Why I Won’t Be Doing The #icebucketchallenge

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Time reported yesterday that since the start of the Ice Bucket Challenge a few short weeks ago more than $80 Million dollars has been raised with the help of over 1.7 million new donors who are participating in the #icebucketchallenge. Once again social media has had a monumental impact on raising awareness for a cause.

The reality is that this challenge has brought massive attention to ALS and hopefully an understanding about what those who have ALS go through on a daily basis. All of that is good. It is.

My best friend Karlena also had a neuromuscular disease. Not as well known as ALS, Karlena had Ataxia and it had similar effects on her body. At the age of 27 she started showing her first “symptoms” of the disease when the gate in her walk changed. She initially needed assistance with a cane and then progressed quickly to a scooter/wheelchair.

Talking became more and more difficult, as well as eating and swallowing. Towards the end of her life at the age of 35, Karlena weighed a little less than 100 pounds, was fed by a feeding tube, had a pump the size of a hockey puck installed in her abdomen that delivered pain meds to her spasming muscles and relied on others to bathe and dress her.

It was difficult to watch her continue to deteriorate. I saw it less than her family did, obviously, but it was heartbreaking. She had an amazing faith through all of it and she is missed terribly.

When I first started seeing the #icebucketchallenge come through my FB news feed, I wasn’t sure what to think. If I am honest, I was just hoping that I wouldn’t get tagged to do the challenge because there wasn’t anything appealing about dumping ice cold water over my head and making a video of it.

It was as though every other post in my feed is a video of someone else participating in the challenge.

And something started stiring in my spirit a little. I saw the picture I posted above and it stuck with me.

One of the videos I watched showed a son taking care of his mother, she reminded me of Karlena. I thought that if I was tagged maybe I could do the challenge to honor her and donate to the Ataxia foundation instead.

According to the ALS website, approximately 5600 people are diagnosed each year. And it is estimated that at any given time 30,000 Americans may have the disease.

Knowing how it was for Karlena and her family, this is heartbreaking. And my prayers go out to those families. I have such respect for the men, women and parents that take care of and watch their loved ones suffer with these types of diseases.

So I really mean no disrespect. But, I can’t help but feel that maybe we could use our social media influence and impact so many more for the greater good.

According to the facts on Water.org, 3.4 million people die each year from water-related illnesses. 

780 million people lack access to clean water.

Let me ask you this, did you worry about the cleanliness of the water you drank or bathed in this morning? I didn’t….

“An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.”  water.org

These statistics are staggering to me.

And I wonder what would happen if some famous celebrity or athlete were to tweet or hashtag a challenge that would bring awareness to the overwhelming crisis of poverty that exists in our world today?

Would it become an internet sensation like the #icebucketchallenge is?

Would people rally behind it? Imagine what $80 million dollars could do in helping bring clean water wells to impoverished communities.

Please hear me on this, I don’t have any problem with people who have done, or will do the #icebucketchallenge. If you believe in the cause and want to help raise awareness, then go for it.

My son did it, people in my church and my community have done the challenge. I was nominated by dear friends whom participated in the challenge and who I love and respect. And that is OK, I do not want to come off as though I have all the answers, because I don’t.

My biggest fear in writing this post is that someone may feel as though I am trying to say that the people who suffer with ALS are not worth this…that isn’t how I feel at all. I know the pain of loss firsthand, if I could have fixed things for Karlena I would have. I guess I would just love to see such an enormous social media movement like this happen that impacts the world.

Let’s use social media and end poverty.

Let’s tweet and raise awareness for the people that don’t have access to the internet, medical research and clean water.

Let’s create a hashtag, or a challenge that brings more awareness to the millions of people that are denied the very basic of needs to survive each day.

Be aware, be in prayer, and ask how you might make a difference…in all that you do!

Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. I know that tomorrow I will get up and take a 10 minute shower. Someone in my family will probably throw away food that they don’t want to finish. I will take for granted all of the lavish things that surround me and whine when my internet is down for 2 days.

Yep, I am a huge hypocrite.

I can blog about injustice and poverty, but until I do something about it, I am all talk and no action.

So this time, instead of doing the #icebucketchallenge and donating to the ALS foundation, I am going to seek to get involved with an organization that helps provide clean water wells. I haven’t had a chance to research all of the sites yet – so if you know of one that is good please let me know.

Until the day that all of poor are helped, our hungry are fed, our thirsty are given clean water and our sick are healed we must keep fighting. Entering the fight with you.

Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Photo Credit: Postmemes.com

Lessons Learned From Canning Tomatoes

Tomato crop

This was only half of the tomato crop that I got to deal with this past Saturday. About a week before that I had mentioned to Dominic that we really needed to get out and pick our tomatoes, so he did just that and then they sat on my kitchen counter mocking me for a week.

Did you know that tomatoes can mock?? They do, I have seen it first hand! ;)

I knew that if I didn’t do something with them on Saturday they would spoil. Initially I thought that I would make homemade spaghetti sauce and bought all of the ingredients at the store to do so, but when I got home our internet was down (and stayed down for 2 days!!) and searching  for a recipe on my phone proved difficult. And as a side note….what I could read on my phone was conflicting regarding the safety of canning spaghetti sauce because of the acidity levels etc….can anyone confirm/deny that?? I would still like to do it if it is safe!

Anyways, back to my afternoon. I started at about 1pm, getting everything set up so I could blanche and peel the tomatoes first. It proved to be a BIG job. BIG. I spent almost 4 hours doing that alone.

4 hours people. 4 hours.

Typically this is something that Dominic and I would do together, one of us doing the blanching part and the other doing the peeling. But after the crazy-busy week we had and Dominic on the road for 2 days, he had to be in the office getting work done so that we could deal with the week ahead.

And so I went at it alone.

Meanwhile my kids were acting a little crazy, and I was getting increasingly more tired and more irritated at how long this was taking.

Once the tomatoes were all dealt with it was time to cook everything down.

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This too takes time, and it wasn’t like I could just leave it and do other things. In this case a non-watched pot will boil over and scorch. So I was constantly there, watching and stiring.

Then comes the canning process itself. I do the hot jar, self seal method…because I don’t have a pressure cooker. So I make sure the tomatoes have boiled for a long time, then add them to the hot jars, as the jars cool they self seal!

Because I was working alone I could only do 2 jars at a time. I ended up with 36 quarts. Just the canning was time consuming!

By this point my kitchen was a mess. Half my sink loaded with the days dirty dishes, unable to be loaded into the dishwasher because I was using it for the jars. The kids were tired and crabby and a barking dog didn’t help my increasing stress level.

I.HAD.JUST.ABOUT.ENOUGH.

I could feel the grumble come on fast.

Why wasn’t he here helping me?

How could it be taking him so long at the office?

Why do I always get stuck doing these hard jobs?

And then I stopped in my tracks.

I KNEW what was happening. The enemy was on attack, and at my most tired, weakest moment I was giving in.

So what does one do in a moment like this?

I talked myself down off the ledge. Yep, I admit I was talking out loud to myself in the kitchen. Call me crazy, but saying truth out loud in that moment was exactly what I needed to be doing!

So I replaced the lies with the truth.

Dominic is working hard FOR US!

He would rather be here helping, he had even said that this morning, but he needed to get work done so that this coming week was half-way manageable.

The hard work was worth it and I would be grateful for all of it come this winter when I needed fresh tomatoes!

And at that moment my perspective changed. 

Yes it was almost 10pm. Yes I had been standing and working for almost 9 hours straight. But this was MY CHOICE! I wanted to plant the tomatoes. I wanted to do the canning. Regardless of how my situation turned out on Saturday, this was my choice and I was going to choose to be grateful for it.

And then I heard it.

Pop!

If you haven’t ever done canning, you may not know the sound. But it was beautiful to me at that moment.

And I shouted “Praise Jesus”!

Elijah happened to wander back in just at that moment and asked me what was going on. So I told him that I was praising God for every lid that sealed. That I was grateful my hard work was paying off, and God deserved the glory.

Pop…Praise Jesus!

Pop…Praise Jesus!

It went on for about an hour. The kitchen was all cleaned up at this point and I finally had a moment to rest. But with each Pop, I would Praise Jesus.

It is hard to be crabby when you are praising God! (<====Click to Tweet)

tomatoes finished

I don’t know what “job” you face this week. Maybe it is time at an office that is the last place you want to be. Maybe it is the throws of motherhood that has you worn and harried. Take some advice from someone who has learned these lessons the hard way…

Find the beauty in the small things and Praise Jesus. (<====Click to Tweet)

Why Your Words Matter

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There are days lately where I wonder where this little ol’ blog of mine is going. I seem, at times, at a loss for words…or better maybe words that I feel mean something.

You see I struggle a bit with this little big monster called pride.

I have lots of ideas in my head, things I would like to write about but then if it doesn’t come out easy, or if life gets busy I don’t take time to put fingers to the keyboard. And so this space remains empty.

I feel like if I am not going to write something life changing and inspiring then maybe it isn’t worth it. Maybe my words don’t “matter” enough.

And then a few days ago I got an email from a friend and reader that gave me such a humbling perspective about why I continue to write my story. Yes she said some complimenting things, but even more than that she shared how some of my stories had made an impact on her.

Parts of my story that maybe I didn’t think were a “big deal”….but they were words that she needed at the moment when she read them. And I realized that is why I even started in this world of blogging in the first place.

Reading the words of another, finding strength when I didn’t have any. Being encouraged by the insights of a “stranger”, a stranger who felt like a comrade…someone who finally got how I was feeling.

And so isn’t that the very reason we should share our stories?!

Maybe there is one person out there needing to hear your story. Needing to find hope or peace or understanding from someone who has been there.

We should write for that one person.

Yep, I have a story. Some of it is ugly and frustrating and downright embarrassing. But other parts are lovely and humbling and redeeming. All because God worked in the dirty mess of my life to make it something beautiful.

We share our stories to give our Father the glory and offer hope. (<====Click to Tweet)

We write because our words CAN make a difference. And while they may not grace the pages of the Huffington Post online, or be shared by the thousands, they might just be the balm for a weary soul who finds rest in your space.

So if the words aren’t coming easy, if it feels like all this work is for naught, remember that your story is just that – Yours. And it is a story worth telling.

Only Because of Him,

Kristin

Strong Enough

Strength

Music is one of those things that really speaks to my soul. I hear and connect with a song on a deep level and during particularly difficult times in my life, music was the one thing that helped me feel close to God.

I stopped listening to “secular” music years ago for this reason. When I listen to “Christian” music I am reminded of truths, I sing out Bible verses and praise the God that has walked me through some of the darkest times of my life.

We were on a road trip to visit family for the day when “Strong Enough” by Matthew West came on the radio. It is a familiar song and at times I can miss the deeper meaning…but the words took on new life for me this time.

I know I’m not strong enough to be
everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
strong enough
strong enough
for the both of us

There are times that we are faced with hard decisions, tough parenting moments, job insecurity or financial difficulty and doors slamming shut in our dream chasing. I am sure that each person reading here has their own list, that thing that comes at you and brings you to your knees?

Well meaning people, myself included, often like to say that God won’t give us more than we can handle.

But hearing these song lyrics gave me a fresh perspective. There WILL be times that we are not strong enough. Times that we want to throw our hands up, throw in the towel, and walk away because it is just too much.

So what can we do in times like these? Just like the lyrics of the song, we need to cry out to God and ask Him to be strong enough for us.

I would love for you to join me over at God-sized Dreams to read the rest of this post!

 

Five Minute Friday – Begin

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It has been awhile since I have joined up with the wild bunch of writers over at Lisa-Jo’s place for Five Minute Friday. A time when we sit and write for 5 minutes, unedited. Today is the last time we will meet with Lisa-Jo and Kate is now taking over the reins…I have been blessed by this FMF community and am so grateful that Lisa-Jo followed God’s plan in starting this link-up party so many years ago. Will you join us?

Today’s prompt is: BEGIN

I sit this morning not really sure where to begin.

It has been a tough few weeks, ones where I have had to examine parts of my life and my heart that at times seem so broken.

The hurts from our past never seem too far away, and while God has redeemed so many of the broken pieces of my life…there remains parts that still need some “fixing”.

And to be honest I wish it were different.

Doing the tough heart-work isn’t easy and I honestly wish that it were. I want to be able to change old behavior patterns with a simple prayer. My heart is in the right place, so it should be easy, don’t you think?

The task seems daunting, and I am not confident that  I can ever change. I feel stuck and the words, while swirling in my mind, don’t seem to want to come out appropriately.

How do we begin again?

And then I hear a whisper, His calming presence.

I don’t have to figure it all out right this moment.  I just have to be willing to begin to place one foot in front of the other and move forward. Praying, trusting, desiring to follow His will in each tentative step.

He will guide me, the refining will not come easily, but it will come.

But I have to take that first step and once again begin to place my everything, even the ugly parts of me, into His loving hands. My prayer is that some day I can glorify His workings once again here.

Trusting in that today…

 

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Photo Credit: picturesofyou

Choosing NOT to Choose Joy

Choose Joy

Wow it feels like I haven’t settled in this space in quite awhile. I wrote my vacation posts, but I haven’t shared a heart post in way too long.

I specifically didn’t write while on vacation so that I could be more present with my family and once we got back it was all I could so to document everything we had done so that I didn’t forget. While I have notes of ideas for several posts, I just haven’t taken the time to write…and to be honest when I am stressed, well I start to get a little crazy-like, and that is where I found myself at the end of this week.

There are a number of things that “helped” get me to this place, some of which were a really pressured work week, VBS, where I got to help lead the actions and singing and it was the highlight of my days…but left me exhausted. (Seriously if I could JUST lead worship at VBS everyday for the rest of my life I would be a happy woman!) Tensions between Dominic and I. And our new puppy Sydney, who has been waking up at 4:30am the past 2 mornings so I have not been getting the sleep I need.

Did I mention we got a puppy? :) She is the most loving, adorable puppy and I will have to do a post just to introduce her! The perfect addition to our family!!

Anyways, I woke with a pounding headache this morning and found myself in a “mood.”

It was not pretty and I wasn’t doing anything to fight against it.

I had missed  not made my Bible study a priority this week, sleeping in (when pup allowed) instead of doing my study of Acts. I was pretty light on my morning prayer time too so I wasn’t seeking or staying connected to God.

What a hypocrite that I would lead children in knowing more about God at night, and then not apply those same principals to my own life during the day. Sheesh!

I knew that I wasn’t in a good place but for some reason I decided to stew in that place today.

I voxed a couple of dear friends, heart sisters, that pray for me and can take snarky, sassy Kristin and still love me. I shared that I realized I was choosing NOT to choose joy.

My attitude was awful and I didn’t care. I have so many things to be thankful for and yet I refused to acknowledge them.

Whenever I get in these ruts I recognize it (well most of the time). Sometimes faster than others…and today I knew it pretty early on, and yet I let my irritations, anger and frustrations fester and boil.

How old am I?

I am pathetic I know, but haven’t we all been there? (Oh please tell me that I am not the only one!?!)

We find ourselves in that dark place, unable or unwilling to seek out the positive. To find those reasons to be grateful. To Choose Joy. 

And it IS a choice.

I do not have to stay in that place of negativity.

But at times I can’t see the positive on my own. I have to reach out to others for prayer and encouragement. I am so grateful that I have some women who are so faithful in praying with me and for me. Women that listen to my whining, speak truth to me and remind me not to remain in that place too long.

Yes I almost let the enemy have my day today. Almost, but not completely. Thank God for that!

So tonight, even though my circumstances haven’t changed much, I am going to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

I am still tired, feeling a little frustrated, and anxious about my week ahead. But I can focus on all the negative or I can remember all of the things that I have to be grateful for. And the abundance of blessings that God has poured on to us is unreal.

How can I not choose joy?!

These aren’t easy lessons for me to learn. Quite frankly there are days that I wish it were easier…that God didn’t want to refine me because I stink at going through the fires. But somehow he takes my bad attitude and failures and makes something good from them.

Tonight I am holding out hope that this area of my life will be made beautiful as well.

And I am praying that for you as well. Stay strong friends, the enemy is out there seeking to destroy our happiness…fight to keep your joy, seeking God in all of it and giving Him the glory when the battle is won!

Kristin

Photo Credit: Virginia L 

On How I Write…Some Blog Hop Fun

I don’t participate in many blog hops, but when I got an email from sweet Jennifer over at A Girl on the Doorstep, I was honored that she asked me to join in so here I am! :) Jennifer, if you don’t already know her, is a amazing writer and she recently released her new book “Nothing to Hold but Hope.”  Jennifer understands all too well the pain of infertility, stillbirth and loss and yet she has walked through those moments with faith. An inspiration for anyone going through a difficult situation. Thank you Jennifer for thinking of me to be a part of this blog hop!  ***An update this week and a prayer request. Last week Jennifer suddenly lost her step-father to a heart attack. It has been a huge blow to her and she wrote a beautiful post about how she is today. Would you please be in prayer for her and her mother as this is a time of incredible loss for their entire family!***

Writing

So for this challenge we were given 4 questions and then asked to share 3 more women who will be doing the same on their blogs next week. So first the questions and then the real fun will come! ;)

1.  What am I writing or working on?

When I first saw this question I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be doing this because I haven’t written a lot lately. No book on the horizon, no blog post gone viral…just me and my words here a few times a week.  But that is ok. I think at times I diminish what I do if it doesn’t seem “big” enough. But I was encouraged this past Sunday when one of the missionary families that our church supports came to speak. Sammy reminded us to be a light in the darkness. If we have a talent for speaking, speak light. If writing is our gift, be a light there. So while I don’t have anything really specific that I am working on, I hope that for the most part, the posts that you will find here are filled with hope and light!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While there are a TON of Christian writers out there, each of us offers a unique voice, a story that is each our own, don’t you think? While other woman may know the pain of infertility or miscarriage and can relate to that part of my story…we each experience it in a different way. Marriage is tough and I share my struggles here at times to offer hope (and as a “this is how NOT to do things” kind of perspective) :)  but no 2 couples go through the exact same struggles.  That is one thing I love about the blogging community. We find commonality and yet each of us, working at being that light, has a very personal twist on those similar themes. When I started blogging in 2008 I felt like I had finally found a place where I belonged! A place where I could be me, and yet find hope and encouragement from other women who had been there as well.

3. Why do I write what I write?

Typically I write as I feel God leads me. I share stories about marriage and parenting and my faith life and walk. My life hasn’t been easy. I have made a LOT of mistakes over the past almost 40 years, and yet God has been so faithful to me. I don’t want to keep quiet about that! I think that my mistakes and experiences can offer hope, because there is so much hope found through Christ. It isn’t anything that I have done, but rather the life changing work that has been done through me because I trusted God even the littlest bit to lead me down His path. I want other women who stop here to know that they are not alone! There is hope, even in the darkest of times. That they should seek after and follow their crazy God-sized dreams because it is worth it! I started blogging as a result of a miscarriage that I needed to process. For a time I thought I would make blogging my money-making career (insert snort) and I focused on trying to be the next “it” blogger. Today I write because God has given me the words to share about His redemption in my life. Hopefully my writing will be a reflection of His grace and mercy and bring Him glory. It is just so not about me…but about all God continues to do through me that I write today.

4. How does my writing process work?

Well if this were blogging 101 I would tell you that if you want to be a writer, you should write even when you don’t have the words. Just write. The reality for me is that I write when I feel inspired. I pray in the shower in the mornings and will listen for the Spirit’s leadings, sometimes I write as a result of that. Other times I will see or hear something and the idea for a post will come to mind. I have several from my vacation a few weeks ago. I haven’t written a single post but I have notes written in the Notes section of my phone. At the time writing the posts wasn’t possible, mostly because I didn’t want to take time away from my family, so I jot down notes or a theme and hopefully can write a post later. I usually try to write early in the mornings so I am not taking time away from other people/things…but there are times that I really feel like I just HAVE to write and those I will just do as soon as possible, regardless of the time of day. I am the kind of writer that, when I feel God’s leading, can write a fairly long post in less than 15 minutes. So if you stop here and it has been awhile since I have posted…well I am not “forcing” the words I am probably working through some things with God…learning a few heart lessons, and will share those as He leads!

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Ok so enough about me and now on to the really fun part!! I have been so blessed by blogging and the women I have met. They encourage and inspire, they “get” why I do this and it is my pleasure to introduce you to 3 women I have “met” because of blogging. Next week they are going to join in the fun and answer these questions themselves so please jump over and read those as well! I know you will love them like I do! :)

Sarah

I have been reading Sarah’s blog the longest. She writes at The Teacher’s Wife and has posts each week that focus on family, saving money and shopping with a budget etc. She is a SAHM to 2 adorable kiddos and is expecting another – her daughter is only 10 days older than my girl too!! I found Sarah’s site after she lost her precious son Andrew to stillbirth. He would be 5 this August. Sarah has such a wisdom and grace about her and even though she has faced incredible loss she has a strong faith. It is an honor to know her!

“Sarah is the wife of a handsome history teacher and mom to 5 children {Savannah is 3.5 yrs, Brady is 21 months, she has 2 babies waiting on her in heaven, and 1 more due to arrive in the fall}. When she’s not spending time with her kids and husband, she’s blogging, couponing, drinking Diet Coke, and eating chips and salsa with her girlfriends. She’s living out her lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom, but learning so much more from her kids than she could ever teach them. She is living one blessed life and thankful to for God’s daily dose of grace.”

 

Maria

Maria has been leaving me the sweetest, most encouraging comments over the past year here in my space. She is a natural encourager, she shares posts and tweets them. She is a woman that you want in her corner. I don’t write posts for the comments, but I can tell you that they are always such a blessing to me, it is affirming to know that someone else gets where you are coming from! :) Maria has also been participating in Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart Encouragement Challenge this year  - run to her blog and check out more of her posts like this one! You will be blessed!

“Maria is an entrepreneur-project manager who delights in having creative fun with a team while making things happen efficiently. Her God-sized dream is about designing works of heART that touch, tickle and inspire. She has produced segments for TV and loves to play with technology in real life.

People will tell you the first thing they see in her is bubbly energy and enthusiasm. That’s true. Then they’ll likely shake their heads recalling how she’s also soft and gentle. Someone who’s easily moved to tears and laughs a whole lot too. Like Eric Liddell when she runs, she feels God’s pleasure and enjoys playing volleyball every week with the most awesome friends on earth.

She exists to bring joy to life. A woman of faith, Maria is the eternal optimist who loves people more than anything. And, oh yes, she’s all for sharing, On line and in real life!”

 

 Heather

My final introduction is fellow God-sized Dream Chaser Heather! Heather blogs over at 40YearWanderer. We are in an (in)courage group together for God-sized Dreamers and encouragement is her super-power! She recently started an online community to do just that. What a blessing to find such beautiful women online who want to pour into others! Head on over to her site and I know you will want to grab a cup of your favorite drink and stay awhile! :)

“Heather, self-appointed “Ellipses Queen”, is a Super Race-Runner after Jesus’ own heart. She loves to live #ALLIN for Him as a loved wife, proud mom, encourager to many, deep soul lover, big time laugher, and freelance writer. She is currently writing two books – an autobiographical devotional and a Q&A book, with a panel of nearly 50 people from around the globe, about how God and faith factor into our lives.

Heather writes at 40YearWanderer where she welcomes you to share soul-deep. She has wandered through a life full of some incredible {hard and wonderful!} things… all of which God has laid on her heart to share. She can also be found sharing whimsical funnies on Facebook. She’d love to connect with you!”

Please jump over and give all of these women some encouragement today, I know you will be blessed in return by each of them! 

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

A South Dakota “Bacation” (goes to Wyoming) – Part Six

Alright, last but not least I have to share about our South Dakota, turned Wyoming, vacation stop! I haven’t ever been to Devil’s Tower, I have seen pictures, but it was another few hours farther West.

We decided that if we got going on our last full day at a reasonable time, it would be worth it to make the drive over the border to Wyoming because we were already so close.

Man was it worth it! What a site!

Devils Tower 1

It is pretty amazing seeing these rolling hills and then this tower of rock dominating the landscape!

Devils Tower 2

Devils Tower 3

Devils Tower 4

Once we parked there was a trail that some of us decided to hike around the base of the tower.

Devils Tower 5

Devils Tower 6

You almost can’t see it, but at the far left of the tower (picture above) a little more than halfway down, there was a climber. There were several actually and they need permission to go up! I am sure Isaac is planning a trip back there some day to do just that!

Devils Tower 7

Devils Tower 8

Apparently there is a wooden ladder on one side of the tower…you could look through these spyglass deals and see it. Karlena didn’t fully understand she needed her eye open though! :)

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Birds circling the top.

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This tree was so interesting and unique I had to take a picture!

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Here are the prayer bundles that they warned about touching!

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The hike around the tower was a little over a mile. Karlena led the way most of the time.

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It was a wonderful way to spend our last day of vacation!

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Have you ever been to Devil’s Tower?

A South Dakota “Bacation” – Part Five

I don’t know that you can take a trip to South Dakota without stopping through Custer State Park. What a beautiful part of the State!

After our pontoon ride on Thursday we were only an hour or so away from Custer so we headed down that way. Our first stop was the Needles Highway.

Custer State Park 3

HUGE rock formations and narrow driving paths make this a fun adventure. Unless you are a over sized motor home who has come to a narrow, one-way tunnel and you have a line of traffic behind you and you can’t go forward, and you can’t turn around. It was a bad day for that family!! (I wish I had taken a picture – they had to close that section of the Needles Highway for a time!)

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There were several spots to get out and climb (this mama’s worst nightmare as my kids scaled up the sides of the rocks)

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Karlena would have loved to do this on her own!! I on the other hand thought Dominic had to go with her!

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The we decided to head to the Custer Wildlife Loop in hopes to see some Bison.

It was HOT and sunny and I think all of the animals were hiding in caves somewhere….thus no wildlife, and no pictures…

Oh wait we saw a smooshed snake in the middle of the road. I didn’t take a picture ;)

On our way back home we were heading through Custer (the town) and saw Scott’s Rock Shop. It was a find after a disappointing bison search. We were probably there over an hour and we spent WAAAAY too much money on rocks and treasures but the kids loved it and if I am honest the adults did too!!

If you head to South Dakota, Custer State Park is a MUST stop!

A South Dakota “Bacation” – Part Four

In the middle of the week we took a morning and Dominic, Isaac and I went into Rapid City and had a tour of a potential college choice, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. It was a small campus, but we got a nice tour and if Isaac decides to pursue Engineering it will likely be a top contender. So crazy that we are having to makes these kinds of decisions already!

One thing I would say about vacations is to schedule in a down day. For almost every day we were in the Hills we were going, going, going. By Friday Gabriel asked if we could not drive somewhere and just stay home. So next year we are going to try and do that.

On Thursday morning we did something pretty fun, we rented a 22ft pontoon boat at Lake Sheridan. Gabriel really wanted to do some fishing, and my parents had done this with us last year when we were out there and it was a lot of fun, so we thought it would be fun again!

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We didn’t think of the idea until Tuesday so finding a place that had boats large enough for our group was difficult. The only boat we could find during a 3-day period was Thursday from 8am-1pm. It seemed early in the morning and I was worried it would be cold, but the day ended up being perfect!

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Karlena caught the first of 4 fish. It was the cutest thing ever! Once it got in the boat she wanted to look at it but didn’t want to touch it! :)

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I even caught a fish, we got 4 rainbow trout. It was awesome. Elijah posed with the one I caught!  I felt bad because Gabriel didn’t catch anything that day but it was still a blast.  The boat had a fish finder on it so the kids would watch that and then yell that a “big one” was coming!

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It was perfect weather, got a little warm even. But we had snacks and juice pouches etc. with us so it was a wonderful time on the water…even wore Karlena out completly!

Lake Sheridan

If we ever go back out there we will definitely do this again. It was only $165 for the 5 hours, the pontoon was plenty big for our group and the lake was beautiful! Fishing in a pontoon is so much easier than a small fishing boat because the kids had plenty of room to walk around and it didn’t sway the boat any.

We even did some swimming, well the bigger kids did. But the water was ice cold so they stuck really close to the boat. Karlena even wanted to go in so Isaac helped her a little, but once her legs got in that cold water she was over it! :)

Have you ever rented a boat like this? What was your favorite part?!

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