Claustrophobia 101

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Boxwork (thin blades of calcite that project from cave walls and ceilings, forming a honeycomb pattern) is abundant in the Wind Cave.

I’ve been thinking again about things I learned on my recent Black Hills vacation.  I do believe I’ve found a small little lesson tucked away in the Wind Cave.  Get ready for some sage advise from one very wise woman…

Do it afraid.  (Stop rationalizing and just do it already!)

Here’s what I mean…

We were visiting Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, So. Dak.  I was in the lodge sitting outside the restrooms waiting for my sister when across the room I spotted my mom at the ticket counter purchasing, what I suspected were cave tour tickets.  I had just spent a few minutes perusing the information board about the various cave tours and there was only one tour I could recall any information about…the four hour crawling tour.  Oh no!  As  I rushed to find out what she purchased all I could think was she didn’t, tell me she didn’t!  (I have to point out the ridiculousness of my thoughts here, a four hour crawling tour?  Really?)  The tour tickets she purchased were for the walking tour.  3oo steps down approximately 20 stories with about a half a mile of walking.  Still I felt immediate trepidation.  How tight is the cave?  Would I fit?  300 steps?  Up or down?  Dark?  How dark?  I had 30 minutes of thinking and wondering to do before the tour started.  After a while I decided I needed to distract myself or maybe I’d chicken out, so, I decided to tease Charlie and I told him Mom bought us all tickets for the crawling tour and I was worried about how I was going to crawl around in a cave for four hours.  He provided no distraction as his only response was “Really though, I don’t want to go in there.”  I just had to stop perseverating on this- the tickets had been purchased and I was going.

God timed this perfectly!  If I would have had the chance to discuss this tour with everyone I probably would have begged my way out of it.  And it was the coolest part of the trip (figuratively and literally as it was 58 degrees in the cave!) It was scary, awesome, incredible, amazing, dark, deep, exhausting and exhilarating!  What a blessing I would have missed!  Who cares if I was dripping in sweat by the end of 300 stairs and half a mile walk?  Who cares if I thought I was going to die from exhaustion for an hour after emerging?  Who cares if my body ached for three days?  I went 20 stories down into a cave!  I went into a cavern where I experienced the deepest dark my eyes have never seen!  And, I discovered I am not claustrophobic!

God is so good that sometimes He doesn’t allow us the freedom to wiggle away from challenges that step us out of our comfort zone.  I’m grateful that He knows me so well, so thoroughly, so completely, that He provided me this opportunity that I would have denied myself.

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Simple Lesson

My mom, Linda; sister, Sunshine; and Shiney’s boyfriend, Charlie spent 6 days driving to, wandering around and returning from the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.  We hit all the local sights:  the Bandlands State Park, Mount Rushmore National Monument, Needles Highway, Custer State Park, Wind Cave State Park, The Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood and Devil’s Tower National Monument.

I’ve been wracking my brain to find a life lesson from this vacation but I have been coming up empty.  Really, it shouldn’t be this difficult.  Don’t we have lessons to learn every day? I haven’t found any deep lessons yet but maybe the lesson isn’t such a profound one, instead, a simple one that I find recurring in my life of late: don’t give up on your dreams.

Charlie is 44 years old. It has been his dream since childhood to see Mount Rushmore. Well, he did it, he finally got there! His pure, absolute joy at seeing those stone faces was a delight to witness. It was genuine and heartfelt. He was excited so deep in his spirit it shone out of his face and tinged his voice with amazement.

If Charlie can achieve his dream, why can’t I? (Or for that matter, why can’t we all?) Why have I decided that none of my childhood dreams are worth having much less pursuing? Why have I let cynicism and hopelessness rule me? My brain knows this comes straight from the pit of hell, so why can’t I deny these thoughts? I suppose my experience tells me otherwise…but, wait, didn’t I create my experience?  I believe I had a fair amount of control over my life experiences through choices, attitudes, activities, friends, feelings.  So it would seem then that my experiences have been skewed by my faulty perception of reality.  Ephesians 3:20 says “now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.]”  This is an accurate reality.  God has a plan for me that exceeds even my own dreams!  I need to prayerfully alter my skewed experience and get it realigned with the word of the most loving God.  Only then can I achieve my childhood dreams and beyond.


Charlie at Mount Rushmore National Monument.  As soon as Mount Rushmore came into view we stopped along the highway at the first available pull out.  This was Charlie just minutes after getting his first glimpse of the faces.

Vacation Photos!

Below are some photos from my recent vacation to South Dakota and Wyoming.  Captions are under the photo and may contain links to the National or State Park mentioned.  No stories about the trip yet, I have a couple of things I am fleshing out but until those stories are perfected the pictures are all you get!

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Grasslands as far as the eye can see.

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Yellow Mounds, Badlands National Park.


Night time lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Monument.

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 Mount Rushmore in the distance.

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Forest fire damage in Custer State Park.

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Hildy, Linda, Charlie and Shiney at Rod and Gun State Campground  in the Black Hills National Forest in Spearfish Canyon, SD.

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Desolate landscape (and cattle!) in Wyoming.

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Devil’s Tower National Monument.

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Games with friends.  Linda, Lori, Shiney, Charlie, Levi, Kayla, and Katie.