Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 15 ~ West Coast Rock Tour

~ 15th Day ~

Lake Vallecito...Baker's Bridge..."Falling Rocks"...3am Disappointment.

My second full day in Durango was just as memorable as the first, but it was a much slower pace than yesterday. Rob didn't have a show tonight and he, Jenny and I had designated this as a "day of rest." Still, it was full of conversations, beauty and dropping rocks along the pathway.

After the usual for breakfast, we packed up Rob's truck with food and five tubes... we were headed to Lake Vallecito, which is an hour's drive from their house. The drive was a combination of laughter and music. When any Phish song came on, it brought back a flood of memories from the old days of cruisin' on back roads with Rob in my Thunderbird... harmonizing with him as our hands were either dancing with the breeze of open windows or drumming to the beats on the dashboard. Many years have passed since those carefree days, but our voices still harmonize and the music of Phish still makes our fingers and hearts dance.

When Lake Vallecito came into view, I was taken aback by the raw beauty. Even though the water level was low, the lake was still expansive and the water was clear blue. There had been a large forest fire that had swept through the surrounding forest, and I found the contrast of lushness by the lake and starkness that started 100yds away to be metaphorical. Even where there was death and destruction from the fire, there was new life growing under the ashes. Their is pain from death... the flames of life touch everyone at some point. But after the smoke clears, that which was burned become the bed of hope for the new season of life that comes thereafter. Yes, we may still feel the pain and have days where we still feel as if it's burning, but the tiny green stems poking out from the ashes gives us fresh hope of that life continues... and the flames of darkness were actually fertilizer to the new life that emerges from it.

I went for a short walk by myself after we unpacked the truck. Found a few gnarly rocks and soaked up the quietness of this beautiful place. When I returned, the tubes were laid out at the shoreline. Once inflated, the five of us set out for the middle of the lake... where we would spend the next hour plus. It was so relaxing and refreshing.

The blue sky began to turn grey, and the afternoon rain was inevitable. We reached the shore, let the air out of the tubes, and let out a deep sigh ourselves as we headed up the hill with the lake behind us. Despite the raindrops that bounced off the windshield, we weren't ready to go home quite yet. Baker's Bridge was an hour drive, and we let the rain take it's course during that time. When we got to the landmark bridge, the sun had trumped the grey clouds and turned the skies blue once more.


ow I'm still a somewhat crazy and daring girl... even without the extra "liquid courage" or "sanity-suppressant stimulants." BUT as much as I wanted to jump from the high bridge into the water below, I took a moment of contemplation to think about the effects of a "bad leap of faith" and the effects it could have on the 2 months left on this journey. I was getting some encouragement to jump by those with me and the other people who were making this jump, but I choose to cheer on those who were making the leap and keep my own feet dry. This place was picturesque and I could see myself coming here to spend alone time with the One I have faith in... my Bridge over troubled waters. But this city was not my home mission field, and therefore it was simply a place to travel through and leave seeds of love and prayer. I left a rock where hope would be found by someone who needed it at just the right time. Maybe they would make the leap of faith to begin (or re-dedicate) a life lived for the Rock and Redeemer... who wants to spring new life from their ashes.

Back at Jenny and Rob's house, the girls had to go clock in for work, so this left me and the boys (Rob and Austin, Jenny's son) to hang out for awhile. I was falling behind in my FB day posts, so I took an hour to begin writing "12th Day." These posts take much longer than one might imagine... an average of 2-3 hrs, 'cause I can't sit still and my attempts to multi-task don't go as successfully planned. After an hour of writing, the boys were growing hungry, so we decided to visit Jenny and their good friend, Adria at their work. It was burger night and I was told the discounted price would not affect the quality and taste of these burgers... they were right.

While scarfing down the deliciousness, Austin was working on the kid's activity paper from the restaurant. I saw a corner section that had fill-in blanks to "First Week in Durango." I asked Austin if I could rip this portion off and have Rob, singer/songwriter, fill it out with me in mind. You can read his descriptive choices of words in the picture. Mind you, there are some inside jokes that will furrow your brows with questioning, but I was all smiles at this paper souvenir.

Our bellies more than full, we said "see ya later" to Jenny, who I observed waiting on other tables and must say, she knows the restaurant industry well... her beauty and people skills make it easy to tip her well. I so admire this hard-working woman.

The next stop was Walmart, but not for the usual searching for a parking spot where I would sleep in my truck for the night. I was actually here to go shopping... for a GPS. I should have made this investment at the beginning of the trip, as the mountain roads were dangerous enough without holding a map in one hand and oscillating my eyes from the map to the road. Better late than never! I made a quick, but contemplative, purchase and Rob confirmed that I had made a good choice of the newest model they had. Setting it up would prove to be not so quick, but the overall investment has proved to be worth the suppressed outbursts of wanting to swear or throw my laptop and new GPS across the guest room. Rob's patience and my determination were eventually successful in programming this gadget that would help me navigate future days on the road.

Backtracking to before this frustration at the house, we had stopped at Walgreens to stock up on some things. Before we pulled out, I left a "Love" rock on a hidden electrical box of sorts. I prayed for the person who would find it... I hoped for this person to be one who had a past that entailed lack of love and who needed a reminder that they were loved by a God who didn't need a reason to love them. Maybe this small rock would lead them to a relationship with the Rock who longs to let this person hold them in His everlasting strong, but gentle, arms.

Fast forward to the last hour of light before the night, Rob and I had Austin take a picture of "Big Brother Blue" (Tumbler) and "Little Brother Blue" (Rob's truck). We joked about how my truck was descriptive of a Mid-West farm-girl's truck and his was perfect for the Colorado mountain man he had become. We each love our trucks!

The next few hours were spent relaxing and continuing conversations with Rob and Jenny. If their back porch had a coin meter for time, there would be a lot of money deposited for all the hours we were "parked" our there. So grateful for my good friends Rob and Jenny, whom I care deeply for.

At 12am, I retreated to the guest room to work on finishing the "12th Day" post. Again, the multitasking of doing this and 3 other things was not very productive, time-wise. I was still trying to figure out the GPS, catch up on newsfeed of other friends, and plan the next mission field after Durango. The last sentence of the day post had been written and I was ready to push the "post" button. Suddenly, my computer froze and tried to be patient in letting it thaw out, but it remained frozen. Deep sigh, I knew what had to be done... accept the lost investment of the 3 hours it had taken me to write this post that now would be forever lost in cyber space, It was 3am and I wasn't about to re-write it, 'cause my eyes were past tired. I forced the computer to shut down, and didn't have to force the shut down of my body once my head hit the pillow. Tomorrow I would try again, and save each paragraph on Microsoft Word as they were written... sometimes we have to learn the hard way. We don't learn as much when things are easy breezy with a Phish song playing in the background. Tomorrow would be one of those breezy days of sun and sweet soundtracks, but still I would learn much in doing more listening than talking. It's hard not being able to rescue those who are lost.

Each of us have experience forest fires in our backyards.
Some of us have been burned more than others have.
We heal differently, but we all have been scarred.
Hope will spring new life from the ashes
Be willing to go through the process.
Joy will grow from tears fallen.

Your own scars can help some else heal.... these are the experiences that are like the tiny, green stems springing up from the ashes of your own experiences. It's so beautiful... the process of discovering the purpose in the pain. Keep your eyes open for hope, my friends 

~Unshakable Peace, Hope and Purpose~
cling to the Rock 
Psalm 18:1-2

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 14 ~ West Coast Rock Tour

~ 14th Day ~

The gift of oatmeal...More Tubing...Katie Bug #2...The Balcony Bar.

Sunday was a day of rest, rivers, and rocks.
I had planned to go to this gnarly church in downtown Durango my first morning in Durango. It wasn't because 5am was seen on the clock, that I didn't make it for a continuation of worship and being fed God's Word... it was simply cause the alarm clock had a hic-up. God knew I needed the extra rest, for this day was going to be full. We shouldn't go to church out of duty/obligation nor is it where we fill up our spiritual cup, 'cause we should always be full (going is just an overflow) and we are to "be the church" to others wherever we are. Clarity: I'm not saying we shouldn't go to church... but when we miss church (for whatever reason), it should not be something we feel guilty about. Today was about continuing to worship and be led by God... on all the mission fields He would have me on.

Realizing I wasn't going to The River Church at 9am, I took my time eating a bowl of oatmeal. This wasn't just any oats... The sweet and beautiful Jenny had read that this farm girl loved oatmeal, so she bought me some along with brown sugar and peanut butter. This really touched my heart... sometimes it's the simply things that someone notices and goes out of their way to do. Oh, and her coffee is the bomb too!

As anticipated, I was somewhat sore from tubing and dancing. No time to recover, for their were a cluster of beautiful people going tubing down the Animas River mid-day. We took 3 cars to 2 different locations (one the starting point and the one the end) and when we all piled into one car to travel back to the kick off point, my cousinNicole, my new buddy Caity Lou and myself rode in the back of the truck with all the tubes. I've had some crazy rides similar to this, but this one almost catapulted me out of the back of the truck when it hit a railroad track at just the right time. I must admit, there was a moment of fear during the launch, but that quickly dissipated into a roar of laughter when I landed. And then we in the back and those in the front saw the river... and the level of excitement rose higher than it already was.

Another couple met us at the put in site, and it didn't take long to get all of us in the river even though the temperature was a tid bit nippy.We even had music to create a soundtrack for this wild ride... Rob put his IPod with a little speaker in one of the dry packs. Too bad he unknowingly had the tube that leaked, but he brought the pump so he was all good. We traversed down the Animas River for the next 2 hours. Many stories and hilarious times could be shared, but Caity (Katie Bug #2) and I shared an adventure within an adventure. One had to be there to grasps the scope of the last 30min of the tubing trip. Needless to say, she and I survived... barely. I still have bruises from that river (and it's 4 days later) but they are worth the memories made that day.

We took my cousin's car back to Rob's... with the tubes hanging out both back windows. Not entirely legal, but it's Colorado and they are used to these unconventional situations. Caity and I were much better at holding onto the tubes now that we were out of the rapids... not the case when we were in them! My cousin left to go back to Ouray. We had such a great time together. I love her so much.

Back at Rob and Jenny's, there wasn't much down time before we needed to get ready for Rob's show tonight. Myself, Rob and Caity went back to The Derailed Poor House (where Rob played last night) so he could take down his equipment and bring it to the next venue. Us girls went ahead of him to grab some needed nourishment at The Balcony Bar. I was setting up the Rock ministry tonight while Rob played acoustic, so when we came up the stairs, it must have looked as if I was homeless (with a large backpack, 2 bags and a purse). Not caring about the looks from others, we ordered food and began a conversation that will leave forever footprints on my heart. This was truly a bonding day for the 2 Katie Bugs. She chose a very unique rock... a "Love Rocks" with a purple heart in the middle. Though what makes it unique is that it was accidentally dropped a year ago and had split right down the middle (cutting the heart in half). I've always known this rock would go to someone extra special and was glad Katie Bug #2 was the new holder. I told her she couldn't give the other half to just anyone... it had to be her potential, future husband. Not only that, but he had to be a good man and treat her right. She agreed to get the thumbs up from me when that sweet, deserving day comes. I'm holding her to that. I care deeply for my new friend. She is already missed, but I pray this wasn't the last time our paths merge.

Wow, and the evenings events haven't even been told. I shall give you the cliff-notes on this spectacular night of more amazing conversations, music, rocks, and seeds planted. Rob set up and grabbed some food with Jenny's son, Austin (who is quite a cool 11yr old!). During the next 4hrs, I met a few handfuls of locals and people visiting Durango. I could write so much about the stories of those who got rocks or rock necklaces. Some had been homeless, some were still couch-surfing, others were searching for purpose, some talked with God and others wanted nothing to do with Him, and one father and son had all 3 of us tearing up at the end of our conversation. All this happened while listening to the amazing acoustic music of Rob Webster (

Sidebar: The picture of the writing on the wall was in the bathroom stall of the bar... it's quite an interesting dialogue. I chose to take a picture of it and pray for each person that represented the different marker/pen/pencil instead of responding with my own Sharpie marker.

Halfway through the 4hr set, Austin and I wandered down a few blocks to visit his mom, Jenny, at her work. A few cups of coffee and more than a few smiles later, we ventured back to The Balcony Bar. More on the sweet and beautiful Jenny in the next posts. I wished she could have been with us that night, but this lady is a faithful provider for her family. I totally respect her loyalty and love for her son, who she has raised to be well-mannered. Austin is good for a laugh, due to his matter-of-fact statements. He is much smarter than most 'cause he reads more than most adults.

We were all tired from the day, but decided to stop at the grocery store to grab food for tomorrows adventure which entails more tubes. We also got "Flight" from the RedBox since Rob hadn't seen it yet. Jenny was working late and since she doesn't like to fly cause of potential turbulences, we wanted to watch this movie before she got home to see the plane going down. I love this movie... for many reasons.

We all slept well that night. It had been a full day and my heart was full of joy and gratitude to have spent it with old and new friends. 

 We all experience "turbulence" within and throughout our lives.
Some of them make us never want to fly...or try...again.
Many times our hearts have been broken.
We can pick up the pieces though.
Embrace the brokenness.
Choose to fly.

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit." ~Psalm 34:18

~Unshakable Peace, Joy and Purpose~
cling to the Rock 
Psalm 18:1-2

Day 13 ~ West Coast Rock Tour

 ~ 13th Day ~

From Montrose...To Durango...And a lot of awesomeness in between.

Wowsa!!! Not surprised by how sweet this day was, but there are always those "bonus blessings" of things that were unexpected.

I woke up in Ouray, CO in my cousin Nicole's comfy bed. This may not seem like a big deal, but when compared to the back seat of a Dodge Ram, a real bed is so much more comfortable (and roomy!). Still, the many nights in Tumbler have been without much complaint, for even that is a big upgrade from sleeping under a bridge, catamaran boat or bush (as was in California).

The daylight hours of this day were spent making more memories with my cousin. Nicole and I set out to go tubing down the La Campadre River after breakfast. She wanted to give me the "good tube" but I truly wanted the black, rubber tire for it reminded me of the tractor tires we used to use on the Nippersink River in the summer and (being pulled behind the tractor) in the soybean fields in the winter. We ambled down the river, encountering some gnarly rapids interspersed throughout the lazy river areas. I utilized the bungee cords I brought with me, by hooking them to our tubes... good thing, cause it wouldn't have been as easy talking while being carried downstream. What a joy to have the beautiful backdrop of the mountains for this bonding time.

We changed clothes in between cars passing and made our way back to town. Caffeine wasn't needed due to our already hyper state, but we stocked up anyway... at her boyfriends chocolate/coffee shop on Main St. in Ouray. I had a "Mocha Mmmm (with a splash of homemade caramel and extra espresso) Shake" and Nicole had a Caramel Sundae Shake. Needless to say, our word were coming out in lightning speed for the next hour.

We went back to her cute apartment so Nicole could pack... I had invited her to follow me to Durango late that afternoon to meet my friend (and musical genius)Rob Webster. She had taken me up on the adventure and was even going to spend that night (Sat) at Rob and his girlfriend, Jenny's house. We both had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Flashing the peace sign at Ouray in my rear view window, the drive to Durango was an adventure in and of itself. I would not suggest it to people who have heart problems or those with any hint to fear of heights. I, on the other hand, flippin' LOVED the gnarly, dangerous, precarious, downright beautiful drive along Red Cliff. Tumbler did swell navigating through the sharp turns of a road with next to no guard rails. Ironic that flat roads have them, but this road that typically had a side that led down to a death fall, did not. I snapped way less pictures on this pass due to the heightened danger aspect... but still took a "few."

We were still alive and grateful when we reached Durango and had pulled into Webster and Jenny's place. They live in a large house right on the Dalten Golf Course... and Webster was in the driveway to greet us. I gave a loud "Whoop Whoop" and jumped out to embrace my dear friend who I've known for over 10yrs. All of our memories have been made in the Mid-West, so it was cool for our paths to cross here in Colorado where he and Jenny have lived for 1.5 years. I would spend the next 3.5 days here with them.

Nicole had taken her own car and with both our vehicles parked, we all went out to the back porch, overlooking a river, to chill for a couple hours. Webster was playing at a local bar that night, and I was going to set up a table with "cling to the Rock." We got there at 7pm... he played at 8pm. We ran into a detour of sorts when it was announced that a "popular" artist from Tennessee had showed up and wanted to perform before Rob. It took awhile to see the "purpose" in this unplanned situation, but when we heard the man sing (hard to believe he was popular) we knew that when Rob went up to sing, it would be somewhat embarrassing for this artist. He was past cocky, had security guys that were totally rude, and it was hard to be nice to him and his entourage. Yes, I'm being mean when describing this guy, but I'm also being real... it took some deep sighs to pray for him, but I did (many times throughout the night).

The Tenn. artist off the stage, it was time for Webster to get up and wake up the sleeping crowd... the place went wild. I had quite a time getting the security guards to move away from the table that the owner had designated for me to set up my rocks and rock necklaces. Again, words had to be chosen wisely, and my temperature kept at a low altitude, for these guys were not cool and condoning of this rock girl. Good thing my dad or brothers weren't there... still, I handled it well for being a girl. They finally moved, probably cause I kept smiling at them.

The next 5 hours contain too many conversations, music and people to write about without creating another post ("13th Night" it would be called). I will say that the people God foreknew I'd meet, were not by chance. So many seeds were planted. I'm sure there are many who would question the setting (a bar being a mission field), but I would not have gone if I didn't believe God wanted me there for purposes He had planned if I chose to obey his leading. Yes, I need to be wise and mindful of places where alcohol and possibly drugs are present, but those desires are gone. The fact that fun can be had without these additives, can be a witnessing opportunity to those around me. The Derailed Poor House was a tack that God has firmly pressed into the map... and doubters can doubt the effectiveness of ministering hope, encouragement, truth and God's love in a bar, but that God chose to use a past addict/alcoholic here, is proof. It is humbling to go where most Christians avoid. And it is not where many will be called to go... but I was. And it was awesome. 
At 2am, they closed the bar. I knew my legs would be sore from all the dancing in between handing out rocks and the Good News. The residue of tubing down the river earlier, would also slow my walk in the morning. But the morning was not going to come soon, for the night was far from over. Once back at the house, the mission field moved to the back porch once again. Two other wonderful women Adria andCaity Lou) had come back with us. This made 6... but Nicole had migrated to bed, so the 5 of us stayed up talking and laughing till our bellies hurt till almost 5 in the morning. I had drank enough water to last me through the week, but would need it for the next few days. Sleep was welcomed... in another comfy bed. Durango would prove to be full of memories made with sweet friends.

Sometimes we are called to go where others won't go.
God can use us on any mission field He chooses.
Be willing to plant seeds anywhere.
If you plant them... God will make them grow.
(Mission) Field of Dreams.

~Unshakable Peace, Willingness and Purpose~
cling to the Rock 
Psalm 18:1-2

Thursday, July 25, 2013

12th Day ~ West Coast Rock Tour

 ~ 12th Day ~

Leaving Keystone...Purpose-full Detours...Buena Vista...Ouray.

Woke up at 7:30am, rested and ready for this gift of another day. 
My cousin Brittney, Leo and Jaden greeted me with "Good Morning" as I came into the kitchen. It was so good to spend this short, but quality, time with family. Brittney is a woman of courage. I respect her loyalty to her husband and son... commitment is rare today, but she is willing to trust God through the mountain highs and valley lows. I was glad to have spent the night at their house so more time could be spent with family.

My stomach full of oatmeal and my heart overflowing with joy, it was time to wake Tumbler from his slumber. We had quite a day ahead of us and little did we know where we would go and who we would meet.

Buena Vista, CO. was the next planned mission field. It was a 3 hour drive away on Hwy 24. But this was not the next city God had planned for us! We reached the small town of Leadville after taking 1.5 hours with the stunning drive. The road branched off into 2 options. Tumbler and I took a right turn... on the wrong road. After another slow and scenic drive (many stops, lots of moisture in the eyes, and many pictures of what made me tear up in awe) we came to the town of Minturn (near Vail). A unique looking, older man in a teal, turquoise shirt caught my eye as we rolled through. "Hmmm, sure would love to sit down and have a chat with that man... but we must get to Buena Vista." I drove on a little ways and suddenly felt the need to pull over by a bubbling creek to look at the map. Surely, we were getting close... but I couldn't find Minturn anywhere near B.V. I needed assistance. Then the image of the old codger in front of the gnarly antique store came to mind. I would get to talk to him after all.

The man was sitting in the same place when Tumbler pulled into the gravel parking lot. "How ya doing ma'am?" He asked with a slow, drawn out voice. "I am well, thank you... but am wondering how far B.V. is from here." I said pointing right, in the direction I had been traveling. "Oh, it's not far... maybe 3 hours away. But not in that direction." Right then and there, I realized my wrong turn... that took me to the right place God wanted me to be. The man in front of me was that very reason for the detour.

Bill has owned this amazing antique store for 30 years. He loved the collection of people that rolled through this town just as much as he loved his collection of randomness that they would come to see in his store. I learned about antlers, Minturn, and other past chapters of his life-story. After talking a while, I said I had something for him. Went into my backpack to pull out a random rock from my dwindling collection, and pulled out one with a teal peace sign on it. When I handed it to him, he said, "Wow, this is my favorite color... I love it!" I told him the cliff notes on the "West Coast Rock Tour" I was on, and he though this was a "cool journey." Bill has been featured in the Vail magazine. I tried to replicate the photo the journalist took... except there was an added teal rock in this kind man's hand.

Often, detours can be frustrating cause they aren't part of the original plan. But I was grateful for this unplanned trip to Minturn... to plant a seed with Bill. Another "bonus blessing" in the detour was that I not only saw the stellar scenery on the way up there, but also a second view of it on the way down. There were several places along the mountain road where I pulled over to take in the view with misty eyes. A "Love Rocks" pin (made by my sweet friend, Cheryl) was left on the ledge at one stop. While getting back into Tumbler, I saw a group of bikers pull in behind me. One man walked over to take in the view, looked down and saw the pin. He didn't pick it up, but he had a big smile on his gruff face when he turned around. Guess he wanted someone else to see it or pick it up. Plus, it wouldn't have matched the other pins on his leather, Harley Davidson vest.

I flashed the peace sign going through Leadville to the 3-way intersection... where I got on the road that would finally take me to Buena Vista. There were several deep sighs when the B.V. welcome sign was seen. I knew rocks needed to be scribed, for they were being handed out faster than being made. I parked near the Arkansas River, walked over the bridge and down a path with my heavy backpack. Ventured off the trail to forge my own... which took me to a prime perch. This tree near a cluster of large rocks overlooking the rapids of the river would be my resting place for the next couple hours. Though this was such a peaceful place, my mind was racing with thought and my heart flooded with feelings. One would think I'd have plenty of time to process things with all the driving time being put in, but there was much "catch-up processing" that needed to be done... and this was the designated place. A few rocks were made and more than a few experiences were processed before the thunder forewarned of the storm coming.

Scarfed down a grilled chicken wrap from downtown Punky's and finished scribing a rock before the blue skies turned totally grey. Made it back to Tumbler just as it started to pour. I decided to drive to the Young Life camp "Frontier Ranch." It was less than 10 miles away and the clouds around Mt. Princeton were beautiful. Pulling into the long entrance of the camp brought many emotions. This place holds much sentimental value to many people... my mom being one. She went to this camp when she was younger and it was here that she made the most important decision of her life. My mom accepted Jesus into her heart here... and her life was forever changed on that day. After parking, I reflected on how that day not only changed my mom, but helped mold me. It is not because I was raised in a Christian home that I am who I am today... I had to find this new way of living on my own. Still, my mom and dad's example of loving our Savior and sovereign Lord, has greatly shaped me.

I truly had wanted to talk with the adults and kids here at Frontier Ranch... collect stories, share stories, and leave some rocks. But as I was sitting in Tumbler near the horse stables, there was this realization that I was not here to give anything... but simply to be still and reflect on the way this ranch had impacted my life on that sweet day my mom had opened her heart to her Savior. There were droplets of tears in my eyes as the rain continued to come down. I prayed for the kids who were here now... and for the kids they might one day have.

Back in downtown B.V. the hours of the day were passing by faster than the clouds over the mountain ranges. I made some connections with other family members in nearby towns. One tack on the map was pulled due to a busy schedule of my aunt and uncle in Montrose. It was sad knowing I wouldn't get to see them, but I was learning much about trusting God's plans and the tacks on the map He had for me on this journey. The other contact and tack was still a thumbs up... so my cousin Nicolein Ouray was the next destination.

After posting a day on the computer (which takes quite awhile), we filled up on gas and hit the crazy awesome road to Ouray. It was 6pm and the 4 hour drive would take me through some beautiful (and dangerous) areas. A brilliant rainbow was seen several times during the first half. then one of the most stellar sunsets was seen for the second half. I arrived safely in this cute little town a little after 10pm.

My cousin was waving from the long porch of her adorable apartment that is above the Main St. Deli Shop. I'm sure I woke up several sleeping neighbors with my "Hey Cous... Whoop whoop!!!" shout as I pulled into the parking spot. We ate a late dinner as we sat and talked at her dining room table. So great to be in her company... and pick up from where we last left off. Our paths don't cross often, but when they do, it's as if no time has lapsed. We migrated ourselves to the couch and traveled down past and present paths. When our voices started to get mumbled and our words no longer making much sense, we both started laughing and said, "Goodnight Cousin... Love you." We needed rest for the the adventures of tomorrow.

Whether detours take us down uncharted paths of conversations or down unknown roads to random places, there is often a reason in the unplanned route. When we view interruptions as opportunities, there is usually a treasure at the end of the road. We have a choice whether to be frustrated or choose to embrace the reason in the rain.

May we view the detours of life as blessings in disguise.
Be open to a change in your plans today.
Often, our plans are not God's.
And His are always better.

"We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails." ~Proverbs 19:21 (The Message Bible)

~Unshakable Peace, Perspective and Purpose~
cling to the Rock 
Psalm 18:1-2

Monday, July 22, 2013

~ 11th Day ~

Journeying on from the Leigh house... Driving North... Keystone.

I apologize for the delay in sharing recent days... there are so many memories, experiences and pictures to share. Hard to choose which ones to pull from this packed 11th day (which was actually 4 days ago).

Started off the morning with my last bowl of oatmeal and peanut butter at the Leigh's house. Took advantage of a being able to take a shower... bonus blessing. Kelley and I had a re-cap conversation of the past few days at a God-given "Rephidim" (Resting place). Again, we traversed down paths of past and praised God for being our peace in piecing together our individual and collective stories. I miss her, as well as the safe environment their house provided. Bittersweet leaving... the feelings of saying "see you later" to dear friends coupled with the excitement of mission fields to come.
So grateful for the Leigh's hospitality and hearts.

Tumbler packed and ready to rock n' roll, we headed down the steep, winding driveway toward the highway. I dragged my feet leaving and the clock said 11:15 as we looked at Woodland Park in the rear view mirror. The destination that afternoon was Keystone, Co... where my cousin Brittney live. The drive took longer than mapquest said, 'cause I am prone to embrace detours and random stops.

The scenery was breath-taking... not only 'cause the altitude was affecting my oxygen intake, but also due to the display of beauty in every direction my eyes could see. Again, many blind pictures were taken. As in other days, there were some times I actually had to pull over and wipe the moisture out of my eyes and then take a few pictures of what is was that produced them. One might have to try really hard NOT to see the obvious evidence that an awesome God created this earth.

Though made with human hands, one of the places that was not on the mapquest map was "The Cowboy Church." Good thing no one was behind me when I spotted this church, 'cause they would have had to slam on the brakes as a crazy Illinois truck made a last minute jerk of the wheel into the gravel driveway. Unfortunately, no one was at the church (probably out shoeing horses or lassoing some other cowboys to come drink some strong coffee with fellow cowboys the next Sun. morning in this ranch-style building). I spent some time in their parking lot to make them a rock with a verse that jumped to mind (Psalm 95:1) cause I pictured them with guitars, harmonicas and spoons for worshiping. 

Would have loved to "cowboy up" with them for awhile, but expect to hear the sound of spurs when we meet in Heaven after our work here on earth is done. 

More driving. More pictures. More music and praising the Artist of Colorado. Much of the landscape appeared fake, for it was so vast and wide. One particual river that flowed into a lake beckoned me to pull off and pull out another rock... this one to be scribed for my cousin, Brittany, her husband, Leo, and their son, Jaden. The word of choice was "Unity." More prayer than permanent Sharpie ink went into that rock... the story behind and in the word is one I would learn more about when I arrived in Keystone to hand it to the family that it was made for.

Pulling into the parking spot at my cousin's abode felt good. It was after 4:00 in the afternoon. I was excited to see family I had not seen in quite awhile, but also expectant of this mission field. Keystone is beautiful... and so was my time there. Brittney and I smiled and hugged as our paths finally had physically merged. I was grateful for another safe haven at their home.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with catching up on our journeys (we had many years to go back and re-cap on), getting to know my adorable 2cd cousin, Jaden, and meeting a boy I will never forget.

Omar was a neighbor of my cousin. I was informed that he and his cousin were always outside playing... unattended to for too many hours of the day and into the evening. So glad he was outside when I took Jaden to choose his own rocks from the large collection in the back of Tumbler. As Jaden was literally bent over inside one of the storage bins of rocks, Omar and his cousin came over to see what he was so intently diving for. Omar's eyes were what spoke to me before he opened his mouth to speak... "What are you looking at?" Once he saw the hundreds of rocks, he began to ask questions about what I was doing with them. After telling him I was handing them out as I traveled across the Western states, his eyes lite up. I reached for a "Love Rocks" rock and handed it to him. "What do you sell them for?" he asked. I told him sometimes people give me money for them, but usually I just hand them out and don't ask anything in return for them. Eyes wider and brighter, He told me he does this too. "My cousin from out of the country is coming to visit me soon. The last time he was here, he didn't have good shoes and liked the ones I had on. I saved up my money and bought him some really cool shoes... the ones that have the wheels on the bottom. I'm going to give them to my cousin when he comes. I don't want anything in return." A big heart of a little boy.

I let Omar and his cousin each pick out a rock from the storage bins. It wouldn't surprise me if they both scribed them with their own creativity and gave them to someone else... expecting nothing in return.

An amazing dinner of alfredo spaghetti, chicken and broccoli accompanied reunited family at the dining room table. Stories were shared during and after supper. At 9:00pm I went on the computer to find out if Buena Vista (the next town I hoped to travel to that night) had a Walmart I could use as my hotel before waking up for a day of ministering on the streets. There was only an Al-Mart... which are the more common versions of Walmart in these smaller towns. Once again, my plans were not God's plans. I took this as a sign that I was not to sleep in Buena Vista tonight... but also that Tumbler was meant to stay parked where he was and not make the dark drive. My cousin was happy I was sleeping in a real bed this night, and also that the drive would be made in the morning light.

I slept well... went to bed at 9:30 for 10 hours straight!!! This was meant to be and it gave me more time with family whom I feel a strong sense of unity with even though we live quite a distance away. Often, we don't see the real reasons behind the change of plans until we see and experience those very reasons. God's plans are always far better than those we try to make.

This will be revealed as the days continue to come.
Everyday is reason to rejoice in the gift that it is.
Some days, the joy is in the detours.
You'll soon see why 

~Unshakable Peace, Unity and Purpose~
cling to the Rock 
Psalm 18:1-2

 ~ 10th Day ~

...Last day at The Exodus Road office and view from the top...

This was kind of a laid back day. 
Yet it was full of projects, putting rocks (+ pebbles) in places, and purpose.

I went back to the Exodus Road office with Kelley mid-morning through the afternoon. I wanted to make more "Free" and "Anna" rocks for them. Yet before my Sharpie markers were pulled out, there was another project to work on... pounding letters into different metals for their gifts to people who help fund the rescues for these precious young ones in slavery.

The first few attempts did not go as well as we hoped, but after some practice, the words came together looking more professional than crafty. I'm excited for these metal pieces to be collected by donors over time, but more so expectant of the innocent children to be gathered in freedom from this cruel bondage. There is a new video on the updates of "Keeping the Rocks in the Jar" at where Laurashares about the awesomeness that is happening right now (and a little pilgrim writing on rocks, is in the background). Please keep this organization in your prayers and volunteer to be a part of the rescue.

After making a ruckus with the hammer, I went out to the parking lot to scribe more rocks. Received some funny looks from the employees at surrounding companies, but I'm getting quite used to the furrowed brows of others. Glad to be outside in the sun, the next few hours were spent with either a Sharpie marker and rock in my hand, or txting people with a map in front of me. Many people wanted to know what day I was coming in, what time, and for how long. I used the word "guesstimate" a lot! My sweet family and friends have extended much grace to this vagabond who doesn't have definitive answers but rather proximations to their questions. 

It was a wonderful "day at the office" and I left a few rocks in random places of the parking lot for people to find on the right day at just the right time. Saying "see you later" to Laura was bittersweet. She inspires me to follow God hard and with a willing abandon. She is light inside and out. She and her husband, Matt (who I pray to cross paths with a later day), are rare people... with a unique calling. The Exodus Road is forever in my heart and I'm "guesstimating" this won't be my last day in their office. 

Back at the beautiful Leigh house, Kelley and I then headed up the mountain in Tumbler. Once we reached one of the highest points, their dog, Seneca (sp?), was not the only one who wanted to frolic around on the Sound Of Music-like mountain top overlooking the magazine worthy view. 

This might have been the most purpose-full time in the Colorado Springs area (and that's saying a lot, 'cause there were so many stellar experiences in those 5 days there).

Oh, you want details and topics of conversations up there, huh!?!?
Well, let me just say they were poignant, revealing, and forever etched on my heart and mind... but the memories on top of the mountain are for a potential future book, not this post. That's how awesome is was.
My kindred friend Kelley is someone I can trust with the many pebbles of my past... she holds them with love and confidentiality. Though we don't cross paths often, when we do, it's always a gift to my soul.
I look up to her... and it's not just 'cause she lives on a mountain.

At a lower elevation and back in the cozy room I was borrowed, Tyler Leigh and I had a time of re-connecting (used to baby-sit this now man!). He is going to school to be an engineer and has already done some amazing things with his gifted mind. We share the experience of going to Africa... He helped build a school there. It's so cool to see the man he has become. I love that he wants to use his talents and gifts for the glory of God.
Tyler loves learning... his knowledge is coupled with wisdom.

Kelley and I found our way the the living room couch to continue our conversation and traveled down trails of the past and present... trusting our futures to our God who knows everything and is sovereign to be our Staff.

I'm so grateful we don't have to rely on our own G.P.S. to navigate through the mountains and valleys of life. His love continues to amaze me every gift of another day.

~Unshakable Peace, Trust and Purpose~
cling to the Rock 
Psalm 18:1-2