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Day 21: Ending Slavery

Following are a couple quotes I came across today in Ending Slavery by Kevin Bales.

"Lloyd Garrison was one of the most outspoken of the early abolitionists, and his colleagues urged him not to upset so many people. One said to him, 'Do try to moderate your indignation, and keep more cool; why, you are all on fire!' Garrison replied, 'I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice about me to melt.'" (Bales, 22)

"And hear the words of Salma mint Saloum,who escaped from slavery in the late 1990s:

'The first time I tried to escape ... they bound my wrists and ankles and tied me to a date tree in the middle of the family compound and left me there for a week. He cut my wrists with a razor, so that I bled terribly. I still have scars on my arms.'

The ugliness of slavery has not really changed in thousands of years, but the light of freedom grows stronger. Listen to Salma today:

'To work, and to learn things, to go to school, ... to talk with people I choose to talk to: these things are liberty to me. To have the liberty to discuss with people, to be free to go where I want, to eat what I want, to sleep where I want. Before, I didn't have that. Really, seriously, before, I didn't have that.' (Bales, 230)

Day 20: Talktime

This Sabbath was so wonderful for catching up with friends and fam far and wide. John shared great stories of getting kicked off a train in Switzerland and learning the difference between Wittenburg and Wittenberg in Germany -- good to know for future reference. Another friend is recovering from open heart surgery of both the literal and relational kinds so we had a quasi-therapy session. The Happy Hineys had a video skype session filled with floating stars and snowflakes, planning for reunions to come.

Here's an interesting quote from this morning's sermon: "The gestation period of this fallen, broken world is necessary to prepare us for eternity."

Day 17-19: ROADTRIP!

So many stories to tell . . . I think I'll give some highlights:

Emma, Tim, and I drove from Denver to Ouray together. Desperation drove us to pop in a Britney Spears CD. I documented our version of "Hit Me Baby One More Time." We passed through Black Canyon, by the Blue Mesa Dam (pictured), and gazed in awe at God's natural wonder which appeared just as Emma was getting bored with the views. God has funny timing.

We arrived at the Western Hotel in Ouray and promptly scoped out the premises, including an abandoned third floor where we found a stuffed ibex head we decided would be a great "surprise" for some unsuspecting guest in our group.

We had a picture perfect climbing day with warmth, sun, clear skies and "hero ice" that was soft enough to make every axe swing sink in and stick. A friend once commented that I really ought to smile when I climb because my anguished, frustrated expressions made it seem like I detested rock climbing. I didn't have that problem while ice climbing. I think I was grinning the entire time!

Ouray is also known for its hot springs which we thoroughly enjoyed with our crew of 18, jumping between the 104 degree pool and the "frigid" 75 degree cool pool.

Our roadtrip ended in Denver with the Snow Show. Jess' Mom, Jane, got us passes and we explored the overwhelming convention of all things snow-related. The highlight of the evening was dinner at Tag. Jess will post some food shots soon. Here's a smattering of what we enjoyed: ahi tuna sushi tacos, Kobe beef sliders with cayenne peppered and sugared fries, surf 'n turf roll (beef and lobster sushi roll style), white sangria with lemongrass and kumquats and blackberries, & sticky toffee cake.

Now I'm back in Boulder, having posted some pictures, laid out Tim's rope to dry from its dip in the river, and read one of the best emails I've ever received. A very good three days, indeed!

Day 16: Crashes

Crash 1
The Brainard Lake loop was slick and by slick I mean the trail frequently sent me careening into nearby trees. Don't be fooled by the lovely scenery; every move was a battle to remain on the trail. On the access road descent, I picked up a lot of speed on hard-packed snow, maybe caught an edge, and went down with terrific force. It was one of those falls where you remain horizontal as you quickly assess whether you're conscious. I recalled a bike crash, years ago, when I slapped some leaves to my forehead and contemplated whether to take the shorter, woodsy way home or the longer, road-based way home, lest I fainted and needed to be found by someone. Today, I tried assessing whether I was bleeding but decided getting back to the car should be my first priority. I sustained a cheek laceration, thanks to my sunglasses, and a bruised eyebrow. I'm wondering if I'll have a black eye tomorrow.

Crash 2
I wish I had a picture of this one but, alas, I was in a rush to get to a luncheon/interview. Let's just say I'm not used to driving a rear-wheel drive vehicle in snow. I rounded a bend, knew I had too much speed, and headed towards the nearest snow bank. Praise God I landed on the snow bank rather than crashing down the other side! This was the second time in my life that I was infinitely grateful for a snow bank. The first time was on a very snowy drive up to Big Bear, on a detour, with next to no gas in my tank. That time, AAA was my savior. Today, a father-son team came up the road, pushed me out of the snow bank, collected the fog light and some other plastic piece sitting in the snow bank, bungee-corded the valance to the bumper, and wished me well.

Lessons Learned
  1. Know my skiing limits.
  2. Drive carefully on snow, especially on curves. When in doubt, try 4wd.
  3. God is good to me beyond measure; I'm completely undeserving of His grace.
Following on Lesson 3, a song that struck me a couple times today is by JJ Heller called "What Love Really Means," describing God's great love for us. Here's a line or two: "I will love you for you, not for what you have done or what you will become."
And with that, I'm signing off for awhile. I'll be on an ice climbing "sabbatical" until the weekend with plenty of posts to follow.

Day 15: Kheer and Mark

Jess and I returned to an All Soul's Community Group tonight. Since it was Indian cuisine night, we took kheer, an Indian version of rice pudding. Jess and I had fun cobbling a few recipes together and waiting for the rice soup to reduce to rice pudding. After dinner and dessert, we dove into Mark 1:16-45. Mark's a very direct writer, not one to embellish stories with personal interpretation. It probably helped his readers form their own opinions of this Man from Galilee. It also leaves modern readers with lots of questions. For example, why did Jesus command demons not to speak of Him and a leper not to say anything about his healing? We bandied about many interpretations. What's yours?

Day 14: Ponderings

Days spent alone tend to be good times to ponder. And God sometimes speaks to us in strange ways, even through the Counting Crows:
"And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last.
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass."
I was driving down Loveland Pass to A-Basin while listening to this, thinking about the upcoming year yet trying to "be here now," surrounded by the ravishing beauty of a sun-kissed day of snow.

I've included a shot of Monk-do ("do" being Hindi for "two) and I in Montezuma Bowl. The original Monk was lost somewhere between an Artists' Colony and a Crocodile Bank south of Chennai. Dad gifted Monk-do to me after Monk's ill-fated loss. Monk-do is about to embark on a long journey so I decided he needed to get out for some fresh air.

Day 13: Girls' Day

I had a great day with the best sister-in-law in the world! We started off with a trip to the Denver International Airport to drop off Tim then took a dawn drive through the foothills and ended up at All Soul's in Boulder. Ponder this: "you can't drive forward by looking back over your shoulder."

Next, it was on to brunch downtown followed by a trip to the library and then the Celestial Seasonings factory. We agreed that this was one factory that might impress Dad (but he'll have to see for himself when he visits). Imagine an enclosed storage room packed high with mint leaves. That was the Mint Room which made us teary-eyed but was worth the pain for the bragging rights.

We then miraculously found a movie Lisa and I thought might be good, Margot at the Wedding. Save yourself the mental agony and do not watch this film! We enjoyed a fine hor d'oeuvre spread while watching, however, which made up for the disturbing footage. And to cap off a lovely day together, we made oatmeal-avocado-honey face masks that left our faces feeling oh, so soft and looking oh, so silly.

As a side note, I've been listening a lot lately to Misty Edwards and this was one of my favs from today. Here's a sneak peak at some lyrics:
"Your fire of life comes down to love. And love has to be more than sentiment,
More than selfishness and selfish gain.

Then I saw Him there
Hanging on a tree, looking at me.
I saw Him there
Hanging on a tree, looking at me.
He was looking at me looking at Him, staring through me."

Day 12: Pushing Through and Annapurna Amber

Jess is my new hero -- though feeling rather ill, she pushed through our 7mi x-country loop like a champ! Funny story, though, how we ended up x-country skiing. We were an hour into our drive to A-Basin when we saw 1hr 20min signs to the tunnel (Loveland Pass was closed) which really meant 2+hrs to go then traffic on the way home. Big Man called it, Jess decided (note date and time on this decision!) that we'd go to Mountain Sun for dinner, and we opted for a less crowded x-country ski at Brainard Lake. It was snowing, it was warmer and less windy than last time, and we had pizza and special hot chocolate on the trail so we ended up thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
Then came Mountain Sun -- a fav brewery of the Boulder crowd. I'm usually up for trying anything at least once and tonight was my night to try beer. Jess suggested the Annapurna Amber and how could I resist given the name (flashback to Annapurna South base camp in '03)? It was the suggested "pairing" for my Annapurna Amber-soaked tempeh wrap so, why not? I'm not promising any more beer consumption anytime soon (or ever?) but at least I feel I've embraced the Boulder culture.

Day 11: Mike Bickle and a song for me

Pandora has been my trusty friend today. I just heard this song by Arlington Priest.

I've been going through a Song of Solomon study by Mike Bickle of IHOP "fame" and today Mike gave an overview of the book. Here are a couple of his quotes that resonated with me.

"Jesus is absolutely committed to disturbing our comfort zones [so] that we have greater partnership with Him."
"[Jesus] pries our fingers off of the areas we clutch on because He wants deeper partnership with us."

Day 10: Frostbite Update

Tim has just informed me that I do, indeed, have frostbite. I feel vindicated.

Day 10: Frostbite/nip and First Tracks

Today began as a single digit day, listening to people rag on CT in the gondola, waiting 20 min at the top of Breck's Peak 8 for first tracks, and feeling my face turn purple. It's still discolored. I'm pretty sure I got frostbite; Tim assures me it's only frostnip. What a relief!
After skiing over the remains of avalanches and painfully feeling our toes return to the land of the living, we decided to try Peak 10. Wow! The wind disappeared, the sun shone, and powder appeared. After coming out of some trees, we saw fresh tracks on a snow field and decided to make our own tracks on the next run. What was supposed to be our last run turned into four more runs of glorious powder. And for you, Lisa, I'll write, "Tim and I, we were making tracks."

Day 9: Runner's High

Tim and I headed to Wonderland to run around the lake, make our lungs ache, and enjoy the sun. The best part was running home and hitting our stride, where we felt like we could run for miles and miles.
I got to experience my first wintry mix driving today. Thank God for 4wd!
Video skyping has become a fun part of my life, connecting with people far away and hearing about life in their worlds. For example, I learned via skype how mice have been sneaking into my sister's room. I even got a re-enactment of how mice flatten themselves to sneak in!

Day 8: Catching Up to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

What do you do with a song with the catchiest tune that's actually rather messed up if you listen to the lyrics? Tim and I were debating this yesterday. Perhaps I should warn you that if you listen to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's song Home, you probably won't be able to get the tune out of your head.
In addition to listening to a lot of good music, I was researching child sex slavery and exploitation for an upcoming job interview. A few of the books that made my reading list include Good News About Injustice, Not for Sale, and Modern Slavery.
I also caught up with a cool group of young people beginning an inductive study of Mark. One of the verses we pondered for awhile was Mark 1:3 which quotes Isaiah 40:3, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.'" What does it mean to make the LORD's paths straight? Are they not straight already? Isaiah offers a little more insight by following this verse with some clues that hint paths will be made straight, valleys will be raised, and mountains laid low in order for the glory of the LORD to be revealed.

Day 7: Pow and Traffic

What makes 6-1/2 hours of traffic in one day totally worth it? Powder stashes, comfortable boots, a great film, and dinner with the fam at the Dam Brewery.

Day 6: Girls' Brunch

I was telling Jess that it's been a long time since I've been a regularly appearing character in the lives of many of the people closest to me. It seems surreal to get to see a couple of my best friends twice in the same month! Donna, Aimee, and I poured out our hearts, laughed, reminisced, caught up on the past two eventful weeks, and clinked imaginary glasses with our missing fourth friend. Then, being the faithful friends that they are, Aimee and Donna accompanied me on another trip to Larry's for a boot re-fit. I love these ladies and am so blessed to call them dear, dear friends.

Day 5: "Complaints"

Today was a day of complaining. It was all in good fun, of course, but brought to mind the time I "fasted" from complaining in India when it seemed there was much more about which to complain. Today, I made a list of all my boot-related complaints so I could relay them in an organized manner when I return for a second boot fitting. I also ensured Tim and Jess knew just how painfully difficult to maneuver my new skis are. But, all that aside, a beautiful day of skiing at Breck with the sun out, the wind low, a great new set of gear, with some of my fav people on the planet left nothing to truly complain about. We rounded out the day with happy hour at the Dam Brewery (flashbacks to Timmy @ Christy's circa 2006?) and bison burgers at Coleen's and Rod's. A wonderful day, indeed (no complaints there!).

Day 4: Mud, Snow, and Rock

Tim and I headed to the Marshall Mesa Trail today for what turned into ~1mi of snow + ~1mi of mud + ~1mi of dirt trail + a teeny bit of rock at altitude, with high winds, uphill. Our shoes looked more like big foot mud clods by the end. Now time for a relaxing pizza night with Jess!

Day 3: $x40 and 2 tequila shots later . . .

Big Man and I headed to A Basin for my first day on a season's pass. Despite the high wind warnings (50mph) and my stupidity of not bringing a windproof top layer, winds were low, temps were moderate, and the snow was fluffy. PERFECT first day of downhill until . . . Perhaps this picture says it all but I will draw your attention to the detached right boot toe and the large crack near the ankle on the left boot. As I dropped off a cornice, I realized my right ski had detached but I couldn't figure out why since I was landing in feet of powder. Then I noticed an oddly shaped piece of neon plastic in the snow and realized the toe of my boot had broken off. It wasn't until I was safely back at the car that I noticed the huge crack down the side of the left boot. Praise God I walked away with a silly grin on my face, thinking this was the strangest thing I've ever done on skis.
At the (excellent) recommendation of a friend, Tim and I headed to Larry's in Boulder for a new pair of boots. After learning that their first available appointment was Jan 28 and that I could wait around if I wanted, in hopes of getting in, Tim and I contemplated Plan B. Then a gem of a guy, Cailey, told me he'd fit me immediately. While shopping is still my most detested activity, this was, hands down, the BEST shopping experience of my life. Within minutes of entering, we became part of repartee that would continue for our three hour visit, covering topics such as black toenails being a mark of hard core skiers and ballerinas, nude sleeping in sleeping bags NOT being optimal for warmth retention, why guys feel the need to do stupid tricks on snow mobiles, exactly how old my old skis are, the proper clothing to wear to a boot fitting, and short term pain being worth it for long term gain. Speaking of pain, Cailey decided I was going to need something to help the pain of the fitting process. Tim got hooked up with a beer but I don't drink beer so . . . enter the tequila shots. I will be the first to admit that they probably made a very painful process at least bearable. And that's how, $x40 and two tequila shots later, I emerged with a very nice pair of new ski boots.

Day 2: Map of the World

Tim and I decided to be creative with our curtain search. Here's the result.

Day 1 of CO Adventure

After four hours of sleep, Mom and I headed to the airport for an early flight to avoid storm-related delays. We had to burn 100lbs of fuel before take-off to be within weight limits to land (tangential rant: What?! Wars are waged over oil and my pilot is burning fuel?). My second plane had to be de-iced but, (thank you, Delta), we did depart. Big Man met me @ DEN. After speaking nonsense for awhile, I thought to tell my brother that I hadn't slept much and could be relied upon today for neither accurate information nor decision making. Of course, he wanted to know if I wanted to go skiing. Since today was not a day to spend much time on decisions, I figured why not? It wouldn't require my brain to be in perfectly working condition. All I had to do was move my arms and legs -- seemed do-able. I came to CO for adventure and adventure will be had!
Tundra-like conditions met us in the mountains, exceeding anything my brother had encountered on previous "expeditions." Numb fingers and frigid noses kept us moving forward. I glanced right and the view made my breath catch in my throat (or was that the lack of oxygen at 10,500'?) -- a golden orb setting behind mountains, back-lighting evergreens, glowing through swirling snow swept off the mountains. As others' tracks were consumed by snow drifts, we broke our own trail. Altitude-induced arrhythmia reminded me that this was the thing of dreams -- pushing the limits and enjoying the view, recognizing my own insignificance compared with mountains' majesty, and then remembering how deeply I am loved.

inspiring reading

"Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Martin Luther King Jr.

"I believe there comes a time when our children rightly ask, 'Mom and Dad, why are you giving me all this stuff?'
After we have poured into our children all the good food and shelter and clothing, after we have provided them with great education, discipline, structure and love, after we have worked so hard to provide every good thing, they turn to us and ask, 'Why have you given all this to me?'
And the honest answer from me is, 'So you'll be safe.'
And my kid looks up at me and says, 'Really? That's it? You want me to be safe? Your grand ambition for me is that nothing bad happen?'
And I think something inside them dies. They either go away to perish in safety, or they go away looking for adventure in the wrong places. Jesus, on the other hand, affirms their sense of adventure and their yearning for larger glory. In fact, he is encouraging us to affirm this calling in our children and to raise them up to be brave, to be loving and to be significant. But honestly, sometimes I just want my kids to be safe. And I think they smell my fear, and it build little prisons that can last a lifetime.
According to Jesus, it doesn't have to be that way. He gives me a role in helping my kids choose to be brave, to be loving and to be significant. In the end, this is the stuff that will change the world." (Haugen, Just Courage, 124-125)

euphoria eclipsed by gravity

I sometimes wonder about our minds' and hearts' reactions to situations. For example, in a moment of euphoria, the gravity of the occasion quickly overcame me. Do I respond thus in order to protect myself from getting too carried away? Does my bliss recede as sobriety strikes its icy arrows at my heart? Just pondering why we humans respond as we do.