Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Mothers Father

My friend, Sue, just experienced a scary time navigating a health crisis with her 11 year old son, Noah.  This post is just for her because I know she will fully understand…

When my oldest daughter was thirteen, and right at the start of her eighth-grade year, she contracted a very serious case of viral meningitis. After almost a week in the hospital and over a month of recovery, she finally began to regain her health and act like a normal teenager. During this tentative time of ill health and recovery, I wished numerous times that I could be the one sick, that I could be the one struggling, that I could spare her suffering and take her pain upon myself. In fact, I feel this same way whenever any of my children, whom I love with my whole heart, are sick. I hate seeing them suffering so much that it would be easier for me just to carry the burden for them. But, alas, I cannot.

Whenever I experience this longing to “release my children” from oppression or sickness, I think of my God as the Father that He is. And I more fully understand His willingness to take our sin upon Himself. I more fully grasp his deep need to protect His children, whom He loves with His whole heart. And I can identify with His complete willingness to substitute Himself in our place.

Our Father loves and adores us—just as we love and adore the children He allows us to raise. He truly hates to see us suffer. He chose to put Himself in our place and take our sin as His own, because, alas, He could.

Should we not then trust Him? The One who died in our place? Like our children trust us, the ones who would gladly trade suffering with them?

The answer is “Yes!” And “Of course! And “How could we do otherwise?”

But the reality is that we forget the depth of His love for us, the expanse of His commitment to us, and the enormity of His sacrifice because of us. We forget He is our Father.

As mothers, we need to remember our Father. We need to attribute our feelings towards our kids as an overflow of his feelings for us. We then need to trust Him with ourselves and with our families, instead of letting fear rule our minds and our hearts.

We need to choose to rest in His provision and His promises…and not in ourselves or our feelings. For then we will dwell in His peace. And then, in our dependence, we will bring Him glory.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1

Friday, January 18, 2013

Packing Providence

All I can say is, God must have wanted us to live.

Haverkamp family vacations are never traditional, never tame, but this one takes the cake for good old-fashioned, trauma-inducing adventure.

Here’s the scoop: It all started last summer. After realizing that our annual summer backpacking trip was not going to happen because of conflicting family member schedules, we decided that we would take a trip over Christmas, when everyone would be home. We’ll go south, we said excitedly, where it’s warm in the winter. This time we will hike in a desert! As we said this, we envisioned warm days of sunshine and mildly chilly, but refreshing nights. We even packed sunscreen in our meager backpacking equipment; and we take nothing extra…ounces add up to pounds…and pounds add up to misery. We thought the sunscreen necessary. Ha.

On the day before Christmas, we hopped in our car and made our way to Lee’s Summit, MO, where we met “Ira” at the RV rental place. Ira looked something like this:

Except he was wearing a seed corn hat and looked angrier. And he left in the middle of our "orientation" and drove to the nearest convenience store and bought a flashlight (which he threw in our box of RV essentials).

After we escaped from Ira, we drove our older, rented, slightly dirty 30 foot RV from Missouri to Kansas to Oklahoma to Texas to New Mexico to Arizona and stayed in stylin' RV parks along the way.  We stopped at cool sites--like the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest--and ate at local diners en-route. When we got to Arizona, we stayed at a KOA park that had little cabins. Brent and I decided to stay in one of the them and let the savages kids spread out in the RV.  What we didn't know was that the cabins were unheated save for a space heater the size of a Kleenex box. Oh, and did I tell you it was cold in Arizona?  So we snuggled into our separate down-filled sleeping bags and slept until we got a call from Cole that Tess was puking in the tiny RV bathroom. (Luckily, the illness passed quickly and most of us were immune--having had it before we left on our trip.)  In the morning, to help Tess recover, we put her in the very back of the RV in a queen size bed (that also functioned as a bouncy house attraction while we were on the road) and let her watch an action packed movie while we traveled on a bumpy highway.  It seemed to do the trick as she didn't throw up again. Still in Arizona, we drove farther south to Mesa and stayed in Lost Dutchman State Park.  At Lost Dutchman, four family members did a hand-over-foot, grappling-with-fingertips day hike to the top of Flat Iron Butte. I, of course, didn't go, as I stayed back with the sickie, but they told me it was very safe and quite benign. We chose to stay three nights at the park so that everyone was fully functional for our three-day backpacking tour (kind of like the three-hour tour that made Gilligan's Island famous...) in the nearby Superstition Mountains.

And we're off!  To reach the trail head where we would start our hike, we needed to drive about 25 miles down a mountain on what had been called an “all-weather US Highway” (which we soon learned was code for treacherous mountain dirt jeep trail). Hairpin turns and no guard rails made for a very slow and very tense trip. Take a look at this video:  (and to clarify, I was neither sleeping nor crying.  I was hyperventilating.  You think I kid.)

Only by God's grace, we finally arrived at the gravel path that led up to the trail head, and after going a short distance, decided not to take the RV in any further.  Parking it off the road a ways, and praying that it wouldn't get towed away or ransacked, we piled out and started spiraling our way on foot up the mountain; ever see the movies where there is a castle hidden in the clouds, and a little tiny road encircles the mountain on which it sits, all the way to the top? Yeah. It was like that.  

Day one started off well.  Spirits were high and the temperatures were balmy enough for shirt sleeves.  Packs were not especially heavy since we didn't bring anything extra--like warm clothes.  Here is a picture of the kids near the trail head:

The day got progressively cooler as we climbed up and up and up, and we put on jackets and hats and gloves.  We ended our hike by staying at an old abandoned ranch (Reavis Ranch) that had remnants of corrals, a house foundation, and some farm-type equipment.  Luke even found an abandoned lawn chair in the bushes (which he let me sit in when I was nearing hypothermia).  As we were setting up our three tiny tents, we noticed the wind picking up, so we quickly got some brush together and started a fire before it got dark.  Also, as we ate our Ramen noodles for supper, I said, "hmmm. I think it might be snowing."  And guess what, it was.  We went to bed early, trying to stay warm in our sleeping bags, (and believe me, the bathroom break  I took at 4 am was exhilarating) and woke up to six inches of the white stuff in the morning.

Realizing our quandary at daybreak, and still unwilling to get out of our sleeping bags, Brent finally emerged to boil some water to make some oatmeal.  He delivered this meal to each tent with the instructions to stay in sleeping bags inside tents until further notice. After doing just that, we finally decided to send two scouts out to see if the trail was hike-able under all the snow.  Tess and I discovered that the snow actually highlighted the trail since it lay in a nice white line where the grass was missing.  We then returned to camp and told everyone to put on all of their clothes, pack up their tent and get ready to go.  

And go we did.  Hiking in the mountains in the desert in just downright wrong when you are trudging through a half-foot of snow...which is why we had to stop and rub down Shay's nearly frozen feet and replace her socks on this morning.  It is also wrong to see millions of cacti weighed down by ice. Speaking of ice, we, with our packs on our backs, had to navigate more than a few frozen rivers and slippery rocks on our journey that morning. Luke even slipped on a rock and got his foot wet, but somehow managed to keep his toes--losing none to hypothermia.  Brent kept trying to encourage the family saying, "when we get to the desert floor, it will be 70 degrees and sunny."  This is a picture of the children on the snowy morning ( I know I posted this earlier, but it is a classic):

As we trudged on, chasing the unseen and elusive warm sunshine, stomping our feet and clapping our hands to fight the cold, Luke said, "Why do we always hate our hiking trips?", and no one knew why, but we all laughed because we could do nothing else.  We stopped for lunch on a bunch of wet rocks and tried to rip open tuna packets with frozen fingers and Brent made Tess put on his coat because she had the glassy look in her eyes that said she was a little too chilly.  Needing to move to stay warm, we continued on, but felt uneasy about the amount of time it was taking us to reach our next turn.  Just as Brent was saying that he thought we had missed a trail sign, and just as I was praying for Divine intervention (I did that a lot on this trip), we met a very robust looking hiker with a .38 strapped to his hip and a shivering dog who told us that we were about a mile past our turn.  He told us that he would walk us back to the correct spot, since he was going that way, and we gladly accepted his assistance, seeing he had a gun and all.  We called him the angel with the .38 after that.  

The afternoon found us descending into the canyon along narrow paths and sheer cliffs--and occasionally seeing our friend, Mr. Sunshine, but never encountering anything near 70 degrees.  We stopped in the late afternoon, finally getting out of the snow, and stayed in Angel Basin (a coincidence?  I think not).  It was still light, which gave us a chance to explore the nearby Salado Indian Dwellings, which are 600 year old cave dwellings, and make a roaring fire and eat a supper of chili and corn chips.  While warming herself by the fire that night, Tess melted one of her shoe inserts because she got too close.

Thinking that we were now in the basin, not on the mountain, we hoped for a warmer night.  But it was not to be, and the temps fell into the low 20's as we slept existed.  The girls, who had older, not-as-warm sleeping bags, snuggled together, and tried to withstand the chill.  Both Brent and Shay got up several times during the night to boil water to put in a Nalgene. We then put socks on these and put them in the girls' sleeping bags to create some heat.  One of these times, some water spilled on Shay's sleeping bag, forcing her to sleep down deep in her bag, crunched up, to avoid freezing to the fabric. (Really, I am not a bad mom. I tried--to no avail--to offer my warmer sleeping bag to either of them several times throughout the night). Cole, however, took Brent's advice to "keep the furnace burning" by eating multiple times during during the wee hours of the morning, and consuming two Snicker's bars before 9 a.m.

Needing to stay warm, we rose with the sun (a very welcome sight) and got on our way quickly.  Quick is easy when you are wearing all of your clothes and you never take them off.  We knew we had a big day ahead of us, as we had to cover at least 12 miles to make it back to civilization and our RV.  Our angel had told us that hiking out of the canyon was "a beast" and that it was filled with prickly pear cacti.  Much of the path was also covered with thick thorn-covered trees which whacked the person following, in the face.  In fact, most things, we learned, were covered with needles and thorns--just another perk of hiking in the desert. We had several battle wounds when we were done.  Following a morning of breathless, uphill climbing, we ate lunch and picked up our pace, knowing that we needed to reach our destination before dark so we could drive the aforementioned "all-weather US Highway" without falling off the mountain...again.  

Well, we did it.  And we made it.  And we are alive and well today.  We even went to a warm motel that night with hot showers and soft beds and we polished off three extra large pizzas in no time flat.  Our bodies had worked so hard to stay warm on our hike that we were all hungry hungry Haverkamps (cute, huh?).

And now, having survived our Siberian-like adventure, we keep talking about it, and laughing, like it was no big deal, knowing that we were tough because we had to be, but feeling like we are blessed, because we were in it together.  And, now that we are warm, we think it was a really great trip.

And an even better story.

Bet you wish you were there.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;

    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

    I will be with him in trouble,

    I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
    and show him my salvation."

Psalm 91:14-16

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I know it’s been like a million years since I posted some original thoughts on here, but the minute we came back from our RV adventure, I went to work.  at my new job.  at the church.  and I haven’t worked outside my home, in a real job, in like 16 years or so.  And I still haven’t gotten caught up on my normal life since I was gone two weeks visiting the frozen desert.  So, anyway, it’s been an adjustment, and sorry to say, the blog has not received priority. probably because I am writing a lot at work.  and for another blog.  and probably because I still have all four children home (yes, the college chillins’ are still here because their winter break is 5 weeks long!!!) and four big children eat lots of food. which means lots of trips to Sam’s Club and Fareway and such.  But, I really like to write.  And I especially like writing on this blog.  So, I promise I will sit down tonight and write a long and happy story about our Christmas trip, Ok?  OK.  Prepare to be amazed and alarmed and entertained all at the same time.  and to pique your interest, I will leave you with a really flattering picture of me trying to stay warm while my son made a fire so I wouldn’t die of hypothermia.  I was on death’s doorstep here.  But also, I think I look like a nun.  What do you think?            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    RVenture 327

Friday, January 11, 2013


Thought y'all might like to share in our awesome RVenture! Check out the photo book Tess made...

                                                        Click here to view this photo book 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I’m Back!

Happy New Year!

Sorry if you thought I ditched you.  I didn’t.  But I have been slightly inaccessible since I spent the last two weeks traveling the US in an RV with my family.  During three of those days, we did some backpacking in sunny Arizona!  Except the sun was missing.  And the warm.  Check out the pics.

RVenture 338

Our puny tents after we shook 6 inches of snow off of them…

RVenture 342

Shay’s expression really captures how we were all feeling about the snow and cold.

RVenture 357

This is me trying not to cry about hypothermia.


We actually survived and have lots of stories to tell. So, I guess you’ll have to wait for those.

Excuse me now as I sit by my fireplace and thaw.


More on our RVenture coming soon!