Backpacking Trip

Last week I took a four day backpacking friends with some friends. My husband strongly encouraged me to go, which surprised me, since he’s so busy right now. I wasn’t sure about leaving my family, but I went.

Pack and boots
Pack and boots

***More photos to come. Waiting on my friends since I didn’t bring a camera.***

Our group started out with five women, three over fifty years in age. None of them but me had ever backpacked before. We drove to a trail head and started out; after half a mile Bonnie’s 60 pound pack wasn’t working so well. Plus our trail wasn’t taking us where we wanted to go, and the friend with the detailed topo maps had decided not to come the night before. So I hiked back to the truck and drove around to where the ladies were resting. We drove back the dirt road to the ranger station, where we picked up a map. Then we re-read our trail head description and found the right starting point. Is it amazing that we can spend six months planning to go somewhere but forget to figure out exactly where until we’re there?

We started hiking again. This time we did much better. We took a slow pace and took breaks when the trail went up hill to allow everyone to catch their breath. It was already afternoon, so we had to hike steadily until evening to make it to our planned camping spot. It rained on us during the afternoon for about half an hour. That would have been no problem, except I had convinced everyone to leave their rain gear behind to save weight because the forecast said only 10% chance of rain. Really, we only got damp and none of our gear got wet, so we managed fine. We made it to our stopping point and set up camp. By the time everyone had set up their tents, cooked dinner, and filtered water, they were ready for bed. Frogs and an owl serenaded us during the night.

Tuesday morning we woke with the sun. Those of us that had slept, that is. When backpacking there is no option but to sleep on the ground. Even with a pad, this isn’t comfortable and takes a few nights to get used to. The dew covered our tents, so we waited for them to dry before packing up.

Bonnie asked to go home. Logistically it didn’t work to walk her back to the truck without all of us quitting so she said she’d keep going. We repacked her pack, taking all of the heavy items out and giving them to her granddaughter to carry. We gave her moleskin for her blisters and she borrowed my sandals. Then we started out. First thing we had to climb out of the canyon, but as we continued on we kept a steady pace. While looking at the map, I noticed our trail joined the next trail within 0.1 mile of a forest road. “Bonnie,” I said, “if we hike to the road and get cell reception enough to call your husband, you can get a ride home.” She liked that idea. So we hiked the couple of miles to the road, texted for a ride, and got a reply that he could come. Then we ate lunch together, brought their gear to the road, and left Bonnie and her granddaughter to wait. It was sad to have them stop, but I would rather let them leave than push them beyond their physical capacity. So far, blisters were the only injury.

Only halfway to our destination, we continued hiking. The afternoon was warm, and sweat soaked our shirts. The roasted pine needles released fragrance with each step. The trail was easy to follow, crossing four small canyons. With encouragement, we reached our next camp, a spring. We had more daylight left than the previous day to set up camp, eat, and filter water. We all took sponge baths using water from the creek below the spring. I lit a small camp fire and stayed up until the stars came out, but my two companions went to bed. I enjoyed the solitude of being alone in the wild. I heard elk calling across the canyon. I thought about how I saw God’s hand everywhere around me.

Our third day we had half as many miles to go. We hiked along a creek through a sunny canyon, with tall grasses and wildflowers. To our surprise we arrived at a cabin by noon. It wasn’t on the map, but the spring next to it was our planned stopping point. My friends took naps in the scenic meadow. I hiked up a side canyon and spend a few hours reading and thinking. We had finally adjusted to the slow pace and peaceful surroundings. Backpacking is a timeless occupation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 10 or 2. There are no deadlines, only the rough plan to hike until you arrive at a certain point, which is negotiable. You hike, eat, rest, as your body needs and spend the rest of your energy soaking up the beauty of nature.

We enjoyed a refreshing night of sleep. Then after leisurely eating and packing up our gear, we hit the trail one last time. Before we knew it we saw the familiar point where we had begun our journey. My companions smelled a bit more seasoned than they had begun, but their faces reflected the fulfillment of completing the trek. We hopped in my truck and stopped to eat some burgers before driving the rest of the way home. I dropped off both friends, and just as I tried to pull into my neighborhood, the power steering pump on the truck quit and I had to muscle the wheel to make it the last half mile. Whew!

Life is just like this trip. You can decide what to pack and where you’d like to go, but you have no control over what happens to you along the way. You hope what you brought will be enough for the challenges you’ll face. Your friends can be your greatest assets. When it’s over you look back at all of the memorable challenges and say, “Wow! That was amazing! Let’s go again!”

7 Things to Do on a Bad Day to Feel Better

After my last post, I had a better day.

I cleaned the house. Especially this kitchen. Cleaning isn’t my favorite thing, but I can never relax in a messy environment. So when I’m stressed out, a clean house calms me down. If I can’t clean my immediate surroundings immediately, a break outdoors gives me a moment to regroup before tackling the house again.

messy-kitchen
Disorderly kitchen

Phone calls. Talking to someone helps me feel better. So I’ll call, text, email the people I like to talk to the most until I find someone who has time to chat. Luckily, I’m not the only one who feels better after a visit. Thank goodness for woman friends with the gift of gab! I also like to talk to the Boss. My DH knows when I am having a bad day and listens to my frustrations. I like to talk things out in the evening and tell him all of my accumulated thoughts from the day.

Check something off the to-do list. I always have a looong list of projects. Some are easy, some hard. Most I never even start because (a) the house isn’t clean, and (b) taking care of numero uno priority (aka kids) takes all my time and energy. But if I feel stagnant, getting a project done really helps me feel happy. Especially if I get to use some creativity. So, after last week, I painted color on the bottom half of my bathroom wall to match the shower curtain.

Service. Doing something for someone else can help me feel better. I see how everyone has bad days and needs a pick up once in awhile.

One-on-one time. Taking care of all of my kids together can be overwhelming. But spending time with just one of them very enjoyable. Each has a constantly changing personality to explore. Quality time is my love language, so when I spend quality time with someone else, I feel loved.

Count blessings. Sometimes hard when you’re trying to be cranky, but I eventually have to acknowledge that I have lots more positives than negatives in my life.

Connect with God. Reading scriptures, meditating, and praying all help me center myself and remember my perspective. I love to attend the temple because I do all three. Spirituality nourishes the part of us that can overcome the trials of life.

singing-hymns

Easter: Everything good happens because of Him

I look around at the world. The plants are blossoming, the world has been reborn as it is every spring. I think how God created this beauty, from the oceans and mountains to the molecular structures and biochemical processes of life. TulipsI notice my new baby. He has come alive. From complacent newborn he’s grown into a curious infant. He can scoot across the room and explore things that capture his attention. He brims with happiness over his new-found abilities. He freely shares his gushing happiness with anyone around.

I am surrounded by love. My children and husband gush over me. Tell me how much they love me. They notice my moods. Sometimes when I am quiet, they come up and give me a hug.

The message of Easter is all of this and more comes because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus-Christ-at-the-wellHe created the beautiful Earth and all life upon it. The purpose of this splendor simply to witness of His love for us. He implemented God’s plan for His children by creating Adam and Eve, our first parents, and beginning family units.

Jesus makes it possible for little children to be born into the world innocent. They are alive in Him. They exemplify the beauty of heaven that we cannot remember yet yearn to return to.

Jesus was born into the world to experience all of the pain of mortality. He felt all of the emotions, physical pain, spiritual stretching, and uncertainty that comes with life. He felt the weight of the sin of all mankind in the garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross. He died.

Then he took his body again and became a resurrected being. He overcame death. He overcame sin and all mortal imperfections. He uses his power to reclaim all of mankind and offer us the blessings He received. He loved us and did not forget any of us in His miraculous mission. He and our Father focus completely on us, their children.resurrected-christ-wilson-ongAfter this life is over, God wants to share with us “all that He hath.” (Luke 12:44). He wants to take the little fragments of happiness that we have experienced here and make them into an eternal reality. Jesus Christ made this possible. Everything from creating the Earth through redeeming God’s children is encompassed in Jesus’ divine mission that He fulfilled when He rose the third day.

He is risen!

If you like this post, consider reading Because He Lives: Meditations on Christ

Motherhood: watching children suffer

After nine months of anticipation, patience, impatience, and discomfort, I delivered my baby boy. He was big, a lusty nine pounds five ounces, and absolutely perfect. Then my husband pointed out a patch of skin on his temple that looked slightly different. It didn’t make much difference to me; he was still my perfect baby.

newborn baby boy
my newborn baby

Because of that patch of skin, we went to see a dermatologist, then a pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon. Last week, I took my baby to the hospital for surgery so it could be removed. No one in my family has required surgery for anything before, let alone a baby. I felt anxious about the risks, even though it was a minor procedure.

I prayed. I prayed that everything would go well. I prayed for the surgeon. I prayed that my baby wouldn’t have any adverse reactions to anesthesia. I prayed for his happy little self to continue on in life without any hindrance. Babies are so precious, partially because they are so innocent. They obviously have done nothing to deserve the unfairness of life, yet they take everything in stride with even more patience than adults. They are also precious because of their potential; their life is a wide open opportunity to achieve something. It is heartbreaking to see that potential lost when a child dies.

Fortunately, my prayers were answered in the way I asked. I cannot even begin to imagine the stress and anxiety of Moms whose babies have chronic conditions that regularly take them to the hospital. My little experience was so minor in comparison. Baby had his surgery and I got to hold him in my arms as he woke up.

baby_surgery_pediatric_hospital_recovery
my baby recovering from surgery

I brought him home and he has returned to his happy little self. I wonder why we even had to have the experience. Why the extra stress, expense, time? I don’t know, except that I trust God who has engineered our experience in mortality to teach us lessons we could get in no other way. My baby will never remember this experience, but he’ll have a scar. I, on the other hand, will never forget it.

baby with a bandage from surgery
baby with a bandage after surgery

I love my children. But I know babies don’t stay perfect and innocent. Each precious baby will grow and make mistakes. Motherhood brings with it potential for heartache. I hope my children achieve their full potential as adults. Even if they don’t, I will love them. I would never go back to the person I was before I became a mother. This experience was just a taste of the heartache a mother feels. Life hurts sometimes.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life.

-Thomas S Monson

If heartache is what helps me become the person God wants me to be, then it is worth it.

Children restored

Today I read the Book of Mormon and found this gem:

For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the flesh; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer. 2 Nephi 10:2

This verse took on a different meaning to me this time. I picture Jacob, a righteous leader and father thinking about his children’s future. Inevitably, being righteous is hard and some fall away. Life is hard. Yet God is still merciful. He understands that we struggle through life’s journey. Sometimes we are casualties in the fight.

young-children-grassy-trees
All of God’s children are precious.

I love how it says “our children shall be restored.” One interpretation is the return of the House of Israel to righteousness in the latter days. But what about all of the casualties between Jacob’s day and the latter days? Those children are precious too. This time it occurred to me that through the temple, all children of all time have the opportunity to accept the gospel message of salvation. That is comforting to me, because I look at my children and think how precious they are. I would hate to lose a single one, yet I can’t force their choices. All of us are God’s children, and He considers us all precious. Even generations of children who lived without the gospel. Through the grace of God, because of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are all given a chance to accept everything God can offer us. And Christ is not finished until every child has been redeemed.

The Eternal Reality

 

The future plans God has for us are more grand and glorious that anything we can imagine.  They include mansions and thrones and power beyond belief.  So when a child dies and our heart breaks for all the things unsaid and memories never made, we are crying because we can’t see.  When everything seems lost, we must remember that Christ calmly gave up everything.  His mission is to prepare us for the role we will play in his Heavenly Kingdom.  Our job is to follow his direction and prepare even if life throws curve balls and we find ourselves being taught through suffering.  There is a purpose to it all.  We can’t see it, but He can.  Every promise He has ever made will be fulfilled.  We can count on that.

-from Andrea M, post “The Eternal Reality”

angel weeping statue

I wonder what God thinks of His children, us, sometimes. We know He thinks of us as children. He loves us and wants us to grow. In heaven, we were “nurtured near His side” (Eliza R Snow).

I look at my young children and laugh at the things they do as they’re learning and trying. I look at them with love and understanding and mercy. I love their innocence; their honesty. I know they will succeed eventually if they keep trying.

As my children grow, they will reach the period in their lives where they pull against me, testing out the limits of their freedom. They will have to take what I’ve taught them, evaluate it, and compare it to what they see in the world around them. Then in their hearts, they will choose what they believe. I fear for that time, because I know they could choose to walk a path that leads to heartache.

I think mortality is our spiritual adolescence. God taught us everything He possibly could, but there reached a point where we needed a place of freedom to test ourselves and find out what our hearts would choose. We couldn’t be tested in God’s presence, because who wouldn’t choose Him if they could see His glory and love all around? Life was devised as a Divine experiment, not for God, but for us.

We will succeed eventually if we keep trying, through the grace of God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Someday, (not now–after our mortal life), we will see ourselves the way God sees us (1 Samuel 16:7, D&C 76:94). Our bias will fall away, we’ll know our own hearts, and we’ll confess that His plan was perfect.