Posted in photography, Weekly Photo Challenge

Would you rather?

And we’re off with Brother-in-law and Sis in the lead.

One entertaining game our family enjoys playing together is “would you rather?” Each participant is given a question to answer and the rest of us attempt to guess what answer will be chosen.   

The questions range from silly and frivolous like “Would you rather have a unicorn’s horn or the bill of a duck?” to ridiculous like “Would you rather surf in shark-infested waters or jump free fall with a parachute into the Grand Canyon?”

But the questions can be more thought provoking as well. “Would you rather save the life of an elderly family member or the life of a child to whom you are not related?”

This all came to my mind because the current weekly photo challenge theme is “I’d Rather Be.”

My first thought wasn’t about the would you rather game though. Instead, an old Simon and Garfunkel tune played through my mind.

“I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail. Yes I would. If I could, I surely would. I’d rather be a hammer than a nail….I’d rather be a forest than a street…I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet.”

It’s all about choices. We make choices every day of this life. Some choices are inconsequential like choosing whether to have a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch. But some decisions we must make are monumental; even life-changing. And consequences may arise from those choices we make, so we better be wise as we decide.

Do we play it safe or go for the adventure? Should we soar like a sparrow through life, or plod along, feet firmly planted on the ground, like the snail?

Are we the driving force in our life decisions like the hammer or would we rather be driven by circumstances like the nail?

I admit I’m not always the most decisive person (just ask Papa who has withstood this trait of mine for 40+ years).  I might even lean more towards the safe and secure side of choices rather than embrace the daring, adventurous one.

But every once in awhile, I surprise those who know me well.

The trails through the terrain were rough and tight at times.

Prior to our winter retreat in Arizona to visit my sister and brother-in-law, our oldest daughter and son-in-law also flew westward and spent some time there.

Daughter and son-in-law are the adventurous type. They love trying new experiences in new places.

They’ve been bitten by the travel bug and the only way to appease the wanderlust venom running through them is to plan exciting and thrill-seeking trips to different areas around the world, which they do as often as their pocketbooks allow.

While visiting Arizona, they were treated to an ATV excursion into the desert with aunt and uncle, who have been quad riding for years with a group of retired RV’er friends.  Since my sister and brother-in-law no longer own horses, quad riding has become one of their favorite past-times.

For some time now, Bro-in-law has been itching for us to come visit their Arizona home and go on ATV treks with him because he was certain my hubby would get a kick out of it.  Of course, our daring offspring were more than ready and raring to try it out themselves when they visited and they had a blast.

But apparently sometime while discussing the fact that her parents (us) would soon make the trip to Arizona also, our daughter was fairly certain that her Mama would not want to go ATV riding.  Papa, yes, absolutely. Mama, not so much. At least that’s what daughter thought.

Fast forward a few weeks later. Mama and Papa were sitting in Sis and Bro-in-law’s living room discussing excursion plans for the week with them.  And of course, ATV riding came up. Sis and Bro-in-law looked at me apprehensively and Sister tentatively asked me, “Would you want to go?”

“Sure, why not?” I responded. That’s when Sis spilled the beans that Daughter had said, “Mom won’t want to go.”

I was incredulous. Why not? Okay, I thought, maybe she believed the bone-jarring rough-riding up and down steep hills for miles and miles strapped into a side by side all-terrain vehicle would be too much for this old lady, but her aunt and uncle are over a decade older than me and they manage it quite nicely.

Maybe Daughter just thought her Mama has no sense of adventure. Uh, wrong. I still enjoy excitement and trying something new and different from my normal routine.

So off we roared.  Brother-in-law and Sis in one side by side 4WD all terrain vehicle; Papa and I following behind with Papa at the wheel of another.

We drove down to the end of their street and rumbled out into the desert. Up and down steep rocky trails, winding out in nature so completely different from what we are used to, among the cacti and the dust, we thoroughly enjoyed a 24-mile round trip ride on our first go-round.

Look closely in the left-hand third of the photo and you can see my sister and brother-in-law’s ATV on the trail ahead of us. 

And I loved it! So much so, we went again another day on a 34-mile trip and Papa and Brother-in-Law took at 60-mile ride one afternoon while Sis and I shopped.

And guess what?  When it comes to a winter time desert excursion, which would I prefer? Sitting in an enclosed vehicle driving down the highway viewing the scenery from a car window?  Or riding in the passenger side of a side by side ATV out in the open air and sunshine, gazing at the desert views through a helmet shield for miles and miles?

I’d rather be in the southwestern Arizona desert on a cool, winter’s day with the ones I love soaking in amazing sights and sunshine on an exhilarating ATV ride, hanging on for dear life, stopping for a little lunch miles away from the hustle and bustle of town. 

I’d rather be adventurous, at least some days, when the circumstances and the company are right.

“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” ~ Henry Miller


Posted in Faith, Life, travel

Adventure? Who, me?

blogAZ1“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ― Helen Keller, The Open Door

When God handed out the trait for being adventurous, I must have been absent.  Adventurous is not a word I would use to describe myself at all.  As a child, I was anything but.  I was shy and I certainly was not a risk taker.  

That quiet student in the school classroom who never raised her hand to answer teachers’ questions but would shyly respond with the correct answer if called upon?  That was me.  Why didn’t I raise my hand?  Because I might be wrong and I just didn’t want to take that chance.

So adventurous? Me? Hah.  But my kids, now they are the thrill-seekers.  And they have passport stamps to prove it. They’ve traveled to foreign countries from Mexico to Honduras, from Belize to France, from England to Mozambique, from Costa Rica to South Africa.  

Me?  The only foreign country I’ve visited isn’t that foreign – it’s our neighbor to the north, Canada.  Oh, I’ve traveled.  At last count, I’ve been in 32 of our 50 states here in the US and I suppose that counts as an adventure.

But exciting escapades…it seems I enjoy them vicariously through my adult children on their jaunts from safaris to sky diving to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.  From para-sailing to participating in a triathlon to rappelling down waterfalls.  From cruising on the ocean to cruising along the skyline via helicopter.  

Yes, it’s safe to say my kids are adventurers.  They relish crossing items off their adventure bucket lists and are ever eager to step out of their comfort zones enjoying the journeys along the way.  And I like to think that I, the one who was raised on the motto ‘better safe than sorry,’ helped encourage them to do so.

In comparison, my life probably doesn’t appear to be very exciting, but when I stop to really consider it, I have had a few adventures of my own.  I’ve watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and I’ve observed it setting over the Pacific. 

I’ve viewed the majesty of the Rocky Mountains and the lemon yellow color of aspen trees in the fall as well as the seemingly unending horizon of the Plains and the golden waves of grain growing there.  I’ve visited a volcano (Mount St. Helens),  one of the deepest, clearest lakes in the world (Crater Lake), and witnessed the power of a mighty waterfall (Niagara Falls).

From fields of bright-colored tulips in the spring to fields of happy sunflowers in summer to hillsides of trees adorned in fall’s brightly colored leaves to mounds of sparkling snow covered landscapes in winter, I’ve witnessed the beauty of nature. 

I’ve strolled along sunshine-laden sandy strips of beach on one side of my country and hiked through moss-covered giant redwood trees deep in the forest a couple of thousand miles away on the other side.  

I’ve also walked on the streets of some of the most well-known cities in our nation from New York City to Dallas to San Francisco to Washington, DC just to name a few.  I’ve traveled by plane, train, boat, ferry, subway, cable car, and even by incline while many people have never traveled in anything other than a car or have ever been outside their home towns.

But there’s more to an adventurous life than just travel and sightseeing.  So often God has led me out of my shy shell in daring ways.  He’s placed me in locations and situations out of my comfort zone.  No doubt He wanted to teach me a lesson about relying on Him, trusting Him, putting my faith in Him. 

All the locales I’ve visited, the places I’ve lived, the people I’ve met, and situations that became a part of my life have truly been adventures and they molded me into the person I am now.  And I believe God is responsible for all of those times in order to give my faith room to grow. 

He gave me blessed opportunities to witness the birth of another human being three times when I had my own children and He placed me in the life of a friend to listen and weep with her when her heart was broken by abortion.   

He provided occasions to reach out and touch others’ lives in ways I never thought I could do through my words, both spoken and written, and through encounters with strangers and people who soon became friends in places where I knew absolutely no one other than my immediate family. 

As I sit here safely ensconced in my comfortable home writing this post, doing so doesn’t sound very daring or exciting at all – not much of an adventure perhaps.  But it occurs to me that I truly have traveled an adventurous route and even writing this blog has proved to be a bold move on my part.  And better yet, there are new  journeys that still await.  My bucket list just may be different from my kids and different from yours. 

I believe God offers me opportunities every day to boldly go where I haven’t gone before.   All I have to do is listen to His voice, take His hand, and let Him lead me. It’s my choice to take the dare or not. 

I may seem as meek and mild as a sheep, but I know who my Master is.  I know my Shepherd and I listen for His voice.  Wherever He leads me, I want to follow because I know it will be an adventure.

This scripture reminds me: “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” ~ John 10:2-4 (NIV) 

Helen Keller was right – life IS either an adventure or nothing at all.  At the end of my life when I stand before God, I want to be able to say I chose the adventure of living a life for Christ because to chose otherwise means nothing.

Linking up with Weekly Photo Challenge.