In His Own Words

Halfdome

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

John Muir “My First Summer in the Sierra”

Photo credit, Half Dome: Troy Baker

How often I have stood in the sun drenched meadow and gazed at this face? It is familiar to me as my own, having spent so many summers and falls there growing up. I went to the top once and I would like to do it again before I die. We’ll see. Not too long ago my Dad called all excited. He had been cleaning out his drawers when he found some of his old camping journals from Yosemite. I though maybe I would share a few of his own words today……..in quotes.

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Tuesday morning:

Got careless last night and left ice chest on table. Bear came and ripped it off. Consider Nytol next year, nights are long and better beds are a must! Leg really bothered me (knee). Started to take a walk to Yosemite Village and saw a campsite we really liked “96” so we moved. Proved we could pick up the tent without taking it down and move it anywhere. Entire move took about 40 min max and was simple. So, 3 campsites this year, surprisingly, site was away from meadow toward back, and really sunny, by the river.

Included in Dad’s commentaries were always a running status of how many motorhomes were in the area. They were the bane of his existence, especially when the generators started up. Now I own one and love it; probably it disappoints him. But I believe it is possible to be both a tent girl and a motorhome girl though he might disagree. I guess you could say I am a bit of a fair weather camper these days, but I have no doubt I could “tent” it again, that never goes away.

I don’t think Dad ever settled for the first spot they gave him. It became a game a kind of contest to get the best possible spot. He knew them all and jotted down all his favorites from year to year:

Dad journal

November 1990

Thought: It just occurred to me that you really have to make an adjustment from your home life to camping in the fall. The psychological adjustment in its analysis can be a very interesting study and observation. At times it’s a very uncomfortable feeling, with your thoughts and worries all crashing in on you.

I’m thinking it takes a few days of mental acclimation, but I have to think the variety of beauty up here has to quiet your mind, if you allow it. Thinking back on other times I have been up here, I remember getting pretty comfortable with the uninterrupted solitude. The ringing of the telephone at home triggers a flash or a flood of mental pictures in your mind as you walk to answer it. That can happen 10 times a day at home whether the call is for you or not.

Wed afternoon and evening:

Light rain most of the afternoon. Went to Curry Lounge and spent 3 wonderful hours of total relaxation.  Prayed that we would have dinner and do dishes without rain. Rain did stop and we had a fire and fixed dinner, all without rain. Wonderful.

Thurs. morn:

Woke up to breaks in sky, no rain, patches of sunlight, great morning. still very happy with new campsite. Heard rock slide echoing across valley floor. It was dramatic and a little scary. Over very quickly but really got our attention. Good weather all day, another great dinner by the fire. Stars started to pop out all over, and during dinner we saw the full moon come up over Half Dome. At first it lit up all the clouds and then it appeared over the top, beautiful sight!

This trip everything worked for us like clockwork. Lanterns, stove, beds ok, campfires were easy, bought kindling up here and had fire going in seconds. Great one pot dinners, still thinking how foolish we were about the bear incident, but also how lucky we came home when we did. He was going for seconds when we arrived.

These memories live on and they come alive when I read these precious commentaries. I wish for those days again. Now Yosemite is even crowded in the fall, whereas before you could shoot a cannon through the campsite and no need for reservations. So much has changed and yet, the beauty remains unchanged.

Thank you Dad, for preserving your thoughts. And just for you…..we never run the generator while camping. That  would just be wrong.

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Greeting the World

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Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

 Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Psalm 37: 1-6

It’s a good Scripture, isn’t it these days when it seems so many evil people seem to be flourishing with no thought of the damage they do to anybody. In essence, it’s saying that God has our back and we don’t have to worry. We can rest easy since we know that He will make everything alright in the end.

It’s been hot here which is normal, but what is not normal is that we have had very little rain. This is our monsoon season and there is no relief in sight. I have missed the pitter-patter of sweet drops falling in the afternoons and sometimes in the mornings.  I padded around the block this morning to say good morning to Mrs (or Mr) Dove, firmly ensconced in the Saguaro cactus–I think it’s a new dove, she seems very uneasy when I get close. The other one last year and the year before just sat and looked at me peacefully with a sense of confidence and safety in her position.

Mr. Woodpecker just showed up on the back wall where I am sitting. I am scribbling here in my journal…….I can’t write much anymore and I miss it. My previous job where I cut heavy leather and other materials makes my right hand tire easily and it gets sloppy fast. I used to love to do calligraphy. No more.

It feels good to address the day in a way other than Facebook or the morning news……Facebook only holds so much……it can’t hold birdsong or breezes or sounds of real life. There goes the coo-cooing of a dove as if to prove my point.

My Jesus Calling devotional tells me to rest by the wayside today. That sounds very good indeed, at least for part of the day.  It also says to remember that I am royalty in His Kingdom…….What a thought that is. Now I believe I will go on with my day.

The Lord’s blessings on yours!

Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
    a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
    there will be no future for the wicked.

Psalm 37: 37,38

Lent Day #5: The Wilderness Echoes

And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Matthew 4:1

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Sometimes you just have to go out like Jesus did.

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you need to go out and let the wilderness speak its grand silence………………

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Sometimes we just need to be reminded that He is still in control, because the flowers are still blooming.

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And nature is still doing what it does best……….

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By glorifying the God who created all things.

That’s what we saw today, that’s what we were reminded of. That no matter what, everything will eventually be okay.

Now and forever. And though there are always thorns in life, we needn’t be distracted by them.

For the beauty of hope always grows right alongside.

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For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…….2 Corinthians 4:17

Can I get a witness?

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Devotional: “Hold my hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.” Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling.”

This morning prayer time was something of a miracle. Well, they all are really, but some more than others. Sometimes I just go out there and sit. I know He is there, He just doesn’t make Himself known. It still amazes me how I can come out here with all my junk, all my worries and fears and He reveals Himself to me. And for just a little awhile, it’s just Him and me. I recognize Him and I feel a little bit like Mary Magdalene in the garden…….as she gasps, “Rabboni!”

Or John as he turns to Peter and says, “It is the Lord!” And there’s Jesus on the shore stoking a campfire asking if they’ve caught any fish. And sitting there in prayer, it feels a little bit like Easter.

There is something Holy in being present when dawn colors the sky. Being a witness to it is beholding His Glory here on earth. As if to second that, from the rooftop a mourning dove coos. That doesn’t always happen but today it did.

I am learning that even things like despair have a purpose, God never wastes anything. For in it, there is no denying that those sparks of joy are coming directly from You Lord.

It was a good prayer time today, well they all are really.

And after months of not attending church, of having my own church where and when I can have it, I need to hear the words……I need to hear the songs.

“As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.” Psalm 73:28

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And it was morning…….

 

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And it was morning……..the 3rd day of my 4 days off. I took my mug of coffee out to the patio because it was actually bearable outside. Wonderful actually. It is gray over the Superstitions and there is a wonderful breeze just now. The clouds are moving slowly, languishing, and birds are crisscrossing the sky. Clouds might not always have silver linings, but they did today.

When I opened the umbrella I smiled because some of my Birthday fell out. The cactus wren and the woodpecker both like to stash little treasures in there to find later and in this case it was some my leftover cake that was thrown out in the yard.

The sun is rising behind those clouds and its casting a glow……the two doves were just catching a bit of that light on their breasts shining from the rooftop next door.

The buoy bell wind chimes are clanging out front……wind is picking up now and we just might get some sprinkles. The okra has now reached over my head. Each year, it’s a marvel. To think those little seeds could produce such a plant laden with such a misunderstood delightful vegetable.

I understand not everyone likes okra. I feel bad for you, I truly do. This Yankee had never had any until about 10 years ago when E offered me some. At first I was suspicious. I might have curled my lip. Now I can’t get enough. I put it in stews, casseroles, and of course fried with a little dusting of cornmeal. I am like the Bubba Gump spokesperson for okra…….boiled okra, fried okra, okra stew, okra salad…..well maybe not salad.

Just now the rain which had started as a little drop here and there has become a gentle continuous patter. As I feel the little cold drops hit my neck it feels like answered prayer as it always does in the desert.

I close my eyes and I am taken back to camping years in the big red tent. We used to hear one drop and another hit the tent it was a magical sound, but also one of dread because we were never sure how long it would last, and rain meant inactivity and plastic tarp and sending runners out for food. But sometimes it also meant adventure.

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 And it was morning……the 3rd day of my 4 days off. And God and I agreed that it was good……………..

 

Listening to my life…….

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He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. Isaiah 42:3

I have abstained from writing about all the current events because I wanted to let my thoughts settle. Listening to all the recent events my mind has felt like an unsettled pond and at the end of a long work week I feel like I can finally take a deep breath and let it settle somewhat. Between the horrific events involving the Islamic militants, Robin Williams, and Ferguson, Mo. it was like my mind just couldn’t keep up. There were plenty of other better writers and bloggers editorializing and I didn’t feel like I wanted to throw my voice into the ring. The ring was noisy and crowded and so was my mind.

Sometimes a writer has to know when it’s right to jump into the ring of fire or stay on the perimeter looking in for a while.

Last night we had one of our summer storms that are common for Arizona but never common for me. Storms are natures way of breaking loose, of showing us we are not in control. I went out to the freeway just before it hit and took a few shots and felt rewarded. I found the Superstitions veiled in a cloak of dust and clouds and God’s promise.

On the other side of the overpass, the sun was making her exit amidst the backdrop of clouds………

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When I got home my Dad called, “I was reading Listening to Your Life, he said, do you have it?” I said yes……..then he paused and said, “I wonder if any of us really understands the Bible? We think we do, but sometimes I don’t think we have a clue what it means.” He went on the describe the passage he had read from the entry on February 8 and when I hung up I read it. Here is a partial reading:

When you find something in a human face that calls out to you, not just for help but in some sense for yourself, how far do you go in answering that call, how far can you go, seeing that you have your own life to get on with as much as he has his?

I thought of the sermon by Charles Stanley that I listened to that morning. He was talking about missed opportunities and how many pass us by each day. Then he went on to talk about Peter and how he could easily have said no thank you to Jesus offer to follow Him. After all, he had a livelihood, he had a life, he had a family to support. But something about Jesus made him realize that this offer was not like any other. As a result, Peter is one we recognize as being one of Jesus closest friends and followers. The rock on which the Church was built.

Parallel his life to that of the rich young ruler who had everything. He clung to his life and turned down Jesus’ offer. We never hear what happened to him but the Bible never says anything more about his life.

I believe it pays to listen to those closest to Heaven, children and old people. It pays to listen to your life and those around you. I am listening to mine today as I ask myself how far I am willing to go for Jesus. I give my allotted time and money and sometimes not even that. I don’t always focus on Him while I pray, I miss the Holy moments far too often and I tend to avoid people if I have a choice.

I am that weakest reed, that flickering candle. But my prayer today is “Thank you God, for not letting me go.”

Despite everything, He loves me. He strives with me. He sees me, the girl who gazes on His world with wonder and it makes Him smile that I notice.

God keeps a tally, the scales of justice are in His hands. He’s the one who will set things right ultimately, and that’s a promise. It doesn’t mean we stand back and do nothing, but it does mean that we can’t fix everything. Maybe we just fight the injustice in our own little corners for a start.

As for me, I went as far as that windy street corner up around 120th street and Broadway, and I can see him standing there as in some way he is standing there still. He is alone and making the best of it with his thin, church rummage overcoat flapping around his legs. His one free hand is raised in the air to wave goodbye. It was the last time. “Here and there in the world and now and then in ourselves,” Tillich said, “is a new Creation.” This side of glory, maybe that is the best we can hope for. Frederich Buechner, Listening to Your Life.

God speaks……….

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The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew.” Proverbs 3:

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“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; Acts 17:24

 

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“He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth, The LORD is His name.” Amos 5:8

 

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“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. “Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. “Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, read more.In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” Job 12: 7-10

 

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God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one bloodevery nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,  so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Acts 17:24-28

 

What a wonder that this God should want to know me personally, and wants us all to know Him the same way. He is the God who walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening……and who came to this earth as a man, walked where we walk, had conversations, ate food, had dust on His sandals and went back into Heaven where He intercedes for us to this day. His Spirit rests with us here and now, giving us strength and empowering us to do beyond what we ask or think…….the fact that we can experience Him here and now and say with confidence as we pray in a little quiet room or in our car, on the way somewhere, “I am with God and He is with me”……that is the miracle of the Christian life and experience. That is our reality. Who in the world would not want that?