Anxiety, Adventures, and Aspens

DSC_0832

Do not be anxious about anything, but pray and be thankful.- Philippians 4:6 Yeah, but what about my life?  Last week after I posted about needing to open up about my sleep problems I was attacked by two straight nights of anxiety filled sleep.

DSC_0849

Yay, time to practice all the advice I gave out (I am not sure you can sense my sarcasm).  After midnight, my mind doesn’t want to think logically.  It just wants to sleep so when my heart feels the flames of fear and my brain begins to bounce back and fourth from one thought to another, it has taken practice to slow myself down.  But I took a breath and remembered all of the times God has provided for me in times of turmoil.

I am learning to breathe in and think of beautiful things.  Breathe out and release my fear.  Beauty beats anxiety.

The world we live in is beautiful.  No I am not naive, I know of pain and suffering, but even in the darkest of times God’s beauty abounds.

DSC_0871

Two weeks ago April and I traveled up to Breckenridge to go aspen leaf peeping.   The beauty of Breckenridge in the fall is astounding.  As we drove up Boreas Pass I was reflecting on the last year and all my sleep struggles.  The previous year when we came up to Breckenridge my sleep was an absolute mess and I had hoped that a little time away would fix it.  It didn’t.  But the beauty of the aspens left needing to catch my breath. When aspen leaves rustle in the wind, I am not sure there is a more calming sound.

DSC_0918

Aspens are amazing in how they are all one organism so that each tree supports the collective whole.  Every year aspens cycle through life.  In the spring they start to bud new leaves that turn deep great through the next couple months of summer.  In the fall they made their most drastic change when the leaves change from green to gold, red, and yellow only to fall off by winter time.  All winter aspens are bare, but then they are reborn in the spring.  This happens every year.  God takes care of his creation.

DSC_0928

Driving over Boreas Pass God took me up into his beauty and reminded me that if he cares that much to create a beautiful tree he also cares for me.  On our way down to Como, on the other side of the pass, April and I parked our car and walked down into a grove of aspens.  Standing under the rustling leaves I felt Jesus was next to me saying, “look out over the aspens and don’t be anxious.  Don’t worry about if you sleep well or if work goes well.  Aspens don’t work, they are fed by me.  If I cloth the aspens in such beauty, don’t you think I will take care of you too?”

A05A6197-E1A4-452D-8FC0-D16528D49698_1_201_a

He cares about beauty and goodness.  So I whatever is good and beautiful, think on those things. When I am struggling to sleep, I’ve started to think about the beautiful aspens up in the mountains. Remembering that God has provided for me in the past and he will provide for me in the future.

He has sent me on beautiful adventures, both big and small so when my brain boiled with fear this week I decided to remember the beauty of Boreas Pass and how God loves me more than aspen trees.  Because of that I know that the best is yet to come.

B385F252-F657-4DCB-9A06-C53AFAEC9974_1_201_aBFB006A4-84F0-4A19-9A84-6BDF802F39E9_1_201_aD74D825F-9868-4510-807C-1506D1960CE2_1_100_o

What’s The Perfect Birthday Gift?

You shop and shop for the perfect gift, well at least you should spend a good amount of time searching out that gift if you care for the special birthday guy or gal.  But even when you spend all that time shopping, sometimes that gift you spent hours hunting down in that specialty store can be met with an “Oh, that’s nice.”  Not the response you hoped for.

This has never happened to me.  I have just heard that it has happened to other people.  I love each gift I am given, no matter what.  And people love all of the gifts I give.

And this year I unwrapped the perfect gift.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time spent with my friends.  Yep, I’m that easy.  Even though I enjoy opening funny birthday cards almost as much as I love ripping through wrapping paper, I cherish my time with my friends and family.

After moving back to Colorado last June, I was actually a little nervous about my birthday this year.  I’d spent three years forming some awesome friendships in Guatemala but then decided to move back to the states and had to start from scratch.  Even though I’d lived in Colorado most of my life, after living outside of the country, I felt like I had lost contact with most of my college friends.  Life had moved on, and so I saw moving to Denver as fresh start.

The fresh start has been great.  Over the last couple of months, I have really started to form some strong meaningful friendships, but when Michael Gallup moved his family (this includes his cute little daughter Marry Grace and Cliff Hutchison his best friend) I wasn’t really sure what to expect for my birthday due to the fact I’d grown really close to the Gallups.

The Gallups took me in and included me in their community.  We’d gone to movies and shared meals together.  And so as my birthday rolled around, I was sad that they wouldn’t be there, just as sad about not having any of my former students or friends in Guatemala to celebrate the day I turned 28 with.

I love big celebrations just as much as time with my friends, probably because a big celebration means a lot of people to be around.  Last year I went zip-lining and had a dinner party at Don Rodrigos, a quant restaurant in Xela.  This year turned out to be just as special.

My dad, who I consider one of my best friends, and I hiked up into the mountains on my favorite trail near our house.  As we crunched our way through the deep snow we talked about stories, how we can live spiritually, and just life in general.  The snow made the trail hard to hike, every step was a full step forward and a half step back.  But we plowed on until we made it to the Lost Trail trail marker.  The aspen trees had lost their golden leaves a long time ago, but with the sun light hitting them just right, even in their naked state, they looked beautiful.

I love aspens because they live as one organism.  Each tree supports the one next to it.  As I hiked down to the truck with my dad, I realized that I’ve been in a season of nakedness too.  All of my old friendships have been stripped away.  And yet I am not alone.

That night I went out to dinner with some great new friends.  We stuffed ourselves with rich food from Merle’s in downtown Littleton and then made our way back to the Pickard’s house to play wii.  It might not have been as adventurous as zip-lining, but it was just as special.  I was reminded that, even though it might not look the same as my life in Guatemala, I was given something amazing for my birthday, an awesome group of friends.  And I wouldn’t exchange that gift for anything.

Thank you to everyone who helped make my 28th Birthday special!  And to all my friends in Xela who have made my life very special, see you in a week!!!

An American Adventure

After living in Guatemala for three years the idea of moving back to the United States sounded boring.  I thought, “Where’s the challenge in living in a country where I speak the language fluently?”

But readjusting to the states has been different than I expected.  While I can talk to almost everyone I meet, life here is still a challenge.  Just because I can communicate with everyone doesn’t mean making friends has happened effortlessly.

A couple of weeks ago, before the weather turned, I was transplanting trees for my uncle and it made me think about how hard it is to move.  To transplant a tree correctly the timing and soil must be right.  Pick the wrong season and the tree will whither and if the dirt is too hard the tree’s roots will never extend far enough to keep the tree alive.  And not to mention a lot of water must be added to keep the tree healthy in its new home.  It is also a lot of hard work for the person digging up the tree.  The trees roots must be left intact so that it can take hold in its new hole.

After I dug up and transplanted the fourth tree I was ready to admit change comes just about as difficultly for humans.  We root ourselves in our own holes and resist being transplanted even if there might be a better location for us.  Two of the trees I dug up and transplanted were hidden behind large pines.  They’d been there for years and years and their roots had taken hold in the dirt, but no one could see these trees.  They were wasted back behind the pines, but once I dug them up and planted them in their new holes my aunt said to me, “It looks as if they’ve always been there.  Like they’ve belonged there all along.”  She was right.  These two trees looked beautiful in their new locations and even if the change was difficult, it was good for them.

I know my life might not seem as adventurous as it was when I was living in Guatemala, but a challenge can be taken as an adventure if one keeps his or her eyes open and is willing to look for the bigger story.  And the challenge of taking jobs when I can get them  is a change that I hope has been good for me too.

I believe that my American adventure is just starting and I am excited to see where God plants me.  When God plants me into the soil he has prepared for me I know my roots will take hold and God will continue to grow me into the beautiful creation he created me to be, that’s his bigger story.  But if that is to happen I must be willing to let him do the work in me he desires to do.

No matter where I live I must live in his will, because that is right where I need to be and that’s when the true adventure begins.