How I Became His On Unexpected, Redeemed Dates

The special swing: the scene of my risk taking and a late evening proposal
The special swing: the scene of my risk taking and a late evening proposal

The Scene—A Sacred Place in a Special Town

It was August 2, 2014, and I (Loral) was going to be maid of honor in one of my best friend’s wedding celebration in Grand Rapids, Ohio, a town that had been a refuge for me during the last five years of city life in Chicago.

During those previous five years, my friend and I, as single ladies, would have visits about three or four times a year. We would pray diligently about all the circumstances of our lives, with a significant portion of the prayer being for our future husbands. Whenever we could, we would sit on a swing on the banks of the Maumee River. It was such a beautiful place.

My friend had actually met her husband along the river, and they had gotten married the previous September 7th there, but were now having the bigger party a year later for family and friends.

Originally the celebration was supposed to be in May, but because my friends husband was in the army, and away, it had to be moved back to August.

These are all important facts to my story. You see, I hadn’t even met Seth in person in May. By August, however, we had become quite serious about each other. I had invited him to come to my friend’s wedding as my date.

Taking A Risk

I was a bit nervous because previously when I had been dating, if the guy wanted to bail, a wedding was a sure fire excuse. But, Seth had laid some pretty strong hints that his intentions for me were permanent.

So, I took a huge risk. I took him to the swing where we had prayed. I told him the story of how we had prayed for our husbands there, and that I believed that he had all the characteristics that I had ever prayed for. I genuinely wanted him to know, and I could tell, to my relief, that his heart was delighted.

But I had taken this risk when I didn’t have that much time before I had to be with the bride to get ready, so there wasn’t much time for discussion. It was a sweet moment, and I left it at that.

A Lovely Time

We embraced, got up, and I went on to get ready for the wedding and the evening. I gave a toast for my friend, Seth and I talked much throughout the celebration, and the wedding ended with fireworks. It was truly a picturesque evening. I was so glad Seth was with me.

An Unexpected Walk

After the wedding was over, he was going to drive me back to the bride’s parents house, where I was staying and he would go back to his hotel. Just as I got in the car, he said, let’s go back to the swing. I gladly said OK, but didn’t think anything about it since we didn’t have much time before.

We held hands, walked along the riverbank, looked at the moonlight and then went back to that swing.

The Mood Shifts—And Our Lives Change Forever!

We were hugging on the swing, and all of a sudden he was very quiet and serious. He said I have something to ask me, but warned me it was all out of order, and then, there on that swing, where I had prayed for a husband for several years—he asked me to marry him!

You know we have this blog and we are married now, so you know I said a resounding YES! But where it was was so special!

I never dreamed THAT place where I cried over previous heartaches, and prayed diligently for a future spouse would be where I would get engaged.

The Additional Importance of the Calendar—Redeemed Dates

You see, initially, when the date was postponed to that date—August 2nd, back in May before I met Seth, I cringed. Why, because that was the date my divorce had been final 15 years earlier, at the young age of 27.

How incredibly painful, I thought, to go to a wedding alone, again—on the anniversary of my divorce—the day my dream for being a young wife and mother died. But I loved my friend so much that there was no way I was not going to be a part of her special day.So I told her of course I would be there.

Now however, not only was it special for her, but now that date is completely redeemed for me as well—and one of a special celebration.

And, we didn’t plan it this way—it just happened this way because my family was already going to be in Tennessee on September 7, so we got married on that date.

That date, as I had said earlier is the same wedding date that my friend had gotten married the year before. When that date had come and gone the year before, I had been sad because my single prayer partner and another one of my best friends was now married. I knew things wouldn’t be the same after that.

I never dreamed that a year later I would also be getting married on her one year anniversary!

I praise God and thank him for bringing happiness to our stories so close together—and how sweet He is for even redeeming the dates!

Do you have a sweet story to share but don’t know where to start? Let me help you formulate a blog post, article or book. I’ve been helping others get their stories out there for nearly 20 years, and I’d love to help you to. To learn more about my professional services, visit Cowriterpro.com and contact me.

 

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?

The Best Path Ever

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I (Loral) collect these little signs on our adventures sometimes. This one says “The best path I ever took was with you.” We found it in a little town near Rock Island State Park, a day that taught us about taking our time and building in margin in the Summer of 2015. This sign spoke volumes to me because the two stick figures are so happy just to be together—just like my Hiker and me.

You see, for me, it really doesn’t matter where we go.

We can be walking anywhere—on a city greenway, checking out a neighborhood trail, hiking in deep pines of a Tennessee State Park, or checking out a body of water or famous beach at a National Park/Federal area. We’ve done all of that in the two years that we have known each other.

We can be living anywhere—in our city apartment, our country home, house/pet/baby sitting at a friend’s house (as we often do) or staying in a budget motel, which is necessary when we are on an adventure and encounter a storm.

We can be going anywhere—to our town’s summer festivals, or stop and spend hours at a small quaint town in between destinations. We can even be traveling groupies to attend a concert of our favorite band. We can be traveling just to see family or friends—on a train, in the car or on a plane.

I really didn’t think this level of companionship and enjoyment would be possible, and, although we do have our differences as we’ve shared in several posts, we love being middle-aged nomads.

One of the reasons why it doesn’t matter where we are is that I simply love being with my Hiker! He loves that I go with him (on the trail). And I love to go with him.

He makes it easy because he cares for me so well! Not only does he think of equipment, routes, snacks and all the practical things, but he also feeds my mind with conversation. It can be deep conversations about faith, our future and what’s happening in the world, or it can simply be  “plays on words” that we love as writers. He also has a bunch of eight-year-old humor! And while I know some find it corny, it usually cracks me up—although if I’m tired like I am today, I may not get it at first!

I also really appreciate that he is usually in rocking shape with a physique that puts many men in his age category to shame. I have to work a bit harder than he does to lose that bit of married happy fat I have found, though, but I am working on it! Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some success stories about that this fall!

I guess the point is that when you love and respect each other, the path you find yourself can be smooth or rocky, steep or flat, concrete or grass covered—but it all can be treasured.

I thank God for this amazing man and for the amazing life God allows us to lead together. We’re so grateful!

Are you on a path that inspires you? Do you have a story that you would like to tell to share with others who are just getting out there but you don’t know where to begin? Let me (Honey) help you. I’ve been helping corporations, small businesses and authors help get their message out there for nearly 20 years—and I’d love to help you too. Visit cowriterpro.com for more about my background and please feel free to contact me.

Sleeping Comfortably with Big Agnes

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the Mother of Comfort…

No Silly! My Honey is fit and cute—Big Agnes is the name of her sleeping mat.

Sleeping comfort is probably the most important thing to get worked out. You could argue that staying warm in winter and cool in summer or that eating for sustained energy is the most important…so maybe it’s a tie with a bunch of other stuff but it is nevertheless super important.

Getting it right is a process that may take trying a few different kinds or having a different kind for different types of outdoor adventure. But being comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay asleep is a top priority. You will also need to think about how far you are willing to carry how much weight. What size is the mat when rolled up in your pack and how will it fit in your tent. Does it have a surface you will slip off of? Will it make a squeak or crunchy sound when you roll over? Will it keep out the cold from the ground below you?

I’ll give you the condensed version of my sleeping mat journey and I hope it helps:

1.I slept in my sleeping bag on the ground without a mat at first. This is the toughest sell your brain will have to do to your body to keep doing it after the first few nights. My buddy Walt did it for a while too and left the shape of his sleeping body in the melted snow beneath him under his tent. It was funny to look at the next morning but he didn’t sleep well. If you are like me, you will have to try it for awhile. I had to know that I was tough enough to sleep on the freezing hard ground…not sure why but I had to find out. I think I had a bit of a romanticized notion from the characters of Zane Grey westerns and Ernest Hemingway’s life in my imagination. After I got that out of my system, I went looking for an improvement.

2. I borrowed a full length mat that was light weight and had a little insulation effect but was very thin. I liked it well enough that when my friend, Randy, got a better one and offered it to me, I received the gift eagerly.

3. I finally broke down and went comparative shopping on line for myself. I hate to shop but I was ready to spend a little money and up my comfort. I learned that the left overs from two seasons back can be bought for about 70% off and my favorite place is sierratradingpost.com.  I settled on the “mother of comfort” a Big Agnes Dual Core 25” wide and 78” long. The outer rib on both of the long edges is bigger around and helps to keep me on the mat when I roll over. It weights just at 3 lb. This is a huge mat for long hikes but I just suck it up and bear the weight for the comfort. I will go back to lighter method but for now because I had endured the cold hard ground for so long, I’m happy with my 3 lb. luxury.

4. I am currently dreaming of a much lighter one with the latest improvements in insulation and only about a pound. I’ll let you know what I decide on…partly because my Honey “hijacked” my Big Agnes:) I happily passed on my greatest sleeping comfort to have her on the trail with me!

Also remember that a rule of thumb for cost is—the lighter weight the higher dollar. In backpacking mats it really is true that money buys quality. Tougher, more insulation and lighter weight will all drive up the cost. Big Agnus has improved their mats each season and if you can splurge get the latest. If you need to be frugal, shop the discounters on line and go a season or two back.

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Do you have a funny sleepless night story? Could you improve your sleep or your Honey’s by getting a better quality sleeping mat? Sorry if you hate to shop but this one could be worth it!

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:)

Fantastical Fireflies—His Perspective

 

If you want to see a fantastical phenom, win a pass to go see the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest just behind Elkmont Campground. It is like walking into C.S.Lewis’s Narnia gone SciFi. It was whimsical, magical, spectacular, awe inspiring. We walked in expecting something grand and God did not disappoint! What a cool creation!

Several years ago I hiked up to Mount Leconte by myself and sat on the side of the mountain. It was raining so I sat on the back edge of my poncho, pulled my knees up to my chest and sat dozing in the twilight bliss of the rain splattering on my hood. One of the things that was dancing in my mind was wanting to see these fireflies I had heard so much about. I decided that I would get back here to see them the next year.

One thing led to another and year after year went by and I didn’t make it.  This year I was determined to get in and was foiled once again by my timing. You see, the park only gave out 1800 passes this year for viewers and the lottery had closed already when I logged on.  They give out 225 for each of the 8 days of the event and we missed it again!

“Ok,” I said to my Honey, “we are going anyway.” “The fireflies don’t know when the event is and they don’t know they have to mate in this one spot.” So we decided to go near the date of the park event or during it but come down the trail from a primitive campground nearby. I began calling different ranger stations to gather intel about which trail might lead through potential firefly viewing locations and what primitive site was near by. It became obvious that we would be spending a long night on the trail hiking with headlamps out and back from a primitive site and those were booking up fast too.

Discouraged, I tried one more time on a “oh wouldn’t it be nice if” moment and logged on to try to book at Elkmont Campground  in a car camping campsite. What to my bleary eyes did appear? Two sites for one night each during the event! I quickly booked one of them. I told the reservation form that we would have two cars and five people just in case my daughter, Andrea, her husband, Justin,  and our granddaughter, Blakely—that live there—could at least come up and picnic with us.

The visit turned out well too because they had just taken our granddaughter, who was five-months-old at the time,  camping the weekend before and they all loved it. She would now be coming camping for the second time in her first six months with us! They brought a tent and some supplies and met us there.

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I have the baby and everybody else is setting up camp…hehehe!

We pitched a 16’ Kelty Noah’s Tarp as an artificial sky and then pitched both tents, set up chairs and a briefcase picnic table under it. It rained and rained and rained…but cleared up long enough for us to go see the fireflies—just one more “coincident” number three. With baby Blakely in a shoulder supported carrier we  went looking for the fantastic.

Around 9:30 as it really got dark the display picked up tremendous energy. If they had been musicians in a symphony it would have been the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein performing Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (I was really into that sort of thing in the 80’s). It was jaw dropping awesome. My Honey picked up on the rhythm on the fireflies right away and would quietly count 5,4,3,2,1 and for about 8 secs they would flash like crazy and suddenly go dark…5,4,3,2,1 and bam! they would light up the woods again like 4th of July sparklers gone Fern Gully!

We came out of there stary-eyed and in awe of God’s creation one more time. Wow!

For my Honey’s perspective read her guest blog here:) It’s really good:)!!

Here is a video of a Ranger telling about the event.

Here is a time lapse video of the event one night.

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Pondering Your Path—could there be a little firefly in your life that is really putting on a spectacular show? Definitely go see these guys like we did but don’t miss the spectacular little things that are just as star studded if you look closely enough.

Thousands of Fireflies Make the Woods Magical

A Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Something magical happens when you don’t know what to expect and an experience ends up being far better than you could have imagined. We happened to get lucky and snag the last campsite in the Smokey Mountains at Elkmont campground, in an area where around 1,800 people flock to see the synchronous fireflies once a year during mating season.

I was excited to go and see some fireflies because my husband would be there and we would get to spend time his daughter, son-in-law and our baby granddaughter, but I was concerned about the weather—thunderstorms were predicted. Bears were also on my mind—after all, these mountains are where Smokey the Bear got his name—especially with the baby around. We didn’t have our bear can with us. But, once I saw that the campground looked very well used, my concerns about bears were allayed.

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The Fantastic Five—from Pop’s (Seth’s) perspective!

To deal with the weather, we put up a Kelty tarp, which we borrowed from a friend for shade on our recent beach camping trip. I’m so glad we had that tarp. It’s awesome, and we I’ve been miserable camping in the rain before. But this tarp fixed everything! We could stand up and walk around and gather at a table and hang out with hot beverages and smores without an issue. We were content in our dry campsite, and honestly we thought it might be rained out and there would be no fireflies to be seen. Seth’s daughter wasn’t sure she should wake the baby because it was so late, but her husband coaxed her along.

I also really didn’t feel well. Oh the joys of being a female and the monthly curse. But at least there were facilities here.

All these reasons would have been reason enough to stay cozy in our rain protected campsite instead of walking a short distance to check out the fireflies. I’m so glad I didn’t fink out. If I wouldn’t have gone, I am not exaggerating to say that I would have missed out on an one of the most amazing experience of my life!

I’m so glad we went—WOW! I have honestly never felt more like a little girl in an Alice in Wonderland story. How old was I? Was I in a dream?

 I walked through a dark forest, holding my husband’s arm to guide me, knowing potentially hundreds of people were around us and yet, we couldn’t’ see a thing. Everybody walked fairly quietly and orderly. Then we started seeing a few fireflies light up. Then a few more. A few more steps and then we turn around to thousands of twinkling Christmas light looking fireflies lit up, buzzed, cracking like sparklers. Their lights covered the forest floor, all lighting up at once.

 It was so spectacular. I wish I could describe what happened in a better way for you. After thtey lit up, we began to see a pattern. We would count down…3…2…1 and they would all light up again for a second or two. And then it would go dark again. Then three seconds later, the Christmas lights would appear again.

 We watched them for about an hour within a fairly small area where we were walking around. And it was an hour that I will never forget. Absolutely amazing.

I tell everyone who will listen that it was truly one of the most magical experience of my life.

My mind linked the experience to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church, which is always my absolute favorite part of Christmas. It’s so beautiful when that dark room at church lights up with candle light—representing the hope of Christ if we all acted as He did toward one another. I had that same hope and peace during that magical experience walking among fireflies—in awe and wonder at God’s creation.

If you want to go see the synchronous fireflies, you will have to do some planning—and some praying, because there is a lottery, and only a fraction of the people get in. But, if you book your campsite in advance at Elkmont, you are automatically in. Try a weeknight for best success.

I promise you it will be well worth it. You may even find it magical—like I did.

(Read my husband’s account of the same experience...it’s so interesting how differently we remember the same event!) That’s one reason why everyone should write. We all have a different take on everything we do! If you would help writing a blog, article or book, please visit cowriterpro.com, and contact me

Why Do You Hike?

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Getting down to the roots of a thing

Why do I love to hike? I get this question a fair amount—sometimes in the form of “Are you crazy?” That usually happens when I sleep on the ground by the fire in the snow or when I stay for three days in a downpour and don’t go home. But the kind of hiking my Honey and I do draws out a more gentle version of that question. Here is part of the answer:

1. At the base of what my Honey and I do is a heritage of loving the outdoors. My Dad loved nature. We took long drives just to look at the mountains and then at night we would stand silently for long periods of time in the edge of a meadow waiting for the whippoorwill to call and echo.

2. Scripture—Dad would quote Psalm 121 verses 1 & 2 from the Bible: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” There is a renewal we experience when we go get in the hills and look at the beauty—God visits us there.

3. My love of Davy Crockett—King of the Wild Frontier and his coonskin hat, a bowie knife in a leather sheath and my childhood hero.

4. My love of Daniel Boone—leather clothes and a long rifle shot well…another childhood hero.

5. Wandering off by myself to follow a rabbit trail in the snow when I was 11 hoping for a shot with my BB gun. Finding that a Fox had beaten me to it—seeing a large circle of messed up snow with furry remains every where.

6. Being in the mountains of West Virginia and walking to my Aunt’s house through the woods. Getting to hear the sound of the wind in the pines and the rush of water in the brook I was following. The peace I felt there.

7. The book My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George about the boy named Sam that leaves New York City and lives in the Cat Skills on his own for a year.

These are some of the things that shaped my thoughts and cause me now almost daily to hear the call of the mountains. These influencers are powerful but I really believe it is just hard wired in me. Hiking wasn’t really part of my family culture growing up. Dad loved nature but not hiking… but yet I loved it and was shaped by those who loved it.

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A healed and happy life!

Getting an idea of why you are who you are is useful but is not always critical to me. I like to understand it but it’s not a consuming desire. I’m happy in my own boots and my Honey is happy beside me in her boots…so I can look back and see the thread through my life and I am thankful.

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If something is broken, I encourage you to look for the contributing things and pursue the solution. I went once a week for a year to a Christian counselor when I was truly broken, angry and suicidal. The truth of how much God really loves me changed me.

If things are working, I encourage you to look for the cause so you can be thankful for it. Then spread the good news about what works.

 

 

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.

Christmas in July – Getting to Talk to Grandma on Time

Our Christmas Cabin
Our Christmas Cabin

Last Christmas was our second one together—we’ve been married almost two years now. We got to Celebrate Christ’s birth by combining lots of traditions and making some new ones. We celebrated with family before and after the big day. But on the 25th and 26th we rented a cabin in the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Tennessee. What a deal—there were running a winter half off special and we rented this cabin for a great half price winter deal and got two nights for $95.00.

We packed in the things you would expect: gifts, meal supplies, Christmas goodies, firewood, Bible, books, candles and of course, hiking gear.

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Jesus is the Light of the World—reading the story of His birth from Luke together.

Christmas day afternoon we headed out for the trail head of the Pioneer Trail Short Loop. Here is a great map of the area.

We thought we would enjoy a rainy stroll across a suspension bridge and complete the entire 2-3-ish mile loop in a couple of wet happy Christmas hours. This would get us back just in time for the family call to my Honey’s Grandma…well…or should I say Wow…that is not exactly what happened.

We left our warm toasty cabin in our rain gear covering us from head to toe. I was so delighted because my Honey is not fond of walking in the rain and was genuinely up for it this day. I love to hike in the rain so much that even at work I can feel the phantom weight of my backpack on my shoulders when a heavy down pour passes our office windows…and I smile…can’t wait for the next stormy adventure.

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A flood level Byrd Creek

We walked almost due West on the blacktop between the cabins until we reached a little access trail on the left just before the cul-de-sac.  When we reached the Short Loop we turned right and practically skipped the .2 miles to the suspension bridge. So happy to be alive and to be together on Christmas. Byrd Creek was so swollen under the bridge that it barely squeezed itself underneath.

I was practically giggling at our good fortune of getting to see such power, be in a storm and still be safe. (I wasn’t actually giggling…of course…because guys don’t do that, right?) I’m not a storm chaser but pretty close.

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Making an unusual Christmas memory

We turned left headed toward the famous bridge of arches that you see in almost every picture of this park. It was 1.6 miles away and we didn’t know if there where other bridges to cross except that one.

Shortly after turning left on the other side of the suspension bridge we got an inkling of what might be ahead—a runoff creek, the kind you only see in a storm, was so wide that we had to do a little stone hopping to cross.

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My Honey proving to be very agile crosses like a champ

We actually crossed 8 of these in that next mile—there are usually on two during normal wet periods but no limits on Christmas day!  My Strider Writer crossed every water obstacle like a champ! In several places the trail led down to the edge of the water and we had to make our own way through the trees to find the trail again.

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Hey Kemosabe! Where is the trail?

This was eating up a lot of clock and the scheduled time to call Grandma was rapidly approaching.  Hmmm…we decided to test the first bridge we came to at right about one mile and see what could be done to cross. Pleasant surprise to find this bridge…we might make it on time. It was completely in tact and solid but the far side was under three feet of water for the last 5 or 6 yards.  I went first with two hiking poles testing the ground ahead before each step—there was no current. When I crossed safely on what felt like poured concrete underneath, I turned around and went back to get Loral.  We plodded slowly through the ice cold water up to our knees to get to that call with Grandma.

This is my best “over the river and through the woods” story ever! We made it to the cabin door in time of the call. All the wet clothes went in a pile on the porch and into a thick warm blanket my Honey went. Within 10 minutes, (I wanted to do all I could to show my appreciation to her for coming on this foie that was out of her comfort zone) I had a fire started and a hot cup of her favorite tea in her hand while she talked to Grandma. It was a video call so we got to see and say hi to all those that had been able to make it to Kansas.

Mission accomplished…we got to Grandma on time!

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Do you have something going on that is turning out to be much different than what you had planned? How can you make the most of it? Is there a warm blanket, toasty fire or hot cup of tea that you could metaphorically add to make it better?