Anxiety, Adventures, and Aspens

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

Don’t Worry Be Happy It’s Spring Break!!

“A day at a time is long enough to sustain one’s faith; the next day will have its own cares.” Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”

I love traveling to new places, seeing new countries, which is part of the reason why I am teaching here in Guatemala. A long trip can cause a little stress. Over Semana Santa (Easter) this year I made it all the way to Honduras. It took over 16 hours to make it there and I was a little nervous about how the week would shape up. I had doubts about going because I didn’t want to be the only one not scuba diving.

Due to a random canon ball dive accident, which ruptured both of my eardrums, I can’t scuba dive. The ear, nose, and throat Dr. was shocked when I told him how I’d jumped off of a four foot ledge, straight into a pool, and ruptured both of my eardrums. After a year long healing process, which involved transplants of cigarette paper and the fat from my ear lobes, I was able to dip my head under water, but the Dr. ordered that I never scuba dive. So, with all of my friends scuba diving, I was worried I would be bored with nothing to do.
Yet, when I arrived on the island of Utila, all of my worries melted away. It was so hot any desire to move around evaporated on sight. I knew that all I could do was relax. I’m positive that it’s impossible to feel stress on an island. Island life seems to be the the embodiment of life the way Bonhoeffer believes we should life. One day at a time and no reason to stress. And yet I had reason to stress.
First, the place we’d contacted for housing had double booked and the rooms were slightly better than an outhouse. The girls raced off to find another place to stay. For some reason I knew we would be ok. Jon, my roommate, said he would watch the luggage if I wanted to go help find a room.
During my search, I met an incredible woman named Minnie. She owned one of the hotels I checked out. From the onset I could tell her faith was strong. I asked her about her rooms and she said, “I don’t make any money here. I just give everything away.” She explained that she lived day to day, trusting God would take care of her. As I sat and talked with her for about fifteen minutes, I realized I needed to try and live my life day by day. Unfortunately, her hotel was full and my search came up empty, but I knew that everything would be alright.
As I walked back to where Jon had been watching my luggage, I didn’t expect him to be gone, but he was. Apparently, while I was gone the girls had returned. Having found a room they left with Jon and the luggage. Unfortunately, they left no note to tell me where they’d gone. Now I was lost on an island without any way to contact my friends. I knew I should feel at least a little stressed out, but I found that an impossible feeling on the island of Utila. So, I wandered down the main street, knowing everything would be alright. Ten minutes later I was with the rest of my group. Lorin, one of the girls, stepped out of a tienda with a Dr. Pepper in her hand, which she gave to me, and told me they’d found a great room for us to stay in for the week. The fact that everything worked out so well made me wonder why people worry so much. Stress shouldn’t just vacate on vacations. Minnie didn’t just live day to day trusting in God because she was on vacation, no her life was on that island.
The rest of the week was amazing. I went snorkeling, which I’ll talk about in another blog, and God showed me time and time again that I didn’t have any reason to worry. I took my vacation day by day and I hope that I can make that happen back here on the main land. I am glad I decided to travel all the way to Utila. I just wish I hadn’t worried so much about the trip, but hey, let worry, worry for itself.