Pumpkin Pond Paddling

Yes, you heard me right. For four years in a row now, we have visited the Pumpkin Festival in Ludwigsburg, Germany. For me, this Kürbisfest is a highlight of the season change, preparing for the cold months we have ahead here in the greater Stuttgart area. But try as we might, I never seemed to be able to organize our visit to coincide with the day they float in oversized gourds on the small pond in front of the palace that dates back to the 1700’s. Okay, a little introduction to this unique vegetable-boat event:

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As you can see from the photograph, genuine pumpkins are carved out on the side to make an entrance to the squash, hollowed out, and then used quite effectively as a mode of travel. Participants race around the two halves of the pond competing for the fastest time, separated in 2 categories: men and women. Visit the Kürbisfest website here to see all the events at this fun fall festival. Now, on to the story of how I ended up in this unique Kürbis race… Continue reading

Typical Military Exchanges, and not-so-typical Modern Occurrences

The other day, just like so many other days, we drove onto a military post. This happens almost daily. Sometimes we go through the guarded entrance multiple times in a single day. Such is the life of people in the service. And it becomes so much ‘the norm’ that on the rare occasions I bring a ‘civilian’ in with me and have to fill out a visitor’s pass, I find it entertaining how the novelty of being allowed ‘on the base’ can possibly be held in any spectrum of excitement for anyone. The same old show your id, wait for the little gate to go up, and drive through is part of my mundane routine.

But today, as we drove onto Rammstein for a second time, something hit me in a new light. As my husband handed the E4 (maybe E5) our id’s, the less than 10 second conversation went something like this:

“Hey sir, ma’am.”

“hey, how’s t’going.”

“livin’ the dream.”

“yeah, sounds ‘bout right. Stay warm, brother. Take it easy”

“Everyday. Thanks.”

More was exchanged in those 21 words than can quite be understood when just reading the short dialogue in black and white. There was a bond between these two men, my husband and the young man on duty, that existed instantaneously. The sincerity of feeling in what may look like colloquialisms runs deeper than what appears to be catch phrases. They were speaking the same language, communicating concisely what shared experiences in military service put into those phrases that make them more profound. Each expression held empathy and weight as the young man, seeing my soldier’s position in the quick glance of an id card, knew immediately that the man in the car understood and experienced his own scenarios of ‘gate guarding’ – as the three simple words, “stay warm, brother,” conveyed. His response was not just wrapping up a 10 second routine, it was honest gratitude expressed for a fellow soldier giving him the brief acknowledgement he deserved for being out in the snow, doing his duty, and doing that menial task with…well, if not quite a smile, a visible good attitude.

All this hit me as we rounded the bend to the post exchange. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen such exchanges over and over (although where we are stationed now, the personnel of the base is so small, the task of gate duty is out-sourced; not that the non-military personnel are no less friendly or appreciated, but it lacks the ‘buddy in arms’ connection that a military post with military personnel manning it has). As we got ready to go into the mini-mall of this larger post, I told myself that I must try to get this written down.

We enjoyed a little stroll and some shopping, but were interrupted by a new event that I have not experienced before. In the middle of my Love wanting to spoil me and buy a lovely Irish wool sweater (one of the benefits of an overseas post, vendors from nearby European countries bring their lovely wares in for eyeballing right in our own little shopping centers…though I rarely buy from them), there was an announcement over the loudspeaker:

“Attention, all customers and employees, there is an emergency. Please exit the building immediately at the North entrance. I repeat, this is an emergency – please gather your belongings quickly and exit the building.”

Now this was new. I was not nervous, everyone around me seemed calm, moved with purpose but not uncontrolled by any means to the exit, chatting as they went. Once outside, we asked a couple of people if they knew what was going on. Then my husband saw the bomb squad headed over toward what is I think the airstrip and airport.

There was no explosion, no chaos, just people casually leaving, or gathering in small groups to talk and maybe wait out the shut-out, and I heard plenty of people making jokes like wanting to get out and play in the snow anyway. We needed to make the 2 hour drive back home, so that won over my curiosity to stick around and see what the result was (bomb threat or false alarm?) and my desire to buy that lovely grey sweater.

I certainly hope that this second occurrence never becomes as ‘mundane and routine’ as the first. I pray our military posts remain a place of safety. Unfortunately, there have been few and far between cases of tragedy inside those guarded walls. I do worry how much longer these rare incidents will stay just that – rare. I wonder if being an American military wife will continue to seem like a secure life situation, despite the irony in my better half coming face to face with such dangers as a fact of his job. I don’t know the outcome of the emergency call (or if I will have the privilege of finding out). But I do know that, for now, we’ll be passing through those check points plenty of times as always. Maybe from this point on though, I’ll remember to have respectful recognition for the security surrounding the doorways to military life as well as those keeping that door secure.

*I did end up being able to find out that the incident was just an empty threat, and the individual was apprehended quickly. Just so you know everything on the base was calm and quiet. False alarm, thank goodness.

Just Say No….

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So, I have to tell you, no, REI did not pay me to write this blog 🙂 But I was just so happy to see what they decided to do: REI will not be opening their doors the day after Thanksgiving for a mad rush of shoppers. And I like that. I’m going to take their example and be home, or outside with my family. Want to join your voice and say what a great thing this is? You can make your own nifty photo saying too! Go to http://optoutside.rei.com/join-us/select-image where you can upload your own image (like I did) or use one of theirs. Then tell others! I think we might get this old-fashion goodness of a true holiday to catch on! And next, here’s another opportunity to speak out: when you make your picture, tell me! I’d LOVE to have some guest posts for the next few weeks of why it’s important to you to #optoutside for Black Friday.

Old Friends…

I’ve been working on writing my ‘life story’ – at least the main part, married life, military life, living around the world a little bit. And as I write, it reminds me of all those important, dear people who I’ve met along the way. Each person that enters your life for a time, any amount of time that they spend in your life, is meaningful. When was the last time you wrote an email to your college friend that helped you make it through that first year? Have you ever called the friends whose kids were little with yours, as you got together for coffee and watched your toddlers play with trains and run in sprinklers together? When was the last time you let someone know ‘I was thinking about you, and I miss you!’ that you may not have seen in years?

I know some of you will not be able to relate. You’ve been in the same town, around the same people, and with the same routine for as long as you care to remember. It’s the weirdos like me that float in and out of your daily life. But for most people who have their life connected to military life, this is hardly ever the case. Or maybe you’re not in any way attached to a branch of service, but you could be titled a ‘drifter’ as well – and the people that come and go can either have great impact on you or none at all.

But all of us have a common thread, I guarantee: there are people that used to be in our lives, and for no dramatic reason, have floated out. I’ve seen all the emails and inspirational explanations for the ‘seasons of certain people’ but I’m going to raise the flag on it a little bit. Sometimes, we allow people to become a season because we are not taking the time to tend the garden. But I am telling you and me, don’t let a person become a past actor in your life story. Give them a call. If they’ve been in your mind or entered your thoughts, then let them know. You just might be rekindling a very good thing.

my daughter and I at Seewald Lake near Nagold

my daughter and I at Seewald Lake near Nagold

A Little Reflection

So I’ve been needing to start on my vacation tidbits, but honestly, I was allowing the political tone of the world to get me down. So this morning with my coffee, I read this post by my fellow blogger, Don, and was listening to this song I wrote at the same time. Here are both for you. I pray that if you’re down, it reminds you to look up.

The Life Project

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It’s Sunday again; what better day for a little reflection?

Has God been filling your life with blessings?  Has he given you peace in a tough situation?

Well, you see what I mean by reflection…

We spend so much time and energy running ourselves ragged these days, and so much of our lives just rushes by in a sort of blur; we need a moment, so it’s time to seize the moment.  Let’s give thanks to God for all He is doing in our lives, let’s thank Him for all of the ways He’s blessed us.  Let’s recall the great things He has done, like sending His Son to die for our sins.  Let’s take a minute to give Him the praise that is His due for all He is doing in His Body, the Church.  Let’s praise Him for all of those who have come to know Him recently…

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He sang to me: Secret Santa Blog Day

Last night, I was praying that the Lord would lead me in what to write about for this blog. He often speaks to me in dreams. But last night in my dream, He did something a little different.  He sang to me.

In my dream, I sat as an audience of one as the Lord sang. It was like my own personal concert just Him and I.

At the time, I was not fully aware of what was taking place.  I remember feeling fortunate to be there and was enjoying singing along to some of my favorite Christian songs.  Interestingly enough, He looked and sounded like the lead singer from Third Day, but maybe I should vice versa that. If you have seen pictures of Mac Powell or heard his strong, rugged voice, it all seems a perfect fit.

So this morning, The Lord brought me to Zephaniah 3:17 that says,

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Now, I grew up singing, “Jesus loves me,” but since He’s God, I have always believed His love to be a kind of job requirement.  Always my mind-set, He loves everyone.  He’s like a husband with a billion, needy wives.  -He’s busy-    If the truth be known, I have always been a little jealous of this woman, I once I read about, who memorized entire books of the Bible.  I have always thought, He must really like her.

A couple of years ago while praying, I heard in my spirit, as if two angels were talking amongst each other , “She doesn’t know how much He really Loves her.”  I think of that often.  If we really knew the truth of how much we mean to Him, I believe we would think and act differently. Eph 3:17-19 says,

..”And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

To truly be rooted and grounded in the Love of God. I believe, all our fears would fad away knowing that Almighty God is working on our behalf and providing for all our needs. We wouldn’t work so hard trying to be acceptable, because we would know we are already beautiful and accepted by the creator of the universe.  We would be filled with peace in all things and circumstances knowing we are not alone because our beloved will never leaves us or forsake us. – The fullness of God, can you imagine?

The truth is you are not just one of the billions. In His eyes, you are one in infinity. Priceless –  A true one of a kind masterpiece.  – In Him, He has set you apart and made you His own!

And Jesus sings over each and every one of us. Our own personal concert or harmony where two hearts come together and rejoice (finding pure joy) in one another.  Jesus is our living water and bread of life. “May we be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”-  “grasping how wide and long and deep is the Love of Christ.”

Amen.

Perseverance can be broken down in First Steps

STEP 1: Identify the first obstacle.

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STEP 2: Face the fears that the obstacle brings up. How do you face fears? Well, the best way is biblically. For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1)

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STEP 3: Keep climbing over the obstacle, despite the difficulties.

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STEP 4: Do that again.

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See, Perseverance is all about ‘keeping on.’ I get knocked down, but I get up again, you know? Pressing on doesn’t mean victory every time. It means going through the wins and losses and moving ahead. By the way, you can’t keep going if you don’t know where you’re headed. Maybe I’ll write about that one day.

all photos were taken one day we spent up on White Wash in ABQ NM. great day with the family 🙂

Pressing On

This will be two-part, as I want to dive into the tie-in that this can have with my last post, Admitting Defeat. If you didn’t read that one, please do so either before or after you peruse these thoughts.

DSCN0303So the thoughts I’m going to share today might at first seem to be a retraction of what I wrote previously. They are not. This is simply the other side of the coin. But let me first define some words to help us be sure that what I wrote before still holds true in my thinking in light of what I have to say now…

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORDS QUIT AND DEFEAT:

Quit mean to depart from, leave; to have done with, to forsake. This word is something we choose to do, it’s our reaction to situations.

to [be] Defeated: to [be] beat; victory won over [you]; to [be] prevented success. This word is something that happens to you. But notice with me something interesting: in order to experience defeat, it implies that a person would have to have been trying, fighting, and going for success. And trying against some kind of opposition. You usually aren’t defeated by nothing (that should be defined as quitting). And admitting defeat does not have to follow with quitting. The two can be separated.

So what do we do then after we’ve had to admit an area we’ve been defeated? We try again. We press on. And we do so in better ways: learning from the past lost victory, and moving forward.

Let me go back to that tiny incident that prompted me to write about defeat in the first place: my sprained ankle that is still not better (as I’ve heard is quite normal). What did I do the next day? Did I give up and sit on the couch all day long? No, I learned from it. I learned my limitations, and I tried again inside those limitations. I attempted a very small workout the next day, and it went well. When I had some swelling, I stopped and put my foot up for a few minutes with ice.

When we’ve been physically defeated, we need to admit it, evaluate it, and try again with gained knowledge how not to lose. When we’ve been mentally defeated, we need to take time to reflect, pray, and go at it again with a different mind-set. When we’ve been spiritually defeated – ah, that’s the tricky one! – we need to admit it to God, and try again, in HIS strength, not our own.

Press on, my friend, but not in a stubborn way that doesn’t change from the first time. Let the little defeats be admitted (that’s called humility) and learn how to try again (that’s called pressing on, or perseverance).

Admitting Defeat

I am not good at that at all. I will fight to the bitter end before I admit I am done. Nothing gets me down! I will not stop and say ‘okay, you’ve got me, I’m done in!’

Which can often be my un-doing. It’s probably better just to admit when I’ve been beat. Which is what I fought doing today…

I write tonight as I sit with my foot propped up and throbbing still from a five-week old sprain. I almost admitted the need to sit back and rest. At least, I told the dance teacher at Irish step dancing that I’d have to put my account on hold for a while. But then I came home, still not ready to throw in the towel and mowed the lawn. Yes, now it is throbbing.

Jacob was also a man who didn’t want to admit defeat (read more about that in Genesis 32). He had his fears, he had his moments of admitting many other things. But when he wrestled with the Angel of God, he just wouldn’t give up. “NOT UNTIL…” he said, as he clung to His feet.

What will it take for me to give up? Not until I’m dog-tired, broken, and incapacitated? Not until the argument is won even though the friendship is lost? Not until I break down and cry it out and realize I can’t do it all? Not until I’ve burned every bridge in an attempt to prove that I can do it myself?

It takes more than courage to come to the place where you say, okay I cannot. I’ve given it my best, and I am not adequate. Then, a door opens, and there is room for Someone to step in who is: is what? Is adequate, sufficient, capable, and kind. That moment that we ‘give up’ and let God, that’s a much better moment than any victory won at all costs.

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(took this photo at the Pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg October 2014)