Getting Married – Part 2

As 2020 came to a close many people are discussed how it was a year to forget, but that hasn’t been the case for us.  COVID has affected everything that we have tried to do, but if I’m honest I’m very happy with how life has progressed.  I left off part one with our engagement.  From that point we spent time brainstorming on where our wedding should be.  This was particularly complicated because I’ve lived in seven states and have friends everywhere.  We settled on a destination wedding in the Tennessee portion of the Appalachian Mountains.  In late February we traveled down to visit some venues and found one we really liked and booked a date.  I had basically given up on ever getting married and it felt amazing to be planning the wedding that I never expected to have. 

Just when plans seemed to be coming together COVID cases started rising in the country.  As the weeks progressed COVID continued to rapidly spread and more and more lockdown and travel restrictions were imposed.  This started a long running conversation that I think a lot of people were having about what to do in the midst of COVID.  Ultimately, COVID drove drastic changes to our plans.  First, we decided to sell my house because it could be ready for the market faster and started consolidating 2 houses into one.  The plan had been to sell a house in July after the wedding when I wasn’t taking classes, but in the beginning of COVID with all the uncertainty we were concerned that the housing market would crash.  In April with the virus running rampant and no end in sight we decided we couldn’t risk bringing all of our friends and family together so the wedding celebration was postponed until 2021. 

The celebration was cancelled and the house was sold, but we still needed to get Married.  We ended up having the only type of wedding allowed under New York restrictions, a Zoom wedding.  I had the bright idea that I still wanted to get married at a place pretty but the weather was not agreeable.  It was raining outside all day but it looked like the storms would break for our little ceremony.  We drove over to a local park where we found a shelter and tethered a laptop to my cell phone for the wedding, right as it started pouring rain.  We followed the script even though I don’t think anyone could really hear, and within about 5 minutes the officiant pronounced us husband and wife.  We had a little tripod and remote snap button that we used to try to take a couple wedding pictures. 

And that’s how we got Married. 

I’ve been part of multiple weddings where the bride was anxious about all of the festivities and I would remind her that the only thing that matters is that guy standing across from her.  What matters is that they are two  people who love each other and are committing to share life together.  Well, that was the only thing that turned out as I had imagined for my wedding.  Even though the wedding was not what I planned, I am very happy to be sharing life with the man I love. 

Since the wedding we closed on my house and have been on a 6-month purge of stuff so the house finally feels like it’s not bursting at the seams.  We did squeeze in a mini-honeymoon to the Lake George where we did a little hiking and rock climbing.  Being the gentleman that he is, my husband decided it would be a good idea to put what he considered a pretty (and kids football sized) rock in my backpack with my climbing gear.  I thought my pack was heavier than what I carried up, but didn’t find the rock until the next day.  Let’s just say I wasn’t thrilled when I found something the size of a small football in my pack, but now we have a “honeymoon rock” on the mantel. 

All in all it was a weird year with masks, working from home, and limited travel, but I am happy to be married to the man I love.  I struggled to write this post because while I had countless hours of anxiety about wedding plans and cried over not having family there, ultimately we are married.  Many people have lost so much more than a wedding this year, our changes in plans don’t begin to compare with people who have lost family or friends.  For us, 2020 was not just the year of COVID, it will always be the year that we merged our lives together. 

I pray for our country and our world as the challenging year comes to an end.  I pray that you can find the joy and the blessing, but also persevere through the challenges. 

Romans 5:3-5 ESV

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

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Getting Married – Part 1

Ridge Walk

A lot has changed in life since my last blog post, but it’s finally time to bring it up to speed.  From my perspective social media can be a scary place, and so I wanted to live this part of life before sharing it with the world.  In short, since my last post I have met and married a gentleman. 


My initial heart:

What I mark as the beginning of our story is my Christmas of 2018.  At the time I had been living in New York for a year and frankly I was at a very lonely point in life.  As a single woman in my mid 30’s I had learned that these points come and go.  There were times when I was completely content in my singleness enjoying everything that God was bringing me in life, but that was not all the time.  There were also times when the loneliness felt unbearable and I would repeatedly pray for contentment.  My prayers would go something like the: “Lord, help me to fully believe that you are enough.  Help me to believe that I’m not missing life because I don’t have a partner to share life with.  Help me to know that your timing is right, and if it is your will I will meet someone in your timing.  Lord I love you and I know that your love is enough, but please bring me contentment with my current position in life.” 

That particular Christmas I had very mixed emotions.  I loved spending time with family and seeing my nieces and nephews growing, but seeing their happy families also exacerbated my loneliness.  I spent my nights in my parents basement bedroom with a few tears as I flipped through dating websites trying to decide if I should give it one more try. 

While I decided to give online dating another try I was not optimistic based on past experience.  I had basically given up on ever getting married.  I am sharing this because things weren’t all great and easy, and they won’t always be.  Life has a lot of pain and challenges, even if it is based on something that may seem trivial like loneliness. 


Meeting my husband: 

Fortunately, my time of online dating was short.  I messaged a few guys, but there was one that stood out.  He actually attended the same church as me and shared an enjoyment of the outdoors.  We e-mailed a couple times and made plans to meet for coffee at the public market in January.  But before that meeting occurred, I had lunch with a friend from church and asked if she knew him.  I was in luck!  I left with a near certainty that the guy I was meeting was a close friend to her family.  She also told me a little about him, both good and bad, but it left me with a sense of relief.  This time I was going to a meeting with a stranger knowing that he wasn’t an axe murderer or something. 

We met the next day in the 20 degree temps.  It was cold enough in the coffee shop that I never actually took my winter coat off.  We chatted for a while and he accused me of spying based on my insider information.  Then we made 2 laps around the market, walking by the shops until I was nearly too cold to function.  That day we started a text thread that is still alive.  We met up for walks in parks, dinners, and beers. 

The next big decision point for me came when we decided to go to church tomorrow.  Up until that point I was still having a couple random dates, but for me going to church together also meant that we were exclusively together.  This whole concept of going on dates with multiple people seems to me to have been created by online dating.  It’s a balance of trying to get value while paying a membership and wanting to invest more deeply in a single relationship.   So I went through a very weird time of having a single date with the other guys I’d been talking to before ending those relationships and solely pursuing the man who is now my husband. 

That was the beginning of entering into and adjusting his habits by filling his “buffer” seat at church.  He did his best to sit in the same seat every Sunday which he thinks is the perfect spot for sound and viewing without too many distractions.  He was also known for trying to keep a single seat buffer between himself and the next church goer, whether it was a friend or stranger.  So, we sat together that first week and shared with our common friends that we were “together”.

Things progressed and he dove headlong into my hobby of rock climbing.  I greatly appreciated his zeal to pursue it, but at the same time I was worried that it was only to impress me.  Eventually he convinced me that he really was enjoying it and trips to the climbing gym became a regular occurrence. 

The next big step came with a trip to IA for him to meet my family.  He came to the farm played with my nieces and nephews, fed the cows, and saw where I grew up.  I suspect that this gave him a little perspective on how I became the person that I am.  It was really sweet to see my little nephew cuddle up next to him to have a book read.  It was sweet both to see my nephew take to him so strongly and to see how he interacted with my nephew.  At the end of the weekend I asked my sister what she thought of him.  She wouldn’t say a lot, partially because she knows I value her opinion too much, but she did tell me that she liked the way that he looked at me. 

After this we continued to find adventures and get to know each other more.  He went on my family vacation to the lake, and I went a bluegrass festival he attends each year.  Over the next few months we were spending more and more time together and learning more about each other. 

I’m going to skip the engagement story because we seem to have different recollections about how exactly the days events played out, but he proposed to me the weekend before we left for Christmas vacation and I said YES!  This made Christmas entirely different from the previous year.  We were filled with happiness knowing that we would soon be officially starting a life together. 

This brings us to Christmas, the next 6 months deserve a blog of their own.  The teaser, we planned a wedding, canceled a wedding, got married, sold a house, purged and moved.  COVID has affected everyone, so my next blog will tell you how it affected us. 

Being goofy

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I got a TATTOO!!

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4: 9-12

So, I did something that I never thought I would do.  I got a tattoo!!  I never had anything against them, but I didn’t have anything that I wanted permanently etched on my body, until now.

My second post on this blog told the story of my life motto and where it come from, “Love People, every step of the way”.  I won’t recount the whole story, but since writing that post, these words have become more deeply entrenched in my life.  The entire time I was on the road I found myself dwelling on their meaning.  I became more and more convinced that they are biblical and that they are the mission for my life.  I came up with many ways to interpret the words; love, people, step, and way.  These words continually challenge me to live more intentionally.  Even today at church the pastor made the statement that we are not commanded to change the world but we are commanded to love our neighbor.  We aren’t typically in situations where we can change the world, but we can always love our neighbors.  This motto reminds me to love more like Jesus, always, everywhere I go.

When I moved to Roanoke I came up with the idea of getting a tattoo embedding these words on my body.  As I contemplated I realized that this has been my life motto for 4 years and I don’t foresee that changing.  I started thinking about designs.  Over the course of a year, the idea simplified and shifted from my ankle to my foot but stayed basically the same.

I talked about it enough that after moving to New York my friend Katie actually drew and made temporary tattoos of the concept.  This was wonderful because it allowed me to see what it would really look liked day by day.  It added to my confidence that it really was something I wanted permanently.  Finally, I booked it!!!  As crazy as it sounds I got a destination tattoo.  You see if I had gotten it in NY I would not have been able donate blood for a year, but in VA it was fine!

On Memorial Day weekend I traveled to Roanoke with plans visit friends and get a tattoo.  Fortunately, my friend Ricky was gracious enough to distract me during the process.  He kept listening to me talk about climbing stuff that he may or may not have actually been cared about.  Every time he saw me take a deep breathe or wince he would come up with another question to get me rambling again.  The trip was a success, it was great to visit friends and the tattoo part wasn’t too bad!

Anyway, I now have a foot tattoo that represents how I try to live.  I have the words “Love People, every step of the day”, looking up at me every morning.  I also have the cross, representing my savior Jesus Christ, who loved the world to the point of death for sinners like me.  The dove is a symbol of life and purity, it is flying over the cross because these are the gifts of Jesus Christ’s love, sacrifice, and victory over death.  The tattoo includes footsteps approaching the cross representing my continual journey to be closer to him and love more like him.  Finally, the words encapsulate the image in a heart because I want to live with heart.

Please let me know if you would like a more personal explanation of why Jesus is so important to me.

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Harriet Tubman Home

Today, I was looking for something out of the ordinary to do and I ended up traveling to Harriet Tubman’s Home in Auburn, NY.  It was a perfect weekend for it, with Juneteenth approaching.  I knew from school that she had been involved in the Underground Railroad, but I didn’t really know much about her.  I definitely gained new respect for her, and the Underground Railroad.

I learned that she was born as a slave in Maryland where she saw 3 of her sisters sold to the cotton plantations in the south when she was young and never saw them again.  She worked hard as a slave, even working extra in her “free time” to save enough to buy her freedom.  Unfortunately, when she had almost saved enough money her owner died.  The new owner was going to sell her south, away from her family, at which point she decided to escape.  She did, and as soon as she was relatively safe she began making plans return for her family.

This is the part that I had not really considered.  As a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad she trekked hundreds of miles with nearly no resources.  She escorted the young and old, men and women all to safety.  She was a great navigator, traveling mostly by night.  She actually preferred to travel in the winter, when days were shorter, so they could travel longer each night.  I’m a fair weather hiker, I definitely wouldn’t choose to hike across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York through the snow and cold of winter.  The farthest I have ever hiked is 100 miles on the Appalachian Trail.  It was a set trail with shelters along the way, and I had plenty of food to eat.  I had very little fear of people, animals, or the elements.  My trip was only a week long adventure and in that short time I was ready to be out of the woods.  I can’t imagine what it was like for Harriet and the people she was leading.  They were traveling for months, dealing with cold, limited food, limited water, and fear of capture.  She made 13 trips, each time risking her life as she traveled through the wilderness.  There is documentation of her rescuing over 70 people, but the true total number is probably in the hundreds.

Beyond this, Mrs. Tubman also served in the Union Army during the Civil War as a cook, nurse, scout, and spy.  She even used her great navigational skills to lead a raid that freed more than 700 slaves.  After the war and the emancipation she cared for the needy and started a “Home for the Aged”.  She saw that many former slaves were getting old and had no one and no means to be cared for.  Throughout her life she was continually giving of herself to serve those around her.

After visiting the Tubman home I traveled over to the Seneca Falls to learn about women’s rights and happened on a documentary about Josiah Henson.  Mr. Henson was the inspiration Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Josiah also has a story of seeing and experiencing terrible atrocities but lived as a man of moral character.  He actually transported a group of slaves from Maryland to Kentucky, passing through Cincinnati, which was free.  He later said it was his biggest mistake, but he kept his promise and they finished the journey to Kentucky.  He only considered running away after his owner almost sold him south and lied about the price to buy his freedom.  When he escaped, he took his family with him, carrying his two youngest children on his back.  Just like Harriett Tubman, Josiah risked his life making multiple return trips back to lead more slaves to freedom.  Both of these individuals lived with impeccable morals and selflessness through deeply unfair situations. And both relied heavily on their Christian faith.

All of this led my thoughts back to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  If you have not read it, it is an excellent book that I highly recommend.  When you read it, really think about what life was like for the slaves as well as the way the Bible was being miss interpreted.  In the book I was amazed by the faith of the slaves and how they relied on God through all of the suffering and atrocities.  I was even more amazed by how the slave owners used the Bible to justify their position.  I can’t image the political uproar that this book created when it was published.  This booked countered everything that was generally culturally accepted in the country.

The day has left me thinking about my faith and my political views.  I wonder how I am miss interpreting the Bible due to our current cultural norms.  Things are changing so much in our country and strong opinions are everywhere these days.  I find myself trying to test these topics against the Bible to determine where I stand.  I’m not going to get political here because that’s not my purpose, instead I want to leave you with this thought.  Jesus’s most basic teaching is to love our neighbors and our neighbors are everyone.  I encourage you to test your views against the Bible and do your best to love your neighbors.


Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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Reflection on Virginia: A Stop too Short

Two weeks ago I had my final day living in Virginia.  Fitting for my time there, I was able to hike one of the classic trails.  I hiked with some of my closest Virginia friends through the single digit temperatures to a frozen waterfall.  It was chilly, but also a beautiful hike along a frozen stream.  This trek caused me to reflect on my time living in Roanoke, VA.   I am definitely leaving with some very fond memories.

This was my first time living in the mountains.  I rented part of a house on a hill with a fantastic view of the mountains from the front porch.  I spent hours drinking coffee, reading a book, grilling dinner, or just having a beer on this porch.  The house was from the 20’s with character that was also in need of some serious repair, but there’s no need to dwell on that.

Hiking trails near Roanoke are fabulous.  As noted in a previous post, we have the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail within an hour’s drive.  The mountains hold a multitude of fantastic trails waiting to be explored.  I hiked to a variety of peaks and waterfalls but there are many more that could be explored.

More importantly, I found community it Roanoke.  This was what I missed most during my time on the road.  When I first walked into the climbing gym I had an hour long conversation with a guy before ever touching a rope.  He turned out to be the leader of an unusual Bible study known as Beer and Bible.  I decided to check it out, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  He went into great depth on the historical context, original translations, and scholarly interpretations of a few short verses.  Over time, the group of regular attendees became my closest Roanoke friends.

One day I found myself walking along the Greenway with an attendee who had just returned from a year on the RACE, traveling the world serving people through a mission’s organization.  She had seen the world and was also starting life again in Roanoke.  I instantly knew that we would be friends.  We regularly go for a walk or meet up for dinner and just talk about life.  She has put her social work skills to use by helping me figure out some of my emotional life challenges.

The River Rock climbing gym turned into my home away from home.  I love being there.  It has a great atmosphere, great climbing routes, and great people.  Even after my time on the road, climbers are my people.  God put a desire on my heart to start a prayer group at the gym.  It took a long time for me to follow through, but the owner graciously allowed us to use the yoga room, and we started meeting twice a month.  It was super informal, sitting on the floor in a circle praying off sticky notes.  But, I think it helped us keep Jesus and our friends’ salvation at the front of our minds, even while climbing.  I’m excited to hear how the group evolves as a good friend and climbing partner takes over the lead.

At the gym I also met a gentleman whom I have spent a considerable amount of time with.  This is the first person I’ve really dated in years.  It has been wonderful to have someone to share life with on a daily basis.  Despite his crazy goofy rotating scheduling working for the Sheriff’s department we find time to talk/text daily.  It was nice to have a climbing partner for trips to the New River Gorge, someone to grill steaks on the front porch, and someone who would wrap his arms around me and cuddle on the couch.  Things are going to get more challenging as this becomes long distance.

That’s the long way of saying I have enjoyed my time in Roanoke.  There are many more people I could talk about including neighbors, coworkers, mentors, and church friends.  This is just an area filled with good people.

So why am I leaving?  Way back in May I was contacted by a recruiter about a job.  I didn’t think much of it because I hadn’t even been in VA for a year and I was not looking to move.  But the job sounded too interesting not to inquire more.  To make a long story short, I will be starting my new job on Jan 15 and am now in the midst of moving.

What will I be doing?  Check out all these buzz words…  I will be working for a Sustainability Institute on a University campus working on remanufacturing process development.  I will be bridging the gap between the academic world and the corporate world.  I think I’ll be doing very meaningful work and will be able to improve myself as an engineer.  This job should help me to acquire skills that will allow me to do bigger things with life.  I’m not exactly sure what to expect but I trust that God orchestrated this opportunity.

I have three prayers to conclude this blog:  1. I pray a prayer of thanks for the people I’ve met and things I’ve explored during my time in Virginia.  2.  I pray that God will be with me as I make this transition.  3.  I pray that God will use me more in my new home.

The Frozen Cascades

Me in front of the frozen falls.

Some of my closest Roanoke friends at the Cascades

A couple of my closest Roanoke friends

The River

The River

The Frozen River

Check out the striations in the ice.

Chris and I

Chris and I

My desk on my last day.

I had great coworkers. They made me feel special, even as I was leaving.

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Well I’ll be Your Friend!!

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 

1 John 3:18 NIV

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. 

Proverbs 18: 24  NLT

It’s been more challenging to find topics to write about now that I have a more traditional life again, so today I’m sharing an old story.  It’s a story that makes me smile every time I tell, so now it is immortalized in text. 

Moving to a new place is scary for me because it wells up a wealth of uncertainty.  There are so many things to figure out ranging from big things like where to live to little things like where is the nearest grocery store.  For me, moving alone, one of the biggest concerns is finding friends.    

When I moved to Fargo I knew that I had to face my fear, be vulnerable, and try to make friends.  (This kind of makes laugh.  As I type, I’m imagining schoolyard kids trying to making friends.  I was a 20 something adult but the principles are the same no matter what age.)  I nervously went to the climbing gym and was bouldering around a little bit.  I struck up a conversation with a girl and her partner, I told them that I was new in town.  At one point in the conversation she asks “Do you have any family in town?”  I answered “Nope, I don’t know anyone within 300 miles.”  From half way up the wall she turned to me in perfect elementary school teacher form and said “Well, I’ll be your friend!” 

Up to this point, it’s a cute story, but where the rubber meets the road is in the fact that she followed through on that statement.  Later that week she invited me to dinner with some of her friends, and I ended up joining her for church that Sunday.  That follow through made a huge difference in my life.  It gave me true friends and connected me with a church that shook up my faith.  I am forever grateful to God for allowing the timing to be right for us to meet and to her for following through on the friendship.  Both of our lives have changed immensely since that day, but this lovely lady will always be a dear friend. 

I strive to follow her example and be a friend who is more than just words.  I want people to know that what I say is true and I will follows through.  As John says in the verse above, I try to love with actions and in truth.  Take a minute to think to think about your old and new friends, are you seeing their needs following through?

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7 peaks in 7 weeks, or 1 weekend….

Hiking around Roanoke is pretty good, and they have a big push to get people outdoors.  One effort is a series of hikes called 7 peaks in 7 weeks.  Well, a friend decided that it would be a good idea to hike the seven peaks in 72 hours, or 1 weekend.  I was hesitantly decided to join the adventure. 

We started on a Friday evening, by hiking Poor Mountain (appealing name).  It was a nice hike, mostly in the dark.  I challenged my eyes to function in low light rather than turning on my headlamp.  


The next morning we started well before sunrise and hiked up Tinker, then traversed across to McAfee Knob (the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.  The plan was to hike from there to the top of Dragon Tooth.  Unfortunately we were slightly behind schedule, so we decided to hitchhike to the base of Dragon Tooth, (6 miles away, where my van was parked), come back and pick up the rest of our crew, drive back to Dragon Tooth, then hike up and down.  We made it to the top about an hour before sunset, so we hung out for a while, watched sunset from the top, and hiked back down in the dark.  After we got down, we picked up vehicles, and had a late dinner in Roanoke. 

We slept a few short hours, then met again at a crazy morning hour to drive to Sharp Top and hiked to the top to watch sunrise.  Our plan was to get to the top early and make coffee to enjoy while we watched sunrise, however our tiredness caused us to move slowly, and barely make it in time for sunrise.  This was probably my favorite part of the hikes.  There was something particularly amazing about watching the sun go down on top of one peak, then watching it rise again the next morning from the top of another.  I watched more sunrises and sunsets during my time on the road than during the rest of my life combined.  There is something so majestic about watching the light of our world come and go and come back again.  I love the colors and the clouds.  It is amazing how the best sunrises and sunsets aren’t when its fully clear or fully overcast.  The best sunrises and sunsets have that balance of a few clouds, but not too many.  On this particular morning, after sunrise we made our coffee and Neil gave an impromptu lesson on Abraham and Isaac on the mountain.  We wandered down the mountain and made breakfast burritos at the base.  It was really nice to be still and just chill for a while.  From there we continued to Read Mountain and saw the city from Buzzards Rock.  Then, we made a trip to Go Fest, an festival focused on getting the community outdoors.  We wandered around there briefly, then drove to the base of Mill Mountain.  Mill Mountain was our 7th and final peak.  I was nervous as we started because I was flat tired.  Fortunately, this was the shortest and most mellow of the peaks.  We got there in time for sunset, but found out that it really isn’t the best sunset spot.  It doesn’t have much of a view to the west. 

All said and done it was an exhausting but fantastic weekend.  A random highlight was sitting on top of Buzzard Peak, my least favorite of the seven, talking with my new friends.  I made the comment that it really felt like we’d known each other for more than 2 days.  This made me realize how rarely we spend long amounts of time truly getting to know people.  Usually it’s a couple hours at most with new friends for coffee or something.  We spent 2 days straight, hiking 35 miles on very limited sleep, and we were all still smiling.  When I saw my friends smiling exhausted smiles I knew that this ridiculous weekend turned out to have been a great plan. 


John 15: 12-15   My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 

 When I think of friendship in relation to my Bible, this is the segment that stands out to me.  I included the first verse, primarily because I love that command to love one another.  However today I really want to dwell upon the sentences that follow.  Jesus is speaking to his disciples and calling them friends.  This is no little thing.  The idea that I can be Jesus’ friend is almost unfathomable.  How can my Lord and Savior really be willing to drop down to my level to be my friend?  With this in mind, I look at the people around me and know that I should do my best to be a friend to everyone.  I have no right or reason to judge or consider myself better than anyone.  When I meet someone I don’t know anything about their life or background.  I don’t know what they have been through or how they reached that point.  All I know is that my Savior is my friend!!

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An Unexpected Turn – to Virginia

Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand

-Proverbs 19:21


The local landmark in my new city.

               God had continued to move me along an unexpected course.  As mentioned in my last post, after two years I was anxious for whatever was next.  As amazing as van life was, I was ready to have a consistent community and basic amenities again.  So, I started applying for jobs.  I applied for one that seemed perfect based in Salt Lake City, but three months later I was turned down.  I applied for a job in Bend, Oregon that I wasn’t truly qualified for, and go turned down.  I thought I would definitely move somewhere out west, but I had enjoyed my time in Kentucky and West Virginia, so I decided to broaden my search area.    

               As timing happened to work out, I found myself babysitting a friend’s 6 week old baby in Washington D.C. for a week.  This allowed me lots of time with a consistent internet connection do job hunt and send out resumes.  I sent out 5.  Then remembered that my sister had told me that a friend from church worked for a company that did laser stuff, and was hiring engineers.  I texted her for contact information, and sent a blind e-mail to a guy I’d never met.  I few e-mails later and he had a copy of my resume, and I was intrigued by this possibility.  The job seemed like a really good fit, and the location seemed to be filled with outdoors activities. 

               I traveled all around the northeast, completing my tour of all 48 of the continuous states.  I spoke to a recruiter from a rest stop in Vermont, and completed a phone interview from a library conference room in Massachusetts.  When I arrived at the library they happened to have a display of books targeted at people who were re-entering the work force.  I spent about two hours reading difficult interview questions, and remembering more details about my projects at Caterpillar. 

               From there a whirlwind began.  I drove to NJ, picked up a friend from the airport and climbed with him in the NY.  Then I dropped him back off at the airport and drove to Niagara Falls.  Niagara Falls had been on my bucket list, so I made a quick swing by on my way back to Minnesota for our annual family waterski vacation.  From there, I flew to VA for an in person interview, explored the city a little, then flew back to MN to wait (or explore).  While waiting for an offer, I drove to Colorado, met a friend and attempted to climb the Diamond on Long’s Peak (that’s a whole different story).  After failing to reach the summit, I drove to my Aunt’s house in Greeley, and accepted a job offer. 

               I had about a month to get back to MN, gather my things, travel to Roanoke, find a place to live and start work.  I arrived with my van in Roanoke 5 days before I was scheduled to start work, needing a bigger place to live.  I visited as many as I could get into, and got my keys to a house on the third day.  That Monday morning I reported to a brand new company for a brand new job.  Frankly, I didn’t realize how much of an advantage it had been to move within Caterpillar.  Even though I was in a new place with new people, I still had a network, and I still knew how the basic systems worked.  Now, I was started with a completely blank slate. 

               I never expected to end up here, and have no idea why this is my new home, but I am confident that this is where God has me for now.  So far I am enjoying the challenges at work, the mountain view from my home, the local outdoor community, indoor plumbing, and my queen size bed!!  I’m going to keep the blog alive as I already have a couple more things to right about, have no idea where life is going from here, and I still have an open project waiting to be completed.


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Van Life – A Tour of my Studio Apartment on Wheels

This is a post that has proven very difficult for me to write, I have intended to write it for months.  It’s challenging because van life has definite ups and downs, and I want to properly portray it.  I am also writing at a time when I’m starting to miss some basic comforts and am preparing to have a proper ‘home’ again. 

My van is intentionally a soccer mom van from the outside.  I have kept it this way so that I can blend in at nearly any parking lot.  When you open the doors it becomes apparent that it is no longer a soccer mom van, I only have the front two seats remaining.  The back ¾ of the van is my studio apartment on wheels.  The passenger sliding door acts as my front door.  I have a small open area here that is my entryway and shoe storage.  Upon entering my home, I typically take my shoes off and sit on the bed which stretches along the drivers’ side.  The bed frame was built by my dad, intentionally sized to 5.5ft (long enough for me), and to a height allowing for me to sit up straight.  There is storage under the bed.  The front half holds my extra books (mostly climbing guide books), electronics, clothes, extra warm clothes, laundry supplies, and a sewing kit.  The back portion has my toolbox, jumper cables, spare room (tent/sleeping pad), and climbing gear.  When everything is properly packed it nearly all fits, however the gear I’m using is typically out in the back corner. 


The entry way.


Another view of the van.


My bed on the left and gear closet on the right.

The biggest item in the van is my crash pad.  This is a mini mattress that can be used to fall on when bouldering, climbing close to the ground without ropes.  This can either set on the floor along the bed or hang from the ceiling, held up by a 1×6.  Either option is bulky and in the way, but it’s an item that I’ve been very glad to have at certain times along the journey. 

My kitchen is between the bed and the drivers’ seat.  This consists of a cabinet that my dad built to hold my cooking supplies, a two burner stove, a quick camp stove, a fold-out table, and a good supply of water.  All of my food is stored just behind this cabinet.  Early in my travels I decided that a cooler was not an effective solution for me.  I didn’t keep a lot of cold stuff, and ice just kept on melting so I gave away my cooler, and found the cool spot.  This has been an important discovery for me.  In the van I have a spot between my food tub, kitchen cabinet, and bed where I put items that I want to keep cool.  Each morning I put my quilt on top of this for insulation, and if it’s cool out, I take it off at night.  Shockingly, it works quite well! 


My kitchen all packed up.


My kitchen set-up in action.


Van neighbors, this was a common occurrence for us at the Red River Gorge, KY.

There are also features to make it feel a little homey.  I have carpet on the floor, an entry rug, a fitted sheet, bed skirt, and my quilt.  The quilt is of particular sentimental significance because it’s a double sided t-shirt quilt full of high school and college shirts that my grandma and I made together. 

I also have a propane heater (with a CO sensor) for when it is cold, and a little USB powered fan for when it is hot.  I have multiple lights, my new favorites being two solar powered lanterns, one of which changes color! 

The only adjustments I made to van itself were the addition of rain guards over the windows and a bungee book shelf under the back passenger window.  The rain guards are great because I can have the windows cracked without it being apparent, and don’t have to worry about being rained on.  The bungee cord bookshelf just helps me with organization and is a fun little feature. 


A bungee cord book shelf.

These are some of the main features of the van, but in reality I have every nook and cranny full of stuff.  It seems like every time I pass through Iowa I leave more stuff behind, and still have more than I need.  I’m continually amazed by how much I have, and how little I really need. 

Some people have asked if I would like a tiny house when I have a home again, and frankly the answer is no.  I feel like I’ve already done that to the extreme with the van, and one of the things I miss most is being able to host friends.  I miss grill-outs on the deck after church, sweet baking with ladies, having friends over to watch a movie.  I have had multiple people hang out in the van when there was bad weather, but it is just not the same.  Consistent community is the one thing that I miss the most with life on the road.  I’ve met many amazing people, but faces seem to stick around for 2 weeks at the most before one of us take off.  Someday I’ll have consistent community again.  Until then, I hope that you will all take a moment to appreciate those people in your lives. 



Drying out gear after a rainy day.


Van Girls in Red Rocks, NV

A Couple Bible verse thoughts

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25

Remember to encourage the people who matter most to you!

 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Matthew 8:19-20

When I started out I thoroughly enjoyed having no certain destination, but with time it has become tiring.  As time progresses, I find myself more frequently missing basic amenities such as a soft bed and indoor plumbing.  It’s also not unusual for me to wake up and look around for a minute to figure out where I am.  This has caused me to really consider Jesus’ statement above about not having a home.  It is hard to continually wander, and for the entirety of his ministry he had no home.  I have the comforts of the van and a savings account, he was walking through the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on his back.  If I were with him in the desert, would I have the courage and perseverance to follow him?    


A lot has changed since I first drafted this post.  I actually have acquired a job and a home.  There will be more about that in my next post… 

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Wildfire – An open project


Wildfire 5.12a

I’ve been on the road for a long time now.  I’ve climbed a lot of great routes and had a lot of fun doing it.  Most of the time I go out looking to climb  The Yosemite decimal system is the method used to grade climbs in the USA.  In a very short explanation, all rock climbs start with a 5, and the second number designates the difficulty.  These range from 5.0 to 5.15.  It’s a little relative because depending upon a climber’s height, hand size, and preferred style routes can seem easier or harder.  I’m sharing this because most of the time I’m out solely for the pleasure of the climb, but I also have a goal of sending a 5.12.  Sending is a climbing term meaning that I complete the route on lead, start to finish, without weighting the rope for any reason.  When I started climbing 5.12’s always seemed impossible, but now, I’m actually pretty close. 

Recently, I spent a week climbing with a friend who tends toward “projecting” routes.  This means figuring out specific moves in order to climb more efficiently and in turn, “send” harder routes.  I visited a variety of her projects and attempted more 12’s than I had in the rest of my climbing career combined.  One particular route grabbed my like no route has ever grabbed me, Wildfire, 5.12a.  This route is just beautiful.  To a climber I describe it with three words; short, steep, and pocketed.  There are just so many things that draw me to this route.  It’s at this beautiful little crag that nearly no one visits, with the sound of a small waterfall nearby.  The route is only 50ft high, but is kicked back at about 30 degrees, with no really great holds after the first third.  It’s consistently difficult moves, but no show stoppers, that I just can’t do.  It forces fun movements, it’s not straight forward, and feet positioning is absolutely critical.  On top of all this, it has lots of bolts and is completely safe to fall from any point on the route. 

I became borderline obsessed with sending Wildfire.  I visited and revisited it.  I memorized the moves.  I went for a hike on a rest day and found myself going through the moves as I walked the trail.  I could feel the pockets on my fingers as I imagined myself sending.  Initially on each visit I got a little closer.  One day I climbed the whole route with 1 fall, overlapping the hardest moves when I started again.  The next day out I fell above the last bolt.  It was essentially the last difficult move on the route.  I knew I could do it, but also knew that I had to be perfect for it to happen.  I wish that I could finish this blog with a send, but it remains an open project. 

Since leaving the Red River Gorge I’ve found myself thinking about Wildfire less frequently, but it will always have a special place in my heart as my first project, and maybe someday it will successfully send.  Even though I have not succeeded yet I am still glad to have climbed this amazing route and learned how to project. 

I’ve been thinking about the mentality of projecting and how it relates to life.  In general I’ve always thought that the on-sight mentality was more of how we live.  This is my normal climbing, where I’m seeing and feeling the holds for the first time as I climb it.  This becomes all about reading the route effectively, and being able to work with whatever holds I happen to find.  As a roaming climber this probably more closely characterizes my current life.  But there is also a lot to be said for preparation, persistence, and confidence in what’s ahead.  I recently read “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken.  This book discussed how faith survives and even thrives in countries where the church was persecuted.  They didn’t have the luxury of 4 different versions of the Bible and a pastor with theology training to explain scripture.  I was hit by how much scripture they had memorized.  One lesson was that if the base didn’t exist when someone became imprisoned there was nothing to grow.  Learning scripture and building my relationship with Christ is the most important “project” in my life. 

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  2 Timothy 4: 1-5

“Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”   Joshua 1:8a

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