Loving our last Great “Daddy – Daughter” Date!

Fresh back from my week-long West Coast RoadTrip… I’m still processing. But I had a throughly enjoyable time exploring the unknown. It was just the two of us (my oldest and I)  in a rental car, no firm plans…simply a general desire to see the sights and wander around uncovering the treasures and tastes sure to be found along the 3000 miles and seven days of open road ahead. We had only brought along the basic clothing essentials, a camera, smartphone (of course)and my favorites…Red Vines, Coffee, Cornuts and a map.

Jessica and Dad at Crater Lake 2012

Jessica now eighteen years old… fresh from her High School Graduation, had planned the basics of the trip six months earlier in the year… She wanted to visit Olympic National Park, the iconic city of Seattle and then drive the Pacific Northwest Coastline south to California and a stop at Yosemite. After that it was a bit vague… so we improvised and drove each day feeling our way south and pacing ourselves as the weather and coastline allowed.

What follows is a bit of introspective dialogue from of a father and a journaling of the places we saw and the things we did. All of it was exactly as it was meant to be and maybe the most bittersweet for me. I was aware that his epic roadtrip may be destined in fact to become our last great… “Daddy- Daughter” Date ! 😦

It’s important to note that in our house… the legacy of the Road Trip is a serious thing and the pattern of having regular “Daddy – Daughter” dates is over a decade old. I’ve been dating my daughters since they were able to walk… starting with tea parties, and wacky singing teddy bear karaoke at bedtime and growing into movie matinees’ with Chucky Cheese or Sonic Ice Creams and eventually becoming full on dinner dates at nice restaurants and special escapes to the beach or to a favorite city for a surprise weekend away.

So… for my oldest, watching her graduation day looming and knowing that she would be leaving our home this fall to start college, she was aware that in that transition… our Road Trip was waiting. A symbolic and treasured tradition that would mark in part the passing of one season to another.… the coming of age of a young-woman as she moves from the safety of her familiar world into the uncertainties and challenges of the unknown world of University life.

And of course… this RoadTrip would offer us both a chance to discover and taste of the spectacular beauty and culture of the Pacific Northwest…up front, close and personal…together. Just the two of us. Free from the constraints of a scheduled life and responsibilities…just the liberty of the open road and the power of a “whim” to redirect our way at a moments notice.

Ahhh… the lifelong lure of the Road Trip, about to be passed to my oldest. Life is good. 🙂

So much for the introduction… as you may have guessed, things didn’t “Quite” go as planned and my assumptions and her’s were about to be “updated” as we sorted out the realities from the fantasy and re-connected as father and daughter along the way. Exactly what the Road Trip is so famous for doing on our family, in my life… and if you take the risk… YOURS.

Blessings RTP Families…. part 1 of our seven-day epic trip will post  next monday. ( 6- 25-12)

Follow along next week with us as we uncover some spectacular beauty. Starting from the soggy, lush green Rainforests of Northwest Washington State and following the iconic Hwy 101 into Oregon’s rugged coastline to the arid and harsh high Sierra’s of North-Eastern California and everything in-between. Find out where to stop for food and where to keep on moving… and laugh and cry with us as I share some of the personal discoveries that can only come from spending 192 hours alone with your oldest child… Buckle up tight, it’s sure to be a wild ride 🙂

Providence…do you know what it means?

My kids will tell you, I’m a big believer in “looking things up” when you’re not sure what they mean. I challenged my kids to do just that whenever homework or a book assignment forced them to ask about as specific word or meaning or place. Sometimes they would and sometimes they would whine a bit and say “Daaaaaaaad, just tell me!”

Looking at Easter and our upcoming celebration of Good Friday, I was praying – asking God to help me renew my appreciation of this Holy Day and I felt He led me to consider the word and concept of “Providence”. Ironically, my Heavenly father was telling me to “look it up” to be exact 🙂 , just like I had with my kids… Here is what I found;

prov·i·dence

   /ˈprɒvɪdəns/ [prov-i-duhns – “God, especially when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.” (Dictionary.com -source) so to be extra clear… here is what omniscient means – having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.

Ok, now that’s starting to make more sense… Easter is the time of year we Christians are supposed to stop and appreciate the majesty and power of God Almighty to redeem and restore us (mankind) from all that has been and all that will ever be. We have the modern luxury of having a 20/20 perspective of those historical events. We already know how the story really turns out, but for those disciples and followers of Jesus in the moment, it was NOT a good place or time…things were not turning out well for them in the short-term…

After three years of personal almost one on one times with Jesus, the twelve disciples had their lives flipped upside down and 180 from where they thought they were with Christ. Their Messiah (it seemed) had turned out to be totally human, capable of being deceived and politically manipulated into being a scapegoat and just another statistic of the Roman occupation of Israel. It appeared that Jesus was not who he claimed to be and that they (the disciples) had put their faith in a very sincere and dynamic Holy man, but in the end…just a man. Their disappointment, their frustration, confusion and their fear must have overwhelmed them. We know it did for Peter and Thomas, and with Judas betraying not only Jesus, but the other eleven…morale really could not have been much lower. Things were not turning out well…

Into this haze of disillusionment and fear, comes the reality of the Resurrection.

Jesus it turns out is in fact the Christ, He is the Messiah. His triumphant reunion with the disciples is well documented in the gospels, it is very specific, very intentional in the ways that He appears to them, addressing their individual doubts and fear and shame. He restores them all, touching and helping and encouraging them to pick up where they left off… more convinced than ever that Jesus is exactly who they thought, although His methods and manner is so different from any other King in History that it still puzzles them.

So what’s this got to do with… Providence?

Simply this… whatever your going through, whatever your feeling, whatever “seems” to be off the rails in your life, is still under the divine principle of Providence. God has not abandoned you, He has not walked away and left you to lie in a pile of your own poo, He is alive, living, active and working to restore and renew the things that have been broken in your life. He’s all about resurrecting the bones of our past failures into the new life and new hope of a redeemed future. It’s more than a metaphor.

So this Easter, take a moment and reflect on the divine “Providence” of God in your life to date, remember how He has intervened in your life time after time to take care of you, to protect, provide and encourage you. He is constantly at work in our lives, healing our hurts and lifting our burdens, it’s just so hard sometimes to see those events from the prism of HOPE when we’re stuck in a life that has yet to be fully completed.

We can easily jump to the conclusion that because the things we want or have prayed for have yet to appear in our lives…(like the disciples after Jesus is killed) that God somehow has shrunk out of sight…that He just doesn’t have a role to play or won’t play in our lives. Nada, Nope, Not True… He’s there for you, behind the scenes, doing far more than we could ever ask or think in fact.

Let’s all make the effort this week to remember the WHOLE story of Easter. Remember the true nature of God and His divine “Providence” of life and truth as we consider the reality of who Jesus Christ is…one more time… only this year lets be sure to do so with Hope that comes from seeing the story within the story…with new eyes 🙂

No matter how difficult, tired or frustrated you may be… Easter is coming and it’s message is eternal and life-giving…a message of Divine Providence for you.

Peace out and Happy Easter from RTP!

brad.

Winter Roadtrip 2012 – A spectacular finish

The morning of our last day broke slowly with low dark snow clouds, poor visibility and a fresh five inches of blowing and drifting snow on the road. Following a bright orange state snow plow out of Stanley, ID we were fortunate to make it over the Galena Summit pass (8700 feet) on Hwy 75 as  it twisted its way up and down the mountain sides of the Sawtooth National Forest into Sun Valley. Not an easy road to travel in any condition, it was especially treacherous now. Traffic however was light… 🙂

Sunrise on the road to Sun Valley

We knew the views and the majesty of Sun Valley Idaho must be epic… given the rich ski history and popularity of the area for winter and summer tourism, but we had to take that on faith as our view was confined to a block or two of retro styled retail buildings and trendy condo -ranch estates blanketed with a fresh layer of powdered snow. Perfect for skiers, it was not so great for roadtripping and photography hounds like us. We pulled into a McDonald’s for some fresh coffee and breakfast as we pondered our options for the last day.

Again, Brian smugly and stubbornly insisted it was “up to me bro…since you forced me to make all the decisions last year”… Irritated I didn’t reply, Sipping my marvelously hot coffee and taking large bites out of my breakfast burritos instead. I was frustrated and weary of  the seemingly endless grey sub-atmosphere we had suffered under for most of this trip… I was tired of the cold rain, the damp clinging fog, relentless snow and the ever-present vague but oppressive sense of blah… of no color, of life on dull.

I had really been excited, hopeful this trip would refresh and renew and inspire me and us for the next eleven months of parenting, ministry and work. So far it had revealed some glimpses of encouragement and confirmation, but nothing truly “Epic” or “Awe inspiring”. As I got a refill of my McCafe… I felt like maybe… we should attempt to re-trace our steps today. To link back east and follow a scenic byway on Hwy 20 past Craters of the Moon National Monument and head North on Hwy 93 again back to Montana. It showed on our map that this route would essentially force us to totally retrace our steps back the way we had come the day before. Given the brief glimpses of  Idaho mountain glory we had enjoyed outside of Salmon ID, we were hungry for more.

It would be a LONG haul for sure. It was way back to Sandpoint ID and Spokane WA (where our Southwest flight would leave from) from here, and the obvious route was to drive due north up interstate 84 to Boise and then to Spokane directly and just be done with this trip. Maybe it was time to concede the point that the sunshine was elsewhere for the duration and although not epic, this trip was fun and it’s always great to just spend a week with my best friend and comrade on the road away from the grind of life… but something deeper was nagging at me… at us. Calling to us to risk to dare to believe… to try one more time. So we did.

Heading east on Hwy 20 was like entering the “twilight zone” in black and white… I could almost see Rod Serling waiting on the roadside in the desolate setting, ready to tell us a creepy story while the fog swirled around and hid us from view. CREEPY. Fog was thick, like soup as we drove in several inches of wet and soppy snow that caused our Edge to slip and slide all over the two lane as we headed back into the past.

Twenty minutes into this grand gamble, I felt like an idiot. Here we were driving an extra four hundred miles out of our way on the last day of our “restful roadtrip” in the vain hope to find sunlight where forecasters and common sense could easily explain there “was none” to be found. I muttered under my breath a half serious, half-joking prayer…. “God, it would be nice if you could just part this fog and open up a little patch of blue sky and sunshine for our last day“…

Our Prayer Answered

Within thirty seconds, the most amazing thing happened… it got worse, darker. The fog went from bad, to almost impenetrable. Slowing the car to 25 mph I had to drop the high beams to low to see the road and once again we were totally surrounded by a familiar grey and ghostly world. I muttered something cynical about how “that prayer didn’t get very far“… when Brian eagerly pointed forward through the windshield to a small piece of blue sky starting to grow in the immediate horizon.

NO freaking way! I felt like a 90-year-old Sarah being told she was going to have a baby!

But it was there, clear blue sky and sunshine and it followed us through the entire morning and well into the day! Like a personal escort of good cheer and beauty, the only patch of dry sky and clarity in the entire state it seemed, went ahead of and behind us in a five-mile swath of color and beauty. It followed us up the Craters to Peak Scenic Byway (hwy 20 and 93) and it followed us into Salmon ID (Where Sacajawea was born and Lewis and Clark journeyed) it followed us into Montana and over three mountain passes and into one amazing river valley after another, brushed with ice and sand and snow. It escorted us into pristine alpine forests and air as transparent as crystal,  our roads were somehow kept clear and as we went, it forced back storm after storm from our path all day.

It became like a beacon of courage for us, when after the fifth or sixth super intense snow squall / sleet storm hit us in less than two hours … Brian confidently predicted… “don’t worry bro, this too will soon fade . The sun and clear skies will be back in five minutes, these storms have no power over us today.” (my paraphrase of course:) But it was true, we were repeatedly hit by one intense downpour after another, all as ferocious and dark and oppressive as the previous six days had been, but we pushed on and forward and found the storms bark were much worse than their bite. Each were very brief and weak in their ability to consistently block our blessed path of sunshine and clear skies. With each and ever storm, the sun returned in its fullest intensity within five or ten minutes unphased by the ferocity of the weather around us.

Breaking through the Storm - Hwy 93 in Idaho

Laughing we made our way from one picturesque vista to another, winding our way over the very same territory we had just wandered aimlessly in the day before. God had come through.. God had cleared the way for us, it was obvious that something supernatural was around us and with us as we literally felt like we were crossing the Red Sea or something. It seemed that God had parted the way through the darkness and gloom of our circumstances and brought the light and clarity of God’s presence with us wherever we went.

That’s as beautiful of a picture as I could ever hope to describe…. It bookended our trip in a way that was immensely encouraging and practical. 2012 it seems will be a year of struggle, of going forward through the storms of our lives, persisting when the rain and the clouds and skies won’t part for long periods and seasons of dull will persist. But God has promised, the sunshine is coming and the road although familiar to us, will be seen in a brand new light. We just have to persist in staying on the course we know He’s asked us to travel… that takes faith and conviction and confidence that God is with you, that He will not leave you.

Peace out dear families. Carry on and keep on. God will be there with you, regardless of how it seems, He is right beside you keeping pace in 2012… as you pass each mile marker along the way.

Brad.

RoadTrip Winter 2012

Just returned from my eighth winter roadtrip to the mountains… crazy I know. Everyone looks at me a bit odd when I try to explain that I like to drive in the mountains in the middle of the winter, especially in places I’ve never been to before. It’s a tradition that I have been fortunate to share with my dearest friend Brian Hardin over the past decade. We’ve been to almost every state in the lower 48 in search of the next un-discovered road with beauty.

Brad & Brian - RoadTrip Winter 2012

It’s more than just an exercise in male machismo or an addiction to adrenaline, it’s rooted in our deep awareness that each January we need to slow down to sense and hear God’s voice  for the year ahead. For our families, our ministries and our work it’s become clear that each new season of life has its own unique circumstances and challenges as well as rewards. To enter the new year without taking a few days to clear our heads and re-set, recenter ourselves with God is no longer an option for us. We’ve learned painfully of the risk we take when we just venture into the next year without a sense of direction or purpose. Brian and his wife are expecting their fifth child this summer and my oldest goes off to college in the fall… we knew that 2012 would be a  pivotal year for us and our families and we were determined to not proceed very far without taking some “time-out” with God.

So, we packed our gear and loaded up for a 4:30am drive to the Nashville airport to catch our flight to Spokane WA. (Thank you Cristian) Landed in Denver and then caught an immediate connection to our destination (thank you Southwest) where we landed to an unusual snowstorm in progress. After picking up a rental AWD Ford Edge, we took off for the Northland of Canada. We had decided to explore the Canadian Rockies in the winter, our favorite summer destination for several years now…but new to us to explore in the winter season.

Our first day was spent navigating a two lane highway north to the Canadian border in a blowing snowstorm with five or six inches of fresh snow already on the ground. It was beautiful, but it was grey. Shades of grey in fact, lighter grey for the sky and darker grey for the landscape and the mountains remained hidden behind a veil of cotton and cold. But we pushed on, believing that the skies would clear and make their appearance to us in time. So with digital cameras ready and our cornuts and licorice nearby, we drove into the darkening horizon, full of expectation and hope and excitement.

First night - Radium Springs BC

Expectation for a great time together and in discovering the winter beauty of some of the most magnificent scenery in the world, hope for a brand new experience to discover roads yet to be driven and excitement to learn what 2012 might be all about. We were not to be disappointed. Brian soon made it clear that since last year (2011) he had to make all the decisions for our roads, course and specific destinations…that it was my turn to be the pilot for 2012. He said somewhat jokingly… you’re going to have to “feel your way along”.  Neither of us had any idea how prophetic that statement would turn out to be…

O.K… need to review a couple of rules for RoadTripping before we go any further…

1- No four lane or interstate roads can be used, if a two lane highway or back road is available

2- No previously driven road is acceptable unless no other reasonable travel options exist

3- Schedules are loose, no previous reservations at hotels for arrivals at specific times or places. We want to keep the freedom of making decisions as we go.

4- Pictures are necessary, stopping at random times and places are allowed and encouraged, for prime pics and fresh air.

5- Meals out are optional, we eat when we want to… snack constantly and drink copious amounts of caffeine.

For specific details on travel – check out the bottom of this blog. For more information on the next six days and 3500 miles of travel adventure, humor, inspiration and excitement we shared in the mountains and lakes of Canada and the Pacific Northwest, (British Columbia and Alberta, Washington, Idaho and Montana) stay tuned to our next blog tomorrow…

Peace out,

brad.

Day One: Nashville to Spokane – Southwest Airlines (much cheaper to fly into Washington than Calgary Alberta) Drove from Spokane International via Hwy 95 North via the Eastport border crossing to Radium Springs in British Columbia… approx 300 miles and eight hours to drive in the winter with US/Canada crossing delays, picture stops and potty breaks. (Mapquest) Don’t miss Sandpoint Idaho on the way north, great town to visit, shop or sightsee, ski etc… very friendly and fun place to hangout.