listening to Oceans by Hillsong United. praying those lyrics and etching them into my soul.
two years ago – reminds me where i’ve been
and where I’m going…
where i’ve been –
Way back in May of 2013 My co-worker and friend Vanessa had sent me this song over Spotify message that simply said, “Today’s song“. Little did I know that the moment I listened to those lyrics I would make them my life prayer over the next several years.
To be a woman of God who would get out of the boat and follow Jesus onto the water. To have faith that ran as deep as the Mariana Trench and beyond.
Through waters uncharted my soul will embark I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark
After several repeated phone calls from my mother on July 1, 2014 – I answered the phone. Nothing but Jesus could have prepared me for that proverbial gut punch. “Your dad has choked on his breakfast… lost consciousness…heart stopped…. on a ventilator….in a coma…. come quickly.” The words bled together.
Tearing my laptop out of the wall at work – just ahead of the Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon that I am Course Chair for – I ripped off to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN.
… and waited
…and while my heavenly Captain knew where we were going, I could not understand the course that He charted for us.
Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog Your truth is the compass that points me back north
I believe to this day, that singing those lyrics to Oceans – over and over and over the year prior kept my entire focus on Jesus during the months after. Not projecting, or burying the hurt, but fully trusting that God had it all figured out, and not carrying the burden of trying relentlessly to understand why this happened. Just simply getting out of the boat, and grabbing on to His hand.
In 2015 I heard this song – Anchor also by Hillsong. Classic. Now that I took the step out of the boat – I had an amazing Anchor of faith to help hold me steady. I knew, whatever the storm was, my vessel would not be blown around, but conversely would stand the test of time.
That year I saw anchors everywhere. On billboards, Facebook posts, a wedding invitation, and a random gift from my friend Vanessa of an anchor bracelet (which I’ve now turned into a necklace) that I wear to this day.
It’s a glorious reminder that I am anchored in Christ’s amazing strength through any storm, that I won’t blow away, and an abundance of grace and relentless love – each and every day.
where I’m going –
Held up in genius fashion, yet another song from Hillsong for 2016. And isn’t it kind of weird that they’re all so eerily related, and similar, and perfectly progressive? All relating so perfectly to water. Perhaps this is a spiritual baptism I’m encountering, slowly being transfigured into a new creation. As if that God of ours knew, and knows exactly what course He is charting.
Like the wind You’ll guide Clear the skies before me And I’ll glide this open sea
My eyes are still focused straight on him.
I am not saying in the least that its easy, or that I never shed a tear. I shed a lot of tears when I allow myself to think about the tragedy that occurred, and I do allow it.
After all – Jesus wept too.
I find myself completely stunned however – every time I play back the memories. That really… this was My dad. and he really IS gone, and now this is really MY story.
Knowing though – that I have a Captain that knows the path set before me, and how to navigate through the tough waters makes all the difference in the world. I can glide this craft through all waters with Him.
Just shy of three years ago thirteen of us embarked on an epic houseboat adventure in Voyagers National Park! My dad – the captain…
There was this spot coming out of Crane Lake into Sand Point Lake called the King Williams Narrows. Now – this doesn’t look like much from the photo, but with our huge boat we had mere feet on either side to clear the passage.
It took knowledge of the distance between the land masses, the specs on the boat, a steady hand, practice from driving river boats in the Navy – trust – lots of calm and patience, and a whole lot of praying to make it through. We all trusted Captain Rich as we knew none of us were skilled enough to clear that tiny passage.
In the same way, I trust that God, my Captain knows the specs on my life, and the passages I will go through. “I’ve got this”, he says.
The destination that I’ve ended up thus far has been more mind blowingly beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I know that sounds odd given the circumstances, but my faith has exploded, and the peace I have is unexplainable. While darkness separates me and my dad for now – I know we will meet on the shores again. I’m so thankful to Jesus for giving us the opportunity.
Truth be told, I kind of hate these, “Keep Calm & _____” fill in the blank posters that were going around Facebook last year, but when looking back on our trip the sentiment was just about perfect and I couldn’t think of a better title for our trip report!
Pre-Day Friday May 20:
Technically, this is pre-entry date, so I will call it pre-day. My husband took the day off, we shuttled the kid off to school for half a morning, and I did some final work for my employer before “shuffling off to buffalo“. We blazed out of the Twin Cities around noon on Friday the 20th and began our 3.5 hour journey up to Ely, MN. Saw lots of “Flying Moose” stickers on cars, and swung into Spirit of the Wilderness to talk with Steve! His enthusiasm is always infectious!
Realized we forgot the kennel so my dreams for eating at Insula that night were completely dashed since we didn’t trust our dogs in the Bunkhouse by themselves. To say I was not disappointed would be a lie, but decided to eat on the patio deck at the Chocolate Moose and the dogs could be just off the deck next to us. The food was alright. I had Thai Lettuce Wraps trying to be GF still. Husband had a burger, and MiniMN had a hot dog. The wine was lovely on the deck along with the pleasantly warm weather, which really elevated the place and experience.
The waitress even gave us some water bowls for the dogs! A nice touch indeed.
After dinner I convinced Mr.MN to head out to Kawishiwi Falls for a night hike. We brought the fishing stuff with us, but had no luck. The waterfall was bursting with water, and my heart was set in the right spot.
It was very hot out. Unfortunately we packed a lot of long sleeves, and pants, but I did have a tank top on – so I wore that most of the night, and now I think I actually have a sunburn! ha.
Later on I talked with Lynn at VNO. She has to be one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever encountered. She gave us lots of great tips, and recommended the longer 40 rod portage from Upper to Lower Pauness. She also practically assured us we’d hear wolves howling in the area. This terrified me, but I knew they don’t eat humans… 😉
The dogs slept like rocks,and I was kept awake by bunkhouse neighbors who were all excited for what laid ahead of them on their trip. Around 11pm there was a stampeede of people upstairs of us. It was highly annoying, but I knew that VNO was housing several Hot Shots for the Foss/Crab Lake fire – so I tried not to be too mad.
Saturday May 21 – Day 1:
I’m no dummy, I know the Spirit of the Lord is everywhere, but oh how I feel it so much stronger in these pine stands, balsam, granite outcroppings, and tannic waters. A combination of no cell service – so the phone goes instantly into airplane mode to conserve batteries, and Gods amazing creation so immersed in your every being its hard to not recognize the Spirit of the Lord directly in front of you.
We had a quick and easy breakfast in the car this time of cereal bars, coffee from the gas station, and donuts, and blazed up the Echo Trail. We passed by the Mudro access and I remembered fondly our trip last year. This time we had a much longer treck up the Echo Trail to the Little Indian Sioux River – North.
I thought of my bwca.com friend Kanoes. He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 57. I thought how weird life is. How we’re here one minute, and just like water flowing over the rocks with rapids – gone the next. I couldn’t help but think about my dad dying suddenly at 64.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but today I get to witness creation in the flesh.
Told Mr.MN about this trip report I head read on bwca.com and how they had forgotten their paddles and life jackets had to drive all the way back to Ely! We both agreed that would be maddening!
Got unloaded quite a bit quicker than last year despite having more things. The morning was a little chilly, and realize I had forgotten a regular coat for MiniMN but had an extra coat myself – so I gave her that, and it wasn’t too too big.
Saw another van pull in of 3 soloists. Suddenly heard a loud F bomb. Followed quickly by several more F bombs…. Apparently they too had mis-matched solo paddles and had to drive all the way back to Ely!! I would be irate.
Grabbed the Frost River pack and headed down to the river. This FR pack is decidedly not fun to carry. Its heavy, and my pots and stove are gouging my back. The dog is pulling me on the leash, despite having the gentle leader, and he keeps stoping to try to shake it off. I’m already annoyed and we’re not even on the river yet.
Paddle up the LIS is a nice, quiet, meandering river .Saw lots of Red Wing Blackbirdsd and a pair of Trumpeter Swans. Settled in and my mood brightened!
Saw the Elm Portage clear across the river. The entry for it was very obvious. Walked the first treck over and Crosby is constantly pulling on the leash ripping my arm off or stops abruptly as we’re going downhill.
We are double portaging this time, which I wasn’t too excited about, but everyone assured me, the walk back is usually pretty nice.
Saw a man on the portage, Crosby stared at him incredulously. I noticed this, but thought the man seemed really nice so I wasn’t sure why in the world he was so freaked out. Suddenly, Crosby bolted backwards nearly tearing my arm or dislocating my shoulder in the process. Now my mood is soured again.
Grab my CCS pack, which is decidedly more comfortable, but all that it has in it is clothes, and sleeping bags etc, so its a treat to portage. Crosby continues to be a pain on this portage, and I ended up having a bloody nose on the portage. Of course I don’t have a kleenex on me, and the last thing I’m going to do is wipe my nose on my sleeve.
So I try to tip my face upward and keep it in. The waterfall on Elm portage is gorgeous and stunning. Trying to look on the bright side of things.
At end of Elm portage we were met by couple of guys daytripping that told us about the shorter portage to LP and some beaver dams ahead that we have to strong arm across.
We decide, even if we have to tripple portage, the shorter portage was the way to go. I hadn’t really researched this one, so I didn’t know if the portage was on the right or the left. They both looked plausable, but we chose the left. We hiked up a steep hill and at the top saw a campsite that was unoccupied. The treck back down to the lake was like a billy goat portage! Short, but really steep. I kept Crosby on a short leash, and we all did okay. We didn’t have MiniMN portage anything on this one, since it was technically difficult.
The paddle through Lower Pauness was pleasant. Saw a husband/wife that were camped at the lower site just north of the short portage. It looked nice, and they gave us a wave.
Began looking for Shell portage on our right. The guys we met on the Elm Portage said it was a sandy landing, but kind of tucked behind some trees. We didn’t see it. Kept consulting the map, but didn’t see anything that resembled the portage.
Someone had a red canoe and we found it! Praise Jesus! Thank you Red Canoe man for helping us spot the portage!
This portage was beastly. The entrance was a total muck field. Lost of people on it, so we all shared glances of misery and “oh yay – downhill now” commentaries. We passed the Sioux Hustler Trail (SHT) and MiniMN announced how badly she had to go to the bathroom. Her and I hiked down the SHT a bit and took an off trail potty break.
Finally came to the Beaver pond very annoying. Second part was nice but longer than I thought.
Guys from the parking lot (that had to drive all the way back to Ely) caught us. WTF. Made me feel like we are the slowest people in the world, but they don’t have two dogs and a kid with them right? 😉 One of the guys were impressed with MiniMN as she did the 220 rod portage and stoked her up a little bit. He then asked how much longer and I said just over the hill….
Mr.MN went back for last pack & I rewarded K with Thin Mints.
Shell is a beautiful lake. Lots of people were paddling around, and we decided to try and make it to Lynx.
Passed between Con Island and the smaller island and made our way East. Consulted the map but didn’t know exactly which way to go. Suddenly this floating rock appeared and I knew after watching all of the SHUG videos that this was the way to go. It was now referred to as the Shug Rock.
Just to the left of this rock you come to a little bay with a campsite, and the portage is directly at the end of the bay. We saw a group camped there of 6 in Hawaiian shirts, swimming having fun. They paddled out to the glacier rock and were jumping into the lake. They said it was slightly warmer than Lake Superior.
Found the Little shell portage easily. The portage itself is not hard, and probably our favorite. This would be the last portage we’d have to do before arriving at our camp on Lynx.
Passed the Sioux Hustler Trail again on this portage.
Little Shell is beautiful! Very clear water. Would consider camping on this lake in the future. The pathway was open to paddle to Lynx so we didn’t have to do the 4 rod portage. Took the lower east campsite after knowing it had good reviews. Lots of folks said it was a beach site, but I’m not sure what “beach” they were talking about. Slight sandy bottom so maybe that’s what people were talking about? Sprawling multi-level site with a grand view of the lake. Fished a bit off shore, drank 2 gallons of water.
We made the mistake of not having full water bottles and were practically dying of thirst. Definitely were dehydrated. Saw a crayfish swimming right by our boat landing.
Got things set up lazily, and found the toilet. This one had no lid, but there was a nice tree next to it to bungee our toilet paper to.
For the size of this site, there was really not many level root free tent pads available, but it would more than do for our family of three.
Entertainment for kiddos in the northwoods:
Eventually decided to get dinner out. Tonight was supposed to be Steak, baby red potatoes, and asparagus. Opened the stuff sack and dinner was an absolute mess. Potatoes and asparagus were dripping in blood, our lemon for fish was burst open, and ruined. The steak bled over everything. I’ll never do this again. I was very parinoid, but we got things cleaned up, or burned some of our food. It was sad. Had just steak for dinner.
I definitely want heliniox chairs, or some kind of chair option.
Compared to last year’s trip, the bugs are horrible! These little black flies are mean. They land on you and bite you!
We are the only ones on Lynx from what we can tell which is odd for the size of the lake.
After we got our steak mess cleaned up, we went to hang the rest of our food. Couldn’t find any good places to hang our bag. MiniMN had an idea so we let her try to help us find a tree. Had to walk 1/4 mile away from camp, but alas, this would do. Now I want URSACK bags too with odor proof stuff sacks so we don’t have to worry about hanging our food.
Enjoyed our fire and the sunset. Even at dusk it was still hot out.
Mr.MN leaned into me…. “What does it do for you…tripping in the BWCA?” One look over the lake said it all. Part of it is the planning which I absolutely love, and part of it is the challenge and learning to overcome. Not having any cell phone service, and relying on what is right in front of you. Plus it is so darn quiet.
After we had enough of the night sky, we retreated to our tent. MiniMN begged us to play yatzhee, so we did. Mr.MN won.
Head lamps went off, and the wheels started turning. Suddenly looked around the perimiter of our tent and began worrying about bears and wild life. Dreamed a pack of Lynx (who are solitary animals) would tear into the tent as well.
Tossed/turned in my 5 degree bag. Definitely too hot for this trip. I was in a full body sweat around midnight/1am as the full moon rose across tent.
A nearby Loon couple was going absolutely berserk in the moonlight for over 20 minutes. Prayed I wouldn’t hear any howling wolves, and drifted off to sleep.
Sunday May 22 – Day 2:
Woke up to a quiet world. Sadie snuggling MiniMN in a deep sleep.
Arose to no Mr.MN. I climbed out of the tent and looked around. He must be out fishing. Wrote in my journal on the rocks. MiniMN really sleeping in. About 45 minutes later spotted Mr.MN by the Little Shell portage/path fishing in peace.
It was a quiet beautiful morning on Lynx.
I was in much better spirits today.
Didn’t want to leave camp to get the food bag and have MiniMN to awake to nobody in camp, so I waited. She finally woke up, we got bag down from tree to get breakfast. Hot Cocoa/Coffee/Oatmeal. It was good. Instead of the regular Instant Quaker Oats we did last year, I made up these packs from this website. I even added raw almonds to mine which gave it a nice crunch.
Here is a quick video from the perspective of a child in the BWCA:
Cleaned camp. Went fishing in E. Bay just north of the southern campsite. Forgot our anchor bags, so we paddled back to camp get them as there was a nice breeze on the lake. Thanks Ducks for the tip! Works wonderfully!
Fished nearly the whole bay with all that we had, topwater, spoons, Gulp on bobbers, nothing. Had a snack in canoe, and just sat for a while and enjoyed each others company.
We were going to fish the west side of lynx but the wind was getting so bad, and the dogs were growing restless, so we decided to head back to camp and make up Mac & Cheese. Relaxed under my CCS tarp & listened to pair of loons romance each other and MiniMN entertain herself. She was talking to her imaginary friends and pretending she was a singer song writer at a book store. She announced to everyone said she had to sing about “The Strawberry Patch” because her manager already promoted the song…then said, “alright everyone, will you help me sing this next song?” and proceeded to make up some words to the Strawberry Patch song. MR.MN took our rainfly off the tent and took a nap in there, and the dogs were splattered about camp in a mid-afternoon slumber.
I studied the map for a bit to see about possible ideas for moving or day trips. Definitely want to eat a little more before we move to lighten the load. Maybe Tuesday…. We will discuss once Mr.MN wakes up. The girl and I try fishing off shore and not a bite.
Mr.MN wakes up, we discuss going out to Lake Agawato for some SMB fishing. The water is still way too whipped up to go anywhere so we decide to prepare dinner which is Tacos tonight. We get to lighten the load of jalapeños and onions at least. We make the tacos, which was freeze dried chicken & Trader Joes seasoning. One bite & MiniMN’s mouth is on fire! We had never used TJs taco seasoning before and it was hot hot hot.
Luckily I packed extra freeze dried chicken and its super easy to reconstitute. I could just kick myself for trying something new in the boundary waters.
The wind settles down so I go to get some water & check out the portage to Lake Agawato. I sat backwards in the bow seat and paddled to the middle of the bay – but man I got hit by the wind at the front of my canoe and started swinging and came dangerously close to tipping.
I paddled & dug deep with all my might. Finally scooped up some water & abandoned checking out the portage. Kept trying to get to camp, but I could not get back to the landing so I shouted for MiniMN to get Dad… he comes to shore with a puzzled look and says, what do you want me to do and I say I don’t know but I’m getting blown all over the place.
Eventually a small path away from camp before some huge boulders I spot a landing & dig. Mr. & Mini run over and got me safe. Mr. paddled back to the real landing just fine.
We will defnitely want to wait until aflter dinner to go anywhere.
Later after didnner the lake was like glass. A strong contrast to the whipping waters of earlier.
We paddled south from our campsite all along to the western shore of Lynx .We tried wounded minnow, spinners, fishin’ off the bottom & fishing with a bobber and not a single bite! A gorgeous sunset was painted on the night sky!
The dogs were getting restless which interrupted the peace however. Once we got back we had a roaring fire as the moon rose. Went down to the boat landing and went hunting for crayfish. Saw frogs, toads and a wolf spider. That sucker was HUGE! Eventually fell asleep. Sadie (Our Jack Russell Terrier) was snuggled in with MiniMN in her sleeping bag, laying on her back and snoring logs!
Monday May 23 – Day 3:
Arose to the sound of the wind and the sweet elixer of sleep tempted me to rest longer, but once I’m awake I find it tricky to fall back to sleep. Across the lake the sky fell grey and threatened our chance of moving. Mr.MN wanted to stay put, but we were giving this lake all that we had without even a nibble. The clouds blew north and Mr.MN made the announcement, “Pack this shit up – lets move.”.
We got camp busted down & ready to go in 1.5 hours and we were off. The wind had really picked up and we were paddling directly into the wind. Like my friend Canoearoo said of her biggest pet-peves, no being a fake paddler today! We were digging hard but made it over to Little Shell unscathed. We found the portage and made it over. Shell looked pretty darn wavy but no whitecaps we were hoping and praying one of the Con Island sites were available but nobody else was paddling today so we weren’t too hopeful.
As we rounded the corner near the glacier erratic to the right towards Con Island our hearts sank as we saw the south site was taken. Almost assuredly the north site would be taken as well since that’s often noted the best site on the lake.
The waves really kicked in and soon we were paddling white caps! I prayed so hard to make land safe and thought how dumb it was to move at that moment. Father keep us safe. Do not let us tip and oh Lord let one of the other two island sites be open or we have a strong paddle into the wind and waves.
Phew, the middle site was free – in a pinch we could stay there, but it didn’t look very nice. As we paddled north, I prayed fervently the north site wouldn’t be taken. I kept expecting to see a tarp or tent, but never did. We docked the canoe to get a look & I jumped ashore to ensure it really was free and sure enough, it was ours for the taking! PTL Thank you Jesus! Its free! its ours!
The site was gorgeous and tucked back into a little cove making the lake feel small.
We got set up.
After some searching found the toilet, which the FS really needs to address as it is almost full. At least to ground level!
Lunch, was summer sausage, nuts & cheese, but we were still hungry so I made up some Cous Cous & Vegetables with soy sauce. That hit the spot!
Fished from shore and saw a whole nest of frog eggs in the water!
The water on Shell is dirty and more tannic, but not as much as I expected.
A lovely bench seat by the fire
Saw a few wrapapers of tootsie rolls/tea bags by the fire, so that lost a little of its magic. Packed them up in our own garbage bag.
Under the bench we found matches & cigars which Mr.MN helped himself to.
Got our tarp hung beautifully over old an log.
It was much cooler today but still in tank top. I’m noticing that I’m getting sunburned I look like I spent a week in Mexico instead of the Northwoods of Minnesota.
Saw storm clouds rolling in to the west so we decided we better get dinner going. Pad Thai. It was very good!
Got in a panic trying to find a tree as the storm pushed in Con Island N has zero trees for bags. The rain came in huge drops, just as we finished and darted for the tarp as we watched the rain pour down.
Decidedly at this point in our lives 6-7 day trips aren’t for us. We think a 4 day or 4 night trip is about perfect and will plan for that in the future. After the storm passes we get out in canoe & fish the ^ shoreline near Heritage. Crosby lost his balance sitting up in the canoe, and almost tipped us over. Hearts are pumping.
MiniMN is working on casting lures and has a spoon she likes casting.
The lake was like glass. Jason gets a huge fat northern,but I can’t figure out the net so it gets away! I did get a video on the GoPro though.
We came back to camp & got a fire roaring. We tell stories about Elanore the man who sells coconuts…. as we grow tired.
We cozied up in the tent and fell fast asleep.
Tuesday May 24 – Day 4:
Felt like we really slept in today. Mr. MN woke up with a horrible headache, and burning eyes. Took some advil and slowly felt better.
Crosby ran off into the woods, and had to hike around looking for him. Trip has been stressful and not too relaxing with him. He is officially uninvited from future trips. His food is heavy, pulls on the leash too much, running off, restless in canoe.
Try to hike the trails on the island with Sadie, but they all peter out. We have a lazy morning to try and recapture our spirits.
We decide to cut our trip short and leave tomorrow to meet up with our friends and family for dispersed camping in the Chippewa National Forest. (CNF)
I definitely want to hit up Heritage Lake before we leave though and on our way out tomorrow I want to see Devils Cascade.
Portaged into Heritage. Portage was pretty flat, rocky in some spots. Landing kind of tricky. Muddy, but not too bad. 3/10. Heritage lake is beautiful. One of the most beautiful lakes I’ve seen. Fished like heck with NOTHING. Storm clouds rolled in and we headed back to camp.
Noted some guys fishing on Peninsula next to our campsite. Said they’ve been skunked on the fishing too.
Read BWJ under the tarp and watched the rain fall. Garbanzo Bean size hail. The CCS tarp held up like champ though.
Had Mac & Cheese for lunch. Sorted out our dinners/food bags for CNF.
More relaxing around the tent & look at maps & plan future trips. Definitely want to plan shorter trips, and less portaging. Snowbank to Parent & Disappointment, or Little Gabro to Gabro to base all look like good options, but also really looking forward to going to the Gunflint, or Sawbill.
Got everything packed for the hike/paddle out. Everything loaded into Frost River Pack much smarter and it is so much more comfortable now without my pots & stove gouging my lower back. Dare I even say I really like this pack now!
Had Tuna Alfredo Parmesan with Frenches Fried Onions. Thought of Kanoes from bwca.com as it was his tip to make this and was one of his favorites.
Head to the tent and play 2 games of yahtzee. I got 222 on the first round, and MiniMN got 307 with a bonus Yahtzee on round 2.
Alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. for an early morning break down since we want to make a quick pitstop to Devils Cascade on the way out.
I’m excited to get to the 220 rod beast portage out of the way right away! After that we’ll do the 40 rod to Upper Pauness, and back down the LIS to the car where I have an entire roll of Thin Mints waiting for us as a reward!
Wednesday May 25 – Day 5:
Alarm goes off and everyone wants to stay asleep. I read the Falls Chain article in the Spring 2016 issue of BWJ while I wait for my family to arise.
After I finish reading I woke them up and we got on the water by 7:30 a.m.
The paddle to Shell was uneventful. We didn’t have the strong waters, but there was a light breeze.
The portage sucked as bad as ever. Its very very muddy on both ends, and the beaver dam is damn annoying. MiniMN had a positive attitude on it, and carried her pack, and the Thwart Bag/Map Case across.
We swung to the right to check out Devils Cascade. We could hear the rushing water, but the landing was very obvious. The landing was a beautiful sandy beach landing, which was nice. We pulled everything up on shore, and left lots of room for others if they were going to be arriving or taking out.
The hike/portage was very well maintained and had a few ups and downs. Maybe because we weren’t carying anything I thought it was pretty easy. We hiked to the campsite that over looks the cascade and the rest of the LIS to the North. It was a gorgeous campsite, but had a severe drop off which would make me nervous with exploratory dogs and kids.
Back to the canoe we went. The peninsula campsite was occupied but looked very nice on Lower Pauness. It had a great view, and just across was another campsite. It didn’t look too special, but would do if you needed to.
We found the portage over to Upper Pauness and it looked steeper than my notes had made it sound. It really wans’t bad though, and we were across in no time. Rocky on both sides. We were exited to get paddling for a little while instead of portaging.
As we came towards the Little Indian Sioux River though the wind picked up from the south, and the current seemed much stronger than before. We paddled like the dickens, and within 15 minutes I thought my arms were going to fall right off.
We paddled with all of our might over the beaver dams, and only rubbed the bottom on one once.
The wind picked up and we were digging! The way the sun was shining on the river though we missed a big submerged boulder and before we knew it we were stuck right over the top of it like a teeter totter! I prayed so hard that the dogs, and kiddo would be calm….. keep calm I kept thinking, keep calm. Slow, and calculated movements were key. The river was about 10 feet deep in this location, and we could not push off the rock which as best we could surmise – was right below the bow seat.
We had MiniMN move to the packs behind her seat, and tried to carefully wiggle backwards… nothing. Finally, I too moved on the packs behind me and we gently wiggled backwards, and we were FREE!!!!!!
I was never so thankful in all of my life.
I was actually happy to see the Elm Portage so I could give my sad arms a rest. The portage was met with happy spirits, and we commented that Elm Falls looked like Root Beer bursting over the brink!
Back into the canoe we went, but I knew there weren’t rocks south of Elm Portage that we had to be concerned about. The wind settled some, but it was still a paddle. Finally as we came close to the LIS entry portage the wind died, and the river was glass. Figures.
We hauled everything up to the car, and left the Little Indian Siox River behind us.
Got a shower at VNO which felt like royal spa treatment,and loaded up on some groceries for the CNF.
Spent the next 5 days over in the CNF with our family and friends. Caught lots of crappie, sunnies, and LMB on topewater lures. It almost wasn’t fair how much fish we were catching.
We enjoyed our time with them, but we were also excited to get home. Sunday we finally crawled into our own beds. I was never so thankful to get off my Exped, and see running water!
Sunday night, I booked our BWCAW trip #2 of this season! We’ll head up to the Lizz | Swamp entry point, and basecamp on Caribou Lake, taking day trips into Horseshoe, and Vista. All of the portages are short, and easy, and it should only take us 2 hours or so to get to our campsite.
Valentines Day is just around the corner, and if I’m completely honest, I absolutely love this holiday! My husband and I rarely if ever go out for any kind of fancy dinner nor do we exchange gifts on this date. Maybe its the hearts or the sea of pink red and white, but this holiday stirs up in me all that is good.
With 10 days to go, I’ve been looking at what we are actually celebrating – Love.
Paul speaks a whole bunch to this in 1 Corinthians 13. We’ve all heard it at weddings, and truth be told, maybe glossed over what it all really means.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Of course we could be talking about a romantic love, but if you read through the book of Corinthians the reader isn’t even addressing a romantic love, but an attitude in general we can all embrace.
Gift my daughter is giving her teacher
Lately when coming across this passage I substitute my own name for the word [love]. So – between now and Valentines Day I would like to take pause, and strive to dive deeper and unpack these verses like a little fortune cookie and list a few practical ways I could live them out.
Valentine’s my daughter is passing out at class
1. Love is patient and kind. – Thursday February 4
Today I seek to not let the small stuff bother me, and speak with soft words. Now that my daughter eats breakfast at school our mornings are generally less hectic, but I still get impatient with her trying to get on her tights, or if the dogs are going bonkers crazy in the morning because they’ve been cooped up in the crate all night. I seek today – to have a better understanding of all needs, and speak with a more kind spirit.
2. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. – Friday February 5
Man do I love to share (verbally) and when someone shares something about themselves I usually am thinking of something similar that happened to me. And instinctively I usually share my similar circumstance… What I am doing is taking away the speakers glory and being boastful and proud of my own. Conversation is great, but interjecting more often then not is not always required. God gave me one mouth and two ears. On this day I seek to listen more, and speak less.
3. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking – Saturday February 6
I really like getting my own way. Pride overtakes me and convinces me that my way is better, or sometimes do things for my own benefit. On this day, I will look at ways to reach out to others with no agenda of my own.
4. It is not easily angered- Sunday February 7
Today is Super Bowl Sunday! I could let all kinds of things irritate me today. The fact that I plan to cook Venison Bourguignon, which takes all day to make, or the game itself may cause me irritation, or the piles of laundry, or anything. On this day – I will seek to find gratitude in everything I do.
5. It keeps no record of wrongs. – Monday February 8
Without being prideful, I would say I am generally pretty good about not keeping records. I do however let my daughters past mistakes or behaviors shape my attitude how she will be the next time.
6. It does not delight in wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. – Tuesday February 9
As a Christian, I should never rejoice when an injustice has been done, or brush it aside, but conversely I should rejoice when virtues ring out, and when truth is spoken. I would like to look for the true truth in things, and not just go with what is always popular.
7. Love always protects – Wednesday February 10
Sometimes I just give up. After so many attempts its easy to become discouraged. Maybe I slip back into old habits, or my prayer life isn’t as dynamic as it once was. Maybe for you – you’ve been praying and praying for something every day and you have yet to see its completion. But God promises that, “He who began a good work in you WILL see it to completion”. So on this day – even when I feel like the odds are stacked against me – I won’t give up.
8. Never loses faith – Thursday February 11
Even after my father died so suddenly – I did not lose faith. That’s because my house of faith in God is build on a rock,a solid foundation, and not built in haste in the sand. Similarly, build relationships on solid rocks so that they too can stand the tests of time.
9. Love is always hopeful- Friday February 12
Sometimes in the world around me its easy to lose hope. Just take one look at the presidential campaign on either side, ISIS, growing tensions with Russia, and other countries, or just even in my every day walk. – Paul tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6.
10. Endures through every circumstance. – Saturday February 13
If the time has not come for you when the proverbial crap has hit the proverbial fan… it will. And when that time comes, trust that God will be there right with you to the very end of it. He will not leave you or forsake you. If Paul didn’t write this down in his letter to the Romans, I may have come to the same conclusion myself, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
So yeah – I heard this song not too long ago… which – really God? Really? Goodness you have such a way of speaking right to me through song.
First Oceans… then Anchor- and now Heroes.
Around this time of year – I grow anxious, and think about the disappointment that I feel – that I often keep bundled up inside of me.
You see, today is my 35th birthday and would have been my dad’s 67th birthday.
He passed away very suddenly July of 2014.
So you see… I grow anxious – and think about the disappointment that I feel surrounding today. Its a real reminder to me that my dad isn’t here any more. More so than any other time of year.
To not blow out the birthday candles together
Playfully bicker about what kind of cake to have, or meal to eat.
And sing obnoxiously to each other on the phone.
And I feel incredibly guilty – or ashamed almost – for feeling sad and disappointed. I know my dad is in heaven… I know he is in a better place.
The brain understands – but the heart still hurts.
I’m trying though to trust God with my whole heart… not just my mind… and let go… open that clenched fist of my understanding and trust that God has this whole thing figured out. – Proverbs 3:5. Just as I trust intrinsicly that the sun will rise each morning.
The good Lord in heaven is teaching me something this year.
Life throws up disappointment every where we look. For me – I’m disappointed to end my 33 year tradition with celebrating my birthday with my dad. Maybe for you – you didn’t get into the college you wanted, your future husband is lost and has yet to find you, a job fell through, or someone you know – got that terrible diagnosis.
But learning to dance – on top of that. In spite of that – produces Joy. Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3) I have a good Teacher.
Deep joy is rooted not from the things of this earth, or even relationships on this earth, but with my Father in Heaven.
Today I’m singing a new song and dancing a new dance. Old traditions may die – and the bitter sting of knowing that I don’t get to celebrate with my dad for a while still hurts – but I can still choose joy today.
I asked my friends in my house group to surround me in prayer last night – as I was feeling especially sad… and this morning I woke up to a peace that I can’t quite explain. God is so good.
Hallelujah – Hallelujah- you are making all things new….
Hallelujah – Hallelujah- you are making all things new….
Here in the mystery
in you completely
Awake my soul
with your breath in me
I will worship
and you taught me feet
to dance upon disappointment
and I will worship.
After my trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this past May – I became acutely aware what I was thankful for – and what I was not. What was important… and what was not.
To start with – we have been incredibly blessed with health! In the past year my daughter went to the doctor ONCE for an ear infection back in January. Blessed doesn’t begin to describe the hand God is giving us. I am so thankful each and every day that we wake up healthy and happy.
Perhaps it is because my dad died so suddenly back in July of 2014 – that small nuances of life no longer bother me a bit. My patience has increased ten-fold – and I am utterly grateful for each and every breath I take.
My dad taught me so much about interpersonal relationships. He taught me that human relationships were the most important thing that we can do with other people. The laundry and the lawn can wait – but the real important things of life – are giving your undivided attention to the moments at hand.
If I could be the fraction of a human being that my dad was – I may be doing okay.
The list items – may be as minute as watching tiny snow flakes fall to the earth, or gratitude for my amazing family or something as huge as my gratitude for Jesus. Taking full inventory of these Simple Gifts in their most raw form each and every day – even in the ‘minutia’ has expanded my appreciation of life tenfold.
Further – I’m blessed that I live in a country – though there are times that we may feel otherwise – we really are free to worship whomever and whatever we please. I can go to church with my daughter and feel assured that I’m not going to be physically harmed leaving church.
I’ve been working very hard since last May to get my life down to simplicity. I’ve said no to things that while amazing on their own – were emptying my bucket and not supporting the things in life I claim to be most important.
I’m thankful I was given the foresight to see that reality for me.
My life really does feel less rushed. I have time for the things that fill my bucket. – Time to go on a walk with a friend, enjoy a glass of wine on the deck with a neighbor, read my daughter Little House in the Big woods or simply take a nap on a Sunday afternoon.
I’m thankful that I have a place I can go to a few times per year and see the full handiwork of God in nature – away from distractions of technology and the business of life. This place is a true Simple Gift. I’m thankful that I have legs to carry me to this place- and arms to paddle me deep into His amazing wilderness.
Happy Thanksgiving my dear readers. Will you take time to notice how amazing a simple snow flake is, the richness of family and friends around your table and the amazing grace of this life we live.
The packs are packed, the straps are tightened and all but our frozen steak, tortilla shells and gorp have been purchased. A dream – 265+ days of pure obsessive bliss in the making.
I’m feeling a bit like a bride just before the wedding. Knowing that soon all of this endless planning will be put into action and will be over before I know it.
But unlike a bride – if I love it as much as my heart and soul are telling me I will – I will get to ride that horse of planning for the next trip soon! [Oh yes – we are planning on hitting up Mudro or heading far east to East Bearskin & Caribou Lakes in October!]
I laid out under the stars two nights ago around midnight. It was a very clear night and I saw a few shooting stars and reflected what this trip has meant to me, and for me so far.
A trip of distraction. A trip of happiness. When my life had been turned on its axis last July, I’ve had something real and tangible to be genuinely excited about. Instead of being quagmired in the day to day sadness that comes with loosing a parent, unexpectedly, at an early age I poured all of that emotion into planning for this trip. Was God and my dad leading me towards this trip as I’ve said many times for the end result – or for the planning? After all – as my dad has ALWAYS said – planning is half the fun!
Regardless, I laid under those stars the other night and felt deeply connected. Connected to this earth, connected to God and connected to my dad on a level I haven’t felt in a while. The tears came, and I let them. I let myself feel everything I’ve wanted to feel, but have been too terrified to feel. The only thing wrong with the entire scenario was the neeeaaawwwmmm of the cars going down the road and highway. I imagine myself on the far north lakes along the Canadian border in pure silence. Perhaps a splash in the lake of a Walleye getting comfortable for evening, or chipmunks trying hard to figure out how to eat through our food pack… but those are the sounds of the earth.
I cant wait to lay out on the ground in the night and stare at the heavens and let them speak to me without all of the distractions of society.
Last October I had started the countdown to the BWCA as a way to express my excitement, list off my laundry items of what to do to prepare for such a trip. 265 days ago I had visited the library to get a few books on Indian Lake, a place that we were going camping for Labor Day in the southern arrowhead region. Next to those books were a few books on the boundary waters. I had no clue what the boundary waters really were besides being in a canoe and portaging in the woods. I had no interest in forgoing luxuries for a wild trip into the woods with minimal gear. Plus I didn’t even think anyone would be up for it.
Then I started to think about it constantly. I tried to use fear to “scare” the idea out of me, and imagined rabid wolves and bears coming into camp, or getting terribly lost in the woods, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that was being stirred up inside of me urging me to go. Finally mentioning it casually to my husband – like, “hmmm… I guess the fishing is pretty epic in the Boundary Waters…” My husband replied something to the effect of, “yeah – why not, check it out!” all nonchalant. I couldn’t believe it. I expected pushback, but instead I was met with open door after open door.
I began researching everything you can about the boundary waters. My first introduction ever into the bwca was a book Lost in the Wild last June by Cary Griffith which is about two lost people in the BWCA and Quetico. Determined I was not going to be unprepared like Jason Rasmussen from the book, I began relentlessly pouring over information on gear, fishing, location, wildlife, and maps and maps and maps. I watched You Tube video after You Tube video, and went to numerous expos in the process.
My biggest help has been the website bwca.com. Without it I would be dead in the water. The fine people on that website and on those message boards welcomed me with open arms, and provided me with top notch, kind advice. Never once was I made to feel stupid, or inferior, and the people I have met along the way want truly nothing more than for you to have an amazing experience.
I can’t wait to share a top notch trip report with you next month! Thanks to all of you who have helped with this journey! I’ll see you on the other side!
I served no less than 51 months Active Duty in the United Stated Navy directly after I graduated White Bear Lake High School. I graduated on a Friday – and left for bootcamp on a Monday.
I moved back to Minnesota in April of 2005 and by May I was living with my now husband Jason. (To the dismay of my parents)
It has been a full 8 months since my dad has left this world for Heaven – and its been just enough time now that I really – really miss him. I ache for him and memories that creep up split my heart apart.
Spending those 51 months away from my parents, and then living 22 miles away from each other – we didn’t stop over every weekend, or on our way home from Cub, or church. Of course we did see each other more than just birthday’s and holidays – but those times were far and few between. I was never used to seeing my dad on a daily basis and now that a real solid, healthy amount of time has gone by I miss him.
I miss him.
I miss him.
I miss him.
Since August I have been wildly chasing him through my plans for our upcoming boundary waters trip, and I still believe that I will find part of his spirit there – because God’s creation will be so prevalent, and so untouched by human hands. We [my dad and I] shared some of our very deepest conversations over a glass of wine, and sunsets over these boarder and boundary waters during the summer of 2013, and have felt an overwhelming desire to go back; an unquenchable desire that can only be explained by the hand of God and my dad leading me towards this trip.
When I was there with my dad I was on the comfort and safety of a houseboat. No portaging, and navigation was a breeze since we had markers every hundred yards or so which lined up perfectly with the map. This time will be a bit more physically challenging – but isn’t that what’s sometimes needed?
For boundaries to be pushed, to be kicked out of the safety of the nest? I’m greatly looking forward to the quiet reflection and solace release that will ultimately come as well on those late nights and early mornings with deadpan silence across the remote lakes of the north woods.
I’m realizing though – this will not be a coda to my healing and grieving journey. When we get back I will still stain my pillow with my tears, and choke back the screaming that tries to be let out in the night.
And I wonder if God has me right where I’m supposed to be. Silently crying out to God in the middle of the night and begging him with a tear stained face asking him to draw near to me, and cover me with wings like an eagle – as a fragile child who is terrified and afraid of what this world will bring, and what has already been brought.
I’ve never been closer to God in my entire life. Depending on him like life support to help me face each day. That His promises are true. That through my dad’s faith – I WILL see him again. And ultimately I will see Him.
When my emotions are especially raw and fragile at times, I listen to this song and repeat to myself what James says in James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” I’ve said so many times that verses and Gods promises are so true – but this one has been one of the truest for me. God has kept me in the comfort and safety of his wings as a majestic eagle holding its eaglet in the safety of His wing.
Is there honestly any other place that is more desirable than in the wings of the Lord? Close enough to feel His strength, His heartbeat.
I can honestly say, there is no other place I’d rather be.
Is anyone ever thankful for the crows? They are seen by so many as a menace, a disease, a disturbance.
I had let my little flock of four chickens outside a few weeks ago to free range in the backyard while I was working remotely from home. Two ISA Browns named Babs and Beatrice- and two Black Australops named Lexie & Nathalie. They were so happy to be out in the yard turning it up, dust bathing, foraging for food, and doing what chickens do.
– and I hear this constant cawing.
and I look out my window to see Nathalie under the covered porch in the back frozen. I open the door and expect her to run – but she doesn’t and I hear the constant non-stop cawing of the crows.
I look around the yard and do not see Babs or Beatrice, or little Lexie.
Coming around the corner I see the ISA Browns, and they are unusually frozen and pinned against the wall and Lexie is no where to be found.
I run to the coop amongst the cawing, and she is not there. I look up in the tree and my heart sinks.
Among the crows is a huge bald eagle – perched low. Searching. Stalking. Hunting.
My heart sinks, and I realize now that sweet little Lexie – is possibly dead or harmed on the other side of the fence below the eagle.
I go to unlatch the gate to go to her, but just then the eagle takes flight , and the crows chase it out of the yard, out of the neighborhood and out of site. I go to run to the gate to see if Lexie is over there, and in a flash Lexie comes from where she was hiding and they all run to the safety of the coop.
Photo Cortosey of Ingrid Taylor (click for source)
Today I am thankful for the crows. An unlikely hero and savior.
Are we so unlike the crows? Is there someone in your life that you’ve viewed as a crow? Someone you think is unworthy of your kindness- your love – your attention? Maybe its the person that cuts you off in traffic – the oddball at the concert, or maybe a family member? Have you been viewed as a crow? With great caution I ask – didn’t the Pharisees view our Savior like the crow?
Today is Holy Thursday – – Maundry Thursday – – Great Thursday. Jesus commands two things of us tonight.
Of course the most famous:
Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 26:26-28
“During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: Take, eat.This is my body.Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: Drink this, all of you. This is my blood, God’s new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.
And secondly, which ties into my story – is the command that He gives us in John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Even the crows.
Even the crows?
So we find excuses. But THEY aren’t christians, THEY smoke, THEY drink, THEY sleep around, THEY spend too much money, THEY have a different orientation, THEY don’t keep house, THEY gamble, THEY swear, THEY are republican, THEY are democrats, THEY eat meat, THEY don’t…. THEY, THEY, THEY when we should be on our knees saying, ME ME ME. FORGIVE ME.
If I’m real honest this evening – I view far too many people as crows. Everyone, everywhere should be viewed as a valued person that God loves, and not labeled as THEY people – or crows. We are all on equal playing ground. As I saw so clearly. The crow is just like you and ME. Jesus LOVES the crows. The broken – real people that we are. May God put more crows in my path to love – and may I extend [more] love to the ones that are already there – because if I am bitter honest… I’m no better… I’m a crow too.
Jesus came for all of us crows on a rescue mission so that we could all enjoy eternal life – and love one another as He has loved us.
Just over a month ago – a friend in my house group gave her faith story where she talked about how this song by Amanda Cook – has helped her through some difficult seasons in her life. After she gave her testimony I jotted down the artist and song name, and immediately added it to my playlist on Spotify. Listening to it, and really enjoying it.
It wasn’t truly until two weeks ago that it began to really take hold. Our hearts are unbelievably broken as I shared with friends and the world on facebook that Niko is now running wild and free with Tyler & Eli. For those that didn’t know he was ill, just before Christmas he began acting strange, and it almost seemed as though he was going blind. After a few days and after him running into walls and trees we brought him into our vet who believed he had central blindness, and refered us to an Opthamologist.
The Opthamologist confirmed the blindness and said that we needed to see a veterinary neurologist. After consulting on the phone with one of the techs at the University of Minnesota – and learning that we’d have to spend several thousand dollars to maybe get an answer -and then another 10-20K for treatment on what was most likely a brain tumor we decided to love him up in the best way possible.
Unfortunately he progressed much faster than we thought he would. Within a month he could barely walk, was loosing control of his bowels and spending nearly all of his time sleeping.
I know for those that aren’t passionate about dogs it’s hard to understand that our dogs and pets are really so much more than just pets. The loss off three dogs, two of which were just puppies in 18 short months, shouldered by my dad’s death is a devastating blow, but I think about what Ann Voskamp once said, when speaking about being thankful for every gift that God has given us. To appreciate hard gifts as well. Because the hard gifts WILL BE for good… the good gifts will be FOREVER and the BEST GIFTS will be forthcoming. I love that.
I don’t think that my losses were gifts necessarily, but God can somehow make ugly situations beautiful.
My husband and I recently went to see the movie American Sniper. Both in the movie and in real life when a Navy man is in BUDS training one of the things the trainers make them to is walk out into the surf, sit down and let the waves crash over them again and again and again.
In Amanda’s lyrics, You Make me Brave she sings, “As Your love, In wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me. For You are for us, You are not against us..” and I look back and think about how true this is.
In the past six months I have leaned in close to God, and have been nearly drowned in His love. Just like the Navy Seals in BUDS training – its like walking out into the surf sitting down, and letting each wave of His grace, comfort and love just crash into you. The ocean is relentless, and God is relentless in his pursuit and love for us.
I am reminded of the promise that God made to His people in Jeremiah 29:11-14 “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” – God’s Decree (MSG)
I have found such truth in verse 14 – When you get serious about finding God, and drawing near to Him. Being in His word daily – filling up on worship music, and good christian books , and wanting more of Christ than anything else – you will be so covered – read – drowning in his love that it becomes like the air you breathe and something you will crave when you wake up each day.
Living in this state of Grace is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, and in that, God has made me unbelievably brave. How else could I cope with loss or deal with trouble, or difficult days , or plain old LIFE without him near me? I am living a BRAVE new life right now, and when he calls me out into the water – I don’t tread lightly but RUN to him as the Anchor that He is.