Day 3 - Falling Forward
Sorry about the long pauses in my cafe postings. I am doing a series on friendship on my Journey site and it's hard to be active with both at the same time but I am determined to find a way. If you're here for the first time, be sure to scroll down when you have time and read our whole Ski story.

Day 3: I woke up with my eyes swollen shut and my face so tight it hurt. I don't know what the problem was; maybe altitude?! You may be able to tell in this photo because I can barely smile.

We hit the slopes really early and JJ decided to stalk some of the ski instructors to figure out what they taught those little 3 year olds who could ski without poles. I suggested lessons, but no he was determined to save some money and time. He told Joshua and me they'd meet us at lunch and be ready for the big slopes!

Joshua and I ventured out to a few new runs since we'd gotten more snow and more lifts were opened. It was unbelievable how many slopes and lifts there were. You had to ski to one lift, then take it up to the next peak, then ski down another to get to the next lift to get higher. It was very confusing but we found our way to some amazing places.

We stood at the top of one peak and it was BEAUTIFUL, but then I looked down and panicked. We had taken an intermediate trail that offered no way down except an advanced slope. The intermediate run that would normally be an option was CLOSED.

Joshua kept saying, "Come on mom, it's not that bad. Watch me." I noticed an instructor showing a student how to get down - alive - so I went for it. It was SOOOO steep. I must have been going 50 mph!

When I got to the bottom there was a huge patch of trees with un-groomed snow in front of them for 30 feet. No stopping there, my only option was to take a sharp curve. Well, I didn't turn soon enough and ended up in the snow which was so thick I totally lost control.

I fell so hard my skis went flying, my neck jerked back (slamming my head into the ground), my legs were twisted and buried in a foot of snow, the wind was completely knocked out of me and I couldn't get up! Mr. Professional skier with no polls, Joshua, was standing at the curve watching and waiting for me to untangle my pretzeled self!

That was it - no more skiing for me! I had fallen hard and it hurt really bad. There was no way I was risking another fall like that. I was too tired and it wasn't worth it!

I laid in the snow trying to breath and figure out how to break the news to Joshua, when God clearly whispered to my heart, "Renee, you will never see all that I have for you if you are not willing to get up from a painful fall and keep going." Oh, and how right HE was! Look at what I would have missed that day.

A falling star became a super star!
Day 2

Day 3
Yes, that is the same child. He learned how
to ski down that huge slope - all alone.

JJ's ski instructor stalking worked.
He and Andrew joined us on the big slopes and
we ALL got to go to the very top.

Look at this amazing view!!
God knew what He had for me to see but I had to be willing to trust HIM and get up!

If I had quit, I would have missed God's sweetest blessings. But it wasn't just a lesson for that day. It was a truth that I think about again and again. How often I fall in life and get hurt. I don't want to get up and try again. I'd rather go sit in one of life's warm lodges with a little hot chocolate. Yet, what I would miss in life if I weren't willing to get back on my feet and trust Him again.

So if I ever tell you I want to quit because something is too hard or it hurts to much, please remind me of this story.

Day 3 - Snowing Silly!
Welcome to my family blog! If this is your first visit, I 'm so glad you stopped by. I am in the middle of sharing photos, memories and God stories from a ski trip we took in December. Click here to start at Day 1 and find out how we got there; it was totally unplanned, at least according to our calendar. But God!

Day 3 - Here I am with my silly Andrew. I dropped one of my ski poles from the chair lift when he was with me. So we had to ski down this really steep hill to get it.

Instead of going back up to the top, we decided to wait for JJ and Joshua to come to us. It took them a while so we laid down in the soft, fluffy snow and took photos of ourselves to pass time.

When we all got back together, we decided to take this really long path down the mountain. It was mostly trails with a few steep hills. By then Andrew had mastered the slopes and was having a great time. Here he and JJ are posing in front of the signs that we followed to find our way back to the ski village. You've got to click on it to see their faces. They are such characters but it did really got confusing at times.
You might also notice Joshua on the ground pointing them in the right direction. He would often ski ahead of us and then lay in the snow waiting for us to catch up with him. He said it was warm and cozy buried in that snow. We call him our polar bear.

Day 2 - Let It Snow!!!
We woke up Sunday morning to thick blanket of fresh snow! The conditions were perfect for skiing. We dressed in fifteen layers and went down to the hotel ski rental shop to pick up our gear. Then we took the shuttle bus to Lion's Head circle where we got our lift tickets and rode the Gondola up the mountain.

It was amazing to ride in a heated, enclosed, glass case instead of a metal, frozen bench with a bar that barely keeps you in! It was a long and relaxing ride up. Our anticipation grew as we realized the amazing view we would have all day. We had no idea what awaited us at the top.

I have never seen anything quite so beautiful. Only God knows how much His girl loves snow and that I feel closest to Him in the mountains. I wanted to bow down and worship Him right there. It was glorious and majestic. I just couldn't believe we were here. I couldn't believe this was on earth and not in Heaven. Tears filled my eyes when I thought about the gift I almost missed.

JJ and Andrew decided to start in the beginner area at the top of the mountain where it's fairly flat (in Colorado terms) to get used to their skis and get some practice runs. They used the magic carpet a few times and then took the beginner's lift so they could really start skiing.

Meanwhile, Joshua and I went on the intermediate slopes which ended up being more advanced than we expected. he got frustrated because I kept taking photos. Here are few that we took in that area. That is one steep slope behind me. Maybe photo opps were my way of stalling.

JJ and Andrew decided they were ready for the bigger slopes. What they didn't realize is that there is not really an in-between level from where they were to where we were. We ended up in an area where Andrew wasn't ready to ski at that level. He kept falling. He was getting frustrated and tired.

So, I decided I would "ski" him down the mountain. That was a crazy idea. But once I started, I didn't have a choice but to keep going.

We almost died a few times. Seriously, I was screaming "JESUS help us" really loud and then we'd slow down. Then we'd come to a steep place or a ledge and I'd start screaming prayers again. Andrew got to see and feel the power of Jesus' Name that day!

All Andrew had to do was stay centered with his skis between mine. All I had to do was hold his weight and steer us down. It was a miracle we survived. I skied the same run by myself later and it made me shudder to think we had just risked our lives and lived!

We only fell once. Funny thing is we fell at the very end on an area that wasn't steep. It was just slick! Actually, I fell. Andrew slid out from me and skied by himself down the rest of the slope. Maybe I should have timed that sooner.

I told him how proud I was of him not panicking and staying focused so we could make it down together. He said, "Mom, you did all the work. I just had to lean on you." It made me think about how God does all the work if we'll stay centered in Him, lean our weight on Him and let Him guide us along life's path - the steep, the dangerous, the adventurous and the beautiful.

We were all EXHAUSTED that night. I could barely move. Here is JJ and Andrew recuperating on the couch. I took a hot bubble bath and JJ took the boys to the hot tub outside in the snow-covered pool area.

Day 1 - Vail Memories
The Christmas event that brought me to Colorado was Saturday morning. It was a "Table Scapes Holiday Brunch" and it was beautiful!

Each table was hosted by a different woman or pair of friends in the church and decorated to reflect her Christmas personality. Many of the guests were neighbors, co-workers, friends and family.

Melinda was the hostess of the event. She is also the music minister. She made sure the catering was just right, the program was on time and that women were having fun. She had us sing the twelve days of Christmas and each table stood up to say what they as a group had decided what we wanted, for instance 1 diamond ring, two perfect boo_s, (I'll let you guess what that table wanted), 3 spa days, 4 Lambourguines, 5 tropic vacations, 6 cleaning ladies, and on it went. It was hilarious!! And also revealing of the wealth in that area.

What's I loved is that they are a small church- I think 200 members - tucked in a small ski village just outside of Vail. It's a very unchurched area but this event is one that women look forward to each year. They had over 100 women there and five prayed to receive Christ as Savior after the message. It was a beautiful time to unwrap the gift of Christmas - Immanuel, God with us!

While I was speaking, JJ and the boys were back at the hotel playing in the snow. The snow storm that came through Friday night brought us several inches of white fluff!!! Here's the parking lot and our view from the balcony in our room.

I took a nap that afternoon and then we went for a walk around our beautiful hotel. We stayed at the Cascade Resort and Spa near Lion's Head Circle. Melinda had found a great deal for rooms that weekend for us. Another huge blessing from God. It had a large stone fireplace in the lobby, a fancy spa, a large indoor gym, running track, two hot tubs, heated pools, etc. Most of which we didn't use but it was fun to know they were there.

When I said NO and God said GO!
Today is the day I start my Vail photo journaling. I'll post a little each day like pages in my scrapbook. This is a long post but seeing how we got to Vail and how we almost missed an amazing gift from God makes the photos and stories that will follow even sweeter! Here we go....

One Tuesday in early October our speaking coordinator, Barb, called me into her office to see if I was available to speak in Edwards, CO at a Christmas brunch December 1st. I knew I was speaking in New Hampshire Tuesday and Wednesday night that same week. I'd be returning Thursday and would need to fly out Friday morning to get to CO in time. It was too much and I didn't want to leave my family again, so I told Barb I wasn't available.

Barb came back a few days later for suggestions since two other they were considering weren't available either. I suggested a couple of speakers that would be a good fit. Lots of calls were made, options were discussed but still no speaker was working out.

On Tuesday, October 15th, I said a simple prayer asking God to help us help them find the right speaker. Immediately the thought went through my mind, "You haven't even prayed about this event. You haven't talked to JJ about it. You just looked at your calendar, saw that timing would be tough and said no."

I knew it wasn't me thinking these thoughts. It was God's Spirit convicting me. I felt Him impressing on my heart that He wanted me to speak at the event and that He wanted to bless us.

I thought I remembered the church's budget being enough to cover my fee and possibly pay for my family's travel. So, I called JJ and told him about it. He immediately looked at that week's schedule and said, "No way, we have too much going on already." I explained that I thought so too, but I felt like God wanted us to pray about it. I asked him to research where Edwards, CO was and if ther was any skiing nearby, since I love to ski and we were saving for a NC ski trip this winter.

We got off the phone so I could go to a meeting. Fifteen minutes later he called me on my cell and said, "Renee, Edwards is 15 minutes from Vail, Colorado. Airline tickets are $300 each. If they can pay their full speaker budget there would be enough to cover our airfare and possibly some of our hotel."

I really felt like God had something special He wanted to do, and that He wanted me to trust Him but I also felt awkward because I'd never asked a church to pay their full budget if it exceeded my fee. Yet, I knew my heart would just ache if I had to leave my family again that week. Not only would I just be getting back from NH, I would have also been gone two other weekends that month. So, if God wanted me to speak at this event I needed Him to provide a way for us all to go.

I called the event leader and explained why I had declined initially and what I had been through that morning. I told her I'd love to come speak if they were willing to pay their budgeted amount so that my family could travel with me. She was thrilled that I could come and happy to have my family join me. She immediately got on the internet and found an incredible hotel deal for us right in Vail. Soon after, we locked into $300 flights and before we knew it we were headed to Vail the week after Thanksgiving.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you the hard parts of this amazing blessing. Getting there took an act of God! I had been on a working cruise with P31 for 5 days before Thanksgiving (getting minimal sleep), traveled all day and got home late that Monday night, did laundry, cleaned house and worked from my laptop in bed all day Tuesday, played catch-up at work on Wednesday, cooked a holiday meal, entertained family on Thursday and then had to find a way to pack up my 3 guys and me to go skiing before I left for NH the following Tuesday since I'd have no time to pack when I got back.

We own NO ski wear and only one set of luggage. BUT GOD!! I cried out to Him (literally at one point in tears because I was so overwhelmed with all the travel) and to my friends for help and they came to my rescue with duffel bags on wheels, suitcases, every piece of ski wear needed for every member of my family. One friend even brought us dinner the Thursday I flew in from NH and needed to unpack and re-pack in less than 24 hours to get us ready to leave for CO. My mom and JJ ran the show at home and it all happened. We got there!

Yet the day we arrived there was NO snow on the ground. No snow. My kids were so disappointed when we landed in Denver and the ground was brown and flat.

We started praying and wondering what God was thinking...But then we heard a weather report on tv discovered that a snow storm was headed our way. We had arrived just in time for God's first snow of the season in Vail. God's timing was perfect and the presentation of His gift was beautiful!

Here's what we saw as we drove from Denver to Vail.

So, have you ever missed (or almost missed) one of God's blessings because it looked like it just wouldn't fit into your life, your budget, your schedule, your plans?

God's Plan for Today
I am so sorry to those of you who came visiting in hopes of seeing my Vail photos posted. I so wanted to do that today. I can't wait to share God's story behind them, but God has another assignment for me today.

My neighbor has stage 4 breast cancer and it's spread to her bones. She started chemo yesterday and is very sick today. I had planned to be home to do some blogging and scrapbooking. But I found out Kim is really sick and needed help with her four-year old cutie pie, Matthew.

So instead of blogging, I am playing with moon sand and "twucks", watching Thomas the Magic Railroad, eating chicken nuggets and searching for more little boy toys in my attic. He's the cutest thing and so fun to have around.

Please pray for Kim, her nausea, her cancer cells to be haulted and for healing in her bones and shrinking of her tumors. We serve and love a God who is ABLE. I am crying out for Him to be willing to shower His power and healing on Kim today. Please join me.

I'll be back with photos soon!

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