Sunday, May 27, 2012

Deep Unto Deep

Once again, the high country has filled my heart (and my camera's memory cards) to overflowing. I have just returned from another trip to the mountains with my parents who love them as much as I do! This time they took me on a lake cruise that explores the wonders of the 55-mile long, 1,486-foot deep Lake Chelan in North Cascades National Park in the state of Washington.

I may have seen more waterfalls on that day trip than I think I've seen the rest of my life put together! The spring melt was at its height and every place along those steep mountain faces where water could gather and run headlong down to that deep, cold lake, it came in a rush of blinding whitewater. There were so many waterfalls I kept having to run from one side of the boat to the other to capture the next and the next and the next (such a fun problem to have)!

At the north end of the lake, after a short bus ride, we reached the pièce de résistance of the tour, Rainbow Falls, a 312-foot cascade on the jade-green, glacier-fed waters of Rainbow Creek. 

What a gift it was to feel so small in the face of such a towering waterfall! What an amazement to feel and hear and taste and see such utterly unbridled power! It was thunderously loud, and wondrously beautiful!

I had to leave my camera safely below with my mom down at the level where I took these pictures, but I climbed up to a higher vantage point--I just had to take another look. As I ascended the trail, what was a light, misty spray at the bottom, turned to a torrential downpour closer to the top. The violence of the water's crashing to the rocks below was creating so much spray it rose up and rolled over like an ocean wave, drenching all in its path, including me, (sans camera)! It was blinding, and deafening, and breathtaking!! All I could do was stretch out my arms in a feeble attempt to take it all in and then I found myself laughing out loud with the sheer thrill of it . . . but it didn't matter because no one could hear me . . . except Him! I think He laughed along!!

"Deep calls to deep
         in the roar of your waterfalls; . . ."

During the 4 hours back on the boat, this verse kept playing in my head as I thought of the way that wild water fell from the towering heights to the rocky depths. I thought too of the deep, deep, dark green water that filled the nearly 1500 foot basin below me; and I thought of the ocean depths where every drop of that water is ever flowing. I know that all those deep places belong first and foremost to my Creator-God who made them--that is a deep thought all its own. Deep calls to deep . . . His deep calls to my deep, the same deep He created within me just so He could fill me with Himself.

pray that we will hear the call of deep unto deep, the mighty, rushing roar of His waterfalls as our gracious God fills us to overflowing with the living water of His Spirit--what a beautiful sound!


Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1403-1441 (May 14th-26th)

14. a gift picked up, put away, put back
My kids, multiple times today
Stuff I don't need to take with me on my trip
15. 3 gifts about you
Ability to be content while waiting in the airport 
That I still get as excited as the first time on takeoff and landing--just like a little kid!
My love for looking out the window to see what there is to see
16. 3 gifts found in His Word
The promise of His coming
The assurance of His love
The evidence of His greatness
17. a gift in a box, in a bag, in a book
The presents I got to deliver in person
Makeup, toothbrush, clean clothes
Grandma Allen's diary from 1932, the year she graduated from high school--priceless!
18. 3 gifts unexpected
Rainbow Falls (all 312 feet of it) and an exhilarating shower!
Friendly encounters
The look on my niece & nephew's faces when I surprised them at a school performance!
19. 3 gifts from your childhood
My brothers, Cody & Chad
The fragrance of lilacs & noisily happy bumblebees!
My basement room!
20. a gift sweet, sour, salty
Time with old friends and an unexpected story to treasure
Tears when it's time to leave (I hate goodbyes!!)
21. 3 gifts found in little people
The way she says her r's
The unrestrained love showered on me by my niece & nephew
My 7yo nephew wanting to know if I believe in God--what an easy YES!!
22. 3 gifts that made you laugh
The way Drummer Boy snuck up on me at the airport when I got home despite the fact that I was watching out for him to do exactly that!
Being smothered in "welcome home" hugs by my family
Getting back to the jokes, the good-natured teasing, and general noisy goofiness of my family 
23. 3 gifts found in community
Opportunity for She So Sweet to take care of the neighbor's animals for a few days
Watching The Avengers with She So Sweet and the others in the theater
Reconnecting with our Peet's friend, Diane, and a collection of Peet's employees and other regulars we see there all the time
24. a gift in a plate, pot, package
The heirloom plates that hang on my wall, reminding me of my Great Grandma
Leftovers from the first meal made in my new Crock Pot
Custom-made puzzle in the mail and on its way--I hope they like it!
25. 3 gifts hard giving thanks for
The return to so much busyness
Air that is not as smoggy as it might be, but still smoggier than I would like it
Immune systems that work a little too well when it comes to allergies
26. a gift worn, white, whispered
Hair clip that keeps my hair off my neck when I'm too warm
Paper towels that help me clean up life's little messes
I love yous and prayers of gratitude

   Beauty in His Grip Button

On In Around button
A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Apologies from a Thoughtherder

I feel like I've been a bad blogger the last couple of weeks. I have been absent and silent and sorry I'm not better at this.

Gathering my thoughts these days is a lot like herding cats. So many of them crowding around in my head, some of them in clusters, others lone and wandering and scattered. Some of them stumble and lurch in uncertain circles, like kittens fighting for equilibrium on their four inexperienced and uncoordinated feet, while others march in regimented lock step, kicking the unsteady ones unceremoniously out of the way (they look a little pretentious to me). A few are angry and frustrated trying to walk a direct, purposeful line through the chaos of the others, ears back and squinty-eyed, they keep trying to ignore the distractions, with limited success. Don't be surprised if you hear an indignant yowl or a hiss and spat of protest when they get bumped into. Somewhere in the wild and woolly fray, the ones I feel sorry for are the ones who just want to jump up to bat at a butterfly, or roll lazy in spring sunshine, or who, like miniature lions crouch low and stalk silent after who-knows-what in their imagined savannah--they're having a hard time of it.

This is a season of busy, a time of plate-spinning, a time to hold on while the ride dips and speeds around corners over steep rises and down dizzying drops with no steering wheel or brake pedal to regulate the course.

I hope to do a better job of having consistent posts, but when school work demands my attention, I may not always be able to do all the good things I want to do. I pray for you, my beloved readers, for your health and wholeness and that God will keep your hearts encouraged and energized for all He has created you to do and be and become. I am so grateful that any of you are still here at all, and I thank you for your patience with me. I appreciate every comment you post and every one of you who quietly reads behind the scenes! 

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy . . ." Philippians 1:2-4 NIV1984


Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1358-1402 (April 28th through May 13th)

29. 3 gifts in dirt
The bulbs underground that every year produce my glorious irises!
Piles of laundry, dirty clothes that give tangible evidence of us living full and lively lives!!
The dust we're all made of, formed by God's hand, and filled with His breath
30. A gift given, made, sacrificed
Hugs and squeezes
Petitions to God on behalf of people who needed a touch from God today
Calories sacrificed in order to move toward a healthier me
1. 3 gifts tasted
She So Sweet's chicken salad--what a lovely creation that turned out to be!
The last of the borscht I made the other day--remembering Bubs, the dear lady who gave me the recipe
Tater tots with ketchup
2. 3 gifts flat
The surface of my treadmill--nothing to trip me up
My computer monitor--window on the world
Farmland--all around this country there is rich, fertile, flat farmland where farmers grow good food for us
3. 3 gifts found in difficult people--we are all difficult people, me most of all, so these are gifts found in people with absolutely no emphasis on the difficult =)
Good service from baristas at Peet's and Starbucks throughout Contra Costa County.
The young man I met at school who has been through so much, but is persevering and trusting God for every day
That when I told her the story of Joseph, she said, "I'm going to think about this."
4. 3 gifts before 9 AM
A chance to sleep a little later than usual
Hard boiled eggs done just right
Snuggle time with She So Sweet
5. a gift in a sign, a smile, a snack
15 Minute Parking space open when I just had a quick 10-minute errand to run!
Drummer Boy when I brought him breakfast in bed for no particular reason
Triple berry muffins with much cinnamon!

6. 3 gifts found in Christ
Happily ever after
7. 3 gifts about your home
That we have central heating and cooling--so thankful for AC when the weather heats up!!
That I still see it as a long-awaited dream come true.
That in it we are a family who loves each other well.
8. 3 gifts inside a closet
Clothes to wear
Jackets and shoes--so many we hardly know what to do with them all!
Places to put things--well, that's the idea anyway =)
9. 3 gifts found in the dark
The dark in my cup--Peet's Coffee
The dark in her brown eyes--She So Sweet singing at her school's coffee house
The dark in the almost-summer sky that brings cool after the heat of the day
10. a gift outside, inside, upside down
A pair of flirting house finches--what a dance!
A nap inside the car while I waited for She So Sweet
His Kingdom and everything that goes with it (upside down here, but right side up there!)
11. 3 gifts about your parents
That I get to be with them in 4 DAYS!!!
That they love mountains as much as I do!! 
That they are so easygoing and fun to be with no matter what we do!!
12. 3 gifts held in hand today
An old organizer found while cleaning that held a letter I wrote to Drummer Boy the day before he started Kindergarten.
The three packages of spearmint gum Hero Husband bought so I'd have plenty for my trip
Smores, made with GIANT mashpillows (what She So Sweet called marshmallows when she was little) and Hershey's Special dark chocolate, and shared over laughter 
13. 3 gifts found in your mother
Courage to follow her convictions and to dream God-sized dreams
Joy, the kind that bubbles up from inside a heart full of Him and the kind she chooses in spite of chronic pain
Wonder--it's just the way she sees!

   Beauty in His Grip Button

On In Around button
A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Stories Among Us


It is quite impossible to spend time in San Francisco without seeing the unusual. Donuts and Chinese Food? Why not? It is a city where oddity is normal, a place where spectacle is commonplace and a slightly magical land where stories on two feet walk freely among the skyscrapers and pass you on the street like a storybook parade of characters. This, like all cities, is a display of contrasts where breathtaking beauty and wretched, hellish ugliness live side by side, where extraordinary wealth and desperate poverty rub shoulders every day without surprise.

Despite the fact that I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, and for most of that time have lived less than 25 miles (as the crow flies) from this world famous city, it always feels like an adventure to go there. The skyline and the city itself have hosted countless TV shows and movies and I have grown so familiar with it through those stories I always kind of feel like I'm meeting a superstar celebrity for the first time--a little bit surprised that it exists for real. Last week, after perhaps a year away, I went to San Francisco, or "The City" as it's known around the Bay, twice in the same week. Both trips were exercises in story-seeing.

Some stories are unutterably tragic. The lady with only half her clothes, a hospital bracelet on one wrist, and food she couldn't quite keep in her mouth to eat--why was she out, fending for herself when clearly she can't? Another man shuffled along the sidewalk ahead of us, apparently unaware of much around him except what was on the ground along the fence--every discarded banana peel, each empty matchbook cover drew his attention and caused him to fixate on it, feeling the need to repeatedly press it flat with his foot. It took him an awfully long time to go very far.

Other stories were exciting and full of promise, like the students at the culinary school we visited. They had big dreams and creative ideas, and the fabulous food they were artfully and skillfully preparing made everyone in the building pleasantly full and quick to laugh!

There was the young man at Pier 39, holding his newborn daughter, still a little tentative about it like he thought she might break if he didn't do everything just right.

There was the saxophone player, playing his heart out for a transient and fickle audience, hoping they would like what they heard enough to buy a CD or to toss some money in the bucket at his feet--some did.

There was the group of teenage girls, distributed between two crowded and over-burdened pedicabs, giggling and squealing and greeting everyone they passed like long lost friends! It was clearly a fun party and it seemed to make them love everyone they saw.

There were young families, couples in love, salesmen delivering their best pitches, the parking attendant with his huge roll of money who wanted to be paid before we parked, and our excellent and experienced waiter at the restaurant at the Pier who wanted so much to help us make Drummer Boy's 21st birthday special. He succeeded!

The stories sometimes seem more dramatic, more colorful, more extreme and surprising in San Francisco, but the fact is, each and every one of us, and each and every person we meet is a story. God knows each and every story word for word, line by line, page by page and chapter by chapter. He knows each story line, every nuance of plot and character, the tragedies and the triumphs, the conflicts resolved and the conflicts raging, the dreams chased, the dreams dashed and the dreams come true.

He knows and He cares.

He both reads our stories and writes His story on our hearts . . . if we'll let Him. He misses nothing about us or our stories! The best part is, no matter what the story looks like here on earth, He offers a triumphant, happy-ever-after ending to everyone who will hand Him the pen.

"Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day."

Have you met any stories lately?
Who holds the pen in your life's story?


Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"
Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1338-1358 (April 22nd through April 28th)

22. 3 gifts close
Hero Husband's face when he kissed me good morning
Pillows that cradled me in Sabbath rest
My pen tablet that helps me do so many things with such ease and comfort!
23. 3 gifts reflecting
Reflections of our movements through busy days in the big mirror in the living room
The way I can "see" the front door from the kitchen by looking at the reflection on the glass of the tulip picture on the living room wall
Crescent moon
24. 3 gifts fragile
Egg shells
Ice crystals as I got to see them on an episode of Frozen Planet
People--though God has made us amazingly resilient, we are all invisibly marked "Handle with care."
25. A gift cloth, steel, wood
Denim, the stretch kind
A whimsical and strange structure we saw from the BART train at an unexpected delay in Berkeley
The bench along the window at Peet's
26. 3 gifts moving
The fan blade that cools me off when I'm too warm (most of the time)!
The soaring and beautifully moving music of Il Volo--perfect for when I'm doing schoolwork!
Me, on the treadmill most days this week--progress!!
27. 3 gifts "ugly beautiful"
That I am old enough to be the mother of a 21-year old son today! =)
The incessant noise of what we affectionately call "the City," San Francisco--it makes a particular kind of music if you really listen
The garish, the strange, the ultra-rich, the ultra-poor, the artistic, the driven, the mixed-up, the hapless, the helpless, and the broken--the people you see in San Francisco, all of them loved by God
28. 3 gifts orange
California poppies everywhere I look!
Shredded carrots that made a quick salad with lunch
Giant-sized navel oranges I saw at the grocery store today

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!


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