Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blessings on a Road Trip (part1)

     Since I have been so busy on this road trip, I decided to combine two things and share the results with you. I am a fan of Ann Voskamp and have been actively participating in her "Joy Dare." It is a way to come up with one thousand things to be thankful for in a year. I've printed the monthly calenders and every day come up with three "gifts" from that day's guide (ex: something on a plate, something in a box and something hanging up.) Some of the days are harder than others. I've kept them in a scrapbook, and between the guide and her blog, it has helped me go back to being a more hopeful person. This road trip has made it hard to keep up using the calendar, and I really wanted to blog today, so here are a list of blessings that have happened since we left on the 16th.

June 16th: Great weather as we drove. Arriving safely in Howe, Indiana earlier than expected. Being able to bite back disappointment when the places I wanted to see were closed. Eating at Golden Budda. Running into Owens old friends and it leading to a wild reunion with the whole family. Excellent ice cream from a local shop. The storms going around us overnight. Spending less than $20 on food.

June 17th: Fourteen hours of driving allowing us to make it to Kearny, Nebraska. Great weather and very little construction traffic. Seeing four amazing wind farms off of I-80! Eating leftover chinese food that I reheated over a propane back-packing stove in the middle of a rest area! A comfortable hotel and spending less than 20 on food.

June 18th: Rest stops being in close vicinity when my stomach started protesting. Getting to Chris and April's house in just over five hours. Being able to spend time sitting and talking with them. Enjoying Aprils cooking. "Raid Style" shopping with April inside of Kohls. Having them teach us a new card game and me actually liking it. A wonderful nights sleep. Spending less than $15 on food.

June 19th: Getting to show Owen all around Colorado. Having a great tour, delicious tea and a yummy lunch at Celestial Seasonings. Going down the alpine slide at Heritage Square (and Owen nearly running me off the track). Spending time wandering around the Geology Museum in Golden. Having a great dinner with April. Spending less than $20 on food (ice cream splurge again!). Findiing out I made it to the 2nd round of interviews for Bridgeway.

June 20th: Seeing Anita and her salon again and having a great conversation. Seeing Cheri Lorenz again and more wonderful catching up. Visiting Hammonds Candy factory and the memories it brought back. Thinking of the smile on moms face when she sees how much candy I bought for her...she loves Hammonds Candy. Getting to my cousin Sherrys house on time! Enjoying great food and wonderful conversation with her and her husband. Meeting my adorable cousins Jack and Ben. Good sandwiches at Quiznos and keeping with the under $20 budget.

June 21st: The crack of dawn phone interview with #Bridgeway Homeschool Academy going wonderfully. Spending the day in the Nature and Science Museum with Sherry and Jack and Ben. Laughing a lot! The joy of having two bright boys with us and the amazing understanding they had for kids so young. The smiles whilst watching Ben play with toy planes and cars. Another great meal and good conversation.

June 22nd: Estes Park! Amazing joy as we walked and shopped and talked and ate our way through the day. Finding out a hiking pole works better than my cane.Poppys pizza and the memories that came with it. Dinner cooked in the campsite. Seeing the Milky Way for the first time in too many years and the time spent looking up. Finding out I made it to the final round for the position at Bridgeway!

June 23rd. Spending the morning in #Rocky Mountain National Park. Not getting altitude sick (those who know me well are laughing.) Seeing elk. Hiking for the first time in almost two years and not having issues during or after. Sitting peacefully by a river. A scenic route drive to Buena Vista and all the beauty of it. Dinner cooked over a backcountry propane stove. Hummingbirds and  ground squirrels keeping us entertained. A good nights rest. Still under budget for food!

June 24th: A calm Sunday spent staying close to camp. Having the best microbrew beer in the state. Spending an hour in a private room at the Salida Hot Springs Community Pool and how we enjoyed it. Napping with the breeze cooling me inside the tent. Cooking dinner over a fire and with the propane stove. The joy of just being.

#RockyMountainNationalPark, #blessings, #roadtrip, #thankful, #Colorado, #healing

Friday, June 15, 2012

On Remembering The Past

     It was in middle school when I was introduced to someone who made a profound difference in my life. He didn't know it at the time. All he knew was that he was out in the middle of a desert fighting against an injustice. He also knew he was helping to maintain our freedom. Something else he knew was that his former teacher was trying to make things a little better for him out there. That teacher, Mr. Carl,  had a group of students either write to this soldier or to "any soldier."
      I was one of those students, and chose to write to this former student. He quickly wrote back (well as quickly as snail mail allows from Saudi Arabia.) With some encouragement, I wrote a second letter. A friendship was quickly formed. It was one that would span nearly 10 years. The soldiers' name was David James Bassler.
     I was a struggling student, not just academically, but emotionally. Things have not been going well in the private school I attended. Bullying was occurring on almost a daily basis. Most teachers (all but the one who had us write the letters) did not understand what was going on and that trouble at home wasn't helping the situation. While I never was in trouble with the teachers, I was always in trouble with my classmates. I was quirky, constantly thinking "outside the box." If a book was not in my hands than a notebook was. My hands were busy either turning pages or writing pages, and my feet never stopped moving - constantly tapping out beats to my favorite music. I had an obsession with music, particularly with two Christian artists. In morning prayer, I usually had the same simple requests. I suppose it all made me an easy target, although  it saddened me that I was being attacked for trying to live the way we had been taught.
     David learned of some of these things through our letters. He encouraged me to keep pressing forward. When the torment became too much and I ended up being homeschooled for a year, his letters became an inspiration. At that point, he was back in the States and my parents had allowed me to send him our phone number. David would call every few months so we could talk in details that the letters did not allow. I saw him as an older brother or mentor. He helped strengthen my wavering self-confidence. Learning about his past allowed me to see that things could be much worse. When I wanted to quit school and music and everything else that was causing so much pain, he helped me keep going.
    Five and a half years and one high school graduation later, my parents drove me down to Nashville, Tennessee for a very special present. David met us there and we spent two days seeing the sights. It was beyond wonderful to see in person this man who had so much influence on my own life. There was a lot of laughter, a little bit of arguing, and many long hours of conversation. It was one of the most amazing experiences.
     The letter-writing continued until I was out of college. He moved around a lot and somehow we lost contact. A letter I had sent came back saying there was no forwarding address. I hope one day to find him again. I want to thank him, to be able to let him know all those little things that ended up making a big difference in who I am today. Some of you know that I mentor a couple of area teenagers. I do that, because of David. I want to be that positive influence that he was for me.
#PenPal, #DavidJamesBassler, #mentoring, #blessings