North-West to Alaska: Pacific Northwest

After Glacier National Park, we drove for the first time through country that we had never seen before! There were no side trips and very few stops, since we were on a time frame to reach Seattle by a certain time, but we still enjoyed the new sights along the way.

We traveled the length of the panhandle of Idaho, which was a beautiful continuation of the Montana Rockies, skies unfortunately heavy with smoke haze. We bought fresh cherries at a roadside stand, and watched whitewater rafters floating down mountain rivers. In one brief moment of excitement, the side door on our trailer flew open while driving down a freeway, but miraculously not one thing fell out!

Washington State had more high desert and plains than I expected, and the wheat fields were pure gold. In the Columbia River valley, we recorded 101 degrees on our truck thermometer, and saw multiple other vehicles overheat along the freeway. Gratefully, God spared our hardworking truck this calamity. We spotted the iconic form of Mount Rainier, and cooled off with guava popsicles at the top of breathtaking Snoqualmie Pass.

It’s strange to say it, but when we found ourselves descending into the metropolis of Seattle-Tacoma, the realization that the driving segment of our journey was over was bittersweet to me. Sweet, because there would be no more worries about tires and transmissions surviving the summer heat and steep mountain passes; bitter, because I had truly enjoyed the experience. I felt like I had finally gained true empathy for the pioneers, having successfully crossed miles of plains, two mountain ranges, and arrived within sight of the Pacific Ocean with all our earthly possessions still in tow. God had answered many gracious prayers on our behalf and granted us safety. The days of travel had flown by smoothly, and it had never seemed too long.

Now it was time for the final exciting segment of our journey, in which we committed our truck and trailer to the care of a barge company, and left solid ground for the skies and the sea. But that’s a story for another day.

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:20)

North-West to Alaska: The Heartland

This country of ours is one big, beautiful place. The first time we went to Alaska, I got one big fast magnificent overview from the air. This time, with the exception of one hour and a half flight, we went much more slowly, by land and by sea.

I can’t really say I prefer one over the other. Flying is fast, convenient, and a magnificent experience, but there are things you miss, like reading the colorful bulletin boards in dusty Western single pump gas stations and picking a sprig of sage brush to rub between your fingers and breathe in the earthy, spicy fragrance for miles after. You don’t get to watch the rain sweep like a curtain across the plains towards you, leaving air refreshingly clean of smoke in its wake or spot a rainbow in your rearview mirror. You don’t get to see the calico herds of longhorn cattle, or watch the grain dust rising from the combines in the wheat fields.

And truth be told, after the effort we’d put into preparing for this move the few weeks previously, I was very ready to sit in the truck and do nothing but gaze for hours at some long, rolling miles of endless farmland. It was so peaceful, restful—and gloriously air-conditioned!

So welcome to my passenger seat view of western Minnesota, North Dakota and eastern Montana for the first two days, mostly shot from a moving vehicle, with strong themes of yellow canola fields, small town grain elevators and gas station stops. Enjoy!

And, in this last shot, a hazy preview of the next blog post’s theme…coming soon!

“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth…

Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.” (Psalm 96:1, 12)

Savoring Summer #33: Seed Explosion

IMG_2339 edit“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:2-3)

This is not a verse that is talking about black and white right versus wrong.  Paul covered that earlier in the book (remember? I referenced it here.)

This is a verse talking about personal differences in opinion over things that are not clearly black and white in the Scriptures. Like…wearing masks versus not wearing masks during a pandemic, a very hotly debated topic in church and out of it.  This is such a good current example, because I’ve heard a lot of judgement being thrown around in both directions. 

People shaming mask wearers for “giving in to fear” or “giving in to overt government control”. 

People shaming non-mask wearers, saying they don’t care about people dying, and are therefore basically murderers.

Okay, ya’ll.  Wherever you stand on this, here are your instructions: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (vs. 5-6)

Research it, make sure what you’re doing and how you’re doing it truly honors the Lord, then stand firm in your convictions.  Ask loving questions if you’re curious, and engage in kind discussion, but don’t “quarrel over opinions” (vs.14) and ultimately respect the brother or sister who somehow managed to come to a complete opposite conclusion.

“…why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)

(And, of course, masks make a good contemporary illustration here, but I’m sure you’ll have no problem inserting other scenarios!)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: Don’t these yellow goat’s beard seed heads just remind you of 4th of July fireworks along the fields and ditches right now?!

Savoring Summer #28: In the Daisy Field

IMG_2152 edit.jpgMemory verse: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

The fourth step on the Romans Road is about our needed response to the solution to our problem.

P.S. See this post if you’re unfamiliar with the Romans Road!  Also, see this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #21: Field of Flowers

IMG_1627 edit

Memory verse: “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The third step on the Romans Road is the solution to the problem.

P.S. See this post if you’re unfamiliar with the Romans Road!  Also, see this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: I have never seen the fields near our house as completely covered in flowers as they are this year—and other people are saying it, too, so I know I’m not imagining it.

Savoring Summer #18: Chasing Rainbows

IMG_1770 edit“For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)

Just meditating today on the beauty of THIS!

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

On the Tenth Day of Summer…

IMG_9715-1.jpg…my camera gave to me,

Ten grasses a-flowering.

Grass is to the earth like hair is to a human.

We pluck it out here; groom it carefully over there.

We chop it off here; let it go long and admire the affects over there.

We like it soft and lush; don’t like it coarse and sparse.

We wish it would grow here; don’t like that it grows there.

It’s healthiness is directly linked to the water and kind of nutrients it’s been fed.

We take it for granted until it’s thinning, or gone—and only then do we realize how valuable it actually was.

When I was thinking about the things that are quintessential to summer for this project, I knew that grass needed to be featured at some point.   It’s one of those humble, hardworking, common plants that gets trod on and passed by every day without much thought on our part, paling in the limelight of showier, more popular plant relatives—but for once I’d like to change that.  While you’re out stopping to smell the roses, why not stop to notice the grass, too?  I mean, look at all those pretty little pink stamens on that timothy grass!  There’s a world of underappreciated variety awaiting your delight.

And while you’re at it, why not take the time to think of something (or someone!) else in your life that you might be taking for granted—and pause for a minute to express true appreciation and gratefulness?

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

 

 

 

The Colors of Summer

IMG_4098-1.jpgWhether the calendar says so or not, the last day of August always seems like the last day of summer to me—and seeing that always makes me kind of sad.  Nothing against fall or even the coming winter, mind you.  I truly love the changing seasons.  It’s just that summer in Minnesota is somehow just a little briefer than the other seasons, and I never quite manage to get in all the swimming and fresh peaches on ice cream that I want to before it’s time to pull out the sweaters and hot cocoa again.

As sort of a solace for this, I decided to look back over my photos from the summer months to remind myself of what we did do—and in the process, I found a rainbow.  See if you can see it, too!IMG_2193.JPGIMG_3463.JPGIMG_1792.JPGRed is for ripe wild strawberries discovered along fence rows, sweet and warm with sunshine…

and roses outside of bakeries that smell of gingerbread

and poppies along the chicken coop.

IMG_4030.JPG img_2209.jpgIMG_3892Orange is for a monarch butterfly, minutes old, clinging trustingly to my wide-eyed daughter’s finger…

and the one weed in my yard that I don’t mind…

and flower arrangements in my mother-in-law’s bathroom.

IMG_1811.JPGIMG_3920.JPGimg_9624.jpgYellow is for the elegant beards of irises…

and the freckled faces of the lilies along the porch…

and the not-quite-so showy roadside weeds that nevertheless delight the avid, amateur flower-pickers in my family.IMG_2944-1IMG_2226IMG_4721.JPGGreen is for sun-dappled woodland ferns…

and black-eyed Susans not quite open…

and water droplets on nasturtium leaves.IMG_1629.JPGIMG_4065-1IMG_2420.JPGBlue is for swan families floating on riffles of water…

and plump round berries the color of the sky going plink-plunk in pails…

and bobolinks singing on telephone wires against the morning sky.IMG_4096IMG_2882IMG_2300.JPGPurple is for brilliant masses of fireweed…

and stormy skies at sunset…

and blue flags along the creek.

“You [O Lord] have established all the boundaries of the earth;  You have made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

Glimpses of Summer

IMG_5607I’m sure it will come as a surprise to no one that my days this summer have been a lot less about taking photos of nature and writing about them, and a lot more about taking photos of a certain darling little lady and writing in my journal about her first smiles or the first time she slept through the night.

But in between the midnight feedings and uncounted numbers of diapers changed, I still watch for the beauty outdoors, even if it’s only through the windows while I’m pacing through the house in an effort to soothe her cries on a fussy day.  I don’t see many exotic things, but I do see the way the morning dew is glistening on the clematis or the way the light falls warm and soft across the field grass just before the sun sets—and these bits of loveliness are things that have fed my soul on days that adjusting to life with three small children under my care is a little on the overwhelming side.

The other thing that has fed my soul lately is the book of Psalms which we’ve been reading through, one a day at breakfast time—and chapter 36 is one of my recent favorites.  May these excerpts from it, accompanied by these glimpses of my summer, feed your soul, too.IMG_6293“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! IMG_5363The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings…IMG_5520They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights…IMG_6152For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” (Psalm 36:7-9)

Light After the Storm

storm clouds at sunset / rejoicing hillsThis was the light that broke forth after the storm, making the fields sparkle golden-green and the daisies by the roadside glow shining white.  The contrast was spectacular between the lowering navy underbellies of the receding storm clouds, and the land beneath suddenly bathed in the piercing evening light.

We, on our walk through the fields, stopped and caught our breath in wonder.  The ordinary grasses and trees were highlighted in stunning relief, and for a few minutes, the landscape was almost surreal in its beauty.  The splendid effect of the most brilliant light is always the most striking when contrasted with the darkness it chases away.

daisy after storm / rejoicing hillsroadside daisies / rejoicing hillsSo was the coming of the Messiah into the darkness of our world:

“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a Light has dawned.”  (Isaiah 9:2)swans on lake at sunset / rejoicing hillsAnd He, the Light of the world, continues to shine, the glory of His brilliance all the more breathtaking when contrasted with the darkness it chases away.  He beckons all to step into the piercing rays of His light, and let Him wash away their drabness, robing them in the stunning beauty of His holiness.

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”  (John 12:46)

Come to the Light of Christ—it’s shining for you and no one is ever turned away.  And if you are already walking in it, take a moment to rejoice in the wonder that you no longer “walk in darkness, but have the Light of life” (John 8:12)!  How glorious to be His child!