Queen of the Ravine

Yes! Me! The Queen of the Ravine!  What is a Ravine? I am glad you asked!  🙂 

Ravine: a deep, narrow gorge with steep sides, a canyon, a gully,  couloir.

However, this is not just any old ravine, no, this one is just a few steps away from my van.

The scene: Outside doing my laundry, minding my own business…. and whoosh… the wind blows my laundry pod basket into the Ravine! “No…NO!” I cry and without a second thought I head down after it.

Slipping and sliding in a few places, hands in contact with the ground too on occasion… and Ta Da! Reclaimed my basket! 

When I looked up I realized I could not see the van or even the big motor home that was on the other side of the Ravine.  I started muttering to myself ‘if any of my neighbors or friends or, heaven forbid, my son were to see me down here I might get a bit of a tongue lashing.  As one friend seems to be inordinately fond of saying “and you’re doing this because???”  Granted it is usually said when I am attempting to do something which actually is beyond my current abilities…but Arrrgh! 

It is not a very big Ravine nor is it very steep and I did not even go down very far. I used to go rock climbing with my son in a very amateur way. Just clambering around on boulders and ledges when he was a boy. But we called it rock climbing and loved it. So it is not like this was something new.

So what’s the big deal you ask?

Well lets back up for a moment. Four years ago life got really interesting!  All kinds of ailments. (Kanker, {I use K’s, not C’s} Which was at the bottom of my list of things to try) Some ailments were quite bizarre. (Lichen Planus)  Some were down right rude! (Gillian Barre) Some made no sense. (Diabetes)  Hopefully, most just came for a once in a life time visit. (Please note, “visit” implies they are not here to stay!)

The latest on my crazy list is that I appear to be allergic to the 21st century. That’s right. Detergent, perfume, cologne, vehicle fuel, vehicle exhaust, carpet, plastic, elastic, pesticides, cigarette smoke, the list goes on and on and really, who knew a fabric softner dryer sheet could be dangerous? Did you know they actually put anesthesia in them? Seriously, the same chemicals, no joke.

Turns out I am one of many people, with a specific genome, who cannot release chemicals (like the ones found in those items listed above) from the old bod like most folks can. 

(By the way? Please don’t tell my son I used the word “old” when referring to myself!! Boy, then I would really be in trouble!)

Anyway, the chemicals from the fumes of those items are toxic for me.  Contact with them for any length of time will make me ill.  Now let me explain what “contact” means to me.  I don’t have to be the one using those products for them to have a serious impact on my health. 

I can no longer go to church.  Going to the grocery store can be an interesting experience! Too many folks wearing too many of the aforementioned items.  The building itself is often intolerable these days. New carpet, cleaning products, and so forth… nasty stuff. At least it is to me!

In fact, while here at the LTVA, I had an opportunity to play and sing with a group of people who get together on Tuesdays to practice a little and then play together for the other campers on Sundays.   I thought, hey outside! So I tried going to a practice… Yes! It was outside!  Unfortunately, I was unable to stay with the group for the whole rehearsal.  Evidently, 20 people all wearing clothes washed in detergent or, Great Scott, rinsed in fabric softner, sitting that close together was too much for this old girl. 

However.  The good news is that I was able to go!  I have not even been able to play my guitar much at all these last few years, and working up the requisite energy to go somewhere to play took extreme planning. It took me awhile to realize that.  Just like the Ravine!  As another camper told me when I related my story…

   But! You did it! You made it! 

Since I moved out of my apartment (yes, my apartment was also toxic) into my car in June of this year, then my van in October, my health has improved by leaps and bounds! 

There have been several of these …. epiphanys? Perhaps that is too grand a word for what may seem like mere trifles to most people.  But to me?  These were huge steps not only in physical improvement, but also in how I had come to view myself.

Startling discoveries in how much I could do.  Every month seems to bring new levels of achievement!

June – 3 days after I left the apartment I did not have to take insulin any more!  I had gone to stay with some folks from church for a few weeks so I was not even living in my car yet. Plus, the diabetes that showed up after the second Kanker surgery is continuing to get better.

July – Walking thru the store by myself on my own two feet.   (no more power chair for me!)

August – 1/4 mile walk uphill and then back again.  Did not even think about it…just took off!  🙂

September – dragging large sections of fencing across the ground to help the friend who was letting me park and live on her back 40.

October – being able to live in my van, hundreds of miles from friends or family, with just my Bible and Macha for help and company.

November – A one mile walk to the dumpster and back. Yes, I like to take my trash for a walk too!

Then 
December – The Great Ravine! 

There has been something more though.  There is a sense of freedom in this lifestyle.  Now please understand, I lived ‘On the Road’ for years as an entertainer.  So I knew some of the tricks of the trade as it were.

But this…

My beautiful van as my only home… 
Living where I please… 
Moving if I need to… 
Meeting incredibly caring and amazing people… 
Moving if I want to .. 
Astonishing, beautiful sunrise’s and sunsets … 
Vista’s and landscaping provided and designed by the good Lord…

Seeing the beauty around me. Being outside, all day, most days. Seeing the stars out my window each night. Being able to take a deep breath of clean air.  Just being able to breathe!  These are all reminders, for me, of the gift of life.

I have gained a sense of self that I never had before… self discovery has been something I have strived, worked, slaved, and begged for over the years.

But out here… I just am. There is no need for artifice. No mask to wear.  No reason to hide…. It is extraordinarily satisfying to simply be Me.

🙂

Now then all seriousness aside.  You need to understand that I had “finished” this post.  To end on a serious, yet positive note seemed okay.  However…

There are several reasons why I have a hard time maintaining body temperature. Chemically challenged, no thyroid and no heater.  They all affect it.  My temps are almost always low. I just forget that most people don’t know that!  So taking my temperature to try and figure out what is wrong is sometimes an exercise in futility. Except of course to have the proof that, yes, I am cold.  

I was not feeling well and I could not find my thermometer, so I emailed another camper asking if they had one…before I heard back I found mine and let them know.  The following emails got me laughing.   Hope you enjoy this kind of silliness too! 🙂

Me:  Never mind, found it.

AC:  Good. The only one I have has been in a box on top of the trucks’s dashboard for three years or more, as I’d been trying to find a safe way to dispose of it. Original mercury style. Since I now have no other thermometer, maybe I should see if it’s been ruined by being badly overheated.

Me:   Ah I see you use yours often too!! Lol… been wondering if this one is okay…have not used it in a long time … 97.7 last night then 96.4 in the wee hours so it probably is okay.. 🙂 and so am I … well .. at least temp wise!!

AC:  Well, if it is correct, your body temp is dropping, indicating that you may have died overnight and are simply not a very self-aware person. If it goes below 95, email me and we can check your pulse and blood pressure on a gizmo I have to see if you’re still alive. It could affect your stay here at the LTVA. I need to check the Supplemental Rules.

Just made me laugh and chuckle all day.  🙂  Especially since I had just been talking about self awareness in such a serious way.  To get this email just tickled my funny bone!  It could be that this is one of those, “You had to be there moments…” but, I doubt I will ever use the words “Self Aware” again without at least a  chuckle!

Running Close Hauled

Previously posted elsewhere May 14, 2014

Riding on the edge. Breeze in my face, feeling the splash of the spray as the bow hits the waves. Sail taunt in the wind and the sheets almost humming in my hands.

Sun over my shoulder warming my back and making the water before me dance with points of brilliant light.

Feeling the ripples of the water running under my tiny craft. I can feel it in the heels of my feet as I brace against those sudden little shifts of wind. 

Sailing a long tack before I yell “Gybe Ho” to the sky. The sail on the boom swings over my head and snaps back into play as I head off across the water feeling all the worries of life streaming away as my little boat and I enjoy each moment of our day.

Sometimes. …. I just need to talk about it you know?? Still waiting to sail my little beauty. Been far too long since I have been sailing. 🙂

Bits and Pieces

Previously posted elsewhere March 14th, 2014

I spent the winter at the Long Term Visitors Area (LTVA) which is a place you can go boondocking in Winterhaven, California just North of Yuma, Arizona. It is BLM land with extras! Most serious Boondocker’s consider the LTVA’s to be uptown boondocking since they offer you clean water, bins for your trash and a place to dump your tank. For me this was indeed an incredible place to stay and truly a haven for the winter.

More than anything else though it was the people I met that gave of their time, talents and even some of their Stuff? No. Junk? No. Not junk, their Extras? Cast-offs? Recyclables? Just bits and pieces that were too good to throw away but they did not really need any more? However you want to put it, their bits and pieces have been incredible gifts to me and have made my life this winter so much more than just bearable, they have made it lovely and wonderful.

Some of these friends, most of them new to me, have asked me to refrain from using their names, so I will go with Initials for everyone instead. Although there are those who may never see my blog, much less this post, it is important to me that I say thank you again and this post is also here to help me remember that there are wonderful people in the world. People who live in trailers, vans, tents and occasionally, yes, even houses, can be some of the most caring people you will ever meet.

So much has happened. So many incredible gifts from people, that I am not sure where to begin. My van has been through some serious renovations this winter. Well now, THAT is a good place to start. My van. A gift from the elders at my home church. Yes, they just gave her to me! It just does not seem possible to me yet. I was looking at spending the winter in my little car and praying that some how the good Lord would work it out for me. Talk about working it out. That was just the beginning of an incredible ride! So here is a list of some of the gifts and the wonderful people who gave them to me.

J and RS for allowing me to stay at their home for that first month after leaving my apartment. It helped me get to the point where I was ready to live in my car. DD for giving me a place to park last summer and JW for asking DD about it in the first place. Both of those warm, caring women have been a blessing to me in ways too numerous to list. Loaned me all kinds of things to get me started on my journey, I mean really, how many people do you know that would allow you to borrow their privy? Now that is a good friend! To say nothing of the long list of things they gave me. Everything from buckets and tubs to clothes and even a winter jacket for my little Macha! Best of all DD has already told me I have a place to stay again this summer.

SK & LS, boondocking friends of mine, for asking me to live near them in Bouse, AZ. Even though it did not work out for me there, (I could not handle the bitter cold snap they had) it did allow me the opportunity to meet SW in Quartzsite who made curtains and helped me hang them in my van. She also taught me the benefits of Reflectix and wrapped my little cooler in some to show me how effective it could be. Another camper there provided the funds I would need to help me meet and drive an online friend, SL, to New Mexico, who in turn gave me half the money I would wind up needing to be able to pay to stay at the LTVA. SK provided the other half of the money when I was trying to find someplace else to stay. LS for the computer, though she said it had some issues, it is now my first ever laptop! Both LS and SK still email and write to me! Yes, old fashioned snail mail and I love it! I actually had an online friend, LR, the crazy tech guy, as he likes to be called, who helped me walk through some of the setup to get my computer tethered to my phone. I actually use my phone as a hot spot! Another camper at the LTVA battled it out with the computer in the first place to get it running and then tried (and purchased) all kinds of things to get it set up for me to use in such a way that it would not hurt me.

Ah yes, you read that right. A computer can hurt me. Another part of the story. But that will have to wait for yet another post.

D, C, J and J, for all the work they did on my van in Casa Grande. Their list of help is huge! Everything from purchasing and helping me lay flooring and a total scrub down to get the mold issue out of the van, to sewing material to act as a rug, labeling my jars and so much more. B and S for the two 6 gallon jugs to use for water that will replace my loaners and they also gave me a solar panel and a rack. Since they were moving into a smaller camper, they no longer had room for these things and gave them to me. My second solar panel! My first was a Christmas gift from another camper to keep my van battery charged up so I could watch movies on the DVD player from PG. It had been sitting in her closet for several years unused. There is another whole story there as well. B and BW for the solar controller they gave me, it was too small for their new set up but still worked. Since they no longer needed it, they gave it to me. They also found the little wooden feet for my cot to keep it from digging holes in my foam floor, lumber for under my wheels to level my van. But more than that, the afternoon chats and the caring they showed me, as my first neighbors at the LTVA, let me know I was in the right place!

I bought a tiny home made solar oven and a deep cycle battery dirt cheap from PT and he also gave me the cushions I am now using on my cot which has made my bed so much more comfortable. So four different sets of folks helped create my solar system. It not only runs my computer, it charges the batteries for my lovely flashlight which can hang inside my van, both of which were given to me by another camper, along with the batteries to run them. MH for the Tu Tuff to cover my Styrofoam flooring and her hubby GH for some invaluable research. Which allowed me to purchase a hand cranked pump to transfer water from jugs too heavy for me to lift. Then there are the two P.A.’s at two different Doctors offices. One gave me a down filled mattress bag for my cot and the other a shower bag. I can stay warm and clean. This is huge when you are living in a van with no heat and no plumbing!

R, T and B, who gave me a bigger and better cooler than what I had (No worries, my son is going to inherit my old one, you know, too good to throw away! LOL) and let me have the table with an umbrella, which I used while I was in Winterhaven (I could not take it with me, but again, no worries, S who invited me to tea one day is now using it) and thanks to T for the shoulder to cry on and the wonderful talks.

By the way, sitting at that table, overlooking the lake, having my tea in the morning, while reading my bible or playing my guitar and singing in the evening. That is more than just food for the soul. It is a delight to the eyes, to see the glory of nature around me, while reading and singing about the artist? Each morning I would have only one thing to say. Just one, quiet, very gently spoken word, indeed said almost as a whisper, quite simply “Wow”.

Several of the folks listed above would make runs to Yuma for me for ice and groceries, one even took me twice. That is how I found out that Yuma is not a good place for me to go. Another post will be out shortly to cover that issue. There is a base just a couple miles from where I was parked. Since I am a military spouse, I can go to the commissary for most of my groceries. I still find it hard to believe this one, but this particular base, was not only actively looking for and purchasing organic food for staff and visitors like me, they were also using green products in the fitness center where I could go to take a lovely, hot, long, delicious, shower for free, without fear of getting ill. The base Chaplain found blankets for me when it turned out that my sleeping bags were not working well, which yet again, another camper helped me with by washing them over and over again to get the chemical residue out that had been left in them by detergent and fabric softeners.

Are you overwhelmed yet?

PMW for the pan and the walking stick and her hubby BW for the chair and ladder. BP and EP for the camp table, a set of funnels, measuring spoons and a whole raft of other items, my favorite being my spoon rose which lives on my dashboard. (Ask me sometime, it is a lovely story all by itself!) M at the base for help on my van, B the kayak guy for the cookies he gave me as a Christmas present. The list goes on and on. I assure you I have Not listed everything. Every time I get up from the computer to go fix lunch or get more water I am reminded yet again of another gift from people, most of whom, I met since being on the road. Clothesline when I had none, an inverter to run my grinder, a meter to check the status of my battery, the loan of tools, help setting up my roof rack, a pocket watch, a camera, yes you heard me right again, a really nice digital camera, when it became to dangerous to use my phone that way. Each time I would attempt to defer and say I could not accept something so expensive, I would hear the words, ‘It is not being used, it is an extra, and you need it now’. The list just keeps going. I can assure you I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown to me this past winter.

So many gifts from so many giving people. I am truly blessed. Thank you to each of you and may the Lord bless you all in very special ways.  

A Promise Kept

Previously posted elsewhere Februay 28th 2014

It has been said that it is a bit unusual for a woman like me to have ever welded, even with the small level of success that I had years ago. (Tap Tap Tap, Dag Nab it! Bubble!) In fact, another camper suggested that finding any woman who had ever welded had a very low probability even when factoring up. I was contemplating that statement and was reviewing friends I have known and can really neither confirm nor deny this as an actuality. Whether or not any of my lady friends have ever welded has never come up in conversation. Though I must say there are a few I know that it would not surprise me if they have.

However, I will admit that it does seem incongruous, to say the least, that I have finally fulfilled a promise I made myself more years ago than I care to admit. It is not the actual promise so much but the circumstances in which the promise was realized that strike me as odd.

I am currently sitting outside my van at a lovely table that even sports a big umbrella. The gift of a couple who were neighbors for a time and could not take the table with them. I am typing on the first laptop I have ever owned. It is plugged into my own little solar system. Both of which, with a variety of components, are courtesy of the many different friends that I have gained since living on the road. I have just finished a tasty corn chowder that I made on my camp stove and while it was simmering, I was in my van, keeping that promise.

 Hanging a Painting. I finally hung, with out string, a painting I received as a gift almost 30 years ago now. It has been tacked up with string and moved from place to place for years and it is finally up on the wall of my van. I had to laugh as I thought of the picture I was painting for my neighbors. I had borrowed a drill from another camper, who left it with me with nary a question about whether I knew how to handle it. I suspect that the knowledge that I had welded in the past, however poorly, may have contributed to the lack of concern on their part.. The fact that strikes me as so funny is that here I am, out in the desert, with my “June Cleaver gone wild” apron on, something I made last year, another promise kept, a really nice DeWalt in my hand, finally mounting a painting exactly where I wanted it to be, while lunch was simmering on my camp stove.

I looked at that crazy string now lying on the van floor that had been on that painting for so many years and I realized that I truly am quite at home out here in my new life. Many times I had opportunities to hang that painting properly, but, as always, a couple of tacks in that string were just good enough. Yet, every time I took that picture down I promised my self, all over again, that some day I really would have my own little home to hang it in. That someday it would be properly hung. That someday is today.

I created a little thing out of bits and pieces I have found or was given out here in Arizona. I am told it would be called a sculpture? It is just mine, a reminder of the beauty I have found in this life. I have also just recently written a song, the first one in years now. “Home is Where the Heart Is”. Perhaps I can record it for you later. But it speaks of the love I have for this desert land, the life I am leading, the friends I have made and the beauty I have seen.

 It is funny how and where we mark milestones isn’t it? For me time has always been so elusive.  Rarely remembering the dates, but the events in my life stand out so clearly.  I have several posts started and the opportunity to finish them is here but this event, hanging an old painting, has usurped them all. So here I am to make note of something so very simple to most people but something so incredibly profound to me personally. I am home.

I am home. 

My son Charles

I have been blessed in such extraordinary ways in my life. One of the highest honors and blessings that I felt I’ve ever had is the relationship I have with my son. I have always been able to talk about everything with him, no subject was considered taboo.

I’ve always known that he loves me and that he cares about me but I did not expect this kind of public confirmation. I have often said and will say again that he was a gift from the Lord. Because there is no way that he could have turned out so well when you consider who his parents are. Trust me that is not me being humble, that is me simply stating a fact. He has not had an easy life, in fact, he’s been very alone in his life in many ways. Despite the hardships he has endured he never ceases to amaze me and to bring me joy.

Now, Charles has made me cry tears of joy once again. He just posted the most wonderful words he could have ever written to bring me joy on his Facebook. I am so blessed. The following is what he posted.

day #4 Family can be all that you have

Despite the problems that I have with my extended family, my definition of the word has great importance and meaning to me. Family has always been important to me. Family comes with certain ties and expectations that I believe are well deserved. To have a sizable family is to be instantly accepted into a network of people that you can have reasonable trust in and knowledge that if you fall on hard times there is a support system waiting for you. At least this is what I want for my future descendants. It may be a bit high an expectation but in a way it shouldn’t be because we should already have a fondness for our fellow man, so having fondness for a family member ought not be that big an issue. The family network should also be viewed as a place of vast knowledge and experience. In my case my mom is my primary source of knowledge, experience, support, encouragement, guidance, and all such things. It has been me and my mom for some time now, as well as my dad, but my mother and I have a much closer relationship. She has been a principal figure in my life and has helped to give me definition to what real family means. Many times before and even now she is someone that I can openly talk to about whatever might be going on in my life. In spite of the hard times that we have fallen under in the past we never stopped helping each other in whatever way we were able. An old mantra that we used to say when we started getting a little heated towards each other was “we’re all we have, so lets be nice to each other”. After that we would have a bit of a laugh and go on as before like nothing happened. This was our way of acknowledging that we still loved each other despite life being a royal pain at the time.

I hope today you find some time to appreciate those members of your family that have been by your side through the tough times. Those that continue to help, love, and support you, sometimes in spite of yourself, as you continue on your journey of life and consciously make an effort to be a part of it. Till tomorrow everyone.

Sand, Stone and a Sherman Tank

Posted elsewhere sometime earlier this year. 

Yes.

Well.

First it was the stone. Stones all over the roads, okay, not roads, these little tiny trails that my GPS took me on. Up and down ravines, out in the wilds of Arizona. More than stones, great big rocks. My van bucked and jumped her way up these short, steep, little hills and slid and slipped down the other side. I actually wound up going places I probably would not have gone in a four by four but my van just traveled on like she was a Sherman tank, nothing could stop her. Now I will admit there were times when I was hanging on for dear life, wondering what on earth I was doing out there.

Oh yes, what was I doing out there? Planning the work and working the plan.

What? That did not help you understand exactly what I’m talking about?

Lol. Okay I’ll give you a break, I was looking for dirt. Dirt cheap dirt. To use a more familiar vernacular… I was looking for dirt cheap land to buy.

I had planned on buying in Snowflake, Arizona. But I have come to realize that Snowflake is no longer an option for me. My doctor is the one that pointed it out. He told me to listen to my body and listen to what it was telling me. I was better since leaving Snowflake. But, I knew that area so well and it really was the cheapest dirt you could find in Arizona and I was kind of floundering about what to do.

That’s when a friend told me ‘When the easy answer doesn’t pan out, you have to plan out the work of looking for the land somewhere else and then work that plan.’

I set up a plan. At first, there was a brief flirtation with the possibility of Colorado as a place to live. But the little bit of research that I did on that state, showed there were too many problems with Colorado. At least, as far as I was concerned. So, I went back to looking around Arizona.

Arizona does still have areas that have dirt cheap dirt for sale. I spent the last week wandering around Southern Arizona looking for places where I could possibly live.

Naturally, at least for me, this means that I was going to be looking on the outer edges of any community because the better properties would cost more than I could afford.

Then too, I am going to be looking for places that are on the outskirts or out in the wilds because I can’t be too near a town, or a factory, or a power plant, or any kind of industry.

To make it even more interesting, just moving out into the country does not always work. If there’s any farming in the area, I can’t be around it either because of the pesticides and all the other things that they use to “make our garden grow” these days.

Now in some ways there are positives to this. It means that the dirt I’m looking for is dirt that most people wouldn’t want in the first place. This means dirt cheap dirt really can work for me.

So here I was out in the wilds of Southern Arizona looking for dirt.

Now allow me to outline some of the issues with owning a Sherman tank. I have a 1977 Ford with a big Windsor 8 in it. She really is built like a Sherman tank. She’s got two hundred and forty seven thousand miles on her and proud of every mile. As I’ve been traveling around and doing a lot of boondocking out in the wilderness here and there this last year. I have been getting to know her. My Jehosheba, she’s pretty tough and she can go a lot of places. Now I did say there was an issue with owning a Sherman tank. The problem is you get the feeling that she’s indestructible and that you can go any where.

After that trip up rocky hills and crazy little ravines where there was barely a trail to follow, I really did get the feeling she could handle just about anything.

There was a ten acre piece for $4000 that I really wanted to look at. The realtor told me that the road ended about a half a mile before you got to the property but I thought hey, if I could get that close at least I’ll be able to look at the land.

So I turn down Mule Deer Road on the outskirts of Pearce, Arizona. What I saw I was a little road. Dirt, yes, but much more than a trail. It was a nice, flat, reasonable looking dirt road that didn’t look bad at all compared to the rocky places I had been on the day before.

Then there was the sand…

Just so you know you should never take a Sherman tank out into the sand. I think the pictures can do the rest of the talking for me.

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Rachum Harbor Haven

I thought of The Smith Homestead or possibly The Smith Manor? That denotes royalty and, after all, I am a child of the King! But I think that name can wait till I get to heaven by and by. 🙂

I even thought about Rachel’s Lighthouse then a friend reminded me that a lighthouse is there to keep you away from that area. Smith Harbour Ranch? That was close, very close, but this really is not a ranch.

What am I talking about? I am glad you asked! Let me explain.

My vans name is actually Jehosheba. I wanted her to have a totally cool name and since she was a gift from my church, a bible name seemed warranted, even preferred. Jehosheba saved the line of David in the Old Testament and my van has definitely saved me. Seemed totally apropos.

Now because my son and I are Star Trek devotees, (Trekkers, not trekkies, please!) she also has the fleet designation Voyager. Female captain, traveling in unknown areas. Most definitely, again, apropos. Then too, the name Voyager let’s you know just how mobile I can be.

On a side note, I am actually hoping to find one of the old Dodge Voyager emblems in a junk yard somewhere and plant it right on the front of my beautiful old Ford. Should keep people confused! 🙂

But now, I also want a name for the Area? Compound? Campsite? Back forty? Bivouac? Encampment? In other words, wherever I am parked should also be claimed and named for the time I am there.

I liked ‘Smith Harbour Haven’ because it speaks to my love of sailing that will hence forth again be a part of my world. More importantly, it lets you know that wherever I end up staying, it is because the Good Lord has provided that haven.  For a little while that was going to be the name but something fascinating, even providential, has happened that caused me to change it.

Boy, we are really going to have to go back in time for me to explain this one. I might even have to mention my teenage years, but don’t be alarmed mention will be deemed enough and then we will move on.

I was a young teenager at one of our family reunions. Again, allow me to digress for just a moment. A family reunion in my family was usually 300 to 400 people. As I understand it we have over 200 relatives in every single parish (now county) in Kentucky. If I’m not mistaken there’s a hundred twenty counties in Kentucky. The only reason I’m telling you this is because you need to understand how easy it would be for me to forget which second cousin, once removed, told me this story. Kind of interesting, don’t you think, that I remember the lineage better than I do the cousins name.

As I was saying. I was a teenager at one of my family reunions when I found out for the very first time from a cousin, whose name I can’t remember, that there was some Native American blood in our family. Evidently this was something that was very hush-hush. No one talked about it because in the south that was just not done. Marrying someone who was a Native American was not done and if it was done then it wasn’t talked about. 

After a lot of searching and asking questions and getting all of those avoidance type answers I did finally find out that my mother was indeed part Apache. No one would really say how much, but the rumor was that her mother was a full blooded Apache.

It was not long after that that we found out that my dads mother might be half Cherokee and that his real father, who had died in the Battle of the Bulge, may have been full blooded Cherokee.

Perhaps it was just the fact that my family was ashamed of that connection. Maybe it was because I never really felt like I belonged in my family.  It could very well be because I owned a little Appaloosa horse at that time and loved the heritage that he represented. I am not really sure why, but whatever the reason, I grew up being very proud to be part Native American to whatever degree. 

Now I will share with you a secret that no one knew about until very recently. It is something I never told another living soul.

No doubt you would admit that most teenagers are romantic. I know I certainly was. I had a vivid imagination and enjoyed reading tales about the people and I would have fantasies about who might possible be ancestors of mine. I know I am still proud of the fact that Jim Bowie was a great great great uncle and somewhere in there I am also related to Daniel Boone. I had a great aunt who was very much into genealogy and I am proud to know those two connections are true.

One of the fantasies that I had was that someday I would find out the truth about that connection to my Native American brothers and sisters. When that day came I would then be given an Indian name. I would belong to a tribe. I would have some place to belong. It was a dream I held onto for a long time in hopes that perhaps…  But childhood dreams, as they often do, fade away. 

Now we need to move forward in time to just a few weeks ago.  I don’t know if I can explain this next part in such a way that it will help you to understand how profoundly this impacted me, but I will do my best.

I found out about a church that was meeting outside near Flagstaff.  I was excited about the possibility of actually being able to go to church again. I could not go to my old church as I couldn’t bear to be in the building more than a few minutes and I have been trying to go to churches all around Arizona to no avail.  As most of you know I am allergic to the 21st century which means going to church is just not an option for me. Dr Gray, who is helping me with all of these issues, had told me to find a church with a dirt floor. I am delighted to say that has finally happened. 

Pastor Greg and his lovely wife Sheila came to meet me and started having their Saturday services at my location here in the forest near Flagstaff.

Here is where it gets interesting. Pastor Greg and Sheila are both Native Americans, they are both Navajo. They are also both committed to reaching out to the Navajo people and to all the Native American tribes by translating a Bible into Navajo with the Hebrew, Greek and English Languages in parallel.

I was excited about the possibility of becoming a part of this because I had already been working on translating the names of our Lord. I had been working on it strictly for my own sake because I wanted to know the actual names of the Lord that were used instead of our English translations where they simply put God or Lord. 

One of the things that fascinates Pastor Greg is the ties that he has found between the Native American people and the Hebrew people. There are all kinds of interesting parallels  there that I’m certain he would be delighted to talk with you about. His knowledge and his ability to impart that knowledge are remarkable. Here is the church website if you would like more information.

http://www.selahcongregation.org/5001.html

I was absolutely thrilled with the possibility of being a part of this because I have always been drawn to the Native American people. I was actually a missionary a few years ago at a Christian Native American school. I had 24 little girls from ages kindergarten to fifth grade. It was a riot, it was wonderful and I loved them all.  The thing that I liked most about the school was the fact that they were Not trying to get rid of Native American ways and traditions they were actually just working to introduce Christ into their belief system.

So here I was again, looking at the possibility of being able to be a part of a church whose goals were to reach the Native American people. I think most of you probably know that prayer is an essential part of any decision I make. For something this big I would be looking for particular signs that could only come from the good Lord. For me they are never flashes of lightning and peels of thunder but simple, tiny, little things that would only have importance to me.

I was praying about it.  Asking the good Lord if this was indeed something I should get involved in. Whether this church was the right place for me to be or not. There were so many things that I was learning in these services that coincided with things that I had already been questioning. But I needed to know, I needed to be certain, that this was where the Lord wanted me to be.

Sheila and I had been exchanging emails. She is a delightful person to know, her emails are always so uplifting and full of little smiley faces.  As I said, I was praying about it, and I got an email from Sheila addressing me as Rachum.  She told me she was going to change my name. Then she said she was just teasing me, but later in the email she called me Rachum again. There were two other intriguing things in her email thats really hit home for me but this one blew me away.

In that fantasy of mine as a young teenager, that I held onto for years, the name would have to be given to me.  I could not ask for the name.  I could not give myself a name. It would have to be something that would happen without me ever mentioning my dream. Here I was, probably 40 or more years later, long enough that the dream had faded away. Here I was, seeing this childhood dream come true?

I couldn’t believe it, I wasn’t sure it was real, it looked liked it might be Native so I looked it up. While I did find that name tied to Navajo on a few sites, I could not find a Navajo definition for it.  Then I thought perhaps she was giving me a biblical name so I looked it up that way and it turns out that it is indeed Hebrew. Rachum.

http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7349.htm

It is pronounced (rakh-oom’)
The short definition there is compassionate.  For a moment I was disappointed.  I thought perhaps that dream I had not even thought of for years had come true and then it turned out to be a Hebrew name, which was beautiful, but not native.

Then as I was sitting there reading through her email again looking at the other things that had also touched my heart, it suddenly occurred to me. Pastor Greg had been talking about the ties between the Hebrew nation and the Native American nations. I realized that I had indeed been given a native name. As a Gentile I have been grafted into the Jewish tribe by my belief in Jesus Christ. As a believer in Christ I could also be a member of this church. This small body of believers who are going back to our roots. Including the Old Testament as a vital part of what we need to be doing today. 

There is a funny side to this story. Funny strange.  I had finished this post weeks ago with the name Smith Harbour Haven, but I had not been able to publish it because something was wrong with my WordPress.  It will be very interesting to see if when I click on publish now this actually posts.  But the really funny part is that Sheila was simply repeating something she had seen once on a television program.  Someone, somewhere, had misspelled the name Rachel as Rachum. She really had just been teasing me.  She could not believe it either when I told her what I had found out about the name. She looked it up too. She realized it was the perfect name for me because she was always saying how compassionate I was. Those are her words not mine but I do so hope that last part is true.  I can assure you that it is my hearts wish.  I just hope it always shows.
It may not make much sense to you, this story, and you may wonder why I would even post it, but for me this is more than just a childhood dream come true.  This is about finding a place to belong. A body of believers who believe as I do. A mission to believe in and be a part of. A church that will be my home church and part of my life family.
You see, this church is not just reaching out to the Native American people but one of their other missions is to reach out to people like me. People who truly cannot enter the door of a church because of all the toxins that are used in building materials these days. People like me who can not go to church even when the building is not bad because of all the perfume and cologne that people wear. Too often you would find more cell phones in a church then you would in a cell phone store. So they ask the people who come to their church to refrain from wearing perfume and cologne and leave their cell phones off and in their cars when they come to the service.

There are now three of us who are coming to the service who are environmental ill or, as I call it, Allergic to the 21st century. It is such an incredible blessing to be able to come to church and not have to worry about having reactions to chemicals or electromagnetic fields. The three of us will have to head south when winter hits up here in the high mountains but it is a blessing to know that we will have a church to come home to next summer.

So this story started in fun because I wanted to give my campsite a name, but it wound up being so much more. My campsite, Rachum Harbour Haven. When I am in Flagstaff it means I have a church to go to.   Selah. A place of rest. A safe harbour. A haven in this crazy world we live in.