Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July gifts: church camp

Finally catching up on all the summer gifts to add to my 1000 gifts list. 

666. Visiting Blaze and Dreamer at church camp
Our church had a summer camp for kids for the first time this year, and the Snowy Range Lodge had just finished constructing a beautiful outdoor chapel for their daily chapel time. B. and I visited the girls for their chapel time in the middle of the week and afterwards the girls were excited to show up their cabin.

667. God's word is not chained
2 Tim 2:9:  Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained.

668. Practicing memory verses on long drive back and forth to Cheyenne
It's a 45 minute drive from Laramie to Cheyenne for my OA meetings, and after a while I get bored listening to music, so I've been working on my memory verses: Psalm 34, Psalm 84 and Psalm 19.

669. The twins swimming on their own
B's sister Monica invited us to join her and her extended family for their reunion in Winter Park, Colorado, which meant the kids had unlimited access to the resort swimming pool for a couple days. The twins (six years old) started out with water wings but so much time in the water, wasn't long before they were doggy paddling on their own

670. Blaze's "ride to music"
Blaze competed in the county fair horse show this year, placing in some of the English classes and an exciting 2nd & 3rd place in barrel racing and pole-bending. But the highlight for both of us was putting together her own "choreography" for the "ride to music" class. She started out side-passing, backing, and full-turn-on-the-quarters with her horse Spring to a slow piece of music (Hymne by Vangelis) and then switched to a fast song, Butterfly by Aqua), trotting and cantering patterns, picking up and swinging her prop (a big butterfly on stick) and finishing with jumping with her hands up in the air! 

671. Dreamer's "blue ribbon" poster for county fair

672. Gratitude is antidote to self pity
One of my friends at the OA meeting shared this saying.

673. Bunnies
We have seen an unusual number of rabbits this year, and there are baby rabbits in my parents' backyard that the girls love to try to "sneak up" on. 

674. Moose on my walk
On a twilight walk around my neighborhood, I noticed a couple police cars with flashing lights driving up and down our main street. One of them passed me, then stopped and warned me that there was a moose in the neighborhood and that I should get inside. There are actually more moose attacks than bear or mountain lion attacks, so I know it's wise to keep your distance from these giant animals. I was too far from home so I ended up on a neighbor's porch as we watched the young female moose trot right up the street past us, casually step over a fence and disappear over the hill behind the neighborhood.

675.  Expanding my comfort zone
I came across this post on the Zen Habits blog (not a religious blog) and it really made me think about how fear of discomfort can limit my opportunities and full experience of life.
Think about the major problems in your life — from anxiety to lack of regular exercise to a bad diet to procrastination and more.
Pretty much every one of these problems is caused by a fear of discomfort.
Discomfort isn’t intense pain, but just the feeling you get when you’re out of your comfort zone.
Eating vegetables for many people, for example, brings discomfort. So does sitting in meditation, or sitting with a hard task in front of you, or saying No to people, or exercising. (Of course, different people are uncomfortable with different things, but you get the idea.)
And most people don’t like discomfort. They run from it. It’s not fun, so why do it?
The problem is that when you run from discomfort all the time, you are restricted to a small zone of comfort, and so you miss out on most of life. On most of the best things in life, in fact. And you become unhealthy, because if eating healthy food and exercising is uncomfortable, then you go to comfort foods and not moving much. Being unhealthy, unfortunately, is also uncomfortable, so then you seek distractions from this (and the fact that you have debt and too much clutter, etc.) in food and entertainment and shopping (as if spending will solve our problems!) and this in turn makes things worse.
Amazingly, the simple act of being OK with discomfort can solve all these problems.
This is a discovery I made a few years back, when I was trying to change my life. I started by trying to quit smoking, but I hated the feeling of having an urge to smoke and not actually smoking. It was uncomfortable to resist that strong urge. My mind resisted, tried to make up all kinds of rationalizations for smoking. My mind tried to run from this discomfort, tried to seek distractions.
I learned to sit and watch the discomfort. And when I did, incredibly, it wasn’t too bad. My world didn’t end, nor did my mind implode. I was just uncomfortable for a bit, and then life moved on....
I repeated this process for changing my diet, for getting out of debt and not spending so much, for beating procrastination, and so on...  It's actually a good thing - when you are uncomfortable, you are trying something new, you're learning, you're expanding, you're becoming more than you were. Discomfort is a sign that you're growing.

676.  Where I Belong, by Building 429 - Dreamer fell in love with this song at church camp and actually memorized the whole song!

Sometimes it feels like I'm watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I'm breathing but am I alive
I won't keep searching for answers that aren't here to find

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July gifts: riding in the Bighorn mountains

I'm only now finally getting around to posting some things from this summer... 

Eighteen or nineteen summers ago I first came to the Bighorns Mountains in northern Wyoming and hiked the forest roads and trails going over Rt 14 and 14A, awed by the great open vistas and the carpets of wildflowers. I saw a forest ranger riding a horse, and vowed that someday I’d come back not just to hike but to ride these great broad swaths of meadow between mountains crags and fragrant spruce forests. 

652. That 18 year long dream to ride in the Bighorn Mountains is finally fulfilled! 
 The ride this morning made me joyful beyond measure, not only riding here finally at last, but with my whole family. B. rode Tuffy, I road Tia, Blaze rode Strike, Dreamer on Spring, and Starlet and Serious took turns riding Rebel with the other riding behind someone else.

653. Saving a nest of baby birds
Yesterday on our drive up from Laramie, we stopped at Sanford’s in Casper for lunch, and B. discovered that there was nest of baby birds up underneath the trailer hitch. We’d taken them away from their parents! The girls were all kinds of worried about the little birds and spent hours catching grasshoppers and grubs feeding the baby birds with a pair of tweezers. 

654. Perfect camping/riding spot
It took us a couple tries, but we found a beautiful spot with water and grass for the horses  (and trees to "high line" them; the safest way to tie horses) AND a beautiful view for us: Forest road 145 (off of 15)

655. Building a forest fort
 The girls right away found a makeshift “fort” that some other kids must have built in among the trees, and they started industriously fixing it up and adding to it

656. Discovering a stream
After riding the horses up to the top of the bald hill, right up close to a tremendous cliff, we went back to camp and then explored the forest trails behind our meadow. After just a few hundred yards we found a little stream and which is a relief as our trailer’s tank leaked out yesterday during travel. All the horses except Tia (who is spooked by running water) had a long drink. Strike gave Blaze and Starlet a scare while they were riding him.  He got stuck in the mud along the stream and actually went down on his knees for a moment but recovered quickly without freaking out (good horse!) 

657. Horses loose grazing in a mountain meadow
As I am typing this under a spruce tree at the edge of the meadow, with my magnificent view of the mountains, three of our horses are grazing near me (loose on their lead ropes) – we figure they won’t go too far from the other two horses that are still tied up. (hopefully).

658. Porcupine Falls
This was too far away to ride too, but worth the half hour drive to visit, and the steep mile hike down into a deep canyon. I have never seen a falls like this before, where a small stream breaks off from the main falls and goes through a tunnel before it comes out again!

659.  Acting like a granny
Starlet amused us by imitating "Granny" from the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift.

660. Wildflowers and sage
My poor camera doesn't do the great vistas justice, or the close up details of all the wildflowers - especially the pools of purple lupine. Even the sage is beautiful. B. grew up in Wyoming, so sagebrush is common like a weed to him, but I love it, the silver leaves and the wonderful "western" smell of crushed leaves

661. History watching over us
B. said there is a lot of history in these mountains - Indians and fur trappers and mountain men. He felt like the forest was haunted, but not in a bad way: not ghosts – more like history is watching over us.

662. Twin fawns, moose, elk
Just some of the larger animals we got to see on this trip!

663. Crossing a stream on our horses
On our second day we took another trail ride, down in a valley with a big winding stream at the bottom. The stream made so many loops the girls fancied it spelled "M O M". Of course the girls wanted to make the horses cross the stream as many times as possible... and of course I was riding the one horse (Tia) who doesn't like crossing streams! I had to get off and let B. get on her to "convince" her to finally cross, but after the first crossing she did just fine. Here's a picture I took from Tia's back as we approached the "scary" stream.

664. Horse hugs
My beloved old horse Rebel giving Serious a "horse hug" (nuzzle). Serious never leaves Rebel’s side for more than a few minutes and she has “taken over” feeding him taking care of him on this trip, though mostly he just leads him around to where she thinks he should go. 

665. My handsome man and his handsome horse (Tuffy)