Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pillar of Fire

 Today, I had moments of feeling like this...

(Staring over the edge of a 400 ft drop to the Zambezi River, preparing to jump)

I don't know that I've ever been so scared in my life, as that day in Zambia. It was a surreal moment of numb obedience and thoughts that ran something like: 'what am I doing?'

And, on the edge of a different, yet significant 'leap,' I wouldn't say I'm scared, but I would admit a good deal of anxiety. And I've had some of the same 'what am I doing?' thoughts racing through my head.

I leave for Denver tomorrow with a lot more unknowns than knowns, it seems. I finally took a jog tonight to clear my head, and enjoyed a timely infusion of truth from one of my favorite theologians and musical counselors.
Canaan Bound (click to listen)

Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan bound
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron's hills are amber crowned
So bid your troubled heart be still
The grass, they say, is soft and green
The trees are tall and honey-filled
So, Sarah, come and walk with me
Like the stars across the heavens flung
Like water in the desert sprung
Like the grains of sand, our many sons
Oh, Sarah, fair and barren one
Come to Canaan, come
I trembled at the voice of God
A voice of love and thunder deep
With love He means to save us all
And Love has chosen you and me
Long after we are dead and gone
A thousand years our tale be sung
How faith compelled and bore us on
How barren Sarah bore a son
So come to Canaan, come
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron's hills are amber crowned
Oh, Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan Bound

Pillar of Fire (no audio available, sorry)
There, in the distance--a pillar of fire
Rumbling like thunder in a dream
It roars among the pines along the lines
Of the great Mississippi

It scatters all the cattle, and rattles the trees

It skids across the prairie by the moon
It sings like a choir, this pillar of fire
And the name of God is the burning tune

I can see it whirling, swirling,

Spinning all around
Upward, onward, homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, lead me through the night,
Pillar of Fire

On through the passes of the mountains it goes

As bouldered and broken as my heart
I shiver and cry and I watch as it winds
To the deepest and the darkest parts

I can see it whirling, swirling,
Spinning all around
Now upward, onward, now homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, hold me through the night,
Pillar of Fire
Where, Oh Lord, are you leading?
I can get so scared in the night
My feet are cut and bleeding
With every step I feel less alive

Oh, but Pillar of Fire, you blazed this trail

You've been there every step along the road
From a barn in Bethlehem to Hell and back again
You blazed the trail that leads me home

I can see it whirling, swirling,

Spinning all around
Now upward, onward, now homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, hold me through the night,
Pillar of Fire

On to the ocean I follow it down

Where it sizzles and boils in the waves along the sound
Oh, Jesus, lead me to your shore
Pillar of Fire


I was also encouraged by a good dose of Isaiah today...

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

13 For I am the LORD your God
   who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
   I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
   little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
   new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
   and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
   and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the LORD
   and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

and finally... my favorite...
Isaiah 40:25-31
25 “To whom will you compare me?
   Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
   Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
   and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
   not one of them is missing.
 27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
   Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
   my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
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.
29 He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
31 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. 

Back to the bridge in Zambia...I can not describe to you the feeling of relief and exhilaration when you feel the bungee pull tight and throw you back into the air. All my nervous fear was erased seconds after jumping. (the 5 second free-fall did SEEM like an eternity, though)

I'm looking forward to writing the blog post equivalent of that exhilarating and thankful relief in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. I'm looking forward to adding cool stories to my autobiography. 

But, first, I need to pack.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Journey enters new territory...

I have recently returned from an almost 2-week trip, hitting 3 new states that I've never been to before...Washington, Montana, and Wyoming, and a quick and circuitous route through British Columbia and Alberta. And being that they are 3 of the most beautiful states and 2 of the most picturesque provinces that I've ever seen, I'm wondering why I hadn't visited them earlier.

While I flew from Denver to Spokane on the second leg of the trip, my friend's car notched 3700 miles by trips end. Yep... lots of territory covered, many pictures taken, and unforgettable memories made. Some of my favorite pictures are below. 

The initial reason for my trip was officiating a wedding in Spokane. 

The groom's family and male side of the wedding party got to stay in a cool log chalet up near Mt. Spokane. It was an amazing first exposure to Washington for me, complete with a moose sighting the last night.

From Spokane, I went to Seattle (another first) and enjoyed a few days in a beautiful city. I enjoyed it with some of my best Kansas friends and their daughter.

The stereotypical rain of the northwest finally showed itself on our trip from Seattle to Vancouver. We didn't spend as much time seeing the sights due to a soaking, cold downpour, but did enjoy a Japanese Isakaya dining experience at a 'community table' with a french couple from Quebec City, an Australian 'casanova' trying to wine-and-dine a Japanese college student, and another couple who never said a word to us. No pictures were taken, unfortunately, but the conversation was good for international relations.

The 12-hr trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise was an exhausting and, again, rain and snow-soaked experience. And while Lake Louise was still fairly ice-covered, I enjoyed the opportunity to see an area famous for its beauty. Here's a couple pics from along the way...

After a quick trip through Banff, Calgary and into Montana, we hit some of the most ruggedly beautiful country, and my favorite of the trip.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks deserved more time than we were able to give them, but even a day was enough to give a good taste of some amazing territory. We saw a lot of wildlife, and I am now a big fan of the Tetons. (someone told me last night that they are the most photographed mountain range in the world... that's an unconfirmed statement, but one that I don't have trouble believing after seeing them).

Jackson Hole gave us a taste of the 'wild west.' We hit it on Saturday night as the town was starting to rev up for the Memorial Day weekend. We missed the "Running of the Horses" but got a picture of the Elk Arches and enjoyed a little country band during dinner.

The final leg of the trip was a quick overnight stop through Denver. We book-ended our trip with excellent sashimi and sushi at the Sushi Den. And Little Man Ice Cream is a must-stop (please excuse the finger on my phone camera)

Great times and life-long memories...

And my personal journey enters new territory as well... details to come. All prayers for wisdom accepted and appreciated.

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