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

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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 ~ 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 4

Well February just went SCREAMING by! Maybe because there were only 28 days in the month – but really – screaming by!

In the past month we did a lot of research on bwca.com (my favorite website) and purchased a LOT of BIG items.

1.) We bought a canoe! After firmly deciding that we were not going to haul the beast of a fiberglass canoe that our friends had borrowed us, we were thinking about renting a Kevlar canoe from the boundary waters. We poured hours upon hours into which brand and model canoe we wanted and landed on the one below.  When doing the math – after just two or so trips we would have an entire canoe paid for – so we ended up purchasing a 2013 Wenonah Boundary Waters Canoe from Dan Waters up at Canadian Waters Inc. in Ely. It was a used outfitting boat that’s in great condition. He is storing it up at his place until we come.

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2.) After a co-worker borrowed me his #4 and #3 Duluth Packs I determined that I would rather have a portage pack, so I returned my awesome purple Crestrail 65L for an even more awesome CCS Pioneer Hybrid pack (in Red). This sucker takes the practicality of a portage bag and marries it with the convenience and comfort of a framed hiking pack and BAM! You have a CCS Hybrid bag. The best part is that it’s not only made in the USA, its made right down the road from me!

I had the luxury of visiting CCS headquarters and meeting owners Dan & Karen who are avid paddlers, and know a thing or two about the BWCA! While I was there I got loads of free advice, and picked up a Pathfiner Thwart Bag as well to hold our map, bug spray, sun screen and anything else we want to keep handy in the canoe.

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What else happened? We reserved our bunkroom with Canadian Waters, Inc. as well, and it seems like a very very good deal. We plan to head up to the bwca on a Friday and put in on a Saturday – instead of waking up around 3am to drive up to Ely and get in [the entry point] early enough to avoid canoe traffic at the major portages.

It is $20 per night for a room (per person) of private bunk beds, and Sadie can stay with us too – and breakfast is included at Britton’s Cafe across the street. If you ask me – thats one heck of a deal!

In this next month we will be purchasing sleeping bags for both Miss K’s  and myself and three Exped or Thermarests mats to get us up off the freshly thawed ground and a few more clothing items as needed.

Jason did discover there is quite a few items of interest at Fleet Farm at a pretty good discount. Dry bags which are in the same fashion as our REI purchased ones, and these super awesome flexible ties. He also purchased a handful of bungee cords and a handful wool sox as well.

One other website that I found is this awesome one: Paddle Planner. You can put in your entry point to your desired daily location and it will tell you (in miles) how far you have to travel and the estimated time it will take you to get there. They also have campsites listed with photos and reviews! I already have my eye on several campsites I would like to make my home for a few days!

This next month we should have everything fairly buttoned up in terms of the majority of our supplies. Here’s to more “hunting and gathering”.

~ Till next time.

You Make Me Brave

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.
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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.

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