#11 As Far West As We Go on Highway 2

Our second day at Glacier National Park was a bit more relaxing than the first, as we took a lovely drive and a relaxing boat ride.

There’s a town far north on the west side of the park called Polebridge, just 20 miles from the Canadian border. Along the way, we peeked at grassy settings of cabins, often surrounded by wood pole fences. We wondered if these were summer cabins for people or if they lived here full time.

Polebridge is a long drive down some asphalt and some gravel roads, but everyone seems to go there for the freshly homemade, warm out of the oven, Huckleberry Bear Claws. Huckleberries only grow wild in the northwest, so they’re a special treat. Handpicked! What the bears don’t eat, that is. Bears love them! These aren’t your typical Panera Bread bear claws; the dough is heavy – the bear claw must have weighed two pounds (ok – well, maybe one pound), and we each ate one, along with a cup of coffee. (We’d brought the pot along, as we always do!) It became our lunch!  We sipped coffee and ate  Bear Claws, crumbs covering our laps, as we casually drove south and back into the park at it’s Camas Road Entrance. The drive was well worth it – not just for the Bear Claws but in the hope of seeing wildlife – both plant and animal. You know the saying, You win some. You lose some. Well, we won the Bear Claws, but lost our hope of seeing grizzlies or wolves. It was well worth the drive, anyway, as we had a relaxing drive along meadows of huckleberries and wildflowers, rivers and streams, and the massive west side of the Rocky Mountains we had been enjoying from the other side. 

What does God put in your path? He has put wildflowers along every roadside I’ve traveled on this trip, along every path I’ve hiked, and on the edges of every mountain and lake  I’ve seen. It’s His message to me that He loves me, He leads me, He hems me in – He’s in front of me and He’s behind me, showing me the beauty of His creation and reminding me that He clothed each flower – He’ll certainly take care of me! These things are not coincidental! Not along God’s highways.

We drove back to Lake McDonald, which we had passed the first day – the 9-mile long Lake at the west side of the park. I browsed the gift shop inside the old lodge while we waited for our tour to begin, dreaming of sometime coming  back to stay at this  lodge, spending  my days  reading  and writing,  and  walking along  the  cool waters of the lake. We boarded the DeSmet, a 1930 passenger boat, for a one-hour tour. It was delightful! 

Here’s a beautiful photo of Lake McDonald Stream, taken by Jack Bell: 

I collected a few stones from Lake McDonald Creek as it flows into the lake. It was a perfect ending to not only the day but the entire experience at the awesome Glacier National Park.

While visiting Glacier, we had spent three nights at a peaceful campground in Kalispell, Rocky Mountain High. It was a perfect country setting with the beautiful Swan Mountain Range in the background. We slept with our windows open, breathing fresh pine air, the large trees above then shading our trailer during the day.

We’ve had sunshine nearly every day of our trip thus far, and today was no different. As we readied ourselves and prepared the trailer to leave the site, our neighbors, Barry and Linda, held our hands and prayed for a safe journey for us. The body of Christ is ever present on our journey.

We continued our venture on Highway 2, which we had followed now through five states and would continue well into the sixth state before this nightfall.

Western Montana did not disappoint. It was all we had expected with green forests and beautiful lakes surrounded by tall pines.

Ranches with occasional fields of hay to feed the livestock, dotted our paved trail.

Further west, the Kootenai River came along beside us and flowed beautifully beside us as we entered Idaho. At Bonners Ferry, we separated ways with the river –  it flowed north, while we drove south through Spokane and on into Washington. 

Certainly the landscape murals changed. Sage brush dappled the otherwise barren land. Soon  we drove around brown mountains speckled with small pines that had managed to grow in the dry rocky surfaces.

We ascended and descended these parched mountains  and the twists and turns of their ups and downs, and of the curves I had come to hate and fear, which   were impossible to escape, so I gritted my teeth and clenched the arm rest beside me until we finally descended into a beautiful green valley – the town of Wenatchee, Washington, the “Apple Capital of the World.”

It was a breath of fresh air after hours of driving through a desolate area.

Not only was the valley below filled with orchards, but the mountain walls surrounding the valley were, as well. And not just with apple orchards but with all kinds of fruit. 

The inviting Wenatchee River flowed through the valley, and that night, we camped near the river at the County Park.

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered during this trip it’s that the landscape and road conditions can change within a mile’s drive! And that’s what happened when we left the valley and parted ways with Highway 20, our old original, on which we had driven over 2000 miles in the last ten days!

Leaving the beautiful Wenatchee Valley, we turned south on US Highway 97. The road ascended as quickly as the gas prices! Now the mountains were green and fertile with wild plants, natural trees,  and living creatures.

And a short distance further south, the scenery changed  yet again! 

The windy, hot, dry climate, typical of this area of Washington surrounded us. Although 100 degrees, when we stopped for gas, we noticed how much cooler it seemed than 100 degrees.  Now we know what people mean when they say its a dry heat. Nonetheless, we were in a desert, so our plans to “boondock” overnight needed to change. I called ahead to Yakima and booked us a site. It was one of the strangest we’ve ever had – such tight quarters in the middle of a large city, next to an RV storage lot. But we had electric and the AC we needed thanks to Site #40!

Have you read the series of posts from our Trip West? Click here to start with #1 The North Begins at Clare. Scroll down in the home page tab “Home Sweet Home” to find all the posts.

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Click here to read the next Post, #12 Into the Gorge

#10 Mountain-Size Fear

After our perfect day, driving through the Glacier mountains, a fun Alpine lunch with Ron, seeing bear, fox, wolverine, marmots, mountain goat, and deer in their forest and mountain settings, I set the gps to direct us from St. Mary, back around the southeast edge of the park – roads we had not yet traveled – to reach Highway 2 and our RV Camp near Kalispell. Neither Ron nor I had any idea what we were getting into when our “gps Lady” led us to a 12-mile stretch of road, Montana Highway 49, also known as Looking Glass Highway.

I hope to never see that road again!

Sure, Going to the Sun Road” was frightening at times, but this stretch was, well . . . So. Much. Worse.

Traveler / writer of takemytrip.com describes it as “twisty, bumpy, steep, narrow, and generally difficult to drive.”

Yeah, I’d say so.

He further writes that you gain elevation and “it’s one twist after another . . . is crazy dangerous . . . “ with “very little room for error, and no guard rails to protect you in some of the most critical places. Aside from the curves and narrowness, the road itself is in terrible condition . . . potholes and suspension straining dips . . .”

The traveler / writer thinks the spectacular views are worth it. Neither Ron nor I agree.

I’ve borrowed photos from the takemytrip.com website to share with you in this post, as I could not bring myself to hold my phone to take even one pic. In your mind, picture dozens of hairpin curves such as the one in the pic, each with no guard rail, no shoulder, and immense drops. Picture at least one of those hairpin curves with a cross placed on the edge of the mountain, commemorating the loss of life. It was the most stressful 60 minutes (yes, 60 minutes to drive 12 miles) Ron and I have ever spent in a vehicle.

I’d never realized how much I loved the straight, boring lines of Highway 2 across North Dakota until the yellow highlighted route of my Rand McNally Road Atlas began taking on little snake-like patterns. The route became especially frightening when those patterns were accompanied with the triangular markings of mountains nearby. It became a terrifying combination in my mind! Suddenly, every day since that drive on Montana 49, I fight a fear I didn’t know I had: the fear of driving around curves with drop-off edges, often in windy areas, while pulling a travel trailer.  I write this post 13 days and four states after traveling the supposedly beautiful but certainly dreadful Montana Highway 49, and the fear is still very real today, as we travel through an otherwise beautiful location on this lengthy trip we’re taking. 

Do you remember reading about the prophet Elijah?  He was also frightened. The concept of Elijah being fearful puzzled me at first and continued to bewilder me in further study because he was a man who had witnessed the power of God and had performed miracles himself by that power. After all the demonstrations of God’s power, Elijah, nonetheless, was so frightened by the threats of Jezebel that he ran over 100 miles, where he collapsed under a broom tree. He then traveled another forty days and night to a cave at Mt. Horeb, where he hid. Why, I wondered, would a prophet of God be so frightened? Why didn’t he just stand up to Jezebel and proclaim the Word of God to her, as he had proclaimed to so many others? Whatever the reasons, I understood Elijah’s fatigue and fears. I had been raised with fears. My family called it worry. My mother, father, aunts, and uncles had perfected worrying. It wasn’t until later that I realized that worry although sometimes growing from godly concern, was typically nothing but fear. I too was adept at worrying! If my child was out of sight, and I sensed any possibility of danger, my mind could perceive the child dead and buried within seconds!  The slightest fever brought visions of mortal illness and suffering. If there was a place to hide from my fears, I would certainly flee to it.  Like Elijah. And I presume that is exactly what Elijah had done. His fleeing and hiding were all a part of the fear he was experiencing.

Now, it’s easy for us to look at Elijah and question how in the world he would be fearful.

And it might be easy for you to look at me and wonder the same!

One thing I know: Fear is from the enemy, so I need to fight it with the Word of God. When I become fearful, I need to speak the Word. I’ve written about fear in the past, as it’s something I’ve dealt with most of my life, and I’m sure many of you have, too. This is how Jesus has whispered to me about fear in the past. He has told me to guard my heart from fear.

Like He did with Elijah, God has demonstrated His power to me over and over throughout my life. So why do I fear?

Like David, the Psalmist, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.” So why do I fear?

The Bible tells me that God has not given me a spirit of fear. Instead, He has given me a spirit of power, and of love, and of a strong mind. I’m going to overcome that fear with power, love, and a strong mind. How? By guarding my heart and my mind. And by speaking the Word of God. Loud enough for the enemy to hear. (Proverbs 4:23, Philippians 4:6,7)

What fear are you fighting? Guard your heart with His Word!

Click here to read the next  travel Post #11 As Far West As We Go on Highway 2 

#7 Prairie Grasses Have Purpose and Deep Roots

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Yes, all of nature is connected and has purpose. A fellow RV’er advised us not to bother driving through North Dakota and Montana – said it was boring with no striking views, but Ron and I like to make the connections. We appreciate it all. (Well, most of it anyway!) The Northern Prairie is remarkable. And even their prairie grasses have purpose.

In the 1920’s and 30’s, evidently the farmers didn’t realize the importance of keeping those grasses throughout their land. They wanted to plant grains such as wheat and oats instead. When drought occurred, as it often does, dust storms blew the agriculture away. The soil was eroded. Until the rains came around 1939 and dryland farming methods were applied, this beautiful land was useless. Families starved. The prairie dust caused breathing illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, and silicosis.

(The root system of prairie grass compared to the root system of agriculture.)

What the farmers didn’t realize was that the prairie grasses had tremendous root systems. The soil in which they grew could not erode. The person rooted in Christ is the same. The Bible tells us that if our roots are holy, our branches are, as well. The roots support us.  Jesus said that if a man has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When problems come, the worries of life, and the deceit of wealth (notice that phrase the Lord uses) comes, we’re lost in the winds. We quickly fall away, the Lord teaches in his parable of the sower. Have you seen a person quickly fall away? Or has it happened to you? It happens when we’re not rooted.

Oh, how I need to be rooted in Christ in this world. It’s so easy to fall away, and I don’t want that to happen. The Apostle Paul tells us that “just as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord,” we need to continue to live in him, to be rooted and built up in Him, to be strengthened in our faith as we were taught, and to overflow with thankfulness.

He continues to warn us about those things that will diminish our roots in Christ: deceptive philosophy (we see/hear a lot of that these days) and practices that are based on human tradition rather than on the actual teachings of Christ.

Jesus ends the parable by telling us how our roots can go deep: it’s by hearing the Word and by accepting it.

The winds of these Northern Plains through which Ron and I are traveling are strong. They’ve whipped our trailer as we drive through and rocked it when it’s at a standstill. They blow the papers from our picnic tables and mess my hair every time I step outside. But in doing so, they remind us of the deception the world brings – because of Satan, our enemy – but that we’ll stand just fine in that wind, as long as we’re rooted in Christ Jesus.

Further reading: Mark 4:1-20; Matthew 13:21; Romans 11:16; Colossians 2:7 . . .

Click here to read the next Post, #8 Trains Are Everywhere

#3 My Pink Earplugs

We packed plenty of warm clothes for this trip to the northwest: jeans, sweaters, flannel shirts, fleece lined hoodies. We’d read of warm mornings at the campsite but cool temps in the mountains. Within the week before the trip, we began to observe different weather reports in the areas we planned to visit: a heat wave was taking place in Oregon, Washington, and Montana! My weather app showed 101° in Havre, Montana, a location where we planned on perching at a Walmart parking lot for the night. Knowing we wouldn’t have overnight electricity for even so much as our little fan, Ron said, “Kathi, find us a campsite in Havre.” The Lord quickly supplied. I made a call and encountered a friendly voice on the other end, just as I had so many times previously, in planning the trip. I’ve discovered a multitude of friendly people across this vast northwest we will be traveling! And I’ve discovered overnight availability when I least expected it.

Due to the expected heat wave we would be driving into, I realized that we just might have to turn on that atrocious AC in that little travel trailer of ours. I refer to it as atrocious because although occasionally necessary, as it very well might be on this journey, I don’t like it. I don’t like the door and windows closed, blocking the fresh air and open view. I don’t like the loud noise of the unit right above our heads, in the middle of our cute little home away from home. But, should high temps prevail at night, although atrocious, it might be a relief. Thus the earplugs.

After learning of the heat wave, hoping to block the sound of AC, I purchased pink earplugs, perfect for a woman’s ear, so they say.

We’re into the fifth day of our trip now, and the nights have cooled just enough that we didn’t need the atrocious AC, but the earplugs did come in handy. Let me explain why.

 Late Friday, we pulled into a small country campground, just past Duluth on Highway 2. It was clean and tidy and offered full hook ups and internet! This is great, we thought. We had just gotten set up when we heard the rumble. We first assumed there was a busy highway behind us which we hadn’t noticed, but the loonngg whistle soon gave it away. Yes, a train track was just a short distance behind the campground. Ron, hopeful, said, “I don’t think the trains will run at night.”

Ha!

In the morning, nearby campers spoke of trains running through every twenty minutes or so. Whistles blew often, they said. All. Through. The. Night. Ron, exhausted from work and driving many hours, had slept through it all. I did, too. But only because of my pink earplugs!

If you attended Sunday School when you were a kid, you might remember singing a song with the lyric, “Be careful little eyes what you see. . .”

The second stanza is similar:

 “Oh, be careful little ears what you hear;

Be careful little ears what you hear;

for the Father up above

is looking down in love,

so be careful little ears what you hear.

It might be a children’s song, but it’s based on teaching from the Bible, so it’s a message for all ages: We must be careful what we hear.

Sometimes we need to wear our pink earplugs.

The Father is “looking down” – not to judge us but to help us. He knows the danger to us if or when we listen to what we should not. He tells us it is a danger that affects our faith.

He’s given us His Word to teach us in order to protect us and in order to bless us. That’s His desire for us. Abundant life. And in that Word, He instructs us of certain things we should not continue to hear. We’re familiar with many of these things: gossip, negativity; however, in my recent studies, I’ve noticed a continual and strong message given throughout the whole Bible  – a warning about some things to which, when we listen, we can gradually and easily become desensitized to the dangers. (The enemy, Satan, just loves it when we become desensitized to those things God desires.)

The Lord tells us not to listen to mediums, sorcerers, and fortune tellers, but He doesn’t stop there. He warns us not to listen to what some people teach – some who claim to be prophets – some who claim to be wise – some who claim to have the answers. He tells us that these people speak ideas of vanity (the importance of self), they speak ideas from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. He says that some of these people claim to teach in the His Name, but He makes it clear – their teaching is not from Him. The Lord did not send them.

Sound familiar today? I see it constantly on social media. It is more than subliminal in movies and television shows. Constant little tidbits of teaching that initially might sound spiritually okay but isn’t. It’s hurting us, and God knows it. He says we must plug our ears to it.

He warns us that our family or close friends might be listening to these tidbits of false teaching. But He says we must not listen to it – even if they encourage it. Wow! This is serious business. The train is rumbling.

Jesus tells us to consider carefully what we hear. Tells us it measures our faith. The Apostle Paul teaches that many people who appear to be Christians actually teach false doctrines and endless controversies instead of doing God’s work. He says they’ve wandered away from the truth to meaningless talk. He instructs the Church to deal with them and to command them to change. It’s important to the Church. It’s important to the Lord. The train whistle is blowing.

It’s God to whom we must listen, and we hear Him in His Word. The closer we listen, the more understanding we will be given. In fact, we’ll just keep receiving more understanding, the Word says. It stands to reason that when we’re listening to falsehoods, the more falsehoods will fill our minds, but when we’re listening to the Word, the more truth will fill us.

We are not under law. God does not force us to listen to Him. But we believers recognize His voice. It is the voice of the Shepherd. And we want to hear Him above other voices.

The rumbling is all around us. The warning signals are given. The train whistle is blowing. I need to use my pink earplugs to block it out.

~~~~~

If you haven’t followed Jesus as Savior yet, click here to learn more about becoming a believer.

Further reading:

Deuteronomy 13:8

Jeremiah 23:16; 27:9, 14

Mark 4:24

Luke 8:18

1 Timothy 1:4

2 Timothy 4:3

Click here to read the next post, #4 Trust the Magic 

#2 Where you go, I will go . . .

My postings throughout this month of July and early August will vary from the typical, as Ron and I take a lengthy adventure. The northwest has called us, and I invite you to come along!

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

~ Rachel Carson

June 30 – We drove north about 6 hours today, crossing our favorite bridge in the fog.

Spent the night at the little Welcome Center – first right over the bridge. I’ve written about driving north in a recent post. Click here to read it.

July 1 

 This was our true first day: July 1. Day 1. 

We woke to sunny skies; had pancakes on the gas stove and French Press coffee. No electricity needed! Left St. Ignace and drove west on Highway 2 – our main road for the next ten days! Oh how we love the U.P. It was Thursday before the big weekend, and people were pulling campers and boats, yet the roads were not crowded. There’s room for all in the Upper Peninsula, and we relish in it! The birch, whiter than white with deep black veins, catch my eyes as we travel. We are blessed to call Michigan home. I can never get enough of it.

Across this stretch of road in Michigan, a Biden/Harris sign still remains in front of someone’s cute little red ranch home  Dozens of faded Trump 2020 signs and flags, are still posted in yards, and on barns, posts, and vehicles throughout this westward trek. On one wayside saloon, an owner had printed “My _______ governor is a wit wit.” Today, I reached the conclusion that Yoopers in this area are not at all timid!

We paused two times today – first for lunch and rest at a wayside park. Quiet contemplation at that shaded picnic table was my favorite time today. It has become a rarity. Seems I must force myself – think I always need to be accomplishing something. I’m slowly learning that resting and listening to God “is” accomplishing something – something He wants to accomplish!

We paused again late in the day, briefly leaving Highway 2, traveling 20 miles north to see Agate Falls, one we had missed in our 2020 trip north. I wanted to recreate my 3-year-old photo at the base of that falls (I missed it last year – click here to read the post). We walked a viewing boardwalk (was unrewarding) and attempted to hike the deep gorge to the actual base of the falls, but my shoes didn’t quite meet the criteria for such a venture today. Seems a lot has changed in the area in the last 66 years. A placard conveyed that the original 125 steps to the bottom of the falls, on which my daddy obviously carried me at the time, burned in the early 1970’s, along with a motel on the property. Only a treacherous hike could get one to that location today. It’s a hike we’ll once again have to save for the future!

We stayed at an RV site at Northern Waters Casino tonight, a first for us and we were very pleased with this first come, first served opportunity. For only $16, we had electricity, water, and internet connection! Was peaceful, and very likely the quietest night we’ll have on this lengthy trip!

It’s odd – sleeping in this trailer the middle of nowhere, but it doesn’t take long to relax in the quiet darkness of this wooded north, a cool breeze tickling my face with scents of pine and cedar, and the man beside me who inspired the theme of our little “home away from home.”

Click here to read the next post, #3 My Pink Earplugs

A Little Bit of Jesus

Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt – the enemy of the Israelites – detested the words of Moses and Aaron regarding God’s plan for the Israelites. He referred to their words as lies and told his overseers to “Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”[1]

You are most likely familiar with the many plagues God put upon Pharoah and the Egyptians to force Pharoah to let the Israelites go – to let them leave slavery in Egypt. After plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, and flies, Pharoah finally agreed to let the Israelites go – but only a certain distance. “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far,” he said.[2]

Does our enemy, Satan, set limits on you, as well?

He stirs you to find fault in your Christian leaders. He detests the Word of God they are preaching. Oh, he lets you worship – perhaps pray – a bit – but not too often. You must not go very far, he says.

He doesn’t mind if you go to church, as long as you don’t get “religious.”  Don’t listen to those who speak God’s Word. They speak lies, he says. The message is outdated. It’s not for today. He tells you it’s okay to go to church sometimes, as long as your church time doesn’t conflict with other events.  You must not go very far, he says.

He puts into your mind many faults with God’s plan of giving the tithe or more.  Oh, it’s fine with Satan if you give a small offering to ministry, but he tells you the church doesn’t use the money properly – or you certainly need the money for something more important this week. You can give next week instead. You must not go very far,”he says.

He makes the Christian look foolish – you know – the one who speaks to others about being saved. The one who prays in public. The one who prays with the sick or the grieving. The one who lives and raises his/her family according to the Bible, instead of according to the world. He tells you that you would certainly appear foolish in front of others by revealing your Christian faith.  You’ll appear foolish if you disagree with today’s “norm.” You must not go very far, he says.

He causes you to be totally worn out on Sunday mornings. Your children aren’t obeying your directions to brush their teeth and get dressed. An argument is brewing between you and your spouse. Going to church isn’t worth it. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, you tell yourself. You must not go very far, he says.

I’m familiar with these lies, as the enemy spits them at me quite often. But just as God willed Moses to lead his chosen people out of Egypt, He wills us to leave the burden of slavery to our sin and to follow Him, just as Peter and the other disciples did when they recognized Jesus as Messiah, the one about whom Moses had written.[3] Once we belong to Him, He offers us abundant life.[4] The enemy doesn’t want that abundant life for us; he doesn’t want us to go that far.  He tricks us into thinking we’re just fine with a little bit of Jesus.

I’m not. Are you?

[1] Exodus 5:9

[2] Exodus 8:28, italics added

[3] John 1: 35-51

[4] John 10:10

The enemy is a liar:

 

So she waits . . .

She knows she shouldn’t worry – shouldn’t fear. She reads it, studies it, believes it. She speaks that Word as a reminder to herself. She speaks that Word as prayer.

But the fear is sometimes overpowering, much like its creator, the deceiver, who strips her mind, if only temporarily, of any other options than that of the fear of loss. More loss. The deceiver assaults her, approaching her from his dark hiding place, filling her tired and weary mind with the worst possibilities. She suddenly feels weak – nearly too weak to fight. But she waits.

Her mind composes the worst scenarios. And she fears she has no strength left to go forward, should those possibilities unfold. Certainly she can’t face another. Not long ago, she had felt so strong, but now, oh so suddenly, because she has opened the door to the enemy of fear, she is beaten from hurts of the past. She prays, but the deceiver tells her that her prayers are worthless – boringly rote and hopelessly meaningless. She suspects she’s being deceived, but she’s tired. So she waits.

In her weakened condition, her mind remembers nothing but past pain. As though there have been no victories. She strives to consider God’s faithfulness, but it seems so … very … far away. The fear – the worry – pulls her under water. It’s hard to breathe. She gasps for air. And she waits.

But as she waits, she gains strength. She rests. She eats from the vine and drinks from Living Water.

As she rests and is strengthened, her hope is renewed. She remembers a faithful Father.

As her hope is renewed, she sees the deceiver for who he is. She tells him to leave her presence. He has no place near her. He must obey because he knows of her Father – her faithful Father. And she waits.

And each day, little by little, she gains a greater understanding of “waiting.” When she reads, 

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He lifted me up from the pit of despair, out of the miry clay; He set my feet upon a rock, and made my footsteps firm,”

she knows that He hears her cry even when it is an inward cry rather than an outward cry. Because He is faithful.

When she reads,

“. . . grace . . . teaches us . . . while we wait,”

she realizes that God’s grace has revealed His faithfulness all the time she has been waiting in despair.

When she reads,

“those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,”

she knows that she simply needs to give herself a bit of time – time to not jump to conclusions – time to let herself be strengthened – time to let God work things out for her. She learns that most often, waiting means taking time. She learns that He has spoken about the waiting because He knows it will be necessary for her. She is reminded that her Father is faithful. And so she waits.

Psalm 40:1,2
Titus 1:11-13
Isaiah 40:31

~ Kathi Waligora
Author of When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers
and 
Shh! Listen to His Whispers!

I admit it. I wonder . . .

Do you pray – and pray – and pray – and wonder if the Lord is hearing your prayer? And if He is, why He isn’t answering?  

You’ve grown in your faith. You trust in His Word. You believe His promises. But you’re still praying. And wondering. I admit. I am.

You’re not alone.

I’m right there with you.

And David, the Psalmist, whom God loved tremendously, is with us also. He knows grief. He knows distress. He knows waiting.

He comes right out and asks God. I’m asking right along with David:

How long, Lord, before you answer me? It seems like you’re turning your face from me. How long must I struggle with this agony, anxiety, and sorrow in my soul? It seems that the enemy is winning this battle . . . Oh, Lord, turn and look at me and answer me. Give light to my eyes – restore the sparkle I once had. Don’t let my enemy think he has won.

Then, as David does, we too need to recognize God. This is where we must go. This is what we must do. We must respond to our own distress by recognizing who God is. David’s example of recognition is perfect for us, as well:

But, I trust in your unfailing love, Lord God. My heart rejoices in the salvation you have given me and continue to give me. You have been good to me. 

You have been good to me. Oh how this causes me to remember God’s goodness. Over and over. A lifetime of it. He has been good to me.

Now I’m trusting more. He knows me. More than I know my own soul. Now I must strengthen myself in the Word.

I read more about God, learning more about myself, as I do:

 

Lord, You know everything about me. Everything. You know where I am, what I’m doing. You know my thoughts and my words – before I even speak them. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. You are always with me. Always. You’re in front of me and behind me. You hem me in as my Grandmother hemmed each piece of clothing. Securely. Snugly. Safely. If I choose to go up toward the heavens, You are there. If I go down into the depths of the Earth, You are there. If I fly toward the dawn of the morning or toward the farthest oceans, Your hand is there to guide and support me. It’s impossible for me to hide in the darkness. You still see me – because You bring light into my darkness.

There it is my friend – He brings light into my darkness. He brings light into your darkness. Just as He brought light into David’s darkness.

And so I close my eyes and I see His hand of blessing reaching toward me, guiding and supporting me. He places His hand upon my head.

And I am blessed in the waiting. And in His presence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From Psalm 13 and Psalm 139

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More than I can ever imagine!

I must admit, I had some anxiety about it – our lengthy trip planned across the northwest states. I’ve struggled others times, such as the first few days when we arrive in Florida for the winter. It’s an uneasiness about being so far away from the kids for a length of time.  (For those of you who don’t know – our three kids are grown up, happily married, unbelievably responsible and self-sufficient, blessing us with eleven grandchildren and one great-grandchild due, as I write this. But, once again, although my anxiety might be unwarranted, I’m just being truthful!)  This trip – planned for the month of July – is farther yet. About twice as far. Anyway, it’s an admission. Don’t judge. You have anxiety over certain things, too!

I had tried  various Trip Planners (five to be exact), but after hours of using the mouse to move the route to the roads we wanted to take (which do not include expressways) and “losing” the entire plan, I opened the Atlas and started the tedious job of my own “Trip Planning.” Days of effort. Pleasant effort. But time consuming, nonetheless. Finally, the route was finished. Our 31 allotted days of travel, including five National Parks, over 4000 miles, numerous state parks and RV Parks, and a few Walmart parking lots!

Then I started doing some research. I wanted to be prepared to see all that we could within the locations we would travel.

Oh my word! That research changed everything!

The first discovery was Multnomah Falls. I’ve seen pics of it for a few years now – pics taken in each of the four seasons. I’ve always thought it must be the most beautiful waterfall in the country. Little did I know it was on the Columbia River Gorge, in Oregon, just a “hop, skip, and a jump” from Viento State Park, where I had booked two nights camping. (I love how the Lord works all that out!) I just can’t express what this knowledge did to – and for – me. I literally “choked up.” I thought, I am going to see the most beautiful waterfall in the country! Thank you, Father God.

And that’s when things suddenly changed. All my anxiety about the trip was gone. God gave me peace and joy and tremendous appreciation and thankfulness for what Ron and I were about to see and experience.

And with my continued research, I began to wish we had planned two months instead of one!

Thor’s Well – don’t you know, we’ll drive right past it on the Oregon Coast.

 



  Seals! I didn’t realize there were seals on  the coast, as well, did you?   

One photo after another – of prairies and streams, of mountains and glaciers, of wildflowers and waterfalls, of mountain goats and grizzly bears – filled me with excitement. It is so much more than I ever expected! And I’m going to see it and live it for a while!

And so it is with heaven. I can’t begin to realize how great it will be. For you, it might be a quiet setting you desire. Or a mountain top.  Or a home beside the world’s best shopping center! Jesus said He’s preparing places just for us! We can’t begin to realize how amazing it will be.  Unlike our trip out west, which is for just a short time, heaven will be for eternity! And instead of anxiety about it, we can have peace – total peace! He alone gives that peace. It comes with trusting Jesus Christ as Savior. Only then can we look forward to His plans for us! Click here to learn more about becoming a Christ follower.  

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By her right hand . . .

I joined Mama in those last steps of her dying. As much as I could. From the outside looking in. This was Mama’s dying, not mine. I was very much alive and it made it all the more difficult to accept this separation that death was about to force upon us.

I love you every step of the way

She turned her head and looked at me. She spoke. soft. single. syllables, but I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t understand.

I’m tired,  I thought. I’m worn. I don’t like this. I want to go backward – to yesterday – to last week – to last year. I want to hear my Mama’s voice. I want to listen closely to her. I want to soak up her every word.

Then no more movement. Eyes closed. She lay perfectly still. Not in sleep. But in the stillness that sometimes comes before death. This was a stage of death – one I’d witnessed in my Daddy, just one month prior – one I did not want to face again. A double-edged blade was stabbing the most tender place of my heart. She would never look at me again. She would never speak to me again. I yearned to hear her voice, even those soft. single. syllables, once more. I wanted to place my ear close to her mouth and listen closely. Please God, can we go back.

But there was no going back because this awful parting that was coming about between a mother and a daughter, was death, and this awful death had been compounding itself in my Mama’s life for many years. It had been initiated and implemented in a beautiful garden, and it had ruined every life since. It was aging and suffering, cancer and illness, war and killing. It had parted many mothers and daughters, and it was strong – stronger than I could any longer fight. And so I sat beside Mama and watched as she lay still, her body dying.

Suddenly, the stillness of those hours was broken by an occurrence that became a ritual of the next hours: she opened her eyes and turned her head, facing up, looking toward heaven; lifting those, purpled, bruised hands straight from her elbows, toward heaven, toward her Savior. I watched this sacrament in amazement throughout these next hours, each time understanding more about death and feeling its wicked sting. Please, God, let Mama’s body die so she can go to You and to Daddy.

I had prayed for a visible sign of Mom’s soul leaving her body. It would be such a simple thing for You to do, Lord God. I didn’t need a sign to know that my Mama was going to the Lord Jesus. I simply wanted it! And so I prayed.

Now she dwelt in this last state of her physical being, one I had not yet observed in these days of watching her die—or in the weeks of watching her struggle to breathe—or in the years of watching her vibrant body deteriorate into the old woman who now lay before me. Mama simply turned her right hand away from the sterile white sheet and raised her palm toward her Savior as she took her last breath.

I opened the Bible – the Word. I went to the Psalms and discovered that Mama had lived the Word in her death:

“Yet I am always with you,” [my Mama said],”You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory . . . earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:23-26 NIV)

He had held her by her right hand and had taken her to glory. And He had answered the simple prayer of a simple daughter.

And I knew that the Word would help me face life without her, that God was the strength of my heart and would be my portion forever, and I understood a bit more about death and felt a bit less of its sting.