Sunday, October 31, 2010

Control Freak?

Sometimes I wonder if I don't have a little control freak in me that wants to come out ... not to play, but to be in charge. Perhaps its some vestige of being an oldest sibling, or just part of the inherent sin nature that tries to hang around until that glorious day when we go home.

This wait, waiting to hear about my interview and if I'll get to move back to Austin and have the stability of a decent paying job that I really enjoy, and waiting for our wedding day to arrive ... has me pretty emotional and tense. I thought I'd handle it pretty well - the interview results are now completely out of my control. And I'm afraid that may be exactly what is driving me up the wall.

I find myself frustrated that I don't even know how to mentally (and physically in the case that I do get the job) prepare. Do I start packing boxes? Do I start asking around for a room to rent? Or do I get ready to "suck it up" and be strong for the next six months, and start looking for plan B as far as work is concerned? Be strong - which immediately reminds me that ... "he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I don't have to be strong. I can't be strong.

Why am I trying to? Why do I think it is up to me? Deep down, I don't think I really want to be in control - but at the same time, some emotion (probably fear) makes me grasp for the wheel.

As much as I am enjoy the crafty (arts and crafts ... don't be thinking witchy just because it is Halloween ;-) ) parts of planning for the wedding, some things just stress me out. Thankfully, I have a wonderfully calm and loving, patient fiance who helps me remember why we want to have our closest friends and family present rather than Elvis in a rhinestone jumpsuit (bleh).

I can't control our guests expectations, or some of the facts of life that make drawing up a guest list or decide who does and who doesn't get a corsage or boutineer not necessarily the easiest decisions. Sometimes I lack tact, and feel that people should come and enjoy themselves without expectations. Then it was pointed out to me that some of these things are an honor more than a chore, and asking someone to do a couple of the chore parts (dress straightening, bouquet holding) without the honor is pretty jerky.

Sometimes I live in my own little world ... "population me" ... and I don't want to! It's not about "me!" God didn't make me to live as an island, and the desire He put in my heart is not for that either!

I don't want to be a Martha - so why is it that I seem to have a natural tendency to do so ... when my heart wants to sit at Jesus feet in rest like Mary did?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vacation Journal, Part V - BWCA and the inevitable end of vacation

September 13, 9:40am
We've had a delicious breakfast of weak coffee (the percolator was too beat up) mixed with the last of the hot cocoa, and oatmeal. It is still windy.

We finally had the food pack up in a tree last night. I keep calling it a "bear trap" - but that's not right. The object is to keep the bear out of the food, not to trap the bear. We had a beautiful clear sky last night. I had gone to the latrine one last time before going to bed and was in awe of the fullness of the sky with stars. I've always known in my head there are many, but the sky is filled with stars! I hope to see that again!

About 10 minutes after I got back, a heavy rain came (seemingly out of nowhere) and lasted for quite some time. It is still cloudy, but not threateningly so.

We set out for Beth with some trepidation about the larger lakes, given the continued gusting of the wind. God be with us, we have Beth, Alton, and Sawbill to cross yet.

Time not noted ...
Well, we made it to Alton. Beth started out fairly calm - we were even able to get close to a loon and take a few pictures! - but it got pretty windy as we approached the portage. Still not as bad as Grace yesterday.

I still get really nervous when the wind picks up. We got onto Alton just fine. Originally we thought about camping on the island site not far from the portage from Beth, but got a little disoriented (at least, I did). I thought I knew where we were, but then I wasn't so sure. Tim couldn't hear me, and the wind was picking up. A little scared and frustrated, I was pretty getting pretty snippy. We came to the south side of a pennisula with two campsites across from the portage to Sawbill, and Tim checked it out and said it was ok. My arms were tired, so I was ready to stop.

The campsite is alright, I doubt much would compare to Ella last night, he he. The view is terrific, as some interesting clouds keep going by. I wouldn't want to stay here when it is warm though, there is a lot of standing water in the various sink-holes. Our side (south) of the two campsites seems higher and nicer. They appear over-utilized, which isn't surprising being so close to Sawbill.

Tim is working on a campfire right now. Our bear pully is stuck in a tree - oops! We'll have to go out for water at some point.

There is a rodent (mouse? gerbil?) living in the latrine here. Very weird. Maybe because people dump their uneaten food in there? Some tiny spiders got all in my long underwear at the latrine on Ella last night, and I didn't realize till we were about to leave this morning. Yuck. I'm looking forward to a shower.

There are lots of birds, at least three different kinds - one robin, and I don't know about the others. Some are soft gray and stick close to the ground. The others are flitting and seem to have yellow chests - these knock on the ground like woodpeckers.

I've been enjoying our trip, and have had fun, adventure, romance, and a little danger. Not really looking forward to too much civilization yet, but a shower is going to be amazing and very welcome.

September 14, 7:10pm
We're in Room 130 at Cove Point Lodge on Lake Superior. Tim already had this place picked out! What a wonderful surprise!

After I wrote last night, we heard and then saw geese heading south. I have fond memories of hearing them around Palacios at Thanksgiving. We really got lucky with the best parts of the onset of fall adding to our trip without some of the downsides (like surprise snowstorms).

We awoke this morning to an amazing sunrise, worth running outside in long-johns and boots to see! It felt like a birthday present from God. More loons and various other as-yet unidentified birds this morning. I'm really going to miss the call of the loons, and this special place. We'll be back often, God willing.

It has been a place for breathing, being, being challenged, and growing. We both teared up as we got ready to set off, yellow birch leaves falling around us. But winter is coming, our lives await us, and as Tim said "We can't come back to visit if we never leave."

The portages on Alton and Sawbill lakes were friendly. Alton got a little choppy - but I'm thankful because it was actually kinda fun rather than frightening. We do plan to try to find some canoe classes though.

We called our excited and happy-to-hear-from-us families and had a hearty lunch of burgers and my first piece of strawberry rhubarb pie at Betty's Pies. This, after luxurious, hot, long, soapy showers at Sawbill outfitters, and some very hot coffee that made me jittery.

Then we came back north to Gooseberry Falls (where Tim's grandparents honeymooned). I thought we were going on to Duluth, but Tim kept saying we could come back to Gooseberry if I wanted (its about 45 minutes one way!). We turned North rather than South when we left the park though, and Tim surprised me by coming here.

Its the perfect place to ease back into civilization. Lodge-style (Norwegian-lodge style!) and built for quiet, every room has a view of the lake. I'm watching a beautiful reverse-sunset as I write. We have a jacuzzi in the room (now I know why I needed a swimsuit on this trip!) and we'll have dinner and breakfast that we won't have to fix over a tiny stove. I'd like to come back here after we're married ;-)

Aaaaaaah - again, I am so blessed. I love this man so much, and he surprises me with so many heart-melting, toe-tingling bonuses. This may be one of my best birthdays yet!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation Journal, Part IV - BWCA Continued ...

September 12, 7:55am
Sunshine! After a night of wind and no rain, the sun is out and the sky is clear ... YAY!

Last night I woke to hear a coyote howling in the distance, and commented that it sounded so lonely. But Tim said there were others, and soon at least three - maybe four - were howling to one another across Phoebe lake.

The squirrels even seem to be in a great mood this morning. We heard them foraging for the pinecones we heard dropping (whether naturally or by the squirrels, I don't know?) and checking us and our green tarp out.

Tim fixed bandages for both my heels and is working on breakfast. I'm thankful to God for the clear weather and the much improved spirits (and appetites!) we are feeling this morning. We have several options - go a bit further and camp, stay camped here and do day-trip, or head towards Sawbill and camp closer.

We're on lake Ella right now, at the campsite just across from the portage from Grace. Grace! Where we've had the most trouble this trip! I'm watching the sunset while Tim washes the dishes from our amazing dinner (Cache Lake's beef stew and dumplings!) [isn't he wonderful for cleaning up and letting me write?]

**Insert here what you'll read about in a few paragraphs - but it really happened here. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get there**

We decided, partly due to the rough water on Phoebe (and so the wind would be at our backs) to head back towards Sawbill and take it easy, not pushing too hard to cover ground. So we thought!

We started out back towards the four or so portages between Phoebe and Grace, including the beaver dam that caused Tim trouble last year and on Friday. All went well, after some hard paddling to get off Phoebe and into the inlet to ride the rolling waves across the underwater grasses.

We stopped at the portage to Grace (the one we had trouble finding on Friday) for lunch. The lake was pretty calm, so we set out, filling up our water before making the turn around a peninsula into the larger part of Grace.

The wind was beginning to pick up. We got a little snippy as I didn't know you had to paddle into the wind to keep from being turned by it. But we successfully got our water and kept going. Soon, whitecaps were rearing up everywhere around us, and the canoe felt ready to tip if a badly timed wave caught us broadside. Prayer and Tim's excellent steering saved us. The shoreline was nothing but rocks, there wasn't a safe haven had we ended up in the water. At one point, Tim yelled over the water in a tense voice for me to put my lifejacket on. Then I did get pretty worried. If we had capsized, we'd be in cold water. The shore wasn't far, but again - it was rocky and being pounded by the waves insistently threatening to tip us. We could see the peninsula we needed to round, and I was paddling for my life and praying for calm on the other side.

God was with us, and we made it to the inlet, which was in fact calmer. The portage to Ella was among a tumble of rocks, and we weren't completely sure at first this was it. But the telltale glint of aluminum from other canoes on the rocks just below the surface of the water said that it probably was.

The portage itself was rocky and steep, with at least three large birches across the path along the way. But we made it to Ella, miraculously calm after the day we've had, and we set out for the campsite directly across from the portage.

The campsite is absolutely perfect. The exposed granite reminds us of Enchanted Rock back at home in Texas - where we've shared a very special evening before. There is a nice place for a tent, and the latrine is surprisingly beautiful, festooned with bright red maple leaves.

After our wonderful dinner, I was alternately writing and taking photos of the moon as it set. Tim finished up the dishes and came down to read me another story from the people he read to me about last night. About how their canoe trips started, and how BWCA has been a constant in the changes of their life.

Then he told me how much I mean to him, how special I am to him (by now we're both teared up) and how God brought us here to being our lives together. He got on his knee, and asked me - Amanda Marie, to marry him ... and I said yes yes YES! The ring he has been working on is gorgeous, unique, and so meaningful - but I cherish it most for its meaning as a symbol of our love.

I am a blessed woman. A loon called as we kissed, almost as if God were saying to us "This is GOOD!"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vacation Journal, Part III - BWCA!

September 10, 8:55am
We were going to make breakfast, but the matches are in the food pack - ooops! But we have everything packed up, and as soon as the outfitter opens we'll take care of a few last things, have some coffee, and be off!

8:50 pm
What a day! We were doing great! We put in at Sawbill and found the first portage easily. At Alton, several other people were using the same portage - and smoking pot - UGH! And asking about football games ... asking the wrong people, ha ha. We ran into them a few times, but after Beth we saw less other people.

In Grace, the water was choppy and it was very windy. I was navigating - as in, Tim gave me our one and only map. We came to the portage, and I got out of the canoe and scouted around. There was just no way this was it, and I told Tim so. We went a little further, and realized we had to turn around - we had gone too far.

At the same spot I had said couldn't possibly be the portage, we saw a man take off carrying his canoe into the woods ... it was the portage! I got a bit snippy because I was so wrong - but Tim didn't respond in kind.

I'd been leaving my Muck boots on while portaging, and realized between Grace and the first waterway to Phoebe that I might have a blister. Tim had me take off my boots to check, and I had a popped blister. He portaged the rest of our equipment and bandaged me up. I need to use my hiking boots to portage!

Between Grace and Phoebe were some very swampy waterways. At one portage next to a beaver dam (where Tim lost his canoe last year and had to go in after it) I asked him to show me how he'd been securing my paddle before picking up the canoe. In trying to show me ... he fell in. I felt terrible, but he didn't get upset with me. I've been blessed with an amazingly patient, thoughtful man who puts me before himself!

We prayed (begged) that the first site on Phoebe would be open - and that's where I'm writing from. It is very windy, but it hasn't rained yet. Tim seems a little tired and defeated, which is how he felt this time last year. He seems surprised I still want to be here! Of course I do! Especially since I'm with him!

September 11, 7:25am
Well, the rain finally came around 11 last night, and it rained steadily all night - yuck! But I suppose we were expecting the rain. The wind is still picking up now and again, but not as bad as last night.

A squirrel is griping at us right now. Tim is going out to see what the weather looks like (it isn't actually raining at the moment).

We heard a loon around the time with sky was starting to lighten. I've heard the sound described as lonesome, and I suppose it kinda is, but not unpleasantly so.

It's still cool, but not like yesterday - I can't see my breath. I hope Tim is encouraged by the weather - though his boots are still wet from the little fall yesterday and that can't help. I'm saying a prayer for him, I want him to enjoy this trip too!

What another day! I packed up the beds this morning in preparation for leaving, and Tim started breakfast. Despite damp socks, his feet were warm - but his upper body was not. We brought breakfast (bacon with eggs) into the tent. I could tell Tim wasn't feeling well, and he freely admitted it. While pouring water into my Sigg bottle, he suddenly became violently sick (thankfully he made it to behind a tree - not into my bottle). I was feeling pretty queasy myself after that, so we decided to stay here on Phoebe another day.

We made it out onto the lake once, to get water. Just in time for it to rain on us. Thankfully our rain gear was excellent to the task and the water simply beaded off of us. It hasn't really rained anymore since then, but the wind has continued (though the lake is calmer now).

Both of us had headaches, so we took some Advil this afternoon and set up our beds again. I read from "Woman of the Boundary Waters" to Tim until he fell asleep, and I laid down for a nap too. Had a weird dream that a bicycle ran into me?

We ate some summer sausage and cheese around lunch time and felt much better. Most of the afternoon was spent finding wood to attempt a fire. We were able to roast marshmallows, so I totally think that counts as a fire.

Dinner seemed big, but I think we needed it - especially Tim. Tonight I found out the papers he brought are romantic stories of the boundary waters he requested on the BWCA forums. Tonight's, ironically, was about a couple's 28th trip to the boundary waters, and how their ten-day canoe trip turned into a base camping trip - sounds slightly familiar!

The sunset was shockingly pink tonight, and an impossibly big orange crescent moon set just after the sun. We feel much better, and plan to take it a little easy and try to get out early in the day on Tuesday.