Sunday, March 27, 2022

Life is death...

"Ah... life is death, and death is life." Kelton blurted this out of nowhere one day while we were driving. Context? None. :-) 

"If I pack for hiking, I will have enough food for 10 days and 40 nights." Kelton again. Strangely specific. And again, out of nowhere. 

And Kelton: "Imagine the good I could accomplish if I had a drone. With binoculars. And a stun gun." Yes... imagine. 

"It's strange the things we think when we're young. I look back and I think I must have been crazy back then!" Truly. Nothing like years of maturity to open the eyes and create wisened youth. ~ The mature Kelton.

"Lochlan, you carry the water and I'll walk in front of you to make sure you know the way." The benevolent Kelton.

Kelton ~ "I think I'm a pretty serious speed demon, but I don't like the word 'demon', so we'll need to come up with something more positive that describes my abilities." Oh my gosh, how are you for real? 

Annnnnnnnnd... Kelton: "Mom would you rather walk 100,000,000 miles or 10 Drillion miles?" Gosh... that's a difficult choice. 

And lastly, but not really because he never stops: "Mom, I love you the most and if you say you love me the most, it just proves that I love you even more than you." I'm confused, but apparently arguing the point is futile. 

This man is full of love - So. Much. LOVE! He is also a pistol and less than predictable. He is full of surprises - most of which we like. We'll keep him! 

The differences in siblings is remarkable. I'm sure nearly every parent has said, or at least thought, this over the full expanse of time in which humans have existed. 

"Madigan, we have 5 minutes until we need to leave!" The man leaps out of bed, pulls his PJ's off from over his clothing, which he pre-wore to bed for maximum efficiency. In less than 5 minutes he is fully dressed in wool socks, hiking pants, t-shirt, button down sun shirt, hat, Jr. Ranger vest, machete holstered on his hip, knife tucked into his pocket, backpack filled with hiking essentials and life-saving tools, snacks for more than just himself, and even a hair tie for me because I always need one and rarely have one. He strides confidently to the truck, drops off his gear and is waiting at the gate to open it for me when I drive forward. It's kind of amazing. And he's usually waiting at least 1 full minute for me, having leaped from bed exactly 4 minutes before. You see, this day was planned in detail the day before - no, three days before. His attention to detail is admirable and he holds himself and all of us to specific and precise standards of operation. :-) He is efficient, diligent and unbelievably hard working. 

"Declan, we have to leave in 15 minutes!" This man ambles to the kitchen, sips on his tea, sits down to chat with me as I finish putting on my shoes, tells Kelton a "quick" story in incredible detail about the dream he had last night, grabs a water bottle, hunts for some snacks (usually procuring inspiring snacks that are the envy of us all, but then he knows that, so he always packs enough for every person because he loves the delight on our faces when he passes them out), washes the thermos carefully, makes hot tea in the thermos for everyone, packs cups for everyone, searches in vain for the book he is halfway through and anxious to finish while hiking, loves on Paisley, helps get Lochlan in the shower because he's always stinky in the morning, asks if there is anything I need help with, grabs another water bottle for whomever forgot theirs (Kelton). 20 minutes later, he hears me honk from the car, so he frantically grabs his very full pack which is not zipped. As he exits the house he has the open backpack draped over one arm and the other is holding his 2 boots, 1 sock (the other is partially on one foot), and an extra (extra) water bottle, which may or may not have the lid securely fastened. His short sleeve button down shirt is buttoned chaotically and his pants are definitely missing a button altogether. When I remind him that he needs to grab a jacket because it's 22 degrees outside, he almost cries in exasperation, throws his burdens onto the front seat/floorboard and runs to grab a jacket (still with 1 sock on). As we pull forward to the gate, I prepare to get out and open it. He says, "No, Mom, I've got it!" and leaps out, jacket halfway on (one arm counts, right?), 1 sock still on, and one foot with the shoe minus a sock. He opens the gate and gives me the biggest smile as I pull forward. The cares of this world do not haunt him. He can always make time for others and there is never a time that is not great for a hug. He loves so completely and sees the world through a lens thoroughly his own. I love to discover what he has found; he gives new meaning to life because he absolutely sees it differently. He finds beauty in the tiniest possible places and it takes my breath away. Even if it's beautiful chaos. 

I know this looks terrible, and I'm sorry, but... 
Declan found this dried up squash in the garden. 
He showed me how beautifully it had dried (inside) 
and how the seeds were nestled away, just 
awaiting spring. He sees it! 

I was FURIOUS! Frustrated beyond measure! I walked into the living room to have tea yesterday morning and our wooden chest which sits right by the couch had been desecrated by powerful scribble strokes. It was impossible to miss and let me just tell you how much of my life I have spent researching how to remove permanent marker from every surface imaginable and then implementing that research into hours of painstaking labor. I called all the boys in and rabidly awaited their arrival. 

Then, I looked closely at the markings... "Toy Box". I had a fleeting thought: "Could this possibly be Lochlan?" 

Then, the troops arrived and I queried each on the nature of the beast and they each claimed innocence. When I asked Lochlan what it said, he grinned widely and said, "Toy Box." I'm not going to lie... I cried. Abundant tears of joy. Do you know how powerful this is?! He not only wrote it on his own, but he understood what he was writing, he wrote it legibly and he labeled it correctly! We were once told that though he may read, he would never comprehend what he was reading. WRONG! And, he had written it with a magic marker; now, I wish it was written in permanent marker! A testimony to all of how little we know, of how we can be surprised by joy when we least expect it. 

Let us each keep finding the beauty in ALL the things... 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Climbing the Matterhorn

 In life, there is this narrow line we walk, on a path that life seems to determine for us, though obviously we are not immune to the responsibility of our own decisions in all of it. We lack the ability to predict what that path will look like. There are curves that catch us at top speed and hurtle us where we never intended to go. There are objects that seem to throw themselves upon us, never waiting for us to bump into them inadvertently. There are individuals that we encounter whom nothing in life could prepare us for. Some of us bounce into adolescence with a sense of wonder and confidence in the promises that we've made to ourselves, the hopes that have been instilled in us, or the blind faith others have placed in us. When the smack down falls upon us time and again, we all react differently/uniquely. But, at some point, in life, we all break to one degree or another. These breaks can leave us irreparably shattered, or they can give us strength that comes from something much deeper, profound understanding, humility rooted in truth, and even a renewed insight (into others, into reality, into ourselves), akin to a blind man with his sight suddenly restored. 

When I sharpen my tools, I often use a grinder - and each tool is far more effective as a tool in my workshop when I am finished with the process. If I have sharpened them correctly, that is. :-) I have confidence that the One who is responsible for allowing the sharpening in my life is not only Divine, but all-knowing and fully capable. If the process is painful, may it be effective. 

We've recently traversed a very challenging path (mostly with Lochlan) and I have felt like it was a season in life that was much darker than most others. There were mornings when I didn't want to wake up and face the day. As I started to see it take a greater toll on each of the members of this household (including Kaysee and Max), the inability to change our situation started to build epic frustration inside of me. As that particular fixation has eased off, he has entertained other, much less destructive and horrifying fixations and it honestly has given us fresh air to breathe and greater hope for tomorrow. 

During our "dark season" I kept telling myself that it would not always be like this. Someday the season would change. I recently told that to a dear friend who is going through a very dark season, and he said that he knows it won't always be like this, but that he dreads what the future may hold. Sure, it will be a new season, but what will that season hold? I deeply understand that sentiment; yet, we must recognize that we are most often uniquely strengthened in our brokenness and in the places where we have fallen. Our eyes are made to see things we have never before appreciated and in that there is a new found wealth. Simple beauty in all it's forms is less likely to escape our admiration. Joy will be that much more deeply treasured. And the challenges of tomorrow will most likely be met with wiser hearts. 

I've been reflecting on these things in the past couple weeks. Not surprisingly, the best places for me to ponder and wonder are in His Creation. So, I decided one morning to greet the sunshine out by Grand Falls. I invited my mom and any boys who wished to accompany me on a crazy, cold morning adventure. We were not disappointed! As I looked up at the falls, the grandeur was humbling, the beauty overwhelming. 

I don't know what the next season will include, but I know it will be challenging and there will be unforeseen curves. And there will be greater joy than I have known before. Of that I am certain, because each day I wake up and I am surprised by joy in all the unimaginable ways. 

I watched a GoPro video of someone atop the Matterhorn. There was an 8 inch wide trail on snow and sheer drops to either side. Standing in the middle of the "trail" you could see straight down on either side; sheer death drops. I could barely keep watching, and yet it felt so similar to many of the paths we all seem to traverse at various points in our life. Keep moving forward and (if you don't die :-) you will not always be in that place. For those of you who intentionally put yourself atop the Matterhorn... I'm not sure I understand. :-) 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Cottage at the base of the Peaks

Our cottage has been used as a vacation rental for almost 4 years now and with almost constant bookings. It has been a reliable addition to our overall income, but the greater benefit by far has been the number of people from across the world whom we have grown to love as friends, and some as family. It has enriched all of our lives and I am so grateful. 

Lionel and Kathy are some of those guests who have become family to us. We see them multiple times a year, if we are given the option and they have made it a priority to visit our family and share their special events with us. This particular visit was their 40th anniversary celebration!!! We love them beyond measure! They have adopted us as their family and they have continually built into each one of us, individually. I find myself seeking their counsel on almost anything and I know their love to be unconditional. Sharing life with them, even from afar, has made my life so much more complete and full. 

When they leave to go home each time, we all go through a grieving period, it seems. Certainly our moodiness escalates. :-) After their most recent visit, I took Madigan out to my hill and watched him process in a very similar way to me. :-) 

Kelton also accompanied me and soothed his sadness with a good cup o' hot tea. 

Even the dogs love their visits! Note the smile on Aberdeen's face! 

Kaysee discovered another spear head (the one on the right) while we were out exploring with Lionel and Kathy. 

Even the mountain performed some of it's more moving pieces for us. 

And then, the day after they left, winter fell upon us again. :-) 

In the past couple weeks we had some very beloved friends from Austin come visit us. Watching our kids play together was such a delight to each of us. Denise and I were pregnant with our first babies together. We have shared much of our lives together and it was rich to see how we picked right up where we left off (when we moved from Austin) almost 12 years ago. Beautiful friendships are not to be taken for granted, at any point. 

These past few weeks have left us with full hearts.

Today, we said goodbye to Ankie Tae who headed back home after coming out to Flagstaff with her wonderful ski buddies to ski and also to be here to celebrate Kelton's birthday. We had some great adventures during their time here and we were left with sweet memories. Goodbyes just don't get easier. You'd think we would eventually adapt and just be okay with "see you soon", but alas, the pain of being apart seems to intensify with time (old age?). The truth: I HATE living away from my siblings. There it is. 

So, on this sunny spring-ish day we struggled through school so that we could go find ourselves in the woods. 

Tomorrow is another day and we shall face it, together.