2017: Page 220

Page 220 wrapped up a whirlwind getaway to spend some time together as a family before the start of school and the schedule it brings with it.  I was up at 7:30 in the morning to begin the day with some quiet time and coffee, and we were on the go all day long as we didn’t arrive home until 1:30 AM.  It was an wonderful day filled with lighthouses, waterfalls, and roads that should feel very accomplished to even be called a road. 🙂  One of the early roads we encountered had a sign that said, ” 4 low, or no go” — and it wasn’t even the most primitive of the roads we traveled.  I think we ended up on off road vehicle paths rather than roads, but they were listed on my GPS and Google maps.  My navigator may have turned us down one of these paths that we may not have had to take, but it was a fun adventure.  Much of our day was spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan followed by the 5+ hour drive home from the Mackinac Bridge area.

Anyhow, in keeping with my getaway/vacation style posting, that is enough writing and here are a few thousand more “words” to finish out the page.

 

2017: Page 219

Page 219 was a good, fun, and long day enjoying the beauty of the Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  As I write this on my iPad from the kitchen of our vacation cabin, there are some rays of sun streaming through the trees as I look through the window in front of me.  That pretty much represents the day we had yesterday.  We were all awake early as we headed out to see what we could see in a day.  Susan did great as she was able to ride her wheelchair on some of the trails and walk on some of the shorter ones.  It was.a day filled with incredible lake views, waterfalls, and lighthouses capped off with a sunset over the lake.

Here are a few thousand words to describe the day. 😀

2017: Page 218

Page 218 was a Sunday even though I’m writing this on a Tuesday morning.  The day began by throwing some things in the truck for a quick family getaway, then headed to Dowagiac to preach before the getaway began.  The sermon was another one in the “Living as the Lord’s Servant” series and considered the life of Barnabas with a message, “Serving With a GIVER’S Heart”.

The written part of today’s page will be condensed as I didn’t bring my laptop computer with me, so here are some lessons from the sermon.

  • Serve with a Generous heart.
  • Serve with an Intentional heart.
  • Serve with a Vertical heart.
  • Serve with an Encouraging heart.
  • Serve with a Rejoicing heart.
  • Serve with a Sacrificial heart.

After the church service, we began a 7+ hour drive north so we could spend a little time together as a family before the schools start.  The drive was a mix of sun, clouds, and even heavy rain.  We stopped a couple times to take some photos and were hoping to reach our destination in time for the sunset.  As we approache the shore of Lake Superior, where we would be staying, the clear blue sky was hidden by a heavy fog that came in off the lake.  No sunset photos that night, but we did get a few fog photos.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a couple thousand words to conclude today’s page.  😀

Southern West Virginia Waterfalls & Scenic Views Roadtrip: Day 2

There are many sights to see in southern West Virginia.  This article will describe a day trip out of Beckley, West Virginia to see a number of waterfalls and scenic views.  We travel as a family with a daughter who has limited mobility, so this article also considers the accessibility factor of sightseeing.  We travel with a manual wheelchair designed for somewhat rugged conditions so the accessibility factors won’t completely correspond to the use of a normal wheelchair or transport chair.  There is much more that could have been seen, but time limited the trip to these few highlights.  The link below should take you to a MapQuest map showing a rough approximation of the route we took and the descriptions and photos that follow will correspond with this route.  Enjoy the journey with us.  🙂

Beckley, WV to Beckley, WV Directions - MapQuest

http://mapq.st/2oO0myu

  • Twin Falls Resort State Park
    Our first stop after leaving the hotel in Beckley was at the Twin Falls Resort State Park.  This park made the list of stops due to its namesake twin falls and they did not disappoint.  The two falls are along the same loop trail and the path to the first falls is paved and easily accessible.  The trail becomes more rocky and rugged between the two falls to the point where our daughter had to get out of the wheelchair and walk part of the way.  Shortly after the second falls, the trail picks up an old roadbed that returns to the first falls and was once again usable with our wheelchair.  The walk would have been more accessible had we taken the roadbed both ways between the falls, but we would have missed some beautiful scenery as the more rugged path followed the stream.
  • Pinnacle Rock State Park
    After leaving Twin Falls, our next stop was Pinnacle Rock State Park.  There seems to be two parts to this park as my GPS originally took us to a lake access point that is not near the scenic views of Pinnacle Rock.  In looking at the MapQuest directions, it tries to do the same thing.  You actually need to take Coal Heritage Road (Highway 52)  northwest out of Bluewell instead of going straight through on Pinnacle Lake Road.  We ended up in Virginia for a short time before making our way back to where we wanted to be.  This park (on Highway 52) provides great views from an overlook reached by climbing a good number of stairs.  There is a picnic area and playground that is accessible and can be reached by a driveway that allows handicap tagged vehicles to park at the playground site.  Most of the stairway had good solid railing, although there were a few sections missing when we were there.  The view from the observation platform at the top was worth the work expended in getting there.
  • Camp Creek State Park
    After leaving Pinnacle Rock, we made our way to Camp Creek State Park.  The route took us through Princeton, West Virginia which has plenty of lunch options if you are so inclined.  Camp Creek State Park wasn’t found in my GPS but it did have a location for Camp Creek State Forest which seemed to get me to where I wanted to be.  The two waterfalls at the property are what got this park to make the list of stopping points.  Mash Creek Falls was the most accessible as there was parking in front of the falls — but not so close that the vehicles were in the way of photographing.  Camp Creek Falls had a parking area about a quarter mile from the falls and the path back was a gravel roadbed that our wheelchair worked well on.  The park had a couple nice looking picnic and play areas if you are more inclined to a picnic than a lunch stop in one of the towns you go through.
  • Brush Creek Falls
    After leaving Camp Creek, it isn’t far to Brush Creek Falls although the route is over some very narrow, winding roads.  There is limited parking at the trail-head to the falls and the trail actually goes on for some distance beyond the falls if you’re wanting to do some hiking to stretch your legs.  The falls is listed at a quarter mile from the parking area and the trail is fairly wide but rocky at places.  It was short enough that we left the wheelchair in the truck and had our daughter walk it, knowing there would be a time of rest while we photographed the falls before returning to the truck.  I probably could have managed pushing the wheelchair on most of the trail but there were some sections that may have been too rugged with the amount of rock exposed.  The trail from the top of the falls to the bottom was narrow and steep, but manageable.  Halfway back from the falls to the truck our daughter had a seizure so we stopped in the middle of the trail where I held her until she was through it and was able to finish the walk.  That also finished her mobility for the rest of the day.
  • Pipestem Resort State Park
    After leaving Brush Creek, we made our way to Pipestem Resort State Park.  Just inside the park’s main entrance is a lookout tower that provides incredible views in all directions.  The path from the parking area to the tower is a rather steep series of paved switchbacks.  Walking it would probably not be overly difficult, but pushing a wheelchair up it made it a very strenuous hike.  The view at the top, however, was worth it.  From a large grassy knoll, the tower rose several stories above the surrounding tree lines and the access to the top was via a wide staircase that after several flights of stairs opened onto a covered observation deck.  We also stopped at the lodge on the canyon rim where the views were also astounding.  There is a second lodge in the park that is accessible only by trail or their skyway tram, but it is a seasonal lodge and was not open at this time.
  • Pipestem Falls
    After leaving Pipestem Park through the back way, at least it was the back way compared to the way we came in, we came upon Pipestem Falls.  This falls lies directly alongside the roadway so it is easy to get to and there is a nice view looking down upon the lower falls.  There is also a nice path to view the upper part of the falls.  Getting to the bottom of the creek bed for a view of the lower part of the falls is a little more tricky as there doesn’t appear to be a “normal” path of access.  While carrying the same name as the park, the falls appear to be just outside of the park’s official boundaries and wasn’t listed on any of the park maps that I had looked at.
  • Little Beaver State Park
    As we left Pipestem Falls, the sun was beginning to drop in the western sky and I began to look for a good location to photograph the sunset.  In searching for a possible stop, my GPS found Little Beaver State Park between where we were and where we wanted to end up for the night.  The route would have taken us directly through Bluestone State Park, but there was a detour around it as the main entryway was closed at the time.  Little Beaver State Park seemed to be centered around a small man-made lake as the entrance took us past a dam with water falling over it.  The lake was surrounded by trees and while it was a very beautiful setting, the trees screened out the sun from the reflected view I would have liked to have seen in the lake.  Regardless, it was a beautiful stop and we had no need to really test any of the accessibility of the park, although it looked to be very accessible.
  • New River Gorge National Park — Grandview Overlook
    With Little Beaver State Park not giving the view I was looking for, our next stop was at the Grandview Overlook of the New River Gorge National Park.  The name itself gave great hope that it would provide the sunset view I was looking for.  The area that we stopped in had a great setup for accessibility as a wide flagstone path made its way from the parking lot to the overlook observation area.  It was a beautiful view of the New River Gorge but happens to be on the west rim of the gorge, meaning that the view was looking eastward and not toward the setting sun.  There appeared to be a variety of trails and things to do from this location, including an area for a seasonal outdoor drama, but the stop was worth it for the views alone.
  • I-64/Grandview Road Interchange
    On our way to the Grandview Overlook, we had crossed Interstate 64 at an interchange which provided a clearing toward the west.  Our route from Grandview to Beckley took us back to this interchange in order to take I-64 west.  While not a destination, it was at the top of this interchange that I found the sunset view I was hoping for.  While there was still some driving to do (and some ice cream to be eaten) before arriving back to the hotel for the night, the scene from this location was the perfect ending to a day focused on the natural beauty of waterfalls and scenic views in southern West Virginia.
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Eyes That See

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“Ears that hear and eyes that see — the LORD has made them both.”
Proverbs 20:12 (NIV)

I’ve reached the point where I rarely  go anywhere without a camera.  I share pictures on social media so often that some may wonder if I actually do anything other than take photographs.  Surprising as it may seem to some, I don’t spend a lot of time taking photos.  I have simply learned to use my camera as a personal worship tool as often as possible.  

I receive a lot of compliments on my photos and the beauty they capture, as well as a few questions about where I find the subjects for my photos.  My “secret” isn’t that complicated!  While I do visit parks and scenic places when possible, nearly all of my pictures are taken in places where people pass by on a regular basis, often never seeing the things that I notice.  I consider the noticing of these things, and the capture of them in photos, to be a part of my personal worship of God as I continually marvel at His handiwork and creativity.  

The photos at the top of this article are an example.  The picture on the left is the seed head of a water-lily blossom that I noticed at a public garden.  The resemblance to a shower head caught my attention.  While the water-lily in full bloom next to it probably was the subject of many photos that day, I wonder how many even noticed the beauty of the seed head.  The picture on the right was taken as I walked down the city sidewalk on a family vacation.  These sand lizards are everywhere in Florida, yet when I saw this one on top of a small accent light he seemed to be begging to have his picture taken.  My wife joked about the Floridians probably thinking I was crazy to be taking a picture of something so common.  Yet it caught my eye and reminded me of the amazing God I serve and worship.

So, what do you pass by on a daily basis that ought to be prayer prompts and worship reminders yet are never even noticed?  What can you start doing that will help you better use the eyes and ears that the Lord has created?  For me, I am continually tuning my eyes and ears to see and hear the wonders of God all around me!

In prayer,
Tom

Prayer Journey

The National Day of Prayer was yesterday and we had a great Concert of Prayer service at the Deer Run Church of Christ in South Bend, Indiana. 

While I love special prayer times and days, it is practicing a life of prayer that really gets me excited.  Next week, May 5-10, I will be in the Louisiana gulf coast region to pray.  God has given me the opportunity to join with a friend of mine to spend a week praying in the greater New Orleans area of Louisiana.

Our goal is to listen to God and follow His lead in the conversation He has with us.  Our desire is to encourage Christians in their efforts of physical and spiritual rebuilding taking place in the region.  We will spend time praying in the communities of the region, on the campus of the University of New Orleans, and with the ministry of Operation Feed My Sheep.

If you are currently in the gulf coast area south of New Orleans and would like to join together sometime the week of May 5 – 10 for prayer, let me know.

If you would be willing to partner in prayer with my friend and I as we take this Prayer Journey, I have developed a prayer guide to help people know how to pray for us.  You can download a .pdf file of it at this link:  New Orleans area Prayer Journey Prayer Guide.

If this type of prayer involvement interests you, I am also planning a similiar Prayer Journey in the Salt Lake City area of Utah for June 23-28.  Contact me for more information if you are interested.

Wow! I Love God! (and I still enjoy flying!)

For those who have read my previous post and travel a lot by air, you probably knew this article would be coming!

My four hour layover in Denver turned into a six hour layover and two hour late arrival in Tucson.  Shortly before noon, the monitors were listing a one hour delay due to the airplane we were to use being delayed in arriving to Denver.  The plane did arrive and the crew boarded and did their pre-flight checks to get ready for our flight.  Then we were told the flight was simply being listed as delayed, with no estimated departure time due to a problem with one of the doors.  I  guess there is something about flying for 2 hours without a door that might become worrisome.

Pretty soon, the crew come up the jet-way and simply said they were told to leave the aircraft — not a good sign if you plan on flying soon.  But it wasn’t long before they made an announcement that our aircraft needed work but they had another plane at a different gate that we would be using with a 3:00 scheduled departure rather than the 1:20 original flight plan.  Fortunately, the new gate wasn’t far and the crowd of fellow fliers make their way over and reshuffle the line.  Then the announcement is made that this aircraft is configured differently and it doesn’t have as many seats.  Seating on this plane would be rows 4 – 19.  Anyone ticketed in something other than that would not be going!  I had seat 4A, so I was good to go.  Then it was as if they forgot to tell the crew about the new plans.  They finally arrived and we made it on the plane and ready to go for a 3:20 departure.

Such is the life of flying!  Good one minute, completely gone wrong the next.  But as I said to a gentleman in line with me, “Still beats walking!”  I made it from South Bend to Tucson in 15 hours from the time I left home to driving away from the Tucson airport.  Yes, it could have been a quicker trip.  Yes, it is generally more enjoyable when everything goes right.

But, it wasn’t my day.  I’m not saying it wasn’t my day because things went wrong.  That would be the common line of thinking — you’ve heard it, right?  When everything goes just right, it must be my day.  When everything goes wrong, it just wasn’t my day.  That is not what I’m saying.  It wasn’t my day because it was God’s day that I am living.  I love the line from the “Facing The Giants” movie, “We praise Him if we win and we praise Him if we lose.”  That is what I’m talking about.  I love God and His day was given to me in a way not according to my plans.  That’s okay!

I love God and I still enjoy flying because I attempt to fly in obedience to God’s calling in my life.  I don’t simply plan trips because they sound like fun or will be of great benefit or rest to me.  I go places based on my listening to God and his promptings in my life through His Spirit, His Word, and the people around me.  I’m sure I don’t hear as well as I ought, but I travel in faith that God has ordained each step I take.  He already knows the steps I take in obedience and the steps I take in disobedience, and every step in between. 

I love God because my life with Him is an eventful journey that is a lot like flying.  I listen, I plan, and I anticipate, but ultimately He’s in charge and I’m learning to joyfully be obedient to His instructions and changes, even if they appear to me as 2 hour delays in my schedule.  His decisions are always right and always for my ultimate good.