Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Hiking We Will Go

My running partner Carissa and I tend to unknowingly live parallel lives.  Ironically, but not surprisingly, we both purchased the same book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland by Paul Gerald, with the intent of systematically hiking through the entire book.  When we made this discovery, we decided we should tackle some of these hikes together and chose Triple Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge as our first hike together.

TRIPLE FALLS (4.5 miles round trip)
Horsetail Falls where we started
Carissa and I (along with our seven children ranging in age from 20 months to 10 years) met in the parking lot of Horsetail Falls.  Our hiking book rated this hike as “moderate.”  I agree with this rating for adult hikers, but this hike via tiny four-year-old legs is definitely “strenuous.”  Take your time, enjoy the beauty around you and bring lots of snacks.  I will definitely take Curt back to this hike.

View four waterfalls in 2.25 miles:  Horsetail Falls where the trail starts, Upper Horsetail Falls that we hiked behind, Oneonta Falls that we viewed from a bridge over Oneonta Gorge, and Triple Falls, our destination point.
Triple Falls is a unique and beautiful waterfall – three separate waterfalls converge on the edge of a cliff and cascade over it meeting as one before they hit the pool of water below.
Triple Falls
Great picnic spot above the falls and a place for the kids to splash around in the ice cold water.  We spent at least an hour playing in the creek at our picnic spot before heading back.
The hike back down to the car took a fraction of the time to get to the falls, primarily because it was all downhill.
Multnomah Falls is just a few miles down the historic highway from the trailhead. The lodge boasts flush toilets and sinks with real soap for hand washing, a bonus for parents.  The kids love the ice cream cones and Italian sodas for sale at inflated prices.  I was tired enough to pay $3.00 for a cruddy cup of coffee and pretend that it was good.
our group at Triple Falls

There is no bathroom facility at the Horsetail Falls trailhead making it difficult to pee in public.
The trail is incredibly rocky and very narrow with steep drop-offs in many places.  When I replayed the trail in my mind that night, I thanked God for keeping us all safe.  Any kids that come on this hike need to understand trail safety and “hug the mountain” at every switchback.
The hike to Triple Falls is straight up the entire time making it exhausting to traverse with little people.  We took LOTS of breaks and did a lot of bribing to get them all up to the falls.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Confident of What I Affirm

I am totally loving our summer.  The kids and I have been sleeping in, playing and embracing each day even though it’s been cold and rainy for way too long.  What I don’t like about the summer is how my daily rhythm has been thrown completely out of whack.  My exercise schedule has suffered and so has my daily time in God’s Word. 

During the school year my slotted time with God is mid-afternoon.  I sit down at the counter with a fresh cup of coffee, my Bible, my journal, highlighters and pens and relish the silence and time with Savior.  I look forward to this time of rebooting each day and make it a non-negotiable in my schedule.  During the summer this time frame doesn’t work with four kids home who have places to be and things to do.  I’ve been struggling to find a new rhythm that doesn’t infringe on my time with God. 

Last week I read the book of First Timothy.  Paul spends the majority of the book warning Timothy against false doctrines and teachings and urging Timothy to cling to the truth of the gospel, not adding to it or taking away from it.  While Paul is setting up his argument for truth he talks about false teachers and makes this statement in chapter 1, verse 7.  “They (people deceived by false teachers) want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” 

That phrase jumped off the page at me because I see this all the time.   The cultural norm right now is to take what you like from different religions, discard what you don’t like and say you love “God.”  But that’s not the message of the Bible.  Jesus was blatant in his message of who he was and what he expected of his followers and it didn’t include picking and choosing the stuff that was beneficial and discarding the stuff that was tough.  Paul calls this “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (II Timothy 3:5)

When I read this verse, I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to a gut check and ask myself, “Do I, as a follower of Jesus, know what I so confidently affirm?”  And if I don’t, where do I go to research and gather information so that I can be confident in what I believe? 

The obvious answer is God’s Word or the Bible.  Paul wrote a second letter to Timothy right before he was executed for his faith in Jesus.  This book was viewed as Paul’s last words and in it he gives Timothy all sorts of advice on how to persevere in his faith.  Paul says in chapter 3 verses 16 and 17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I want to be “thoroughly equipped” as I follow Jesus and to “confidently affirm” what I believe, so I need to be in the Word.  It’s as simple as that.

I love that God used these two times of Bible study to remind me that I need to get my rear in gear and rearrange our summer rhythm to include daily time in the Bible.  Even better, I’m heading into my day refreshed and equipped for what life throws at me.  Whoo hoo!    

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grant Goes To Camp

Grant hiking by the Sandy River

Grant leaves tomorrow for an entire week of camp.  I've been dreading this day for months.  Each time I'd go online to register him and make it official, the heart pain started.  Sadness that my little man is growing up.  Anxiety about turning him over to a complete stranger for an entire week.  Joy over what a great kid he's growing into.  The tears would flow and the computer would go off.

One of Grant's mentors is Peter.  He's about the coolest guy around and he recently got married.  I mentioned my emotional turmoil to Peter's mom at the wedding rehearsal dinner.  She and I laughed when she told me that Peter's younger brother (Micah) was spending his entire summer at Twin Rocks as a camp counselor.  Micah and I high-fived and he promised to request to have Grant in his cabin.  Knowing there would be a familiar face in the sea of unfamiliar gave me great peace.  Grant was thrilled and relieved too.

For the past year and a half Grant has held down a job scooping dog poop once a week for our neighbor at $2 per poop patrol.  He's been tithing off his earnings and saving the rest for something big.  I don't think he originally intended the "something big" to be going to camp.  Nevertheless, we asked him to contribute $100 toward the cost of his camp tuition.  He, like any kid, balked at the idea but we wanted him to value his camp experience and what better way than by investing in it sacrificially?
If there is water, Grant will be in it.

He hemmed and hawed for weeks.  The longer he deliberated, the closer the enrollment deadline came.  The night before registration closed we forced the issue.  Contribute $100 of poop patrol money, go to camp and have a blast, or stay home.  He tried negotiating and told us, "Well, it's worth $40 to me, but not $100."  It was hard to not laugh out loud.  After much emotion (and continued negotiation) he decided going to camp was worthy of his earnings and he proudly counted out one hundred dollars in $1 and $5 dollar increments.

We filled out all the registration forms, requested Micah as his counselor and Dane (one of Grant's friends) as his cabin mate, deposited the wad of cash at the bank, and excitedly opened the packet of pre-camp information.  The closer departure day came the more excited Grant got and the more heartsick I became.

The mom in me runs every worse-case scenario.  What if Grant gets lonely, sad, sick or injured?  Will even half of what he brings to camp make it back in his bag and home again?  I'm sure his camp counselor won't kiss him goodnight and ruffle his hair like I always do.  How will he survive without me?  Or maybe I should be asking myself how will I survive without him?

Curt informed me that dudes don't bring a suitcase to camp.  They bring duffles.  So tonight I chatted with Grant as he finished packing his duffle bag.  I reminded him to not allow his bag to vomit its contents all over his bunk, the floor and any surrounding areas.  I heard myself saying, "Please - use the zipper!"  I reminded him to shower and to use his toothbrush at least once a day.  He borrowed a "ditty" bag from Curt for his bathroom supplies and put his Bible, journal and pen in a separate backpack to take to chapel.  We talked about what a journal is for and things he might want to write in it.  I put him to bed since I don't get to do that for an entire week.  We prayed together and I choked back tears as I ruffled his hair and kissed him goodnight.

After he went to bed I sat down at the kitchen counter and wrote my son a letter for each day that he'll be at camp.  Each letter had a Bible verse and some sort of question about how camp was going.  I blubbered my way through every letter, sealed them shut, and taped a favorite candy bar to the outside of each envelope.  I snuck up to his room, shifted his sleeping bag to the side, and added my goodies to his duffle bag.

In theory Grant will open one letter and eat one candy bar each day.  In reality, he'll probably eat all the candy in one day and forget about the letters until a few minutes before we arrive to pick him up.  But I like to think he'll care.

Hiking together last week, but that's another post
Working through the emotional process of letting my firstborn continue to spread his wings has been tear-inducing but freeing.  Grant is such a wonderful son and I know he's going to soak up every minute at camp.  He will most likely be the loudest and most boisterous camper at Twin Rocks next week.  I can already picture him hiking, swimming, sitting around the campfire, wave jumping, learning to shoot a bow and arrow, eating enough for a grown man, belching and farting a lot.  I'm optimistic that he'll learn a thing or two about how much Jesus loves him in the process of having all this fun.

If you think of it, will you pray for him while he's gone?  Pray that the bond Grant and Dane have as friends will grow stronger this week.  Pray they will make new friends as well.  Pray for safety and protection from harm.  Pray against loneliness or sadness.  Most importantly, pray that Grant will bond with God in an intimate and beautiful way that grows his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior.  I can hardly wait to be regaled with stories for the entire two hour drive home on Friday night!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa Book Review

Melanie Dobson writes another riveting story with her most recent book Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa.   The Inspirationalist colonies in Iowa valued peace at all cost, but the Civil War came knocking on their door. Can God call one person to peace and another to fight?  Can both paths be honoring Him?

Dobson’s storytelling marries historical facts with well-developed fictional characters in a way that makes learning fun. She mixes an intriguing love story into the growing conflict between peace and war.  The tear-inducing conclusion of this story is a beautiful picture of courage, forgiveness, and God’s ability to make everything beautiful in His time.  Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa will leave you pondering long after you turn the last page.

Find her book at, Christian Book Distributors, or wherever books are sold.  Happy reading!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taking Time to Play

little cowboy and cowgirls
Yee haw!  We're such imposters.
I've written a bazillion blog posts in my head this summer.  One about Peter and Molly's wedding (that took place the end of May), several posts about Curt's two trips to Haiti (that happened in June of last year and April of this year), an end of the school year post, a Sun River Family reunion post, one about what God's teaching me about love, and so many more.  But guess what?  We're too busy playing for me to write.

Triple Falls Hike with friend Carissa and her 3 boys
There are days that I miss the structured schedule of school days, but overall I have thoroughly and completely embraced lazy summer life.  Our family has hiked, napped, read books, shopped, played games, gone to parks, played in the water, gotten together with friends, watched movies, gone to the rodeo, picked berries, made cookies and lazed around.

family hike to Falls Creek Falls

Today Grant made lunch for all three of his sisters (using the stove) while the girls played Play Dough.  I watched them interacting and just basked in how awesome they all are.  I forgot how much I love having them home and how much fun it is to throw To Do lists aside and just have fun.  My house is dirty, blogs aren't getting written, and my To Do list is growing, but it has been wonderful!

4th of July Paintball Pops after a hike
Some day I'll write about all the things tumbling around in my head (or maybe I won't) but for now I've got a grocery list to make, food to buy, and packing to be done cause we're going camping.  Happy playing!