July 12, 2013

Cherry Sweet

In our little apartment here in Paradise, down the street from my mom, there is a golden raspberry bush outside the door. Baby has decided that it's his personal snack bar. Every time we go outside he either makes a beeline for the bush or the tractor if it's in sight. Baby paradise.
    Over the past few days we have gotten just about all of the ripe berries off of the raspberry bush that we can. Today he noticed the cherries for the first time. The orchard is wonderful to wander around in and the trees make him happy but today the cherries actually got his attention. He snagged one and gobbled it down before I could reach for it, pit and all. Then he went for another one and laughed as his little face was covered in cherry juice. It made me smile.
     Now I need to keep him away from the trees for a few more days, until the cherries are harvested. Maybe they can bring the tractor back.

July 8, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

Sometimes in life you find yourself in a place you didn't expect. You might be just driving right along, paying attention to your GPS, thinking you programmed it correctly, when WHAMO, you are in the middle of a very rocky road with no way to turn around and no idea how long it will continue. Sometimes life is just like that.

When we saw on the GPS it was sending us to a place we had never been before, we weren't too concerned. We knew the area fairly well and were up for a little adventure. And the miles to home were short, but the time to get there wasn't. Maybe it should have been a clue. Don't we look for the easy way so many times? Thinking shortcuts are good, and we will be able to have a little fun on the way, we take the way we have never been before, with the best of intentions.

When we came to the end of the paved road and saw a sign that said "primitive road ahead", we might have thought twice about it. Instead we were looking forward to seeing something new and different.  I often think that just because someone has gone the path before me and knows the turns in the road, doesn't mean it's the best road for me and a little adventure is good for my soul. I often disregard the path others have followed, only to find myself right back on that very path, after some major detours and heartache that could have been avoided. Following the roadsigns provided us usually sends us in a good direction.

When the Primitive Road turned from gravel to dirt, again we could have turned around. By this time we were a few miles into it and the miles to home counter had ticked down significantly. We thought, "how hard could the road ahead be?". Sometimes with our end goal in mind, we disregard the proven path. We lean to our own understanding.

When we saw deer, elk, wild turkeys and several heard of free ranging cattle, we were grateful and excited. Our road continued to get more and more rocky, but we were seeing some great things, it was a beautiful forest and we were still enjoying ourselves. Our speed was getting slower and slower due to the rocky road ahead. We should have had an idea that the road was not going to get easier. I often get distracted on my path with the amazing things around me. Good friends, busyness of life, kids, cars, errands, callings, and general craziness. Some of these are good things to be distracted with, but sometimes they are still distractions from the Plan for me and my life. They take me away from doing more important things, nourishing myself and my family.

Soon we realized we might have made a mistake by driving so far off the beaten path. We were driving a small car, it was past dinner time, our kids were starting to fuss in earnest and the road was bad. Very bad. The rocks were big and our car clearance was low. We were going very, very slow. We had spotty cell service and I was able to get a text out to my sister telling her where we were and what had happened. I sent her our GPS coordinates, just in case they needed to send a search party out for us. It was too late to turn back. It was getting later and later and going back up hill would be infinitely more difficult in our car in the dark. The turns were not clearly marked and several times we were confused as to what direction we should go. Maybe we should have called for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Everyone needs help and support now and then. It's so easy for us to want to be independent to the point of stupidity. I had sent out my location, but did not ask for help, thinking none would be available to me. Help is always there. In the form of prayer, friends, family and our communities. Sometimes in our narrow view we think we are beyond help, but that is never the case.

A few more turns down the road and we came across another traveler. They were in a van, had been going too fast for road conditions and had gotten a nick in their brake line and were leaking brake fluid. They had none, and while we thought we did, we didn't either. We came up with a plan that would keep us together to help each other and get both vehicles running. We said that we had to go slow, really slow, and the other driver agreed. We left together and stayed together about half a mile, when he decided to not hit his brakes so much and left us behind. When we came to a turn, we knew we had a decision. Go the same direction as the van who had left us behind in case they got into more serious trouble or go the shorter direction we were being sent by our omnecient GPS. How often do we really look after our fellow man, even when we know what they are doing isn't the correct thing? How often do we really love each other, care for one another, even when people aren't being loveable? We went in the direction of the van, even though it would add time on the rocky road to our trip.

We had to stop at the top of the mountain for a while. Our baby needed a break and our daughter was scared and sad. We all got out, got put together, looked at the glorious mountain, reunited as a family and got back in the car. We have to work together in our lives as families and friends. Sometimes things are hard, and even when they are hard of your own making, you stick together. Working through things together is uniting and gratifying.

We kept an eye out for the van, but didn't see him. It took several more long, slow minutes to get off the mountain.We followed the directions of our GPS and eventually, after much recalculating, found our way back to a dirt road. Sometimes when I go off on the wrong path, I disregard further directions I had been given, thinking they were for my previous path, not my current one. That makes my journey all the more difficult. I forget that my directions are also recalculated according to where I am and what direction I am currently heading in. What a tender mercy.

Finally we found our way to pavement. Our 2 hour trip had taken almost 5 hours. Sometimes at speeds of 3 mph or less. We hit some rocks, had to go around obstacles, had to turn around, make difficult decisions, learned we weren't as prepared as we could have been and were extremely grateful for having made it through it all. A few miles down the paved road, we saw the van and a tow truck. He had also made it down safely, but his van was in trouble. We are often not as grateful for the hard experiences as we should be. They teach us, guide us, help us rely on others more and offer insights we would not have otherwise gotten. What blessings they bring.

We got home very late, fed our kids pizza and cookies and sent them to bed happy, sunburned, and safe. Then we decided to be more prepared, ask more questions, follow the path others have traveled safely and be more grateful. And to not take that road again.