Auto, Celebration, Culture, Family, Farm, Outdoors, Summer

Give & Take

Teaching children is one of the great joys in life. Or so I’m told. 

I have friends who teach children daily and I don’t know how they do it. But, I teach a class at church once a week and for the most part, it’s joyous. Sometimes the teaching isn’t as joyous, but the learning definitely is. 

That moment when one of the kids is actually able to remember and apply what you’ve taught them, that’s the moment I think any teacher has to live for. 

Recently I’ve been teaching the class I fondly refer to as “the littles”. They range from 4 to 6 years old. They’re at the age that they soak up everything, the good and the bad. We’ve been learning about Job for awhile and they’d never heard the story before. 

For those of you who haven’t been teaching about Job lately, I’ll update you on his story. He was a good man. One of our first memory verses was “Job was an upright and righteous man who feared the Lord…” (part of Job 1:1) This is a memory verse that some of the kids can still quote, even weeks after they learned it. Proud moment. But the Lord allowed Job to be tested. Job lost everything. His riches, his family, his home, his livelihood, all his worldly possessions. Finally, he lost his health. 

As many of you know, my grandpa passed away recently. And I miss him. He, much like Job, was an upright and righteous man who feared the Lord. 

He was born on the farm we currently live on and grew up well below a poverty line that was not even defined yet. He got an 8th grade education before he had to start working. But, he could read the King James Version of the Bible out loud more eloquently than anyone else I’ve ever heard. 

He raised a son who loves the outdoors and that son raised me in the same way. I have more memories than I can even begin to number from hunting, fishing and farming with him. 

He was raised in a small country church that he went on to pastor, a position he held for most all of my life. He taught me for years, which is probably how I find myself now teaching the next generation in the same church. 

The memory verse the kids learned about Job being an upright and righteous man who feared the Lord is a good verse for them to know. But, it isn’t the verse that comes to mind when I think of Job. 

Job suffered. I’m not sure exactly how long he suffered for, but the Bible devotes 42 chapters to his life, so my guess is that the suffering was anything other than temporary. But during that time, he never denied God. He never blamed the Lord for what happened to him. He continued to be upright and righteous. In all of it, Job is recorded for having said this:

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b)

This. Said by a man who suffered failing health, the death of his children, the loss of everything. He’s blessing the name of the Lord in his times of receiving and in his times of losing.

It’s really easy to bless the name of the Lord in our times of receiving. To say thank you for good things, to feel like God is blessing us. But what about in the times of losing? 

What happens if what you lost and what you gained joined hands and became the same thing?

We focus on our loss in death, but what if we look at what the Lord gave us? 

I was given a grandpa who I saw 2-3 times a week for my whole life, who loved me and told me so, who taught me the right way to live, who made such an impression in my life that I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without his influence. 

My dad and his sister got a father who was involved, who was present, who prayed before meals, who worked hard to provide for them. 

My grandma got a husband for 55 years, a man who was faithful and loved her in a way that is rare to see in today’s world. 

There were countless other people who gained from my grandpa’s existence. A church family who got a humble leader, a host of family that he loved in so many different ways, and hundreds of others. His funeral was the largest I’d ever been to, filled with people I had no idea he’d affected so profoundly. 

There’s a popular worship song that uses this verse in Job as some of its main lyrics.  

“You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.”

Today, we have a choice. In our trials and in our rejoicing. In our times of blessings and in our time of loss. The choice is left to us. But, I know what my heart’s answer will be.

Lord, blessed be Your name. 

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America, Animals, Celebration, Culture, Family, Farm, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Pura Vida 

We found a boy with a machete to cut a way through the jungle to take us to see a waterfall. I wish it were less sketchy than it sounds, but it’s not. 


We were supposed to be fishing on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. But, the wind had other ideas. So, Plan B? A “horseback ride to a waterfall”. My mind is conjuring up images of a peaceful, smooth horseback ride down to a quaint waterfall, a splash in the water, then back on the horse and to the barn. This picture encapsulates my mental image. (Also, there’s the lake I should’ve been fishing in the background.)


What I didn’t have in mind was climbing up and down very steep hills (more commonly called mountains) on horseback and nearly sliding down the mountain on the back of said horse. 


I also didn’t realize that our guide would be a 15 year old boy with a machete and his uncle. Who didn’t speak much English.

Or that they would need the aforementioned machete to slice through the jungle to create a “path” that would could “walk” (read: slide) down.


Or that it would be such a slippery, steep, and narrow “path” that I would need to hold someone’s hand the whole time to navigate. 


These poor guys had to switch spots to constantly be in front of me to help me every step of the way. I know this because they kept talking to each other and saying “ella”, which I knew was me because I was the only girl in our group of 4. 

I only fell down twice, and laughed through most of it, as the ridiculousness of what we were doing kept setting in more and more. 


I also didn’t realize that this hike would take nearly two hours to complete and that it would be the most intense hike I’ve ever done. 

So, here’s me, not thinking about what I’m actually getting myself into. What’s new? 

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America, Art, Canada, Culture, Family, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

For Hire

I’m not quite sure how we ended up in Toronto of all places, but we’re here. I assumed we’d fly through Chicago then north into Canada from there. That seems the most direct route. But, we were routed through Houston, then had a direct 4 hour flight from there.


Have you ever been bumped up from an economy flight to first class? Yeah, me either. 

But, apparently, if this happens to you, when they scan your economy ticket at the gate, the screen lights up and it makes a happy little sound and you know you’ve hit the jackpot. The reason I know this is because it happened to Jake, who was standing in line in front of me.

 I hoped my ticket would make that happy little sound too, but it made the regular scanning noise, sealing my fate for my cramped little seat at the back of the plane and a lukewarm coffee, if I was lucky. 

Jake politely reveled in his win of the day, while the Frenchman behind me tried to talk him into trading seats. But, two minutes later when we boarded the plane, the Frenchman and I decided economy wasn’t so bad after all. 

Jake happened to have won a seat right next to a screaming infant. The Frenchman and I bid him adieu and made our own jokes about how he had to sit by the be’be.  

As usual, I was seated on the last row of the plane. And as I took my seat, I could still hear the little guy next to Jake yelling. 

Some people might not expect this of me, but I’m not really great with kids. Kids are okay, I don’t dislike them. And they don’t dislike me. We generally get along. They smile at me and I smile back. We make small talk with each other. They hold my hand and look at my bracelets. But, I just don’t really know what to do with them. 

I’m fine with little babies, they pretty much just eat and sleep. If they’re crying, you have about three options for what they need. They’re pretty predictable.

But, from around 1 on to about 7, kids kinda baffle me. They can almost take care of themselves, but not really. They’ve got strong little personalities they’re developing. They don’t like coffee, they generally don’t like vegetables, they’re just not really that compatible with me. 

Jake, on the other hand, loves kids. He knows exactly what they want, he knows how to talk to them on their level, he can engage them, and they love it. If there is a kid in the room, they naturally gravitate towards him. 

I settled into the flight, talking to my new French friend, and putting on my headphones to watch a movie. As the flight attendant came to ask me what I wanted to drink, I took my headphones off and noticed that the be’be had finally quieted down. 

I resumed my movie, until something caught my attention. 


Jake. Walking up and down the aisle, carrying the now content, be’be, also known as Peter. 

Apparently, Peter’s mom couldn’t get him to calm down, so she handed him off to Jake. Peter’s dad and older sister were sitting in economy and as Jake walked by carrying Peter, the dad thanked him for helping out with the boy. 

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Peter had been throwing a fit in first class, in the seat between Jake and his mother. His mom had tried calming him to no avail, but Jake grabbed him up, set him on his lap, and he became content. “Peter likes you, Jacob” was the mother’s consent, and thus, Jacob and Peter were a pair. 

The family was Nigerian, and from what I could tell, the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” is used in the most literal terms there. 

Upon getting off the plane, Jake told me that he had been commended by the flight crew for making that flight enjoyable for them and the other passengers around him. He also informed me that he had been invited to Nigeria, in case we ever wanted to visit. 

I don’t think we’ll be going anytime soon, but I am having him add Nigerian Nanny to his list of job experiences on his resume’. I’d hire him any day. 

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America, Family, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Quarters and Dimes

I’ve heard it said that some people grow older, but never grow up. I think I might be eligible for that life category. 

I try, I really do. But then, there are moments that I think I’m just hopeless. Turning 25 wasn’t a monumental event for me. The most monumental part about it was that I actually got to decide how to spend it. Most years, I’m at church camp, so I don’t really have to make birthday plans. Last year, my birthday plans consisted of waking a bunch of little girls up at 6:30 am, serving breakfast to the 300 other campers, cutting up cantaloupe and dancing on the front porch of our cabin. See No Laughing Matter for the full story. 

My main question was: how is a 25 year old supposed to celebrate a birthday? Is there an age appropriate list of birthday celebrations? I decided to just do all my favorite things. Which consisted of going to a basement burger restaurant with my friends and ordering a salad, going for coffee and ice cream, then making a detour to go see a big lit up ball change colors. Good plans, right? 

We went hiking on a trail a couple weeks ago around the art museum and accidentally got lost. It was close to sunset when we went and because we got lost, we ended up being out after dark. I’m not really proving my case for adulthood here, but it turned out to be a happy accident because when we got back to the car, we had parked by this big sculpture. Which (unbeknownst to us) lights up and changes colors after dark. And, we noticed that they had bench-like loungers that you could recline on to watch the lights. 

I put it on my list of things to do and last minute, changed my birthday plans to include a trip there. We went and got ice cream and drove out there and surprisingly found that one of the loungers was available. We all settled in for the show, but as I was leaning back, I dropped my phone. Again, a pretty regular occurrence for me. Except for this seating arrangement is slatted. The likelihood of your phone falling at just the right angle to slide through one of the slats is minimal though. Unless you’re me. 

My phone disappeared into the abyss underneath us, but I wasn’t concerned. Because surely this whole bench thing could be moved around. Which is what I said. No reason to panic, but my friends insisted that we check. Nope. It’s bolted to the ground. Uh-oh. 

Still no reason to panic though, this can be solved. I announced to them that I’d go find a stick that we could use to push it to the edge. After trying about three different sticks of varying lengths and sizes, I finally found one that I thought would work. My original plan of working from the ground and trying to pull it towards me didn’t pan out. But, with some ingenuity, we decided to go through the top slats where it had fallen and inch it towards the edge from there. Should I mention that between the 4 of us present at this point, we have 5 college degrees? We’re well educated, capable women, as obviously indicated by our ingenuity. We’re also prone to getting lost and being klutzy. 

I should probably also mention that this is a Friday night and there are multiple couples arranged on the other loungers around us, trying to enjoy their dates. All while we’re noisily tromping around finding sticks and trying to Macgyver my phone out from underneath this bench. Romantic, right?  

Jordan held the light while I verbally guided Amy, who was wielding the stick, while Devon documented the whole ordeal. 

We finally, after a lot of excessive effort, retrieved the phone unharmed. Triumph! I hope this isn’t an indication of what my 25th year will be like. But if it is, it shouldn’t be too different from the 24 years that preceded it. 25, looks like we’re gonna have fun! 

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America, Animals, Canada, Culture, Family, Food, Funny, Outdoors, Summer, Travel

Drenched

Guess who fell into the lake? In full rain gear. They say that stuff is waterproof. Which is true. As long as you don’t accidentally fully submerge yourself in said water. 

The soon to be drenched clothing (with an added rainjacket)

I have this patented Brittney move when we come in to dock. I step out of the boat, holding the rope in my hand, onto the dock with one foot, then pull the boat (with the rope and my other foot) snug to the dock to tie it. This works okay (although now going over it in my mind, it’s really not the smartest move, but it made sense to me when I was doing it) as long as you have the rope in your hand, to anchor yourself and keep control of the boat, which your other foot is still in. If you are distracted, and forget to grab the rope, there is a slight possibility that the boat will come out from underneath you and dump you into the 60 degree lake water. Which is what happened. 

The water was not that deep, seeing as how we were right at the dock. But, somehow, I managed not to catch myself at all and went completely under, thoroughly soaking every single thing I had on. Which was three layers of clothing. A wool pullover, which has yet to dry out, a long sleeve shirt, the aforementioned rain pants and jacket, even my ballcap was dripping. 

I wasn’t wearing a lifejacket either. See, I have this theory. My dad got me a ground blind for deer hunting a few years ago for Christmas. I think it was a gift partially for me, partially for himself. It’s essentially a camo tent he can sit me in, out in the woods. There are a few benefits to it. He can go off to his tree stand, with full assurance that he hasn’t set me in a tree stand that I could potentially fall out of. Although, why he’d ever be nervous about me falling out of something is beyond me. And he knows that by putting me in a ground blind, I am less likely to distract a potential target with the flipping of my book pages, as I’m reading and patiently waiting for something to walk by. 

So, he got me the ground blind for Christmas, and we took it out for its inaugural hunt the day after Christmas. There’s a short, few days rifle hunt right after the holiday to complete the year. So, he put me in my blind and trailed off through the woods, with the promise that if I shot (which would be a rare occurrence), he’d come find me. Sure enough, right at dark, a doe walked out, and I shot. It wasn’t my best shot, as demonstrated by the hour long tracing of a tiny blood trail down a steep hill. But, I got it, and the guys found it, hauled it up and we deemed my ground blind a perfect gift. 

A few weeks ago, my brother insisted on buying me a bike helmet because he thought it might hurt if I fell off, going 20 mph down the dirt road. Again, I don’t have any idea why he’d think I’d be injury prone. So, he got me one, and I begrudgingly wear it. But, I was 100% sure that on my first ride wearing it, I’d have a wreck. I didn’t, but still. 

The bike helmet proponent himself

So, my dad nearly insisted on getting me a fancy life jacket that automatically inflates the moment you hit the water. And, I didn’t let him, because I knew if I did, I’d fall out. 

Looks like that logic worked out well for me. 

I had a conversation with him during one of our boat rides about whether or not he felt that I could drink the lake water without getting some sort of terrible disease. He said I probably could, but he didn’t want me to try it. I wanted to try it. 

Looks clean and blue and beautiful, right?

Well, when I fell in, I got the chance. Because I accidentally gulped a good amount down. And not the deep, middle of the lake water that I was wanting to try. No, the grimy, shoreline, dock variety. The possibility of illness remains to be seen. 

Luckily, I hauled myself up, laughing. I was slightly terrified because our float plane pilot had told me not to put my feet in the water, for the chance that the pike might bite my toes off, mistaking my bright orange toenail polish for bait. I’m still not sure if he was kidding or not, but I didn’t want to take any chances. 

The pike, however, weren’t interested in my toes. So, I dried off, went back out, and tried a less dangerous boat maneuver, and a more natural colored bait. Which they fell for. Hook, line, and sinker. 

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Canada, Family, Outdoors, Travel

Pike Pic

I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but my dad is not a professional photographer. He asked me if I wanted my picture with this polar bear at the airport. By the way, in case anyone wasn’t aware, there are some big soccer games (I know nothing about soccer, so don’t quote me but I think it’s the Women’s World Cup, maybe?) going on in Canada this summer, which is why the polar bear has a soccer ball. I wouldn’t even know this except for the fact that one of my friends travelled to Winnipeg two weeks before me to watch one of the US games. So, of course, I said I needed a picture. He’s one of those people that are taking your picture but you don’t know if they’ve taken it so you don’t know how long to pose or hold your smile for. Then, they look at you like why are you still smiling and you feel like a dork. So, I had him take my picture and then I asked him if he’d gotten one of my funny face? To which he said: you were making a funny face?

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Yes, dad, that’s not my normal face. So, I end up with two pictures. The previous one of my funny face. Then, this accidental candid, in which I’m questioning why I had him take my picture in the first place.

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I have to admit that I kinda like the second picture better. The candid shots seem to be the ones that transmit the most true story. I have this picture of me and my mom on the beach when I was a baby and I love it for two reasons. One is because we have the same expression on our faces, which I think says a lot about a mother and daughter relationship. And two, because neither of us are posing. We’re not smiling, making it look any certain way. It captures a true moment. A moment which probably in all reality says “why are we even at the beach?”

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They always say pictures are worth a thousand words. I guess they are because they do depict a lot of details that wouldn’t necessarily be expressed in words. But, they don’t always tell the whole story.

So, let’s take this picture, for instance.

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What do we notice about this picture?

  • 1) I’ve just caught a big fish & 2) I’m looking pretty chill about it.

What you don’t see in this picture is that I had just had a fish bigger than this break my line, and that this guy fought me for about 15 minutes before I got him in the boat. What you also don’t see is that I had just doused my face in sunscreen right before this and I forgot to read that tiny print that says don’t put this stuff near your eyeballs. Apparently they put that little warning on there for a reason because when I hooked this guy and was looking down at the water for the next 15 minutes, my eyes were welling up and it was making my nose run, so it looked like I was literally crying. So I’m out on the water, fighting a Northern Pike that keeps taking off with my line, threatening to break it again at any moment, whilst trying to blink away the sweat and sunscreen that keeps running into my eyes. Dad has the net, and keeps trying to capture him when I get him close to the surface, which makes the fish and me nervous and he takes off again, nearly pulling me and my fishing pole under the boat with him. At this point, I’m just sure I’m going to go blind right before I fall in the lake and have to be rescued. But, mercifully, he gave up the fight. So, once he is finally in the boat, it’s picture time, which means I have to quickly pull my wits together and make sure it doesn’t look like I’ve been crying or that I’m blind or that I am the basketcase that I am at this point. And, I think I did a pretty good job of it. Maybe dad isn’t that bad of a photog afterall.

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Culture, Family, Outdoors, Travel

Better Late Than Never

We’ve talked about my perpetual lateness before. That was the only thing I ever got detention for in school. I was late to first hour probably 3 out of every 5 days. Even if I was on time to school, inevitably someone would stop me to talk in the hallway and I’d still be late. So, I served my sentence for it. This time I have a good excuse for my lateness though, namely Canada’s lack of wi-fi and cell reception. So, you’ll get the full story, just a week late.
I think some of my earliest memories center around fishing and the water. I love being around water. My dad started me out when I was tiny. I remember my first little fishing pole, with a rubber cork tied to the line, and him teaching me to cast in the front yard. We had this little green boat that he’d take us out on the water in and I thought that was about the coolest thing you could do. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t big, it wasn’t fast. We weren’t catching huge fish or anything like that. But, it was the start of a life long love of the outdoors, passed from one generation to the next.


I couldn’t even begin to tell you how much time I’ve spent fishing with my dad over the years. A lot. So three years ago, when he suggested a trip to a fish camp in Canada, I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea. We made the 20+ hour drive and let me tell you, I never even imagined how remote it was going to be. Just you and the water and the sky. Beautiful.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m rather fond of it. Time is our most precious asset and spending genuine time with the people you love, doing the things you love is important. Catching fish is just a bonus.

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