Scripture Motto

"Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gearing Up

Many are gearing up for school, but for me it’s time to pull the backpacking equipment out. Time to pack and go. Yes, we’ll soon be heading west—northwest Nebraska, that is—to do a little hiking, camping, and touring the historical area.
Today, I took my Therm-a-rest sleeping pad, Big Agnes sleeping bag, Gregory backpack, hiking poles, and Marmot 2-door tent off the shelf. My goal pack weight is 20-24 pounds. Every ounce is calculated. (Pack weighs 3 lbs/2 oz; sleeping bag, 2 lbs/8 oz; tent, 2 lbs/6 oz; pad, 1 lb/8 oz, and then there’s the cooking & eating gear, food, water, first aid, clothing, jacket, flashlight, toiletries, etc.)
Backpacking is a crazy activity this fifty-something Nebraska woman calls fun. Up until 2007, carrying all the gear on my back was not something I did; I left that to my husband and our Boy Scouts sons.
Yet, right from the beginning of our marriage, sleeping in the great outdoors was a part of building our marriage and family. We spent a few nights of our honeymoon in a tent, then traveled the 1500 miles to Alaska setting up/taking down the canvas tent we bought with our first tax refund. After years of tent camping, we fixed up a topper for the pickup, and later still, purchased pop-up campers. When the kids were grown, our empty nest reverted to tent camping. However, backpacking takes it to the next level.
It’s a physical and mental challenge. We walk 6-8 hours a day dealing with the weather, the insects, and the terrain. It’s beautiful. It’s boring. Muscles I forgot I had hurt, my knees get scraped, and my feet develop blisters. Then, I sleep on a 1-inch air mattress pad in a tent or 3-walled shelter on a wooden bunk.
So, why do I do it? Why do I call it fun? Answer: As we walk up and down the mountains, swatting away flies, we talk. We listen. It is the ultimate quality time together.
Of course, we have found simpler less strenuous activities throughout our 36-year marriage to provide quality time for good communication. Sometimes we take long drives or sit in the park, but in this day and age, removing distractions is the challenge. In the mountains or hills, cell service is rare. Out on the trail, neither of us has other things to do or places to go. Bottom line, we have lots of time to talk, listen, or just think privately.
So, I’m gearing up for another crazy long walk with my wonderful husband, investing in our marriage relationship.
     “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB

Friday, August 5, 2011

"To Die For" by Sandra Byrd is historical - informative - entertaining

“’…God did not create me to be any man’s plaything…’ Anne stopped and faced me afore taking my hand in her own. ‘God has given me clear instructions on how a man is to treat his wife. I require—and desire—that kind of treatment. I will not back down.’” (from page 126)

I couldn't read this book fast enough; I couldn't read it slow enough. I didn't want to put it down; I didn’t want the story to end. History blended with enough fiction pulled me into Henry the VIII’s court. Life was breathed into names I only knew from history classes. I believe I even heard the swish of beautiful gowns as I watched everyone dance around the ballroom.
Sandra tells the controversial story of Anne Boleyn from the perspective of Anne’s lifelong friend, Meg Wyatt. It begins when two carefree girls ride horses, make pledges, and flirt with boys. Being upper class daughters’ specific etiquette was expected. Their story of friendship grows through trials of good versus evil, betrayal, envy, and abuse. Along the way, they become stronger women in their beliefs of people, marriage, and spiritual matters.
As I read the book,I laughed, wept, and pondered. My heart rejoiced when Meg and Anne rejoiced, and broke when their hearts broke. Then, I would remember, “Much of this really did happen; it’s not just fictional make-believe.”
Despite not wanting to put the book down, I had to stop long enough to brush up on my knowledge of the era. As a lover of history, I appreciated the author’s notes and Q&A section explaining certain historical versus fiction discrepancies. Ms. Byrd’s research and love of the period certainly comes through on the pages of “To Die For.” (A book club discussion page is also included in the back pages.)
Beautifully written. Excellent read.

Be sure to visit Sandra’s website
Get your copy at Amazon, Christian Books, or Barnes & Noble
Published by Simon& Schuster
[Personal side note: I'm related to one of the personalities in the book!]