Category Archives: dating

Lessons from the Fire

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Lessons from the fire

What can we learn about life from rebuilding a fire that has nearly gone out? Do the steps to rebuild a fire sound similar to the steps you can take to rekindle passion for your spouse, your church, your job or an abandoned hobby?

I’ve spent many nights staring into the fire and thinking about life. I’ve studied the embers and asked God a lot of questions. The fire has many lessons to teach. Let’s explore one lesson together…with all the steps in how To Rebuild a Fire.

1. When the passion has nearly gone out, move evenly and with moderation in your thoughts and be slow to speak. Haste to speak and act are the enemy of rebuilding passion. It is so easy to make things worse by jumping to conclusions and flinging blame. So be thoughtful and move carefully just like you would with a dying fire.

2. Take a stand emotionally and physically if necessary against the things that are blowing out your passion. The winds of being too busy, too tired, too stressed and too distracted need to be blocked.

3. Carefully lift each piece of your schedule and position the things that excite passion toward the center of your life. Plan to do the things and say the words that brought warmth to your soul and to others when your passion was strong. Go back to what was working. Make many small adjustments like you would with a dying fire until the warmth begins to rise.

rekindle4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the warm pieces of wood. This step is suppling yourself with the tools that are oxygen to your passion. Dating is oxygen to a marriage. A class might be oxygen to a tired old job. Volunteering in a different way might breath life back into your church life. Blow away some of the ash that has covered up your true joy and give it fuel.

5. When your air is gone, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. When we get into life deep with all the doing, doing, doing, you will need to back away from the toxins of your day and draw healthy air in from time with God, reading His Word and listening to Him. Back away from too much doing and focus on being. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Keep at it! When you pick something in your life that needs to be reinvigorated, keep at it—don’t give up! Repeat till you get a flame. Be aware that it will often burst into flame just at the end of a long breath when your lungs are empty.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the flame begins to grow. Don’t try to change everything at once. Be choosy and be careful.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size of flame. Be a good manager of what you have rekindled. What ever heart desire you picked to rekindle is worth managing carefully.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind. Take steps to build in protection for what you have rescued and lay in more fuel for the future to prevent another slow decline.

My Honey is a master at knowing when to step back from the doing and focus on being. She has a connection with our Creator that is a blessing. She is a canary in the coal mine—her sensitivity to what can damage our passion for each other is an early alarm system that I trust. She loves that I do the steps to build a fire.

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What passion do you want to rekindle? I encourage you to write out the actions you will take and get started.

To Rebuild a Fire—When the Flame Has Gone Out

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Bonfire burning bright!

As fascinated as I was reading from Jack London as a child, I’m not going to retell To Build a Fire. I am, however, going to address the art of bringing back the flame when it has almost died out.

Let’s pretend that you built a fire in a fire ring and that you have cleared all flammable items for 10’ in every direction so you can leave it unattended and get your tent ready for bed. You’re crawling around in your tent blowing up the sleeping pad, rolling out your sleeping bag, hanging an led lantern and finding your night time reading. You crawl out and zip the netting. You’re eager to sit with your honey by the fire and oh no! your fire is almost out.

  1. Move evenly and with moderate speed so you don’t blow out what you have left with the wind generated by your hasty movements. Hurry is your enemy here but modulated quickness is your friend.

2. Position your body between any wind and the fire.

3. Carefully lift each piece of wood and lay the warm end in the center of the fire ring where the ashes are the warmest. Watch carefully to only pick up a stick that is cool on one end. Lay the sticks so the warm ends touch and get as many as you can together so their combined warmth begins to rise.

4. Lower your head to the surface and blow gently and steady under the wood. This will blow away some of the ash and allow any remaining embers to be exposed to more oxygen in the air.

5. When your air is gone from that breath, hold your breath and gently back away from the fire to get another good breath of air. This will keep you from drawing smoke and ash back into your lungs.

6. Lower your head and repeat the gentle steady blowing under the wood. Repeat till you get a flame. It will often burst into a small flame just at the end of a long breath.

7. Gently add tiny pieces of dry twigs and leaves until the small flame begins to grow slowly. Once again the key is gently and slowly—no sudden movements.

8. Patiently increase the size of the wood pieces until you have the desired size flame.

9. Lay larger pieces around the fire to help them dry out and to protect the fire from the wind.

If you banked your fire over night with a sizable log, this may work in the morning too. Add a step to the beginning of this list—use a stick to gently brush away the surface ash that has accumulated over any warm spot till you find 5 or 6 bits of glowing ember. Push them carefully together and start with step one above using this little pile of embers as the center.

Practice—practice—practice and this method will save you a lot of grief and provide many happy returns. Your Honey will probably be impressed. My Honey still gasps with delight when that first flame returns with a burst. See my Honey’s guest blog to see what fire was rebuilt on this day two years ago…Happy Engagement Anniversary Honey!

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Is there something in your life where the fire has gone out? Maybe with your Honey? What steps could you take to bring back the flame?

Hiking with Broken Lenses—6 Ways to See More Clearly

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Our backyard. Do you see a weed, an allergen, pretty flowers for a vase or picture? What do you lenses let you see?

Look at a beautiful mountain scene or a pretty flower and tell me what you see…  Do you see beauty, reality and imperfections? What are you focusing on? Are you seeing accurately—whats really there? I propose that we are all hiking with broken emotional lenses.

I’ve stayed in places where the mirror was cracked and my face didn’t look quite right looking back at me. I’ve worn glasses since the second grade and have had to see through real broken glass lenses. Many times on the trail I’ve had to stop and clean my glasses because of sweet, fog or rain. No matter what the condition I am only seeing what I’m seeing—it is altered by my lenses. These are some physical examples of the emotional reality I’m thinking about.

We don’t see what is real with exact accuracy when we look at the one we love. We see what we see—yes! But it comes through our culture, gender, personality, experiences, knowledge…and damage. We don’t really know what the other person is feeling or what they meant by what they said. We get better at it over time but much will always be lost because of our lenses. Here are 5 things I try to do to help me cope with my perception—what I think I see:

1.  First, I ask God to help me see her the way He does. She is His daughter first and His beautiful creation.

2. I try to remember that what I see is filtered. My Honey’s behavior is actually only my perception of her behavior.

3. I attempt to filter what I’m perceiving though who I know her to be. I try to make assumptions that give her the benefit of any doubt in the positive direction of my knowledge of her love.

4. Process any thing that hurts in a mixing bowl of all the times she has told me how positively she feels—loves and respects, trust and highly regards.

5. Ask for clarification when what I hear, see or think I experience doesn’t line up with what I know and believe about her. Then listen carefully.

6. Act on what I believe is noble, chivalrous and of good character. Lead with gracious loving sacrifice.

Do I do this well? No. She may actually give me more credit than that but I know that I am still refining this process. Perfecting the process of seeing clearly is a life long pursuit. These are some of the things that help me deal with my broken lenses and the distortion that I see while I hike with my Honey.  She’s worth all the effort!

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Before you react or even gently respond to your Honey, could you check you lenses a little bit more? Could you be a bit off in your perception of her? It’s worth some thought…yes? She is certainly worth it:)

Keeping the Edges Wild

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A Happy Birthday day at No Where Farm

Today is my Honey’s birthday—the Honey that I want on the trail with me that inspired this blog. To honor her I want to tell you about a special place that we visited for her birthday last year.

Before Loral and I met, she had been fascinated by the music of a particular artsy married couple. She loved how they looked at each other when they sang and just felt that they had something that she wanted some day with a Godly man.  She went to a few of their concerts and owned most of their CDs. This was her history with Over the Rhine—the couple: Linford and Karin.

When we began to date she introduced me to their love songs and their songs about Ohio (one of our all time favorite places is the Mawmee River in Grand Rapids Ohio).  I fell in love with their music too and it became a staple as we dated, got engaged and married.

Last year this couple, Linford and Karin, bought a farm in Ohio that they named Nowhere Farm. They had asked their fans to crowd source fund the rebuilding of an old barn on the property. It would be a place for musicians to come for training and a small venue. Their fans had crowd source funded at least one album in the past…Meet Me at the Edge of the World, I think.  We pitched in on this project to the tune of the price of two concert tickets and got invited to come see the place.IMG_2193

Instant birthday present! My Honey would rather have an experience than a gift. So we dropped everything and chased this birthday experience. Keeping the Edges Wild—a meaningful phrase that has made it into their music—fits well here for us because we are usually through planners. Linford would later tell us from the stage how his dad had advised them to leave the edges wild. And how they incorporated that into the cultivation of their land and into their music.

Hand in hand we toured the barn they are rebuilding. We picnic snacked on the pot luck style table of goodies and visited the outdoor barista. We walked the property and sat on the hood of our car staring dreamily across the pasture land and dreaming about our future…still pinching ourselves about how God had gifted us with the present.

Then the concert! What an experience for us—a couple of love birds getting to be loyal fans. We sang along outlaid and to each other like it was just us in the tent. The music was fabulous and the location was beyond charming. Karin told the crowd, “without you we’d be homeless” and Linford quipped, “Everything we own we bought with a song.” In their back yard about 500 of us enjoyed a concert. They told an interviewer later that they felt like we had truly celebrated with them.IMG_2192

We get to go back there later this year and will relive that birthday experience at No Where Farm. Happy birthday Honey! In our hiking adventures lets continue to Keep The Edges Wild.

The Sweetness of Sunsets and Sand

The Tower
The Tower

Warren Dunes State ParkThe park covers almost 2000 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is on the Michigan side beside the lower third of the lake. We could go back and spend several days hiking and enjoying the beach.  There are six miles of trails we have not hiked yet. And we have enjoyed only a few hundred yards of the three miles of shoreline. We’ve hiked to the top of the huge dune called Tower Hill twice and witnessed two of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. This magnificent rugged dune formation rises 260 feet high directly behind the beaches we played on.

Directions—We got to the park by going to Sawyer Michigan on I-94 N. We looped around under the interstate to go West on Sawyer Rd and then turned right to go a little further North on Red Arrow Hwy.

August on Lake Michigan—The climate was perfect for us. There was enough sun to lay on beach towels and toast in. There was enough coolness from the breeze to need a jacket two hours before sunset. And enough space to enjoy without being crowed.

OK I’m in the North and cold at night in August…
OK I’m in the North and cold at night in August…

Sliding down to go up—Climbing a dune is unique. To get good traction you have to step up on a natural ledge of sand if one is within reach. Even if you can step up on one of these more firm spots, you still lose about a third of the distance you covered in the step. If you just randomly step, you could lose half of the distance. Stepping and sliding gives the sensation that you are not moving at all. My heart was skipping happily along because I was experiencing this place with my Honey. But it began to seriously pound as we slowly did the step-slid to the summit.  Serious exertion but so worth it.

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Nature displaying God’s Glory

Sunset splendor—Lake Michigan is so large that with my eyes I can not see across it.  There was no shoreline or skyline to obscure the view. The sun slowly splashed in the water uninhibited and scattered color across the sky.  My beach Lady had been here a few times before but I got the splendor of the first impression. God’s glory in creation did not disappoint. In my pack we took a mat, blankets, water, camera and sunglasses. Perfectly supplied we were so happy to sit and soak up this view together and dream about our future.

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Sunsets can make you feel dreamy and contemplative

Pondering Your Path—combining beauty and the familiar can often make for an amazing moment. When she brags about the beauty of a spot, make plans to go see it together and make new memories.

Gulls and Groves on Kelleys Island

One hot summer day my Honey and I left the Ohio shore by ferry and sailed into Lake Erie. We landed on Kelleys Island, explored all over and saw two things we had never seen before.

Groovy Groves—on the north side of Kelleys Island we found the first of many fascinating sites—Glacial Grooves. After staring for some time with my mouth open…pointing…looking back and forth at my Honey and motioning for her to look at what appeared to be deep scoop marks in stone made by some beast of unfathomable size, I read the sign.

Glacier Grooves in limestone on Kelleys Island
Glacier Grooves in limestone on Kelleys Island

It is believed that these groves were cut in the limestone by a large sheet of ice.  The largest grooves like this in the world that you can get to easily. The sign went on to tell us in print that this display of power passing through left a trail about 400 feet long, 35 feet wide and as many as 10 feet deep. Glacier Groves2

What did the groovy Ice Berg say to the Limestone? I think I can dig it! … and deep grooves containing marine fossils were left behind.

Groovy Girl Grins
Groovy Girl Grins

Feeding Frenzy—Just around the time humans often eat dinner, several dozen seagulls got the same idea.  We had stopped from our island exploring to rest on a little deck that overlooked the lake. A super cute romantic kind of spot. As we gazed quietly over the large expanse of water—my arm around my lady love and her head on my shoulder—seagulls began to gather and just sit on the water.

Odd, I remarked to my Honey, that they are just sitting there so far from shore…bobbing like buoys. I didn’t know how smart Gulls are so I was really surprised when a large school of fish started jumping out of the water within 20 feet of the quietly waiting birds. All birds flapped into action to eat fresh fish. Then quiet again as the fish escaped and the gulls rocked gently like little boats on top of the water. When the fish went crazy again jumping out of the water about 20 feet away, the bird frenzy followed again. We watched spell bound as this cycle was repeated 5 or 6 times.

Feeding Frenzy
Feeding Frenzy

The gulls had gall—their quiet behavior was fishy before going fishing.

…and their bird bellies bulged.

A Deer Between Two Fears

Smokey Valley Lake in Carter Cave Park, Olive Hill KY
Smokey Valley Lake in Carter Cave Park, Olive Hill KY

On our way home from Carter Caves in Kentucky, my Honey and I both had moments of fear. Each of us had a moment  that the other took care of. My date did not know I protected her from one of her fears and she did not know that she took care of one of mine. In between these rescues we had our favorite fawn sighting.

I kept her from seeing a snake—before going home we stopped to kayak and swim in Smokey Valley Lake. It’s a little 45 acre lake in Carter Cave Park. Just as I was about to help my Honey in the kayak, I spotted a water snake. He was dashing about in a decent sized puddle beside the lake. After her reaction to the falling branch I shared in Happy Hiccups With My Honey, I didn’t think it prudent to let her actually see a snake. So I suggested she get in from the other side of the kayak (with her back to the snake). I kept my eye on the varmint while she took the front seat, shoved off from shore and climbed in my seat behind her…melt down avoided.

Ready to climb in Sunny Delight
Ready to climb in Sunny Delight

Then we found a fawn—We got a rare moment as we were exploring the lake. One of us spotted what looked like a deer in the grass about a football field away. We stopped talking and my Dear put down her oar. I quietly turned the kayak without a splash and inched toward the fawn. For about 20 minutes we crept closer and enjoyed this unusual site. About two yards up on the shore in tall grass we could finally see two ears and a dear little deer face. It was a fawn nestled down where he thought no one could see him. He was out of sight unless you were in a boat. The fawn stayed still until we got within 15 feet of the shore. I guess he finally decided that orange thing out in the water (our two seater kayak named Sunny Delight) might be sneaking up on him. He jumped up and ran for safety.Fawn nesting older

And wore life jackets like diapers—There is something about being out in deep lake water that just gives me the creeps…don’t know why. I didn’t want her to see me struggle and I sure didn’t want to miss time swimming together…so I just jumped in and pretended I wasn’t concerned. What was so cool was that she taught me a trick from her many summers on the lake in Kansas when she was a child. If you flip your life jacket upside down and put your legs through the arm holes you can sit in it. Do this at your own risk, of course, since life jackets are not made to wear like a diaper—but I loved it. We bobbed around in the water and talked for a hour or so. Then we did our best version of a seal flopping up on an iceberg to get out of deep water back in the Kayak.

Kayaking in Smokey Valley Lake Kentucky
Kayaking in Smokey Valley Lake Kentucky

I took her home and put these wonderful memories in the pocket of my mind. So glad to bring them out now and share them here.

Pondering Your Path

Have you found out later that someone rescued you from a fear? I’d love to hear your story.

Happy Hiccups With My Honey

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In yesterday’s blog I shared about our Carter Cave family outing. During those few days there were some other moments worth highlighting.

The first hiccup was when she thought we were being attacked by a bear—We arrived a little ahead of my sister and family and spent some time down by a nearby creek. It was a special romantic time of tender closeness that dating couples try to find. Our bliss was disturbed by a crashing sound in the tree branches about 40 yards away. Wow, my outdoor loving companion thought it was a bear or a mountain lion and had a meltdown. Had she not been so obviously stricken with fear, it would have been funny. I did my best to calm her with the facts about the sounds she heard. Since she is an intelligent thinking woman and she was beginning to trust me already, she latched on to my words as tightly as she had to my ribs. She relaxed as she choose to believe that the wind had worked loose a branch and this chunk of wood made a path for itself as it fell to the ground.

The second hiccup started when I parked in a handicap parking spot—I was so star struck with her by my side that I did not notice the big blue handicap symbol that I parked over top of. Later on in our dating, I got her lost in the woods because of this same power of distraction. I left my truck all night in that spot and should have gotten a ticket. The next morning I pulled out to move to another spot and went the wrong way into a dead end. She was so pleased to have this effect on me that she was amused. On our last day, my level of distraction was even higher. It was 11:00am, an hour past check out, and I had done nothing to even prepare to leave. I might still be standing there if my lovely guest had not asked if I would load her things from her room into the truck. Startled back to reality, I ran to the front desk and asked for leniency. Thankfully the front desk folks were sympathetic and didn’t charge me more money.

Pondering Your Path

Sometimes hiccups aren’t really hiccups—they are just memories that you will cherish along the way. Can you remember a time when you behaved so silly because you had stars in your eyes?

Carter Cave Kentucky

During the third week of July we went to Carter Cave Kentucky to hike and hear bluegrass music. This is another great way to combine interests. We both love live music and hiking. We also threw in a little cave tour just because.

In a cave opening on Horn Hollow trail
In a cave opening on Horn Hollow trail

The park is pretty big so for reference for directions, the resort is 30 miles west of Ashland KY. We went North on I-65 out of Nashville TN, then East on the Bluegrass Parkway. Then we wiggled around the west and north edges of Lexington to get on I-64 East. We took exit 161 for US 60 east. We stayed on that for 1.5 miles and turned left on KY 182 north. After that we just followed the signs to get the Lodge. The latitude and longitude according to the website is N 38.36902 W -83.12372. I did not mark this one myself so I can’t validate the accuracy. It took us about 5 hours with a couple of little stops.

Curious formations in a rock wall along Horn Hollow Trail
Curious formations in a rock wall along Horn Hollow Trail

This trip was actually my sister’s fun idea—she and her family were going on this adventure and they invited us to meet up with them. It was probably a sneaky way for my sister to gently interrogate my sweetheart if the truth were told. My Honey accepted the invitation when I told her that I had planned to rent her a separate room since we weren’t married yet.

We arrived in Olive Hill Kentucky, introduced my Honey to my bother and his wife and enjoyed dinner at the Smokey Valley Truck Stop. They can find the most unique yummy places to eat.

Then we went to a blue grass concert in a cave.

Band stand inside a cave!
Band stand inside a cave!

It was so cool! A bring your own chair event but be careful. Don’t unfold your chair under a steady drip from a stalactite.  The acoustics were great and the husband and wife band were truly gifted.

The trail we choose was the Horn Hollow trail. It was a two mile loop with some cave entrances featured along the way. It is scenic, hilly and takes you from the ridge to the bottom of Horn Hollow.

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Here are two links to help you get more information if you would like to  go do this too.

http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/carter-caves/trails.aspx

http://parks.ky.gov/!userfiles/aParkBrochures/Maps/CarterCaves.pdf

this cave is about the size of a 1.5 man tent and dry
this cave is about the size of a 1.5 man tent and dry

You may notice that the trail description says it’s 1.5 miles and the map says it’s 2.0 miles. This is something to watch out for and very common. A hiking venue website will sometimes have conflicting information about trails. Then when you get to the trail, you may find a different distance altogether and confusing unmarked trail crossings. I think this happens over time as trail maintenance workers make adjustments for the changes in the forest. Hikers often create unmarked trails that after a while start to look like the main trail too.

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This trail was a good choice for the mix of adults and children from the toddler my sister had in a carrier on her back to the “old man” of the group…me. We had a blast soaking in the sun, enjoying the shade and exploring the cave features.

Pondering Your Path

Would visiting a park be a good way to combine interests and get in some hiking? What park would satisfy the vacationing desires of a group of your family or friends?

Oh, by the way…my newly found hiker honey passed the sister scrutiny!

When I Thought—She Might Be My Honey

I got a hunch on our third date that this lady might be the one. We had gone out for coffee at the Frothy Monkey on our first date. I took her to a Chaffin’s Barn dinner theater for our second. Now I wanted to see if she was for real about hiking and being outdoors.

One month later on another fun trail
One month later on another fun trail

Third Date—I called her up and asked if she would like to go to Edwin Warner Park near where she lived and hike. She responded eagerly which was a great sign for me. She had been there before and knew a perfect trail. I hoped she had experience there and believed it would be public enough for her to feel safe.  I was right and so pleased that she had recent hiking activity.

Exact Snack—Because I wanted to make it special, I asked her what she would like to snack on. She impressed me again when she was precise. No wishy washy response from this girl. No guessing at what she meant. She said that she would like raw unsalted almonds and organic raisins with filtered water. I had the almonds and water already. I snagged the raisins the day before the hike and was ready with my day pack.

Great First Trail—I picked her up at the gate where she was renting because the owner did not trust me with the code just yet. A few minutes later we were gearing up for a day hike in front of the Edwin Warner Nature Center. We walked and talked for a few wonderful hours. I didn’t want this to end…this might be the one. I pushed the envelope a little and asked what she did to develop a close relationship with God. She shared about her devotional life and that she had helped to lead a divorce care class. What a unique similarity—so had I! I was definitely going to pursue spending more time with her.

Healthy Dinner—It seemed obvious to me that neither of us wanted the date to end. I offered to take her to dinner and she accepted. We were starving and settled on the hot bar at Whole Foods. After we filled our dinner boxes with a wide variety of tasty healthy things, we went outside on the patio. The summer night was perfect and we talked on and on. This food choice was another sign that this developing friendship might be long term.IMG_0868

We are married now and pursuing our passions together. We are so blessed to abide in Christ together; to celebrate the outdoors together; and now to get to write together. I can hear the clicking sound of her fingers on her lap top from where I am writing my blog. She will probably beat me by publishing her blog first tonight but that is ok. I can’t wait to read her latest episode of Clive The Cat when I’m finished.

Pondering Your Path

Are you putting effort into making adventures special? Be a student of your lady—it pays off!