What Dairy Farmers and Angels have in Common

outrigger canoe, OC-1, canoe racing, racing, USCA, USCA Nationals, Warren PA, 2015 Nationals, wife of a racer, wife of an athlete, alone on the weekends, downside of illness, missing life, river rat, Allegheny River

Usually I refer to myself as a “kayaking widow,” as soon as the weather warms up in the great State of Indiana.  My beloved Steve races kayaks and now an outrigger canoe (OC-1) on the United States Canoe Association circuit.  This requires practice and travel to river or lake events at least twice per week during the warmer months, in addition to work and church commitments.  Since I am largely homebound I send him happily on his merry way . . . with snacks and a kiss, of course!

But it wasn’t always this way.  Just 3 years ago I joined him on Tuesday nights for the paddles of our local kayaking group.  (See the About Julie blog for details on the day that I got pulled from the water!)  If the races were local I would join him on Saturday mornings to cheer him on from the start and possibly the railing of a bridge along the course.  “Goooooooo Steeeeeeve” was my mantra and I loved it.  I am so proud of Steve, having watched him progress over these past 7 years of our marriage from a recreational paddler to a National competitor in surf ski racing.  And this year he added the OC-1.  Oh yeah!

For the first time in THREE YEARS, I would be joining Steve at the USCA Nationals scheduled this year in Warren, Pennsylvania.  The last time I was in PA was when I had purchased my first sea kayak (Think Fit) as I was progressing from a tandem, pedal-driven, plastic Hobie Oasis to a real fiberglass boat suitable for racing.  I had a near-drowning experience as I was testing out that boat which only served to reinforce that I had what it took to face the worst of perils when paddling in open water.  Dozens of paddling experiences followed over the next few years including upgrading to an introductory surf ski myself:  the Stellar SR.  That is the kayak in the photo of the article referenced above.

Flash forward FOUR YEARS and we now are grateful to have a travel trailer aka as a “mold avoidance clean room” that affords me the opportunity to travel with Steve and stay overnight.  The plan for this trip was to stay at a local KOA Kampground while shuttling to and from the stages of the two racing events in which Steve was registered to compete.  Miraculously and despite convulsive episodes each day and night, I was able to join him at the side of the Allegheny River on Friday for a full day of events.  We were bushed by nightfall:  Steve having paddled 15+ miles at breakneck speed and me having participated in over 12 hours of outdoor activities for the first time in a very long time.  It was a win-win for both of us!

Then came Saturday morning.  The night was a rough one for me but not as bad as they could be for sure.  Steve overslept 45 minutes and scurried about to get himself, his special nourishments, breakfast, and doggie duties covered before leaving for a second day of racing.  Adrenaline was pushing him beyond the fatigue he too was battling.  As for me, the morning seizure attacks died down as I pulled myself out of bed just as he was leaving!  It was clear that I was NOT going anywhere and would be a kayaking widow in the woods of the campground that day.  Swell.  Sadly I heard my truck pull away along the dirt road with my beloved therein, headed past the Kinzua Dam and beyond to the water’s edge without me.  To see my River Bear in action WAS WHY I CAME!  I was crushed.

And then my brain cleared.  A few crumbs of achiness remained yet I was upright and thinking straight.  “I should stay home and rest,”  I reasoned, “maybe take the dog for a walk later and be, well bored out of my mind for the rest of the day thereafter for sure!  Who wants to read Suzanne Summer’s book, Tox-Sick, when there’s an exciting USCA race going on out there?!  Not me.  I AM GOING TO THE RACES!!!”

There was one BIG problem with this:  how the heck would I get there?  I had no vehicle and the race start was a 17-minute ride away by car.  I had no car.  I had no truck.  I had a dog and that was it!  Looking back I believe it was the Lord nudging me on to keep getting ready.

“Pack up your stuff, grab some food and get out to the office.  See when it opens and maybe someone will be going into town this morning and can drop you off.”

Alright.  “Shouldn’t I eat some breakfast?  I mean, I get sick sometimes when I don’t eat breakfast?”  And so I bemoaned some more as I continued in motion, getting dressed and figuring I would have to leave the pup behind in the locked travel trailer with the air conditioner running all day.  “Keep moving,” was the leading of my heart.  “You might have to leave on a moment’s notice if this works out so you need to be ready!”  Out the door I scurried, hoping that most of me was covered with clothing and foot-coverings suitable for a campground!

The office didn’t open until 9:00 a.m.  It was around 8:15 a.m.  I had seen what I deduced was the owners shaking out their rugs out the front door of the adjacent mobile home so I could maybe knock on their door . . . No that would not be nice.  But look!  There’s the car leaving their campsite that left yesterday morning around this time.  Maybe they are long-termers who are leaving for work or something and can take me?  So I stood near the middle of the dirt road in between the office and campsite Number 2, waiting for the car to drive by.  Surely the driver would see me and stop?  Nope.  She never even looked up from her steering wheel as she drove straight by me.  Sish!  Surely I could not have looked that threatening, no?

What to do now?  “Stay put,” was the leading in my heart.  Maybe I could go back to our CampLite and wait for the office to open?  Someone would drive me to the Visitor Center and I would get our truck and just catch up with Steve somewhere along the race course.  He would be shocked to hear, “Goooooo Steeeeeve” from the side of the river like the day before.  Our reunion at the finish line would be sweet.  Well, no.  Then I saw around the corner of the dirt road in front of some other campsites a car with its lights on!  In front of it was a large motor home that I soon discovered was travelling with the small SUV behind it that had its lights on.  They were leaving too!

The driver of the motorhome stopped when I motioned from practically the middle of the dirt road as he approached.  My heart was beating fast and my voice trembled as I poured out a quick version of my dilemma then waited for his response.  The man got out and talked with his wife who was driving the vehicle behind him as I stood shaking like a schoolgirl waiting for permission to go to the bathroom from the headmaster who had seen enough already.  The man got back into the motorhome.

“I’ll take you,” was all he said through the window he opened.  Oh wow!  He said yes!  She said yes!  I REALLY AM GOING TO THE RACES!!!  So I quickly gathered my things; said goodbye to the big brown puppy-dog eyes that were ready for another day of fabulous sniffs, hugs from cute little girls, and wide open spaces; locked the door and did not look back.  I hopped into the passenger side of a stranger’s large motor home and hitched a ride to my second day at the 2015 USCA Nationals.  I was going to be with my River Bear!

The gentleman was in town with his wife to visit their daughter at a local Mennonite college.  They owned a large dairy farm in southeastern Pennsylvania and had just opened a restaurant with a storefront too:  September Farm.  They were headed to Bradford for the day which is over 12 miles in the other direction from where I was headed.  His low-fuel light had just turned on and he did not know where to find a local gas station.  Later I realized that it is possible that he might not have made it all the way to Bradford if he had not backtracked to Warren (5 minutes of travel beyond where he had dropped me off) without running out of gas.  Dave talked about him and his wife, Roberta, meeting a sweet couple through Farm and Ranch magazine that were like angels to them.  I said to Dave that he was my angel that day.  Yes, I do believe in angels!

Steve was shocked to say the least, when I came up behind him with a gentle, “Goooooo Steeeeeve!” to let him know that I had made it and in time for the starting gun.  He was still getting ready after the 8:30 a.m. race meeting, leaning over his Stellar SEL when I kinda snuck up behind him.  I had made it in time to see him launch in what would become a great day of racing.  We embraced with tears.  Steve said he felt a magnificent boost carry him down the river, through the Plume Rapids, and passing paddlers with greater ease than he had ever noticed before.

USCA Nationals, 2015 Nationals, K-1 Unlimited, kayak racing, surf ski racing, senior kayak, 50+ kayak, racing, paddling, USCA, awards ceremony, male paddler
Steve takes 1st place in The Senior Class, K-1 Unlimited at the 2015 USCA Nationals

Later Steve was awarded a first-place medal in K-1 Unlimited for his age group and finished in the first group of a large field of athletes.  We laughed the rest of the weekend about me hitchhiking just to see him.  Steve said he had never felt so loved!  I laughed then shuddered to think of the dangers that I had not experienced in the fearlessness I experienced when following the leading of the Holy Spirit in my heart that day.

Camplite, Camp Lite, Livin Lite, 16DB, travel trailer, 16 foot trailer, 16 ft travel trailer, Nissan Frontier, camper, trailer camping, aluminum camper, aluminum trailer, Kinzua KOA, Kinzua Dam, Bradford, Bradford PA, Pennsylvania, camping in PA, camping in Pennsylvania
I am grateful for so much these days!

I made it to the races despite the odds against me and learned some new things on Saturday:  Dairy farmers can be angels.  Love transcends the greatest of heartaches then brings us back to what or who matters most.  Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit!  And life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.

In the end I got a taste of what it means to live again.  And that is a good thing my Gentle Reader!  JJ

It’s more than a delicate balance

As anyone who likes to (or needs to) cook knows, it can be a tough balance to make a recipe taste just right.  The host of your fav cable cooking show says to add a pinch of salt and pepper as you watch her grab easily a fistful of seasonings.  Ah ha!  So that is why version mine comes out differently than yours!  Just ditch the online recipe on her website and fly by the seat of your pants!  Taste, taste, taste and make the dish all your own, eh?

I don’t tend to make meals using recipes anyways.  With a limited diet and having to make a wacky version for me and a “normal” one for my beloved, I would become too frustrated trying to follow the masterpiece designed by someone else’s reality!  I just start with what I CAN eat, add more salt with my eyes closed then put one of my go-to seasoning mixes on Steve’s version.  It works for us.  Well most of the time, that is!  And when it doesn’t, that is what salsa is for right?  (O.k.  I know I have offended someone out there now!)

My health situation of late is kinda like the same delicate balance.  Add too much zinc for too many days in a row or take a new supplement or med for more than 3 doses and whammo (!) I get burned at the “steak.”  There’s little more than dog food left of me afterwards.  Gratefully my Doc does exhaustive lab testing to try to coach me in the right direction.  But now even labs cannot predict the outcome anymore.  I seem to react to everything.  It’s worse when the pharmacist of an independent lab starts making suggestions too.  So I try this and that.  Oh how I want things to work out well!  So far, it has not.

I am my own worst enemy in these scenarios.  The results aren’t even back yet for the female hormones that are at a mystery level since going through menopause.  I went through menopause during the almost 4 years of this illness and these tests for me are way out of date.  The significance of the hormones is that a goodly number of women (who have true epilepsy) have worsened seizures during menopause and others have reported a new onset of what is called “catamenial epilepsy.”  While I do not think that I have epilepsy per se and all the fancy labs have supported this, I do find this course of study intriguing.  I joined a couple of Facebook groups on the subject and have hunkered down into some new online research.  Then of course I re-started a tiny bit of progesterone on my own to see what would happen.  Yeah, I know that I should wait until the lab results are back in a total of 6 weeks.  But heck, at the rate I have been going, 6 weeks means up to 210 more hours of convulsive episodes!  Why wait?  I am going to go through hell anyways . . . .

Dr. Erwin Leutzer of Moody Bible Institute teaches that, “when you are going through hell . . . DON’T STOP!!!”  Oh yeah.  That fits for me.  Not sure what to do with some of the symptoms that are emerging though.  Clearly this will need professional tweaking at some point!  Do ya blame me for trying?  What if I finally stumble upon the resolution to this nightmare?  There are so many labs that are off now and the convulsive episodes have escalated to 4 hours or more most days, I just figured that it’s worth a shot . . . worth disrupting the status quo.

The decisions of life can be a delicate balance over here sometimes.  Do we continue with travel plans when I am in the throes of chronic illness?  For us, the answer is yes.  We just adapt things a bit and get on down the road.  Life goes on.  In due time, if it is the Lord’s will, I am going to be well.  In the meantime we will use the portable heater in the Tin Can Ranch (aka travel trailer) instead of the noxious propane mini-furnace so I can be with my beloved overnight at his kayaking competitions out of town.  In the meantime I’ll freeze portions of meals to ease food prep when Steve needs to pitch in for me.  In the meantime I will fold laundry when my brain stabilizes in the wee hours of the morning and scratch the ears of our pup who gets more fractionated sleep than I do.  In the meantime Steve will head into work later to make up lost time and we will be grateful for his flexible employment.  And so it goes, a balancing act on steroids that we have come to master, one ingredient at a time!

Gentle Reader, I’ll bet you understand the need for balance with the stuff of life. Let’s look together with gratitude that we do have some choices even in the worst of situations.  For those who believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, we know that all things, delicate and less so, will work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  It’s His promise from His word in Romans 8:28.  That is because He knows us and loved us before we were even born.  He knows and cares for all of the details of our lives!  (Psalm 139)  And He knows what choices we will make.  As for me, I will aim to make choices that keep me moving forward, aiming to win.  Sometimes things will be out of balance for a time.  Yet with my eyes fixed on Christ, leaning on His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit I will run my race of life with endurance:  endurance the produces hope (Romans 5:4) and endurance to finish well too!  (Hebrews 12:1)

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My River Bear leading in a United States Canoe Association event last year. Gooooo Steeeeve!

Never sacrifice sweet victory for a need to stay comfortably in balance though.  Attend to the tasks at hand with wisdom then get out there and LIVE!  Do not stop!  May we both finish well my fellow sojourner.  The crown of glory awaits!

That is all.  JJ

River Bear Racing is here!

Good news:  River Bear Racing officially launched this week and I am quite proud of my beloved Steve aka “River Bear.”

Well known to the racers of the United States Canoe Association, Steve has accepted an invitation to represent Stellar Kayaks in the Midwest.  Since 2009, Stellar has been delivering innovative kayaks, surf skis, paddles, and accessories across North America.  Steve always liked the cockpit and foot plate design of Stellar Kayaks as he advanced from a recreational kayaker when I met him in 2007 to the reigning State Champion in the Men’s K-1 Open Class in Indiana.  We have been on many adventures together since then, usually with me cheering him on from the side of a river somewhere, “gooooooooo Steve!!!!”  And I have loved every minute of it too.

So I invite you, Gentle Reader, to check out and FOLLOW my husband’s new website:  River Bear Racing.  Steve is an amazing storyteller so expect to be treated to much adventure and humor as he navigates the rivers east of the Mississippi in carbon fiber boats narrow enough that the rest of the world would call them a man-sized tongue depressor!  These racers are amazing, fast, fit, and  . . . well I better stop here lest I get into some wifey-poo trouble!  I am grateful to have learned so much from Steve and his love for the sport of sea kayak and surf ski racing.  And I even have Steve to thank for my really neat paddling gear (that exceeds my abilities) as well.

Lord willing, I am looking forward to getting back to our water adventures really soon.  Maybe I’ll just have to try out that S18S to see if it’s as cool as my old Stellar SR?  Hmmm, guess I’ve become a bit of a paddling geek to, eh?  JJ

Steve in his Stellar SE
Steve in his Stellar SE

 

It can be a mixed bag for the wife of a racer: Part 2

As I described in my post on May 28th, becoming a kayaker mid-life can be a daring adventure.  When your intended beloved becomes a United States Canoe Association racer (State and now Nationally-ranked) you have a couple of decisions to make.  The first one was whether or not I would also learn to kayak.  Would I become a “kayaking widow” a couple of nights per week as my River Bear practices then races throughout the State of Indiana?  The second one is if I did paddle, what kind of kayaker would I become?  Recreational?  Racer?  Eeeeek, no!

Steve dons his dry suit here in the Midwest by about April or as soon as there is open water in our local rivers after the long Winter.  Initially he would borrow my Think Fit (sea kayak) to start his season as it was more stable and forgiving when wearing this neck-to-toe zoot suit.  As the weather warmed up he transitioned to either his Thunderbolt (open cockpit racing kayak) or surf ski (sit-on-top ocean vessel) as I reclaimed the Think Fit to join him with our Tuesday night Fort Wayne Kayaking Group.  As I described in my previous post, one of the fears a paddler must overcome is that of falling into the water and drowning.   To help guard against this outcome you can wear a paddling life vest, choose a more stable boat, or upgrade to a surf ski.  When you topple out of a surf ski you will have a much easier time re-entering the boat, especially in deeper water.  The kayak won’t fill up with water since the hull is a closed system.  This provides you an excellent flotation device to hang onto should you topple over, until you can either re-mount the boat or swim with it to safety.  This surf ski design began to look appealing to me in my second season of paddling.  So did having a kayak that was even lighter and narrower making it easier to paddle.

You could say that I was the first in the Midwest to bring home a Think Fit and then a Stellar SR.  In time the introduction of the Stellar line would open up opportunities for my River Bear, Steve, to become a representative for both Stellar and Epic kayaks here in Indiana.  Cool beans.  Wifey-poo done good!  I had so many offers to purchase the Think Fit that it wasn’t hard to sell it when a suitable Stellar SR became available.  Our friend Allan took to it easily and made waves, literally, that I could have never accomplished as a recreational paddler.  My baby found a good home and served her new racer well.  He even won a medal at his first Nationals in his age class:  his first year competing and finishing in a torrential thunderstorm!  Ah, the things that become normal when racing enters your life.  Yes of course we were cheering him on equally drenched at the finish!

At first I doubted my decision to upgrade to a beginner surf ski.  Sure there would be a learning curve but when my maiden voyage in a friend’s private ski lake yielded a nearly effortless glide with my winged carbon-fiber paddle, I thought I “knew” that I had made the right decision.  Or did I?  I can recall nearly panicking as I paddled between lakes in a local chain-o-lakes:  my legs outstretched and straddling either side of the boat for stability.  What had I done?  The cross-winds were fierce in open water!  Forget the great secondary stability it’s the initial stability that I was sorely missing!  Once in the channel I could calm down a bit.  Whew.  “This is going to take some practice,” I muttered to myself.  But was that what I wanted as a recreational paddler?  Not really.  I like to stop and grab a drink of water or bite of a snack bar along the way in addition to taking advantage of navigating a more streamlined, lighter vessel.  Learning the sport from my racer husband had landed me in unfamiliar territory for sure!  Now that Allan had already bonded with the Think Fit there was no use looking back to my first love (the kayak, that is!).  Back to the calmer lake we went for more practice before the next outing . . .

Julie in the Stellar SR
Julie in the Stellar SR

The Fort Wayne Kayaking Group was headed to the Cedarville Reservoir in Leo, Indiana early in October.  The boat launch just over the bridge provides access to the St. Joe River to the north and to the reservoir to the south.  Later Steve would remind me that my first paddle when we were dating was in that reservoir.  Sweet.  Now it was three years later in the Fall:  October 11, 2011 to be exact.  I did pretty well that beautiful night for my third outing in the Stellar SR, continuing to wear a life vest for added security.  Unfortunately I made 4 costly mistakes that evening.  First, I let the mouth of my water bottle make contact with the greenish water.  Second, I ate a snack that I had saved in the zippered pouch of my life vest even though it had become a little mushy, perhaps melted.  I was hungry and it hit the spot!  Third, a winged paddle tends to throw a lot of water into the air, particularly for beginners just learning the more efficient racing stroke for which it is designed, which also sent blue green algae aerosols into the air.  And fourth, I doubt that I washed my hands after we loaded up the boats and sampled one of the member’s luscious peanut butter cookies she often brought to top off the Tuesday night paddles.  Within 24 hours I was deathly ill and it was not from the cookie!

Within 36 hours I thought I was going to die.  Seriously.  Have you ever been in so much pain that all you can do is moan, holler, and moan in agony some more?  After the second trip to the doctor’s office that week, he sent me to the emergency room for IV fluids mixed with anti-nausea medication.  We figured by then that it was from something in the water but what could it be?  The weekend was hell on earth.  In between vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and unbelievable abdominal pain eventually my brain started to put the pieces together in what was left of my mind.  Early the next week some blind internet searching found a report documenting the testing of Indiana rivers and lakes.  In a chart written in 2005 describing various cyanobacteria populating stagnant waters in the Spring and Fall I found it:  cylinderospermopsis.  I matched all of the symptoms listed for exposure.  The treatment?  “Supportive measures” as needed.  I already had that.  What else?  I didn’t need the other recommendation thankfully:  intubation or life support.  My liver enzymes were elevated but that didn’t indicate any additional treatment at the time.  These days I wish that I had been administered activated charcoal back then.  Oh well.  It’s amazing what 2 1/2 more years of research yields that could have been helpful at the beginning of this exceedingly difficult journey.

I never paddled the Stellar SR again.  Here’s a picture of me in the one that has now gotten away.  We never fully bonded.  I never fully mastered her.  ‘Tis bittersweet you might say for the wife of a kayak racer.  I had learned so much and come so far since my maiden voyage in that plastic Sirocco in the summer of 2007 only to stop as they say, “dead in the water.”

Julie in the SR in early October 2011
Julie in the SR in early October 2011

The next 2 1/2 years was a wretched process trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting well.  Was it Chronic Lyme disease?  Biotoxin illness such as cyanobacteria and mold?  Non-epileptic seizures?  For more on finding hope during the medical part of this story just scroll through this blog a bit for the good/bad/ugly of overcoming a serious illness.  As for kayaking and while the battle continues today, there have been enough recent improvements that I am able to get back into the water for limited outings.  I am exceedingly grateful for the improvements.  The Lord appears to be restoring the years the “locusts” (as in pesky little cyano-bugs) have eaten (Joel 2:25), slowly but surely.  He has sustained me through this hellish journey and many nights home alone while I supported Steve in his continuing to progress as a USCA racer.  He has done well and I am proud of him.  That’s the benefit for me of having a Heavenly Husband at home with me in my heart while my earthly husband is away.  It works that way for us gals whether we are married or single.  It’s all good:  whether or not you are with your paddling buddy or not you are never really alone when you have Jesus in your heart.

My watercraft of choice has now changed.  When I did try to sit in the cockpit of the Stellar SR, I realized that my balance skills were now altered.  How in the world would I ever enjoy paddling a tippier kayak with an altered center of gravity?  It was just too much for me.  But I also did not want to go backwards into a heavier, wider, shorter sea kayak either.  I had tasted the sweetness of performance race boats and longed to be with Steve back out on the water.  The lighter kayaks and paddles made this all possible in the first place, minimizing the stress of my underlying fibromyalgia.  I would have never been able to paddle in the past due to chronic pain.  My Stevers had helped me find a way.  Now could we find a way to get me back on the water again?

By this time we were grateful to have acquired a tandem outrigger canoe.  The first time out in the OC-2 after the onset of the recent illness were meaningful minutes and happened at the end of last summer.  We went out again on our friend’s ski lake earlier this year and even took it to the smaller Oliver chain-o-lakes last month.  Yes, my first outing in 3 summers happened a couple of weeks ago!  Having a River Bear at the helm made it all possible as I could rest in the front seat when needed.  THAT was an emotional day for sure:  tears of joy to be out again and tears of sorrow for all of the lost time.

The question remained as to what would I paddle solo?  Could I even paddle solo?  The answer came with our one-man outrigger canoe.  She is beautiful.  In carbon fiber she weighs in at 22 pounds despite her 21 foot overall length.  And she looks so very cool too.  Oh how I love Steve!  I get to do so many cool things because of him!  Anyways, here’s a picture of the boat I will be paddling, Lord willing, as I get stronger.  These days I still have seizure attacks every day, including in the evening after paddling for awhile.  I’m not sure yet how to modulate this other than making sure my body temperature doesn’t fluctuate, stay hydrated and nourished, and avoid contact with nefarious waters underfoot!  Oh well.  The answer to the unknowns lie in the Lord’s hands.  I’ll just go slow and remain grateful to be paddling a bit once again.

See there?  Who says you can’t paddle an ocean-faring outrigger canoe in the Midwest?  Just like the Think Fit then the Stellar SR, sometimes you get to start a crazy trend that works for you and others follow along too.  Good ideas breed good company.  Thank you Lord.  Guess it was meant to be.  God is so good.  All the time.  God is good!

May 2014:  Julie in the OC-1
May 2014: Julie in the OC-1

Giving up one thing for another

7157_10151668652045255_1072850858_nSo glad I could enjoy my husband’s kayak race today.  His daughter, Christina, and I cheered him on from the shore of the ol’ St. Joe River, taking pictures and listening to paddling stories from the timekeepers (Roger and Martha).  Seems simple enough:  a typical Saturday outing for our household perhaps.

Er, no.  THIS IS HUGE!!!  When you wake up with a crushing feeling in your chest that you’ve had for days and tic attacks after a night of broken sleep due to both, it’s a blessing from the Lord to be able to go anywhere!  And seeing my beloved River Bear in his element is a real treat for me.  My husband is so cool.  And I got even got to yell at the top of my achy lungs, “Gooooooooo Steeeeeeeeeeeeeve!”  He won today in the USCA K1 Unlimited class as well as had the fastest overall time.  The day was warm and sunny.  All was good.

The afternoon didn’t go so well as I tried to rest with hopes of helping at the Purdue Extension Office plant sale this evening.  Oh well.  Cancelled that.  Sometimes you give up one thing for another.  Life is like that sometimes.

Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 4:24-25

Yes, we endure hardships in our lives.  Yet this is not all there is and that can be a tremendous relief and source of hope.  A breath of fresh air.  In this life we can choose give our lives to that which fails us and fades or trust the One who is worthy and promises us life everlasting, riches beyond our wildest imagination.  I have placed my trust in more than I can see, feel, hear, taste, touch in this life:  God almighty, maker of heaven and earth through a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ.  So if I get a piece of happiness today it is a sweet blessing; thank you Lord.  But I will never give up a piece of happiness for true joy that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  He transcends our world and our lives for the prize in the ultimate race:  an inheritance that can never fade with Him eternally in heaven.  Today and tomorrow I say,  “Go Jesus!”

And with odds like this, maybe you will say, “go Jesus” too?