Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trestle Trail

My move to the Fox Cities has been complicated. Besides getting tangled up a few times in finding my way around and being blocked by road construction, I started out feeling stifled here in the city. This week I located a nature trail in the neighboring city and went to explore. I was desperate to break free from the confines of city streets and traffic, to get some exercise, and to walk among God's natural wonders.

The Trestle/Friendship State Trail along a 1,600-foot bridge was the healing answer. As soon as I drove out of the city, a smile crossed my face. But it was short-lived.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION! It felt like my every attempt to break free was blocked and I was going around in circles trying to find a new way out of the maze I was in. Following the detour, I eventually found my way to the park and the trail. Relief!

When I stepped into the lush, green park and saw the bridge over the vast expanse of water, my heart soared with freedom at last. 

Here on the bridge and in the park, I felt like humanity connected in a new way. There was a shared experience of nature, wind, water, oxygen, exercise, rejuvenation, and beauty. People smiled and said hi in passing, with trust in their eyes. Women chatted with their walking buddies. Guys cruised by on their bicycles. A little boy rode his tricycle. A middle-aged lady walked her elderly parents down the trail, with her mom going slowly behind a walker. 

I ran. I walked. I ran some more. The wind was all around, like the Holy Spirit, massaging me with the physical touch of God and holding me in the hug of the Mighty Comforter.

“Life is too beautiful and too short to hold onto pain,” said my friend over the phone. She was talking about herself and relating the words she felt God speak so keenly to her about letting go and moving on. Now she had become God’s voice speaking directly to me.

The realization came: “Is this pain to keep me from enjoying the beautiful life God has given me and the adventure of seeking and pursuing His will?” 

Sometimes pain can be like road construction. It impedes the way we want to go, while God is telling us to take another route, a new course that He will show us, if we just get past the stubbornness of our own will.

I have my friend Sara to thank for this thought: we need to grow in holiness on God’s terms, not ours. How often do I wrongly tell God how I want to grow in holiness – instead of building a bridge of faith with the wood and mortar He gives me?

"Lord, correct my missteps, and bring me back to You."

As I seek to live in the present, here are some of the joys I look forward to:
- the coolness of late summer and the change of seasons
- colored leaves and pumpkins
- being open to new opportunities and ways to serve, to connect, to love, to grow, and to give in this new place and community.
- standing up in my friend's upcoming wedding
- opening new doors through writing
- exploring more parks and trails

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Never Bee Without a Cucumber

Strolling through downtown Appleton’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday, my mother and I picked up an interesting piece of advice. It started when we were gazing at some beautiful flowers that were creatively arranged in pots with slices of cucumber in them. As we were mulling over whether they were real cucumbers (and real flowers!), the vendor caught the inquisitive look on my mother’s face. “Is that a real cucumber?” my mom asked. “Why do you have it in there?”

The lady said, “Oh, yes! That is real alright. It’s to keep the bees away. They don’t like the smell of the cucumber. Pickles work the same way.”

Then we watched as a bee came drifting through, lingering slightly by the plant as though sniffing it and then suddenly flying up and away without ever landing. It worked.

We learned from the vendor that the cucumber also works to cover up perfume. If you’re wearing perfume and seem bothered by bees, just rub a little raw cucumber on your wrists to cover the perfume scent and bees will stay away. For natural insect repellent and sunscreen, she said Shea Butter works great - and there are no nasty, cancer-causing side effects as there are from DEET and most commercial sunscreens.

Just as she finished up telling us this, a man walked by with his wife and said, “You were probably just explaining, but why is there a cucumber in your plants?” Haha.

This is what I love about walking…you never know what tips and discoveries you’ll make along the way if you are curious enough to ask "Why?"

Have you learned anything helpful recently?