Change

This is my favorite season, it always has been. Fall gives me a feeling that I have permission to nest and create, to leave some of those to-dos on my list until Spring. Oh, and there are quite a few of those to-dos for us these days. Since I last posted, we have moved into an older home in a charming neighborhood, after living in the same neighborhood for 20 years! Our new residence is around 30 minutes (longer with heavy traffic) away from our former home. That doesn’t sound like a lot of distance, but everything is different here. My friend said it was like we moved to a whole new city, but still have all our friends and family nearby.

morning walk downtown Reno
morning walk along the river

The initial thoughts on us moving both scared and excited me. My husband and I have looked into moving to more land for the last two years. It didn’t work out, and we just decided to stay put as we apparently could not compete in this crazy housing market. We loved our place and it was a perfectly acceptable option to toss out the idea of a move.

For years now, my husband and I have loved to spend time downtown by the river – walking under the shade of the many mature trees, getting coffee, admiring the old houses and the architecture of the buildings, eating at locally-owned restaurants. It was our go-to when driving up to the mountains wasn’t an option, and we would talk about what it would be like to live downtown.

Truckee River

We couldn’t really imagine such a thing, though it seemed charming and nostalgic (maybe we could get a condo downtown for the weekends if we ever got rich – haha!). We have always firmly believed that the more land we had, the better. We aren’t used to having close neighbors, and didn’t necessarily want that. But as we would sit in the coffee shops by the window and look out at all the passers-by walking with their families and dogs in their neighborhood, we started to think that it would be pretty great. Maybe we even started to dream about it a little.

Here we are, two and a half months after our move to that very same neighborhood, more pleased with our decision than we ever thought we would be. For a while, it seemed like we weren’t going to get the house. I have to tell you that during that time, I actually hoped it would fall through, even prayed that it would. I got too scared of all the change and all that it would mean for our day-to-day lives and for the foreseeable future. I just couldn’t see it working for us. Never had we envisioned ourselves moving to a fixer-upper (albeit a pretty one) with tiny yards. We had always talked about just the opposite – Our next house has to need NO work and it must have a lot of land. – notLet’s move to a house where nearly everything is original and will all eventually need repair or replacing – and one where we can live super close to our neighbors.

One day, after it was clear we would indeed get the house, (unless God heard my prayers for a big intervention that would cancel everything and allow us to stay in the same comfy place we had been for so long) I had a pretty big panic attack about the whole thing. I kept it mostly to myself, not wanting to upset my husband who was happy and certain about it all. But I had absolutely NO peace – not an ounce of it. I prayed and prayed for it to fall through, and if it didn’t, I needed to have peace about it.

There are some things that only a dad can do for us. I don’t exactly know why, but there is something so deeply reassuring when a father speaks words of encouragement. It has a unique and stabilizing quality that makes you believe it will all be okay.

I talked to my dad on the phone in the midst of my crisis – fervently resisting the change that now seemed inevitable. What was I thinking?! I had a perfectly lovely, comfortable home. Why on earth were we pulling up the posts and moving to the unknown? Whyyyyy? But all it took were a few kind, calm, wise words from my dad to settle my terrified heart into a safe place that I couldn’t get to on my own. From that moment on, with his support (and my mom’s – always my precious mom’s) things began to turn around. I found little bits of courage to go forward with this giant change.

Last Saturday my husband and I walked from our front door to get coffee, then to see a movie, then to dinner, then back home all in one afternoon. It was freezing and rainy and windy and wonderful.

sculpture downtown Reno
One of the many cool Mid-Century buildings downtown

One of my dearest friends came with me to the house one day while it was still in escrow. We had permission to begin tackling the yard work before we got the keys, and she faithfully worked alongside me with her gloves and tree clippers in the summer sun. We were only able to peek through the windows, but she told me that she believed that we would be far more blessed here than we ever thought we would, that God would show us all sorts of little gifts we couldn’t even see yet, gifts specific to us and for us from His heart to ours.

We already have stories to tell.

What if I hadn’t had the strength of my dad to give me the courage to proceed through all the new things? I am thankful for his steadying hand. I am also comforted to know that my Father in heaven will always be my strength in every crisis, every change. He answered my plea, just not as I had asked. He used my dad to be His voice of calm and peace in my heart, to reflect His own heart.

So here we go into this new way, this new place with new people. We keep saying that we can’t believe we live where we live and how much we love it. It is all so new still. I can’t believe we made such a huge change! Though I miss my old house, I don’t miss it as terribly as I thought I would. The first week here was rough. I just wanted to go home. So strange to realize how much of a role familiarity plays into my sense of security. It’s still not home in the way that my other home was, but time and making new memories will help that. But maybe it’s not supposed to be exactly the same. Maybe our world will be a little bit bigger and my sense of security less dependent on the familiar.

The Branches

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the black sheep of the family’. We’ve heard it used jokingly, lightheartedly, but when it is referred to seriously it is heartbreaking. It is saddest when it is said as a self-reference by one who believes that he or she is too different or even worse, unredeemable. Maybe they think it’s what everyone else thinks of them – whether or not their assumption is accurate.

What a sad thing to think that someone would see themself that way. Today, as I was driving home, someone on the radio said something (I actually don’t even remember what it was) that made me think this thought: Everyone gets a branch on the family tree. The genealogy websites will know your name, and it will go down in history just because you existed.

I want to speak to that one who carries the burden of rejection or self-condemnation. There is good news. The One True God has loved you with an everlasting love.

EVERY SINGLE LIFE will count for something. Every name will occupy a space on its family tree – whether it’s written in ink or not. That’s to say that you are counted. We don’t choose the family or the legacy we are born or adopted into – healthy and in tact. – or – wildly dysfunctional. It still remains that we are COUNTED.

Think of the kids who are given the homework assignment to research and record their family trees. Think of the possibility of someone further on down the line, generations from now, writing your name on that branch as they record those who came before them. Your name belongs on that line because you exist(ed). Your life has value because of the One (God) who gave it to you.

I wonder if we could ever grasp fully that God has created us on purpose – every single one of us – to belong to His family. To know this, to let it sink deeper than we’ve let it, may make all the difference.

If God created us, how He must have thought about us!

He has not forgotten about the life He gave you to live. He was there when you drew your first breath.

You are here for a reason.

You were made to love God – to choose life, to find satisfaction for your soul in Him alone. Every one of us is in need of God’s intervention on our behalf. He has made a way for us to be part of His family. There, He will keep us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

No one in all of history has ever earned his or her right to draw breath. It is a God-given right.

There’s no catching up required to become a recipient of God’s love. It cannot be earned – it is free.

Life is a gift from God. It is sacred. God thought about you, formed you, and breathed life into your lungs. He is the source of our value, our hope. He does not play favorites. We ALL need Him.

If you have isolated yourself because of the belief that you are unworthy to belong, I invite you to come to Jesus and ask Him save you. He will give you an incorruptible inheritance – eternal life.

All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is His boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God's own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for His children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in His mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting Him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (Living Bible)

Ask Him to help you turn from your sins and from living life your own way, and confess that you need the salvation of the Cross where Jesus paid with His life to take sin’s penalty for you and for me.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Jesus is alive and calls us to come and follow Him.

And He [Jesus] said to all, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

The most famous Bible verse that speaks to the Gospel (good news) begins with a statement of God’s love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

No Rush

Have you ever met someone who is never in a hurry? Can you think of someone who always seems to be in a hurry? I tend to lean toward the latter. As much as I have longed to be just someone who can say, “I’ll get to it when I get to it. It will wait,” I am not that person (yet). It’s as if I think that if I keep at it I’ll reach that magical point when all the duties and chores will just be done, as in finished – never to need an update or revisit. And that if I don’t get right to it in the mean time, it will pile up and bury me alive. Oh, drama! hahaha!

To be fair to those like-minded individuals, life sometimes just demands an extended period of busyness. But maybe we could still try to take a minute in the short windows between the next thing to do or place to be. I’m mostly talking about a mindset.

-Lake Tahoe-

Those who are never in a rush seem to possess a secret way to navigate life’s demands without panic over the when, where, how it will all get done. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I have learned to take the initiative to lean into the current more freely than I used to. One of our family members recently said how she loved the wave pool at the water park – the one with so many stories of people having a near-drowning experience in it. It’s tough to know what the waves will do once you’re at their mercy, so many panic and fight them. Another family member said that the LAZY river was his favorite. I laughed at him choosing that over all the other exhilarating experiences the park has to offer. He’s got the idea!

-Lake Tahoe- near sunset

It’s wonderful how different we all are. We can watch and learn from each other. Different stages of our lives hold different priorities. Different people enjoy different things. One of the gifts that can give us time and inspiration to consider those values and reflect on how to live them and where we are in it all is the beauty of God’s creation.

-Lake Tahoe- very windy day

It is not always possible for a get-away or for a retreat into the mountains to hike or to soak in the sun on a beach, but given the opportunity for even an hour or two outside for refreshment, I will take it. That’s when I find it easiest to forget about my to-do lists and my worries.

-Lake Tahoe – looking as vast as the sea

This last weekend we were able to spend a few days at Lake Tahoe. Last year we stayed at the same time of year, before the official start to summer, and it is just the best way to experience the lake! There is NO RUSH. There are no crowds blocking the way or standing in lines. It’s quiet and peaceful. Starting just next week, that will all change for the next few months. People come from all over the world to visit this magnificent lake, and they are willing to make their way through the sea of tourists. It’s that great a place!

-near Nevada Beach on Rabe Meadows Trail-

We stayed at Zephyr Point in an old cozy cabin that had a wood burning fireplace. That was our favorite thing – the crackle of the wood and the movement of light that performed so beautifully to create a sit-and-stay atmosphere. Just what we dreamed for our weekend.

-cabins at Zephyr Point-

The Zephyr Point Conference Center where we stayed is a Christian organization. These pillars have the names of the four gospels engraved on them: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

A couple cabins down from ours was the first cabin built on the grounds – 1920s (I believe the barista said) and is now a coffee spot. Cozy, nostalgic, and great coffee!

I will take as many opportunities as I get to enjoy the warm weather and the sunrises, sunsets that happen every single day. Some of my favorite pictures throughout the years are those I took all alone on an early morning walk before that day’s hustle and bustle demanded my attention. I’ll try to remember and notice and drop the “hurry” more often.

How Precious

Throughout our lives, people come and go. We change jobs, move to different neighborhoods or cities, find new interests; the reasons are many. Rarely is there one who is with us from the very beginning of our lives to the very end. Family members are the most likely to fulfill this, however, there isn’t a single person, not even a twin, who can know EVERYTHING about us, the depths of our hearts and the entirety of our understanding.

– local walking trail –

There’s nothing that we need to explain to God in order for Him to comprehend something about us. He already knows and understands, fully, as no one else ever can.

– Fallen Leaf Lake, CA –

Psalm 139:13-16 tells us that God was the One who was there from the very beginning of our lives; He formed us in our mother’s womb and fashioned our days. He is the Creator of life – yours, mine – life to our bodies and eternity to our souls.

God knows us completely. He knows our thoughts, our past, present, future. He knows where we are at all times. He knows what we will say before we say it.

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4
– garden –

Some may find God’s thorough knowledge of us disconcerting, frightening as we are all imperfect, flawed, sinful human beings. But God knew everything we would do, say, think throughout our lives even before Jesus, who willingly gave His life for ours, died on the cross to atone for the sins we never could.

In fact, God doesn’t use this all-knowing to harm us or to condemn us. John 3:17 says that He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved! He doesn’t remove His love for us when we rebel or fall short. His very knowledge of our weakness and sin is why Jesus took our place on the cross, to justify us, to redeem our souls.

– Carson River, near Genoa, NV –

This type of love from a perfect God is difficult to fathom, but it is the truth of His Word, His character.

It means that He can love us, provide for us, care for our souls far better than we can understand.

In the 139th chapter of Psalms it tells us that there is nowhere we can flee from God’s presence, that the darkness cannot even hide from Him. Verse six reveals that David, the psalmist, finds this a wonderful thing.

– near Genoa, NV –

Imagine that: The God of the universe – the One who spoke light into existence – never loses sight of us. His love for us reaches farther than our minds can comprehend. It is His desire that we love Him in return. He has given us the free will to either choose Him or reject Him.

Some will walk away, reject the God who can love us like no one else ever could. Oh, that they would see and understand the gift they are offered and run straight to Him, turn from all the things that could never compare.

If someone refuses God and rejects His gift of salvation, the thought that he or she cannot hide from or outrun God would be unsettling, maybe even terrifying. But if we yield to Him and believe His word, that He is love who came to save us and not to condemn us, the same realization of His all-knowing can be our greatest comfort and hope. When we repent of our sins and follow Jesus, we are admitting our desperate need for Him to be the Keeper of our souls in a way we never can.

– Burney, CA –

It is never too late to ask God for forgiveness – to accept His gift of reconciliation through Jesus. He has loved us first. Would we love Him in return?

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You. Psalm 139:17,18

Hello!

It has been way too long since I’ve posted. I have started on and added to one in particular several times, but it is weighty, and I have yet to finish it. Whenever I have an unfinished project, I tend to freeze up until I have completed the task. But sometimes, the task isn’t meant to be completed quite then, especially if it prevents other good ideas from their development.

homemade banana crumble muffins underneath a gorgeous still painted by my mother

My blog has been on my mind throughout these last five or so months, and I have missed publishing posts.

-beach at Camp Richardson, Lake Tahoe

I’ve had many ideas – too many (written in the notes section of my phone) – piling up into a menacing stack too daunting to tackle. So I came up with a plan to prevent this unnecessary procrastination in the future. I believe the best way to keep the blog going strong is to write more often with less pressure.

spring flowers

When I first started this project I was reluctant to write too often for fear of having nothing of any value to say in between the more serious posts. That worked to motivate me to establish quality content in the beginning, but I need a different approach moving forward.

The plan is for my topics to be as light-hearted (not necessarily inspirational or impactful) as they may be in between the more “meaty” posts. I want to have more fun with it and hopefully engage in a more community feel. My idea was to build an authentic conversation with others who would engage with or appreciate the type of content I put into the blog and have others share as they feel compelled. I do hope to grow in interaction and visitors/followers.

I want to keep the categories I have already created, and maybe create a few more.

garden chive blossoms

It’s been months since I’ve pursued photography as I have in the past. I can’t wait to get out there and get some more great shots for the blog!

springtime

There have been a couple of funny stories (indeed, at my expense) that I could have shared. I may begin to incorporate some of those. 😊

I have discovered that dog posts are by far the most popular. It would be my pleasure to write more about my dogs, and it seems that people like those sorts of posts (though I’ve only written a few so far).

our sweet Scooby

From the beginning, I wanted to encourage and point others to Jesus. I hope to shine His light to others who may be walking in darkness and need hope. For me, this is the most important part of my writing.

Lake Tahoe

This June will be the fourth anniversary of the start of this blog. Thank you for being a part of it. Be on the lookout for more frequent posts!

A Little Walk, A Lot Of Beauty

So much uncertainty surrounding us these days. More than I can remember in my lifetime (collectively, as mankind). It does my heart and mind infinitely good to get out and be surrounded by CREATION, which reminds me with clarity of the One True God.

View from the trail that runs along the bottom of the mountains at Hidden Valley Regional Park

Scooby and I arrived at the Hidden Valley Regional Park at around 7:20 a.m. The sign says that the park doesn’t open until 8:00 a.m., but the gate and the bathrooms were already open. Thank goodness (coffee drinker)!

Located in South Reno, the chances of seeing wild horses dotting the landscape, and even up close, are pretty good.

I took these two photos of the horses at a previous visit to the park.

There is a dog park that is always full of people and their beloved companions. It really doesn’t matter what time of the day, there are always dogs running around playing in that portion of the park.

My sweet puppy, Scooby, however, does not handle encountering other dogs without extreme excitement. He expresses himself in such a way that people have looked at us with judgment, concern, fear, and pity as they pass by us. Scooby only wants to play, but he can’t contain his hysteria. His yelps sound like there are four or five coyotes carrying on at once. I don’t know how he does it – some sort of vocal trick! He jumps and yanks on the leash and WILL NOT settle down. We’ve tried everything, and it all works a little, at first. Inevitably, he gets too crazy to calm down anyway. He is getting better, but he has a looooong way to go.

Here, he can hear or smell the horses we had seen previously, but disappeared out of sight. I saw them before he did (thankfully) and we promptly turned to a different direction!
He always turns around to check on me when we are out walking.

So thankfully, at this park, there are also trails along and in the surrounding mountains where you can see for miles and miles, literally. When the day is clear you can see nearly the entire valley and the surrounding mountains in the distance. The views are stunning and as a safety net for dog hysteria, we can keep an eye on any potential dog traffic!

A couple times the fog engulfed us and the trail nearly disappeared. You can spot a few horses on the upper left side of the photo.
You can see the Grand Sierra Resort peeking out through the fog where you normally can see all of downtown Reno.

Scooby does best when we are somewhere way out with no other dogs or people and we can let him off his leash. He stays near us and comes back at our calls. I wasn’t going to dare to do that here, though we were just about alone, because I don’t know what he’d do if he encountered the wild horses. I could end up on the news!

The thing to see this morning was the uncharacteristic fog that blanketed our valley. When I set out to head to Hidden Valley with my dog for a morning walk, I didn’t know what a bonus I would get. I had packed my camera because it’s always beautiful up there, but I was extra glad that I did.

I’ve said it before, and I will probably say it many more times; Nevada is beautiful!

Delicious Autumn

Autumn is going to pass by too quickly. I wait for it, even long for it. Delicious Autumn is a bold description of the season from a quote I read. I thought it a perfect starting point to paint my own picture of fall.

Highway 88

The beauty is endless, stretching over all the land with a vibrant, clear energy, excited as one who wants to demonstrate their extraordinary talent so that others can partake of the gift.

The view from our cabin at a Women’s Retreat in Lake Tahoe
Puzzle time at our dining room table

Autumn’s scents: pumpkin lattes, apple cider, burning firewood, candles. Autumn won’t be outdone by the things we add to it. It has a scent of its own that needs no flame or cup to create a heavenly aroma. It’s as close to how nostalgia would smell if it could be contained.

Near Donner Lake
Hike near Donner Lake
Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe

Comfort food is cooked with old family recipes. Fashions get creative with all the layering, and boots are eager to make their way out of storage. Coffee has never tasted better than when the temperature drops off into cold mornings and chilly evenings.

Near Donner Lake

Who can resist a hike when a light jacket will suffice until the warmth of the sun is enough to shed the layer, but not enough to be too hot? When the leaves underfoot are the unmistakable, intricate creations of God?

Highway 88 near Kirkwood – a snowy fall day
Hope Valley
Red Lake – Highway 88

But why does the sound of flying geese overhead cause my heart to ache a little? Why do the leaves floating through the air as in a fairy tale cause me to cherish the sight and at the same time feel like I can’t quite grasp this glory while it is at my doorstep?

Hope Valley
Hope Valley

Fall isn’t a passive guest outside my window. It calls me to itself and begs me to participate in its splendor. Willingly, excitedly, I do with utter delight. But I cannot hold on to it. It slips through my fingers. Autumn teases with the pleasure of its grandeur, but promises to disappear beneath the sleeping grass and barren trees.

Hope Valley
Hope Valley

Take it all in, every bit that you can, I tell myself with almost a panic that I’ll miss it. Engage as it beckons you, I chide myself in my fear of it passing me by.

“Enjoy,” Autumn tells me.

Hope Valley – snowy fall day
Near Donner Lake
Our sweet puppy (Scooby) on a fall hike near Donner Lake

Autumn, you are indeed delicious – you are extravagant. You demand attention, not for your own pleasure, but for ours. Thank you.

Sunset at Lake Tahoe on our Women’s Retreat

One Tiny Pierce

This is a strange time in history. Each day, it seems we are closer to saying goodbye to life as we have known it. I know that sounds dramatic. I believe that our society is declining at a rapid pace. The underbelly of cause lies in the battle for souls, spiritual in nature. We see the results on the surface, but often forget what’s really going on.

The problem stems from each heart (well-meaning as they may be) that has chosen to defy God with the rejection of His ways, His word, His truth – pridefully dismissing His authority, arguing with His goodness, or denying His deity. Our nation appears to wish to remove the Rock of our salvation and replace Him with the fancies of sinking sand – refusing to submit to Him while submitting to every idol that steals and kills. How heartbreaking to witness such a trade that reaches so far.

The Bible tells us that it is all about a choice – life or death. We were created in the image of God to glorify Him with our lives. Jesus has paid the greatest price to provide true freedom for mankind, yet countless souls still do not acknowledge the cross as the loving provision for life and salvation that it is. How many of them have never heard? God’s will is that we choose to follow Him wherever He leads, to walk in His ways, to abide in Him as branches receive life from the vine. Any other knowledge that contradicts the word of God is rebellion and will end in disaster – false promises, false hope for the future.

It has been what we are to do from the beginning of the church: to tell the world about Jesus and to become His followers.

Many believe that freedom is the right to do and believe whatever we want, giving no consideration whatsoever to life, or absolute truth of any kind. If you don’t want something to be the way it is, you can just “say” it isn’t so, and then you’ll find your freedom or your truth. If you want what you want, feel free to invent your own reality, gauging right and wrong on whims of self-satisfaction. How incredibly deceptive this insidious reasoning is.

We are called to love others with the love of God and to share the gospel. Some believe this involves inclusiveness, accepting any new idea, no matter what it could lead to. Others believe that it means we should be sticklers for the truth to the point of harsh judgement which can communicate rejection of the individual who is not of the same beliefs. These are two ends of the approach, neither are profitable. Most fall somewhere in the middle: loving others with care and service while sharing the unpopular truth of God’s word with a passion for the individual’s soul.

One thing I know is that we absolutely need to be led with love for the lost and faithfulness to God. Grace through faith is what we have been saved by, and not our own doing. We cannot carry on as though we have anything other than Jesus Himself. That same grace that gave us eternal life through no effort or works of our own, needs to initiate our approach to sharing the gospel of Christ.

Even with such a purity of motives, the gospel and the name of Jesus will bring division. Rejection and harsh reactions are sure to follow. Still, we can rest in knowing that we are following Jesus as He leads us to love the world. If the consequences are painful, we can be encouraged knowing that we are sharing in His suffering as He said we would.

I pray that we walk in humility as servants of God and that we are led by the Holy Spirit in love, truth and grace. Let us remember the mercy that God has shown to us, the mercy that saturates us each new morning.

There is a lot of darkness in this world – a lot. How can we even begin to push it back?

This last Sunday my husband and I played music at a fair a few towns away. As we sat in some coveted shade waiting for our time on stage, we got a window into the condition of hearts through the conversations of some nearby young adults. I think they thought they were all having a good time together, but there was so much anger and hatred in their words toward each other. Joy was nonexistent, light seemingly unwelcome.

Leading up to this venue, my husband asked what songs I would sing. Without hesitation, I told him I would sing all Christian music, music that spoke of hope and life and salvation through the life of Christ – TRUE freedom. He embraced the “all or nothing” plan. As I prepared, I dreamed that the lyrics would penetrate the darkness that was sure to be present at a secular event with all walks of life in attendance. I thought, one tiny pierce to let the light through is all there will be as we share Him with those who are listening, but even the tiny, no-name platform we had been given would shine for the time we had.

We boldly shared Jesus throughout our set. The sound technician was a young man who was so kind and helpful. I kept thinking throughout the set, that if even just one heard from God through our message it would be worth it; maybe it would be him. As we were packing up to go, he particularly commented on how much the message meant to him. He heard it all and took it in. I don’t know if he knew the Lord or not, but he made a point to let me know how much he appreciated it. It confirmed the ministry that I had hoped and prayed for.

Auburn, California

Lord, give us courage to take each opportunity You provide, and may your Spirit lead. Move in the hearts of man unto repentance and salvation. Amen.

Light’s Next Door Neighbor

My husband and I were asked to come and play for a Christian motorcycle rally this past weekend. The venue was none other than Ely, NV. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t until I made plans to go), Ely is in the eastern part of the state, not too far from the Utah border. There’s not a whole lot to see by way of population or towns on road trips through our state. Very few towns, and the ones you do see are very small and can be a bit run down and depressing. If you choose to find interest in and focus on all of the historical buildings and imagine the way life was when these towns were at their prime, the experience is more enjoyable.

Eureka, Nevada

I didn’t know quite what landscapes we would see along the way, but I knew we’d behold some Nevada desert beauty in the mountains and skies. I love the type of majesty the desert mountains and open skies boast. The drive was lovely once we moved beyond the smoke from the various wild fires.

We stayed at the Jailhouse Hotel and Casino. It was plenty accommodating and we appreciated the fact that it was in the middle of all the old, historical buildings.

Downtown Ely, Nevada

The rally was held at a park near downtown. There were people gathered who lived in a number of different places, all there to fellowship with other like-minded believers. I learned that the CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) was birthed for the sake of evangelism – reaching out, ministering to, and sharing the gospel with people in all walks of life. Our dear friends explained their hearts for this ministry and we were so thankful to have been invited to their worship night.

We (my husband and me and our two guitars) were only into the first song before the wind literally started blowing our music sheets away. My husband eventually put his guitar down in order to hold my music and stand for me. The wind and looming storm worsened impressively. All around were black clouds, thunder, lightning, and wind. My friend ended up stepping in and held my music on the stand so I could see to play it. Another kind woman sat at the base of my music stand to keep it upright. By this time, Deaconn and others held down the tents. While they were all gathered in those strategic – hold down the fort while the storm rages above – locations, I could hear their voices singing with me. The heavy clouds seemed only to show up so they too could be part of the gathering. It never did rain!

The surrounding area of Ely is stunning. We agreed to make plans to go back when we have more time so that we can explore the mountains and maybe do some camping. The short time we had to stop and take a few pictures was an unexpected and soul-refreshing treat. I felt like I was being given a gift from God for no particular reason. Just because He is good and His creation is astoundingly grand. We were all alone and the silence only shared space with the sounds of the clear, cold running creek.

Our hearts were full and we looked forward to the beautiful drive home in the magical light that comes automatically with each new morning. Right before we left town I saw something that made me feel such grief. It was like seeing death. Not tucked way, way back hidden out of sight, but right in plain view not far from the main road, with signs bragging about “new girls”, was a brothel. I know we live in Nevada and there are many such places. But it was right there, marring a small town surrounded by such beauty with its evil darkness. I felt crushed at the contrast between the light we’d experienced while in Ely and the devouring darkness that exists alongside that light.

It caused me to think again of eternity. It was a stark reminder that people are living their lives in darkness all around us. Things aren’t always as they seem. There is Heaven and there is Hell. Every person we see is heading to one of those eternities. There is no comforting “to each his own” phrase to soften the blow. Sobering thought. Crucial perspective.

Dear God, may we bring light to the dark. May the Gospel reach the dying souls and convict and save. Please, Lord, let us not be content to make this life about “our best life”, but about Your heart and Your life that You laid down. May we take up our cross and follow You.

So Good To Be Back

I am full of joy over what happened yesterday. Since February of 2020, due to Covid restrictions, I have not been permitted to enter the facility where I have volunteered for the last six years. Well, yesterday was my first day back with those beautiful people in almost a year and a half. The facility is a short-term rehabilitation and also a long-term living facility for those who can no longer live on their own. My Granny spent time there many years ago and we visited her as often as possible, hoping to lift her spirits and give her encouragement throughout her recovery from a broken hip. Since then, I have always remembered how I felt as I witnessed the sadness that engulfed many of the residents who had lost the ability to fully care for themselves.

Years later, I still thought about them and began to pray as to whether or not I should try to see if I could go and sing to them. This praying and contemplating took about a year before I picked up the phone and called to talk to whoever was in charge of that sort of thing. The craziest thing happened when I told the coordinator my idea – she said, “Yes, you can come sing gospel music to them.” Well, I never told her what kind of music I would sing! She just knew. I didn’t know then that she was a sister in Christ and would become dear to me as we shared our desire to reach the souls in that place with the love of Jesus. I quickly knew with certainty that I had heard God lead me to this ministry.

I have been entirely overwhelmed at times of the clarity of God moving, ministering, and loving in our midst. More than once, I’ve had the thought and sensed that we were covered in the shelter of His wing as He had his way in a place that is prone to pain and despair – as if His covering mightily drew us into His presence. There have been times when, for just a second’s glimpse, I thought I could imagine what Heaven will be like.

As I was driving up to the parking lot yesterday, getting ready to unload my music equipment (something that had grown mundane through the years), I was hit with the glory of it all. That God would provide in this way – that I might be a part of His work in serving and loving the lost and hurting and broken, I found a gratitude beyond what any worldly thing could ever unearth.

I sang my heart out with a mask fixed over my mouth, not to be put off from my job that God had for me. I knew that it would be difficult to sing with a mask on, and it was. But somehow, it made it more beautiful a task to me. What are we able do for Jesus? Anything He asks. If I say yes to singing, He supplies the air I need to do it. Whatever He is leading us to do, may we trust His provision and His purpose. These are the eternal things that our eyes cannot see. We don’t know what He is accomplishing through our obedience. One thing for sure, when we obey, there is no doubt that it is His power in us and we bring nothing other than a desire to serve Him with our lives.

You know, I am looking forward to the day when our eyes can see in full, the goodness and glory of our great God. To know that we ran the race that was set before us in all of its stops and starts and trials and victories. Knowing that it was His grace alone that has saved us and that He has healed and delivered us along the way, setting us back on the right path again and again. In light of our inability to save ourselves, what an indescribable thought to contemplate those words from Matthew 25: Well done, good and faithful servant. What mercy!

May we live for Him, keeping before us the eternity that He has prepared for those who believe in Him. And may we remember the souls that are lost and be ever willing to go wherever God leads so that they might know and believe unto eternal life. May we, like the beautiful old song says – turn our eyes upon Jesus…and may the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Lake Tahoe – A Big Deal

Living so close to one of the most beautiful places in the world can tempt one to take that place for granted. When my husband and I were deciding where to spend our vacation week, we discussed several options that would have meant some extended travel. But when we had the idea to stay close to home to save travel time and the expense of traveling a considerable distance, we knew our choice would be Lake Tahoe.

sailboat on Lake Tahoe at dusk from our vantage point on our front porch

The outdoor entertainment options around the stunning Lake Tahoe area are plentiful. We discover something new to see or do almost each time we visit. During our stay, we hiked around the nearby Glen Alpine Lake and stopped in at Fallen Leaf Lake to take in the sights.

from top left, clockwise: waterfalls at Fallen Leaf Lake, Glen Alpine Lake, cabins at Glen Alpine Lake, Glen Alpine Lake from other side, countryside on way to Fallen Leaf Lake, coyote on way to Fallen Leaf Lake, another vantage point of Glen Alpine Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake

Our vacation spot of choice last week was at Camp Richardson, just a short drive from South Lake Tahoe, right on the famous lake itself. As many times as we’ve driven past the signs, we’ve never turned in to investigate what exists beyond the inviting entrance. We could see there were cabins and decided that sounded like a positively lovely way to spend our time off.

sunset view from our cabin
my husband – playing his guitar at dusk

Now, it helps that we went in May, before the rush of summer tourism, but our time there was truly dreamy. The cabin was so reasonably priced that we didn’t know what to expect. The dwelling was perfectly clean and cozy and comfortable. We could not believe our good fortune when we pulled up to the cabin that had our reservation’s name on it. It was front and center – nothing in between (aside from a few tall, venerable pines) us and the deep blue vastness that is Lake Tahoe! “What?!” I laughed. “How did we score this?”

We saw other people here and there during our stay, but for the most part, the grounds and the beach were our own!

We were there a couple weeks before all of the shops and historical tours are set to open up. The restaurant is open year-round, however, and we ate there twice. We ate outside where the views surround, and the food was delicious.

The historical sites, thought not open when we were there, still made for a beautiful and interesting walk through the trails. The signs told the stories of the families who once lived and worked there.

one of the historical buildings on site
an old boathouse turned into a musical theater

We rented bikes just a ways down the road and had so much fun exploring via nearby paved and dirt trails alike. We discovered a couple of beaches we never knew about and plan to go back and visit. The weather was unseasonably warm for May (as it is still May here in Northern Nevada and we had snow the last two days!). The air and the scents from the trees and blooming flowers and trees fulfilled their role to brighten and cheer. So GLORIOUS.

as soon as we got on the bikes, we just started laughing like we were kids again
I grabbed my coffee and bundled up to enjoy the sunrises – complete solitude and contemplative beauty

I think my favorite experience was walking the 15 or so seconds from our front porch to the beach late at night. Not a soul was out, save for the two of us. We saw the zillion stars in the black sky and listened to the soft lap of waves just feet from our sandy perch. We sat out there in the rare silence, where many voices, feet, and toys will soon occupy. Whether we had traveled from across the country or the ocean or the short one hour or so to stay at Lake Tahoe, it was amazing and did not disappoint!

Love This Day

Kings Canyon Trail

Another Mother’s Day in the books! As is our tradition, my husband and boys and I spent the day together outdoors hiking/walking. My oldest son wanted to be there and planned to be, but he was under the weather and was unable to join us. We missed him!

I love Mother’s Day. I love that I get to be with my family and that they always make me feel loved and appreciated. When my boys were very little I decided to make it a tradition to spend this day doing something that they would always have fun doing – hiking. It happens to be one of my favorite things to do too! We have always brought our dogs along, but Sydney is too old now and Scooby is, well, let’s just say, not quite ready yet (he’s completely insane around other dogs!).

Kobe, me, and Eli
Some of the many horses we encountered at Washoe Lake
Horse watching
Two of my three sons at Washoe Lake

Our day was full of beautiful sights and shrouded in the warmth of the Spring sunshine. I loved every minute of it. Thankful, thankful.

Kings Canyon Waterfall in Carson City