Category Archives: Uncategorized

A trip to spring and back

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It didn’t necessarily make sense, but we did it anyways. We went ahead and traveled to spring and back, returning Friday to the white, winter wonderland once more. This time last week, we were out in the sunshine, tank tops and all, feet free from the constraints of sloppy, winter boots worn day in, day out, for the past five months. I skipped and ran, feeling the gravel beneath my soles and the cool wind hitting my ankles, weakened over time from the lack of support in my tall, lace-up boots. It was magical! 

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The best part of our break, of course, was not the renewed pep in my step, but the onslaught of love and laughter coming from friends and family who took us in for a meal or a few days, catching up like old times. Pete’s mom and dad (“Grannie” and “Papa” now) filled our love tank, as we feasted on togetherness and Grannie’s home cookin’. The girls even had a little fun, doing our nails and hitting the local spa for facials and Cran-mosas, boutique hopping along the way. 

And the kids. Oh, these kids. They are the apple of my eye! Every hug and “I love you” adds a year to my life!

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The lot of us drove a scenic six miles deep into the country to visit a local farm that boasted fresh accolades for its artisan goat cheese. Word was, you could just grab a round of cheese from the outside refrigerator and leave cash in a bucket. The good, old honor system. Well, I can tell you, it was the best goat’s cheese I’ve ever had. Hands down. I do wish I took some home with me to share.

 

 

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As our last ditch effort to savor time together, we took a late evening trip to the beach with the folks, where the sun stretched near the horizon, teasing us through the clouds without a fair sunset. 

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It was a refreshing trip to spring, alright. Darn good. We’re so grateful to our family and friends whose love is rich and satisfying, pure and lovely. Thank you for your prayers and support in this journey to Montana. We are alive and well. Every day is an adventure. And we never know when we’ll have work. But God has continued to provide. So we wait. And wait. Hard as it is, we are getting stronger. 

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Reality. And a bit of depression.

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It hasn’t been easy here. It hasn’t been what I thought it would be. I guess I thought it would be romantic and serene. Quiet and peaceful. Picture-perfect. I imagined daily walks through town, hand in hand with my honey. I imagined getting pregnant and planning for family growth.

Reality hit hard this last month.

Pete and I called it “survival mode.” We had to learn how to make it. From the rough weather (60 mph winds and sub-zero temps) to the challenge of new jobs, we were overwhelmed. Our marriage took the brunt of the blow, as each of us faced trials and recurring bouts of despair. Worst of all, we missed our people. We had left behind dozens of loved ones who historically helped us weather the storms.

I learned more about depression in these last two months than I have ever known. I learned that it makes you crave solitude and secrecy, two dangerous tactics of the enemy. I couldn’t reach out for help. I couldn’t even reach to my husband, an armchair away. I would meet up with new friends and desire them to love me and ask me how I was doing. I wanted so badly for someone to care enough to go out of their way for me.

And while I’ve been sulking and crying and despairing, I’ve been missing out. All this time, I could have found rest in Christ. I could have turned to Jesus. He cared. And even though I knew that, I couldn’t reach for Him. I let the enemy win. I’d go to church and not sing. I’d cry looking at all of the babies around me. And I’d lash out at Pete as if he was the one deliberately hurting me. I was an ugly mess. For sure.

I can’t say that I have yet recovered in full. But we made serious gains last week after hitting rock bottom. Fully ready to move back home, we realized we needed to be more intentional about seeking God together. So Pete initiated daily “family meetings” where we check in, pray together, and identify prayer and marriage goals for the next day. It’s incredible to see the transformation already. We have hope restored. And strength to persevere.

No matter what happens out here or how it all transforms from here, we will always remember this journey – and how it brought us to a breaking point, to the end of ourselves. If there is one thing I now know, it’s that I have a teammate in Pete, a partner. He’s family. But more than that, I am reminded that I have a greater teammate out there in Christ.

If you are suffering from depression, loneliness, or despair, you are not alone. You are loved. Cherished. Adored. By the great author of the universe, Himself! As hard as it may be, turn to Christ. While there are countless ways to mask the pain, there is nothing in this world that can replace those feelings with joy… except for Jesus Christ, our Savior and King.

Merry Christmas, friends and loved ones!

A family welcome

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Months ago, before Pete and I decided to move to East Glacier, we planned to rent a house out here for my mom’s 60th Birthday. So with really good timing, and no travel expenses needed, we had ourselves a brief little family vakay in the midst of the transition.

Now that it’s consistently raining and miserable, I’m even more grateful for the splendid weather we enjoyed. But best of all: family time. And a great bear encounter from the car!

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The adventure begins

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Well. It’s here. The Great Montana Adventure.  Thus it’s time to start blogging again! We know there are many supporters out there who want to stay connected and hear how it’s all going. So I’ll try to keep you up-to-date on this blog. If you want to get regular news, just look us up right here, or call us, or write us a letter. We love snail mail! Please do send letters.

Pete and Becky Arnold
PO Box 261
East Glacier Park, MT 59434

egplodge

This gorgeous lodge is in large part the reason this small community has survived. In the summer months, it’s bustling with tourists visiting the lodge and the nearby Two Medicine entrance to Glacier National Park. Restaurants thrive, hostels and hotels book up, and people populate the streets, with its one-square-mile walking-friendly radius.

But that is summer.

Winter is an altogether different story. The people leave, the shops close, and the locals delight in “getting back their town,” as we heard from a gal today. As quaint and cozy it sounds, it also sounds miserable. Frigid temps, crazy winds. Snow drifts higher than a house. And the winter population? About 300.

People here think we’re crazy for moving here in the winter. They wonder if we’ll stay, like so few do. But they resolve to conclude we won’t, like the many who have come and gone before us.

We’ve been walking the streets everyday, catching up with folks I met when I last lived here in 2006. It’s been very fruitful! We have heard of countless job opportunities. A cup of coffee and a piece of pie here, a plate of nachos there. It seems we’re on vacation, in a way. And yet, these are choice opportunities to chat with the locals and let ourselves be known.

We long for community here. So far, we feel welcomed, and have rubbed shoulders with most in the five days we’ve been here. We’ve come to acknowledge certain regular social opportunities: poker at Billy-Bob’s, coffee at The Diner, and a run to the library on Wednesdays, the only day of the week it’s open… for only two hours.

Pete is exploring work opportunities and is hoping to get random work chopping wood and shoveling snow. We’ve both applied at the local schoolhouse as substitutes. I’ve also gotten a few shifts at a restaurant I used to work at – a total blessing! But that restaurant closes in two weeks, with the rest of the town. And then we’re left with a diner, small market, post office, bar, and gas station.

Our nearest neighboring town, 12 miles east, is Browning, the heart of the Indian Reservation. Even though I’ve lived here before, it is still somewhat shocking to be a minority. The looks we get, the insecurity we feel. It’s uncomfortable and good for us. I’m grateful for the chance to grow in this area.

I took a bunch of photos of our house, a tiny little space that fits us perfectly.

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So that’s it! My first post about the new adventure. I know it was long… they won’t always be so long! Thanks for your prayers for jobs and friends and peace and joy. We heart you! xoxo

Seasons of change

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This is my fourth September with YD Adventures. And it’s always the same. I’m exhausted yet excited. Filled up yet drained. Enjoying the calming close of a busy season while sorely dreading its end.

And so the seasons turn.

Actually, my life has largely been seasonal by nature. In my early twenties, I spent three years reaping the benefits of seasonal “foodie” tourism, flip-flopping between restaurants in Glacier National Park or a nearby golf resort and then heading to a slope-side ski resort in the winter. Then college came with its three years of summers “off” followed by the post-graduation spell where I bounced around in my career so much that it almost seemed seasonal.

Then YD came along. And still, seasons of change every year.

I’ve come to appreciate it. A little bit of change goes a long way. Mixes it up a bit, you know?

My crew of college students on the trail

Like clockwork, every August I staff a trip with Warner Pacific College students who venture on an 8-day equipping trip as part of leadership development. I love love love it. First: because there is backpacking involved. Second: because I enjoy engaging with college students’ faith journeys. Third: because backpacking presents countless opportunities for good conversations with the students, and tons of personal quiet time to commune with the Lord. With nothing to distract (assuming one has mastered mosquitoes and blisters) and nowhere to hide, we get a priceless time of intimacy with our Loving heavenly Father as we gawk at His awesome, majestic glory and listen for His voice.

I can’t say it enough: it’s priceless.

Naturally, there has been a running joke that this 2012 trip – my fourth – was my last. This is, of course, because I will have a baby by next August. Like I said, this is a joke. So please don’t think this is a heads-up or anything. Seriously, take those thoughts back.

But the joking does make me think ahead a bit. When will the YD adventuring end for me? And will it be for a single season, or for multiple? Strangely, where once I used to thrive on change, it’s now hard for me to look ahead and see change. [I can’t even believe I’m saying this. I think it’s a sign of maturity. Or maybe it’s just plain getting old and stuck in my ways.]

At the root of all of this is a little thing called fear.  [I recognize this old foe. Such a thief. A thief of joy, peace, hope.] Fear of the unknown… such a classic fear for me. Isn’t that really what all fear boils down to? In our state of uncertainty, it’s the crippling belief that things will not work out. That things will suck. And that life will go to hell in a handbasket real quick.

Let’s just say it, shall we? What a crock of bologne. What a trick that thief plays on us! Time and again, we fall victim of this one. What would it take to believe otherwise? To believe that things will work out just as God planned? That our planning and scheming and dreaming is largely unnecessary and, dare I say it, even damaging?

So when, friends, do we sit back and let God lead, and when do we act? Isn’t that the age-old question? I’ve heard it said that God answers prayers in one of three ways: Yes, no, or wait. Is that all we need to know? Is that the only answer worth pursuing?

Alas, not knowing what lies ahead, I shall wait upon the Lord. I shall listen for His voice. And even when the fear threatens to rob my peace or destroy my dreams, I will strive to be content in this place of waiting. For I know that all of those little details sit comfortably in the Lord’s hands. And He is more than capable, more than faithful, to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine. That is the truth right there. Nothing seasonal about it.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7

Love begets love

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Right now, I’m living with the most wonderful group of girls. In our home, we share many memories and many laughs. We cry together and feast together. We worship and we dance. Above all, we strive to live intentionally, fully invested in one another’s life. Instead of booking up our schedules with obligations and busyness, we set aside time for togetherness, valuing the relationships and ministry found in our very own home.

It took a bit of time for me to assimilate to this model. I was used to busyness. (Still am.) And I was used to living in a home where everyone was busy. No matter where I lived or who I lived with (and oh, I’ve lived with many), it was the same thing. People going-going-going, passing their housemates like ships in the night. I know because I was probably the worst of them.

A happy house of five

When I moved into this house, I was excited for a slower pace of life, and a home bordering romantic fields and farms and open country. More than that, however, I was excited about living with women who had a history of challenging my thinking and my faith.

Of the four gals, I’d seriously done life with three: sharing meals, Bible studies and ministry at YD Adventures. We were connected.

But not Jessica. She was a freshie in my life. In the midst of a busy summer schedule and the occasional family dinner, we slowly connected, ultimately finding common ground in our random acts of goofiness and dance… plus, of course, an undeniable love for Jesus. From there, we built a bond that developed into a beautiful relationship: one where we both give and we both take.

I never knew the sacrifice that went into fully loving a person or fully letting them into your life. But I have found it is most joy-giving to be a friend – especially one fit with vulnerability and a willingness to surrender personal will or want.

I don’t always have that naturally. Sometimes Jess runs down the stairs when I come home from work, anxious to connect. Exhausted and looking forward to some solitude, I routinely have to fight the urge to send her away. I choose to fight it, because I know it is important to her. I know that my reaction could be damaging. And I also know that, within minutes, I’ll experience the deep joy of relationship.

It’s a tiny little thing. But it matters. Other times we dance together and pray together. She braids my hair and asks me to tuck her into bed. I do it because it’s more than just tucking her in. It’s a time for her to feel special and loved, when we both share vulnerably from the heart. Sometimes, especially when I’m sick (like now), she offers to tuck me into bed, kneeling at my bed and praying for me like I do with her.

I thank God for delighting me with this new discovery: of what it means to really love someone. For allowing me to see how I can give more and surrender more, to be all He has asked and to live out His commands. It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s rarely easy. But when I see that my biggest obstacle is myself, I begin to be a part of the solution. After all, love begets love. And the Source of love is much bigger than you and me.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  – John 15:13

A cozy nook… and love

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I find it interesting how commonalities draw us closer to people and build bridges of relationship and trust. Too often, I think, we walk with people who look and sound like us. And we don’t reach out to those around us who are different, or already “in”. Yet isn’t that the spice of life? Isn’t that the beauty of this world? Didn’t God create a people who are so vastly different in personality and character that we might be challenged in how we think and believe? Honestly, how else might we find a viewpoint that shakes our world for the better?

Maybe because comfortable is easy.

For example… Currently, I’m sitting in my living room, wrapped up in a soft wool blanket, cup of coffee tucked between my leg and the couch’s arm beside me. To my right, a gas fireplace awaits a quick flick of the switch, and to my left, pillows stack high around me, tucking me neatly into a little nook, deep in the couch. My view stretches beyond the big picture window in front of me into our lush backyard, green and gold with the fall’s turning colors. Beautiful as it may be, the sky is gray and dreary, per normal November mornings, and nothing about it makes me want to go out and leave the comfort of my cozy nook.

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Yet there is something within me that says: Go out for a walk. Enjoy the cool, crisp air on your face, and the stretch of your legs. Take in the colorful countryside and swap greetings with your neighbors. It could be cold, and it might rain, but in the end, you will be glad you stepped outside of your comfort zone to enjoy something different and good.

And you know, I am almost always glad. Because at least I didn’t just sit there and watch life happen around me, wondering “what if?”

This makes me think of my boyfriend, an amazing man of God who was, upon first glance, much different from me. It definitely shook my world to invite him in. But once I did, I experienced a fantastic eye-opening that led to the most beautiful love I’ve ever known. Had I let those external differences build a barrier instead of a bridge, I would have hugely missed out. I’ve been freed from shackles and chains, able to love and let love in. I praise God every day for inviting me into this healing with Him… and for giving me the strength to persevere and go into the “uncomfortable” with Him.

The thing is, I now know. I have the “before” and “after,” the big picture. If I could just remember God’s faithfulness the next time life takes an unexpected turn! If I could just recall the process – how God broke me and challenged me… and led me into His peace and joy. I don’t want to forget that specific journey, just like I don’t want to forget all of the other stories of God’s faithfulness. It took faith to walk into that place. And I’m guessing I’ll need faith to walk many more a road ahead. Holy God, I thank you for bringing me into the uncomfortable and breaking in me that which needed breaking. For giving me more than I could have ever imagined, for loving me relentlessly, for embracing my imperfections and cleansing my heart. Your love is a symphony. Help me to continue to trust you as I go where you say to go… even if it’s the uncomfortable. Amen

“… and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road…” Genesis 24:48