Friday, June 12, 2015

An Onslaught of Posts...

Day 59: Faith, Not Fear

Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis— only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.” 
                                                                                                  Oswald Chambers

This quote is pulled from today’s “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional. Reading through this, there are quite a few heady words in one, little sentence: 

Trust, new, opportunity, adventure, crisis, daring, invest, faith and character

Reading the entire quote is one thing…reading and thinking on each of those words individually is a whole other matter. I love some of those words, at first glance (new, opportunity, adventure, daring, character) and others make me a little uneasy (trust, invest, daring, faith) and the last one…downright scares me (crisis). I know they’re just words, but boy can they come with some baggage! It all depends on your experience and point of view. I really wish my blood pressure didn't spike whenever I read or heard the word crisis, but one thing I know; when I trust God more…and when I'm daring enough to invest my faith in God's character…I worry less about crisis and become more adventurous. There's this one little sentence pulled from Ecclesiastes 11 that deals with this. It's the first verse:

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days."   Ecclesiastes 11:1 

I've heard it explained that "casting your bread upon the waters" is referring to the dangers of making a living on the sea--even dangerous today (Deadliest Catch, etc.), but more so back in Old Testament times. It's a call to be adventurous…to have faith in God…and live life out of faith, not fear.   

I feel like you both live life that way. The quote at the top…that one little sentence from today’s “My Utmost…” devotional jumped out at me because it immediately made me think about you two. There are words in that sentence that I associate with you right now: new, opportunity, adventure and daring. Trust, faith and character are right there with them too. As you continue to hike the Appalachian Trail, I see those words this way…in my own little sentence for you: 

"You’re deep in the middle of a new opportunity with a magic window of time allowing you to be daring enough, and trusting and faithful enough, to embark on a great adventure like this--where you're able to exhibit the character enough to have already logged 500+ miles on the trail."    

Trust me. I want you to be wise out there, but more than anything, I want you to trust God completely and "live life out of faith, not fear."  


Day 60: Kaleidoscopes

ka·lei·do·scope  -  kəˈlīdəˌskōp/  -  noun
noun: kaleidoscope; plural noun: kaleidoscopes
  1. A toy consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass or paper, whose reflections produce changing patterns that are visible through an eyehole when the tube is rotated.
2. A constantly changing pattern or sequence of objects or elements. "The dancers moved in a kaleidoscope of color"

Listening to your stories on the phone today was so much fun. I had to grab my notepad off my nightstand just to keep up. I was writing as fast as I could to take in the barrage of trail names you were throwing at us: Homegrown, Savage, Snack Time, Smoky Bear, Caveman, Zoltan, Cornsilk and Kaleidoscope. It sounds like you got a great group of hikers that you've connected with. It eases that nagging little voice of worry in the back of my head to know you're running (hiking) with a pack. Katie, listening to you recount story after story of the way you are all taking care of each other through dehydration, hunger and boredom are inspiring, but the one about Kaleidoscope is the one that has my brain working overtime.

Life changes in a heartbeat…on the turn of a dime. One minute everything's fine. The next, you've got to get used to a "new normal". A season of laughter and joy can give way to pain and sorrow in a flash. That's just the way life is. Listening to your morning (and early afternoon) only makes my point: You're sitting around enjoying a Subway sandwich in Bland, VA one moment…everyone's at ease, relaxing and eating. Then, Katie, you offer up the last of your sandwich to the group…there's a mad dash by the hungry few and Kaleidoscope trips (with a full pack) and takes a header (or more accurately "a legger") into a jagged rock. The next thing you know, he's in the hospital getting 10 stitches in his knee…and he's off the trail for 2 weeks. On the turn of a dime…this beautiful picture of friendship, community and shared experience is shattered by the reality of what could happen to each of you; a trip, a misstep, a fall and all you have are pieces of your dream adventure. Sorry to be such a "Danny Downer", but that's where my head went immediately after we hung up this morning, "What happens if they get hurt?" What will Katie and Nick do if something like that…or worse…happens?" I can't help it. I can do my best not to worry, but I can't turn some of that off. Then, I thought of the irony: a beautiful scene, shattered. And who was hurt? Kaleidoscope. And what are Kaleidoscopes? Tubes filled with bits and pieces of broken glass and mirrors that produce some of the most amazingly beautiful sights when you look through it. 

And that's where I have to (and you have to) view things…through God's viewpoint…through HIs lens. God can take ANYTHING we go through…the good, the tragic, the mundane…and make it beautiful. If we allow Him to pick up the pieces of our broken lives…God can rearrange them into beautiful kaleidoscopes. Paul writes in Romans 8:28 (one of my all-time favorite Bible verses): 

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."          

That's a promise that God makes: He will take whatever happens in our lives and make something good out of it. He doesn't promise to make it easy…or that we'll even be able to understand it…but God promises to make all things good for His purpose….even our shattered hopes and dreams.

God's great at kaleidoscopes.

(Below: Nick and Katie "Breeze" and "Sunshine" with their fellow travelers...including the wounded Kaleidoscope.)

Day 61: Eye for an Eye 

I will make this brief. I know I've written this before…and they're never brief…but this one will be. I just got off the phone with someone I love very much and was confronted about my judgmental attitude and lack of mercy. It was very, very hard to hear…and now…I'm going to have to work through this. 

In Jim's message this past weekend he gave everyone some homework: Read through Matthew 5:38-48 every day this week…out loud. Then, try and put all of into practice. 

I failed. 

In my phone call I went "eye for eye"…and verbally took out some teeth. The only cheek I turned was to figuratively bend over and tell him to kiss my @##. I need to make amends, but I need to get my heart right first. A lot of what he said was true…and I need to humble myself and do what Jesus asks of me. 

With that…here's some verses to go over…out loud…while you're on the trail. Matthew 5:38-48:

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I promise to be (and write) in a better mood tomorrow. Sorry.


Day 62: Soaring   

I'm sorry. I'm still working through my experience last night. Mom told me to just write to you and tell you that it's late…that I'm tired…and that I'll write you something more substantial tomorrow. I can't do just that…but I'll probably come close. I feel bad about yesterday's note to you. I know I was pretty vague (which I have to be)…and a bit of a downer…but that's just the way life is sometimes, right? Every day can't be a banner day. Sometimes life sucks and you feel ground into the dirt…and you just have to pick yourself up and move on. Some days are the kind of days where your spirits are soaring…and other days…dead in the water. I'm sure that you both have had your share of crappy days in the 62 days you've been hiking--although most of your reports make it sound like the opposite!

As I sit here writing to you, I'm able to lift my spirits by thinking about what you've accomplished: 62 days and 600+ miles along the Appalachian Trail. And listening to you on the phone Sunday, it sounds like you're growing stronger every day! That's an encouragement to me…especially tonight. It's a great pick-me-up to think of you two out there…succeeding on the trail. And it makes me think of this well-worn section from Isaiah 40:

The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.  
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

That's good stuff to end a crappy day on…and it will be my prayer tonight. I have faith that God will give me strength and increase power.  But hang on to these verses. I have a feeling that you might need them someday in the future. 

In the meantime…I'm counting down the days until June 20th! I can't wait to see your faces in person…to hug you…and simply spend time together. It's going to be great!

And we will soar like eagles.       


Day 63: Blackout

"There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen." Jim Lovell - Apollo 13

Thought a lot about you two today. I feel like we're in a bit of a rhythm here. We talk to you, then we don't hear from you for a day. Then, two days...then, three days. Then, I start to wonder (and worry a bit) where you are and how you're doing. Then, it stretches out to day four and five…and then, that's when we usually hear from you again. You'd think I'd be used to it by now! I mean, it's been 63 days now! 

I grew up during the space age (Remember my 1st grade lunch box?). I was in vitro when the Mercury space program started…and a toddler as Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn rocketed into space. The Gemini space program lasted until I was in 1st or 2nd grade…and then came the Apollo missions…and when we landed on the moon. I remember the July of 1969, when Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. I remember standing in my grandparents living room and listening to my great-grandmother (Meemaw) babbling on, astounded, recounting life before cars and airplanes. 

It was during this time when I remember hearing about "communication blackouts" for the first time. We would all sit around the TV…waiting for the various space capsules to re-enter the atmosphere…listening to the crackly audio of the astronauts bland, emotionless radio communication…and then, dead air. Communication blackout. During re-entry, there would always be a blackout. The TV networks would show some amazing (now, cheesy) graphics of the space capsules re-entering the atmosphere…and what they were supposedly experiencing. The blackouts seemed to last forever. It was was so tense…and no one ever wanted to talk about what might be happening: complete flameout and capsule, astronauts and all their gear…burning to a crisp upon re-entry. And then…just when you thought you were going to burst from expectation…splash down! The TV networks would go live again…and the world would watch the space capsule splash down in the ocean. All that worrying for nothing!

That's what I seem to feel like every 4 or 5 days…we talk with you on the phone and catch up, then…communication blackout. Then, tension….worry…and then splashdown! We hear from you again…and all is well. It's like Proverbs 12:25 says:

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up."

I can't help it. The communication blackouts weigh my heart down…but then…we hear from you…and your kind words cheer me up! I know this is what the next couple of months are going to be like…and maybe I'll get used to it as 63 days turns into 73 days…and 103 days... 

Until then…I'll anxiously be awaiting splashdown.


Day 64: Flying Monkeys 

I saw my first tornado tonight. 

No. Seriously. A full-fledged real live tornado! Here's what the most recent news blip from one of the Denver TV stations is saying:

"Tornadoes that touched down in northern Colorado damaged a handful of homes and brought flooding and marble-sized hail to some areas."

I was driving home from the office around 6:30PM tonight, and as I pulled off of I-25 at the Frederick exit, I looked to the north and thought, "Hmmm. That cloud looks like a tornado." Then, the funnel shaped cloud in the distance got all spindly at the end and looked like it was kicking up dust or something. That's when I SAID (to myself), "That's a TORNADO!The traffic in front of me slowed to a near-stop because everyone was watching what I was watching: a tornado touching down! (See Below)

I called Mom and told her what I was seeing…then…I turned left (instead of turning right on Rt. 52 for home) and started driving toward the tornado. I quickly snapped a picture with my phone (and almost rear ended the truck in front of me. Oops). On the radio, every station was blaring the Emergency Weather Alerts, but the robotic National Weather Service computer voice was making warnings about "severe weather". I started yelling at my radio, "Ya' think?! There's a tornado!" I stopped Lil' Red and parked in an open lot. I was thinking about chasing it, but I knew I'd be in BIG trouble with Mom if I did…especially if I got killed. So I sat in the lot behind a family in their big silver truck and watched. And even though it was easily 10-15 miles away…it was breath-taking! The little girls in the silver truck were smiling at me and pointing. I think it was because I had shoved my sunglasses up on my forehead…and they had dropped down, crookedly across my eyebrows and I hadn't noticed…until I saw them pointing at me.

It was something else! You know how much I've always wanted to see a tornado. I don't know how much of that has to do with the sheer power of tornadoes…or The Wizard of Oz. I'm not kidding. That's all I could think of as I watched that grey funnel slowly bend…and stretch…and touch the ground. I thought of Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the boys…but mainly the Wicked Witch. And when I think of the Wicked Witch…I immediately think of the Flying Monkeys…and get a little creeped out. I grew up being terrified of those Flying Monkeys…more so than the Wicked Witch. 

Every year CBS would broadcast an annual showing of The Wizard of Oz on Sunday night. My brothers and I would get our baths…and get into our pajamas…and then park ourselves in front of the TV…filled with excitement…and dread. I loved The Wizard of Oz…but I dreaded the Flying Monkeys. As I grew up…I outgrew my fear of the Flying Monkeys…but deep down inside me…they came to represent evil to me. They were the visual embodiment of evil to me. And even to this day…when I try to conjure up a personification of evil in my head…I see Flying Monkeys. The truth is, what we see in the Bible, is that the enemy is the great deceiver…a liar…and someone who disguises himself, like an angel of light. 

And that's why I don't fear Flying Monkeys anymore (although they still kinda' creep me out). I'm more concerned about the deception I see out there…and the lies held as truth now…and evil disguised as good. But James 4:7 gives an easy remedy:

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
Submit…Resist…and the enemy will flee. Pretty simple at first glance…but harder in practice…especially if we're easily deceived. I know you two are out there in the woods…in the wild…away from so many temptations, but so were Adam and Eve, right? So, be on guard…submit yourselves to God each day…resist the schemes of the enemy…and he will flee. 

You know what evil looks like…and it's not Flying Monkeys.

Day 65: Short and Sweet 

It was short and sweet….and greatly appreciated. Thanks for calling this morning, Katie. It was a great pick-me-up. As I briefly told you on the phone, it's been a roller coaster of a week and your call couldn't have come at a better time. 

I love how…a lot of the time…encouragement comes when you least expect it. Like, a random act of kindness during rush hour or an out of the blue compliment at work…or a phone call from your daughter when you need it most. But what I've experienced…more than anything else…is the exact word of encouragement I need as I study the Bible. That's what happened this week as I studied and prepared for my talk this morning at church. 

So, I'll make this short and sweet too. I hope and pray these notes are encouraging you two as you hike along the trail…but more importantly…I hope and pray that you're reading these Bible verses…and that THEY are what you are finding as your greatest encouragement. 

I'll end this note tonight with my greatest encouragement from this week…Romans 8:31-39. Please read, then re-read this passage and think about it tomorrow as you make your way further north:

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."      


Day 66: You Are the Man  

“We have a rosy view of ourselves and a jaundiced view of others.  Indeed what we are often doing is seeing our own faults in others and judging them vicariously.  That way, we experience the pleasure of self-righteousness without the pain of penitence.” - John Stott

I won't lie. There are times where I just…don't…feel…like…going to church.

Tonight was one of those nights. 

I had a wedding rehearsal for the wedding I'm doing tomorrow at 5PM. It was on the east side of Denver. Mom and I were going to meet up after I was done. The rehearsal went great (and I'm really looking forward to marrying this couple tomorrow), but traffic was at a near-standstill to-and-from most of the way. As I headed north on I-25…when the traffic snarl let up…I really wanted to keep going…pass up the Lafayette exit and go home. 

I'm SO glad I didn't.

Mom and I converged at church at almost the same time for the 6:45PM service. After chatting with a few folks in the lobby (including Ali Burgett's dad, Tom) we took our usual post on the left side of the auditorium. Then, Scott started to teach. The title of his talk was: Kingdom Judgement. And it was good. I hear this again and again from people I talk with at Flatirons. They say, "It's like he (Jim and/or Scott) was talking directly to me!" Well, tonight…it's like Scott was talking directly to me! I'm still wrestling with the phone conversation I had on Monday... and tonight it was like God was speaking to me. No, wait. God WAS speaking to me…through my friend and co-worker, Scott Nickell. It gave me some clarity for my follow up conversation I'm going to have tomorrow…and gave me A LOT to meditate on (like the John Stott quote I included above). 

The main Bible passage(s) Scott used tonight was about the story where Nathan confronts David after David has slept with Bathsheba…gotten her pregnant…had her husband Uriah killed…and then tries to pretend like nothing ever happened. Nathan tells David a little tale about a rich main…with lots of sheep and cattle…who takes this poor man's only sheep to have it slaughtered for dinner. When King David blows his stack and screams, "…the man who has done this deserves to die!" And then…

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! (2 Samuel 12:7) 

You are the man.

That's the statement I'm wrestling with tonight--in regards to my difficult phone conversation from this past Monday. "You are the man." The question is…am I David in this situation or am I Nathan? Am I hiding my own sin…my sin of pride and arrogance and selfish judgement…behind the hypocritical mask of self-righteousness? Or am I standing on the solid ground of righteous judgement with the responsibility to speak the truth? I'm praying for more clarity before my phone call tomorrow.

I'd appreciate your prayers…and another phone call from you both soon.  


Day 67: Wounds from a Friend  

"I'm sorry" can be two of the hardest words to say (if you don't mean it) or two words aching to leap out of your heart and mouth when you know it's the right thing to do…and say. 

I wanted you both to know that I had a follow up conversation with that loved one of mine from Monday. 

I called this person to apologize for the way I reacted on the phone Monday…
I apologized for placing my expectations on them…
And I apologized for not taking their situation into mind regarding an incident with someone else.

 Once again, I know I'm being very, very vague. I'm sorry. The main thing I wanted you to know is that there were apologies made from both of us…and while neither of us is sorry for WHAT we said…we're sorry for HOW we said it. It was a good, honest conversation…and a greater understanding that we may have to "agree to disagree" in this situation. After this afternoon's talk, I now have confidence that (eventually) there will be healing. I'm sure of it. 

Katie, I especially needed you to know this. When we spoke the other day you were very concerned. It broke my heart to hear you crying on the phone (and it made Mom cry too!). Like I told you, this is all part of life…especially when we're dealing with those closest to us. It's just like our bodies. We can get hurt…get cut or shot…in our extremities…and still live. But when the same thing happens to our heart…almost certain death. 

The closer things come to our hearts…the more there is of potential for hurt, pain and permanent damage. I know that's why some people keep the ones they love at a distance. The potential for harm is SO high. But when we do…what's the result? Shallow relationships…passivity…and slow death. I'll take the potential for being hurt any day over that. Proverbs 27:5-6 tells us:

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love." That's good stuff. I never want to hide my love because I'm afraid it might lead to confrontation. I'll take open rebuke and honest conversation every time. I know that you are both making all kinds of new friends…and building great relationships out there on the AT. My only advice would be to build them on the foundation of openness and honesty.   

Take it from me (and King Solomon)…that's a friendship that can be trusted.


Day 68: Tradition  

I love tradition. You both know I do. 

I mean, there's a reason why we get Chinese food and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" at Christmas: Tradition. 

And the same was true for a "gift from Santa" on Christmas Eve…stockings first on Christmas day…and gifts from under the tree after that: Tradition. 

Some traditions have to change. It's a Wonderful Life used to ALWAYS be on Christmas Eve. Always. Then, Em came along (who made life MUCH MORE wonderful!) and tradition needed to change. 

But leather on your 3rd anniversary as a traditional gift? Where the heck did that come from? Tradition for tradition sake seems pointless. Lots of wedding stuff seems stupid to me: "Something borrowed, something blue…" But there REALLY was (and is) a reason for Jimmy Stewart…Bedford Falls…Uncle Billy…the "old Bailey Savings and Loan"…and Clarence the Angel on Christmas Eve. 

Mom and I had already been watching It's a Wonderful Life for a couple of years by the time December 8, 1991 rolled around. Then, the Dallas Times Herald…where I worked as editorial cartoonist…went belly-up on that date...just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Everything looked SO bleak after that happened. The future looked scary with only a couple of months of severance…hardly any Christmas shopping done…and my dream job vanished. But then, our friends in Texas encircled us and came to our side. They delivered Christmas gifts…and groceries…and showed us what true friendship looked like. When we sat down to watch that Jimmy Stewart classic that year…it meant so, so much more. And the words of Clarence the Angel...inscribed inside the book Tom Sawyer at the end of the movie...brought (and still brings) tears to me:

"Dear George: Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love Clarence.

I know you have heard me say, "I follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ…and the good news of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'" There's so many good, good things about that movie…and the reason why it's part of our Christmas traditions. 

But leather? I have no idea why leather is the traditional gift on the 3rd wedding anniversary. All I know is that 3 years ago today…on June 8, 2012…we gathered together at Lone Hawk Farms in Longmont and celebrated your wedding. And it WAS a celebration! I was happy then…and couldn't be happier today that you two found each other…fell in love…and decided to spend the rest of your lives together. 

But leather? I'm guessing the closest thing to leather that you'll be gifting each other on your 3rd anniversary will be the soles of your feet! But seriously, what greater gift could you have gotten each other than the gift of this trip…this hike…the fulfillment of a dream. I think that beats leather any day! And marriage…everything else (aside from your relationship to God) pales in comparison…the rest is all meaningless…which (I think) is why Solomon wrote:

"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days."  Ecclesiastes 9:9

It's not that everything in life is fruitless…that's not what Solomon is writing…but in comparison to the REALLY important things in life, i.e., your relationship with God and your relationship with each other…everything else is meaningless. And I think that's one of the main reasons we come up with our various traditions; to try and take these important events in our lives and mark them--in an effort to keep them meaningful.

So, Happy Anniversary! I hope you enjoyed your day together…one of 1095 days together to date. Mom and I pray that God blesses you with many, many more…and many, many more meaningful days on your journey!


p.s. Anniversary steaks are on me in Harpers Ferry! 12 days and counting!

Day 69: Glad Heart 
"No one's been like Gaston
A king pin like GastonNo one's got a swell cleft in his chin like Gaston As a specimen, yes, I'm intimidating!My what a guy, that Gaston!"       
                                            "Gaston" from Beauty and the Beast

I took a short break after lunch today and ran over and saw Emery and Micah. When I walked up to the door…Em met me (in a princess dress, of course!) and Mom had Micah on her lap trying to burp him. I have a bit of a routine when I go over there. I snuggle with Em for a bit, then I try and make my way to Micah, to say "Hi". Emery usually goes with me…sticking to me like glue…always having to have some part of her body touching me. Today, she simply leaned into me the entire time I was there…all while watching TV. Katie, you would be happy. It was Disney's Beauty and the Beast

I was on my knees in front of the couch, and as Emery watched her movie, I leaned in to talk with Micah. He's such a happy little guy--full of crooked smiles and gurgle-ly coos. Em kept a watchful eye on me while I was interacting with Micah Man…not a jealous eye…just a watchful one. As I was talking to Micah, the song "Gaston" started playing on Beauty and the Beast. It's one of those songs I JUST HAVE to sing-a-long to (which are ALL the songs for you, Katie). As I was hamming it up in the sing-a-long…Micah started laughing! That egged me on and I got even hammier. "I'm especially good at expectorating!" Micah giggled and laughed and looked at me like I was some strange, exotic creature. 

It made my day! 

And just as Proverbs 15:13 tells me: "A glad heart makes a cheerful face…" and it kept a smile on my face the rest of the day. I'm looking forward to going back over again tomorrow. It's Emery's 2nd birthday! Her birthday party isn't until Friday, but Grampa and Mimi are going to give her one of her gifts early. Guess what it is? Yes. 

A Disney princess dress. 

And I know my "glad heart" will make for many, many more "cheerful faces" tomorrow! And I hope this makes you both glad too.

p.s. 11 days and counting.

Day 70: Checking In Again  

Well, it's late and Mom and I just got home from going out to eat with Carleen (my new admin) and her husband John, so I'll simply check in with you. 

I'm checking in: Happy, tender and sad.

I'm happy because it's Emery's birthday today. Everything about her makes me happy! 
I'm happy because she loves her new Elsa princess dress...and i'm happy because she's going to get a whole bunch more! 
I'm happy because we found a great new restaurant. We went to Pete's Place (a little dive bar in downtown Frederick…just 2 min. from the house) with Carleen and John and had GREAT Italian food! We're taking you there when you get home.
I'm also happy because you're out there somewhere in Virginia having the time of your life…and I'm 10 days away from joining you! 

I'm tender because we're getting ready to go to Florida to visit Grandpa and Grandma Hysell and I know it's going to be hard on Mom. 
I'm also tender because I miss you guys…but that will be taken care of in 10 days. 
So, I guess I'm also tender because Mom won't be joining me to meet you in Harpers Ferry.

I'm sad for a few reasons, but namely because I'm still working through the emotional landslide from those tough conversations last week. Everything is going to be fine, but I'm still brokenhearted over it…which is why I'll end on this Bible verse:  

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18

I really can't wait to see you two in Harpers Ferry! 


Day 71: God of All Comfort   

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
—Robert Louis Stevenson
Okay. It's going on 6 days since we've heard from you last. I hope that means you're blazing away on the trail…making up for lost time…and guaranteeing your arrival into Harpers Ferry on June 20th. You WILL be there, right?

Tomorrow and Saturday we'll be wrapping up stuff here to head to Florida to see Grandpa and Grandma for a few days. We had to farm out your jobs as house sitters and surrogate puppy parents to Cole and Taylor Willard. They're coming over tomorrow afternoon to meet their charge for the next few days. Mom wants the Willards to get familiar with Peanut…and vice versa. She's convinced that Peanut is nervous and getting out of sorts because she knows we're leaving in a few days. I think Mom's imagination gets the best of her when it comes to that dog. We haven't even packed a single bag! 

But…she DID puke on my side of the bedroom floor. Peanut, not Mom. 

No doubt, having you two here makes traveling out of town MUCH easier on us--especially Mom. Knowing you guys are here to watch over the house and love on her puppy brings great piece of mind to Mom. If anything happens to Peanut while we're gone, I'm telling Cole to handle it the same way I would…like I told you two before you left: If Peanut should happen to "pass into the great beyond"…wrap her up, stick her in the freezer…and we'll all have a cry and bury her when Katie and Nick get home. Don't worry. Nothing's going to happen to Peanut. I KNOW she's going to love the Willards…and you may have lost your job permanently when we get back!  :) As much of a pain as it is (setting up care for Peanut), she really can be a sweet dog…a great source of joy…and the perfect snuggle buddy. You both know (because you love her so well) that Peanut can be a real comfort on the crappiest of days. 

You know the ongoing debate in our home has been, "Will there be dogs in heaven?" You know where I stand. No one knows for sure…and there's no biblical basis for a belief for dogs going to heaven, but this is something I'm sure of: Whether dogs will be in heaven or not…they are definitely a gift from God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”1 Corinthians 1:3
"The Father of mercies and God of ALL comfort" (Emphasis mine). Some days…a lot of days…most days…there is nothing more comforting than the love of your dog. The worst of days can sometimes be erased by the wet nose and comforting touch of your puppy curled up next to you. You can't tell me that the "God of ALL comfort" didn't specifically create the dog with this instinct…the instinct to love beyond itself…and care and comfort their humans.   

What a gift from the Father of mercies!


p.s. I'm not counting your chickens before they hatch, but I think you'll be $90 richer by tomorrow night. I've got a guy who wants to by your Osprey backpack, Nick. Craigslist buyers can be a little flaky, so keep your fingers crossed. 9 days and counting!

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