“I’m where?”

So, back to Yosemite. I’m sitting on a rock resting, contemplating what my next step will be. It felt good to sit down. I decided to change my socks for the hike down trail. After about 30 minutes, I was feeling a little better. I text K to tell him that I would start down trail. That is the last thing I remember: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 around noon (California time). I woke up with a white-coated doctor asking me “Do you know where you are?” I knew I was in a hospital, but not the city or state. That was sometime on Saturday, September 19, 2015. My room was full of familiar faces: B and my kids; K and J, and my sister R just outside the door. I was quite confused and couldn’t remember everyone’s name. My hands were restrained to keep me from pulling out the various IV’s in my arms (and the intubation tubing when it was in). Apparently, I had been combative while in my medically induced coma. As I became more lucid, the doctor asked more questions: Doctor: “Do you remember what happened?” Me: “No.” Doctor: “what year is it?” Me: “2001”. Doctor: “Do you know who this is?” Me: “I know I should know the name, but I can’t remember it.” B had to fill in some of the gaps for me. Since he was right there with me, I thought we had been vacationing together. He explained that I was vacationing without him, and I began to remember seeing my sister R and BFF J before going to Yosemite. I asked him, “Am I really this sick?” He said, “Yes.” I could tell he was thanking God I was alive, awake and speaking. I looked down at my bound arms. I think there were 5 IV’s in my arms at that point. (I was told there were 7 IV’s with 9 bags of drugs when I arrived at the ER.) Both my arms were bruised from shoulder to wrist. Not little bump bruises, but deep “that’s gotta hurt” colorful bruises. No wonder I wanted to yank out the IV’s! I promised not to pull out the tubes, and my daughter told the nurse that the family would keep me calm. The nurse removed the restraints. I was still unsure of how I got to the hospital, why I needed to be in the Neuro Critical Care Unit, or why I couldn’t have anything to drink. I had many questions swarming my brain, but my body wanted to sleep.

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Houston, She Has a Problem!

 

We interrupt this story to bring you a little perspective from the man who loves me.
B is my constant support in life. Even when he thinks the idea is a little “out there”, he stands with me. It is only fitting to include him in my story – which really is OUR story.
When we first discussed the possibility of me hiking Half Dome, B was clear he wasn’t into that kind of adventure. He enjoys the outdoors and the mountains, especially sitting out with a mocha along a creek. (I think he’d rather jump out of an airplane than hike up a mountain!) He supported my desire to hike in Yosemite. Decision made. I’m going!
B encouraged me to research and get “whatever I need” for the trip. After researching equipment options, he strongly urged me to get the hiking boots first to break-in before the trip. Hiking pants, hydration type backpack, socks, rain jacket, hiking poles, hat and gloves filled the list. Considering neither one of us likes to shop, we hoped to get it done in one trip. We went to an outdoorsy type store to hit the list head-on. We found most items on the list in one store. The other items could be borrowed or purchased on the Internet.
B tells me “you turned into a training animal”! He wouldn’t even try to keep up with me. He saw I was preparing physically, nutritionally, and mentally. He had absolute confidence in my ability. He told me that this was a great trip to do with my brother K. As the date grew near, he was excited with me.
Saturday he took me to the airport and we said our “good-byes”. He didn’t know that I had hidden sticky notes and cards for him in various places and with a couple of neighbors. He would get a hand-written message from me nearly everyday while I was gone. With the last one to be delivered Thursday, September 17th. It said “see you soon”. Thankfully, he didn’t get that one until later.
We spoke each day leading up to that fateful Wednesday. We used FaceTime Monday evening; on Tuesday, we spoke briefly. I was already in Yosemite. I told him about the short hike I took, about the handful of deer that crossed the trail about 4′ in front of me, and about the rain catching me without my jacket.

 

Wednesday morning, he was on the way to his vanpool when we spoke briefly. He says that I sounded excited and happy.
During the morning, I sent texts and photos. When I called him, he told me I looked really happy in the photos. Since Texas is 2 hours ahead of California, his lunchtime came while it was mid-morning for the hike. He showed the photos to his coworkers, happy about my progress.

He told me “Right after lunch, things started going south.” That’s when he got my call, “I won’t make it to the top.” I was crying and greatly disappointed. I told him that I was dizzy and nauseous.  Thinking it was only altitude sickness, he felt I had made a good decision and I agreed. It was better to stop than to continue and have an injury result from continuing. Neither of us knew what would happen next…

 

The Hike of My Life!

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Fast forward 3.5 months…those of you following this blog may be thinking: “Did she fall off Half Dome?” “Did she break her hand and she can’t type?” or, like my gym fan club “She met her goal and is done working out.”

Thank God none of the above! I should start at the beginning…

After 3 months of training, I traveled to California. I met my brother K and his wife J, and N, my brother’s friend, in Mariposa, CA. I had been in Yosemite that day and hiked about an hour to see how I would feel. That altitude was around 4300 ft. I was feeling good about the whole trip.

We went to dinner and then off to bed early. In the morning, I posted “hike of my life today, prayers appreciated” on my Facebook page. I had no idea how prophetic that was. The weather forecast was great hiking weather – not too hot or cold, no rain. K, N and I left the hotel at 4:30 a.m. and drove the 1.5 hours to the parking lot near the trailhead. I parked my rental car. We did the obligatory last bathroom stop before donning our gear. It was around 6:10 a.m. when we started on our 18 mile (approx) round-trip hike. Off we went into the darkness, with our headlamps glowing. The temperature was cool enough for a light jacket, but it didn’t take long for my muscles to warm up.

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Early morning selfie

 

I told K and N that I would take my time, pace myself and take lots of photos.

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As the sun rose, it illuminated the mountains surrounding Yosemite Valley. (I took photos) Our backpacks had hydration packs and we drank as we trekked. We stopped about once an hour to snack. Overall, I was feeling great and enjoying the breath-taking beauty of God’s handiwork. N was in the lead, K in the middle, and I was the “caboose”. At one point, I heard K singing “It is Well with My Soul”. We used to sing together in church. So, I came in for the chorus echo. We harmonized well. It seemed we were singing for an audience of One! (Later, K told me that was his favorite part of the trip.)

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Hiking Half Dome is so popular, that the park has a lottery system set-up for the permits to hike the cable way – that is the last 400 vertical feet. It is common to see other hiking groups along the trail. There was one group of four that we passed, or vice versa, several times along the way. We would encourage each other and get going again.

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We had some fun pictures and laughing along the way.

Directional signs with mileage are posted at trail intersections. We came to the one that said “Half Dome 4.5 miles”. We were more than half-way to the summit! We can do it! We had been on the trail around 3 hours.

It must have started in the next hour or so. I began to feel dizzy, light-headed, out of breath. I attributed it to the altitude, slowed my pace, drank cold water, ate some trail mix and continued up the trail. Around 5.5 hours on the trail, just under 2 miles from the summit, I decided I needed to sit and rest for a while. I sent K and N on to the summit, telling them that I would rest and possibly start down-trail. This is when it gets interesting…

(stay tuned – more to follow)

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Hiking with God

Halfdome, Yosemite Copyright © photograph By Gene Rose Special to The Fresno Bee Copyright © 1997 The Fresno Bee

Halfdome, Yosemite
Copyright © photograph By Gene Rose
Special to The Fresno Bee
Copyright © 1997 The Fresno Bee

So, I’m going on a hike in 3 weeks. Not just any hike. This hike is 16 miles total: to climb Half Dome in Yosemite and back to the trail head. When my brother offered me this opportunity, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes”. I am thrilled to see God’s handiwork from that lofty view point! At the same time, it is daunting to think I will carry my pack of supplies and climb to over 8000 feet! I’m 52. I live in Houston. It is sauna – I mean summer. There are no mountains nearby to “practice” hiking for the altitude. Did I mention I’m 52? I haven’t done any serious hiking since I was 16. My heart and soul keep thinking of the communion with God during the hike: no TV, cell phone, ipad, etc to interrupt. Just hiking with God as my tour guide. It’s pretty awesome to be able to do this with one of my brothers – they are ALL older brothers. If he can do it, so can I. Selfie stick photo at the summit? Maybe not – I’d have to carry it the whole way. Did I mention I’m not a serious hiker? So all these thoughts are running through my brain, but how do I train? My brother is retired. He can hike 13 miles a day. I go to work for 6 hours of daylight. Did I mention it is summer in Houston? What to do, how to train, how not to die from the heat? I purchased the necessary equipment and borrowed a few things. First, break in the hiking boots. Check. Next, I put bottles of water in the backpack. Check. Find a good friend who will walk with me at 6 A.M. while I look like a homeless woman carrying her life’s possessions – and walking 2 dogs. Check. Add more weight to the classes at the gym. Check. Next, take backpack and hip-pack (btw: loaded) spend 1 hour on the treadmill or stair-climber before class at the gym. Check. Did I mention I’m 52? OK, I’ve done that and I can still move! Ask same good friend to walk inside (sans dogs) at the local hospital’s inner mall. It’s air-conditioned. Check. “Dear God, please don’t let me have an injury from training! I SO want to make this trip.” This has been my process. I know I can talk with God anywhere, anytime. Life can be busy and distracting. Reconnecting with Him while in nature is restorative, at least for me. It reminds me that He takes care of the birds and He takes care of me and my family. It gives me time to peel back the layers of everyday stress. So, my countdown has begun. I leave in 18 days. I have several theme songs: Superchick- “Go One More”, Tobymac – “Give Me That Funky Jesus Music”, and the song lyrics “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking cross the floor, put one foot in front of the other, and then you’ll be walking out the door” (from a Christmas kids’ special). For now, I am still 52 and going to hike Half Dome. Stay tuned for the aftermath!

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Pruning is good for me!

Pruning

A good farmer knows how to prune his fruit trees, rose bushes, nut trees, etc. It’s work that’s done in the non-growing season. The tree ends up looking quite bare, almost dead. This past winter, I pruned my rose bush down to a 6 inch stub. Afterward, I was concerned that I had pruned too much and actually had killed the rose bush. Within a few weeks, I saw new shoots coming out of it! Now, I have beautiful roses blooming.

This is what God does to us. We aren’t always in a growing season. When the “off” season hits, that’s our pruning time. God is the Master Gardener. He uses skilled hands to tenderly and lovingly remove branches for maximum growth. And when spring comes, beautiful blooms. He takes off the things that are holding us back: complacency, un-forgiveness, hatred, gossip, etc.

For me, this pruning is not always fun. In fact, I like staying in my comfort zone. I have come to realize, that He knows what is best even when I cannot see spring on it’s way. Sometimes, I don’t get it until much later when I can look back at the difficult pruning.

I pray that I allow the pruning and it produces His beauty in me.

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OH RATS!!

 

Swiss Cheese heart

Sometimes life provides insight in unexpected ways. Currently, we are working on evicting the “upstairs neighbors”, code for rodents living in the attic. This began a couple of years ago when we first discovered there were squatters in the attic. We hired a company to help. They put out poison and that’s about it. (Ideally, the rodents – this case rats – eat the poison, get thirsty, leave in search of water, and die outside somewhere.) Because the access points weren’t sealed, we have the same issue again. Now the treatment is to bait/catch the perpetrators and seal the openings. Anyone see where I’m going?

God wants my heart – ALL of it; NO SQUATTERS! When I let God into my heart, the current inhabitants must leave. Things like fear, doubt, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. BUT, if I am not diligent in keeping God’s promises, His words and His fellowship in my life, the old inhabitants can easily creep back into my heart. I strive to seal the access points with prayer, fellowship, scripture, and worship. Matthew 12:43-45 comes to mind:

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

 

Let us strive to keep God occupying our hearts.

 

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I feel like a house in need of renovation.

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So often I feel like a work-in-progress, a puzzle with pieces in the wrong places, a house in need of renovation…

My father was, among other things, a farmer. He knew how to prepare the land, plant the seeds, cultivate and harvest many types of plants. He learned to prune trees for bigger and better yields. 

Trees may look “good”, but still need the pruning for growth and health, to keep the fruit from being to crowded. After pruning, a tree looks barren. This reminds me of a shaggy dog after being shaved! EXPOSED! The dog’s hair will grow back without knots or tangles, for a time. Then it will need grooming. I am that way too – minus the knots and tangles!

I may look good, but maybe I’m not growing the way I should be growing. That’s when Sculptor God reshapes. Reshaping includes changes that: won’t be fun, pushing me out of my comfort zone, things not going the way I prefer, exposing.  Yes, sometimes it hurts to grow. Ever heard of growing pains?

God sees the final piece of art. His eye evaluates the piece of art that is me. When something isn’t quite the way it should be, He redirects/sculpts/prunes. This is to help me grow and produce healthy fruit.

Have you ever felt like a  work-in-progress? Join us at our January 22nd meeting. More information in our Events tab.

Lyrics from Laura Story’s “Blessings”
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

 

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