Friday, June 28, 2013

The Indecent Camping Incident

I want to tell you all a story, a story that ACTUALLY happened.  It has become legendary, and I have even had people I.DO.NOT.KNOW. come up to me and ask, "You are the girl who was in the "camping" incident!!!"...

So, since it's the crux of summer vacation season, and this has to be my ultimate summer vacation experience, snuggle up with your iPad, iPhone or MacBook and have a listen.
Have I lost you yet??
Okay... let's get to it.

On our first wedding anniversary Denver and I decided to plan a trip to Colorado.  We had $350 budgeted to spend, so we knew we had to vacation creatively.  We did our research and decided to drive to Glennwood Springs, CO and go camping for 3 nights.  Our trip was to include hiking the Hanging Lakes, swimming in the natural hot-springs and cooking dinner by the campfire.

After our 12 hour drive we pulled into the tiny town and arrived at our destination.  We exited the highway and checked in with the front desk. No key was exchanged or electronic card activated, we were simply given a number and directions to our plot of land.  I believe the number was 18 or 31, not sure but we followed the rocky road down a steep hill and rounded to corner to find our 10X10 spot of bare dirt positioned under towering trees just feet from a rushing river.

This is a picture of the campsite we stayed at.... but that is not us... 

We couldn't be more happy.  This is what we had envisioned.  An isolated camping spot nestled in the mountains of Colorado, all to ourselves.

After arriving we began to set up camp.  We placed our tent facing the towering mountain and we floated our water jugs in the river so they would stay nice and cold.  After blowing up our air mattress and unfolding our chairs we stood back and proudly admired our home-away-from-home.   I remember it being dusk when we arrived so I got things started for dinner.  We had stopped at a supermarket on our way to grab a few food items and on the menu that night was BLT's. Cooking bacon on an open fire in the open woods, yummmm, yes please.

As we sat and cooked up our dinner, we see a rumble of dust coming our way.  Rounding the corner of  the dirt road leading to our camp site was a  (This was before NBC's Office had ever aired, but this happened to be the same car driven my Michael Scott.)

Denver and I looked at each other and with eyes widened we silently exchanged a "I hope they are not camping next to us" look.  

But of course, as Karma had it, the Sebring pulls 20 feet from our tent.  Out of all the empty spaces, he was assigned to the one directly next to us... In hindsight I believe the manager must have planned this out...

After the dust settled and the engine silenced, the car door opened to reveal a man in his late 40's.  He was wearing belted khaki shorts, pulled just a smidgen too high with a tucked in t-shirt, tucked in just a smidgen too tight.  He wasn't too tall, but he wasn't too short with a medium build.  He had a strong receding  hairline with a partial mullet in the back.  (You know, just long enough to make you uncomfortable.)  Immediately I thought he looked a little like Ira from "Mad About You".

This is Ira from "Mad About You"... just envision this man from here on out... 

He walked around to the front of his car to reveal my favorite part of his attire, knee high black socks and Teva sandals.  He paused and looked up at the mountains, taking in a deep breath of the crisp Colorado air.  His arms placed on his hips, and his chin to the sky, he rocked back and forth.

Meanwhile, Denver and I were sitting at our little open fire with eyes glued to what seemed like the antithesis of a "camper".... Before we could untangle the mess that just arrived next to us, he looks over, catching us in mid-stare and eagerly waves and with a grin that expanded from his left ear to his right he shouted, "HI NEIGHBORS!"... and then continued waving.

Denver and I raised our hands and waved back.  I am not sure if there was any room for a smile in our gesture, we were so busy staring.

By this time the smell of bacon had wafted through the basin of the mountains and our sandwiches were ready to eat.  We stopped the rude staring and grabbed a seat at the weathered wooden picnic table.  After a few minutes of assembling our food... we just kept watching as the sideshow unfolded.  We were on a tight budget and this seemed to provide some cheap entertainment.  This poor awkward loner began to assemble his tent by himself.  He walked around his car, opened up the trunk of his convertible and dragged out a few duffle bags.  Tackling the tent first he stretched out the 12 foot collapsable poles and attempted to steak them in four different corners, they kept coming loose or popping out of place, leaving our little neighbor flustered and embarrassed.

Denver could take it no longer and he walked over and began helping him put the tent in place.  While over helping he (meaning Denver) decided it would be a good idea to offer the traveler a sandwich, since it the dark was soon approaching and he obviously wore himself out trying to assemble to tent.

Together, they walk over to our table and Denver gives him an extra BLT we had leftover.  We assumed he would thank us, walk away and let us enjoy our evening, but instead he made himself right at home and bellied up to our picnic table.  We didn't know how to ask him to leave, so we just went with it, chatting about his journey from New York to LA.  He told us that he had quit his job and sold all of his belongings and he was a veteran of the Nevada Hippy Movement called "Burning Man".  We nodded, acted interested and tried to make short conversation.

Things started to wind down and he had finished his dinner.  Conversation started to slow and I think I  mentioned something about being tired or going to bed...basically to get him to leave.

At that point in the conversation, our new camper friend looks at us and says,

"So... what do you say if we pack these things up (waving his hands over the food covering the table top) and move this party into the tent"...

Denver and I could not speak fast enough... we couldn't make eye contact either because we might have burst out into a fit of laughter.  So of course my initial response to him inviting himself into our tent "to have a party" was..

"Oh, no... Our tent is a mess, you don't want to go in there..." 

And honestly after that I don't remember what happened.  I was in such a state of shock.... Who was this man; a serial killer?  Obviously he WAS a lunatic-crazy-man who had quit his job and gone completely OFF GRID!!!!  So.  We should be scared.  Denver thought the Burning Man connection confirmed he was a nomad looking for some free-love.... but in either case, he was NOT invited into our tent.  Period.

He eventually got the hint and went back to his tent and we went inside ours and F.R.E.A.K.E.D. out!!!

Before going to sleep Denver decided to go to the campsite bathrooms.  Since it was dark, he made the choice to drive, he hopped in the truck and as he was driving up the hill, he saw something dark run in front of him.  Not giving it much thought, he pulled into the bathrooms and got out of his truck.

As he approaches the bathroom Denver hears someone say, "Beat ya, Neighbor"... and he looks over and to find  HIM!!!  Waiting for Denver  at the door of the bathrooms was the camper-neighbor-weirdo-man who was out of breath from running up the hill on foot.  Creeeeeeeeeppppy!! 

Denver made it safely back to our tent unharmed.  After some discussion and methodical planning we decided to up our "security game".  We devised a plan before heading to bed.  Denver had a giant buck knife in his truck, so we got it out and slept with it between us.  The plan went as follows: Denver slept by the door and I slept on the side facing the back wall.  If scary-camper-neighbor-man came to attack us in the middle of the night Denver was going to cut a hole in the back of the tent, I would slip out and get help while Denver fought him off with the knife.

I must admit most of this plan was a joke, but the fact is that we really did sleep with the knife between us that night and a flashlight on... For some reason this made me feel safe?  Denver thought the flashlight only added to the creepy guys ability to kill us, because he could see us, but I wanted it on, and we left it thataway.

Sleep did arrive in our tent that night.  Even though we felt like we were living in a summer thriller movie, we did relax and doze off.  The next morning, Denver unzipped the tent only to find HIM standing outside the door of his tent shirtless, facing our tent with his arms crossed and a smile on his face.   Denver acknowledged him with a nod, and the nosy neighbor returned his greeting with an eager wave and again a giant grin spanning his face.

Needless to say we packed our bags that morning, after one night of camping, we decided to splurge and we rented a cheap hotel room the next 2 nights.  That was the last time we have gone camping together at a camp grounds, and that was the last time anyone has invited themselves into our tent for a party.

So now when we are among friends or family around the table and dinner is winding down to a close we always say, "So what do you say if we pack these things up and move the party into the tent?"...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When a Boy Met a Girl...

I was the ripe old age of 18 when I first met Denver.

The summer after my senior year in high school I attended a summer camp in Davis, OK called Falls Creek.  If you live in Oklahoma you have probably heard of this notoriously known camp.  It was my very last year to attend camp as a camper, and I intended to live it up all week, laughing with friends, staying up late and ushering in my college years with a week of light hearted fun.  Little did I know that particular hot summer week of camp I would cross paths with my soon-to-be-husband-and-father-of-my-children!

My Dad went to camp with our group that year... just what every senior girl wants, right! ha.  No, it was fine with me, I enjoyed sharing that part of my life with him.  Until he played the "Dad Card" one afternoon and literally DRAGGED me out of the cabin so he could take a group to the ropes course.  He had signed up his small group for the high ropes/climbing wall and at the last minute realized they were ONE person short...  So he came to me, and basically said, "Um, you're going to have to come with our group so we can meet the quota to go to the ropes course."

Being the snotty 18 year old girl that I was, a bitter seed of resentment started taking root as I pulled myself into the 15 passenger van and bumped my way down the rocky roads to the climbing wall, sitting in the front seat with arms crossed and eyes rolled.  My Dad, 12 pre-teen boys and ME ready to tackle the high ropes, oh joy.

As everyone began to scatter I chose to climb the rock wall.  Being a little mad, I was on a mission to make my time worth while.  I chatted with the ropes course workers and as one was "belaying", he started talking about someone who worked with them named "Denver".   Instantly intrigued by the name, I turned to the worker and asked, "Who is Denver?".  He pointed to a remarkably tan, dark curly haired guy about 100 yards away in the trees.

At that moment Denver spotted us looking at him.  He lifted his sweaty muscular arm and waved down hill to us.  My eyes glazed over and I waved back, memorized.

I climbed up the wall, and before sliding down I noticed the oh-so-mysterious "Denver" in my periphery.  He sat down on a foldable metal chair under a wooded area and started talking to the other camp staff.  As I unharnessed myself from the contraption I walked over to him and commented on his shoes.  My first sighting of Chacos only added to my swooning.  Nothing more hot to a 18 year old girl than a guy with a deep Chaco tan.

His curly long locks peaking out from under his sweat stained ball cap and his sleeves rolled up revealing his lean chiseled arms, he looked up at me and said, "Uh, Thank you" and then continued talking to his friends.  (Are you enjoying my description of Denver, yet? hehe)

He wasn't really giving me much to work with, so I said something else awkward and still it lead no where.

As my Dad loaded up the middle school boys in the van I attempted one last time to reel in this fine catch of a boy and said, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Hercules?".... Now that I think about this comment, I can't help but laugh at myself.  Oh, little Heather, not the best thing to say to the dreamy guy that you just met 2 minutes before.  (And before you judge me, you must know that Hercules was the "Disney Movie of the Summer" (I am sure that dates me.))  But still, YES, I called some hot guy I didn't know a Disney character.... *cringe*

I left the ropes course with my head in the clouds.  I jumped in the stinky van and it was apparent to everyone that I was on cloud nine.  My Dad looked at me square in the eyes and said, "Don't EVER flirt with a boy in front of me again."  He turned the key and then we drove off.    (As an adult with my own children now, I get where my Dad was coming from...I'd say the same thing.  But as a hormonal 18 year old girl who just got a taste of summer love, it sure was fun ;) )

I went back to the cabin and told every single person I saw about this "Denver Duncan" guy I had just met.... Wowzers, I. was. love. struck.  Not in a serious stalker way, but more of a "I am going to hang up my poster of JTT and kiss it every night" kind of way.   I knew nothing would ever come of that meeting, but it was fun to talk about and to laugh about.  If there ever was a case of "love at first sight"... this would be it. Whew. As some can attest, I continued the week with writing "I heart Denver Duncan" all over the mirrors in bar soap...  yea, I am sure it was annoying.  ;)

A day or two went by and the legend of "Denver Duncan" grew into a joke amongst friends.  Then came a knock at the door.  A little scrawny guy came to our cabin looking for me. He asked me for my e-mail address because Denver wanted to get ahold of me after camp....

My jaw hit the ground and I couldn't believe it.  This little joke had become reality!!  I was over the moon and tried to not act too excited.  I obliged, and sent my e-mail address back with the messenger.

A few weeks after camp, it happened.  He e-mailed me!  It was one of those e-mails you read over and over and over again.  Repeating every word, trying to interpret the meaning in each sentence.  "What did he mean when he said, 'Hi, how are you?'"....

I responded back and after a few weeks we exchanged several surface level e-mails.  If you know my husband the fact that we communicated through e-mail longer than a week is a miracle.  He is a man of few words when he types, and he has been known to rack up over 100 e-mails in his inbox.  If you ever need to get ahold of him, just call.  (<---free tip)

A picture taken at our rehearsal dinner in May 2004. 

August rolled around and I had moved to Norman to go to OU.  I sat in my newly decorated dorm room and an inbox popped up on my screen.  It was from Denver, he updated me a little and told me he had moved to Norman.  As soon as I connected the dots that HE LIVED IN NORMAN and I LIVED IN NORMAN, I immediately wrote back telling him we were neighbors.  I couldn't believe it, my summer dreams were coming true!! :P

He wrote back and we went on our first date later that week.  He lived up to every dream I had, and more.  I had no idea he played the guitar, I had no idea he was a creative genius, and I had no idea how he would make such an amazing father to our children.... this was all bonus!

Wedding Day fun!  June 2004. 

On our honeymoon in Mexico.  June 2004. 

Love can catch you off guard.  I would have gladly married him after our first date, but the timing wasn't right.    We dated for 3 years before getting married, and I am thankful for that time we had to learn about each other and grow individually.  Part of this story is also the explanation of why we like unique names for  our kids since his name was such an intricate part in our meeting.      

After Daxx's birth.  Jan 2008.

After Zadie's birth.  May 2010.

(Where is Dutch's birth pic you ask?.... hmmmm, not sure.  The problems of a 3rd kid.)

Today we have been married 9 years.  Looking back it's flown by, but a lot has happened.  We have added three little ones to our family and our love has matured and grown deeper.  The same qualities about him that made me melt 13 years ago still do, but in a different way.  Our roots have been set and our hearts watered them with compassion, mercy, and grace, causing that love to set in deeper and stronger.

Marriage is hard work.  It isn't easy.  It takes daily care and attention to detail.  The one thing that has held us together all these years is our commitment to pray.  We pray for each other and with each other.   We ask God for help in forgiving, for help in parenting and for help in understanding.  When I get insecure, I pray.  When I get frustrated, I pray.  When we have good times, I pray and say thank you.  When we have hard times, I pray and I ask for help.  In every situation we turn to God first.

A pic from Christmas 2012... A PEAK into our reality.

Just as the trinity exists of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit... Our marriage is a trinity. We invite God to participate in our relationship by seeking Him in all things and so far HE has proven himself faithful.  Always.

My hope is not in Denver, but in God.  The same holds true for him.  We make the conscience choice to put HIM first in all things.  Sometimes it feels counter intuitive, but doing so never fails.
This is pretty much what every family picture looks like these days.  I am embracing the "candid" look. he.

Here is to many more years.  Years that are sure to bring trials, years that will require work and years that may include moments of shed tears but it is my prayer that those moments will be overshadowed my laughter and of peace.

Love is never easy, but it is always worth it.

A photo of us at my brother's wedding in May 2013
Pardon my "Hurry up and take our picture, we have been standing here through 72 shots" look. 

And this summer, while we were at camp with Denver we came full circle as we watched our little son Daxx climb up the rock wall.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father of Compassion. God of All Comfort.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Clinging to this verse right now.  

Every word poignant.

Father of Compassion.  God of ALL comfort.  On my own, my soul is parched, dried up like rocky soil beneath the blazing sun.  Alone, I lack compassion and comfort, and when I am lacking, I am incapable of giving it.  As a mother.  As a wife.  As a friend.

I am thankful for new mercies everyday.  For fresh starts.  For the God of reconciliation.

This song has been on repeat lately:

There's nothing worth more, that will ever come close, no thing can compare, you are our living hope.  Your presence, Lord.

I've tasted and seen of the sweetest of love, where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone.  Your presence, Lord.

Holy Spirit you are welcome here.  Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.  Your Glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence Lord.

Let us become more aware of your presence.
Let us experience the Glory of your Goodness.

Holy Spirit
Bryan and Katie Torwalt

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Homeless Transition

Hi, all.

Not sure if you have noticed, but I have been absent from the blog for the last few weeks.  Forgive me as I am drowning among the chaos that I call "life".  Things are all sorts of messy, and the controller in me doesn't like "messy". 

It is easy to sit down on my comfy couch and write up a blog when things are going well.  I don't mind opening a window into my world for others to see when life is clear, exciting, and predictable.  But, I have to admit to you, when things are not going so smoothly; that is when it is hard to be transparent.  Words are difficult to tap out on a key board when you have none to write.  When your mind is so full of life's "ifs, ands and buts", the ability to articulate you're experience to others is nearly impossible because the future is unclear to the one living it.  

Currently we are between homes.  Homeless.  Technically, yes.  Literally,  We own a home still.  Our old one.  But we are leasing it to the new owners until closing is final.  We were scheduled to close on May 24, but the Monday before a massive tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma; declaring Oklahoma County (the county we live in) a "disaster area".   Our house has remained unharmed through every tornado that has passed through this season, (Praise God) but because of the extensive amount of severe weather; issue after issue has caused delay after delay.  Due to the disaster area being declared we have had to halt closing on our home because lenders are not closing in the county without additional inspections and appraisals.  I get it.  Really, I do.  They want to make sure the house is standing if they are going to lend money to purchase it.  But, my understanding doesn't make it less of a headache.  So, since we had already moved out, made repairs, cleaned until our fingertips bled AND the closing date is STILL pending (for who know's how long) we are leasing our home to the new owners.  Basically, we are all at the mercy of the bank... and it's not a fun position to be in.  Boo. 

The house we were going to purchase in this "would have been seamless process of back-to-back-closings" has also fallen through.  Our new house was empty, the current owners home in which she lived in was damaged in the Moore tornado, causing confusion and chaos to ensue.  Without going into too much detail the purchase of that home fell through AFTER we had moved out of our current home and put all of our belongings in storage (for what we thought would be 3-4 days...).  

So.  Here I sit.  Attending a summer camp that my husband was scheduled to sing at, with my 3 children; homeless.  I had one pair of shoes, and a few random clothes from the dryer, but now we are going to be displaced for a good month or two.  (Luckily Old Navy had a SALE this weekend!) 

Thankfully the kids think the whole ordeal is a thrilling adventure of "where will we be next week"... and they don't see Mom and Dad biting their nails and pulling out their hair behind the scenes. 

And, before y'all feel too sorry for me, you must know that we are blessed to have BOTH sides of family close in vicinity and very capable of hosting us for weeks at a time if the need arises!!   We will be having great opportunity for "quality time" this summer, ha.  While we are "homeless", we have many "homes" welcomed to us. 

God has proven Himself faithful through the entire scenario, and I am truly thankful that His mercies are new everyday and His provisions are greater than my own.  This is one of those times in life where we are depending on our faith in an entire new way.  An unclear future is a scary thing.  Even if it's just an unknown  address.  As a human, and especially as a woman, I long for security, and not having that leaves a part of me vulnerable and fragile; FULLY relying on HIM. 

Until our home closes we are taking a break to rest our minds from the emotionally-draining-second guessing-expensive-and-ever-so-tidious "hunting" process, and praying God will prepare the path that we are to take.   

In the mean time, bear with me.  I may be sporadic, but I will get back to normal life soon, and normal blogging.  


Thanks for reading friends.  
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