thank God for the lice, since we are enjoined to give thanks for all things. Corrie struggled with that, but was obedient. The book goes on to tell how the sisters had an unusual freedom to read the Bible and pray in the barracks at night with the other inmates, in spite of the repressive practices of their Nazi guards. Corrie said, ‘The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.’ Why were they given such freedom? After a while they understood -- the lice! Another blessing in disguise.

Wow! Isn't that incredible?! God uses EVERYTHING, even the bad things to take care of us!

So in retrospect I see how God used the tough times...first of all with the miscarriage, I still don't know why it happened, but what I know is that God has strengthened my faith and has strengthened my marriage. I am a changed person because of it and I would not take that back.

Secondly regarding the Bermuda job, it was a tough time to say no and also to have my heart hurt by a woman with harsh words. And yet, I praise God for those hurtful words...as recently Jason was offered a job promotion that he's wanted! Had that woman not hurt me, there is a huge possibility we would be heading to Bermuda. In which case, Jason would have missed the opportunity he had wanted.

Looking back over the 2 months, I am so thankful for having an open heart to God. He filled my heart with a joy that only comes from Him. It's an incredible miracle that I can look back at these 2 months and feel love and provision from Him. It is so true that:

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." ~Romans 8:28