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Recharging in the mountains

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Recharging in the mountains

The past few weeks have been really, really good, filled with GC parties and celebrations, working a lot, starting Surge - a year long discipleship program with a lot of reading each week and regular table discussions, and just regular every day life! We are so excited about this season of life and all that is going on but it can also deplete our spiritual, emotional, & physical bank account leaving us grumpy, impatient, & overwhelmed. That is why I could not be more grateful for a long weekend away at our family's cabin in the mountains where we can breathe some fresh mountain air, ride the new ATVs, hike with our puppy, spend some quality time together, and read! All things I love.  

I am always on the go. Going about 90 miles an hour. Doing 37 things at once. I thrive in this environment but even I need to recharge. I will admit that it is difficult for me to slow down and I resist it as much as possible, for reasons only the Lord knows. But in the midst of going and going and going, I forget to just enjoy each moment and the journey of getting to where I am going. I tend to rush on by with little thought as to where God might be in the midst of the mundane and what He wants to teach me. With all that being said - I tried to put aside my agenda for the weekend and just be recharged, refreshed, and revitalized through conversations, reading, exploring the trails on the ATVs, hiking, and looking out on God's immense, vast, and gorgeous creation.

God is everywhere, in the clouds, in the Mountainous horizon, in laughter, in cooking breakfast, in basking in the sunshine. He is everywhere. Through Surge the last two weeks, we have really focused on God's creation by reading the entire book of Genesis in two weeks and reading the "The Drama of Scripture". Creation is a concept that many of us Christians tend to glaze on through just accepting and knowing that God spoke our universe, world, and people into existence. Yes he SPOKE us into existence. I mean have you ever pondered that? God spoke and it was. How amazing is that? Also, what God teaches us about his creation is that it was designed and put into perfect shalom in the Garden of Eden, and it was all GOOD. Shalom is my new favorite word and concept right now.

Shalom is "the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight" - Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. in his article titled "Sin: Not the Way It's Supposed to Be". Cornelius also goes on to say that, "In the Bible shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight - a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as the creator and savior opens doors and speaks welcome to the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things are supposed to be." (To read the full article, click here.) How dreamy is that? How amazing is that? I want to be in a state of natural flourishing and fulfillment where everyone's gifts are fruitful and there is joyful wonder. I want that! I mean who doesn't? Although we live in a fallen and broken world, we still have hope and delight in knowing what God has created with us in mind, what he has created that is good and nourishing. We may not see the fruition of revelation on this side of heaven but we can rest assured that we will experience this with Him in his holy kingdom.

View from Windy Ridge of the Lower Mount Bross Trail

View from Windy Ridge of the Lower Mount Bross Trail

View at dusk from our cabin porch

View at dusk from our cabin porch

 
Our little slice of mountain heaven

Our little slice of mountain heaven

 
 
Our cozy nook of the loft

Our cozy nook of the loft

 
 
Working on perfecting my fried eggs...also its never too early for a Christmas glass

Working on perfecting my fried eggs...also its never too early for a Christmas glass

 
 
Furry hats are a must in the mountains

Furry hats are a must in the mountains

 

Loading up the ATVs

We successfully hitched up the ATV trailer

We successfully hitched up the ATV trailer

Trigger jumped on thinking he was going to get to go with us

Trigger jumped on thinking he was going to get to go with us

Triggy wanted to go for a ride

Triggy wanted to go for a ride

We did it!

We did it!

 
View of Montgomery Reservoir

View of Montgomery Reservoir

 
Handsome hubby

Handsome hubby

Magnolia Mill

Magnolia Mill

 
We attempted a level "red" trail called Wheeler Lake - we did not make it up! Thought "safety first!"

We attempted a level "red" trail called Wheeler Lake - we did not make it up! Thought "safety first!"

 

Campfire & Cuddles

I wish I could remember what story Ben was telling us but it looks like it was really interesting!

I wish I could remember what story Ben was telling us but it looks like it was really interesting!

I love spending time by the fire with great friends!

I love spending time by the fire with great friends!

Hiking McCullough Gulch

I know that for some people, this seems like a jam packed weekend and where did we find the time to rest and recharge? Well what you didn't see was a lot of vegging in our reclining chairs, reading for hours, watching the sun come up over the mountains, watching a little HGTV House Hunters Renovation, and all the good food we ate! This to me is what I enjoy and I feel more at ease & refreshed than before we left. We had two families come up and meet us at the cabin for a little R&R. This was a breath of fresh air and I loved spending time with the kiddos. They are so precious and I love listening to their stories. What do you do to relax, unwind, and recharge? I love to hear new ideas. 

Shalom -

Chelsea
 

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Whitewater Rafting + McCullough Gulch

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Whitewater Rafting + McCullough Gulch

Whitewater Rafting

Last month we went up to the cabin to hang out with my in-laws and their sweet group of friends! We had quite the adventure. We started early on Saturday morning to drive from Fairplay to Salida to go white water rafting through Brown's Canyon on the Arkansas River. Our family has used Independent Whitewater multiple times now and really like them! We love their guides and their route is 2 miles longer since they have a private pull out. Our total rafting trip was about 12 miles and considered a half day trip. We had 12 people total so we occupied 2 boats. The other boat had a go pro tragedy (i.e. it is now at the bottom of the Arkansas River) and the same guy took a swim on Zoom Floom! Here are a few photos from our white water adventure. Our guide said we made a great team and listen to directions.... haha if you only knew us!

Rafting 1
Rafting 2
 
Rafting 3
 

McCullough Gulch

After our whitewater journey we went back to the cabin to change and get ready for a late afternoon hike. We drove to McCullough Gulch, which is about 1.5 miles past the Mount Quandary Trailhead. This was a 1.3 mile hike and much, much easier than Mount Quandary! We loved the scenic views, easy hiking, and the lake at the top was so gorgeous. It was totally worth the climb! All 12 of us made it to the lake.

Ben & I

Ben & I

My mother-in-law & I

My mother-in-law & I

Ben
 
Beautiful waterfall about .5 miles from the lake

Beautiful waterfall about .5 miles from the lake

 
Ben + Chels at the Waterfall
 
We made it to the lake!

We made it to the lake!

 
 
 
 
The sun started to go down on us and there is just something about those Colorado skies.

The sun started to go down on us and there is just something about those Colorado skies.

 

This was such a fun weekend filled with activities and fellowship! Loved spending time with some of our favorite people.

Gettin' some fresh air -

Chelsea
 
 

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GC Mountain Retreat Weekend

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GC Mountain Retreat Weekend

We recently hosted our gospel community {{also referred to as GC}} at our family's cabin in Fairplay for our seasonal mountain retreat. This weekend is designed to be a time of fellowship, game playing {I mean A LOT of game playing}, laughing, resting, & relaxation, as well as, exploration & adventure! I am so grateful to be in this community of believers that surrounds me with love, acceptance, joy, authenticity, & just all around fun & fellowship! I used to pray, and I must admit even just beg, for God to introduce me to friends that liked to play board games & card games, loved to do new things together, & enjoyed talking & laughing into the wee hours of the morning. God not only answered those prayers but he far exceeded fulfilling that desire. This may sound silly but I am not kidding when I say I like to play games.... I mean a lot of games for hours & hours. I have truly met my match at least 4 times over in our GC on those who love to play games! Anyways back to the GC Mountain Retreat Weekend --

Friday:

As everyone arrived, we unpacked cars and giddily talked about what lay ahead for the weekend!

We ate Christi's delicious chicken & sausage jambalaya (See the recipe here.) & talked about our activities for the next day! There were going to be three different groups doing fun things on Saturday which consisted of:  The Hikers, The Fishermen, & The Town Explorers.

We played Uno for hours {it only took us 20 minutes to explain all the rules since it had been a decade or more since some people had played.. aka Justin.} as well as B.S, also known as Boyscouts per Jack. hehe. I didn't want to stop playing games but since The Hikers were going to be leaving the house at 4:40 AM to hike Mount Quandary, we decided it was time to begin preparation for the morning & get ready for bed. 

We made assembly lines and took sandwich orders from the whole crew, made our bladders of water, and packed all of our lunches & packs. Finally we all got to bed a little after midnight! I felt like it was Christmas Eve I was so excited. I woke up at 2 AM convinced it was time for me to turn on the coffee and get ready. Thankfully I checked the time before I was too far in this plan.

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Friday Dinner
Ben + Jack + Trig

Saturday:

To get a full account of The Hikers journey to hiking a 14-er check out the post here.

After our hike which totaled about 8 hours with stops, snacking, potty breaks, etc. - we headed back to the cabin. On the way back, I texted the Town Explorer crew and they were at High Paw Pet Supplies meeting Andre! I convinced The Hikers to go meet up with them. {This consisted of me begging to go and no one having the guts to oppose.... I have such sweet friends! haha} Andre is a large cat that was rescued by this pet store and has since gained QUITE the Instagram following. Check out @andre.giantcat to learn more about Andre. We all just had to go get a picture with him! See these priceless photos below.

Chelsea + Andre
Jack + Andre
Anna + Andre

When we arrived back at the cabin, some of the crew napped {in hindsight - I should have joined them but anyone who knows me, knows I am not a napper and I do NOT like naps haha. I am personally just such a grumpo when I wake up, I feel worse or groggy the rest of the day, & I just don't like to waste daylight or miss out on the fun times!} and some of the crew talked and became delirious, I must add.

 
Ben + Trig
 
 
Jack + Trig
 

Shortly after a quick mountain rain storm, The Fishermen crew arrived back at the cabin to tell us about their adventures! They caught 25+ fish, hiked part of a 14-er, saw a buffalo or was it a bison? anyhow they thoroughly enjoyed themselves! It was so cool to see our seasoned veteran fly fisher teach a new fly fisherman what he knew and see them bond over their common interest in fishing!

 
Fish
 

Saturday evening consisted of cooking over 6 lbs of fried chicken, frying up the 7 trout the boys brought home, making homemade cauliflower mac & cheese {I will share this recipe soon!}, & hearty salad! I love cooking meals together at the cabin. There is something so sweet about the whole process. Some people gravitate towards cooking {me, Jack, Cole}, while Christi & John are great choppers & preppers, and some of the boys are our clean up crew {Edward, Ben, & Justin}, and everyone else who helps set the table & take drink orders. It is just one of the most fulfilling earthly experiences topped off with eating family style. Our presentation isn't fancy & it isn't perfect but it sure is made with love & absolutely delicious.

 
Saturday Dinner
 

Sunday:

After we had breakfast, we spent some time in God's word as a group and just reflected on on the weekend in the basement. During this time, Cole spotted a moose walking across our property! It was majestic. We immediately all started running up the stairs trying to snap a photo and get a better view. Here is the only good image I have of this moose. You can see that his hind legs are TALLER than our friend's Jeep Cherokee! It was amazing but don't be fooled. Moose are very aggressive and dangerous so do not approach one in the wilderness!

 
Moose
 

When I come back from a weekend like this I come back rejuvenated, filled with encouragement & joy, and thankful for the body of Christ in community. Community has changed my life over and over. If you are not in community - my prayer is that you would seek out Godly community that will continue to challenge you to live as Christ calls you to. Community isn't perfect but it is essential to our sanity & growth. Isolation can overwhelm you and suck you in before you realize what is happening. If you have questions or would like to know more about biblical community - feel free to message me in the Contact section or leave a comment below!

Full heart -

Chelsea
 

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Mount Quandary

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Mount Quandary

This summer, I am excited to say Ben & I successfully hiked our first 14-er!! A true Coloradoan right of passage! We took our gospel community group up to the cabin for a retreat in July & 5 of us decided to take on Mount Quandary near Breckenridge, CO. 

Our crew consisted of Ben [my husband], Jack, Anna, Christi, & myself. We woke up on time [which is a big feat for this group, let me tell ya!], made coffee, ate breakfast, finished packing our packs, & were out the door only 5 minutes behind schedule! That is a win if you ask me. Our goal was to leave the cabin by 4:40 AM. We expected the drive to take us about 15-20 minutes. We had some slight GPS problems, aka we would rather follow Google Maps than take the signs that read "Mount Quandary Trailhead" at face value.

We made it to the trailhead at about 5:40 AM and began our trek. To give you some background on our experience level, Jack hiked Mount Quandary sometime in the last decade and told us that 1) If we were to get lost we had bigger fish to fry and 2) it was the "easiest" 14-er in Colorado [Anytime someone uses the words "easy" and 14-er in the same sentence is crazy!]. Anna hiked another 14-er like 4 years ago before she moved to Denver & also claimed it was pretty easy. Ben, Christi, & myself had NO previous 14-er experience. whatsoever. To sum it up - this is no group of professional hikers! 

The first quarter mile or so is quite steep. We got to a stopping point and I am like what? I thought this was "easy"!! I had noo idea what lay ahead of us. Our first 1.5 hours or so consisted of hiking in the treeline, taking layers on and off, taking pictures of the sunrise, laughing, talking, & eating snacks. 

Quandary - Sunrise
Quandary - Sunrise 2
Quandary - Group
Quandary - Girls
Quandary - Ben Morning
Quandary - Anna Morning
 
Quandary - Ben + Sun
 

We hit the top of the treeline and everything changed. We went from dirt & soft ground in the trees to all ROCKS. Loose rocks. Boulders. Everyone talked less & stopped more to catch our breathe. We eventually reached a certain point where the girls broke away from the boys and forged on. We were convinced we had some good momentum going and wanted to keep that up. Above the treeline there are several mountain goats that roam.  This provided some welcome distraction!

 
Quandary - Goats
 

So one thing to know about Mount Quandary is that there is mini peak that seems like it is the summit, but its not. My heart dropped when we realized that there was a whole other mountain to climb to reach the summit! See picture below. I was like "You want me to climb that? The snow capped mountain? You must have lost your mind!"

 
Quandary - Summit
 

This is where Anna and I decided that we were going to keep our own paces so that we wouldn't lose steam and give up. At some point on this last 2.5 miles, I started asking every single person coming down the mountain how much further I had. I had a variety of responses {One person would tell me I needed to stop focusing on how much further, its not that hard, & I should pick up the pace #rude and had one person encourage me and tell me exactly what the last part of the climb would be like and that I could do it!} but mostly encouraging responses. There were a few people on the climb that I would like to point out:

  • A kid, yes an 8-10 year old kid, passed me on the way up and then was coming down the mountain right as I was about to summit. Yeah - that will make you feel really good.
  • One guy was rogging (run-jogging) up the mountain..with no shoes on..yep that is right just barefooted.
  • There was a guy maybe in his mid 40s (the positive encourager I previously mentioned) who summit-ed in 2.5 hours - which is 30 minute miles! That is really hard to do. He seemed not even phased by the physical exertion!

Somehow, someway Anna, Ben, & I all made it to the summit of Mount Quandary! We were ecstatic. As we all trickled in, we could not stop talking about how hard it was & just completely in awe of the views & our accomplishment. It took me 4 hours to summit.

Quandary Summit - Chelsea
Quandary Summit - Anna
Quandary Summit - Ben
Quandary Summit - Anna + Chels
 
Quandary Summit - View
 
 
Ben + Chels at Summit
 
  • God's Plan to Cross Paths: We are at the summit when someone yells "Chelsea Garner!" Anyone who calls me by my maiden name, probably knew me from Texas or Georgia so I know its someone that I am not expecting at all! I yell "Who is that?!" and come to find out it is one of my community group girls from Watermark in Fort Worth, Texas!! There were four of us who were in community together for a year. During this time span we all got engaged & married. This was such a sweet, sweet season and I am forever grateful for these girls and how God orchestrated putting us altogether in a time where we really needed each other. I am still shocked that I saw Emily at the top of Mount Quandary!
 
 

On the way down you would think that it would be easier but it brings on a whole other set of difficulties. Your toes jam up against your shoes over and over again & your knees really start to hurt. Stay tuned for a future post about our 14-er tips! We wrote these down in our cabin log book and I think they are great tips to share! 

Quandary - View on the way down
Quandary - Clouds

There is something about being in nature and truly taking in God's beautiful creation that is almost indescribable. I never knew I would be one of those people that felt so close to God while surrounded with trees, blue skies, high elevation, & so many rocks! But there is just something about the wilderness that brings you to your knees and lets you know that you are so so small compared to God. That might sound scary but it is so comforting. I don't have to have it all figured out. But over the last few months of living in Colorado, I am seeing God's beauty all around me in a new light. This is not just in his creation of mountains, clear blue skies, clouds that cannot be real but also the beauty in community, friendship, and marriage. I am so thankful, so so thankful for this life.

Shout it from the mountains!

Chelsea
 

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IF:Emmaus Denver Reflection

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IF:Emmaus Denver Reflection

So the IF: Emmaus Denver retreat was amazing! To give you a little background, the IF:Gathering is a conference, retreat-like, gathering in Austin, Texas. Their dream and mission is to be a group of women around the state, country, and globe that gather wherever you are and refocus on what believing in a holy God can do in your life. You can apply to be a host of an event, so one of the sweet girls at our church took the initiative to plan this whole weekend! We streamed the messages from Austin and were able to be apart of something bigger than just our little group of 21. We tucked away into the mountains in Cordierra, Colorado in an amazing, beautiful, just perfect mountain house that a friend so graciously let our group use for the weekend!

 
View from the Balcony
 
 
Snow with Rock
 
 
Antler Chandelier
 
 
Basement Fireplace
 
 
Bunkroom in the Basement
 
 
Basement Living Room
 
 
Front of House Facing Mountains
 

Here are just a few of the tidbits of truth, encouragement, and reminders that were bestowed upon us by some of the IF: Gathering speakers!

  • He has chosen us to be exactly where we are in this season.
  • The Lord’s hold on us is stronger than our hold on Him, and he has no intention of letting go!
  • God does good and sacred things around a table.
  • “You are working for our good. Even in the valley, you are faithful.” – music
  • Don't wait until you have full possession of knowledge to take full possession of God.
  • God is higher than us. Amen!
  • Set us free for freedom’s sake.
  • Give your heart permission to trust Him.
  • It’s safe to be faithful to a faithful God.
  • Be strong and courageous.
  • Our God is a God of “I am”.
  • We are unhealthily attached to the sins of our past. Leave it at the cross! It is time to move on!
  • Be willing to be a servant and an aid. Serving prepares you for what God has already prepped you for. Service is the key to destiny.
  • The call of God is inconvenient. We will be interrupted.
  • The Holy Spirit is a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind.
  • We need to be a generation that knows, loves, and breathes the word of God.

I had two real reasons for wanting to go to this retreat this weekend: 1) Spend time in God's word and get some sweet, everyday life type of reminders of what it looks like to live a life centered around what Christ has done for us and who he calls us to be and 2) get to know the women at my new church home! 

1.     As for the first and most important reasons I was drawn to this retreat, we did not truly “dig” into God’s word this weekend through the actual IF:Gathering teachings and messages. This retreat is more geared towards empowering women, lighting a fire in women to live a life for the Lord, and really just providing some motivation for women because let's face it -- life is hard. Like really hard sometimes! I think at this stage in my walk with the Lord – I am really more interested in truly “digging” and “unpacking” God’s word and learning the historical context, the theological and academic side to the scriptures, and really studying the bible.  Now I realize that this sounds more like a bible study or school like setting but hey that is okay! It is such a relief to say what you are looking for and just be confident in that. I know that that isn’t where everyone is at and I so appreciate that but that is what I am most looking for. Also – we did get to spend some time in small groups this weekend just talking through some of the ideas or topics that the speakers brought up which was so refreshing and really challenging to think through! So overall – the IF:Gathering is like most Christian conferences in the fact that it is pretty “over produced” and there were some not so authentic “emotional” speeches made BUT the Lord did show up and He wove together so many women’s hearts, grasped hold of hearts and changed lives, and also provided some great real life application of His word through some amazing speakers. On a side note, our favorite speakers were by far: Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, and Bianca Olthoff. 

2.     As for the second reasons I wanted to go on this retreat, I definitely got to spend some quality time with a lot of the sweet, sweet women at our church home! Wow – I was just so blown away after moving to Denver just 6 weeks ago and how open and accepting everyone is here. As our pastor’s wife says, “she hasn't met her friend quota yet.” Haha I just love that saying! I mean A. I don't think I could ever meet my friend quota, but B. What a refreshing reminder that we all have room in our hearts for another friend! We spent time talking, cooking delicious meals together, playing spoons, sharing testimonies, staying up late, getting in the hot tub, going into town to explore, going snow-shoeing, drinking lots of coffee and tea, praying, and laughing! I am just so thankful to be able to move from Fort Worth to Denver and already have such a strong community around me and women that I can trust to hold me accountable, encourage me, and do life with me. And I can also do all these things for them. I just could not have imagined a better weekend! God works all things for His good and His glory and this weekend was definitely one of them! He put all the right people there at the right time and just let all these relationships grow. Amen to that girls! AMEN!

 
Breakfast Girls.jpg
 
 
Saturday Morning Session
 
 
Saturday Day Session
 
 
Saturday Evening Session
 
 
Saturday Night Worship
 
 
Playing Spoons
 
 
Lightner Girls Cooking
 
 
Baldock GC Girls
 
 
Group of Girls
 

Love in Christ -

Chelsea
 

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