captain

two years ago today marks the date.

of those non-stop phone calls I kept ignoring.

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…

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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.

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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.

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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

… prayed

…begged

…bargained

…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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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❤ Linds

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You taught my feet to dance…

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.

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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.

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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.
Dancing.

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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.

 

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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….

I will
Trust
Here in the mystery
I will
Trust
in you completely

Awake my soul
to sing
with your breath in me
I will worship
and you taught me feet
to dance upon disappointment
and I will worship.

 

Stay Alive

It was about a year ago.

A series of sudden and frantic phone calls.

Call me back. We need to talk now. Something has happened.

Pulling into the ER. Parking lot – calmly – giving everything up to God.

Walking into the ER – half concussed… A Chaplain. Why is there a chaplain here? Oh God. This is bad.

Dad laying on a gurney in the ER. Heart restarted – resting – not conscious yet.  Ever.

Do whatever just to stay alive.

Begging God to intervene. Make the miracle miraculous.

Sitting bedside all day – all night. Dawn is coming…. open your eyes.

Open your eyes dad. Open them. Open them.

A series of tests to confirm lack of consciousness. Nothing. Not even control of his own heartbeat. Sure. You can say something to him. But he probably can’t hear you either.

Devastating.

Right ear on chest. Tick tock… Tick Tock… Keeping the life time clock.

Tears on cheeks. The last heart beat – heard

silence

I play back the of the rhythm of these days . The stickiness of it all. We’re stuck tight.

They choke to death. Gone. Forever.

And then the thoughts begin.

Does it make you think? It makes me think. It makes me think hard.

Can this happen to me?’

Can I die so easily?

Am I ready if it is my time?

There is a time for everything.

A time for everything under the sun.

But am I ready?

What if I were to die today? Tomorrow? Next week – Next year?

Is the trajectory that I am on today on par with who I want to be remembered by?

Epiphany in the BWCA.

How fitting – except that it isn’t what I thought it would be.

I thought [and prayed] it would be some random vision of my dad – or God. But it was this overwhelming sense to free up my life. Stop saying yes to every single obligation under the sun.

Things are so much easier in the BWCA. Physically much harder. Emotionally easier.

Focus on what is before you. Make time for real relationships.

Life at times has become shallow. In the world of technology – real meaning and conversations die.

Be the person that God invited me to be.

Connect. Stay Alive.

Be a person full of love for others. A person who has legitimate time for rest. A time for reflection on what this life is… and who God is.

Dawn is coming. Open your eyes.

Was it a call for him to open his eyes, or for me to open mine?

Countdown to the BWCA ~ The Trip

Our first trip into the BWCA was kind of like becoming a first time parent. You can do tons of research and get loads of advice but until you actually experience it – you have no idea what you’re doing! I was humbled many times out there – but that too is good for a person! The lessons learned:

First: I loved the immediacy of everything. You didn’t think about three days from now, or next month – but what did you have to do in the next five minutes. For an event planner – who is always planning a year or more in advance this was a much needed break for my tired brain!

Second: I love solitude and peace and quiet! – I had no idea I was such an introvert until you put a super talkative person in the BWCA for a week with a husband who is very introverted! I actually loved it! 

Third: You can plan for this life – and have the perfect idea of what and how things will go – but then something changes and you have a new life (that is – my life after my Dad’s unexpected passing last year) – and to realize that though its not what you planned , the new life – or adventure can be beautiful too! (How our trip actually played out).

Friday May 15, 2015
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock  you will know that I have been planning our first trip into the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) or BWCA – or even B-Dub as some call it. Friday May 15th finally appeared in sight, and the countdown on my phone finally switched from numbers to “BWCAW TODAY”. By 10:30 a.m. the car was loaded, our gear was packed and we were headed to Ely, MN.

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Just north of Forest Lake we saw a billboard that read, “Phones and Emails going unanswered, and the world isn’t over!” ~ Ely Minnesota.

I knew again this trip would be awesome.

As we got closer the scenery changed with cathedral high pines and ridges that boomed up from the earth.

As we got onto Hwy 169 north of 53 my new favorite song “Stay Alive” came on and we pulled into Ely.

Our first stop was Canadian Waters Outfitters to purchase our 2013 Wenonah Boundary Waters Canoe and pick up our permit to enter the wilderness. Dan Waters is a class act guy so we knew that we were in great hands. After we got our canoe strapped to the roof we were headed for Spirit of the Wilderness outfitters on the other side of town to pick up our SPOT. We were all gung ho and were going to walk down there, but it seemed kind of far so we went back and got the car. Picked up an emergency map and a few more Cache Lake food treats, and Jason got some leeches. We were fully outfitted now, and I wanted to head out to the Echo trail to see where it was and get a look.

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As soon as we turned right on to the Echo Trail my heart sang, and my soul was touched. The sights were unlike anything I saw before – even though some of the scenery is similar to Voyagers National Park, or Lutsen MN, but this was different. Jason didn’t want to go to far so we headed back to Ely, and dropped Sadie off at the bunkhouse so we could get some dinner.

Dinner was beef tips in Teriyaki at the Ely Steakhouse, and a lovely glass of Malbec! Later we walked along the shops of Ely and stopped into Piragus to get Kay some new rain pants since we couldn’t find hers at home.

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It was hard to sleep that night, tossing and turning, tossing and turning thinking what lied ahead the next day on the trail to Beartrap Lake.

Saturday May 16, 2015
The alarm sounded at 4:45 a.m. and we woke up. We threw all of our stuff in the car, went to the bathroom in a flush toilet for the last time, and headed over to Brittons Cafe. Even though I didn’t really want Oatmeal for breakfast I was way too excited to eat a real meal, so we threw the food down the hatch and busted out of there ready to blaze our path into the wild. It was a quiet, still, and foggy morning with the sun peaking out and casting haunting spiritual light onto the road. The Echo trail was once again gorgeous, and once we turned onto the dirt road it was nothing short of enchanting.

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After some time, the entry point appeared out of nowhere due to all of the fog, and sun in our eyes. It was a magical, quiet, beautiful moment.

We unloaded the car which took about 20 minutes or so to get situated. No one else was there so we parked in the middle of the road near the portage path. I brought Kay to the vault toilet in the parking lot, parked the car, and then several more cars arrived including some folks I had seen in Brittons Cafe.

They unloaded their vehicles like it was their jobs, and I instantly felt like a novice.

Once we were ready to go I tried to get my pioneer pack on and almost fell over! I was offered help by a very nice gentleman, but politely declined knowing that they wouldn’t be near us to help me the whole time.

The first 30 rod portage to the river/creek that leads to Mudro was a breeze. Flat, wide and hardly any roots and rocks to contend with.

Finally we were off! There were a handful of submerged boulders that we worked hard to avoid and in the process we were passed by “Olympic Canoists” as though we were just drifting in the creek. But then again we have zero paddling/canoeing skills.

It was a nice and beautiful paddle through Mudro Lake and I knew right where we were going from my copious hours doing research over maps. It was difficult to determine where the portage path was but I knew that it was on the right hand side. Jason wondered if the rushing water was a waterfall and Kay started freaking out so we pulled to the right shore while Jason & Kay got out and scouted for the portage path. Just then we were passed by more “professionals” at the real portage so we went up there to an exceptionally rocky & tricky footing portage.

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Kay got her feet all wet and was quite pouty about it, so we changed her shoes and sox.

We were all thankful to be back in the canoe but it was just a blip and through my research I knew the longer and steeper portage was upon us. This entrance was significantly easier to find. We were locked and loaded and decided to portage without our lifejackets on which was much more comfortable. We traversed the sometimes steep and rocky ridges and after about 1/4 mile or 80 rods we all took a break just off the portage path and downed a bunch of water. Jason left the canoe off the portage path, and we finished up the portage and waited for Jason when he went back for the canoe.

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Miss K got some girl scout cookies I had for her, and I was looking all around like a paranoid person because I was nervous about the wild life.

Jason came back in no time and it seemed laughable at the short distance of paddling before the next 10 rod portage. Thinking it would be an easy one, but boy was I mistaken! The rocks were like sheer ice and the portage into Fourtown was downright treacherous! I had no idea how we were going to get down this rock face. There wasn’t much footing and you basically had to jump to a very small landing below. After “rock climbing” and starting to load the canoe we were passed by more people. They had portaged a bit further down trail and their way seemed a lot easier with no rock climbing involved! We will definitely remember this for the way back!

After these three “tougher-than-we-thought” portages we decided our new destination would be Fairy Lake – 4 lakes short of our goal.

We got onto Fourtown which opened up into a much larger lake, blissfully reminding me of Lake Namakan in Voyagers National Park. We paddled towards Boot Lake and were passed by a flotilla of 3 canoes and were told that our daughter/dog looked pretty well behaved! (Why, thank you!)

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The paddle to Boot was easy & it felt good to get my paddling arms. We came up to the portage near the brooke that drains from Boot to Fourtown. Finally no rockside boulders and a chance to stretch! After we got our composure a man appeared from the portage by himself. Our daughter was really interested that he was paddling all by himself. We made our way towards Boot on what was a very easy path and thought Jason was behind us, but it turned out to be the man I later found out was JJ from bwca.com! I moved over so he could get the rest of his stuff and waited for Jason over on Boot.

Boot lake was very nice. We passed a few sites that looked really good as we made our way up to Fairy.

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This portage was mostly good but was filled with chipmunks so our JRT was in heaven! Fairy lake was not too large, but not too small. Just right. This would be home until at least Monday or Tuesday after the rainy Sunday and cold Monday passed. I filled our Platypus Gravity Works filter up with water which had an orange tint. We scoped out the E. Campsite which JJ said would be free. It was very large and nice. After pulling everything up on shore, Kay and I looked for the toilet and found it without too much work.

We got the tarp set up in preparation of tomorrows rain and got our tent on a nice level(ish) area near the lake.

We threw our fishing lines in, put on cooler clothes and waited.

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Kay caught a northern, but we threw it back to grow a bit bigger.

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Dinner was steak, asparagus and sweet potato. It was so delicious, and we ate like we were starving.

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We got our food bag hung in a tree about 1/4 mile away from camp using the PCT method and got a fire going until about 10:30 where we climbed into bed to an orchestra of frogs.

My mummy sleeping bag was tight but really warm, and my Exped 7 was like a dream! The Tempurpedic of the north woods!

Happy would have been 45 year anniversary Mom & Dad!

Sunday May 17th
I woke up while it was still dark to something wondering around camp. I fully convinced myself it was a moose. Yes. I could hear its hoofs on the rocks. “Please don’t trample us, please don’t trample us.” I prayed to myself. Then SLAP – SPLASH – LOUD! Again – 2 or 3 more times! The moose must have jumped in the water! I laid there shaking in my sleeping bag praying to God to keep us save and keep the wolves away. After some time I began silently laughing to myself fully realizing that was a BEVER!!!! Not a moose.

I fell back to sleep until light to torrential rain and lightening! Man I had to pee, but I wasn’t getting out in this crap. Luckily my daughter was still sleeping.

After an hour or so the rain stopped, so we got out and went to get the food bag down, but had trouble. Pulling on the rope we ended up breaking the branch and it fell down on top of us, but we were all okay! We need a new hanging method!

Had oatmeal & coffee. It was very good.

Intermittent rain throughout the morning, then it stopped for a while, so we decided to head up to Gun Lake for a quick trip. The portage to Gun was easy to find, but it was super muddy and lots and lots of puddles! Very rocky at both landings! Once we passed the trees into Gun I was IN LOVE! The water was exceptionally clear with none of that orange tint, and had the feeling of home to me! This is what I was looking for!

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Gun is larger than fairy but absolutely beautiful. Yes! I definitely want to move here on Tuesday but we will see how things go!

It was very windy so there were rollers to contend with so I dropped to my knees to paddle, which gave instant stability.

Tried to fish in the narrows up into the barrel of the lake, but it was far too windy. We saw 3 canoes out fishing as well who obviously had anchors – probably the ones who passed us the day before. We gave a wave and they waved back.

I brought the Playtypus with and got super clean water.

We fished the bottom towards the portage and it was much better away from the wind. The rain started back not long after so we headed back to camp.

We had chili-Mac from Mountain House and it was wonderful! Having a fire was futile so it was a wonderful thing we brought the Biolite stove. That thing ROCKS!

We all headed to the tent to play Yahtzee, but we were so tired that we all fell asleep and napped until 5:30 p.m.

Sadie was NOT the typical Jack Russell Terrier and wanted to sleep the entire trip. K was also pooped out and had a nice long nap too.

We had Chicken Wild Rice Soup for dinner which was good, but way too much food for us, so we threw it on the fire. We discovered Sadies harness was causing a bad raw spot so we took it off and now Sadie is in a much better mood!

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Our new hanging method is a breeze! Throw the rock/rope over a tree limb 6 feet away from the main trunk, tie the food bag on with a caribeener, and hoist it up 12 feet in the air and 4 feet from the branch and tie off on another tree. We don’t even remove the rope anymore – just hang up and lower the food! A pulley system would be nice for next time.

Over dinner we decided that if its not raining tomorrow we are going to abandon our origional plans of going further north and try to move to the east towards and into Horse Lake. I was a bit sad to leave the idea of Gun Lake, but know I will be back and can try for it next time! Got our boots and shoes dried on the fire before going to bed in preparation of tomorrows travel. No luck fishing today, not even a bite. Maybe we’re in a funky weather pattern?

We all laid out on a dry rock and stretched our sore muscles. After we got camp cleaned and put to rest it started sprinkling so we headed to the tent to play yahtzee. I won! Kay colored and I wrote and read the spring 2014 issue of the BWJ before we closed our eyes and drifted to sleep to the sounds of planes overhead.

Monday May 18th
Woke up to freezing temperatures and pouring down rain! Finally got the courage to get out of our warm sleeping bags and get our rain gear on to go to the bathroom and get our food bag down and have breakfast. I guess we aren’t going anywhere today. After a breakfast of oatmeal, turkey sausage sticks, coffee & hot cocoa we charged up my iphone on our biolite stove! It worked pretty well.

After dishes and hanging the food bag etc we all headed right back to the tent to play yahtzee and get warm. We all slept until 3:30pm! It was still raining but again – I had to pee! Finally got the courage to go out and pee and realized that it was not raining but SNOWING out!!! It was actually kind of epic and made us feel super hardcore. Ate an early dinner and cussed I didn’t buy Kay Bog boots. Whoever said that kids should just wear old tennis shoes never took a 7 year old on a trip where it rained and snowed the whole time. Despite wool sox her feet were constantly wet! I am DEFINITELY buying her Bog boots!

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Dinner was light, but filling – Chicken Curry but was physically a heavy package so yay for a lighter pack! We tried fishing again but not even a bite. Spirits started getting a little low while trying to get our fire going. Fairy Lake is home to NO firewood to speak of! Contemplating packing up and getting a hotel, but today was supposed to be the worst of the days! We just have to get through today and then hopefully move to Horse Lake tomorrow!

We dried and warmed up by the fire after we finally got it going and my Bog boot started melting! Word to the wise – don’t get too close to the heat with them on! K and I headed to the tent where Sadie already was and got some new warm clothes on and hopped into our 5 degree sleeping bags to warm up while Jason finished drying our gear/clothes by the very smokey fire.

Our daughters patience for the BWCA was wearing thin and our patience for her lack of listening skills were also wearing thin!

Father God, Continue to keep us safe from all harm and please let this weather break up so we can move tomorrow!

Once Jason got back in the tent we played Pictionary to lift our spirits, read the map and the BWJ. We are hopeful!

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We fell asleep to the hard cold wind.

Tuesday May 19
Slept in until 7:30 a.m. or so to clear and quiet skies! YAY!!! No more rain. Our canoe however was covered in snow where our daughter promptly decided to play in it thus getting wet hands again, but we are all hopeful we can move today!

We made the decision last night instead of portaging our crap all the way into Horse Lake we would stay on the east side of Fourtown.

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We bid farewell to Fairy Lake and got on the portage to Boot. It went pretty good. A few wet spots, but the paddle on Boot was beautiful! Sadie decided to fall/jump out of the canoe, but she had her life jacket on and Jason missed just one paddle stroke and scooped her up by her handle. The portage to Fourtown was a breeze! We single portaged both times. Saw two girls heading towards Boot and one was named Kay also! My Kay was pretty impressed that two girls were out by themselves! I told her once she turns 13-14 that maybe we can do a trip by ourselves!

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The first two sites on Fourtown directly out of Boot on the left were taken by what appeared to be boy scouts. The wind was blowing strong and there were lots of white caps. I had become a “professional” knee paddler so I felt ok with the waves. We got to the other side of Fourtown Lake straight across from Boot to start looking for a new site. The first few sites were okay but didn’t really ike them and decided to keep going south and saw another free site high up on some rocks. Paddled to the other side and I got out. It was okay, but still didn’t feel perfect.

The next site was taken, and finally tucked in on the way to Horse Lake was a beautiful site with a sandy beach to boot! Beautiful, multiple flat tent pads, and a new non-broken potty! (The one at Fairy had a screw loose).

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Yes she has her pants up!!!

Yes she has her pants up!!!

Not as many nice trees for hanging but TONS of dry dry wood for a fire! The site was right on some rapids for nice white noise and was on an unmarked portage. We can see why some people rated this only 3 stars on bwca.com – but I think mostly because of the foot traffic, but we didn’t mind seeing other people.

We had mac and cheese for lunch and tons of it! We ate like ravishing kings! Mac & cheese is definitely a great mood builder!

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We tried fishing and again, no luck! Grrr. Fished the entire mini lake/pond between Fourtown & Horse. Came back to camp to make dinner – Mountain House – Beef Stroganoff and a Cache Lake Garlic Bread. Kay said her stroganoff wasn’t good, and I told her to suck it up and eat it – until I took a bite… and then I said, um, Kay – you don’t have to eat this! The bread was a little tricky so we ended up having pudding for dinner! Kay thought that was great! Luckily we had so much mac and cheese at 3pm we weren’t that hungry anyways.

Garlic bread from Cache Lake foods

Garlic bread from Cache Lake foods

After dinner chores were done we got a nice roaring fire going and stayed up until the stars were in full swing. I laid out on the rocks and called it a star party. The song Oceans by Hillsong United were playing in my head as clear as day as if it were actually playing! Looking up at the skies I knew this was exactly where I was meant to be. I had never seen so many stars in my life due to the lack of moon.

Tonight – we go to sleep to an orchestra of loons, the rush of the rapids below, and the beaver fishing and slapping his tail.

Wednesday May 20
Time is flying! We woke up to a dolby surround sound of birds! The low rush of the rapids and grouse taking flight – puh – puh – puh – puh – puh. Thinking we might take out tomorrow instead of Friday.

Had a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and were greeted by our neighbors at the next site over – since of course we were on the portage. They were headed to Horse Lake to fish and gave us a Johnson SilverMinnow to try! We cleaned up camp and got on the lake with several people coming up behind us.

There is a small set of rapids but we couldn’t tell where the portage was – so we asked the guy and gal behind us and they said the portage was another block or so up and that they always run these rapids. We saw several more people run the rapids and get banged up a bit and one other couple took the unmarked portage like us.

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There were two more portages afterwards and the 80 rod was actually quite the lovely hike!

We got to Horse and I was instantly in love! It was Lake Superior meets Lake Namakan meets the BWCA! Fashioned an anchor with some rope and rock, and we fished the west shore bank from the inlet from Fourtown up to and across from the Horse River then drifted back down the middle and were skunked again!

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We decided finally to take Dan Waters advice and fish on the inlet towards Fourtown at the bottom of the rapids by the portage. Soon Jason caught a 1.5# Northern with a jig and some Gulp. I was determined I needed to get a fish. I had the Johnson Lure and was casting everywhere! Just as I got it close to the boat I saw a good size northern following but missed, but Jason picked him up on the other side of the canoe with a wounded minnow lure! We guessed about 5#.

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The lure was stuck tight but Jason’s pliers were back at camp! Just then a group of guys in their 20s we guessed and and they had pliers. It was too much fish for us on our last night, so we offered it to the guys and they were super excited since they had 8 guys and it sounded like they would really enjoy him for supper!

On the way back we saw several turtles sunning themselves on a log.

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View of our campsite

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Once back, Jason gathered some more water and Kay and I put on shorts and t-shirts. I met Jason on the rock chairs which was like a natural love seat and we officially decided to take out tomorrow morning. We loved this trip but are heading straight to another campsite to camp with Jasons parents/family and about 20 other friends. We had a yummy dinner of Knors Chicken Flavored rice & a foil chicken packet. We got everything packed up and ready for tomorrows departure. I could tell I was developing a sunburn but didn’t really mind to get a little color on my winter skin.

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Later I laid out on the rocks by myself and listened to Your Glory by All Sons & Daughters & Oceans by Hillsong United. It was a wonderful – and Holy experience looking at Gods nature. His Glory is so beautiful. Your glory is so beautiful I fall onto my knees in awe And the heartbeat of my life Is to worship in your light ‘Cause Your glory is so beautiful Your glory is so beautiful. I realized that my dad is seeing this – and so much more. He is seeing true beauty and I finally got the peace I took this trip for. I let go. I let go of any anger that I still had in me and had a peace about me that transcends all understanding. I sat at the rapids and looked towards Fourtown and saw an eagle soaring and the skies and clouds were amazing. It was like the bow on the present I was given.

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We had our last BWCA fire for the trip, played cards & more Yahtzee and everything about the rest of the night was absolutely lovely!

Thursday May 21
Woke up and busted down camp. Had again some oatmeal and coffee and hung out by the rapids one last time. We hopped in the canoe and headed towards the portages leading to Mudro. The wind was high and so were the waves, but we felt comfortable in our canoe and the wind was at our back so we made pretty good time.

This time we did not go rock climbing – but took the “easier” portage and single portaged the long one as well! After all – perhaps we’ve become professionals this week!

The last portage was a wet one as we guessed the water came up near the fall down right at Mudro lake and flooded the portages. We didn’t even mind and I saw Jason portaging his pack, Kay’s pack, and Kay claiming Super Dad! Evidently she gave up on the trip on the last portage! Haha!

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We paddled through Mudro and it too was bitter sweet. I was excited for land and civility, but was also so sad to leave the peace of the wilderness behind.

We came up through the creek river, and took our last portage to to the road.

After we got the car loaded I walked by myself down the portage to give a prayer of Thanks to God for this trip. For our safety and the wonderful experiences and flurry of emotions.

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We will be back! Hopefully this October – but I guarantee… we will be back before long.

Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 6

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!

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Draw me nearer

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.

Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 5

Seriously – I’m posting part 5 today! It seems as though I was just at the local library picking up a copy of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Western Region book almost as a joke to see what the big fuss was about the BWCA, and now just 8 months later I am dreaming wildly of my first paddle stroke into the wild.

Everything is starting to run together now, but all that we really have to procure now is paddles and new fishing poles – because – eh – why not.

I recently purchased an Exped mat at the recommendation from my new friends over at bwca.com. I asked the kind folks of REI if I could “play” with one before I purchased so I pumped it up like I was giving my mat CPR (kind of wondering if all of this CPR pumping was worth the Exped) and then it was finally to the desired firmness, and I laid on it. I instantly was sold and probably laid in the store on that mat for far longer than I should have. (Later that evening I had a 12 hour drive ahead of me to Oklahoma) so I was taking advantage of the five minute snooze fest on the floor of REI. I’m sure they’ve seen far worse but I digress.
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Nature is releasing its grip on winter down here near the cities with all of the snow gone, and ice out on much of the lakes. It is making me crave the wild places with an increased and renewed hunger. I recently spoke with some people from Ely who said the snow is gone-baby-gone (Hallelujah), but alas there is still two feet of perfect glass ice that is holding fast. Each day I am checking the Ely weather forecast to see if it will be warm enough to melt that ice – but ultimately I have to let nature do its thing and not worry about it. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” ~ Luke 12:25. My worrying about it won’t make the ice melt any faster. Well said Jesus. Well said.

At the end of this month I’m heading to the Outdoor Adventure Expo at Midwest Mountaineering and can’t wait! We went to the Sportsman Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center last weekend, and it was pretty underwhelming. Mostly RVs, big boats, and lodges. We did run into a few canoe outfitters, and I did purchase a subscription to the BWJ so I can dork out with a magazine too!
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I think that’s it for now. Minimal things left for the month. To do’s include buying my 48″ bending branches espresso bent shaft paddle – leaving the fishing pole stuff up to the husband, and watching lots of videos on how to pack your canoe pack. The way I have it now I nearly tipped over like Reece Witherspoon in Wild.

Linds