~ SPRING ~
Seasons of life, like seasons of the earth flow predictably, though not necessarily peacefully, one to the other. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. There are seasons in life that souls, like the sun, must fatefully rise to meet whether they want to or not. There are circumstances that blow in on the wind and leave the landscape lastingly changed; sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, and sometimes like a sweet spring breeze, simply marked for the memory of it all. What has been will be again, what was done will be done again. Every season has its own notable nuances and yet there is nothing truly new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new.”? It was here already, long ago. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
Maybe there is nothing new under the sun. Maybe all life, all story, all seasons are simply recycled from what once was. But within the cycle of same there is a season of new that always, inevitably comes. Like blossoms on orange trees after the visit of bumbling spring bees, something new always comes. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. There is a time when one must say goodbye to the old, dead and lifeless things of the past and greet new life and new experiences.
The time is spring. The season is new. Leaves, small, weak and timid at first, slowly stretch, reach and eventually emerge on the branches of their host. The temperature warms and daylight dawns earlier and lingers longer. They know not of the leaves and seasons before them, only that this is their life, their flower, their season to be fruitful. The bees buzz, the flowers bud and the leaves grow and explode into a springtime eruption of of lush, lively color that beautify and nourish the world.
It is in the springtime seasons of life that souls shed what once was, that dreams melt away and make way for new life. It is a time to be born and a time to die, it is a time to weep and a time to laugh, it is a time to search and a time to give up. It is in this strange season of new life and letting go that a sum of certain souls find themselves inexplicably intertwining. It is in the springtimes of their lives that this story begins….
~ SUMMER ~
Summer waxes hot and long in Central Washington parts and in sullen or smitten hearts. So hot it dries sticks and logs and grass until everything is ready and waiting to burst forth in fury and fire and flame. So long that everyone wonders if the heat will let up before a ground fire ignites the forest. Summertime on The Big Y is also known as fire season. Arid and dry, the threat of forest fire weighs heavy on the minds of ranchers, orchardists and residents alike. After every thunder and lightening storm wary eyes watch the horizon for the slightest hint, the faintest sign of smoke. Ranch hands scour the acreage for sleepers, the kind of fires that smolder in the needles for days or weeks after a strike before popping up and wasting countless acres of land.
As much as man fears the flame, he knows it also serves a purpose. Sometimes some fire is good. A scorching purification of the land, clearing out that which can erupt into a raging firestorm if not burned off gradually. What’s more, some seeds actually need the heat to come alive, to sprout and grow. Still the imminent danger that any summer fire can develop into something too large and unmanageable and devastate and destroy the land keeps all on edge. One spark lit on the dry grass of desperation or ember felled onto a heart of hope deferred and a firestorm may ensue. Once lit, field, forest or the fiery spirit of man can rage until there’s nothing more to consume, until all that’s left are charred remains and devastation.
It starts so small. A sneaky, low-flying fragment fallen to the ground still hot. At first nothing more than a hint of smoke, the impression that something more immense might emerge. It smolders; simmering, lurking, laying, ready for the right wind to blow in and set ablaze the fury waiting to ignite. Then the light and the heat will rage, demanding and devouring all that there is, filling the air full of foul fumes and insufferable smoke. The same heat that makes the coldest of nights more manageable, the same light that illuminates the darkest path, can utterly destroy, land, life or a dream. Summer simmers all the things that can take the idea of danger and make it real with all the things that life needs to thrive. Sometimes the fire smolders, sparks and sets the hearts and souls of men ablaze, to purify and cleanse, to bring seed to life, or to rage and ravage anything in its path...
~ FALL ~
With the coming of autumn to the Big Y Ranch comes also a grand and glorious battle between the living and that which will soon lay down to rest or to die. Some call it a miracle of transition, this shushing of the earth to sleep. Like a child resisting rest, the lively earth wages a futile war against its mother, Nature and father, Time. There is no hope and no way to stop that which must come to the animals and acres. The Big Y ranch spans eleven hundred acres of hearty and robust Cascade Mountain foothills, meadows and plateaus in Central Washington. A world unto itself. Nestled into the heart of the Pacific Northwest, the area is known for its sharp seasonal contrasts as much as it is for its orchards and apples, pears, cherries and wildlife. If spring is the season that takes the world from death to new life, and ushers in the warmth and vitality of summer, autumn is its inverse counterpart. The season comes to pull the world away from heat, light and life toward the dark, bone-chilling days of winter. The ranch knows well the turning of the seasons and of all of them, rages against the dimming of the light, the coming of the fall the most.
The splendor of summer shakes itself off, stripping away the layers of bounty and beauty, leaving the world with hardly a trace of what once was. Naked trees rob the animals of fall of their easy camouflaged covering. That which once fed on the summer’s nourishment become the hunter’s prey as a bounty of a different kind is stealthily sought. The calendar marks the days and the ranch fills with eager sportsmen, looking to fill their tags and claim their trophies. There is a time for everything, a time to live and a time to die. Dying comes to the ranch with raucous celebration of sought after rewards. Maybe there is nothing more to the melancholy season than one lost battle after another. Or maybe it’s simply nature’s reminder that all things change and all things die. Nothing, no matter how glorious or grotesque, will remain forever, save God. As the leaves fall to the earth, as the animals fall to the ground, as the fires finally take their rest and die out, so everything that has breath will come to an end. Not all change is fresh and new. Not all death is mourned.
And so their stories, like the land and the leaves, transition; each life losing and letting go of what once was whether they want to or not…
~ WINTER ~
Within the snow blown acres of the Big Y Ranch, winter’s wonder abounds. Furry ground squirrels that scurried to store their stashes all summer long, chirp, chirp a comical alarm if anyone or anything ventures too close to their secret stores. Little brown snowshoe hares slough off their earthen coats in exchange for white ones in time to blend in to their new white world. Still cautious and careful, they forage for the fruits and berries that refused to be taken to the ground at season’s change. Always at the ready, they flee with lightning quickness from hungry predators not prone to hibernation. Their scuttle, like the flutter of winter birds’ wings, is muted by the snow’s acoustical magic. Needing no camouflage from the hungry coyotes, the big, burly bison bundle up inside dark woolly undercoats that began to grow in timely response to the first of autumn’s winds. Neither the coyote, nor the cold will be their undoing.
Even more than the animals, the land itself sings a wonderful winter song. Snow falls in the night or from white day-light skies. A frigid frozen glitter shaken out onto everything that once was, covering it and making it clean. Its weight blankets the land shushing and settling the madness of autumn’s melee. Its covering puts the confusion and chaos of change to rest. The ragged, ravaged worn out land becomes a bare and blank canvas that, when painted by the sun, flashes its cold, quiet glory in a million pinpoints of splendid sparkling light. A landscape that ought to be dreary and dead bursts forth in beautiful brilliance.
In spite of autumn’s assault and despite the darkness of winter there is yet hope. Winter is unmistakably an end, but also a promise of a fresh start. Once the old has been cleansed, purified and washed with white snow, the days begin to stretch themselves awake earlier and earlier. The sleeping things rouse and rise up from their rest. The cycle begins again. All the hushed wonders of winter promise that though everything changes and every living thing eventually comes to an end, all ends are not necessarily bad, and life still finds a way even in the darkest, coldest of nights.
It was in the dark and dismal, yet hopeful winter of 2014 that the souls aforementioned in the preceding seasons finally collided. Their paths, already crossed, suddenly intertwined and fused together. On this night the time was right and the season was upon them to begin to understand the unanswered questions, to walk out of the past and to look into a future that could bring the hope and healing each of them craved. And the night went something like this…
I am surrounded. Murky southern reservoir water laps the edges of the dock I sit on and we call our own for this one glorious weekend. Earlier this morning the birds and water filled the air with music and sound, a serene welcome to the day. It’s mid-morning now, the world is awake, so I unleash the music from the little square speaker. Kenny Chesney sings Blue Rocking Chair. My hand-picked serenade to fit the mood, if not the color or style of the chair Jeremy sits in. Not too loud, not to quiet, enough. Like this weekend and this vacation get away. Enough. There’s no loss of nature or the slow ease into the day on my speaker’s part; the speed boats, pontoons and wave runners have already washed out the birdsong and we’ve been to the store and back for bait and more supplies. While he’s focused on the lines. I’m focused on remembering how I ended up here, surrounded by water this morning.
After we returned from the store, I contemplated staying on the cozy, covered porch of our “glamptastic tent” or moseying down to the dock to be nearer his essence. I love this tent and this Airbnb space. It boasts all the pieces of nature I adore, hills, trees and water with the luxuries of modern convenience, indoor plumbing, running water, covered spaces, air conditioning, electricity. Near perfection. It would be quite perfect if not for the mass of humanity. The lake is fairly full of gas powered this and screaming engine that disturbing the natural wonder for the sake of leisure and entertainment (but isn’t that why we’re here too? Just turns out our leisure is preferably a little more slow and quiet than theirs.). I digress, back to my contemplation. Of course nearer is better, I am a quality time soul, so I work my way down to the dock… to him, getting this and that for me or for him on the way. It occurs to me that a laptop is an odd thing to bring out to a dock, but it’s sturdy and also covered and there’s an outlet above the table and chair set for the Christmas lights that illuminate the night, so I shrug and do it anyway.
It’s time to fish. All this time while I’ve been contemplating, he’s been preparing the lines. Sweet! I haven’t missed a minute of the lazy summer action. We have two licenses and poles and I’m not opposed to catching fish, I even tied one of my own lines to a swivel this time, but he seems to like baiting and stringing for me, so I’ll let him… until my bobber dips under, then I’ll be all about the catch! I day dream that mine will be the biggest catch and I’ll bring it in flawlessly (with his guidance of course) and it’ll make him, and my son, proud of my catch too. Hopefully I don’t pull a silly girl move and lose a fish. That’s the worst! Don’t get me wrong, I’m OK being a novice at fishing, I do not pretend, nor could I ever pull off a bluff that I love to fish as much as true fishers do, but I don’t want to ruin a good catch either.
And there he is. He who loves me. Big, broad, brawny, bold, bald and bearded. My favorite human. Maybe it’s rude to say that with children I’ve known and loved longer. Is it fair to put them “second” to him? Maybe if they were still really children that wouldn’t be a right thing to say, but they’re all grown, doing their own things. I love them and am devoted to them but, if I’m honest, it’s the truth that Jeremy Worley is my favorite human, save for myself. My kids had no choice, I am their mom, or adopted mom, or ex-step mom, or step-mom. They didn’t choose me (well maybe Matea did). It is what it is and we are family. He chose me. He chooses me every day. I’m humbled and grateful for his love and also for his family. They live in this Tennessee area and their annual reunion gave us the excuse to make a point to be here. I might not have left Washington otherwise, the work to plan for my grandmother’s care while I am away was extensive and exhausting! I might have thrown in the towel for an eight day vacation “just for me.” I was willing to put in the work and effort for family. My look back at the work from this dock tells me the reward was worth the effort!
If only the boating traffic wasn’t so profuse, this would be bliss! Two books on a bait laden table flank my left side. To my right … the rapid lapping water, yes, another boat went by a few minutes ago. In front, the best view! Him, two poles and a watery reprieve from work and care giving for a dying loved one. I struggle though. Part of me feels like I should be up there with him, nearer him, touching him maybe, or at very least sitting by him but I wanted to write. This is fishing for me… sitting, pondering life, waiting for the bite! They tug at the strings of my heart these inspiration filled, ripe, hungry emotions and thoughts waiting for me to set the hook on the concept, give it some slack, let it swim and fight a bit, reel up and guide it in when it’s time. His bites too are filled with anticipation of what’s on the hook at the other end of the line. This is bliss! But after one thousand wonderful words of reflection on this morning and this moment, the books beside me beckon. It makes sense to close here, grab a book and lay nearer him. Who know maybe I’m the luck he needs to bring in the big one!
For as long as I’ve hiked with my regular crew from the gym, Run Wenatchee and Leavenworth, I’ve watched one particular woman in awe. Her name is Ana … and she is a powerhouse! Strong, fit, smart, articulate and capable of hiking ridiculous miles hours faster than I would ever dream of. Imagine my surprise when Ana said she’d be willing to share her Before & After story.
How could Ana have a Before & After story? How could my inspiration, this beastie beauty, ever have been anything but the epitome of what a fit chick is? How could I say no to an interview like that? We set the date and I went, questions in hand to meet her for dinner at her place.
I was not prepared for the delicious spread she set before us but knew in an instant, nutrition was as much a part of her healthy lifestyle as fitness was. The spinach salad with accents of fresh mouth watering little bits was as good to look at as it was to taste but her potato & broccoli soup with its Latin flare was one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever tasted and stole the show. It was hard to focus on the interview with the flavors bursting in my mouth, but I managed and what I learned gave me so much more respect for a woman who already hung the moon for me. I’m sure you too will be awed, inspired and encouraged by her story.
Ana grew up in a Hispanic family where good food, not health or nutrition was celebrated and she really never knew a different way of life. She grew to be a woman who appreciated the flavor of food more than fitness and considered the walk from the parking lot to the office quite enough exercise for any day of the week. She married a chef and together they enjoyed decadent food and she spent most of her twenties over weight but mostly happy.
At her heaviest Ana was about one hundred eighty pounds and hovered around one hundred seventy. Despite the weight Ana says she always felt like she had a level of self confidence that kept her from caring too much about how heavy she was, but in retrospect she suspects it was more of a defense mechanism than the true self confidence she knows more about now. If she could, she would tell her younger, unhealthy self that she had much growing up to do. And the growing for Ana began with a heartbreaking revelation and tragic divorce. In a state of shock and depression she lost fifteen pounds in two weeks and in a matter of months the grief had reduced her to a shocking one hundred twenty pounds.
Ana was literally a shell of her former self. The sorrow of the loss invaded every aspect of her life. She’s grateful for the understanding people at work who empathized and were patient with her through the trauma. Finally in 2012 Ana knew something had to give, either she needed to make some life changes or her life wasn’t going to be good for much of anything. She started going to Gold’s Gym in Wenatchee. Like all rookies, it was a daunting, foreign, unknown venture. But true to the iron spirit inside her, she didn’t quit, bend or break under the intimidation. She learned, she evolved and she came to be a woman who loves her body.
“It has done so much for me, the least I can do is love it and take care of it!” she told me with a twinkle in her eye only a fitness enthusiast can express. Before long Ana was comfortable in her gym and now regularly works out every morning for about an hour enjoying a mix of cardio and weight lifting. She hates to miss even a day and has added evening WODs (Work Out of the Day) at CrosSport to supplement her morning routine a couple times a week. Admittedly she hates to miss working out but neither the weights at Gold’s or the WODs at CrosSport can make her body, mind and soul sing the way the mountains can.
Unbeknownst to me in 2015 Ana started hiking with the same crew of avid and novice hikers as I did. Because of her prowess and ability on the trail I assumed she was an old pro at hiking but apparently the hike up Mt. Cashmere that was transformative in my life, was also her longest and most arduous hike up to that point. And in the summer of 2016 she was out nearly every weekend hiking some trail or peak, challenging, training, using and loving all her body could do.
Hiking has certainly been the most exhilarating part of Ana’s transformation but the most surprising part happened in the kitchen. Ana realized she loved to prep and cook food and figure out how to incorporate good health into what she made. Having a chef for a husband had given her the impression the she “couldn’t” cook but after the divorce as she started cooking for herself and learned that, not only could she cook, but she thoroughly enjoys it. She’s given up processed muffins, high sugar drinks like mochas and soda and restaurant food for five or six clean, healthy meals a day and figures her meals are whole and clean 70-80% of the time. One of the hardest things in the transformation has been to find the balance in her nutritional plan especially when it comes to social events and activities where unhealthy options are rampant.
As she looks forward to the future Ana doesn’t see her healthy lifestyle changing. It is a lifestyle she enjoys and encourages others to participate in as well. Before the change she was sluggish and struggled to have the motivation to get up and get active, now she loves to move and care for her body. Her best advice to everyone including herself is to remember how far you’ve come on your journey. She tends to look too far ahead and gets stuck in physical perfectionism and forgets to celebrate all her accomplishments. Do it for the right reasons. Love yourself and take care of your body out of that love and maybe you too will become one of my health and fitness heroes or heroines!
Cairn landmarks litter my life like the trails I hike. Sometimes they form unexpectedly; an alphabetical seating arrangement that introduced me to a favorite middle school friend, a gift of money stuffed in the crack of my door, that other pink line… twice, the middle of the night plea for help that changed the entire course of my family’s life, the note on the kitchen table that wished me good-luck and good-bye. I couldn’t see ‘em coming. They weren’t there one day, and the next, pillars of reference erected to mark significance.
The unexpected cairns are rare, most of them are intentional beacons of memorable proportion. I pick around on the sides of the trail that is my life and gather stones for their stability, size and aesthetic appeal and purposefully, often painstakingly, build a pillar to commemorate yet another part of my life the LORD has brought me through. I have been making a giant cairn of my Middle for a year. And now it is finished and like I’ve done so many times in my life. I must go from here, to where ever the trail leads next.
A year come and gone... slow, painfully, slow and yet lightning-strike fast. It is time to sit, as it were at the foot of Asgard’s Pass, like I did twice this year, to rest, to regroup and to look up, way up and prepare for the ridiculous uphill hike to what lies ahead. Here I shall take a moment of reprieve before I begin again and share with you what this, the first year of my Middle, this pillar I have made, was all about. As the “plan” for my Middle shifts into phase two, I’ll unpack, like an energy and nutrient rich snack, my memories, moments, reflections, and analysis and dispense with the long awaited data presentation.
First of all, coming into this year, fresh off The Leaving, I really wanted to focus on healing more than massive goal setting like I usually do for the year. I wanted to do what was good for me, not necessarily whatever felt good, but what was good; body, mind, soul and spirit.
My primary personal objective was to avoid a rebound relationship at all costs but to “safely” get out into the dating world, to meet good guys, to do fun stuff, to learn as much as I could so I can move from a single to a companion again in the shortest, healthiest amount of time possible because I fear an extensive stretch of single life for me will only further set me in my own ways and make me quite unbearable for a man to want to tolerate.
For my writing it was to publish five books and use my platform to speak to the issues of sexuality and spirituality that are so important to me. Clearly, with my publisher going out of business, the writing portion has only sputtered along but I find that sexuality and spirituality and dating and relational dynamics all kind of go together.
And so as I sit here, taking in all the things that have come to pass like food and water for my soul, I will not lie, there is a bit of a sense of foreboding as I look up to what awaits me. All that’s in front of me, as far as I can see is a steep, uphill hike. I know it will challenge every ounce of strength and endurance that lies within my body, mind, soul and spirit. Any way I go from here, it’s all uphill. Any words I write will face a pummeling of loose rock from the cliffs of one side or the other. Any relationship I entertain threatens to slide out under my feet. Even the summit I see so far ahead is false hope. There’s more to endure beyond what I can see. It hasn’t been easy up to now, but, as one of my buddies from the gym says, the warm-up is over; this is what I’ve trained for...
Instead of this being a singular review, we will scramble together through a series of posts that will speak not only to the data (or dates) and analysis (which I like to think of more as man-alysis) I’ve prepared but also to sexual and spiritual issues I’ve had in mind. It’ll be arduous. It’ll test your concepts and boundaries and pull me out from behind walls I’ve built whether to keep others out or me inside of my safety zone. I find the feelings involved in “relating” to gentlemen (and sharing that information with my lady friends) makes me more uncomfortable than I anticipated; which is odd because I consider myself to be a deeply emotional person. I find as I journey this single-life as a Christian woman with a high moral standard of propriety but an equally high libido I am frustrated with the act (or non-act) of sexual abstinence but have a stronger resolve every day to see if I can ever be more than just a piece of ass to any man even though I crave a sexual touch so badly.
Warm up is over, energy and nutrition on board, one last drink at the base... One look up... A deep sigh and resigned nod full of hope and trepidation. The cairn, like the pass ahead, massive and complex looms, beckons… You can come too if you like. Let’s do this!
During my Run Wenatchee 10K walk last Thursday, God painted the sky with bright, beautiful, brilliant brush-strokes of sensuous, sunset splendor. That sexy skyscape, coupled with a house blessing I was part of last Saturday, and a guest in a dark place that was invited into my home earlier this week, got me thinking about falling in love.
The greatest love story of my life started with a sunset and an invitation and a paradigm shift. It seemed insignificant at the time but now, it’s one of my most beautiful, treasured recollections. I’m drawn to beauty; in shape, in form, in color, texture, taste, smell and sound. Beauty arrests me. Even though I’m a mover and a shaker, when beauty strikes, even for milliseconds, I can catch it and hold it and remember it, reflect on it, recollect how it made me marvel in a moment.
That sunset was beautiful. That sunset seduced me and changed my life.
In that moment any doubt I had was gone. I knew… there was more.
He knocked. I didn’t let Him in, I simply, offhandedly acknowledged Presence. That day, from then to now is my love story. No one who knows me now seems to be able to understand how I could have been so different. But, I know what I was. I know the choices I made, the hurt and hate and brokenness inside me that I also perpetrated onto others. No one could help, though many tried. I was hopeless, helpless, and lifeless, on a crash course for ruining my life and taking precious cargo with me.
And still He knocked. Patient, persistent, passionate, pursuit. Day after day, week after week, month after month, opening my eyes to His wondrous deeds, mostly in the beauty of creation but also in His word and true followers. I fell in love, awestruck, heart-beating faster, "He loves ME" kind of love! Me? Me! When you feel gross, when you hate yourself and Someone noble, and good and honest loves you... it changes you, or at least, Love changed me.
He knocked. The pipe was in my hand, I considered my ways. I turned my steps toward him. I put the pipe down and opened the door… That’s my miracle, but really it’s more like a metamorphosis than a miracle, unless you consider slow, gradual change from a baser life to a better one miraculous.
That’s my story. That’s the life I laid down and this is the new life I live!
Like a guest into my home, and a lover into my heart, I let Christ into every part of my life. Like a Master craftsman, Mr. fix-it, house cleaner, and interior decorator all in one mighty saving package of grace and forgiveness, I’m letting Him work me over. Not because of fear or obligation but because of love and honor. God loves me, I love God. I want to honor Him because I love him.
The thing is His love cleans me, heals me, refreshes and renews me. I am better for myself, my family, my friends and my community because I want to show His kind of character and love to others. It is not always easy but it is never oppressive, restrictive or demeaning. Drugs were oppressive. Addiction was restrictive. Hate, greed, envy were demeaning. His ways are good!
Even this lonely, little, life I live; as silly and insignificant in the grand scheme of things as it is… it’s such a good life! I love it! I traded chains for freedom, mire for mountains, oppression for goals, love for Love, Life for life. He loves me and gave me a new life so I give Him all of mine. And nothing and no one can separate me from His love!
He says: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Revelation 3:20
If ever you want to talk about my story, or God, find me and ask! I’m happy to listen and share!
Buy me a coffee to support my blog: