Category Archives: Love

Is comfort a good thing?

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I sit looking out my window at the long train peacefully passing beneath the mountains like a scene straight out of a picture book. The windows are open, letting in the cool morning breeze. I strain to focus on the beautiful chorus of bird chatter, which is easily heard above the sounds of the train cars clicking their way along the tracks. But there is another noise that competes, a newer noise. It’s the steady stream of traffic on our now-busy highway below.

Yep, it’s summer in Glacier.

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The town has transformed. A once peaceable post for less than a hundred homes, it is now bustling with people and cars and RVs. The hotels are full, the restaurants have lines out the door, and the locals have work. Praise God!

We have much to be grateful for. Truly.

But now that we’re here, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten comfortable. I have my regular routine including about 40 hours of work, and a mid-week “weekend” with my honey, when we play in the park and soak up together time. Beyond this, we started a co-op garden with a young family and two friends, one a local Blackfeet man and the other a young-at-heart widow we’ve long befriended. In the early spring, we held regular dinner parties to map and plan the garden, and now that we’ve planted, there is lots of weeding to be done. We just might have bitten off more than we can chew!

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But this comfort thing… it’s bothering me right now. In Oregon, my life was wrapped up in ministry. My job was ministry; most of my friends were in ministry (or had been); we had Bible studies and small groups and belonged to a church. Now: I have work; I have play, and I have time with my husband.

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With all of the amazing gifts around me, I am yet unsatisfied. How can this be? After surviving the winter and all of its discomforts, how can I now fight the comfort?

I’ve been praying that God would open the door for more. I don’t know what it will look like (especially when I feel like I have no time to offer), but I trust something is in store. In a way, I am antsy to get going already. But on the flip side, I’m in no hurry at all. I suppose God will work His way in me as long as I am willing. Thank you for your ongoing prayers of support and love. We feel them deeply in our hearts!

Be blessed today, my friends. In all of your comforts and discomforts, know that God is with you.

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Honeymoon, Crisis, Transformation

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Looking back, this Montana Adventure has been, in some ways, like a trip down the rabbit hole. We could not have predicted the ride to be so rough and crazy-making. But really, we should have expected it. Our experience was classic.

Like the Peace Corps’ model of cultural adjustment (mentioned by my BFF, who just spent a year-plus in Australia with her family), we suffered the typical ups and downs before coming to a place of growth and transformation. It’s striking how similar our experience matched those shown in the following two charts.

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Now I’m not insisting that our current home is a “foreign” culture, especially compared to situations where a new language is present or the country’s social-political atmosphere is hostile, or anything like that. But still, our journey took us away from our people and our home, our comforts and cultural roles. We had familiar and rewarding jobs, the closest friends you could ask for, and a loving family a short drive away. In many aspects, we entered a “foreign” culture when we arrived here, on those standards alone. Add in a crazy winter complete with terrible driving conditions, small-rural-town-type isolation, and a few unfavorable encounters with Blackfeet Nation… and the truth is, you’ve got yourself a foreign culture.

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We definitely began with a “Honeymoon” phase. It was exciting! We were actually in Montana. We did it. We followed through. Hurrah! There was good weather, seasonal work, and epic hikes to be had. But by the middle of the second month, the snow came. And we got homesick. We missed everything about our former community and began to ask ourselves why we left. By the next month, we were losing confidence. In our spouse. In our situation. In our decision. And it led to depression, anger, and frustration. Every day, our home was hostile. We lashed out at each other instead of bonding through it. Three months in, we were thiiiis close to throwing in the towel. As we planned our Christmas trip home, we seriously considered packing it all up and calling it quits.

That was the “crisis” point. You can see on the above chart that this was a pivotal place. Either we would quit or we would persevere.

I love this part on the chart. There is a split, a severing, at that crisis point. You don’t get to see what happens to the journey after quitting. Because it’s over. Done. And then there is the next branch. Its label, “extended crisis” says it all. Oof, it sounds bad. [In fact, it is. I think we did this for 2-3 months. And yes, it was ugly.]

Even sticking with it, accepting it, without truly allowing your heart to grow, takes an odd turn for the worse. Leading to a “partial recovery,” you can see there is no character transformation here. I can almost taste that life, with twinges of bitterness and malcontent stifling my peace and joy.

According to this model, the thriving comes when you “explore” your options and dive into the culture. It takes risk and challenge, and testing yourself despite your fears. Through that testing, you gain confidence in Christ’s love for you. You gain confidence in His master plan. And you begin to trust. Sure, you trust in yourself. But your trust builds in your spouse. And hopefully, your trust locks into the place where it belongs most: in God’s capable hands.

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Eight and a half months into our journey, we’ve hit our stride. We see that God did what he wanted to do in us (that round!). He stretched us and beckoned us to follow Him at a closer distance. We’re unsure of where this road will go from here. But we are willing to stick it out and see. So far, God’s blessings have been plenty! If we had quit at that crisis point, we would have missed out on so much. I tell you all of this, friends, because I hope you stick out your current challenge, too (if that’s what God is telling you to do). While quitting isn’t always bad, there are no shortcuts in life. The hard road is the best road. Usually. Let it shape you and grow you for the better.

Through this experience, I’m beginning to get a better sense of freedom in what happens. I’m beginning to accept that I’m not in control, but that the God who is in control will allow some uncomfortable events to happen in my life. There is no way to explain why horrendous things happen to good people. But maybe it’s simply so that I fully understand that this is not my home, that this whole “life as we know it” is temporary.

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” – James 5:7-8

Living on Manna

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Life in East Glacier has sure taken hold of my heart. It is just so simple here. So beautiful. So restful.

We went down to one car just days after getting here and hardly drive more than once a day between the two of us. The real problem, we’ve realized, is not having four-wheel-drive. This is a town of big rigs and Subarus. Our homely little Maxima certainly stands out (not to mention, our PT Cruiser, now in “storage mode”)… but during this week’s snow storm, we discovered just how insufficient Gem really was – not just in the snow, but for clearance. Our two solutions: buying yet another car or simply sticking close to home.

We both prefer the second option. A lot of the town folk here work in nearby Browning, in the schools or hospital. The drive is just 13 miles. But it is a horrific 13 miles in the wind and snow. Sometimes the road is closed or so overblown with snow that you can’t tell where you are, save the vibration of the road strips when you cross the line. Worst of all: Very unpredictable. I don’t know how people keep jobs around these parts.

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That leaves us to the local job scene, which is fairly nonexistent. And yet, we’ve become pros at gathering random work. Or rather, God has made it clear that He has us in His hands. Never in my life have I been more aware of God providing for my daily bread. Like manna, jobs come in by the day and rarely in advance.

For Pete, it means a lot of back-breaking work like chopping wood, painting, falling trees, and the occasional break to drive Miss Daisy to the West Side. For me, it means babysitting, cleaning houses, and working with a nonprofit here on a limited basis. We’re still rooting for substitute teaching jobs at the East Glacier Park schoolhouse. And I just might try my hand at freelancing again. Pete thinks I should use this time to write a book. Funny!

Besides working, I’ve found a few friends here that love to “walk,” which is really “hike” in my book. My first “walk” with Kelly was a six-miler through the woods. Now I’m addicted and walk almost daily, even with two feet of snow! It’s just what the doctor ordered, I tell you. So serene.

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Also exciting, Pete and I finally got out backpacking, which was a real treat. Sandwiched between weeks of awful weather, we scored a nice little 2-day period of sunny bliss, nearly alone on the trail and with our destination lake empty. We even saw a moose! It was magical.

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We are enjoying this little slice of heaven, but it isn’t without difficulty. Pete and I are learning how to share a tiny space, day in, day out – something we never really did when we both had demanding jobs, regular schedules, and early shifts that kept our “together time” pedestal-precious. We’re discovering new things about ourselves and learning to grow for the sake of the other. The added stress of job-finding doesn’t help. But we’re navigating these waters with hope and love.

We found a little Christian community here, with Bible Study on Saturday nights. It is great, and even includes a potluck dinner. We’re so grateful for all of the ways God has shown us that He loves us. We couldn’t ask for more!

Thank you so much for your prayers, friends! I’ll just end now with a parting shot of resident Sinopah Mountain, center, which I summitted one day, long ago. I’ll have to do that again next summer, when I’ve earned back my hiking legs. Come visit friends, and climb it with me! xo

Sinopah Mountain, center

Bringing back the social calendar

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That’s it; I’m settled. Our place has always been cozy and welcoming and the mountains, ever-gorgeous. But now, the people have captured my heart, too.

It started last weekend, when I babysat for a coworker I met at the restaurant, now closed for the season. She and her man had some ranching to do: a good, old fashioned round-up, to be exact. While they herded and gathered cows on horseback, I sat with a precious angel named Emma who took to me immediately. We colored and danced, and she fell asleep holding my hand. Then we ate a hearty ranch supper with the work crew, enjoying new friends and countless bear stories. The next day, we did it all over again, supper and all.

Precious Emma, already a cowgirl

Precious Emma, already a cowgirl

On Monday, we were blessed by a spontaneous invite to join some new friends for dinner. It was such a treat! Pete met them at a Bible Study (yay! we found one!) last Friday when I was at work. It was an instant hit. They’re about our age, with two young kids who ended up on my lap, books in hand. If Pete keeps leaving vests, gloves, and mail at their house, I’m guessing we’ll continue to see a lot of them!

Then I went to the “East Glacier Women’s Club” meeting on Tuesday (which I’d been looking forward to since I happily scrolled it on my slim social calendar weeks ago). As hoped, I met many wonderful women: the women of the community. The meeting was all-business, showing that these ladies took pride in their town and their people. More than that, I felt accepted, loved. They took me in and invited me to ski weekend getaways and Wednesday Mahjong. I was delighted, and took them up on the offers. I am now addicted to Mahjong!

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But the best offer of the evening came from DeeAnna, who offered me a job on the spot when I mentioned I had a degree in Journalism. It’s just a temp job, but it’s so great! In my two short days, I interviewed the Executive Director, wrote and distributed a press release to local media and crafted a quick ad for the local TV station. I also produced a newsletter, updated contact lists, and started on some print materials for an upcoming clinic. I am in heaven working in this field again. Funny enough, I’m also working with teens in a way, too.

The organization, International Traditional Games Society, is dedicated to restoring and teaching traditional Native games that have been lost over the decades. The games are so interesting! Hand-carved, hand-painted and wrapped in leather, they are beautiful works of art, as well. Next week, they are putting me through a $250 training for free, so I can help facilitate these games in schools and at future clinics. I’m so thrilled!

On top of all of this, Pete and I heard our applications were approved at the local schoolhouse for substitute teaching, grades K-8. I’m nervous to teach but figure I could do it once in a while. Funny enough, you just need a high school diploma to sub at the school. I tell myself that a loving heart is what’s needed most, but I still fear they’ll tear me to pieces. I remember having subs in school… and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! I just might stick with babysitting; word has already begun to circulate…

The charming schoolhouse where we may find work

The charming schoolhouse where we may find work

Either way, it’s a pretty place. And we’ve gone down to one car. Hurray! It’s a bit of a change for us, but it’s a tiny town, perfect for walking. It feels like home already. But we miss our friends and family! Big hugs!!

Just off my street...

Just off our street…

Stir crazy already?!

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We have been here for two and a half weeks – just long enough to go stir crazy. Already. I know it sounds lame, but it’s true. We don’t know what to do with ourselves. We don’t have close friends or family nearby, and we don’t have day jobs. Luckily, I’ve found regular work at a restaurant I used to work at (seven years ago!). But they were evening shifts… and that all ends tomorrow, when the restaurant closes its doors for the season, like always.

Despite his ongoing search, Pete remains jobless, save a few odd gigs he picked up around town. He never really took on the “vacation” mindset, as I have, and has been antsy to get that regular, daily nine-to-five going. I think it’s a man thing. He wants to provide. Meanwhile, I want to hike the park and have play days, which is how we’ve spent our weekends, to be fair.

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Bison flanked by the great range behind East Glacier Park

Both hikes have been in the snow. The first, it snowed on us. The second was a sunny “showstopper” kind of day where all the mountains took on a gorgeous coat of snow, illuminated all the more by a bright blue, cloudless sky. The birds chirped happily above us, and the brisk air smelled of new beginnings – and that fresh, nostalgic Glacier smell I’d been missing for so long.

Will this be the adventure I always dreamed of? I wonder. Can we handle the unemployment, the weather? Will we bail ship and come running back home?

It is far too early to tell how this chapter will unfold. But we are here, ready to see what God has for us. Only time will tell. So for now, we hope. And we settle into a slow pace of life very unlike the life we left behind. For how freeing it feels, it is yet unsatisfying. I suppose that “do or die” mentality still needs to simply die.

After all, it isn’t about “doing” here, it’s about “being.” And isn’t that the very essence of finding our satisfaction in the Lord? To know that you don’t have to earn His love or “arrive” at a certain place to be accepted and valued and so highly treasured. Ahh, to be in that place of freedom. I only long for it, being trapped continually by the desire to be “established” or settled or just plain busy. But this trusting in Him puts us in position to grow our faith. And if that is the only purpose for this journey, then so be it.

On passion. And people.

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Yesterday I asked Pete what he thought was my greatest passion. Without skipping a beat, saying it so matter of fact: People.

Now that right there made my day. First of all, because he knew me so well that he could answer that question before I could. And secondly, because he was right. It wasn’t snowboarding or backpacking or even the outdoors. It wasn’t youth or women or kids, even. It was broader and more accurate. People.

It’s the kids I get to love on at church, the youth I get to engage with through YD Adventures, and the women in my life who push me or get pushed by me to trust and rely more on Christ. It’s my husband and all of the special ways we share our affection. It’s my family and my friends. My coworkers, my housemates. I really just love the heck out of them! All of them.

So what does one do with passion, anyways? What comes to mind is the word, “investment”. It seems to me that if you invest time and resources into your passions, joy will always follow. Because even if the money is lame and your status is less than glamorous, you are nonetheless doing something that makes you feel alive. Something that brings good and not harm. Something that is fruitful and joy-giving.

That, my friend, is one solid investment.

I don’t think I’ll ever look back on my life and wish I hadn’t invested in so many people. (I might even wish I’d have invested in more.) No, I’ll look back and say that was time well spent. It will not matter if it didn’t pay off financially. It will not matter if I made mistakes in the midst of it. It will matter that I did it despite those barriers.

So what is your one unyielding passion? And are you doing it? I determined that my two greatest passions were people and words. Oh how I enjoy writing. Even if it’s a simple blog that I write in my bed at five in the morning. There is no monetary reward in store, here. No pay. But dangit, I’m doing what I love. And that is enough.

Passion… pass it on.

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Mustachio (camp name) introduces us girls to my fave new hairstyle

Cora, my dear darling friend, and I embark on a birthday biking adventure, Portland tram inclusive!

Sam and Micaiah, two lovely volunteer/summer staff at YD Adventures

Enjoying Hazel Barrett, my amazing friend, mentor, and housemate

Precious Kelsey, a YD Adventures student turned friend

Erika, a delightful co-leader on YDAO trips, and an even better friend

Wyatt and Ivy, my new nephew and niece: possibly the sweetest kids on the planet

Numero Uno, himself. My loving, always-makes-me-laugh husband, Pete

Super Wife conquers Chicken Pot Pie

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My husband is such a kind soul that he puts zero pressure on me to be Super Wife. At times I battle with putting that pressure on myself (like when I return after a week away with YDAO). But he, on the other hand, is just plain content, expectations: nada. The result: more baking and experimenting in the kitchen. More recipes. More apron-wearing. And more messes to clean up. But the best part: more smiles from HoneyDude.

I think I’ve been craving this little life change for some time. I just didn’t know it. So thank you, husband, for being so loving and sweet and wonderful that I want to make chicken pot pie for you. It’s a fun little journey, Mister. xo

Look mom! A pie!

Oh boy, it was too good to be true. Shameless, I know.

Now I’m not really a Martha Stewart or anything. I just try. (Which makes it fun!) And while I can’t say I’ve even tried or enjoyed chicken pot pie much in my life, it was nonetheless beckoning me like a challenge I needed to conquer. So I sought out a recipe and went to work. Straight off a long work trip, and with a day off, Super Wife threw on her apron, determined to make a savory little pie for Hubby.

The final word: Ultra delish. I will definitely make this one again!

   Chicken Pot Pie

    Prep Time: 30 Min | Cook Time: 50 Min | Ready In: 1 Hr, 20 Min

    Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

    Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    Becky tips:

  1. Buy a whole roasted chicken from the deli and shred half for this recipe; save the other half for tomorrow’s dinner
  2. Cook veggies in broth for extra flavor.
  3. Omit celery seed. Who buys that?
  4. Cook onions in olive oil. It’s better for you and just as tasty.
  5. Definitely buy pre-made crusts. Just allow time for them to thaw!
  6. Find this recipe and more on allrecipes.com, my go-to for yummy, tried-and-true recipes with honest reviews.