I, too, believed the world was flat!

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Parapunting (but not N. Zealand, Austria this time)

So, I was on the precipice of death and insanity.  And it seemed that I no longer had a choice.

You see, I was dumb enough to say that, “YES!  I would go skydiving for Richard’s sister’s 18th birthday.”

What a moron.

First of all, I don’t like heights.

Second of all, I don’t like planes.

Thirdly, I don’t like the idea of being high in a plane and jumping out of it.

4th of all, I am pretty sure that my bladder was not going to hold up during this excursion.

At this point in my life, I had already been parapunting in New Zealand.  Now that was awesome!  I was 19 and we were on the South Island.  Parapunting is when you run forward (tandem) and then your parachute fills with air and it pulls you backward, and then you run forward again until you basically RUN off the mountain and soar like a lovely bird down, down, down to the bottom.

You see…parapunting is not too scary because One:  you’re on solid ground when you start.  And Two:  when you “run” off of the mountain, your little legs are like hamsters in their plastic wheels, still churning.  It’s not until your bum pulls you down in a seat-like motion that you realize you are no longer running on the ground but soaring in the air.

The entire process is peaceful.

Skydiving.

Well, that’s another cup of tea.  Before we get there, however, let me also tell you that I have been bungee jumping in Vegas.

So, follow me to Nevada for a moment.  Ever since I jumped off a mountain in New Zealand, I thought jumping off a platform with a bungee cord attached to me sounded like fun.

Therefore, Richard, his brother, George, and I decided to head on up to Vegas.  We were young and no kids.  No sweat off of our backs — and it was a relatively cheap day trip.

Problem was, I didn’t think through being 17 stories high with only a bungee cord attached to my feet.  And you were suppose to go to the ledge, and plunge yourself over!  Yeah.  Right.  Good luck getting me off of this ledge.

So I stood there.  And the bungee cord operators said, “Okay, let’s count to three.  One.  Two.  Three.”

And I stood there.

And they said, “Okay.  Let’s count to three again.  One.  Two.   Three.”

And I stood there.  I figured they were getting paid to work.  And I was WORK!

They were like, “Brooke (you have to sign your life away, so they know your name), you need to jump.”

And I said, “Okay.  Let’s count to three one more time.  One.  Two.  Three.”

And I still stood there.

You know.  I am a fool—but I’m no fool.  17 stories and putting all my trust in a stupid cord?!

Anyhow…by this time, I have drawn a bottom crowd and people are egging me on to jump.

My brain told me “No!” and “Yes!” at the same time.  Which one was it?  What should I do?  What should I do?

And this is how my internal discussion went:

“No!  Don’t be a fool.  Don’t jump!”

Made total sense.  I do like to live.

“Yes!  Jump!  Be adventurous!”

Made no sense…but it’s the battle that won.

And so, with one more count to three, I jumped.

And I became a yo-yo!

Up and down and up and down and up and down I went…my bladder didn’t lose control, but my legs did.  They became like rubber.  I heard overhead the same Bungee cord operators shouting, “We have a shaker, folks!”

And they were right.  My legs were like Jello Jigglers.  Wobbly.  And every time I plunged at far too fast of a speed toward the earth below, I thought—“What in the world did I do!”  And then I would catapult up again.   It was non-military torture brought about by myself.  Kind of like diets.

Let’s just say, Bungee Jumping is not my favorite sport.  Can we call it a sport?

Finally I slowed down, was lowered, and released from the evil but life saving cord and swore I would NEVER do that again (Oh, right.  Haha!  I went tandem later with my husband in Austria.  I don’t talk much about it, but it’s mentioned in my story, Naked Rollerbladers.  Woe. To. Me:  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-6Z).

A couple years after that thrilling, terrifying, life-defying event (in my opinion, life defying), I said yes to insanity once again.

And that is how I found myself attached to a peon of a little man.  Merely a boy.  With one foot on the wing of an old rickety plane, the other on the door, and between 7-10,000 feet high.

Waiting to die.

But before I was going to die, I decided to ask the small child that had my life in his hands, “Excuse me, how many jumps HAVE you done?”

And he said, in his squeaky, barely out of puberty voice, “500!”

So, I looked anew at my tiny tandem partner and thought, “Awesome.  That’s a lot.”

And then I looked at the man my husband was attached to and said, “How many do you have?”

And he said, something along the lines of “1 million!”  No, just kidding.  But it was in the VERY impressive thousands.

And I thought, “Unstrap me now, little boy, and attach me to my husband’s man!”

But no one would unstrap me—especially with an open airplane door, thousands of feet in the air.

And that is what brought me to the precipice of death and insanity.  And that is when I became a believer that the world WAS flat.  And soon I was going to be as flat as the world below.

I tried to reason with the “instructor” attached snugly to my backside, “Perhaps we don’t have to jump?”

He pretended with the wind in our faces he didn’t hear me.

What a load of crock.  And so I yelled louder.

But instead of listening, (KIDS, right?) he did something that I did NOT give the okay to…he plunged us right off of that wing and somersaulted us toward the earth.

This boy-child was no longer my favorite person.

And then it hit me…The flapping cheeks and the soar of the wind.

I truly DID feel like an eagle…twas super cool.

For a couple peaceful minutes I soared in the wind and observed the “flat” world around me.

But all of that plunging and soaring to the earth DOES have to come to an end…you know, if you want to land safely, and the ripcord was pulled.

Eventually we finished our trip down to the ground, with the parachute and the tiny man doing a good job maneuvering us to safety.

Perhaps I should have tipped him for keeping us alive?  Oops.

Anyhow…That day I realized something.

I don’t like small planes.

I don’t like parachutes.

I don’t like being 7-10,000 feet in the air with an open door.

But I did like “flying”.

Not so much that I would EVER do it again, though.

NEVER AGAIN.

You know.  The world was flat enough to me once. And now I’m glad to be safely upon it.  Two solid feet on the ground.

But my husband swears, “When Adelyne turns 18, I just KNOW you’re going to go and skydive with her!  I just know it.”

Does he now?

I really, really, really hope he’s not right!

But he probably is.

Sigh.  When will my insanity ever come to an end?

Meeting Your Spouse in the Middle…of Adventure!

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(c. photo R. Nungesser, Dolomites, Italy)

When I thought about dating my husband, I kept two very important things in mind.  And these two things were no small matters:

1.  Richard was available to go anywhere in the world to serve God…ANYWHERE.

2.  Richard was very, very adventurous!

My father always told me that part of a good marriage was having fun and going on adventures.

So I had to think.  Hard.

How much adventure did I really want in my life?

How far did I really want to go to live—even if it was for God?

For some of you, these questions are no brainers.

You may say, “Anything for love!”

Or “Off, off, and away!”

Or “Never in a million years!  My way or the highway!”

Well, I had a very content life.  I was extremely into service in my community.  And I loved my job.  And my family all lived within 20 minutes of each other.

My life was rather comfortable.  Grand.  Lovely.

And here I was considering dating a man that would take this glorious life and FLIP it literally upside down.

But then I thought about it…Would I rather a comfortable life without Rich or an unexpected life with Rich?

And, well, you know how the story goes…

I went with the unexpected.  I married Rich.

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(c. photo Bill Holmes at wedding of Rich/Brooke)

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I am full of adventure too.

I have been jumping off mountains LONG before I ever met my husband (para punting).

I am the one that dragged my husband bungee jumping.

I have been parasailing and snorkeling since I was in my teenage years.  And riding dirt bikes since the age of 5.  And camping-I’m a pro.

I’ve even been on helicopter ride (front seat) in New Zealand.  We landed and walked around on a glacier.  Yeah, baby!

You see, it’s not that I am a complete bore.

BUT—I do enjoy coffee, fires, books, movies.  I enjoy cuddling up at home.  I love to write.  And I love to eat!  Good food and lots of conversation.  Those are my leisure pursuits!

Then you have my husband:  white water guide down the Arkansas River in Colorado for 3 years and thousands of miles; sky diving; snowboard instructor; rock climbing guide; mountaineering man; pilot of a small plane.

Yep.  It’s obvious to see that he has out-adventured me.

And, yes, he’s taken me rock climbing (My least favorite adventure—let me tell you about the 90-foot-rappel.  NOT MY FAVORITE).

He’s taken me flying (and he wanted me to grab the gears while he TIED his shoes.  CRAZY MAN).

He’s taken me down the river—and he didn’t even dump us!  Impressive.  Because we watched three boats dump after we made it through the rapids and ended up helping rescue many floaters after that.

And he has taught me how to snowboard (I was a skier).  Ummm…I am not sure that my bum ever appreciated those lessons.  OUCH!

So, it’s not even that I am really a dud.  I have gone on some of his adventures with him…

In fact, 5-months pregnant, we went swimming with Manta Rays and snorkeling where I was STUNG by a jelly fish (yes, it HURTS…bad!).

But it comes down to this.

He can LIVE off of adventure.

I can only live to experience adventure.

And when we moved to Poland—a very flat part of Poland—I actually felt something for my husband.  Empathy.

Here he was in the peak of his health and physical fitness.  Here he was still young enough to experience physical adventures and we were in the land of flat.  Yes, many lakes, but very little places for high-risk adventure.

And, like I said, I was all chill with that.  But he-he was a bit sad.

That’s when I decided that I needed to step it up in the wife department and create adventure for my husband—Meet Him in the Middle.

While adventure was not near, I had to help create adventure from afar.

Here are some ways that I was able to help my husband achieve continued adventure:

He went to work in Uganda for 6 weeks (he had previously worked in Kenya for 3 months before we were married).  Before his work began, he was able to meet up with his brother and a friend in Tanzania and they all climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  In April.  In the middle of a massive snowstorm.  And, of course, my husband was in heaven.

In Poland, I got him Scuba Diving Lessons/Certificate for Father’s Day one year.  He can now go for his Level II.  (I’ll have to make that happen one day, eh?)

He was able to go to the Dolomites in Italy with a friend, Artur, and climb all of the routes that required helmets and ropes.  Again, heaven.

And, one of my proudest, Mt. Elbrus on the Russia/Georgia border.  Unfortunately I sent him there during the Russia/Georgia conflict.  Let’s just say that it was a good thing there was a snow-covered mountain between them and the conflict.  (In fact, I think that he’s going to write about this adventure in his next blog posting for us)  But they made it successfully.  Phew!

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(Richard on Mt. Elbrus, Russia)

What did I do while he went on his adventures?

Well, I worked.  I took care of Adelyne.  I “stoked” the coal and took care of all of the home-front fires.  But that’s all okay.   Because I was very glad to do it.

And I am still glad to do it.

One of my greatest joys in life is not only to see people come to know how awesome Jesus is—but it’s to take care of my family.

If that means sending them off to the wiles of the jungle-then so be it.  As long as they are happy to go AND remember to come home safely.

I know one day Adelyne and Maxwell and Belly Josephine will also want to go on adventures.

And I’ll have to take a look at their dad and say, “It’s your time.  Go forth and shine!”

And it’ll be a time for new adventure in his life-Teaching his children how to go and experience the world.

I’ll sit at home, with my coffee and a big dose of prayer on my lips.  But I know that it will be worth it.   Because seeing joy in the eyes of my family is enough of an adventure for me!

And that is how I meet my spouse in the middle.  How about you?