Logistics

Last Friday evening ended our adventures out west and although there are a ton of profound and deep things we experienced, there are also a lot of logistical things we learned from. I wanted to share some of the lessons we found valuable in a stand alone post. Since my husband and I will be traveling at least once a month for a while, I feel some camping/hiking/adventuring tips are in order.

Our trip took us through Colorado where we only stopped for a few hours. It was the first time we saw the mountains not covered in snow which was odd. Granted, we didn’t go hike up into the Rockies but even driving though Aspen and Vail, we found them to be bare. It was also somehow a cloudy day (Denver specifically has the most sunny days per year of any city). To say we were disappointed is an understatement. One of my favorite views is approaching Denver on 70 and seeing an endless sky full of snow capped mountain tops. Unfortunately, we did not get that experience this time.

Moab, Utah is only five-ish hours past Denver, just across the Colorado state line. That was our first stop and our third time visiting. We spent two days there and thanks to the owner of our hotel, we had some amazing hikes that were outside of Arches National Park. Which brings me to tip #1: ask someone local where they like to hike. Most of the area around Moab is public land meaning you can park your car on the side of the road and just trek in any direction. We ended up doing one of our favorite hikes ever which culminated with a beautiful arch on a cliff. To top it off, there were only two other people hiking at that trail. It was incredible!

Enter food…. as we drove along 191 through Moab, my husband declared, “I could really go for the best eggs benedict right now.” That’s his favorite breakfast meal so it’s not surprising he was craving it. Well wouldn’t you know, maybe two blocks after that, I saw a sign outside The Jailhouse Cafe, “Best Eggs Benedict.” I mean, what are the chances?? And just to confirm, my hubby is an eggs benedict connoisseur and he agreed they were in fact the best he’d ever had. I’d say tip #2 is to try the small, old looking local places over your familiar, nationwide chains. On a prior trip to Estes Park, we tried a place named The Egg & I and just like this trip, we quickly fell in love with the food and atmosphere.

Tip #3 is all about the heat. And let me tell you, we messed up big time in this department. We booked a campsite in Page, Arizona for a week. We knew it was the first week of July and that Arizona and Utah are both hot but we also know that the desert cools at night. We’ve camped in Joshua Tree in June before and while the days were scorchers, evenings got down to the 50’s. Page, Arizona is somehow an exception to that rule. The lows were in the 80’s….. We prefer camping over hotels for cost efficiency and also proximity to beautiful views and star lit sky’s. Just make sure you check thoroughly before booking a site or else you will waste money, end up staying in a hotel anyhow and be annoyed.

Last few tips: if you forget something important, live without or buy a replacement. DON’T TRY TO HAVE SOMEONE MAIL IT TO YOU! Our package got lost for a week and by the time it was found, we were already home.

Once you pack your belongings, take 1/3 out. I never wear everything I pack and it’s wasted since really. From a camping and hiking perspective, where showering daily isn’t even always an option, changing all your clothes all the time becomes less important. To be honest, most established campsites have laundry facilities also so rewearing things after washing is way easier than having a full outfit for every day.

Lastly, a decent amount of hikes and adventures require advance planning, special permits or a cash/check payment. If you wanna see The Wave in Arizona, it’s a lottery and only 20 people total are allowed per day. You can only enter the online lottery 4 months in advance. If you wanna hike Half Dome in Yosemite, you need a special permit and similarly, they have limits on how many people can go per day. Make sure you prepare well in advance, have all your ducks in a row and carry small bills at all times.

Hopefully these tips are helpful! Let me know if you have any questions! I will be sharing a lot of tangible tips and emotional growth experiences in the coming months and hopefully even adding a vlog!

Living for the first time

I’ve had a bit over a week to reflect on my time in Daytona Beach and I’ve come to one major conclusion: I needed this more than I realized.

In preparation for a week long camp with 86 high schoolers (actually 5500 high schoolers nationwide) I thought of all the things I was worried about. I felt nervous to have to share a space with teenagers. I was concerned how I would handle the lack of sleep. I had literally no interest in an 18 hour bus ride EACH WAY…

I made a list and gathered all my required snacks, packed my GoPro ready to capture all the amazing moments and got my mind ready for hearts to shift.

I soon came to see that my life was also going to change.

The first night was full of worship and a moving message from Loui Giglio. We quickly found our way out of our seats and onto the floor, jumping up and down, singing at the top of our lungs. Our eyes began to swell and tears started pouring down. I took a moment to look around, to breathe in the atmosphere. I saw a room full of teenagers who were falling deeply in love with Jesus. I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude that God had put me in this place, honored me with this responsibility. As the evening ended, all my lack of sleep was overcome by excitement and joy.

I promptly awoke at 6am without an alarm set. In that moment, I wanted so badly to go back to sleep. I hadn’t slept but five hours and I was coming off of a painfully long bus ride. Little did I know that I had been awakened for a specific reason. I found my way quietly out of the room, down the elevator and onto the beach. I watched the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and began to cry. In the silence of the morning, I was surrounded by students journaling and praying. There were groups of teenagers without their leaders or adults, who woke up early to praise God and pray over each other. Students gathered with bibles and journals and sat alone, feet in the sand, and just existed in His presence. I imagine that everyone on that beach shared the same emotions I was feeling; indebtedness, awe, delight. I found myself full of expectation for our future, hope for a generation many say are too entitled, selfish, unfocused, lazy etc.

And then came the evening session…. our group had found seats three rows back from the stage. The energy was electric, on fire, lit… all the words you can imagine to describe a volcano about to explode, a rocket about to lift off. The music was blaring, 5500 students were belting out all the emotion and heart ache and praise they could muster. Lights were flashing, we all were jumping up and down, hands raised, completely undone, no restraints, unaware of potential judgements, fully immersed in the moment.

And I looked up. I paused for a minute to breathe it all in and I realized that I was there just as much for myself as I was for my students. I was experiencing life change, freedom, bliss, youth. I wasn’t getting back something I lost. I wasn’t reliving something from my younger years.

I WAS LIVING THIS WAY FOR THE FIRST TIME.

This moment, the laughter, the abandonment, the friendships were all things I had never experienced, not in this way. I was enjoying parts of life and myself that I thought were long gone missed opportunities.

Everyone has them, things they didn’t get growing up. Maybe your parents got a divorce or they traveled too much. Possibly a father who was overly harsh or a mother who critiques everything. A school mate who bullied you or a horribly embarrassing, unforgettable moment that scarred you for life. All situations that can make a person question themselves or create marks on a soul.

Whatever it is, that thing can create a longing for resolution, a desire to feel complete, loved, valued. Some people work their whole life to prove worth to their parents. We enter into relationships hoping to heal some hurt from a past relationship. We can literally choose to live a past life forever.

I had long ago accepted that some of the missed emotions and experiences were just that: lost. I am an adult. If I feel like my parents didn’t love me enough, I wasn’t going to revert back to being five and somehow obtain that love. I have a child of my own and it’s my turn to be the parent. The freedom of my youth that I felt I was missing was never going to be mine. I had found freedom as an adult but I had forced myself to forget any longings from my childhood.

And then camp happened. And I saw the things I had never felt be given to me. Moments I didn’t know I could ever have were mine, and not just hints of them BUT COMPLETE FULLNESS! I was a 38 year old child, experiencing the freedom of youth and it was so sweet. And in the following days, that healing grew greater, the insecurity and old messages became faint and my load became lighter.

I don’t think I will ever love the long bus ride but man, I can’t wait for next year!