The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

Mistake

Mistake

I graduated high school when I was 17 years old. Seventeen going on sixty.

I had always been near the top (not at, but near) of my class and when I graduated, had a scholarship waiting for me at the local college. I attended and did great in my classes that fall. At first. Toward the end of the semester, I slipped into a dark depression and stayed there for some time. Though I started strong that first semester, I flunked out. I stopped going to class. I skipped finals. I left the house only to sit in the college parking lot, giving the appearance I had attended class. I didn’t register for a second semester, but kept going to my choir classes as if I had. Music was the only thing I looked forward to. It was the only thing I could do without trying.

I was tired of trying.

Without turning this post into a therapy session, I’ll let you know that first college semester took a long time to recover from. I lost my scholarships, lost the respect of my professors, and lost myself in the process. I felt as though I had thrown the rest of my life away, and there was no real future.

Eventually, I went back to school and changed my major. When I started college, I loved to do two things: write, and teach. In order to do both at the level I wanted, however, I would have had to go to school for far longer than I was willing – or thought I could afford to.

So I took the easy way out. I changed from English Ed to Business.

It took me too many years of going part time and forcing myself to follow through, but eventually I graduated with an Associate’s degree. It wasn’t anywhere close to what I was passionate about or wanted to do. But I knew it was something I’d be able to do well.

And I did do well. I held clerical administrative positions my entire career in “corporate America.” I completed tasks I was assigned, and even received a few awards for my work. But I went home every night and woke up every morning feeling completely unfulfilled. I started to care less and less about my work. I wasn’t doing this because I wanted to. I was doing it because I had to.

After all, I screwed up early on in life, and this was the career I was destined for.

But do you know what? Flunking my first semester of college wasn’t my biggest mistake.

My biggest mistake was thinking that was my biggest mistake. My biggest mistake was not going after what I wanted to pursue.

I figured it was too late for me, and that having an “A.A.” after my name destined me as the foundation of any totem pole for the remainder of my life. I thought I was required to settle in my work, and never advance to what I dreamt of doing once upon a time.

That was my biggest mistake.

It’s not my career (yet…), but guess what I’m doing? I’m writing and teaching. I’m speaking into the lives of others at every opportunity. I’m writing when I’m inspired to share something. I’m jotting notes about my days and the experiences I have so I can share them with others. I’m doing these things because I started to believe I could. I gave up on giving up, and I’m doing what I love to do. This is the only life I get, and I don’t want to spend it wishing I could have done something different.

The letters I carry after my name don’t mean much to anyone. It’s not entirely impressive to too many people that I have an Associate of Arts degree in business management. It serves an incredible purpose in reminding me, however, that I sold myself short.

It took me eight years, start-to-finish, to get a degree I never wanted. In a field I never wanted to be in, let alone retire from. But I thought it was my only (easiest) choice.

And that, friends, was a big mistake.

I was created to be, do, and live more than any test or degree tried to determine for me.

Today, I’m a writer. I’ve written for our newspaper, and been featured on other blogs, magazines, and websites. I have a handful of loyal people who repeatedly come back to read what I share. I have invitations to speak – and to teach. I work for a man who writes and teaches for a living. He is a dear mentor to me, and I’m soaking up as much of his knowledge as I can.

Today I do what I love and I’m able to do it because I chose to let my mistake be just that: a mistake. Not a determining factor, not a sentence, not a curse. A mistake.

Today, I do what I love because I know I’m capable of it.

And you are, too. Don’t wear your mistakes as chains. Carry the scars, but realize there’s new skin over those marks. You can have a new beginning to pursue your old dreams.

The Letter That Changed My Life

The Letter That Changed My Life

I spent the first 12 years of my life as a valley girl. I lived only a few blocks from the beach in central California. I had naturally bronze skin, naturally bleach-blonde hair, and – like – totally talked – like – I was – like – a valley girl. Watching home videos is painful for me.

The summer before I turned 13, we moved from our home on in Grover Beach (though it was Grover City when I lived there. Random fact.) to a tiny apartment in Powell, Wyoming.

It was the worst summer of my life.

It hailed. I had never seen hail before. And it would hail while the sun was still shining. It was the craziest weather I ever witnessed. I made two friends. My sister and I shared a room with bunk beds, and I grew pretty sick of hanging out with her. Both parents were gone to work every day. And when they were home, they argued. That summer was tough on everybody.

I missed my own room, I missed the beach, and I missed my friends. Especially my best friend.

Thankfully, we kept in touch through letters and phone calls. “Rose” as I’ll call her, was my saving grace. When I knew it was her on the other end of the line, nothing else mattered. She got me. She’d always get me.

Until the day she wouldn’t.

I’ll never forget getting her letter. I tore it open to read the latest goings on. What I read instead was a break up letter.

I never got a definitive answer as to why, but I distinctly remember the phrase, “I will always look back on our friendship with nostalgia.” Just like that, for the cost of a 29 cent postage stamp, my best friend became “someone I used to know.” The longest relationship I ever had was nothing more than memory. A vapor. Poof.

I was devastated. Crushed. Rose, my best friend, had now become a painful thorn in my memory bank. Not only was I struggling to make new friends, but my old ones didn’t want anything to do with me. For 13 year old Val, that was brutal. I’ve never liked the word “nostalgia”.

Thrust into the pits of loneliness, I had to make my new friendships really count, and I had to find more friends. Eighth grade was tough. I hated being the new kid in town. With gigantic glasses and an even bigger fro, it wasn’t easy.

I built a wall few people found their way over. Born a social butterfly, I suddenly tried to make a bigger, stronger, impenetrable cocoon.

In one of my most vulnerable, confidence-lacking moments, I gained a new best friend: Tiff (or Tigger, as I affectionately called her). She even had (has) huge hair like me.

Not only did I have a new best friend, but I began to develop several meaningful and long-lasting relationships. My 20 year reunion (in three years….is that right? It can’t have been that long…) will be full of hugs and high fives from some of the dearest people on the planet.

Tiff & Val

I tend to be a hoarder of relationships – I don’t want to let any of them go. Even if I have to keep them at the furthest arm’s-length distance possible, I can’t ever quite cut ties. I never understood how people could be so comfortable parting ways with other people. “Rose” was the first of many painful breakups for me. After Rose left my life, and after others bypassed the door that continued to my future, it stung.

As intense a sting any of them may have been, the pain hasn’t lasted forever.

I came into better relationships. I found my husband after my heart had been trampled on by a few former suitors. Tiff and I have a friendship that spans over 20 years, and 700 miles. I’m a lousy friend, but she loves me anyway.

Here in North Dakota, it took a long (l-o-n-g) time to connect with anyone on a real meaningful level. Now, especially after everything we’ve been through, I know we are genuinely loved and supported no matter what. At any given time, I could call a long list of people and know these midwesterners would give me everything they had to make sure I was taken care of.

I have the best people.

I’m glad Rose was brave enough to let me go. Maybe she looks back on our elementary friendship with nostalgia, or maybe she never thinks about me another day in her life. More importantly, I’m glad for the deep, nurturing relationships I have today.

Whatever you’re up against in relationships – know it’s a struggle for everyone. Life changes. People change. Some of us are revolving doors, and some of us use revolving doors. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. It’s life. Be encouraged.

But just know if any of you break up with me, I’ll have to blog about you.

Mind Mumbles is Live!

This has been something I’ve been dreaming of for a while! Thanks to some special discounts, influences, and encouragement – I bit the bullet and built my own real-deal, paid-for-domain-name website.

This is where all of my content will now be centrally located, and you’ll be able to use your figurative all-access pass to everything in my Mind Mumbles world. We’re still working out the details of migrating past content, but going forward, this will be the hot spot for my written mumbles, spoken mumbles, and contact mumbles. It’s a low-budget site (read: $0.00) with a crew who has agreed to work for free (read: me and my husband), but we’re learning a lot, and I think we’ve pulled off a pretty spiffy site so far!

I’ve been blogging since 2008, and don’t think I had a reader outside my immediate family until 2010, after our experience with bringing Little Miss into the world. A few traumatic experiences later, including losing our second daughter, Harlynn, and blogging is now my therapy. It’s how I share my messages on marriage, faith and family with the world, how I process through my thoughts and feelings, and how I over-share all sorts of details about my life.

I’m so excited! Thanks for stopping by, be sure to like us on Facebook, subscribe to our super-secret newsletter list, bookmark this page in your browser, and let’s enjoy some lattes together! If you don’t live near me, that’s okay – you can always send a Starbuck’s gift card. (wink wink, nudge nudge!)

Mind Mumbles (3)

To Our Friends…

This morning the surrounding areas were covered with snow. It was weird to hear all the reports of snow covered yards, roads, travel delays, etc., and look out our windows and see the cold, bare concrete, the yellowing grass, and the swing set out back – all without snow. On one hand, I was incredibly relieved. On the other hand, however, I was a little saddened by it. I had hoped, in some strange way, a fresh snowfall would somehow blanket the weekend we had, and provide new ground for us to begin our week on.
Friday afternoon, just as I was starting dinner, I started to feel horribly sore, achy, and generally unwell. As an experienced veteran in this feeling, I knew just what it was. This would be my 13th episode of mastitis. Within a couple of hours, I had spiked a fever, had chills, and was incredibly sore and tender all over – my chest especially. My 13th time. I had it nine times with Little Miss. Why I kept breastfeeding is beyond me. Now, after four times with Little Man, I’m ready to be done. It’s too much for me to be down for the count with this, as often as it crops up. Soon enough, I’ll be done breastfeeding. I’m comfortable with this because we have an ample (ample) supply stored up in a couple of freezers, and I know he’ll have enough milk to sustain him until at least his first birthday. However, it’s the end of an era. This realization makes me incredibly sad.
We won’t be having anymore children. With what we’ve been through, and how we know my body works (or doesn’t work) in pregnancy, it would be playing with fire to end up pregnant again. Little Man is my last baby. While it’s a decision I know as the only right one to make, it’s still a difficult one, and still one that invokes incredibly strong emotion. As I wind down breastfeeding for my last baby, it ends a chapter for us. I am deeply saddened and incredibly discouraged by it all. 
That said, I couldn’t be sad today when I saw there was no blanket of snow in town. I have a new friend I met a couple of weeks ago. She’s the friend of a friend (I have a few of those…) and her daughter was life-flighted here from the other side of the state three weeks ago. Thanks to social media, I felt like I knew her, and asked if I could come visit in the hospital. Our first in-person meeting was in the PICU, but it might as well have been in one of our living rooms. We sat and visited for a couple of hours, catching up like we were long-lost friends. And maybe we are. We have a lot of similarities in our life experiences, and are certainly kindred spirits in those regards. I went there to meet her, encourage her, and pray over her daughter, but I was the one who left encouraged. When I prayed over her daughter, I had this incredible sense that Natalie knew more about God and Jesus than I ever would this side of heaven. I felt like she had an in. She knows. She already knows. It’s hard to explain, but I couldn’t shake it. It was incredible.
Saturday, while I was holed up at home, I got a message on Facebook from a complete stranger (to me), who happened to be a really good friend of Melissa’s (Natalie’s mama). She asked if I could help her orchestrate a surprise pedicure for Melissa, to get her out and about and boost her spirit a little bit. I, of course, was excited to help. I was taken completely aback, however, to learn that Melissa wasn’t the only one getting pampered. This friend of hers wanted to treat me, as well. A stranger! Wanted to spoil me! I couldn’t believe it. In my fresh-broken-fever-state, I did what I could to express my thanks and gratitude, and got everything lined up for today.

What’s incredible to me, is how God uses people to show love. Not only was my friend being loved on immeasurably by her friend back home, but that love spilled over onto me as well. I get notes from people all the time with little snippets of encouragement. Little pushes to keep going. We have friends who have anonymously mailed us grocery store gift cards. We have friends who have ordered custom jamberry nails for me to remember Harlynn. We have friends who watch our children on last-minute calls, for no reimbursement, because they want to help us. We have friends who offer themselves up so I can stay home and rest and recover from mastitis. Again. We have strangers who lend a helping hand. We have people placed in our lives, whether for a moment or a span of time, who do nothing but love on us. All. The. Time.
And then I sit and pout because of decisions we have to make. And you know what? Even when I sit and pout, I get loved on. Just this morning, I got a message from one of my favorite people saying she thought she just needed to check in on me on this wintry day. I told her about my weekend battle with mastitis, and her reply was nothing but love and understanding. Even though I was pouting. 
Earlier today as I was driving around, I was listening to Charles Stanley on the radio. He was talking about friendships, and the importance of having a friend who will tell you (in love) what you need to hear, hold you accountable, and steer you back to truth in your thinking, and living. He then posed the question, “Do you have a friend who does that for you?” I could think of a few. He followed up with, “Are you that friend for someone else?” Gulp
I don’t know what kind of a friend I am, and I’m sure I could be far better to almost everyone who is in my life. What I do know, however, is we are surrounded by people who love us immeasurably, unconditionally, and without bounds. 
I may be on a roller coaster ride still in my grief. I may pout because of what my life is, or has become, or never will be. I may struggle, daily, in being the person I want to be. But I do not lack in being loved on by others. 
And to all of you who are a part of that circle ~ I cannot thank you enough. Thank you for your love. Thank you for continuing to love me, love us, in our worst. In our darkest. In our best. In our brightest. Your reward is in heaven.

November Rain

Remember the song? It’s like the longest Guns ‘n Roses song ever. It’s not at all related to my post today, other than the title. Today is November 5th, and it’s raining outside. Profound. It felt weird not to preempt my post with a {31 Days}! November 1st I had to nearly physically restrain myself from posting about nothing for the sake of posting something. I am so thankful for the 31-Day-Challenge, and that I was able to complete it, though. Tough as it was, it was worth every keystroke. 

Anyway, I’m thankful it’s raining today. You’ve heard me talk before about my need for lots of sunshine, but I’m thankful it’s raining because that means it isn’t snowing. Not yet, anyway. As much as I feel like I’m ready for winter, I’m not. The cemetery shortened their hours at the end of October, as they do every year, and having three less hours during the evening to go visit Harlynn makes me feel so limited. Silly as it may seem, I don’t like only having the hours of 8 to 5 to go see her. That said, I’m glad they close up at night to keep vandals at bay. Even still…what I wouldn’t give sometimes to just pack up in the middle of the night and go sit at her site. 

No….more than that. What I wouldn’t give to have her call out to me in the middle of the night, because she’s had a bad dream. What I wouldn’t give to groggily comfort her and lull her back to sleep. What I wouldn’t give to crack open her door, tip toe in her room, and pull her covers back up over her to make sure she stays warm. What I wouldn’t give to have her come barreling into our bed in the mornings. What I wouldn’t give to watch her poke her big sister, and tackle her baby brother. No matter what I give, though, those things will never happen. So instead, I sit here thankful it’s raining and not snowing, and her grave goes one more day without being covered by a blanket of white. 

I sit here thankful, because even though we didn’t get to keep Harlynn, we’re still able to keep the hope of seeing her again. I sit here thankful because there are things that have happened, and keep happening since losing her, that remind us of how loved we are – and are therefore an absolute reflection of how loved she is, every moment of every day. Not just by us. But by, and because of Him. 
There have been a lot of changes in our home over the last couple of weeks. I started working a few hours a week as a virtual assistant, which has given me a boost I didn’t realize I needed. I wake up to an alarm every day instead of sleeping as long as possible and getting up when Little Man decides he’s hungry. I start my day in the Bible instead of in a rush to get ready. I have a schedule and a routine, that so far I’ve been able to manage pretty decently. I cook actual meals for my family instead of throwing a frozen pizza in the oven as my culinary contribution. (Though, I still will be cooking frozen pizzas from time to time.) I’m feeling purposeful. It’s been a while since I’ve felt purposeful.
Looking over these last 19 months, I don’t think anyone could have convinced me I would be in this spot – emotionally, mentally, spiritually – after losing Harlynn. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and having the reward of simply being productive, has carried me a lot further than I would have imagined. Having Little Man here to slobber on my face has not only made me feel closer to my husband and to Little Miss, but to Harlynn as well. Even though we’ll forever have an empty chair at holiday meals and she will forever be missing from our presence, I feel a strange sense of completeness. She isn’t here, but she is. We’re missing her, but we aren’t. I feel like I’m finding her every day, all over again, in everything I do. In every part of our family. 
I also feel like I have to type fast, because each time I pause to look out the window, I see flakes of white infiltrating their way into the rain. Just give me a few more days, snow. Just a few more days.
Today, I’ll be thankful for the November rain. For one more day without cover on her grave site. And for the simple fact that life, as I know it, is still life.

{31 Days: Day 31} Back To Crazy

WE DID IT!! Picture me saying that in my excited nerd way. First of all, thank you to all you die-hards who read every single post of mine. You’re as insane as I am, and I love you. Group hug!

Now that I’m not “challenged” to publish a blog post every day, I can get back to crazy. There have been things neglected in this time as I have purposely carved out time each day to write. There’s laundry that needs washing, folding, and put away. I’m pretty good with the washing and folding part. It’s the putting away that proves a lifetime struggle. There are floors that need cleaned, and I pray no one looks at them when they come over. Gracious me, what a mess. There is clutter that needs to be cleaned out. Clothes that need organized. Work space that needs a little face lift. Menus that need planned. And a very special Little Miss who has patiently allowed me time each day to hammer words out on a keyboard as she snuggles and holds me accountable to my time limit, who needs some Chutes and Ladders time.
The picture above was from our family photo night. Our photographer, the one and only Michelle Warren, told Little Miss to give Mommy a hug. Little Miss hugged very tightly and actually crunched my throat. It was uncomfortable, I made a face, and Michelle clicked the camera. I love it because everything about that picture is so true to life. The kids are adorable. Little Miss is being sweet and snuggly. Little Man is gnawing on his fingers. Always gnawing on his fingers. Harlynn is still a very present part of our lives. Brent is too suspicious to smile. And I am choking on love. Ha! I’m making a face, because I always make a face. Why do I always make a face?
Our life is crazy, and if you had told me ten years ago this is what my life would be, I probably would have flipped you the bird and told you how wrong you were. Thankfully, I’ve grown a lot in ten years, and I’ve stopped flipping people the bird and immediately launching in to why they’re wrong. Now, though, I have an idea for another blog post. Oooh, day 32!! Not really…I’m so taking a break! But stay tuned, because it’s coming. Anyway. Circling back. I never imagined this would be my life. Married to a rock-star-saint of a husband, giving birth to three children, only being able to keep two of them, living in North Dakota, and sorting out life as a bereaved mother. Never imagined.
There are good days, there are bad days, there are middle-of-the-road days, and there are extremes of all of them. All of them have their own element of crazy. I can tell you this, and it should come as no surprise: I am a mess. But in this mess, God has done some amazing work, and written some amazing stories. If you don’t know Him, or if you aren’t sure if you know Him like you think you should, let Him meet you in your crazy right now. Let Him help you sort it out. I can tell you I’d be a lot crazier without Him.
The other night, I was trying to hurry and get dinner ready before a hearing specialist made a home visit for Little Man. Little Miss had heard me singing “I Surrender All” earlier and had asked to hear the song. In searching for it on Spotify, it pulled up this song. As it played, Little Miss was dancing ballet underfoot as I was cooking. I set my pots and pans down, grabbed her hand, and danced along. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle, you just have to dance in the middle of cooking dinner and expecting company. They all can wait, but these moments are so fleeting. She won’t always be four. She won’t always want to dance with her mama. She won’t always want to listen to some good ol’ gospel music. Take advantage of the crazy moments. Don’t let another moment without knowing Him pass you by. It’s worth it. I promise.

Back to 31 Days List Post

{31 Days: Day 30} My Cup Runneth Over

It’s a frigid day outside. The wind cut right through me as I ventured from the car to the inside of the grocery store this afternoon. The trees lay bare after cutting ties with their foliage, and the leaves scatter across the ground looking for a new home that will prove warmer than the yellowing grass or the gray, sullen, sidewalks. It’s the time of year where we remember the warmth that was, and await the subzero chill that will take up residence with us for the next several months. 
As the gloom of the gray sky hovers above, and as all nature has abandoned its beauty for the sake of survival, there is warmth in my soul. My cup runneth over.

Right now, Little Miss is sitting next to me sounding out words and reading on her own. Mostly. There’s still a lot of, “Is this what it says?” and other verification taking place. Little Man is napping. Dinner is waiting to be made (turkey burgers with pesto and provolone…one of my favorites!). It will be a good evening.
I could sit here and list off several ways God has used others to bless, care for, and provide for us in the recent weeks. As I’ve been between jobs and not bringing in income, nothing we’ve done works on paper, but somehow, God has made a way. He has used people in varying ways to bless us abundantly. Some in ways I’ll never be able to repay. Some people I don’t even know how to thank, because they’ve blessed us anonymously. All in ways I never expected. All in ways we needed at the exact moment we needed them. My cup runneth over.
I recently was paired with a client through my virtual assistant position, and will begin logging hours for work with them in a couple of weeks. I’m not replacing the income I once had, but we’re making strides in getting to a more comfortable position for our family, and I’m still able to stay home. To those who question why I haven’t thrown in the towel and just gone back to corporate America, let me tell you about Little Miss’ prayer a few nights ago. She prayed, “…and thank you that Mommy gets to be home and spend time with me.” She followed up later with, “and help me and Mommy to spend more time together.” She’s four. She’s full of sass. And she loves her mama. My cup runneth over.
I’m working to find some sort of schedule and balance that allows me to get it all done. The play time with kids, the mothering, the being an amazing wife, the work, the dishes, the laundry, the me-time. I know I can do it. I just need the help of a big calendar and lots of markers to make it happen. I know it’s supposed to happen. My cup runneth over.
As we head in to the holiday season, which will forever bear a burden of incompleteness for our family, I have to remember that my cup runneth over. I have to remember how we are loved and cherished, and how He has provided for us in ways we never imagined. A year ago, I may have heard only a rattle in my cup: the tink-tink of the few blessings I recognized. Today, I don’t dare move my cup, for where it sits, it has caught an abundance of love and care. 
It’s not always easy to recognize or remember how we’ve been blessed. It’s an exhausting task at times, to pull back the curtain of grief and peer at anything other than missing Harlynn. It is important, though, to remember there is life beyond that curtain. I’ll never take it down, and I’ll use it to close myself off from the world around me from time to time, but I will also venture out and remember what lies beyond its hem. Even in my grief, my cup runneth over.
If you find yourself feeling the despair of an empty cup, come sit a while. Let me share with you. Let me bless you in whatever way I can. I may not be able to fill your cup, but He can. And until He does, I will pour into you as I have been poured into. My cup runneth over. Soon, yours will, too.

{31 Days: Day 29} New Heights

This 31-day challenge has taught me a lot about writing, organizing my thoughts, creating things in a pinch, and most importantly: climbing to new heights!

The great thing about climbing, is the view gets better and better. You can’t always see where you’re headed, but when you turn around and look over all you’ve already conquered, it feels pretty good. And even when you walk through some pretty rough terrain, once you see it from higher up, it falls into place to make the “big-picture” a far more glorious sight.

When I was in my (very) early 20s, I was somehow in charge of the young-adult group at church. I had planned an overnight camping trip, followed by a hike up one of our local mountain paths. We ascended some 5,000+ feet and I thought I was going to die. First of all, I am one of the most out-of-shape people you’ve ever met in your life. In your life. I get winded just talking about exercise. It’s pathetic. Here we were hiking up as a group, and I was breathing so hard it felt like my lungs were trying to escape out my ears. My heart was pounding somewhere above my head, and I was holding everyone back. EVERYONE. I wanted to stop for “snacks and hydration” breaks every 100 feet because I needed to catch my breath. I was trying to pass it off like I was doing fine, but I was doing horrible. Horrible! I promise you at least all of them were thinking, “Why was this her idea? Cause she really sucks at hiking.”

We passed a few people on horseback, on their way down the mountain. When they heard we were planning on reaching the top, and we still had 21 switchbacks to navigate, they shook their heads and wished us luck. One said, “Without horses?” What in the world were we doing? Had I organized a group suicide in this camping trip? I wanted to jump on the back of one of the horses and tell everyone else, “Save yourselves! Ride!” but I couldn’t even catch enough air to utter “help” to the horsemen. I was done in.

At one point, one of our group members asked me if I wanted to use her trekking poles. I said yes, thinking at the very least, I could run one through my temple when no one was looking, and put myself out of this misery. Interestingly enough, however, those trekking poles made a world of difference. I wasn’t holding anyone up anymore, and I was keeping pace with the rest. All I needed was that little bit of support, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the ascent. It was still a tough climb for me, but I fared much better with a little help.

When we got to the top, after four hours of hiking, I remember feeling like I had just won the lottery. I had DONE it. And I had come so close – so many times – to giving up. Sticking it out and getting to the top of that mountain was an experience I won’t soon forget. I remember putting both hands in the air and shouting, “WE DID IT!” like a total nerd, but I was an excited nerd. My lungs didn’t explode, my heart didn’t pound right out of my chest like I thought it would – I had done it. Even though I thought I couldn’t, I did it. My technique was awful, but it got the job done. When we were standing at the top, looking over the switchbacks and valley we had come up from, I remember just soaking in the glorious view. It was amazing. Exhilarating. Profound.

We made it down the mountain in half the time it took us to go up. Going down was a lot easier. I was familiar with the trail, I knew what to expect, and I didn’t have to climb. I just had to be gentle on my knees. I was out of breath most of the way down as well, but not because I was exerting myself; it was because my sister’s ankles kept giving out and she would suddenly crumple to a little heap on the ground, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Like those toys, where you push the bottom and they just collapse? That was her. I’m not the nicest sister in the world either, and even though she had encouraged me on the way up, I was the first to laugh at her for falling down. If you knew her history of weak ankles, though, you’d think it was kind of funny, too. Trust me. I’m not evil. Eventually she grew tired of being a spectacle for everyone and she went to the back of the pack. I offered her one of the trekking poles, and wouldn’t you know it, she fared much better with a little help. No more stumbles. Smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Maybe the poles were magic.

My point is this: when your path seems impossible, do not think you have to do it alone. Do not refuse help from those around you. Some of them are better equipped than you realize, and can give you the tools necessary to make it to the top. Or to find your way back. Whichever way you’re headed. Don’t give up before the victory materializes. The view, the rush, the shouting like a nerd – it’s all worth it. Then, once you’ve conquered your journey, you can go forward to new heights. The world is waiting. Start climbing.

{31 Days: Day 27} Keep Your Appetite

Every time my son gets hungry, he starts to cry. Getting him fed isn’t as easy a process as simply sticking a bottle in his mouth. Usually feeding time is also an indicator his diaper needs changed, so we take care of that first. Once everything is dry and comfy and my hands are clean, I search for a bib for him. Every single time, without fail, when I put the bib around his neck, he voraciously grabs it and sticks it in his mouth. He wiggles his eager, hungry head from side to side, trying desperately to taste and consume the bib. Every single time, I take it out of his mouth and struggle to get him to calm down enough to let me feed him.
As soon as the bib comes down, he shoves his hands in his mouth. He gnaws and slobbers all over them, and gets so upset when he realizes his hands aren’t what he was after, either. Finally, after fighting, struggling, and him shedding tears, he’s able to eat. He drinks his fill and sits back relaxed and satisfied.
Every. Single. Time.
Usually, when he sticks the bib in his mouth, I try to remind him that’s not what he’s after. The bib looks and feels nothing like his usual meal, yet he so eagerly tries to spoil his appetite with it. Same thing with his hands. Instead of letting me feed him, he gets too impatient, and tries to feed himself with whatever he can get in his mouth. Nutritional value is of no concern. He’s blinded by hunger, and believes if he can just get something in his mouth, it will all be better.
It can be so frustrating trying to feed him. I have his food ready and waiting, yet I have to pull his self-imposed obstacles out of the way before he’ll finally eat. 
It’s an interesting parallel to my own life. How many times do I get so impatient, I try to fulfill my desires and longings with whatever I can get my hands on? Whatever happens to be nearby? Yet none of them will satisfy. How frustrated must God be when all He’s trying to do is feed me, and I’m crying and blocking my heart?
Don’t waste a chance to savor. Don’t reach for junk to fill you up when a wholesome feast awaits. Even nibbling before it’s time to eat can spoil the entire meal being prepared for you. Take time in choosing what to feed your soul. The wait will be worthwhile, and your hunger will be exponentially rewarded.