Coming down the Mountain.

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born." C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

I've been meaning to write up a blog post for some time now, but with my schedule at the ranch (and super limited Wifi,) I just haven't been able to. Folks, it's been 5 long months, and I'm finally home! Its the weirdest feeling. Waking up to a neighborhood in the small-town Midwest. The leaves are ablaze of color, red, yellow, orange. The street is quiet this Wednesday afternoon, and my dog has gotten over her frantic excitement and sunbathes in my sisters room. My bags (with all of my life's possessions in them, no exaggeration there!) were lost somewhere between the gate changing. . .and then changing again. . .in Denver, and won't arrive until tomorrow. . .so I'm wearing a new tee shirt from my mom. She always leaves little presents on my bed when I get home from a long adventure. It says, "I care about pasta and like 3 people." Literally perfect, especially since I have no clothes right now. Found a pair of old (but comfy,) pj pants in my closet. . .and that is my outfit. Good thing I don't have anywhere to go in the next couple of days. ;)

This summer has changed me more than any other experience of my life. It was more than months of 12 hour days, 6.5 days a week. It was more than childcare and work in the dining hall. (I split my jobs-half the summer in Kid's Club, caring for children 0-7 years old, then Head Server the second half.)

It was some of my worst moments. 
Gut-wrenching lessons and emotion. 
It was some of my happiest.
Pure, floating-on-air joy.

The Mountain-Top Experience.

One of the promises I've made myself is this: just because it's all over, doesn't mean I can't take the spirit of the ranch with me, wherever I go. Wind River is shut down for the season and the land is a canvas of browns, golds, yellows, and deep, deep green. The barn sits like a lonely monument against the mountain-strung sky. Horses graze freely on the property, constricted only by a few gates. The maintenance shop is quiet. No smoke wafts from the kitchen chimney. The bell that has worked all summer to announce guests, does not ring. The sound of children is a ghost of months past. Only Wink the barn cat (or "girls-side" cat, since he decided at the beginning of the season  that he much preferred the cozy furniture on our porch to the barn loft,) seems unaffected. Over time he grew handsome and chubby, the cutest white-and-amber feline I've had the pleasure of knowing. I made special friends with several of the animals. Whenever I needed to "introvert"  (believe it or not, even extroverted people need their space sometimes,) I would spend time with my furry friends; the horses in the corral, Wink, Moonshredder the miniature pony. Or I'd go up to the upper meadow and sit under my aspen tree. Yes, it was mine. From there I could see all the mountain ranges. Longs Peak, Mount Meeker, the Mummy Range. It was the perfect, secluded sanctuary for talking with God. You might remember me mentioning it last year. . .again it served me, and there I met Jesus in new ways. When I visited home for a week last month, all I thought  about was my prayer spot. If you don't have one, do it today. No matter where you live or what your circumstances are. A quiet place to talk with your Friend is one of the most valuable things for your relationship.

I learned so much about prayer this summer. I learned that it works. Weird, because for years it seemed like He only answered the prayers of others. Now, I see how wrong I was. He didn't answer all of them. In fact, He said "no" a lot. But for one of the first times in my life, I decided to follow Him anyway. Not even disappointment can take that from me. So in essence, my mission for returning to the mountains worked. I wanted to meet God again. And I did.

Have you ever driven at sunset on the highest road in the Western Hemisphere? If you haven't, I strongly suggest it. But only if worship music is playing and you are traveling with awesome, true friends. At the end of the journey, always find an old-west town (where there was an actual gunfight back in the 1800's,) and a restaurant where its perfectly permissible to throw peanut shells all over the floor.

On that note, when living in the Rockies, remember to always. . .

 Mountain Go on spontaneous rides down the mountain at night. Listening to country music. Only take one other person with you, and sing at the top of your lungs. This also works in the back of a pickup, going 75 miles per hour.

Mountain Stop on the roadside for photo-shoots at golden hour. With beautiful women. Laugh because your wearing heels on rocky terrain.

Mountain Stay up until 2:00 AM on work night to debrief, preferably on a cabin porch under a sky strung with stars. Maybe its not the same for everyone, but talking is one of my love languages. I treasure my late-night conversations with Charity more than I can say.

 Mountain Branch out. I firmly believe that comfort zones should be abolished. One of our volunteers challenged me to go out and find my destiny, even if that meant doing things that scare me or make me uncomfortable. It's all part of becoming fierce, well-rounded, independent women of God.

MountainAppreciate the sky. Ok, that probably sounds weird, but the Colorado sky is forever changing. Especially the view of Longs and Meeker from the ranch. Sometimes it would be covered in clouds, so you could barely see it. Other times, on misty evenings, fog would roll in, concealing everything in sight. Then there were the sunsets. Sitting half-way up the mudslide that almost destroyed the property a few years ago, breath snatched by a sky blazing in orange, pale pink clouds, and streaks of purple-blue. At night, so many stars. Appreciated best from the hot tub, naturally.

Mountain Never underestimate friendship. Sometimes I think I grow too attached to people, but recently someone told me I love in a very full way.. .and never to lose that. I don't intend too. Every day I'd look around at my fellow staff members. They were family. But more so, because we each struggled with something and were honest, vulnerable. Working 24/7 with the same people for half a year will connect you in the deepest way possible.

Mountain Hike whenever possible, because the Rocky Mountain National Park is gorgeous, and because each waterfall in more breathtaking than the last. Also trail rides. There is nothing quite like switchback trails and horses. We went up to Casem Lake, partway up Longs, and even though my body felt like one big bruise afterward, (like me, my horse had short legs and literally had to jump over rocks on the way down,) it was one of best things I've ever done. Close tie to sitting on top of a waterfall overlooking Loch Vale and into a deep valley. We were above the tree line, the wind was fierce, and we ate granola bars. I felt like someone out of the Lord of the Rings.

Mountain Let the power of nature soak into your soul. It seriously draws you closer to Christ, because how can't you feel, no-SEE-Him in towering peaks and deep, deep caverns?

Mountain Put it on your bucket list to see bears and moose and more elk than you can count. Also use the restroom on a mountain top with no roof.

Mountain Take a lot of walks. Sit in the loft with your best girls and talk about the growth you've seen in them. Write notes and leave them with a Hershey Kiss on their beds. Expect to jump in on random projects and jobs you have no experience with. Break your heart. Let it heal. Give everything. Be taught and teach. Read whenever you can. Enjoy rest, because it can't be taken for granted. Take time to learn people's stories. Mostly, talk a lot. Ask questions. There is a huge world out there, and networking and making connections isn't as hard as it seems. Also phone calls. Communication is key for everything. Don't lose those relationships, no matter where life leads you.

Mountain Bring it home with you. I live in the city. Fireside and Wrangler Breakfast are a thing of summer. But they live, in memory. More so in how I want to "do" my life. Every day can be a mountain top experience. This is the real world, but its beautiful because of what I've seen. I can make it live by working a little harder. Breathing a little deeper. Making every moment count. Life is only stressful if you allow it to be.

Mountain Worship. I can't say enough how important it is. Especially with other believers. Raise your arms, let Him embrace you with His presence. Jesus is huge. He is everywhere. Bonfires help a lot. Also women with rough pasts. City of Refuge, one of our conferences for human trafficking, was tear jerking and totally inspiring. I learned so much from those ladies. Their innocent, unapologetic love and joy for their Savior. . .man, I could tear up just thinking about it. "I'm no longer a slave to fear. . .I am a child of God!" 

I'm home now, prepared and ready for the next adventure. There are still a few things to iron out, but at this point it looks like this lady is moving to Kentucky in a couple of months! I didn't have the Creation Museum in mind when I was on the job hunt, but the door was opened and kept getting wider. After living away from home for the last several months, I'm really looking forward to adulting even more and finding the community I loved so much at Wind River. Don't let fear stop you. God gave you passions and resources for a reason. Take advantage of them, and take control of your destiny. I don't know about you, but I'm taking the Mountain Top Experience back down the mountain.

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." Edward Abbey


wondering wanderer | OOTD

Hi, I'm Michaela. 
And this is my new "about me" plus an OOTD post combined.
(specs) palazzo pants, Khols. top, unknown. earrings, Clothes Mentor.

These are my scribbles. This is my voice. A glimpse into the jumble that is my brain. Scattered, attempting to be witty, rambling and hopefully not too boring. I'm a writer. I'm a wanderer in this big, beautiful world. I like snuggly sweaters, candles, chunky mugs, quirky pottery, the color pink, and generally all things girly. I'm a book worm. Quote collector. Fan-girl. Movie addict. A package full of drama

First and foremost, I am the daughter of the Most High King. He is my fire. 

I want to discover. . .everything. Because each breath is a new adventure. And little things are the happiest. Like the smell of rain. Lilacs in spring. Coffee for breakfast. Actually, always coffee. Superheros are real. Chocolate is the food of kings

I'm Italian, and proud of it. I'm also quite short. . .only 4'9". If you do personality types, I'm an ENFP. My aim in life? To serve Jesus in any way I can. Ministry is my calling. Playing the piano, my addiction. I love life and I try living to the fullest.

I'm single. Gluten free. A dreamer, a bully-basset mom, an ex-nanny, currently a waitress, planning on cosmology school. Rambling is my favorite language. Music, my motivation

My heart I wear on my sleeve. I love fully. I grieve deeply. I want to taste everything in this world. Someday, hopefully soon, I'll go to Europe. I'll live by the sea and traverse the mountains. The Rockies have stolen my heart.

Be my friend. Let me trust you, and I'll never walk away
Even though I'm gullible and talk too much.
Words, passion, and people, especially people. It's what makes the world go round.

Welcome to my blog. Try not to get lost. I hope something in this mess of wordage leaves you inspired, uplifts your senses, and draws you closer to Christ. Live loud.

"Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure." Unkown


Art. Create. God.

This is a more serious, chatty type of post. Lately I've been trying to steer away from sounding mundane or moody. :P I envy the consistently bright, happy, clear, "perfect" lives of the bloggers and vloggers I follow. Oh how deceptive the internet is! ;) In the last day or so I've become so convicted about the time I spend online, what I'm consuming with my eyes and ears, and how it reflects on my life. And so, I thought you and I should have a little talk.

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher

I'm writing this post because I think a lot of us--girls and guys--need a wake up call when it comes to social and consumer media. Yikes, when I started typing (because I rarely stop and think before I start writing. . .its like I have these thoughts that want to come out, and they pretty much do what they want once my fingers hit the keyboard,) I really didn't know what the topic was. I think most of it has to do with a quote I read on Facebook (speaking of social media,) the other day: "You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind."  Author Unknown 

I love me my media. I love Youtube and Facebook, and I'm a HUGE movie buff. Not ashamed of it either. I mean. . .not really. :P I just love movies. . .I've always been that way. I remember when I was a kid, maybe 8-9, back in the late 90's or early 2000's, crying my eyes out because I wasn't allowed to watch Sarah Plain and Tall. A better punishment, honestly, than a spanking. It meant so much--maybe too much--to me. Whenever our clunky dino of a television wasn't working (remember antennas and VHS tapes that crackled and got blurry? Wow I'm old.) I would have a minor freak-out session, adjusting all the bits and bobs just so I could settle in for a good movie night. Movies relax me. They stimulate me. They take my mind elsewhere when I just can't cope. Honestly I think as a writer, my artistic side gobbles up a good story and I live there. It's a creative place deep inside me that loves all the people and stories and possibilities in the world. Books are a treasure trove of imagination, but movies. . .movies are the same thing but alive because you can see, hear, and almost touch the adventure. Am I sounding crazy yet? I live for the creative arts. Music, movies, writing, color, song, dance. . .its part of what makes us so unique and special as people. Think of all the talent in the world. There is nothing that God--the Master Designer--hasn't given us the ability to do creatively. People are incredible. And some are just so crazy-talented. Maybe someday, when I actually publish a book (because I'm going to become a best selling author, in case you didn't know, ;) ) I might join their ranks. For now I'll content myself with enjoying all the movies, book, music. . .and adult coloring books. . . I can get my hands on. 

Now the crux of this little pep-talk. Where does God fall into all of this? Its a question I've been asking myself a lot lately. How easy is it to turn on a movie at night, or cuddle up with an awesome book, (currently obsessing over Lynn Austin's novels right now,) instead of opening the Bible or focusing on my passion for ministry? It's cool to think of how the two can be combined. Film making, for example. The Independent Christian film industry is a huge movement. Its fun, its productive, and its inspiring. But like anything that reflects human talent, its easy to take the focus off of God, and focus instead on ourselves. Its human nature. When we accomplish something, people applaud. They turn us into celebrities and subscribe to us on Youtube. They want to dress like us, talk like us, use the same makeup products, wear the same clothes. I've done it. Have you? People are always looking for a god, whether they realize it or not. It's been happening since the Garden. We see pretty things--Eve vs. the serpent--we take the bait--the forbidden fruit--and we fall. Sometimes the progression is so slow, we don't even notice until we've gone so far, the person we once were, the standards we once hard, the principles we stood so firm on, are lost in the enticing, colorful, exciting fabric of the world. 

Its a trap. Its real. And it's happening to you and me. The devil comes in all forms, all beautiful. A wolf in sheep's clothing. An angel of light. So subtle, our innocent indulgence grows and grows until it is an all-consuming pattern of vanity, self affirmation, and idolatry. 

Because lets be real. When I'm sitting around watching vlogs on fashion or makeup, am I thinking about my relationship with Christ? Am I using my talents or interests to reach out to others, to glorify my King? Am I remembering my true calling, to be a light and testimony to the world? To radically grow the Kingdom, to impact in His name? When I'd rather turn on on a movie than read my Bible. . .where does my focus lie? Certainly not on what I know is really my passion. Ministry. Missions. Giving. Hope. Charity. Jesus in all I say, do, breath, and think. When I'm filling my mind with nothing but clothes, books, movies, and music, I'm thinking about number one. Michaela. Usually, I'm too consumed with myself to care. Then some days I read convicting quotes or hear something that reminds me--I am a creature in Christ. And I have a much bigger purpose.

Can the arts be used to glorify God? Absolutely. I fully believe that all the intricate, creative mastery of humanity was made for a purpose. Its a wild, alluring, dangerous tool. Its what caused Satan himself to fall. Don't forget, he was a musician. Whoa, makes you stop and think, doesn't it? 

In the world but not of it. What does that mean? That as Christians, we should dress ourselves in baggy, shapeless clothes and live in cloistered communities with no sunlight? Absolutely not. That's the beauty of freedom in Christ--something I've personally learned so much about in the last several years. God created beauty. In people, in nature, in the way men and women fall in love. His artistry is apparent in every golden sunrise, the sky in all its purple-pink splendor before setting at night. Art is in the very core of who we are as human beings. Our bodies move so we can dance. Our hearts beat fast at the sound of stirring music. Our voices fill church halls and football stadiums. Our fingers and minds work together to write novels, Our hands craft delicate pottery and wield brushes to paint seascapes on a wall. Our imaginations take ideas and turn them into songs, sounds, sights. We are unlimited in our ability to make beauty. Its a concept that absolutely fascinates me. And yet, How often do we see a star-strung sky and praise our Maker? When we wake each morning, is His name on our lips? The energy surging through our veins, the minds that allow us to exude talents, the choices we have each day to do right or wrong. They all come from an all seeing, all powerful, limitless God.

  • Impact. Today, find a way to reach out towards others. It may be a co-worker. It may be a tired mom in the checkout line at the grocery store. It may be your mail man, delivering cards from out-of-state-relatives. It may be the clerk at the local coffee shop. The light of He who shines through you can touch someone, even in the littlest way. Prioritize your time. 

  • Praise. There are so many ways to worship. It may be through song. It may be prayer in a favorite, tucked-away nook. It may be sitting under an Aspen tree in the Rocky Mountains. It may be silence, letting the Spirit speak to your heart. There is nothing more rejuvenating, more inspiring than alone time with Jesus. 

  • Glorify. Who made these hands? God. Who allows this brain to think? God. Take your gifts and give them back. The credit for all our earthly accomplishments belongs to Him. Its one thing to post a selfie and caption it, "I look this way because this is how God made me." Maybe that's extreme, but I've seen similar examples. Its a totally different ballgame when we throw ourselves into His work because we want Jesus to get the glory. Saying and doing are too opposite things. 

  • Create. He's given us all something special that defines us and makes us unique individuals. Remember, you have a voice. You may be the shyest young woman, the least noticed young man. Still, there is always something you can do for the Kingdom. Maybe its mentoring a younger person, or writing a note of encouragement to someone in need. Instead of laying around watching movies (trust me, I'm talking to myself!) how can we use our interests to reach others? 

Remember, whatever we put before our eyes and into our minds reflects on who we are. We may not notice it at first, but once the focus drifts off of our goal--Christ and the Cross--it begins to effect everything we do and say. I'm in no way saying that music, movies, books, or social media are bad things. Freedom in Christ, remember? But they, just like our personal ambitions, can become bad habits. I don't know about you, but once my eyes are turned on Jesus and away from pleasure, I become excited. Excited because there is so much I can do. In my community. With my friends. To my family. It's a big world out there. Never believe the lie that you can't do more. He's the Master Artist, remember? God gave you a brain and body so you can reach the stars. Do it for Him. 

 “A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree; or draw a child by studying the outlines of its form merely . . . but by watching for a time his motions and plays, the painter enters into his nature and can then draw him at every attitude . . .” — Ralph Waldo Emerson