Just the Two of Us

D69ED6EA-0C3F-4CAF-9FBE-CE9E64C36D68Last week was a first ever experience for me and my husband.  Being a homeschool family for so many years, we got used to and cherished always having our kids with us.  We loved having the freedom to create memories with both planned and impromptu outings – trips to the mountains, lakes , trails, creeks, etc.  We took family vacations that usually involved the outdoors.   Camping memories for our family include the kids swimming, exploring, playing board games and the usual rituals like marshmallow roasting around the fire at night and blueberry pancakes and bacon cooked over the fire in the morning.  That’s why my heart squeezed and my breath shortened a little this weekend when my husband and I reached our campsite and set up camp without the usual clatter of noisy excitement.  Our kids stayed home this time and for the first time ever it was just the two of us on a camping trip.  The contrast was unmistakable and I had the opportunity to bravely embrace this new season of having our kids all grown up.

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I have noticed that God prepares us for these things ahead of time.  He has already done such a work in my heart regarding these specific changes, teaching me to simply follow Him.  At first I had a difficult time defining my changing purpose and role as a mom after my kids had all graduated from high school.  But in His perfect timing God swooped in and rescued me from the despair I temporarily lived in.  He showed me the things I was clinging to were in the past and that He had new things for me to do.  He had mercifully already healed my heart’s feeling of loss in this area.  I am able to see that He will still use my life to greatly affect my kids’ well-being, just in a different capacity than before.  And in these times of change, there are really cool new things – gifts to realize and be thankful for…like camping dates with my husband!

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We thought we knew where we were going to camp and headed in that direction.  Turns out we took the wrong road and had to turn around after about forty minutes of driving on a lone, yet beautiful highway.  We passed a sign for Grover Hot Springs Campground while heading back to Markleeville, and we decided to check it out.  I had recently heard good things about this place, so it seemed a safe place to try.  Wow!  It was so very beautiful!

The hike to the falls was perfect for my husband because he needs to have less exertion at higher altitude levels.  It was only a mile and a half each way from camp and is virtually level!  Just his type of hike. (smile)

The mountains and the meadows surrounding the area were a seeming hidden treasure that we had happened upon and uncovered.  It didn’t hurt that the weather was unseasonably cool the whole weekend.  In fact it was so cold at night we almost missed our morning campfire.  We stayed in longer than usual but still managed to indulge in a cozy morning fire.

We only had one night, but we sure enough squeezed all we could possibly squeeze out of those two days on either side.  Going off-trail has always been a favorite of mine and the boys (our sons).  In the morning my husband and I did just that before we checked out of the campsite and headed for other adventures.  It was as if we were all alone in the beautiful meadow along the creek, taking in the majestic beauty of the mountains around us.

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Hope Valley and Highway 88 were our next destinations after leaving camp.  These are usual haunts for our family.  We go and see the aspens every fall and now this is the area near where we cut our Christmas trees down each year.  I love to discover new places I’ve never been and add them to my list of favorite places.  Well, we got a high-end version of this when we found a campground (so sorry, we never read the sign to get the name) off the road to Hope Valley.  What we realized as we looked around at all the other campers was a collection of horse trailers.  The inviting beauty of the land is why we stopped in there, not even knowing of the trail we were about to traverse for about an hour and a half.  OH. MY. GOODNESS!  What hidden beauty we discovered!  It actually was a horse trail.  We encountered a number of people on horseback.  We were the only ones on foot!

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DSC_4403DSC_4408We ended the day with a picnic at Caples Lake.  It was so peaceful.  Neither of us were quite ready to go home, but we were thankful for all that we saw and experienced in the time we had.

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Music Festival Glow

DSC_4177I am still basking in a glow of gratitude from last weekend.  My husband had asked me a year ago if I would be willing to perform at Joshua Fest (an incredible Christian music festival held in Quincy, CA each year) if we were accepted and approved to do so.  In times past I would not have wanted to risk putting myself out there like that, but I threw caution to the wind and said yes.

DSC_4166I have always absolutely loved singing and playing, and I have had an outlet of ministry in one capacity or another to use these gifts and talents.  I have led worship, sung at weddings and funerals, special events, ministered (still do four to five times a month) at hospitals, but to pursue anything like this was uncomfortable for me.  My husband has always wanted me to be able to share my music and the songs I have written.

I have “pursued” music in the way of writing and recording songs, but have never sent anything in anywhere for just such a purpose.  This was a first and it was worth it!

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We camped there at the fair grounds where the festival is held.  The concerts went late into the nights and began again in the mornings.  The music and the performers glorified God.  I was greatly encouraged by their inspiration to be passionate about giving God everything.  In my desire to keep a pure heart and correct motivation regarding my role in music, I have often wondered just how much of a ministry performing music can truly be.  I was so touched by the hearts of the other musicians and the power of their message through their music, that those doubts were laid to rest.  I know that music is powerful and can be used for God’s glory, but I believe there is such a fine line as to who it’s actually for.  I pray that I will be used of God in this same way with music for as long as He allows.

Our camper was parked in a uniquely beautiful spot overlooking a lumber mill.

DSC_4180  Maybe not everyone thinks of lumber mills as beautiful, but I always have.  It made for an enchanting atmosphere in the morning as the sun came up and I spent my time reading the Bible and praying.

DSC_4186 DSC_4183DSC_4185See, even those little details blessed me like shiny, valuable gifts from Someone who loves me.  I felt like God spoiled me with all kinds of goodness, just because.

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My middle son played with me.  We practiced together almost every day for two months. Time richly and eternally spent that will always be amongst my best memories.

IMG_E3255  (My husband and me at our “merch” table!  Talk about an uncomfortable sort of putting myself out there!  My husband gives me those gentle nudges that I need when I talk myself out of doing scary things.)

I am exceedingly grateful for the time I got to spend with each of my kids this past weekend.

IMG_E3251 DSC_4174 It means SO MUCH to me and I know that it was a gift from God.  We had friends and family come all the way out to support us and watch us play.  I was overwhelmed by that kind of love and friendship and loyalty.  I mean OVERWHELMED.  To be loved like that feels scary for me – I don’t know why.  It feels risky, but I am loved anyway.  Oh, I want to love others with abandon too.

That’s a wrap!  Thank you, Joshua Fest!  Thank you, LORD for such beautiful things.

Still On the Throne (Song)

I previously wrote about the inspiration behind this song in one of my former blog posts. It has the same title, in case you would like to go back and read it.  I have grown to love singing this song as one of my favorites.  It puts me right in front of the God of my life and He hears me as I sing to Him of His awesome worthiness.

Somebody’s Daughter (Song)

I wrote a story with this same title a while back.  It’s in the archives of the previous blog posts if you want to go back and read it.  The song was inspired by a real person who was a friend of my parents.  I was compelled to write it when I had mistakenly felt sorry for her after she had passed away.  The reason for that feeling was that it appeared that she died all alone and without a family.  I quickly caught a different, more accurate perspective and the lyrics to this song came from the beautiful truth of that perspective.