Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Noah!

From For Blog

Today my little boy turns twelve! Noah's birthdays are somehow more bittersweet since he is my baby! He is my only child who still climbs in the recliner to snuggle next to me and the only one who reaches out to hold my hand when we're on a hike. And he's my only boy who can't sing bass! I know those days are numbered.

We celebrated Noah's birthday with a swimming party back in July (his idea). so today was very simple and low-key. He got some candy and a set of Lego Minifigures that he'd been wanting. We got an afternoon treat at Sonic and went out to eat as a family at his choice of restaurant - which turned out to be Burger King. Rebecca came over from college for the evening.

Today Terry's Dad also has a birthday, and he is turning 75! We'll be headed to Knoxville this Sunday to have a family celebration for him.

Lessons, Part 2

August 14, 2011

In Hind's Feet, when Much-Afraid reaches the heights, the shepherd asks her for her bag of remembrance stones, and he turns them into precious jewels.

Yesterday, Terry bought me a little bracelet entirely made with stones from Lake
Michigan - petosky stones, iron and copper.
From Michigan Favorites

It will be another reminder of lessons learned on this trip.

I want to be a polished stone - made beautiful by affliction.

"I am my Love's and he is mine, and this is his desire,
That with his beauty I may shine in radiant attire.
And this will be - when all of me is pruned and purged with fire."

August 24, 2011

After Much-Afraid reaches the High Places and has her name changed, she realizes the need to return to the valley to share what she has found. In this way, she is like the water - going always lower:

"From the heights we leap and flow
To the valleys down below,
Sweetest urge and sweetest will
To go lower, lower still."

She realizes she was brought to the heights just for this purpose.

How can I "go lower" today?

From Michigan Favorites

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lessons, Part One

This will be an unusual blog post for me. I don't know that I've ever shared excerpts from my spiritual journal before, but I had such a neat learning experience on our trip that it really was as significant as the fun time with my family (shared in an earlier post). If nothing else, by sharing it, I will help cement these lessons in my mind - I need lots of repetition.

August 5, 2011

This morning I had a precious experience - getting to read "Hind's Feet on High Places" from a very high place - a scenic overlook of Lake Michigan - deserted except for Rebecca and me. It was quiet and peaceful and seemed to be on top of the world.
From Michigan Favorites

I love the way the author rewrites the Song of Solomon in verse ~

"The Song of Songs, the loveliest song,
The song of Love the King,
No joy on earth compares with his,
But seems a broken thing.
His name is ointment poured forth,
And all his lovers sing.

Draw me - I will run after thee,
Thou art my heart's one choice,
Oh, bring me to thy royal house,
To dwell there and rejoice.
There in they presence, O My King,
To feast and hear thy voice.

Look not upon me with contempt,
Though soiled and marred I be,
The King found me - an outcast thing
and set his love on me.
I shall be perfected by Love
Made fair as day to see." Cant. 1: 1-6

August 6, 2011

Today I read about the song of the water in Hind's Feet. It says the water is singing of how sweet it is to go lower and lower. I know God calls us to humble ourselves, and He sets the example Himself.

I get to see lots of water "going lower" on this trip - just this morning I'll be going downstream in a canoe with Rebecca and Noah.

Lord, help me remember the song of the water when I see water, and let it remind me to humble myself.
From Michigan Favorites

August 11, 2011

The timing for reading "High Places" has really been a blessing in itself. As Much-Afraid takes her journey, it has paralleled many things we have seen on our trip. For instance, yesterday we took a beautiful hike along cliffs overlooking Lake Superior. It was very windy and the waves were powerful - but it was sunny and the water was a wonderful blue and aqua color. I lifted my hands to praise the Lord for such beauty. Then this morning, I am reading the chapter "On the Old Sea Wall," and here are some quotes that describe my experience ~
From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

"The sun was shining brilliantly, and up there on the wall they could feel the full force of the great wind which was urging and lashing the rushing waters to flow swifter and swifter . . . Somehow the roar of the wind and the surge of the waters seemed to get into her blood and course through her being like a glorious wine of life. The wind whipped her cheeks and tore at her hair and clothes and nearly toppled her over, but she stood there,shouting at the top of her voice,

'And now shall my head be lifted above my enemies round about! Therefore I will sing praises unto the Lord; yea I will offer the sacrifice of joy and will praise the name of the Lord (Ps. 27:6)!'"

At first I was thinking that I don't really have enemies, but then I realized that I have the same enemies as Much-Afraid in this book - Pride, Bitterness and Selfishness. Now I have a new way of looking at these "enemy verses" in Psalms.

August 11, 2011

Today we went to Miner's Beach, and I got the idea to collect some of the rocks on the shore to make a little "altar" like Much-Afraid does - an altar representing putting "self" and "my will" to death.
From Michigan Favorites

It will also be a cool reminder of this trip (since we built a stone stack on Lake Huron to make a memory, too) and of the lessons learned from this book. I think having objects around that remind me of spiritual lessons is very biblical. God used items in the tabernacle and in the Passover meal to teach lessons. I wish I had started going this sooner - something that Joanne Heim inspired me to.

August 12, 2011

Last night Terry made a roaring fire. It was so big that we were afraid for a while that the tree above it was going to catch fire.

From Michigan Favorites

It made me think back to one of my favorite parts of "Hind's Feet" - when Much-Afraid is led to Egypt and learns lessons there at the threshing floors and at the furnace. The shepherd tells here that his rarest and choicest jewels are those that have been refined in the furnace.

"O Thou afflicted, tossed with tempest,and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones." (Is 54:11)

Another verse about rocks! I can't get away from them.

August 13, 2011

Another theme from the book that I can relate to on this trip is the little flowers that Much-Afraid finds growing in unusual places - places where there is only a trickle of water or very little soil.

We saw a mighty tree growing at the top of Chapel Rock - its roots stretched over to the mainland. It found a way to thrive in a difficult situation and became glorious in the process.

From Michigan Favorites

"I have borne and I have not fainted; I have not ceased to love, and love helped me push through the crack in the rock until I could look right out onto my Love the sun himself. See now! There is nothing whatever between my Love and my heart, nothing around to distract me from him. He shines upone me and makes me to rejoice and has atoned to me for all that was taken from me or done against me. I look up to him as a weaned child and say 'Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I desire but thee.'"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Update on our House Flip

Terry and I bought a foreclosed house in Knoxville in May with the idea of "flipping" it to make some cash. It's a cute little Craftsman-style house (probably built in the 20s) with lots of nice features (my favorites are the large kitchen and porch). Rebecca and her brothers helped their Dad with demolition work back in June (she blogged about this here, here and here). Then several times during the summer one or more of the boys went to Knoxville with Terry to work on it.

Now that Terry has started contract work at Eastman four days a week, he has less time to work on the house. We took advantage of the long Labor Day weekend to all go down there and help out (sans Rebecca, who is now off to college).

A few days before we came, about $700 worth of power tools were stolen as well as the heat pump (stealing someone's AC in the summer ought to be a federal crime!). Terry suspected a guy that was working for him, and on Saturday he was arrested.

From Coker

Terry had grown to care for the guy and hoped to work it out with him without turning him in, but it just wasn't happening. We learned some things in the process. While we want to help out folks that need work, I think we're going to start doing background checks. Caleb was fascinated by the process, though, and has at least temporarily decided that he wants to go into law enforcement.

Here the boys are hanging out in the kitchen. I took the wallpaper down in this room this weekend. Don't worry - the purple color will not stay.

From Coker

Here Terry is doing some foundation work -

From Coker

While Nathan helps from underneath (he loves crawl spaces!):

From Coker

Noah helped me with the wallpaper:

From Coker

And Caleb helped with painting:

From Coker

When he wasn't goofing around:

From Coker

And Terry's Dad (aka "Papa") was a great help. Here he is doing some electrical work:

From Coker

Here are some views of the awesome front porch:

From Coker

From Coker

From Coker


A few weeks ago, I didn't know what "matriculation" was, and now I have a daughter that has matriculated right in front of me. Apparently, to matriculate is to add your name to a list - the word "matrix" is from the same origin.

Rebecca and all the freshman at Milligan College are required to formally write their name on the roll.

They also had to make a public affirmation along with the faculty. Here is what the faculty affirmed:

"As teachers and workers in a Christian college, we pledge that our service shall reflect at all times our ministry as servants to Christ. We shall attempt to correlate all areas of learning so that our students shall see that all truth is one. Our concern for each student shall follow the example of the Master, who knew each student by name. Our energies and talents we dedicate to the Lord."

I feel so blessed that Rebecca is getting to have an education like this.

Below are pictures of Rebecca and Tess (her friend from this graduation moment) before and during the ceremony.

From For Blog

From For Blog

After the ceremony, there was a bagpipe playing and a path of luminaries going down the hill to a big tent where there was a jazz band and a dessert reception.

Doesn't Rebecca look smarter already with this light coming out of her head?

From Milligan

My Baby

Of course, the little baby in the bed is not my baby. My baby is the one taking the photo.

From For Blog

Rebecca and I first hoped that my friend Melissa would have her baby several days BEFORE we went to Michigan so that she could do a "few-days-old" photo shoot. Then when time came to leave on our trip, Rebecca started praying that the baby would be late. Not sure how Melissa felt about that - but the baby was indeed nine days late (even though it was her 5th!), so we were able to do a photo shoot just a few days after we got back! I say "we" because it was definitely a group effort. Bram was a very sweet and cute baby, but he just wasn't that interested in sleeping.

From For Blog

I thought her photos turned out great, though (see them here), and it was a fun memory.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Michigan Top Ten

I'm finally getting around to a post about our Michigan trip. Rebecca kept up pretty well with updates on her blog while we were traveling, but I left my laptop at home. Once we got back, I kept forgetting to get the photos from Rebecca's computer so I could blog, and once I got the photos, I was a bit overwhelmed with the 1800 PHOTOS she took. This was after she apparently deleted several 100. As much as my family likes looking at photos, I knew I was going to have to be very selective for my blog post.

So I decided to do my "Michigan Top Ten." These are the things I enjoyed the most in roughly chronological order.

#1 Michigan Lake Overlook at Sleeping Bear Dunes

This was probably my very favorite spot (and also just voted most beautiful spot in America by Good Morning America viewers). This view was just totally incredible. It was 450 feet down to the water, and Lake Michigan just looks like a piece of liquid textured fabric (I'm sorry, that's the best description I could come up with). We saw this view first one afternoon, and then Rebecca and I decided to return early the next morning. Turns out the scenic drive was closed until 9 am, but the gate was wide open, so Rebecca and I went anyway and enjoyed an hour or so of total solitude (well, not solitude exactly since there were two of us). I had brought my Bible and journal along, and it was just a really special time.

From Michigan Favorites

#2 Running Down the Dune

After enjoying our sunrise, we decided to return for sunset. The boys and Terry and I ran down the dune to the water, and it was such a blast running down that long hill of sand. Nathan and Caleb climbed back up (Caleb actually did it twice), but Noah, Terry and I took a walk down the beach where Rebecca picked us up in the van.

We met the folks in the boat pictured here with Nathan (who is about 1/4 way up the dune).

From Michigan Favorites

They like to come by water, climb up the hill and then run back down, which I think is a little more appealing.

#3 Canoeing the Platte River

My friend Sally had told us to be sure and canoe the Platte, so we brought our canoe with us. When we couldn't get a spot in Sleeping Bear Dunes (apparently, folks line up BEFORE 6 AM for sights), we went over to camp at Platte River State Forest. Our spot was huge and was right on the river. We used it as both a launching point and a destination. The Platte River empties right into Lake Michigan, which is something you don't see on the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

#4 Cherry Pie

Sorry - I don't have a photo of this. Michigan is famous for cherries and blueberries. We bought some blueberries and fresh apricots (never had them before) at a roadside farm. Cherry season was supposedly over, but one day when we were traveling, we started seeing signs for cherry pie every few minutes. We weren't even hungry, but after you see about 10 signs in a row, you are going crazy thinking "I have to have some of that pie!" We stopped, bought a whole crumb-topped cherry pie, and ate it for our dessert at camp that night. Wow! Best cherry pie I've ever had in my life. If you ever get a chance, don't pass it up!

#5 Mackinaw Island

We enjoyed a beautiful day on Mackinac Island. We arrived early one morning with our bikes (we were two bikes short, so we rented a tandem bike for Noah and me), and we rode around the entire island - only seeing a few people. It was just gorgeous. The kids were singing as we rode, and everyone was in a good mood for once. We kept seeing these rocks stacks, so we stopped to build one of our own. We saw lots of cool things on Mackinac like the Grand Hotel, Arched Rock and Ft. Mackinac, but this is my favorite memory of the day. I felt like we were leaving our mark on Michigan.

From Michigan Favorites

#6 Shopping with Rebecca

While in Mackinaw City, the boys went to see Captain America one evening while Rebecca and I went shopping. While I guess it would be more fun to have a ton of money to spend, we enjoy taking photos of craft and gift ideas and goofing around.

From Michigan Favorites

After we got tired of shopping, we walked down the shore to watch the sunset.

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

#7 Chapel Basin Hike

I've only taken one other hike that has views to rival the ones we saw on this one - and that's the Stairway to Heaven on Oahu. This hike was over ten miles, but about five miles of it was along cliffs overlooking Lake Superior. It was a windy day (but blue skies), and Lake Superior was really rocking. It was so pretty and also a bit scary. Nathan described it as "fiercely beautiful."

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

#8 Canoeing at Mosquito Beach

After seeing Lake Superior on our hike, I was very skeptical that our canoe or any small boat could survive in that water. But the next day, the wind was gone, and the water was as calm and clear as glass. We canoed around these beautiful rocks and looked down on some very beautiful water. The only thing that kept me from jumping in (besides not having my swimsuit on), was the fact that I was scared to get the camera wet.

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

#9 Collecting Rocks on the Beach

I think I prefer the beaches of the Great Lakes to the beaches on the ocean. I definitely prefer the water - as they say "No salt, no sharks, no worries." Honestly, since the Great Lakes are used so much for shipping, I had not thought they would be so clean and clear. The water was just gorgeous, and I didn't even think it was too cold - just refreshing - though I'm sure the water is at its warmest in August. And though there aren't seashells, there are so many pretty rocks. They just shimmer in the sunlight, and I loved collecting them - partly because during the trip I was reading the devotional "Hind's Feet on High Places" (more about that in a later post), and the main character collects stones she finds along the way.

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

#10 Crisp Point Lighthouse

It was fitting that we went here right at the end of the trip. This was an out-of-the-way lighthouse that I had read about on the internet. It took 18 miles down a dirt road to get here. When we arrived, it was empty, but the door was wide open for guests (where there was just a guest book to sign and no fee to pay). We ran to the top and enjoyed some incredible views. It felt like our own private showing of sunset.

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites

From Michigan Favorites