Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Water Flys...

Deep in the woods of Tennessee, there's a cove where a creek flows that leads to a falls where the waters fly.

Waterfalls are mesmerizing.
There is something so thrilling about watching water ----- fly.
It doesn't last for long --- but for the few moments the water leaves the trappings of the shoreline --- there's a powerful thrill that fills the air. Its beauty and strength can be felt most fully when it sheds its burden of earth.

Our hike carried us 2.5 miles deep into the woods. No roads, just a small rocky path. We'd been there before, we knew the treat that would be ours at the end of the hot, muggy trek through the woods.

At Abrams Falls we can swim in the pool of water at the base of the falls and hide from the madness of the swirling world around us. Sin and hurt and confusion and troubles can be left at the edge of the trail --- we shed our clothes of burdens and dive into the waters. The hike in has made us most thirsty for the cooling waters. And so we indulge.

Not every one lets the waters wash away the sweat and grime of the trail. Some just sit and look - and long - and wish. Maybe they can not swim. Maybe they are afraid of the dark depths of this remote pool. It's true that some have died here - they jumped from the top of the falls and breathed their last air on the way down. The rushing waters are to be respected, not tested. They will win if they are pressed.
But following the silent rules laid out by the powerful waters ---- can carry you to a place of deeper knowing that you could ever experience by sitting and watching from a safe distance. It's a matter of surrendering and obeying what is more powerful ---- with courage.

Several years ago Steve discovered that you could actually get just behind the falls. Imagine - there's more than just what we can see in front of flying waters.

Last week, during our annual family camping trip to the Cove, we found ourselves following the path to the falls at Abrams Creek once again. This time looked very different to Steve and i as we were very aware this peaceful mountain path is a long distance from where our lives are carrying us. We've walked this trail with little ones in our arms and diapers and sippy cups packed on our backs. We've swam in this hidden pond with little ones clinging to our necks, thrilled over the excitement of the cold, flying waters coming over the high ledge of rock.
But they've grown up now; the little ones that came from us.
One was not with us on this trip ---- we missed his laughter and life with us.
Two were on the trail --- leading the way --- knowing the path well --- carrying their own packs now --- no diapers needed --- no need to ride on daddy's shoulders this time.
They are as big as us, as strong as us, and truth be told ---- more agile than us ---- we love them still just as if they were riding "piggy back" -- skin to skin --- laughter in our ear.

When our hike finally brings us to the falls --- they shed their packs and shoes and dive in --- no coaxing or help needed --- they know these waters.
Their father is right beside them. My 52 year old favorite man on earth becomes a 15 year old again playing with his kids and i pause to watch the beauty. These moments should not be rushed. They're too valuable to be overlooked and missed. They are the riches of life.

Then the 52 year old "boy" heads to the base of the falls --- he swims so smoothly, the current does not slow him at all. And within minutes he's making his way along the slippery moss covered wall to find the nook behind the falls. It's one of his favorite places on earth. The space between the rock wall and the flying waters.

Our youngest son, the one that is tallest of all now, is right behind his dad. They tuck themselves in behind the falls together. Do they know how moved i am just watching them play together, laugh together, be "boys" together? Do they know how thankful i am they do not choose the shoreline? Do they know how moving it is to see them pursue the space between the rocks and the waters?
Then moments later, our daughter joins them. She is weaker than them, she's suppose to be, she's a "girl". Getting behind the falls on her own would be impossible. But her father's strong arms hold her and guide her. Then they are all three laughing and yelling behind the flying waters.

Steve dives out first, then Pete and finally Maggie. The current propels them far out into the pool of deep waters. It's one of those perfect moments in life.
We have two friends with us on this trip --- Kelly and Joy soon find themselves behind the falls too. Laughter prevails.

Laughing with them, i'm also talking with my Abba ---- there is always so much to say to Him. There is always so much to be watching for and listening to --- from Him. It's a daily quest --- to hear what He is showing me. He will not yell it or demand that i listen ---- but He is always speaking --- and i want to hear.

Then Pete, our youngest, heads back for the falls. He's looking for another dose; the breathtaking thrill of being behind the wall of water, just inches from the rocks. The air behind the falls is different from the air in front of the falls. It's intense back there. It's as if the air knows it's somewhere it isn't suppose to be --- there's a thickness to the air, as if it's charged with power. It's hard to breath behind the falls -- hard to fill the lungs with such power charged air. But he's making his way across the rocks and sliding back behind the wall of white again. We can still see him faintly behind the waters. Then he begins to move to a different place, moving across the back of the falls, to a place where the water falls so thickly we can no longer see him. None of us have ever gone that far before. He disappears before our eyes and we all freeze.

Steve and i look at one another; he begins to move towards the falls. Oh my heart...
Then Pete yells ---- a wonderful, excited, "all is right with the world" yell! It comes booming from deep behind the falls and everyone remains frozen. Moments pass and then our 17 year old treasure dives out into the current. He's gone where we have never been --- he's fine --- we thank God.
He swims over to us --- we're hooping and yelling --- enjoying the moment with him. People on the shoreline are watching him --- wondering -- curious ---
He swims over to me and hands me a small, smooth stone and says --- "it's for you mom --- from the deepest space behind the hardest falls --- it's for you mom" and his smile at that moment will remain in me until i breathe my last breath.

God had much to say to me ---- and it all came so quickly.
It's as if God is always speaking --- but in His great patience, He waits until we are perfectly positioned to actually HEAR Him. And then He fills the air with His message --- spoken to our hearts --- on its way to our souls. Ears are not needed.

"it's for you donna --this path I've chosen for you --- leading to the deepest space --- behind the hardest falls ---- it's for you donna"
"love - intense love - so powerful it might seem hard to breathe sometimes"
"do not be afraid --- my arms are strong and will guide you to where you can not go on your own"
"when you get to where I'm taking you --- others might not be able to see you --- but i will still be with you"
"everyone on this shoreline could go to the deepest space behind the hardest falls --- but not everyone will --- will you?"
"you will not be alone"
"there is more ---- so much more"
"I, God, will carry your sons and daughter to places you have never been --- they will be with ME"
"the deeper you go with Me, the more you will be with them --- through Me"
"there are treasures in the deepest spaces behind the hardest falls"

and the little smooth stone given with a genuine smile of love ---- will be my reminder...

Soon --- Steve was following Pete to this new, deeper, hidden place. Then Maggie.
I confess --- i was afraid. The intensity of the falls behind the first familiar nook was all the "excitement" I could handle. I didn't want to feel more or experience more than the first familiar nook. Then Pete swims over to me and says, "Mom - you can't miss this, come on, we'll help you".

and there it was again ---- His voice in my heart ----
"donna -- don't miss what i have for you --- come on --- I'll help you".

I know that in those moments ---- no one else realizes all that is being said to my soul. It's ok --- it's as it should be.
I move towards the scary waters, Pete helps me. He guides me to his father's arms already reaching for me from behind the falls. Then Pete is gone and all I can feel is Steve's powerful, sure arms around me and his calming voice in my ear.
Everything else is sheer madness around me.
The air is harder to breathe.
The water is beating down.
Nothing is soft, or easy, or comfortable, or peaceful. Everything is powerful and bigger than me.
I can't see the sky.
I can't see anything except the white wall of water in front of me.

And i know ---- it's a picture for me ---- of how God wants it to be.
He - God - my one sure foundation.
His arms - powerful and sure.
His voice - truthful and calming.
The madness of the world around me not altering His presence in me.
Breathing in and breathing out - moment by moment --- whether easy or difficult.
Ignoring what is railing against me - not looking for soft or easy or comfortable or even peaceful.
Not relying on what i can see.
Walking by faith --- holding onto His sure presence.

The little smooth stone given to me by Pete from the deepest, hardest place behind falls ------ is for me --- what the 12 stones stacked in the Jordan River were to have been for the Israelites.
A reminder --- never to be forgotten.

 "When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

 "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
   I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
   When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
   it won't be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
   The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you..." Isaiah 43:2 (the Message)

Photos taken by Maggie, Steve, and me at Cades Cove Tennessee.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two very dangerous words...

There's an interesting story in 2 Kings that has much value woven in its telling. It is a true story.

Naaman was the general of the army for the king of Aram - he was highly favored and much appreciated by the king.
The beginning of the story shares with us that Naaman suffered from a serious skin disease (thought possibly to be leprosy). Naaman suffered greatly from this affliction.

Years prior to the setting of these events, Naaman had captured a young girl during a raid of Israel. Naaman had brought the girl to his wife who received her as one of her servants. Years had passed and the girl remained in their household. One day, this young servant girl said to her mistress, Naaman's wife, "If only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease." (2 Kings 5).
The wife tells Naaman, who then goes to the king of Aram asking permission to seek this healing. The king of Aram consents and writes a letter to the king of Israel giving introduction of Naaman and asking for assistance with his healing.
Naaman departs with gifts, servants, and the letter ---- with hopes of healing on the horizon.

When he arrived in Israel and delivered the letter to the king, the king became terribly upset, ripping his robes and declaring he was not a god who could heal. The king of Israel felt the king of Aram was trying to pick a fight possibly. (Sort of an odd response --- but i suppose if we were well versed in the culture of their world we would more fully understand.)

Elisha, the prophet of Samaria the young servant girl had spoken of --- heard of the kings' distress and sent word for Naaman to be brought to him.

Here is the story -

2 Kings 5:8-15 (NIV)

 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
 15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel."

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could sit together and talk over the different parts of this story. I've read it through in several translations and rolled it around in my mind for days now. It is rich with teaching.  Oh how tired and frustrated Naaman must have felt as his hopes of healing seemed to lay dashed at the feet of an angry king tearing his own robes.
There is possibly much of "us" in Naaman or much of "Naaman" in us.
After all --- we work hard --- we're doing the best we can --- we need healing (physical or emotional or spiritual). None of us walks about unscathed this side of Heaven. Still, we will get up everyday and do the best we can to be honorable and upright and make life better for those around us.
But we can't avoid the truth --
Naaman could see it rotting his very skin away ----

--- we need a Savior --- we need to be cared for --- we need help.

Anyone who says they do not need help ---- needs help most of all.

Naaman was seeking help. And was met by an angry king. But the king was not who he had been sent to see. He needed to see the prophet of Samaria - Elisha.
Naaman was looking for help in the wrong place --- no help could be found with this angry king.

Then Elisha hears of the situation and sends for Naaman (can you imagine Naaman's relief at having been "sent for" -- by someone who could hopefully help him). When Naaman arrives, Elisha sends out a servant to tell Naaman what to do for his healing. Elisha knew what was needed ---- "Go to the river Jordan and immerse yourself 7 times..."
Am i alone in seeing the beautiful parallel between  ---
Elisha and Naaman --- God and us--- ?
God knows of our need,
He reaches out to us through His Son,
He sends word for us to "Come to Him",
and His Word gives us clear instructions on what we need to do ---- to be healed - to thrive - to move forward unhindered by rotting skin hanging from our bones.

There is such deep truth interwoven in this story from long ago that fits perfectly in our lives today.

But ---- back to the story now ---
What happens after Elisha sends a message out to Naaman - telling him what to do to be healed?
Naaman became angry and said, "I thought..."

Oh how those two words jumped out of my Bible as i read them over and over again. Two hugely wrong words --- when living out orders from God.
"I" ----- perhaps the shortest, smallest, and most dangerous word in our vocabulary. It proclaims to all exactly where our focus is --- i, me, mine...
I think, I thought, I want, I wish, I need, I must, I crave, I have, I will, I can, I, I, I...
Perhaps the footprint of "pride" is the shape of an "I".
We're even conditioned to convey our love to another ----- with the oft used phrase - "I love you" --by beginning with "I". It's a tiny twist --- but a misleading path. Shouldn't our declaration of love focus on the one we are speaking to ----- YOU are loved (by me)???
"I" --- it's a tricky, tiny word. You can measure much by counting the times it's used in a single paragraph. It's the appetizer to the entree of "self" ---- and the dessert of "mine".

Naaman's next word is ----"thought"

Naaman had an image in his mind of what the "healing" process would look like. He thought he knew what he did not know ---- and he was willing to get angry because things were not going as HE had planned.

Elisha is prepared to bring healing to Naaman ----- but in the meantime, he is teaching something so important to anyone who will listen.

Thankfully ---- it is Naaman's SERVANTS who speak truth to Naaman declaring, "If the prophet had asked you to do something great and heroic wouldn't you have done it?"
His servants ---
----those who have likely not spoken a word
----those who came with Naaman to serve him
----those who do not need healing themselves
----those who are accustomed to a humble position
----and notice it is not recorded that they used the "I" word once.

They were busy speaking truth...

And Naaman listens.
Naaman lays down his thoughts.
Naaman puts away his image of how he should have been treated and how the healing should have looked.
Naaman does what he was told to do --- by the man of God ----- Elisha.
As a result --- Naaman is healed.

Naaman needed to die to "I thought..."

Don't we all.
it doesn't matter what we think  --- all that matters is what is true. Our God in Heaven is the author of truth.
His thoughts are not our thoughts - His ways are not our ways.
GOD knows ----- TRUMPS -- "i thought" ---- every time.

and in the end ---- these most important words ---
"Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel."

In the end ----- God is the focus --- God has been seen --- God stands alone.


"He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 (NIV)

"This is the assigned moment for God to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines." John 3:30 (The Message)

Photos taken by Maggie at Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Only God ---- could use a Buffalo to...

Oh how i do admire the buffalo.
BUFFALO --- what in the world could buffalo have to do with our journey with Christ or reaching for His Robes???
Hang in there with me --- there is a definite, meaningful, very worthwhile connection - i promise.

Silly i suppose -- but this animal has so many qualities that are far advanced to many people we know. Just watching and studying this mighty mass of muscle and fur gave my mind time to contemplate the ways this small minded, huge animal might actually have much of life mastered.
The buffalo is steady and unwavering. He knows what he needs to do each day, and he will not be deterred from it. He grazes for about 2 hours and then rests to chew his cud. Then he will move to another place and graze again. But the details of his day are not what intrigue me most --- it's the "way" in which the buffalo moves about and reacts to the world around it that speak volumes to us larger brained, less steady mammals.

One morning as Maggie and i were driving out of Yellowstone's West entrance, we were held in rapt awe as two huge beasts crossed this massive, fast flowing river. The animals were completely unhindered by the madness of the waters that rushed around them. The waters whirled and would have brought certain harm to any lesser of a creature. But with the buffalo the waters had no choice but to give way and find a new path to flow. The buffaloes were unrelenting as they took each steady step. They had their eyes set on the shore ahead, they were not bothered at all with the strong current or slippery river bed. They knew where they were to go, where they needed to be. They knew what they needed to do to get there ---- and so they simply pressed their strength, flexed their muscles --- and moved ahead.
The river's sound alone was intimidating to us girls perched safely on the shoreline. But not the buffalo. He was unaltered and unaffected. His determination was beautiful and inspiring. He would change His course for no one or no thing. He was having to work hard --- it was not an easy trek. Steam blew from his nostrils as he pressed his muscles to obey his mind. He moved forward steadily, no hesitation, no pausing to reevaluate his decision, no double checking the speed of the river or his need to cross it. He pressed on ---- it was inspiring and beautiful and spoke volumes to me without a word being uttered. He knew what he was suppose to do ----- and so he was doing it.

Am i oversimplifying here ---- i think not.
Rather -- do we all too often complicate simplicity --- most assuredly.

Our Abba sends us constant messages and encouragements --- even through the mighty mute buffalo. But perhaps the "rushing waters" of our life deafen our ability to "hear" the message being sent to us from above.

i sat in wonder as the buffalo silently spoke to me --- with his example ---

"Where is your focus donna?"
"Where are you preparing to go?"
"What needs to be strengthened in you -- for the journey ahead?"
"Strengthen that part."
"Don't look a the size of the river or listen to its rushing waters mocking you."
"Listen to the voice that will carry you through to the other side."
"Don't listen to those who want you to cross the river of their choosing 
or even stay on the "safer" shoreline."
"Listen to the voice of the One who cared enough to call out to you -- 
the One who will strengthen you -- 
the One who has a purpose in you being at the shore of His choosing."

 As the buffalo made his way up out of the waters --- he was unaffected that we were watching him. He gave us our space to do what we needed to do --- but he was not budging from his purpose. Amazing.
Oh i know --- his real purpose was likely to get to his next favorite grazing spot. Even makes me laugh a bit at myself that i see such depth in the movements of a buffalo. But --- the thing is --- I'm watching and listening --- and my Father knows this. And so He can and will speak to me in ways that match up with His Word and His Ways. 
And only God --- GOD --- can use a buffalo's movements to encourage someone needing to be encouraged.

This mighty creature - was almost hunted to extinction several years ago. Hunters wanted its meat and hide; they were killed in mass numbers. I'm reminded, when the buffalo was being hunted, what did it do? It ran.
When Saul was trying to kill David, what did David do? He ran. (1 Samuel 19 & 20)
When Jezebel planned to kill Elijah, what did he do? He ran. (1 Kings 19)
The buffalo could have turned and killed the lesser creatures chasing it - easily. David could have killed Saul, on numerous occasions. Elijah could have called down fire from Heaven, he'd done it before. None of them did the harm they could have done. They ran. They "turned from" the harm intended for them, they did not "engage" with their enemy --- under God's guidance to them that day.
Hunters no longer pursue the buffalo, and we know how it all turned out for David and Elijah.
Still, we would be wise to remember, that in our everyday, normal lives, there are those who would like to "kill" us -- perhaps not with weapons we can see --- but rather with their words. They carry a bow and arrow crafted out of syllables and the target is our mind. They'll wound our heart too - if they can get a good shot in. When the Bible speaks of "murder" it is not simply referring to the ending of a physical life. There are many ways to bring a sort of "death".
The buffalo, David, Elijah would remind us -- to run --- and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The buffalo teaches us --- to remain steadfast in our purpose -- and not be hindered by things only meant to distract or harm.
There is much to be learned from the buffalo ---

One last little whisper that came to me from the big bison as he passed by ---- he had water dripping from his chin hairs and his winter fur was hanging loosely from his new spring growth of shorter hair. He did not care at all "how" he looked or what i or anyone else thought of him. He was not primped and pretty ---- not polished or pumped ---- he was woolly and wet --- and absolutely breathtakingly magnificent. The way he looked actually had nothing to do with "the way he looked". He was powerful and inspiring and mesmerizing in his mighty single-mindedness. But as he passed close by the car -- i could see his eye --- just feet away --- his round, brown, sincere, eye --- 
and it was so -- very -- gentle.

Oh - how i do admire the buffalo...

"Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take." Joshua 1:1b (the Message)

"Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." 1 Chronicles 16:11( NIV)
"You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. God will go before me"... Psalm 59: 9-10a (NIV)

Photos taken by Maggie in Yellowstone National Park

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Footprints from here to there...

So sorry for the two week absence from posts. Maggie (my daughter) and i have been on a much anticipated mother-daughter trip for the past 2 weeks driving all over the mid-west. The Rockies have mesmerized us ---- and filled my head and heart with images that are waiting to be put into words. So - here's the first outflow after 12 days and 3000 miles of "seeing" His creation and "hearing" His whispers. May the writing of it be a blessing and inspiration to you --- and pleasing to Him. :)

Great Sand Dunes National Monument sits ominously in a wedge between the San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristo Range of mountains on the lower edge of the Great Rockies. The dunes cover thousands of acres, rise 750 feet above the valley floor, and are believed to be about 12,000 years old. In my 4 decades of breathing, i've never even heard of them ---- but they are one impressive sight and one daunting hike on a windy day.

Maggie had heard about them and was intrigued enough to add them to our itinerary of stops. We were mentally blown away at the sight of them and almost literally blown away as we crested their highest peak. Other hikers were lingering on the lower dunes because of the strong winds that day, but we felt challenged to go further, we wanted to feel them from their highest peak --- and so neither the wind nor the solitude held us back --- we pressed upward.

I encouraged Maggie to go on ahead of me -- and not wait for her tired (feeling her age) mother. The wind was blowing so strongly we were unable to talk anyway --- and so it was the perfect opportunity to talk a lot with God --- the Maker of the sand pile under me and the wind bearing down on me. It took two hours to summit (doesn't sound like much -- but with the conditions -- it was intense).

With Maggie pressing on ahead ---- i was reminded of the poem we've likely all heard "Footprints" written by Mary Stevenson in 1936. The poem speaks of the journey in life, and refers to the single footprints seen on a beach when times had been most difficult. The author laments over the single set of footprints and the sense of being alone during the most trying, painful times only to realize the single footprints were the times the Lord had carried her --- leaving only a trail of His footprints as she had been held securely in His arms.
It's a moving poem --- and known worldwide.
So as we hiked up this mountain of sand ---- and as i followed Maggie's trail of footprints --- i thought to myself and talked with God.

I asked Him if in the next chapters of my life --- moving to Kenya, leaving home and loved ones here ---- i asked my Father if He would be carrying us, if there would be only one set of footprints? For certainly the journey seems quite daunting and much "bigger" than this little daughter can fathom.
My Abba was very quick to respond.
It was a tearful trek --- as He whispered to my heart.
"I will carry you when it is needed --- but first --- I will go before you and leave footprints for you to follow. I will not ask you to go anywhere or do anything that I have not already walked through or done ahead of you. Your main task is to follow my footprints. Obey me. Don't shrink back. I'm already walking in front of you ---- and I have called you to fit your feet in the tracks I'm leaving for you."

As i climbed the mountain of sand and wiped tears over the intimate talk with God --- i playfully followed Maggie's footsteps --- something i use to do with my grandmother when following her around like a duckling on her farm. I remember once she stopped and laughed at me --- and hugged me ever so tightly --- as i playfully placed my little feet inside her much larger footprints. It was a game to me, and i clearly remember singing as i followed her. She was touched, i suppose, by my playfulness --- and paused to enjoy my play.
You see --- she was the one with the mental list of expectations for the day --- she was focused --- she had work to do and a timeline to consider.
I, on the other hand, had nothing on my mind but following her footsteps through the mud to the chicken house and then doing whatever she asked me to do when we got there. I didn't know we would leave the chicken house to go to the garden and then continue on to wash and prepare vegetables in the kitchen.
I only knew that she was leading and i could follow --- without concern over tasks, time, or outcomes.

I loved those times.

God brought it vividly back to me as i hiked the ridges of the great sand dunes in Colorado.

The tasks and timeline and outcomes of the work ahead ----- are all on His mighty shoulders. He knows the plans He has ---- and my mind is not equipped to manage or contain them.
My assignment for the months and years ahead are exactly as they were with my grandmother in my childhood days.
"Just follow me donna --- just put your feet in the tracks I lay before you ---- just be rested and ready to do what I ask you to do ---- just sing to me along the way," He whispers to my soul.

As i hiked that ridge line i realized --- that behind me there would only be one set of footprints --- even though both Maggie and i had walked the same path. Likewise ---- if i follow my Father carefully, placing my feet only where He has gone before me and guided me to follow --- there will only be one set of footprints and they will be HIS. There may likely be no evidence that "i" had traveled there at all --- hopefully this will be the case --- because that will mean -- that the evidence of HIM will remain long after we've traveled the fullness of the path.

When my footprints traced my grandmother's steps --- her larger footprint was all that remained in the mud -- since my much smaller foot fit easily inside her track.

Oh --- may it be likewise in Kenya --- and in Georgia --- and at the summit of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.
May it be true wherever my feet carry me.
That He would lead and i would only follow after Him.
That what remains afterward would be evidence of His presence.
That i would focus on following and obeying --- not setting the agenda or creating the plan.
That i would sing as i follow --- and not worry about what is ahead.
That He would pause from time to time, and hug me closely ---- that my obedience would bring Him joy in the journey we are on together.

Climbing the sand dunes was hard --- i had to stop often to rest and catch my breath ---- :)
Should we expect anything less as we follow the path He lays in front of us?

We're not here for "easy" --- we're here for what matters. And HE is the One who defines what matters.
So will the path be easy or comfortable? I'm thinking no.
If our path is easy and comfortable --- does that mean we've been tracking the footprints of Christ?
But will there be joy in the journey?
With a big handful of His Robes --- yes.
It will be the sweetest path and the one with the greatest view at the end. Just look at those majestic mountains on the other side of those hot, dry, windy dunes. He's got the map and the plan for getting there...

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Psalm 119:105

"Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths." Psalm 25:4

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

"My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled." Psalm 17:5 (may it be so for me Lord)

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding." Psalm 119:32

Photos taken by Maggie at Great Sand Dunes National Monument, CO.