Monday, September 14, 2009

Follow the Leader

Have you ever noticed how much Americans (and maybe those in other countries too, I don't know, haven't been to another country!) like to follow the leader? Today I had an experience that showed me once again the tendency of people to simple follow whomever is in front of them.

I was driving back home from a fantabulous visit with my parents, bro, sis in law, and niece at my bro's house in Rockford. There was a detour on Route 20 because of an Extreme Makeover Home Edition build. How cool is that!??! ***On a side note, I found it rather odd that even though the road was closed just for the build (found that out from bro, he saw it on the news) they put up the construction signs that say "Putting Illinois to WORK". Dude the only Illinoians you are putting to work at the cops guarding the baracades!!! And the message boards did not just say "Road Closed Ahead" they also said "Construction Ahead" which is LIE. O wait, they were constructing a house. Guess it wasn't a lie!*** Ok so I was following the detour, la la la (it was a nice detour!) and my mom called. I have a habit of not noticing road signs when on the phone, so I noticed the detour TURN sign too late and missed it. I could have turned around, but that would be ADMITING that I made a mistake, and I would N - E - V - E - R do that! :) Sooo I decided to keep going and find another way to get back to 20. Why not?
***Thought of the day: if you don't say "Why not?" and OFTEN do something that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I highly recommend it. Spices up life a bit! IT'S GOOD FOR YOU!!!***

I noticed that the vehicle behind me did not turn. Ok, maybe they were locals, right? WRONG. I turned and they turned. And when they followed me, I noticed ANOTHER vehicle behind them. As I turn again, I cannot control the laughter. I am aimlessly leading 2 vehicles through the country and I have a hOOOOOOOOOOrrible sense of direction! I'm thinking maybe I should stop so they realize I have No IdEa what I am doing. Not a clue. None. They really should be warned what they are in for. BUT I am having fun. Sooo I just keep going, turning, they follow, it is a fun little game. However, when I turned down a gravel road ***oops Dad just washed my car this morning!*** they figured out I was clueless and did not follow. Way to go out on your own folks! They ended up in front of me, avoided the gravel road and found a better one, so I guess they were smarter than I thought!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home Sick

Can I be homesick for a place that was only my home for a year?

I had a dream today during an entirely too long afternoon nap (it's my day off) about being back in Durango. I was overjoyed to be back. Sometimes I have incredibly vivid dreams and this was one of them. During the dream I took a deep breath and felt the cool, crisp, DRY (it is so stinking humid here!) mountain air. It felt incredible.

How I miss the sights, sounds, and excitement. Like I talked about in a previous post, there is something exciting about being somewhere so new and different. Then again, the newness of a bear made me more scared than I have ever been one night last fall! It's funny that I miss Durango so much when I wasn't all that happy the majority of the time I was there. Went through some definite personal struggles and was horribly lonely during the off season, but for some reason I want to be back. I miss the church and the relationships I was building there. I wanted to start cycling and try new adventures and get out and meet more people. There is such a variety of people there it's always fun to meet someone new. I feel like if I went back I would do better ... get out and meet more people, get involved, take chances, not miss out on all that Durango and Colorado have to offer.

I love this job and love the people here, but Colorado was a dream, and although it was fulfilled in a sense, since I lived there, I still long for it, so maybe it wasn't completely fulfilled. I loved living in Colorado. Period. I loved being out of the midwest! I didn't love being so far away from family, but it was survivable.

Why am I never satisfied!??!?! I wasn't satisfied when I was there, but I miss it. Wasn't satisfied in college, but I'd like to go back and do it over because I feel like now I could do it better. Wasn't satisfied in Indy ... at least I don't feel like going back there!!! Why can't I ever get things right the first time around!??!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Broken Spirit

I expressed to a friend today how I have been feeling. Here it is:

I'm good from the outside, but not from the inside. Things are fine, but I have found my attitude to be really negative lately. I get annoyed at everything and want to smack most ppl I talk to. I feel like I don't have a warm, loving heart, and my connection to God is lacking, so I want to take a step back and reprioritize. I hope that makes sense, I find that to some it doesn't. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me either, but I know I don't like who I am and want to improve and nothing improves by keeping everything the same!

Part of his response:
I don't know but it kind of seems like Jeff (made up name) really broke your spirit out there in CO and you've been trying to get back to where you were before that ever since. Eh? I wish you never had to go through all that drama that you had to go through with him. That was such a tough position for you and I'm sure you're probably still dealing with that to this day. That sucks if you are.

Is it possible that another person broke my spirit? I still feel guilt for my sin, can't believe my own stupidity, and doubt the person I am because of the things I did. I feel incredible guilt for what I put him through and believe that him being near death right now, if he is even still alive, is partly my fault. If only I had been upfront and hadn't let things drag out, he wouldn't have been in the position he was and wouldn't delayed his doctor appointments for 4-5 months and maybe they would have caught it soon enough. How could I have caused one person so much pain? So much hurt, physical and emotional? So much devastation? His family, his kids, his job, his everything. I ruined it all. How? Why? What if it happens again? Is he even alive? How could I have done this ...

Why do people keep telling me that one day I will understand the world? That I just don't get it, that my head is in the sand. How is me trying to take a step back and reprioritize having my head in the sand?!?!? I am trying to improve myself because I know the person I am now doesn't have the heart to do much good in the world. My head is completely out of the sand, maybe more than it ever has been. As much as it hurts horribly and I spend a lot of time in tears, maybe I am finally hitting bottom so I can see what I need to change?

Life isn't about what happens to you, its about how you handle what happens to you. So if my spirit is broken, well, that's a bummer. Now, Michelle, stop whining and FIX IT! But how? Duct tape? Is there an instruction book on this? I know you're going to say read the Bible, but where? That is a big book if you hadn't noticed! I just don't know what to do. I don't dwell on what happened with Jeff all the time, but I wonder if it has changed me in ways that I don't even realize. I hadn't thought of my 'broken spirit' because of that situation until it was pointed out to me and though I do think there is some truth to that, I don't want to blame my situation on another person. My life is mine and if its going all wrong, it's my fault.

I'm a different person today than I was a month ago. Why? What happened? I can't put my finger on it and that's what bothers me. So maybe it has nothing to do with Jeff. I feel crushed, knocked over, and held down. I wonder if it's from being overworked. For the past month I haven't had more than a day off, which is never a full day off, I always come in to the office for something. I don't get weekends off, so I miss out on the true Saturday+Sunday relaxation time. I live where I work, so I never escape the thought of work and although I love my job, I think the stress of it and the constant contact with people I have to please, people I have to impress, and people I have to instruct is just more than this girl knows how to handle.

I'd write more but I'm just plain exhausted and want my bed.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Reflection: The Dream, One Year Later

The moment I laid my eyes upon the Rocky Mountains in the June of 1997 a dream began developing. I wanted to be there, for Colorado to be my home and to see those mountains everyday. At one point my cousin Blake and I decided that we would move to Colorado after college and be roommates. That didn’t quite work out, but I saw my original dream come true 11 years after it began forming. Colorful Colorado became my home.

A couple of years ago I realized there was only one thing I wanted to do: move west and work on a dude ranch. There are times when I stop to reflect and can’t believe that God opened doors and allowed me to live that dream. I am blessed beyond measure. I could have been faced with limitations of all sorts: poor health, financial constraints, or family concerns, but the doors were wide open. I have an array of feelings thinking through all of this. I feel pure joy and incredible sadness at the same time.

The past couple of months Durango had started to be home. I struggled during the off season (starting in October) with intense loneliness, but had begun to build relationships at church and even meet some people my age outside of church. With the snow levels going down and the temperature going up I was looking forward to outdoor activities and had found someone to start cycling with and wanted to work towards a 250 mile mountain ride in August. The elk were out in full force and I saw hundreds of them in the high meadows frequently on trips to town. When I moved to Colorado I didn’t want to get so used to my surroundings that I would stop realizing the beauty. The word “beauty” can’t come close to encompassing what I saw, felt, and experienced. The best camera in the world can’t capture the magnificence of the colors and layers of the mountains, stars on a clear night, the incredible brightness of a full moon, the view from atop the ridge behind the ranch, the live picture of 60 horses running and playing with the mountains as their backdrop, creeks, rushing waterfalls from melting snow, and so much more. Absolutely incredible. Everything was different … views (not quite the same as downtown Indianapolis), roads (constant curves and inclines), incredibly dry climate (constant need for lotion and chap stick), lack of oxygen (running=pain), lack of mosquitoes (as I sit here an itch a bite on my neck!), the need to wear sunscreen ALL the time (I sunburnt the top of my hand horseback riding my first week), road signs (watch for elk?!?!), fluffy snow (and LOTS of it) instead of sleet and slush, pastures with horses instead of corn fields with tractors, lots of trees, sides of mountains with trees burnt from wildfires, deer in my front yard constantly, turkey on the property all the time, and being within 100 yards of bears numerous times (other people saw them, I never did, which I now wish I had). Different is stimulating and brings with it excitement and joy.

Now I’m back in the Midwest where everything is familiar. No one envies where I live anymore. I don’t feel all that interesting now. I left a lot behind in Colorado: an InCrEdIbLe church. I can’t say enough about it and the growth and encouragement I experienced there. It all started with Kim’s “Dream Releasers” class. Then there was Tiffany’s extraordinarily loving spirit during “Passion Play”. Pastors Dwight and Linn have opened my eyes, challenged my heart, and bettered my soul. As long as they are posted online I will continue to listen to his sermons. You can find them at It is worth your time. Linn writes a blog that has been a blessing in my life: A Place Called Simplicity. When I think of Big Jim’s Sunday morning hugs and the way his blue eyes looked straight into my soul and would say exactly what I needed to hear like, “You are loved,” tears fill my eyes. These people will hold a special place in my heart the rest of my days.

Back to the dream. Was it everything I expected? Yes. Because I had very few expectations. The dream was a dude ranch in Colorado. That being accomplished, everything else was just icing on the cake. Chocolate icing to be exact. Or maybe rainbow chip icing on funfetti cake… Anyways, I didn’t get to ride horses as much as I would have liked, but I learned a lot more about horse care than I expected. I had some experiences I couldn’t have even dreamed of: moved cattle on horseback, did a choreographed drill on horseback for the guests with the wranglers, doctored injured horses, moved the herd up the mountain on horseback, and simply was blessed to be in the presence of these magnificent animals on a daily basis. When I started taking riding lessons in January 2007 my goal was to be comfortable on a horse. I accomplished that goal in taking lessons and then multiplied that entire experience ten fold in what I was able to do in Colorado. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so much further than I ever thought I’d be when I first starting really developing my love of horses 5 years ago.

I learned other things too … when there is snow on the hill, slow down. Your truck may decide not to turn and you may run in to the one parked at the bottom of the hill. Tractors are fantastic at getting trucks unstuck. Not that the whole stuck thing was ever my fault. A Grand Prix will not go up a steep hill with snow on it. Period. If there is snow on the ground, do not wear high heels to church even if it is Easter Sunday. You may fall down the steps and land on the top of your foot and tear it all up. Extreme pain when wearing any kind of footware and scars will result. Clean up of [goat pee (x3) + mini horse pee (x2) + goat poo (x3) + mini horse poo (x2)] x7 months may be the most horrible smelling thing you have ever experienced. Be prepared to puke. Horse poo wet from melting snow is the weight of normal horse poo x1million. Be prepared for sore muscles. When holding on to a halter attempting to put medicine in the mouth of a horse that is part Clydesdale, your feet may not stay on the ground. Some horses are sexually aroused by having ointment put in to their eyes. A horse does not care that extra space is needed for the rider’s knee to make it around a gate. When a truck is about to go in to a river on the driver’s side, jump in to the passenger side, grab the wheel, and pray … fast. For the record, that wasn’t my fault and I saved that truck’s life! If the horses are feeling feisty and running in the exact opposite direction you want them to, stop, watch, and smile (and try to tune out the yelling of your coworker). If you are driving through Durango, you may see more deer in town than you do outside of town. You will fit in to Durango well if you are always late (me). Nothing starts on time. You will also fit in to Durango well if you are a hippie (not me). And if you like parades. Basically, if you are an outdoorsy hippie free thinking adrenaline junky who has a love of parades and cute touristy stores, and are habitually late, Durango is the place for you. Or if you are really stinking rich and want a million dollar home on the side of a mountain or top of a ridge, you will fit in really well too. Ok well 'normal' people like me find joy there too!

Obviously I have learned a lot since I began this journey of chasing the dream, but I think the greatest lesson for me to share with others is the importance of not spinning your wheels. It has been said … it is not what we do that we will regret in life, its what we don’t do… and that’s really what drove me to move to Colorado. I knew whether I lived another year or I lived to be 100, I would always regret not going if I didn’t. There is a new country song that says, “What am I waiting for?” We all wait, but for what? What you do doesn’t have to be life altering. Maybe you know someone at work that always seems sad and you think about reaching out but you haven’t yet. What are you waiting for? Let God use you! Or maybe you have thought about adopting an orphan. What are you waiting for? Seize the day! Perhaps you have a goal so big that it seems unattainable. I have been told and believe that if you can see yourself completing a task alone you aren’t thinking big enough. It needs to be so big that you know you can only do it with God’s help.

Alright I reckon that is enough preaching and I should talk about where I am now. I work with (and live at) Hidden Acres Christian Center in Iowa. It is a 60-75 minute drive NW of Des Moines. It is a 660 acre, 800 bed camp used primarily for kids camps and adult retreats (and has horses!!!). I am the Guest Group Retreat Coordinator, so if there is a retreat, it is my job to plan everything about their time here at camp and make sure everyone is happy while they are here. I absolutely LOVE my coworkers and fit in here perfectly. Total year a round staff is 14 and 9 of them are within 10 years of my age (almost 25!). There is a husband and wife who also live and work here who are super fun, invite me over to their house just to hang out, and have 3 darling little girls. I have often times missed by babysitting years and am thrilled to have neighbors to hang out with as that is something I missed horribly in Colorado.

It has taken me 2 weeks to write these 2 pages, so I am going to shush! I didn’t write this so much as to tell people about my life as to just let things out of my head. I figure maybe my experiences can entertain, encourage, or simply be something to read over morning coffee or at bed time! I’d love to hear from you so please comment or email

Seize the Day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bye Bye Colorado ...

On Wednesday, April 29 I am leaving Colorado. I had dreamed since Jr. High of living here and I was blessed to do it for an entire year. Now God has something else in store for me.

I will be working at Hidden Acres Christian Center in Dayton, IA (semi-near Des Moines) as the Guest Group Retreat Coordinator. Also, I will be given the opportunity to work with horses some (and have one designated as my very own to ride when I wish!) and hopefully start a therapeutic riding program there in the future.

God works in big ways. I found out about HA through my Uncle who was recently elected to their board of directors. He called my parents' house when I was home for Christmas to tell me about it and that he thought I should work there. Honestly he doesn't know me well and our families have spent very little time together, but I think God moved in his heart. I decided to check it out because I was having a real hard time handling the off-season at the ranch and was incredibly lonely as I didn't have people to hang out with in Durango. Also, the reservations for 09 were very low and I was a bit nervous about the security of my job.

On Tuesday, April 14 I was told the ranch wouldn't be opening in 2009 and my position would be terminated at the end of May. The next day I was offered the job in Iowa. Yippee Jesus! I am so very thankful for God's work in my life.

The sad part is that between that Christmas call and now I really have started to feel at home in Durango. I have a few friends and have met some fantabulously wonderfully amazing women at church (you ladies reading this!!!) and am very sad to leave it all. I have loved the River Church since I started going there a year ago but have just recently felt at home and I HATE to leave it, but I trust God will help me find a rockin awesome church in Iowa ... although I just don't think any of them will compare!!!

I'm going to miss the beauty of the mountains, how the sun seems to always be out, the snow, the wildlife, the abundance of activities, and so much else, but I feel incredible peace that there are great things ahead. It will be fantastic to be closer to my family and my soon to be niece or nephew.

I will miss you all so much and will definitely follow your blogs to keep up on happenings in your life! Thank you for touching my life the way you have.

Much love,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Answered Prayer ... WOW!

My dear friend Mike was diagnosed with colon cancer just a couple weeks ago. Last week he found out it was Stage 4 and had spread. He has tumors on both his liver and pancreas. As we all know, pancreatic cancer is BAAAAAD. Wednesday of this week Mike had a biopsy on the tumor on his pancreas. The purpose of this biopsy was to find out if the tumor was operable. If not, the doctors told him he had zero chance of living more than 3 years. Since I found out about this biopsy a week ago I started to pray that when they went to do the biopsy Wednesday the tumor wouldn't even be there, that God would remove it.

Yesterday I called Mike to see if he had the results yet. He said he had good news. Good news? He hasn't had anything but horrible news lately. Of course he was cruel and kept dragging it out instead of just telling me what the good news was. (Apparently Mike is one of God's tools to teach me patience!) Eventually I got it out of him ... to the doctor's pure shock, the tumor isn't cancerous! It is there, but it is small and there is no cancer present. Not exactly what I prayed for, but extremely good news!!! I believe the hope now is that the tumor can be zapped with radiation.

Mike still has surgeries to undergo, including one that will remove part of his liver. There will be chemo and radiation as well. Please pray for God's miraculous healing touch on his body and encouragement through this battle. He is facing this all alone so please pray for comfort.

Much love,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Solo Dance Party

Yesterday I decided to clean the barn because 1- it was dirty (ok it's pretty much always dirty, its a barn!) and 2- it was a wonderfully gorgeous and warm day. Since I knew I would be down there a couple of hours I took my old school boom box so I could listen to a CD. I put in the latest Sugarland CD. The first two songs really get me going so I was dancing and singing having a grand ole time. Not accomplishing anything though. In my dancing I turned around towards the pen with 2 mini horses and 3 goats and they are lined up just staring at me! It's like they were thinking, "Uh oh. This is the lady that feeds us and she has lost her mind! What are we going to do?"