Learning to Fly

The sun has come back to us.  The long, dark, grey, cold, damp winter is gone.  The grass is turning that perfect shade of green.  The buds are popping out on the trees.  Flowers are tentatively poking their heads out of the ground.  The breezes are blowing.  The birds are stretching out their wings.  And the kids have those dirty little feet that show up in spring, and don’t seem to get properly clean again until November.

We got out for a stroll down the Greenbelt to look at the birds, the flowers, and the river.  Just to breathe in the fresh air and feel the sunshine on our faces.

IMG_2105 IMG_2106

IMG_2104

My driveway and back patio look like a pastel warzone.  Our grill is usually smoking with something delicious inside.  It’s that perfect temperature when Johnny is comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, and I’m cozy in my sweatshirt.

Did I mention I love Spring?

To add to my delight, we had a beautiful day with no plans, no agendas, and no to-do lists.  And I have a husband that has access to helicopters and pilots.  So we put together the two and I had my first Discovery Flight. Meaning – I GOT TO RUN THE CONTROLS.  YIKES!

My dear friend Sean Summers was my instructor.  Our other friend Jeff Hill was the videographer.  Yes, this was all documented.  Both inside and outside the helicopter.

This at first made me a bit nervous. You know how watching yourself on camera can be.  You never look or sound quite like you think you do in real life.  And then there’s the fact that I was going to be doing something so new, scary, exciting… there was a really good chance I could make a complete ass of myself.  But hey, I’m always game for that. ;)

Sean and I did the required pre-flight and SFAR 73 awareness training.  So I could know everything that could possibly go wrong during our flight.  There’s kind of a lot of things. <gulp>.  Deep breath.  Ok.  Still going.

While Sean and I headed out to fly, Johnny and the girls hung out at the shop. Which he loves and so do they.  Going to work with daddy is like the coolest thing ever for them.  They moved stuff around, swept up some dirt, ate lunch on the work platform, played loud music.  There may have been some motorcycle riding as well, but I think that was supposed to be a secret.

IMG_2113

After the final checks had been made, Sean taxied us out to the runway for takeoff.  He’s a very calm, easy person to be around.  His instructions are clear and he has a way of telling you to do things that make it seem like it’s going to be so easy.  Well, it’s not.  But he still just encourages and corrects, always making you feel like you’re doing really wonderfully and that you’re not a complete idiot.  It makes for a nice experience.

When he let me take the controls I think I laughed at him.  REALLY?!  You’re kidding.  Uh, ok.  So I took them.  I’ll be honest.  My memory of the next hour or so that we flew is a little fuzzy.  I was so TENSE.  My hand cramped up.  My shoulder hurt.  He was giving me so much information my head was spinning.

We flew along the Boise river (sort of) following the curves.  As well as I could anyway.  All this while trying to maintain a steady speed of 70 knots and some elevation that I now can’t recall.  Seriously – I told you it’s a little fuzzy.  Well, I did manage that part pretty well and was feeling mighty confident about my skills.  When you fly a helicopter you use your feet to control the tail – creating the turn.  You use your left hand to run the collective – the up and down movement.  And your right hand is on the cyclic.  And I’ll be honest – that thing I still don’t get.  It will propel you forward or backward, or side to side.  It’s amazingly complicated and terrifying, at least for those of us who haven’t figured out how it works.  It’s all done with small gentle adjustments.  No big movements.  All finesse.  Relax and breathe.  It takes incredible concentration and hand-eye coordination.  But I did it.  I was flying.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years.  When I really started wanting to fly I was in junior high.  It was when Top Gun came out.  I was going to be a fighter pilot.  Actually I wrote about that in a previous blog if you’d like to read about it.

Back to my first flight…

After cruising along the river, we decided to head back in for some hovering.  Hovering is, according to all of my pilot friends, one of the most difficult things I’ll EVER learn.  Like in my whole life.  I’ll go ahead and agree with that.  Every pilot I know – Johnny included – thought they really would never, ever learn.  It’s really that hard.  But, they all learned it eventually, so I might as well try!

Johnny, the girls and Jeff drove out to the end we were practicing on to take some video.  Here’s a shot from that.

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 10.55.41 PM

We’re in a nice pendulum swing here.  Sean recovered us very nicely.  And I wondered if I was going to need a change of pants when this was all over.

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 10.54.52 PM

This was a little better but I’m only on the collective, not the foot pedals or cyclic.  Controlling one or two directions is almost doable.  All three is kind of a nightmare.

Before we came in, Sean wanted to let me experience a practice autorotation.  This is a simulation of an engine failure.  As you’re coming in toward the ground (really fast!) he cut the throttle so we started falling.  My stomach jumped up a little.  I think I made a weird little noise.  And then we were there at the ground and Sean throttled back up and took us to the hangar.  Easy peasy.

And then it was all over.  I shook my head in disbelief.  Sean and I laughed and took a selfie.  He told me I was awesome.  And frankly, I really felt like it.

That night when we watched the video, I cringed as I waited for that sound of my voice that isn’t my voice, or that feeling of embarrassment that comes when I usually watch myself.  And it never came.  I watched with amazement as this woman smiled, laughed, looked confident and excited, shared her joy and fear, awe and confusion, success and failure.  And then I realized she was ME.

Here I am, terrified – and SMILING.  I’ve got all three controls in this picture.  And look – we’re LEVEL!

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 11.00.26 PM

I hope that everyone gets to step so far out of their comfort zone.  That you get to try something so daring and be scared – and joyful all at once.  That you get to know the feeling of testing all of your limits.  And I hope you smile all the way through.

Sean and me.  My oh-so-dapper instructor.  Thank you for making my first flight so AWESOME!

IMG_2110

And to make it all official, I have my own logbook now.  1.0 hours.  Yesssss…..

IMG_2109

That was all on Sunday.  Today is Thursday.  I had a rare day of no children as both had been invited for playdates.  What’s a girl to do with herself?  Johnny invited me to come out and join him for lunch and a flight.  This time with him.  Of course I said yes.

For this flight we stayed close to the hangar and to the ground.  Hovering, gliding, sliding (did you know you can just slide the skids along the ground?!?  I didn’t. )  We flew for almost an hour and by the end of it I was absolutely spent.  Again my body ached from the tension and my brain was overloaded.  I had to ask him to go in and quit for the day.  I was nearly in tears from fatigue and hunger.  But I was happy.  I felt I had done ok.  Believe me, it still wasn’t “anything to write home about” ;) but for me just getting out there and DOING it is 90% of the battle.  I’m actaully not that concerned about being good.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to be good so I don’t crash, but I’ve left behind that fear of not being the best.  Or of not passing the test.  Or of not finishing.  I feel like I’m finally just here.  Right now.  Enjoying the ride.  Spending a rainy spring day cozied up in a tiny little helicopter cockpit with my best friend.  Spreading my wings.  Learning to fly.

Searching for the Next Great Adventure

I recently posted a blog on our intention to use Boise Public Radio’s Idaho Bucketlist as inspriration for travel and adventure, and of course blogging.  I printed out the list, bought a map, and have been pinning and planning fun adventures for the coming weeks, months, and years.  There are over a hundred items, so yes, YEARS. ;)

My trusty helper in all things, helping me find our soon-to-be-adventures…

IMG_2086

The Idaho Bucket List:

IMG_2076

In going through the list, we found several things we’ve already done.  It was fun to reminisce and look through pictures.

#49. Sample local foods at Boise’s Farmer’s Market.  This was taken on our exploratory trip to Boise, August 2010.  One bunch of carrots, one bunch of gladiolas, and one little baby! Oh my!

IMG_0332

#70. Visit Boise’s Botanical Gardens.  We’ve been many, many times.  For pumpkin decorating, live music and beer drinking, and even a wedding.  I really like this picture from Christmas Eve 2010.  It’s absolutely magical to walk through.

IMG_0225

#10.  Attend the McCall Winter Carnival.  Such a fun day in the snow and sunshine!

IMG_0399

#8.  Slide down the Bruneau Sand Dunes or stay the night and watch the stars come out at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory.  We did both and it was AWESOME!  It’s been a looong time since I’ve seen such a full night sky.  And with their powerful telescope we were able to see a star cluster that was completely invisible to the naked eye.  The girls (especially Ivy) were in awe.  Waiting the thirty minutes in line to climb the stairs to the giant telescope an hour past their normal bedtime didn’t even phase them.  And the sand dunes were the ultimate kid play place.

IMG_1097

#9.  Enjoy a performance under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare festival.  Our dear friends from Kansas, the Rice’s were able to join us on our inaugural visit.  Here’s a few selfies from before the show.

IMG_1214

IMG_1215

IMG_1217

#67.  Catch an idaho trout.  Johnny’s Uncle Ken took Johnny and the girls fishing just outside of Ketchum last summer.  The girls loved the fishing, but not touching the actual fish so much.

100_0095

#107.  See the City of Rocks in Cassia County.  This was one of my favorite trips last year.  The City of Rocks is about a three hour drive from Boise.  Almost exactly inbetween here and Salt Lake City.  Which was handy as we were meeting some of our bestest friends the Herberts from SLC there.  It’s a perfect mix of big granite walls, evergreen trees, mountain meadows, and desert brush.  The weather was warm during the day, cool at night.  The sky was a bright blue.  We hiked.  We caught bugs.  We sat in the shade and told stories.  We sat around the fire and listened to music.

The annual “family” picture of us and the Herbert family.

IMG_1241

And one of just the kids.  In a mountain meadow.  Holding hands.  Ahhhhhh…. :)

IMG_1237

There were a few others on the list that we have checked off, but I wasn’t able to find any more pictures.  Now we begin planning our year full of adventures!  Who wants to join us?

Our map, full of pins and potential.  The trips to be taken, roads to be traveled, and mountains to be climbed.  Both close to home…

IMG_2083

And far away.

IMG_2085

Wherever the road may take us, sometimes it’s good to remember that there is great beauty right outside our own back door.

IMG_2078

From off the beaten  path,

Dena

There’s A Time For War And A Time For Peace… Repost

I first posted this blog back in 2011.  After visiting with a friend this morning who had completely missed the “Turn your clocks forward this weekend” announcements, I thought it would be fun to revisit on this rainy Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy!

In our modern world with its many conveniences, the idea that we need to somehow extend our day seems a bit….archaic. In a more natural world, we would rise and set with the sun. In these last weeks of winter, getting up early would gradually become easier and easier, and joyfully, there would also be the beginning of sunlit evenings in which to play outdoors. However, with the invention of Daylight Saving Time, those long bright mornings were taken away.  I think that maybe it is time we reconsider this idea.

This morning our family barely drug ourselves out of bed in time to be at school. Ivy grumbled, Johnny headed for the coffee maker, and Lucy just looked at us all like we were crazy. We tried to “prepare” for this adjustment, but let’s face it, you don’t get a bank account to save sleep in. We rushed to eat and get everyone ready and out the door in the nick of time. But then when we returned home after preschool, the sleepies had hit – HARD. Lucy cried. Ivy got snotty and mouthy and wouldn’t eat. Both girls were swiftly put to bed without a bite and with many tears. Of course it took them about 20 whole seconds to fall fast asleep. But all of this made me wonder…. WHY?

Daylight Saving Time is defined by the people at http://www.timeanddate.org as:

Daylight Saving Time (or summertime as it is called in many countries) is a way of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour during the summer. During Daylight Saving Time, the sun appears to rise one hour later in the morning, when people are usually asleep anyway, and sets one hour later in the evening, seeming to stretch the day longer.

The concept was first presented by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 and was presented and discussed several times after that but it wasn’t until 1916 that it was finally adopted by several countries in Europe to help with the war effort by saving fuel used to light lanterns in the evening hours.  After the war, many of those countries reverted back to normal time.  It wasn’t implemented in the US until WWII, 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  It was called “War Time” and the US time zones were labeled Eastern War Time, Central War Time and Pacific War Time.  I’m not sure what happened to Mountain time in there.

How odd to live by a totally different clock during a war.  And to have it labeled as such.  After Japan’s surrender we returned to normal time and it was labeled “Peace Time.”

The main reasons for implementing DST were economic, however some studies show that there could be other benefits such as fewer traffic accidents at night (do they all happen in the morning now?), more tourism for many areas (Really?  Do tourists ONLY do things in the evening?  I doubt it.), and more evening social time for children (and WHY is that important?  My children get plenty of social time thank-you-very-much.).  But for each of these studies there is another one that contradicts it, so who really knows?  All I know is that it was just starting to get a bit easier to drag my ass out of bed at 5:30 for my Yoga class and now it is just barely starting to show the first glimmer of light by the time I’m coming home.  And the evening “social time”?  Well, I kind of like to tuck my kiddos into bed early and have that for my sweet hubby and myself, but I guess as long as the sun is up, the kids will be too.

When dear Mr. Franklin, who I would never dare to criticize, came up with the concept up turning our clocks ahead by an hour to save fuel, one very wise Native American was heard to say,

Only white man would cut an end off a quilt and sew it on the other side and think he had a bigger quilt.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

From off the beaten path,

dena – Part Time Gypsy

Happy

Originally posted on Confessions of a Drive-Through Christian:

20140305-154314.jpg

My conversations, readings, yoga classes, Facebook wanderings and even the music on the radio keep pointing me in the same direction. Happiness. What is it? How do we find it?

20140305-154532.jpg

The Dalai Lama says our purpose in life is to find happiness.

Maybe you find it in time spent with someone you love.

20140305-154744.jpg

20140305-154812.jpg

Maybe you find it in your favorite animal.

20140305-154928.jpg

Or perhaps the happy smile on a child’s face.

20140305-155017.jpg

Whatever it is that makes you smile, that makes your heart sing, go. Find it. Never stop searching. It is your life’s purpose.

View original

Sedona Yoga Festival; Life’s Little Victories

I anxiously awaited the arrival of February 6th.  I was going to the Sedona Yoga Festival.  As a participant, but also as an assistant.  A huge opportunity for me.  And a huge learning experience.

Every experience in life offers these opportunities.  We can choose to embrace them or simply ignore them.  Ignoring them I have found only kicks the can further down the road and sometimes makes it come back with a bigger (aka HARDER) lesson.  Best to learn early, learn quickly.

But first some beautiful pictures…

IMG_1999

My mom came with me on this trip.  We used to travel every once in awhile to Yoga workshops but this was the biggest trip we have ever made together.  And since we haven’t done it in awhile, we were both super excited.

Our friend Kate Williams, a fellow yogini originally from Kansas, also joined us.

The first day we were there was rainy.  Which might be even more beautiful than a sunny day.  Or maybe not.  It’s really hard to say.  Sedona is one of those magical places in the world that is so beautiful, so breath-taking, in every direction, every view.  The next is only better than the last.

We went for a hike on Friday – a free afternoon as the classes we had signed up for were cancelled.

My mom and a tree.

My mom and a tree.

I love the trees in this area.  Their bare, stark beauty.  Their bold lines and surprisingly elegant curves.

IMG_0358

Me with mom and our friend Kate.

Me with mom and our friend Kate.

Taking a break under a ledge.

Taking a break under a ledge.

Yoga on the ledge.

Yoga on the ledge.

Second try.  The first time I tried this mom was looking at the rocks instead of at me.

Second try. The first time I tried this mom was looking at the rocks instead of at me.

Coffee Pot.

Coffee Pot.

Learning experience #1) I need down-time.  I think I knew this.  Must have forgotten.  Or thought that since I wasn’t traveling with my children it somehow didn’t apply to this trip.  It does.  I was exhausted.  But I refused to slow down and take a little “me-time”.  I kept pushing.  And ended up sick.  So Friday night I tucked myself into bed to watch the Olympics and recharge.  I also ate a cheeseburger.  Nothing sets you right like comfort food! ;)

Saturday morning we woke up to SUNSHINE!!!  Yes, that deserves all caps because if you read my blog a few weeks ago you’ll know that Boise has been seriously lacking in the sunshine department and that this was definitely in the top three of my “reasons to go to Sedona in February” list.

But first, Learning Experience #2…

I was asked by a dear friend and one of my favorite yoga teachers, Lori Tindall to assist her class at the festival.  It was the whole reason I went.  I’ve never had such an honor and honestly could not believe my luck.  She also brought along the lovely and talented Sadie Babits (to connect with her on Twitter: @sadiebabits) to be in charge of photography and social media.  She’s allowed me to use her pictures here.

Lori Tindall.  Photo by Sadie Babits.

Lori Tindall. Photo by Sadie Babits.

Here is what I discovered.  Even though I am very familiar with Lori’s teaching style, her flow, her way of adjusting, as an assistant I was neither the teacher nor the student.  I was an awkward in-between.  And boy did that bring up some sh!t.  You see, when teaching a Yoga class, I get into this zone.  I feel things, say things, do things, that I’m not always consciously aware of.  They come from somewhere deep inside.  That place in me that is connected to the Divine, the place in me that is infinite.  That place that is connected to each and every student.  A class flows from me.  I do not plan it or forcefully shape it.  It is organic and every class is unique.  From that place when I walk around, talking and occasionally assiting, I know who needs help when.  I feel when they need my words and when they need a hand.  I intuitively sense when they need to be left alone to work on it in their own way.

As a student I am also deeply in tune, but with my own Self and my own body.  Everyone in the room is completely shut out of my experience.  It is as if I am alone.  Same connection to Divine.  Completely different experience.

View from the mat.  Photo by Sadie Babits.

View from the mat. Photo by Sadie Babits.

As an assistant (especially a first-time assistant), I could not feel either connection.  I came in all twitterpated.  A jumble of raw nerves still pinching myself at my good luck for being asked by Lori to be there.  So my debut as an assistant felt like a flop.

I was not connected.  I could see and analyze in my brain what was going on with these people.  But it was mechanical, thought-based.  “Tight hamstrings and shoulders. Possible knee injury.  Big Ego wants to go too deep.  Foot issues.”  These things were going through my head but since I wasn’t the one actually teaching, since I wasn’t saying the words out loud, and I didn’t always know what Lori would say or do next, I would hesitate, hold back from helping a person find more ease in a pose.  With the first hesitation, the disconnect grew and then my mind started to chatter, quietly at first, but louder and louder as the two hours went on, “What are you doing here?  You call yourself a teacher?  You don’t belong here.  You’re not good enough to be here.”  And once the chatter starts, it’s really hard to stop.

Enjoying the discussion before class started.  Photo by Sadie Babits.

Enjoying the discussion before class started. Photo by Sadie Babits.

The class was wonderful.  Lori is a gifted teacher with a wealth of knowledge of Yoga, holistic nutrition, and Reiki and Prana Chikitsa. (For more information on any of her teachings, check out her website: http://www.energyseven.com/ , follow her on Twitter @yoginilori, or Instagram OMgirlTRIs).  But I left there with a heavy heart and my subconscious really enjoying giving me an ass-kicking.

The afternoon was open to us, the sun was shining so a hike was definitely in order.  We donned shorts and t-shirts, sunscreen and sunglasses.  Most of which hadn’t seen any use in months.

Ahhhh.  Much better.  Nothing lifts spirits like sunshine and fresh air.

Ahhhh. Much better. Nothing lifts spirits like sunshine and fresh air.

IMG_0383

Mom doing "Victorious Pose" which she learned in Lori's class.

Mom doing “Victorious Pose” which she learned in Lori’s class.

Yes, we are yogis.  Wherever we go, we do Yoga!

Yes, we are yogis. Wherever we go, we do Yoga!

IMG_0390

Doesn't it look like a cloaked figure just passed through the rock, leaving only their shape?  Well, we thought it did.

Doesn’t it look like a cloaked figure just passed through the rock, leaving only their shape? Well, we thought it did.

The remainder of the trip was mostly uneventful, but still very fun.  We hiked to a Vortex – one of the energy centers that Sedona is famous for.  We took many, many, many pictures of the red rocks.  We did some Yoga.  We ate mouthwateringly delicious Italian food.

Sadie and Lori also went hiking and they decided to do a Victorious Pose on the rocks as well.

Lori and Sadie.

Lori and Sadie.

Sunday night we met up with Lori and Sadie and their husbands, Doug and Nate for another mouthwateringly delicious meal – this time of the Mexican variety.  I did my own version of Victorious Pose after finishing my margarita… ;)

Dena

And then this guy at the next table thought it was cool so he wanted to do it too!!  I love people’s enthusiasm and willingness to play!

Coach

Kate, Mom, and I.

Kate, Mom, and I.

We had great conversation, learned more about each other, shared our experiences of Sedona and of course had great food.  Followed by the requisite group picture taken by our dear server, Angel.

Mom, Kate, Sadie, Nate, Me, Lori, Doug.

Mom, Kate, Sadie, Nate, Me, Lori, Doug.

Looking back on the weekend, I have realized a couple of key things about myself.  I will sacrifice my own needs for what I think others want and expect of me.  Instead of taking one hour to rest, ground my energy, and check in with myself, I kept pushing because I was there to hang out with my mom and Kate.  I didn’t want to be rude or thoughtless.  If I had just taken a little time, I would have been able to enjoy the movie with them and would have felt good.

Also, I’m really hard on myself.  Really hard.  I have huge expectations of myself and when I don’t live up to them, I am such a harsh critic.  It’s time to stop that inner chatter and remember my gifts and talents.  Or realize my faults and lovingly accept them.  To not succumb to self-doubt, but to walk with confidence.  Both of these lessons are about loving myself.  Wholly and completely.  Just the way I am.  By loving myself, I can give of myself more fully.  I can love others the way that they are.  I can tap into the Divine, whose essence is Love, and allow that to flow into and through me.  The light in me, will see the light in them.  And that we are all ONE.  And in this realization, we will all find VICTORY.

Mom and I.  One last picture on the drive back to Phoenix.

Mom and I. One last picture on the drive back to Phoenix.

Namaste,

Dena

Conversation Hearts and Heart Conversations

Dena Stoltz:

Lori Anne Yang at Mammasteblog.com is my favorite blogger. She’s funny. She’s SO real. Her stories are from the heart. Sometimes they’re sad. Usually they’re so full of JOY and Love that I find myself laughing and crying simultaneously. Please enjoy this one. Then go to her blog and leave her a little love note.

Originally posted on mammaste ~ divinity in the everyday:

0001yq Message from my husband, Alan: “Lori, could you pick up a  book for me today? I had them set it aside at Half-Price Books. They’re holding it for you under the name Love Muffin.”

Me: “I think I’m going to try that teeth whitening place at the mall, where it only costs $100. But I wonder why it’s so cheap, what’s the catch?”
Alan: “I think they do every-other tooth, and then charge more for the rest.”

A word of advice I gave to my husband heading out the door to his first yoga class that caused him to make a complete 360  mid-stride as he ran back upstairs to change;

View original 871 more words

McCall Winter Carnival

A few weeks ago Boise Public Radio posted a blog titled “Idaho Bucket List: The 75 Things All Idahoans Should Try (At Least Once)”.  As a sort-of newcomer (3 years still doesn’t feel like a very long time), I decided this was a great way for us to explore the state.

There are so many fun things listed.  Some we’ve even done.  Number 58 is cut down your own Christmas tree in an Idaho Forest.  Check.  Number 70.  Visit the Botanical Gardens. Check.  Sixty-seven – catch an Idaho trout.  Sixty-eight – see the blue turf in person.  Check and Check.

There are a few others that we have done, but most we haven’t and many we’ve never heard of.  So for the next year or two, this is what we will be doing.  Click on the link above to get the full list – and notice they added 35 more to the original blog.  If you think of something that’s not on that list, let me know and we’ll add it to our list of adventures.

To start such an undertaking, one needs a good map. I went to REI to procure said map, then headed down to Idaho Blueprint on Main Street to have it mounted and laminated.  Plus, they have all the cool map pins – colored, flags, and numbered!  I went for colored pins – red and green.

1618660_10151844971131537_1307079553_n

I got a nice big map, with lots of detail.  Sadly, I have not yet had the time to hang it and actually stick the pins in, so here it lies.  Maybe next week…  Too busy adventuring! :)

Last weekend we had the opportunity to experience one of the items on the list – the McCall Winter Carnival.  We stayed at a gorgeous house on Cascade Lake with friends and drove the 11 miles into McCall.  From there we walked down to the lake, and back up the main road taking in all of the sights, sounds, and smells.

This first slideshow is the AWESOME ice sculptures that are scattered around town.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The lake is frozen solid and covered in snow.  A perfect haven for kids – big and small.  We found a sled left by one of the local businesses for all to share, and had a grand old time.

After walking in the cold and playing in the snow, we were of course, hungry.  Just thinking about it makes me hungry.  Actually everything makes me hungry… But I digress…  Food was bountiful this weekend in McCall.  Street vendors were selling hot dogs, burgers, fries, pizza, pretzels and all sorts of other goodies.  We decided to see what this guy was cookin’ up in his giant wok over the fire.

IMG_0382

Noodles!  Yum!  Teriyaki sauteed with tons of veggies.  Ohhhhh soooo good.  But this family also likes meat.  So we got some.

IMG_0383

No, that’s not Lucy’s arm.  Just a regular old smoked turkey leg.  The meat was so tender it nearly fell off the bone.  We looked a bit like wild animals eating the thing, but decided it was neither the time nor place to care.

We had a wonderful time seeing the sights and playing in the snow.

Number 10.  See the McCall Winter Carnival.

Check.

Dena

Treasure Hunting

I thought I had given up writing.  Apparently I was wrong.

Because my fingers started to itch.  Then they started to twitch.  And now here I am.  Somewhere I haven’t been in <gulp> two years!

Luckily, I have a story worth telling (and pictures worth sharing) today.  So it won’t be meaningless, senseless ramblings.  No, no dearie.  Today we talk about the SUN.

The Sun has disappeared from the Treasure Valley.  We are buried under a murky mix of vapor, car exhaust, and chimney smoke.  All stuck here on top of us like a puffy grey blanket.  And it’s cold.  Sort of damp and clammy.  Really not very pleasant at all. The technical term for this phenomenon that hits every winter at about this time is Inversion. (The new picture on my header is of Bogus Basin Ski area, as seen from above the inversion that covers Boise and the rest of the Treasure Valley.)

I’m from Kansas where we do not know what inversion is.  A good wind will blow through, mix things up, and send the dirty nasty air to Texas.  Not here.  One of the wonderful things I like about the Treasure Valley is its LACK of wind.  That’s a good thing when you grew up in a place where waking up in Oz is a very real possibility.

But I also grew up with sunshine.  Hardly a day or two went by when you wouldn’t see it.  So to have it disappear for WEEKS on end, is somewhat disheartening.

Luckily, I have a husband that can fly.

And fly we did.  Johnny’s new job (more on that in some other post to come at some other random date) allows him some flight time.  So we took that opportunity and got out of here last weekend.  In search of the sun.  In search of our treasure.  Our pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.

Heading out into the gloom... no end in sight.

Heading out into the gloom… no end in sight.

The ceiling was 1,000 feet and we had five miles of visibility.  Totally safe to fly in but still grey, grey, grey… as far as the eye could see.

Go toward the light!!!!

Go toward the light!!!!

The further we flew, the lighter and brighter it got.

There it is!  Blue sky and SUNSHINE!!!

There it is! Blue sky and SUNSHINE!!!

And then the clouds broke overhead and we all squealed and cheered, smiled and sighed as the first rays touched our cheeks.

IMG_0360

We did it! We escaped! We found the golden treasure!

Johnny with sunshine on his face.  Mmmmm.... yes.

Johnny with sunshine on his face. Mmmmm…. yes.

We gave Ivy a rock hammer, a couple of books, and a loupe for her birthday.  She’s a little adventurer and scientist and wanted to start rock hounding  - finding crystals, gems, and other goodies.  Since Idaho is The Gem State, it’s the perfect place to try it out.  First, you need to find a spot with a bunch of rocks.

Finding a cool spot to land.  In the clouds.

Finding a cool spot to land. In the clouds.

Happy Sunshiney People!

Happy Sunshiney People!

Ivy's first crack at rock hounding - and she found some quartz!

Ivy’s first crack at rock hounding – and she found some quartz!

We've discovered Lucy is half billy goat!

We’ve discovered Lucy is half billy goat!

And whenever she reaches the top, she yells, "I'm a HERO!!!"

And whenever she reaches the top, she yells, “I’m a HERO!!!”

Me and my girls.  Notice the sea of clouds behind us.

Me and my girls. Notice the sea of clouds behind us.

One of many kid-sized nooks.

One of many kid-sized nooks.

Johnny and Lucy enjoying a post-hike cuddle.

Johnny and Lucy enjoying a post-hike cuddle.

And the requisite family picture before heading home.

And the requisite family picture before heading home.

As an added note on the picture above – it was pointed out to us that the tool bag probably should have been moved.  Doesn’t inspire much confidence.  I’d just like to say that the tool bag was where the salami, cheese, crackers, and chocolate were stashed.  :)

From off the beaten path,
Dena

When Water and Light Dance

This post is about my baptism.  Now, that may come as a surprise to some of you.  Well, don’t worry.  It won’t surprise you anymore than it surprised me.  You see, I started out on this path (spiritually speaking) looking for God.  With no idea where to find Him, I’ve wandered through Christianity, out, into Yoga, past Buddhism and Hinduism, around some new-agey no-name stuff, and back to Christianity.  Why?  Good question.  I believe that the answer is because I asked for it.  I asked for God to come to me, to reveal Himself (I think I’ve used words like Herself, Universe, Source, Creation, etc…but words are only words so to keep this simple, we’re going to stick with Him) to me and to let me know Him.  I also specifically asked for a loving, wonderful group of people to help me know God and – more importantly – that are living the life God intended us to live.  I wanted to surround myself with the people that I hope to become.

In answer to my my begging and pleading (prayer just doesn’t seem whiney enough to describe how I felt), I stumbled upon the wonderful people at North End Collective Church.  (You can read about that beautiful synchronicity here.)  I have felt a deep connection with everyone there and have witnessed people who truly desire to know God at a deeper level and who WALK that walk every day.  So I said, “Sign me up!”  And the rest, as they say, is history.

If you know me, you know I don’t just skim the surface of something new.  I bury myself in it.  Wallow around like a pig in mud.  Taste, smell, and touch it.  I dive in head first and go for it with gusto.  And this has been no different. l went from never attending church to attending the Sunday service, the Thursday house church, volunteering on the hospitality committee and the child watch group, AND hosting a weekly women’s Bible study.  Cuz that’s how I roll.  And I love every minute of it.  Every minute of my day (well, the free ones anyway!) are contemplating God, learning about what He wants for me.  It’s fantastic.  It’s given me so much inner JOY that I could sing.  Well, I won’t because apparently loving God doesn’t mean you automatically sound like an angel. :)

So, life was going along just beautifully when one day Bill, the pastor, asked me if I’d be interested in getting baptized.  Without much thought or hesitation, I said, “YES!”.

The questions came later.  And yes, there were a LOT.

My main concerns were that as a new Christian I would somehow be telling anyone who was not a Christian that they are wrong and I am right, because let’s face it, the Church has been saying that for YEARS.  I was assured that this was only a declaration of MY love for God and for Jesus and my desire and willingness to follow THEM.  Not a church.  This is an outward symbol of something that had already taken place inside.

Ok.  I was totally cool with that, and with all of the other little things we chatted about.  Then they gave me my homework.  WHAT?!  Julie (Bill’s wife) asked me to read every scripture I could find about WATER.  The significance of it.  The beauty and power.  See what it means in terms of baptism, but also in other ways.  So like the diligent student (read: NERD) that I am, I did exactly that. And this is what I came up with:

  • It was there in the beginning.
  • It is where first life came from.
  • “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5
  • It is part of physical birth, then spiritual.
  • “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” Eph 5:26 (speaking of the church)
  • Water cleanses.
  • Jesus washed the disciples’ feet – showing how to serve.
  • Water is LIFE to everyone and everything.
  • It represents SPIRIT: “draw waters out of the wells of salvation”, “come to the waters”, “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasing life.” (direct quotes from various Bible verses)
  • THE SEA – represents restlessness and tribulation in the Bible.  In Rev 21 it says, “there was no longer any sea.” Meaning there’s no more chaos and tribulation as we know now.  In three verses Jesus calmed the sea.
  • Destruction.  Flood.  Waves.
  • And last, DEATH.  Many people physically die in water.  Through baptism, we can have a spiritual death, and also a rebirth.

I sent this off to Julie and Bill and then waited with some trepidation for the day to come.  I wasn’t nervous about actually being baptized – I was actually feeling very at peace with my decision.  I had spent more time questioning and researching for this moment than I ever did for my marriage.  So I was ready.  But I was going to have to speak.  In front of everyone.  AGAIN.

I decided to rib Bill just a bit when I began my speech – the topic being “Why Baptism?”.  To begin, I said something like, “There are two things I REALLY don’t like doing.  Speaking in front of people.  And getting dunked in really cold water.  And somehow Bill has managed to talk me into both of these things.”

I got a nice chuckle for that one.

I had made a list of the reasons I wanted to be baptized, but honestly, it felt like a grocery list.  Go through, check it off one by one, throw it in the trash when finished.  Repeat.  It didn’t have any heart and SOUL behind it.  One day Ivy told me she also wanted to get baptized and I asked her why.  She looked at me as only a 6 year old can, with complete disbelief that you can be such an idiot and said, “Because I love God.”

Oh yeah.  THAT’S the answer.  And that’s the one I shared.  The ultimate one.  The reason for everything I’ve been doing.  I love God and want to know Him more.  Simple enough.

In my research and planning for my pre-Baptism speech I looked for a verse that combined Water and Light – to tie in my previous story with my current one.  If you haven’t read that blog, just jump over here.  This is what I found:

For with you is the fountain of Life;
In Your light, we see light.
~ Psalms 36:9

And while I was trying to find that, this word came up in the search as well:

Radiant: “to sparkle”, (from the sheen of a running stream).

That is why I got Baptized.  To see the Light.  To be cleansed and re-born from the Water.  To be RADIANT.

Old Dena

Dead Dena

NEW DENA!

A week or so later, Bill asked me if anything had changed.  If I felt “different” somehow.

“Yes. I have actually,” I replied.

“How so?” he asked me.

“Well, it’s difficult to explain exactly, but I had set that day as a moment when I WOULD change, I absolutely EXPECTED change.  And I got it.  I feel more clarity, sometimes a verse will make sense that never has before, or I just KNOW that I need to do something.  Our household has been more peaceful and well, everything’s just been better.  Behind it all, I think that I have been living INTENTIONALLY, every single day.”

In Love and Light,

Dena

Love and Light

Every now and then God speaks so loudly and clearly that you can’t help but hear.  Can’t help but pay attention.  You may not understand – that’s a whole different thing – but you hear.  And that’s a great start.

Back in June a group of ladies from our church spent the weekend in Cascade at a family’s cabin.  The purpose was to have fun, fellowship, and food – three things I can whole-heartedly dive into.

As I was loading up my car on Friday afternoon, Ivy gave me a piece of paper.  She gives me LOTS of pieces of paper.  Sometimes with drawings.  Sometimes with words.  Sometimes both.  Sometimes they make sense.  Sometimes, well, not so much.  But ALWAYS do I love them.  This was no different.  She had copied down a Bible verse that was on a craft project from a week or two previous.

I told her how wonderful it was – and that I would tuck it away in my journal so that I could think of her and that verse while I was away.  Then I left.

On Saturday morning we spent some time discussing THIS particular verse – the one Ivy had given me.  Jesus spoke these words during Hanukkah, at the Feast of Lights.  So we spent time looking at the significance of this, discussing what this means in our lives.  From there we went to a story about a child:

A child admiring the stained glass windows in her church one morning asked her mother about the people pictured in them.  ‘Those are God’s saints’, her mother explained.  ‘They are people who proved their love for Him.’
In her Sunday school class sometime later, the girl’s teacher asked the class to explain what a saint is.  ‘Saints are people the light shines through,’ the child wisely replied.

We then read through three verses that showed that WE are called saints.  You.  Me.  We.

Romans 1:7  To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:18  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

A saint is defined as “dedicated to God, set apart as holy or sacred”.

The question following this was: “So, if we are saints, children of Light, the light of the world…How then should we live?  How are you currently living as a child of light?  And in what ways are you still living in “darkness”?

Everyone shared, talked, and discussed these questions with passion and fervor.  Everyone but me.  I didn’t have a single thing to add. Honestly, it was a bit much for me.  I was still trying to wrap my poor little brain around the first verse.  So I stayed silent and listened.

When we broke apart for quiet time – to read, pray, and contemplate quietly, I internally sighed and thought to myself, “Oh great.  Now I get to sit here and stare at my Bible and this piece of paper and pretend to have some enourmous revelation.”  Not so psyched.  I was looking forward to the hot springs and a nice long walk.

But, until then, I had to at least look like I knew what I was doing.  So I flipped open my (GIGANTIC) Bible, and this is the page it opened to:

I read it twice.  Maybe three times.  Surely there can’t be that many verses on Light in the Bible yet I had stumbled upon a really beautiful one that wasn’t included in our (I thought) fairly extensive list.  I showed it to Julie, the discussion leader.  She was thrilled – thought that it said that God was showing me something, that He was speaking to me.  Well, if that’s the case, He’s going to have to be a lot more clear because I still wasn’t getting the message.

After half an hour or so we re-grouped to share what we had found.  As we did my journal fell open and the piece of paper that Ivy had sweetly scribbled the Bible verse on the previous day fell out.  My jaw about hit the floor.  I showed that to Julie as well.  You can imagine the reaction.  If the first verse was an obvious sign of a message from God, then this was just icing on the cake.  I shared it with the group and they were equally amazed, but sadly, no one had an “answer” for me as to what this might mean.  It was my puzzle to work out apparently.

We spent the rest of the weekend, talking, laughing, singing, soaking in hot springs, hiking around the mountain, eating and drinking, and I gave no more thought to my messages of Light.

Until I got home.

Johnny had left the day before for a flying job in Washington.  Luckily, his mom and step-dad were in town doing a bit of house hunting so we had a place for the girls to hang out while I went on my girls’ retreat.

I arrived home to a quiet, empty house.  I showered, unpacked, cleaned up the dishes that had been left in the sink. (Ahem.) A couple of hours later Susie and Roger brought the girls home, properly sugared up from a quick stop at Baskin-Robbins on the way over.  They had been house hunting with a realtor that lives in Emmet.  She has a small farm and they spent a bit of time there showing the girls the chickens and cows and horses.  She was kind enough to send them home with a dozen eggs for me.  Susie gave them to me and said that she always put a Bible verse inside the carton.  Out of curriosity, I opened it.  And about dropped the eggs.

Then it was off to church.  We have a really wonderful band in our church.  It rocks, literally.  It’s a get up and dance kind of a place.  No hymns here.  Thank goodness – a soprano I am NOT.  So, as always, the band is rockin’ and they played one of my favorite songs – “Marvelous Light” by Charlie Hall.  If you’d like to listen, you can go here. We sang it loud and strong.  Here’s the lyrics to the first verse:

Into marvelous light I’m running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross You are the truth
You are the life, You are the way

As we’re singing, and I hear the reference to Light over and over and over, it’s almost as if I can feel that Light beaming down on me.  I was sure others could see it.  I started to cry, but oh I kept singing.  Belting it out in my best off-key but loud voice.  Then we sang this verse:

Lift my hands and spin around
See the light that I have found
Oh the marvelous light
Marvelous light

We sang it twice and both times I just stood there, sort of swaying to the music.  Feeling it but not truly allowing it to move ME.  And after that second time, I realized I so badly wanted to throw my hands up – to really allow the Light inside, to feel it fully and express it outwardly.  But the song started to wind down.  I almost choked on my happy tears.  In my head I said a silent prayer, “Please God just let them play that one more time and I will throw my hands up to you and I will fully express your Marvelous Light.”

And they did.

Now, please understand, this sort of jumping around throwing your arms up and practically screaming the words of a song I had always reserved for rock concerts.  But this isn’t your normal conservative buttoned-up suit wearing kind of church. (Or, in my world THAT was the normal.)  The music, as I mentioned, ROCKS.  The feeling is utterly spiritual.  People will speak out often with an “AMEN.” “Praise Jesus.”  People put their hands in the air.  They spin around.  They are giddy with the Light and Love of God.  And so was I.

Afterward, the smile on my face beamed.  My eyes sparkled.  I had felt the Light.  I knew what it was.  I knew what it FELT like.

The following morning, I started off my day as I do most, by reading in my book “Daily Om” by Madisyn Taylor.  And when I opened the book, I nearly fell out of my chair.

This was  the title of the day’s inspirational reading.  How could that be??!!  I was still high on the fullness I had felt the night before.  I knew what it meant.  I have that Light, we all do of course, but I had tapped in, and reached it, and now I had to start spreading it.

In Love and Light,

Dena