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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Numbers Game

Numbers influence my life greatly. More than I like really. A simple number can make us depressed or make us feel good. It can change our perspective. Think about it...

I’ve been blogging for about an year and a half now. I’ve loved it and enjoy meeting new friends. But I went through a period of time where I was obsessed with my blog stats. I read blogs and listened to pod casts advising me how to improve those numbers. 

I worked hard at it, believe me. It took a lot of my time. It felt good to see the views go up and I was sad when the response wasn’t what I expected. In the middle of the summer I decided enough was enough! This was ridiculous. I was being pulled here and there, taunted by numbers. My life was full and busy enough. 

I went back to the beginning when I typed out my first blog, when I didn’t have a clue about blog stats. Just share my heart, what God gave me and let it minister to whoever reads it. He will lead the readers to me. And so I’ve had this approach with my blogging for a few months now. I feel so much more freer. I’m not overly concerned about numbers now. 

What about you? Are there numbers that taunt and pull you down? What about the dreaded scale? Yea, those numbers. I’ve lost about 30 lbs in the past year. I still step on the scale once every week to track my progress. I read somewhere that we should actually weigh ourselves everyday. 

I think that is a little much don’t you? Maybe you think once a week is too much? Well, I reason within myself these compelling thoughts: 

I put on a pound this week? Well, I guess I’ll cut back on the cupcakes. I’ll eat less of this and more healthy options. Doing ok? Well then I’ll have that bowl of ice cream. Like my reasoning? Hey anything to justify eating something sweet, just sayin! 

But seriously, I know that this is an issue that can be a struggle. This is a number that stirs up those ugly thoughts of how you look and feel about yourself. 

At our company health fair, we are measured as part of our health profile. Nothing like the nurse pulling out the measuring tape for your hips and waist to make your heart palpitate. 

How do you measure your worth? By your jean size? Your age? Your blog stats? Facebook friends and likes? Is this your guideline? 

May I tell you today beloved that none of these things contribute a lick to your worth? I struggle with insecurity at times just like you. If I get caught up in numbers, I can throw myself in a pit real quick. 

How do I measure my worth? Where is my plumb line when I’m off kilter? My worth, my life is built on the Cornerstone. “A tested stone, a precious Cornerstone for a sure foundation.” Jesus. 

My jean size, weight, stats, wage, etc... is an unstable foundation. All these numbers will change, sometimes day to day. Am I going to place my worth on sand? 

His love for me is steadfast regardless of my measurements, stats, likes, friends and age. In fact He numbers my steps and my hair. How’s that for numbers? 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rambling Thursday

It would be a long ten + hours to reach my next destination on day two of my road trip. Yet it was an enjoyable drive through the hilly prairies of Nebraska. The wide open spaces are stark, but beautiful even to an Indiana girl who loves her trees. 

I stayed with my Son and Daughter-in-law at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. He works here as a Park Ranger. Agate is north of Scotts Bluff about 40 minutes. It sits in the Niobrara river valley. There is a mix of mammal fossils, Indian artifacts and great views. Great visitor’s center and nice trails. Bring your binoculars as there is great bird watching. 

The next day we visited Scotts Bluff National Monument
It is a beautiful place. The bluffs are the main attraction here, but also of importance is the Oregon trail that went right by here. You can still see the furrow left by the wagons. 

You can drive to the top of the bluffs going through two tunnels on the way. On the top, trails lead to beautiful lookout points. If you prefer, shuttles will take you up. 
There are a few trails. One comes down off the bluffs and winds through a tunnel. But for lack of time, we didn’t get to do this. 

There is a nice Visitor’s Center with a nice gift shop. 

Our next day’s adventure was at Rocky Mountain National Park. It truly was an adventure. None of us ever been, so we were quite excited. And wow, I can truly say it was way beyond our expectations. 

We were staying two days. I rented a cabin from Airbnb. And let me just say here that this was spot on! Best decision I made for our stay. 

Our first day we drove down the Old Fall River road. This is a gravel road through the valley with sharp switchbacks, steep climbs and amazing views of the mountains. I was driving my Buick Lucerne, so I read plenty of reviews to make sure I wasn’t endangering my car. The reviews were encouraging, but I still entered the narrow gravel road a little uneasy at what was ahead. You see, there is no turning around once you enter.

My fears were in vain, as I had no trouble. Only once did I scrape bottom around a switchback. There were plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the views. A lovely waterfall was close by the road at one pull-off. Another place we wandered down in a meadow and enjoyed a walk beside a creek. 

The climb out of the valley was something else. It all opens up and you are on top of the mountain. What amazing, drop dead views we laid our eyes on. The road ends at the Alpine Visitor’s Center. It literally sits at the top of the mountain. There’s a cafe also. 

Absolutely, go down the Old Fall River road. You’ll not regret it. 

We continued down the west side of the park and stopped for a picnic. Here was a trail that led to a lake and beyond a lovely meadow. It was a great hike to end our day. 

On day two we stopped at the Grand Lake Visitor’s center. Our cabin was near Grand lake. There are two lakes located here and both are sparkling blue with the mountains encircling them. There are hiking trails here, but we lacked time to explore. The visitor’s centers (There are four) have plenty of guide books and trail maps to assist you. The Rangers are helpful to answer questions.

On our way back up north we stopped at the Colorado river valley and hiked a trail that led to a historic ranch. The river is the size of a creek here. 

Once we passed the Alpine Visitor’s center we continued down the Trail Ridge road. Now remember, I was a little nervous about the gravel road. Well this road was on steroids compared to that! This is the highest road in the US. We’re above 10,000 feet, no guardrails, just sheer cliffs. 

My Son is afraid of heights and was starting to freak out. It creeped me out too. I tried to keep my eyes on a road that just seemed not to be wide enough. We rallied though and enjoyed the views at the pull offs. We hiked the Alpine trail up to 12,000 feet and was blown away at the mountain top panoramas. 

As you can surely tell, I loved this park. It would be at the top of my must see, I have to go back list. Two days isn’t enough. We didn’t have time to explore the east side of the park. I highly recommend going. You will not regret it. Be forewarned will feel the altitude. It kicked my butt. I was gasping for air a few times. 

I will never forget this road trip. I’ll be thinking about it all winter. There are links at the bottom for other places you can visit in the Nebraska Panhandle area. 

Get out there and explore! 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Balm of Gilead

It was a familiar place of pain. He has scars from other scrapes. But this had to be especially painful. He’s on the run once again as a fugitive. This time from his own son, Absolom who took the throne from him.

While David ran for his life, he ran into Shemei who was from Saul’s family. David’s old nemesis. He rubbed salt in the raw wound, cursing him, and adding insult to injury threw stones and dirt. David had every right to strike back at this man, and was encouraged to do so, yet he spared his life and rode on. 

Yet David never forgot what Shemei did. While on his deathbed, he warns his son Solomon about Shemei. 

I wouldn’t forget either. While I have to forgive like Jesus forgave me, I certainly wouldn’t share a cup of coffee with them. I wouldn’t get all chummy. 

Scripture says that David was exhausted. Who wouldn’t be after that assault? He was already low in spirit and to have someone pile on like that would be more than I could take. 

This is just like our enemy the devil. His tactics aren’t much different. When we give in to temptation, fail miserably, or feeling vulnerable, it’s painful enough isn’t it? But then he inflicts curses, condemnations, throws dirt and stones. He piles on. 

But watch what happens with David:

Barzillai from Gilead meets David and opens his arms and welcomes him. Feeds him, provides supplies for the journey and encourages him. This had to refresh and uplift David so much. Because of Barzillai, he was able to continue on. 

Jeremiah 8:22 asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?”

After this life and our enemy has buffeted our souls, we are left weary and downtrodden. You and I have a Balm of Gilead. Jesus; Who is acquainted with our weakness and felt our pain. 

He is “the God of all comfort”, “He comforts all who mourn”, “He comforts us in all our troubles.” 

Beloved are you hurting and broken at this very moment? Are you weary and disheartened? Oh, there is a Balm for your wounds. A Balm to soothe your pain. To heal and restore you. He speaks gracious and kinds words to your battered spirit:

“I have upheld you since you were conceived, and carried you since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3-4

Beloved, I pray that you feel His sweet presence and hear those gracious words. 

Link your blog to: Testimony Tuesday
The Deliberate Mom
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

I took a rather lengthy road trip lately. All by myself. Previously the longest trip I’ve ever drove was four hours. So I was excited but a little nervous. The destination was the Western panhandle of Nebraska to see my son. He works as a Park Ranger at Agate National Historic Site. 

It would be a two day trip. Approximately eighteen hours. First decision: Music on the I Pod? Radio? Silence? I went with none of these. I discovered pod casts recently and listen regularly to Sophie Hudson’s “The Big Boo cast” and love it. So I subscribed to some and my listening pleasure has been enhanced. Here are some that I recommend:

*The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Kind of like talking with your best friend. She brings a guest and they discuss all kinds of girl stuff. Their conversations will encourage and bring a laugh. 

*Amateur Traveler. If you love travel, you will love this podcast. Wonderful, insightful information about destinations here in the U.S. or overseas. 

*Real Simple. Have you read the magazine? Different topics are covered. Relational, housework, work issues, and my personal favorite: Things Cooks Know. The only problem, is that I get hungry listening. 

*This American Life. This is a weekly public radio show. I just love it. The stories are so fascinating. It draws you in. Kind of like a 60 minutes, only miles better. Try it. 

*The influence Podcast: Interviews with inspiring women. Very encouraging. It never ceases to speak to my heart. 

*Grantland Podcast: I love football. Bill Barnwell and Robert Mays host this podcast and discuss all things NFL. One is a Bears fan and the other is a Giants fan. They always have great things to say. Sometimes they will bring other people in for a interview. 

The miles went by fast, (especially when the speed limit is 70), as I listened. 

My first stop was in Iowa at West Branch. I visited the Herbert Hoover Historical Site, and got my NPS Passbook stamped. It was much nicer than I expected. The house where he was born is there, plus other original buildings. His presidential library is there also. 

It is located right off I-80 and is worth a visit. 

Next stop was Winterset Iowa. It is John Wayne’s birthplace. A musuem just opened in the Spring and the house where he was born is there. Winterset is off of I-80 about 20 miles. Winterset has a quaint downtown encircling a beautiful Courthouse.  Within the Courthouse circle is the Northside Cafe

I ate there first. Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep ate here in a scene from “Bridges of Madison County”. I had a open faced beef manhattan and apple crisp. Fully satisfied now, I visited the museum. 

I love John Wayne and have so many of his movies. I recognized many articles from the displays. Clothes, a saddle, hats and even his personal car. It was so cool to see stuff that he actually wore from the movies. I was impressed.

They have a gift shop filled with all things John Wayne. You can sit in a miniature theater to watch a film of his life. Around the block is his birthplace, which is a small four room house. 

I stayed the night here in Winterset. I could have ventured out to see the Bridges of Madison county, all within easy driving distance. But I was road weary and ready to turn in. 

The next day would be a long one, as I would be driving the length of Nebraska and then up to the Northwestern corner. My next Rambling Thursday blog, I’ll share what we visited the three days I spent. 

What’s the best road trip you have been on?