Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Home

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

It's so good to be here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rebels

Alex and Brett Harris, well-known for their Rebelution blog, were guests at Focus on the Family to tape a future radio broadcast. We were privileged to be in the gallery during the taping, and everybody had a great time.

The Rebelution is a counter-culture movement that we happily support. Here's a snippet from their website which describes the philosophy.

The official definition of the 'rebelution' is "a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture." When you look around today, in terms of godly character and practical competence, our culture does not expect much of us young people. We are not only expected to do very little that is wise or good, but we're expected to do the opposite. Our media-saturated youth culture is constantly reinforcing lower and lower standards and expectations.

The word 'rebelution' is a combination of the words "rebellion" and "revolution." So it carries a sense of an uprising against social norms. But in this case, it's not a rebellion against God-established authority, but against the low expectations of our society. It's a refusal to be defined by our ungodly, rebellious culture. Actually, we like to think of it as
rebelling against rebellion.

Not only was it a real treat to see the behind-the-scenes action of a taping session, but this was a topic about which our kids could really get excited. We had participated in the Harris brothers' Modesty Survey a couple of years ago and were already familiar with their website, so when we heard they were in Colorado Springs, we jumped at the chance to hear them.

The subject of the conversation was their book, Do Hard Things, which is a challenge to the youth of today not to waste these years with insignificant mediocrity but to make a difference. Lead fruitful lives now, and don't wait for adulthood. Do hard things!

The message is so inspiring, so motivating. We loved it! If you haven't joined the movement, please do. This is one time when it's really ok to rebel.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Old" Friends

These two guys were roommates from 1985 to 1989 and shared more than anybody probably wants to know. Time and distance may have separated them in many ways, but their friendship remains a strong force today.

We had an opportunity to spend some time with these dear friends yesterday and catch up on what is going on in their lives. Brief visits throughout the years have allowed us to stay in touch but not really up-to-date. It was wonderful to be able to sit down and talk at length about everything and about nothing.

Sorry, Jim. It really was a Rainy Mountain.

Dean, Liz, and their boys are part of a church planting mission near Denver and were able to share how God has confirmed and directed the process. It is so encouraging to see God at work in such a mighty way and know that He is affecting lives that might never have heard the Gospel without this work.


This motley crew is the offspring of these two former college yahoos who grew up to be responsible, productive adults making a difference in the world in which we live. We pray these guys do the same, whether they are playing roller hockey, writing novels, reporting the news, producing life-changing films, or just eating us out of house and home.

Speaking of eating, a home-cooked meal after weeks of eating out was worth the price of admission alone. Thanks so much, guys!

We had a wonderful evening and loved every moment. Thanks for having us. Hope to see you on our side of the Mississippi soon. Happy 16th Birthday, Jake.

We love you.

Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods, a city park in Colorado Springs, has shown up in a couple of book series our family has been reading lately, so we set aside a little time yesterday morning to visit the park and view some of its fascinating rock formations.


The red rocks and cliffs here really stand out against their surroundings. This one is called Balanced Rock for obvious reasons. It weighs 700 tons, so let's all hope it continues to be balanced.


The Kissing Camels are on the top of this rock. Can you see them? The right camel's head and hump are visible while you can only see the left camel's head. There is a small hole underneath their heads.

The park is a very nice place to visit with lots of trails to enjoy during a peaceful morning.

However, we found no entryways into the Labyrinth. Sorry, Percy.

Twenty Years and Counting


In honor of our 20th wedding anniversary, here are 20 reasons why my man is still the perfect one for me.
  1. He loves me more than football.
  2. He makes me laugh.
  3. He encourages me.
  4. He prays for me.
  5. He writes me songs and sings them to me.
  6. He inspires me to make things happen, to follow my dreams.
  7. He loves our children and spends time with them.
  8. He takes care of his parents.
  9. He is the spiritual leader of our home.
  10. He's the steady rock in the midst of my mania.
  11. He gets all of my jokes.
  12. He shares all of my secrets.
  13. He listens.
  14. He is the SHMILY king.
  15. He tells me I'm beautiful.
  16. He knows where my thrift ends and my snobbery begins.
  17. He tolerates my never-ending lists of projects.
  18. He takes me shopping.
  19. He completes me.
  20. He's my very best friend.

Happy Anniversary, Kev! I love you.

The Springs

A real highlight of our time here in Colorado Springs has been our visit to Focus on the Family. This ministry has impacted our little family in so many ways, and it was a real treat to visit their campus and see where it all happens.

We are all avid Adventures in Odyssey fans, and our kids were very excited about the Whit's End area of the Welcome Center. They had a ton of fun exploring all of the exhibits and seeing all of the Odyssey paraphernalia displayed there. Four of us were within the height limit and able to traverse the three-story A-Bend-A-Go slide. Hang on. It's a wild ride.

We had lunch at the Whit's End Soda Shoppe, and yes there are a couple of Wodfamchocsods on the table there.


Our children were also able to add their voices to their very own episode of Adventures in Odyssey in the Kids' Radio studio. That was so much fun. It was great just watching them.

We will actually be heading back to Focus tomorrow morning to attend a broadcast taping of the Focus on the Family radio show. We are very excited about the topic and are thrilled we got reservations for this particular show.

I'm afraid to give away any real details because things could always change, but I will say that the guests are two rebel brothers who have a phenomenal message to share. More to come!

Catching Up

We've been having so much fun I haven't taken time out for blogging, so here's a quick rundown of the last couple of days.

We arrived at Grand Teton National Park on Saturday nearing lunchtime. Although we had pretty much scrapped our original plan to camp there for three nights, I was wavering. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Blue skies stretched for miles, temperatures were in the 60's, the campgrounds were not yet full, the park was breathtakingly beautiful.

Nonchalantly, I commented that one of the campgrounds we had considered was just up ahead.

Silence.

We drove a bit farther and stopped for a picnic lunch beside the lake. The mountains on the other side were a perfect backdrop, and I was lost in the romantic idea of pitching our tent, sitting in our chairs by the lake, reading books all afternoon, doing a bit of hiking, cooking over the campfire, and snuggling into our sleeping bags at night.

Again I tentatively suggested, "You know, we could just camp here like we'd planned."

More silence.

Finally, my wise and practical husband patiently reminded me that we spent two days drying out our tent, tarps, and other essentials inside our condo in Big Sky. Yes, we just moved the dining room table and chairs into the living room and set up our tent there for a couple of days. He and our children were not idealistic at all when it came to repeating the South Dakota scenario.

We moved on and enjoyed the stunning scenery for the rest of the afternoon. There was a funny moment when we read about the French explorers who named the Tetons. I didn't do my homework on that one, I must admit. I'm sure our friends in France can appreciate the humor there.

Our plans to do any hiking were halted by signs like these that mirrored those we had seen in Yellowstone.


We stopped briefly in Jackson Hole and witnessed once again the abrupt shift in the weather that we have experienced in our time here. Black clouds rolled in from seemingly nowhere. Dazzling lightning bolts streaked out of the sky time and time again. Ultimately, the skies opened and rain poured and poured and poured. My papa would call that kind of storm a "real gully washer." That it was.

We ducked into a store for shelter, and all I could think was how thankful I was that we were not in a tent in GTNP. Praise the Lord.

We drove a bit farther into Wyoming, met a sweet biker couple who steered us toward a small town where we could find a nice place to stay, and spent a restful night warm and dry in a delightful little hotel with an indoor pool and a hot breakfast the next morning.

God is good.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!


I love you, Daddy!

Thank you for always being there for me in so many ways. I know I can count on you when times get tough, whether we're in the delivery room or just painting the living room.

I thank God for you.

Look Up


A Song of Ascents

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 121 NAS

Friday, June 19, 2009

So Long, Big Sky


Our last day in Montana was a perfect one. Blue skies were abundant and temperatures were in the 60's. It was glorious!


Nonetheless, our boys found a huge pile of snow to climb and proceeded to bean each other with snowballs. How many times do you get to do that in shorts and t-shirts?


The real draw for most visitors to Big Sky is this big guy, Lone Mountain. The slopes here are considered by many to be some of the best in the country. At over 11,000 feet it offers much to downhill fanatics. Double Black Diamond, anyone?



Our time here has been delightful, but we'll be heading out for another adventure tomorrow. With no firm plans for the next few days, we will be vagabonds somewhat. Who knows where we'll be tomorrow night?

Camping in the Cold 101

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Side Of Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone offers more distinctly different views for visitors to the park. The Yellowstone River makes two dramatic drops on its journey north, at the Upper and Lower Falls, before it flows into the canyon.


The Upper Falls are the smaller of the two at 109 feet.

At 308 feet high, the Lower Falls are almost twice the height of Niagara Falls.

Visitors like us have been drawn by these breathtaking vistas since 1846 when Jim Bridger, possibly the first white man to see them, first arrived on the scene.

Around Yellowstone Lake the scenery makes yet another abrubt change. The waters here are tranquil and serene with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Don't be fooled, however. The falls are just a short distance away.

In a matter of ten minutes we went from being at about 8500 feet above sea level with snow falling to around 6000 feet and 63 degrees. The weather here is as variable as the landscape. Showers blow up quickly and can dissipate just as fast. It is truly fascinating.

We had planned to hike out to Natural Bridge, a rock formation carved out by erosion, but the trail was closed due to danger of bears. Yikes! Those plans quickly changed. May the bears enjoy their time at Natural Bridge. We were happy to let them have that trail all to themselves.

After a few stops for more geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and buffalo sightings we headed out of the park for a strategic visit to DQ. Every geyser gazer loves a treat now and then.

We will return to YNP for the last time on Saturday as we make our way south to Grand Teton National Park. What a week this has been!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Down Time


It's been a quiet, restful day with time for a little light reading, watching the beavers in the lake, and doing laundry.

There were fun and games galore and window shopping in stores we couldn't afford.


We were also able to peruse last Sunday's sermon and just generally catch our breaths.

Thank you, Lord, for peaceful days.

Old Faithful Day

Yesterday was such an exciting day! We decided to head straight over to Old Faithful once we entered the park. Apparently we weren't the only ones with that plan since we drove around the parking lots looking for a space in the crowds.


We were only about 20 minutes from the next predicted eruption, so we found a spot and sat down to wait. The photo above is how Old Faithful looks between eruptions. Some steam rises from the hole, more at some times and less at others.

Always ready, our filmmakers were poised with cameras awaiting the perfect shot. It could happen any moment.

The rangers claim their predictions to be accurate within 10 minutes either way. It's actually pretty fascinating. The people around us were hilarious, however. They complained about how long they'd been waiting...45 minutes, can you imagine waiting that long to see such a natural wonder?

For this particular eruption, Old Faithful provided a few little teaser spouts before actually turning on the charm full-force. Our fellow geyser gazers moaned and lamented that it had better be more than that.

It was.

We liked it so much we decided to hang around for the next eruption, predicted to be about 90 minutes later. We walked back to the car, got our picnic lunch, and ate while waiting for Old Faithful's next performance.

During that time, a park ranger gave an informational talk about Old Faithful and how it works. At the end, he stated that the next eruption would take place in about 30 minutes. A lady behind us turned to her companions and asked, "What do you think? Should we wait? Is it worth it?" Amazing.

This time, Old Faithful began its powerful spout all at once without its initial little spurts. In fact, I read that the best indicator of an imminent eruption at Old Faithful is the crowd in the stands. If the benches are full, it's about to happen. If they're empty, you just missed it.

The eruptions lasted about 4 minutes each, and we were not disappointed.

We enjoyed walking around the Lower Geyser Basin for the remainder of the afternoon. There are over 150 geysers in that one square mile, so there are lots of trails to explore.

The geyser basins have a desolate feel with their barren terrrain. Vegetation is scalded by the heat of the geyser blasts. The acidic nature of the surroundings doesn't provide a healthy growth environment. The sulfur smell and steam rising from pits gave the early settlers the impression of Hell bubbling forth on the earth, and I have to agree. The stark contrast between these areas and the green mountains surrounding them is staggering.

And then you happen upon something like Morning Glory Pool. Its rainbow of colors stands out among the gray of its surroundings. The colors are from the microscopic bacteria living in the extremely hot water. These bacteria thrive in environments which cannot support life for humans or most plants and animals.

Our Creator God is amazing. What a delightful nature He must have to include such wondrous things in this world He made for us. What a Mighty God we serve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome Home, Sir!




It is so wonderful to see all of you together again. See you soon!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Walk in the Park

This morning we headed back into Yellowstone National Park for another day of sightseeing. The curvy mountain roads leading to Tower Falls took us by banks of snow, and we watched the temperature steadily drop into the 30's.

We even stopped to make a couple of snowballs because, you know, boys will be boys.

The falls were spectacular and just the perfect treat for us waterfall junkies.

We continued to travel northward once we left the falls and were met by this bighorn sheep walking down the road toward us. We just stopped and let him browse around a bit.


This sighting was a real treat as there are only about 200 bighorn sheep in YNP today. Seeing one is pretty rare, so we felt privileged. Just a short way up the road we pulled over and were able to watch four females and two young across the canyon. Amazing!

The elk sightings have been pretty exciting as well. How about the photo below for all of you deer hunters? These guys were just taking it easy this afternoon.


We looped around by Mammoth Hot Springs for a closer look at the lower terrace and then headed back through West Yellowstone toward Big Sky and our yummy supper. We just need a little time to recharge for tomorrow.

Old Faithful, here we come.

Yellowstone National Park

We finally made it into Yellowstone today! It seems like we've been anticipating this day for so long. Absolutely every one of our expectations were met and more. The scenery is incredible and so variable. It is truly amazing to see the terrain change from one area of the park to the next. Lodgepole pine forests give way to desert-like geyser basins. Rocky cliffs and formations seem to spring from nowhere.

We were able to get in a short hike to Harlequin Lake before lunch, and then we rode over to the Norris Geyser Basin. There we were able to see a few minor eruptions like the one above at Steamboat Geyser. The last major eruption here was in May of 2005, but if you're lucky enough to catch one, it's a special event. Steamboat erupts at heights 2 or 3 times that of Old Faithful, but it is much less predictable.

Another short hike out to Artists Paintpots allowed us to view these boiling mud pots and get a whiff of their strong sulfur odor.

I just cannot get over these snow-capped mountains. Their majesty is staggering. We even drove by several huge patches of snow which were on ground level with us. Temperatures hovered around 50 today, sometimes a little less and sometimes a little more depending on our location. That is quite an experience for this little Southern hothouse flower.

Mammoth Hot Springs, near the North Entrance of the park, is an entirely different kind of place. The hot water running over the ground here leaves deposits of calcium carbonate, giving the entire area the look of snow and ice. The heat radiating from the ground denies what your eyes may wish to believe, however.

The hot springs, geysers, and mud pots here in Yellowstone are at temperatures much higher than any human can withstand. People have been scalded to death from falls into these geothermal features, and some contain enough acid to eat through boots. Translation: Stay on the boardwalks!

More exploring is on the agenda for tomorrow. For now, this girl needs to get some sleep.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Perfect Pre-Trip Book


As we were riding yesterday, I couldn't help but think about Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. This wonderful story would have been a perfect read-aloud for our family in the days leading up to this trip.

Alas, the thought came a bit late. You can enjoy it with your family though and experience a little bit of the joys and trials those courageous homesteaders encountered. It's definitely going on our list of future books to share.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back on the Grid

Greetings from Montana! We arrived this afternoon from a few days of camping in the South Dakota wilderness where the high temps were in the 40's, and it rained every single day. We awoke to an eerie phenomenon this morning, sunlight filtering through our tent. It had been so long, we weren't quite certain what we were seeing. This strange turn of events allowed us to break camp and get on our way to more adventure.

Thankfully our guys are honor graduates of the Mr. Mike School of Tent Camping, so after four days of almost constant rain, we were dry and happy inside our little tent. We learned a bit about camping in the cold, however. Even my husband, hater of all things polar fleece, was snuggling down inside a sleeping bag liner. Brr...


Custer State Park is absolutely beautiful and teeming with wildlife. This big guy and one of his buddies were just grazing along the side of the road. We were repeatedly warned that "Buffalo are dangerous. Do not approach." We did not approach. We just drove by slowly. We saw countless deer, pronghorns, prairie dogs, buffalo, as well as the odd mountain goat and bighorn sheep.

We were inspired by our visit to Mount Rushmore, but we did get a little silly with the photos. No promises that you won't find your own face on a tweeked version in the near future.



We also visited Wind Cave National Park and toured a portion of the cave where we saw frostwork, popcorn, and boxwork formations.

Our visit to the Black Hills was completed with a stop at Crazy Horse Mountain to view this carving which has been in process for over 50 years. The size is immense. The entire carving of Mount Rushmore could fit on the part of the mountain directly behind Crazy Horse's face. Yes, that little area to which the scale model of Crazy Horse seems to be pointing in the photo below. What a great reminder to all of us to dream big dreams.

Tomorrow we head on over to Big Sky where we will be staying for the next week. Hopefully we will have lots more fun to share. For now, we're just happy to have real beds, a nice, clean real bathroom, and a climate-controlled dwelling. Ahh...the joys of civilization.