Sierra Surprise part 3 of 3 – A dramatic conclusion

Leaving Hwy 49 at Jackson CA and turning East, I felt like fresh air had just been injected into my weary suburban heart. The Sierra surprise detour had been wonderful, and now onto my destination… crossing the Sierra Mountains via California State Hwy 88, the road started to climb… elevation 1217 feet above sea level.

20 miles later I was still climbing, I watched as every five minutes I passed another elevation change sign. Five thousand, Six….Seven….Eight…snow was visible now in the wooded terrain, piled up under shaded overhangs and deepest wood. The road was winding and snaking through the changing environment, two to four lanes of smooth blacktop with a magnificent tour of the evolving alpine world of the Sierra’s. Snow could be seen now capping the nearby peaks with glinting ice fields and thousands of frosted evergreen acres stretching out as far as my eye could see.

Carson Pass - Hwy 88

Carson Pass – Hwy 88

Carson Pass is the highest point on Hwy 88 and it topped out at 8,652. Not the highest I’ve ever crossed, but the elevation gain from Jackson CA was significant. Over seven thousand feet in less than an hour and the air was clear, cold and fresh. Just the way I liked it ūüôā

I pulled off the shoulder of the road and snapped a few pictures. The scent of pine and cedar was seductive… what if I just grabbed my pack and started walking? Left the crazy – over stressed – psychobabble of the modern world behind and just went to be with God, nature and the silent solitude of the Sierra’s…. it was very tempting.

But alas… the cold was starting to creep into my un-gloved hands and my Patagonia mocs weren’t cut out for much rock hiking, I wouldn’t make it two hours before I would be frozen and frustrated. Better stick with the plan. Keep moving, forward. Responsibilities, obligations…. everyday life was calling me back from my reverie.¬†

I climbed back into my rental SUV and kept driving East. Hwy 88 was a beauty. A main artery to Lake Tahoe for the locals, it was in excellent condition, obviously one of the key routes for travel during the winter (when the other two-lane, lesser used highways closed for the season) and not a snip of ice or snow was present to slip or slide on. Crossing the Sierra’s was not an up and done, but a long – 60 minute drive with a spectacular, ¬†top of the world – feeling as I passed alpine lakes and cliff top summits, sprinkled with snow and sun. BEAUTIFUL !

eldoradocnps.org

eldoradocnps.org

The California Sierra’s are worth the effort. Driving my thousand mile loop WAS crazy, but it was crazy with a promise and man did that promise DELIVER !¬†

Winding over the pass during mid-day and into early afternoon, I could see the golden glow warming the tips of the peaks as early winter sundown approached the sheer flanks of the mountains.

I quit gawking and started driving, needing to get south of Mammoth to make my flight out the next morning. I pushed south on Hwy 395 briefly crossing into Nevada and back as the road again surprised me with stunning beauty and wonderful fifty mile panoramic views. Topaz Lake, Mono Basin and then Mammoth.

Mammoth mountain has always been legendary among outdoor enthusiasts, but to see it personally in the winter was breath-taking ! Juxtaposed between the eastern Sierra mountains and the Death Valley basin desert… it’s divine. My journey south on Hwy 395 caught the last vestiges of a warm pink glow on the horizon; a gentle, winter, sunset.

Mammoth CA

Mammoth CA

The best for last…. for sure. Thanks GOD, I needed that!

If you’ve not seen a desert sunrise or sunset, you need to. Put it on the bucket list.¬†As I climbed into my price-lined $80 hotel bed in Lone Pine, CA.., I was so grateful for the last 24 hours God had gifted me.

It was an escape.

My own private tour of the Sierra mountains. Each detail carefully prepared ahead of time, and all I had to do was just follow the clues…. (my heart’s longing led me to pull away) and the rest was taken care of.

How often did Jesus do exactly the same thing? Dozens of times that we know of in scripture. He frequently went alone to a mountain to pray…I believe to clear his head and listen, to be refreshed from the rigors of public ministry.

Take the risk… go on your own Sierra tour (or one closer to you) and unplug-reconnect and renew your heart. You won’t regret it…the mountains are calling, “Come Away”.

Peace,

Pastor B.

Hwy 395 near Lone Pine, CA

Hwy 395 near Lone Pine, CA

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Pushing Past the Blah

It’s a chore to make it through the final stretch of travelling, hosting, feeding, shopping, attending and celebrating all the traditions we cherish. When the smoke clears and the bills arrive… we can start to feel pretty “BLAH”.¬†

abiblicalmarriage.com

abiblicalmarriage.com

No doubt.

In the aftermath of it all, be sure to re-center your heart. Distractions, pressure and regret can push you down, suck the life right out.

Quick reminder from RTP for 2015, read the bible this year.

Start and keep going, look for life where it can be found. The adventure of life can be an amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness or a series of unexplained disasters, near tragedies and sleepless nights. God has more for you… for us!

It’s perspective we need, a fresh wind of life and hope. Truth has a way of blowing back the fog and erasing our ‘Blah” into something beautiful.¬†

Wanna be beautiful this year… ?

I thought so ūüôā

Check out the Daily Audio Bible right now! Sign up here for FREE and hang on to your seat! God will speak and you will thrive !

HAPPY NEW YEAR ! 

Pastor B.

The absurdity of exhaustion

As parents, we define the word ‘exhausted. (Merriam Webster – “the state of being extremely tired : the state of being exhausted: the act of using all of something : the act of exhausting something” -)

Sound familiar ?

Do you feel exhausted ?

I bet you often do, and within your moral right to claim “exhaustion’ and name it as your own personal word ! ¬†Parents, we use the word frequently and we’re right, we ARE tired and completely used up some days.

beautyandbedlam.com

beautyandbedlam.com

Kids, work,¬†school, spouses… homework, laundry, dinner, soccer practice, dry cleaning, groceries and the pharmacy are all on our list of “must” do’s, squeezed in between the errands of life and our responsibilities, we’re wrung out. Stretching to get out every last drop of our time, energy and focus to just cover the ‘basic’s.

So when it comes to our staying ‘connected’ with our faith and the communities of believers we hang with… it’s often a last second decision to pick between an evening of “quiet sanity” on the couch or one more obligation to attend to in our otherwise, totally obligated life.

So it’s absurd to even think that we could ever do ‘more! Right ?

It’s in the moments of true exhaustion that God’s power is released to pour into our ’empty’ until we are truly strong. The irony and absolute absurdity of our faith is in the moments we ‘feel ‘ the most powerless and ineffective, God shows up in our circumstances to super-charge us.

I can’t tell you how many millions of pastors and their spouses would share of how God empowers them to “press on” into ministry each week, despite their physical and mental exhaustion.

How when at the very end of our personal proverbial rope, God asks us to give just a little bit more… to Him, to His people. An act of total faith and dependence as we have NOTHING left to give, but I can assure you, when you step into the world of the exhausted servant, the power of resurrection becomes real !

9¬†But he said to me, ‚ÄúMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.‚ÄĚ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9)

So Parents; as we work through our insanely busy days, let’s remember to allow room for God to work in our exhaustion to bring resurrection life to us and then to others through our behind the scenes, heroic acts of faith!

thenextweb.com

thenextweb.com

The absurd thing is this… when you take the risk to serve others in your exhaustion, God responds to our act of total dependence by reviving our heart, mind and body in a way that no bubble bath or Emmy winning sitcom ever could !

It’s amazing to experience, and impossible to truly describe….but when by every measure of science and psychology we should be MORE exhausted than ever, we’ll find ourselves ridiculously refreshed!

Love you all, Pastor B.

 

 

 

Just a touch is enough

I’m amazed at how much we parents have to endure. If anyone had told us how much difficulty and¬†despair we would experience as a¬†father or¬†mother, pretty sure we would have seriously reconsidered if parenthood was right for us.¬†Kind of like¬†the conversation we would have with ourselves about¬†marriage. If you knew how hard it would¬†be….¬†etc.

Parents (MOTHERS)¬†seem to soak up all of the pain and pressure our tweens and teens bring to us... like¬†giant emotional sponges¬†we gather up our loved ones into a warm embrace, seeking to dispel¬†whatever¬†funk has stolen their joy and happiness. We soothe and smooth, reassuring them every day as we remind them of God’s faithfulness to¬†make all things right… and new.

But what about us?

Who makes our hurts and woes go away after a super long day on the treadmill of reality in our parenthood?

Is it¬†Facebook, Cabernet¬†or the Xanax hidden in our cabinets that brings us our comfort and relief ?¬†¬†Maybe it’s a warm bath with a fantasy novel full of romantic men and women who live their lives with passion and destiny ūüôā

No matter your coping method of choice, it’s obvious to any who have dared to do it… parenting a child all the way is tough going. We get tired, we get exhausted… we get empty.

ac21doj.org

ac21doj.org

Imagine becoming so desperate for some relief that you would do anything, meet anyone… go anywhere to get help. Imagine feeling that way for over a¬†decade… then you hear of¬†strange new¬†Rabbi nearby. Someone¬†who helps¬†common people get well. Probably exaggerated stories of healings and miracles, but¬†out of options…you go.

As you arrive,¬†crowds seem to¬†flow around and over him, but despite the chaos, you can sense the truth in Him. If I could just touch his robe… If I could just get close enough to touch him… I could¬†get relief,¬†I could find help!

And so we read of the¬†woman in Mark 5 who did just that. She¬†simply reached out and touched his¬†garment, and “He” healed her. The power of faith memorialized for eternity in this simple act.

He” is Jesus… the Christ, the living son of God. His heart is unchanged and He stands ready and willing to heal your deepest pain and darkest day with just a touch. It changes everything!

Parents, when life get’s insane…¬†take the time to touch your faith again!

It takes determination¬†to get through the mental¬†crowds that form in our heads… strangling life and choking out our hearts. But it’s time that must be invested if we are going to make this parenting journey from adolescence to adulthood intact.

I’m strongly encouraging you to find your way to a community of faith that intentionally seeks to refresh parents and wives. I DARE YOU to take the risk of embarrassment and register for a weekend of retreat… see if I’m right.

Let His touch remove your sadness, pressure and pain over a weekend of rest. Watch and be amazed as He replaces your fatigue with Peace and certainty and Hope.

Your family will thank you… and your time away¬†won’t be wasted. I promise.

Pastor B.

References:

Mark 5 (Biblegateway.com) (ESV) verse¬†25 “For she said, ‚ÄúIf I touch even his garments, I will be made well…”

Women’s Retreats: – Daily Audio Bible (Georgia)¬† / Mission Chattanooga (TN)

Running on fumes…

Driving without much gas in the tank isn’t fun. What might have been an enjoyable road trip full of beautiful scenery and pleasant conversation can quickly turn into a stressed out – nail biter of a drive, anxiously searching for a gas station before you run out. Running on fumes can completely rob you of the joy your drive might have held if you weren’t trapped with the fear of being stranded the entire time your in the vehicle together. out_of_gas

Parenting is a LOT like that.

Let’s be careful to avoid the long drives without making sure our tanks get full before we leave. I’m sure you can fill in the metaphorical blanks there ūüôā The question is how do we as parents¬† keep refreshed during the “long haul” runs of our life?

I don’t have a definite answer for you… but I know what helps me. Time alone is my recharge, a bit of solo time with God in the beauty of his nature does wonders to my weary soul. Some people like to hang with friends and family and socialize and recharge from the energy and affirmation that others bring into their lives… still others like to go take a long bath – read a book and have a nice gourmet candle light meal.

Whatever it is that refreshes your soul… make it a priority as a parent. If you aren’t taking care to recharge and refill your tanks, you risk making the journey that was intended (parenting) to be exciting, encouraging and full of life into something of a nightmare. Pastoral-Refreshment-Confer

God has wired us all differently, so our needs and ways to recover our strength will vary from person to person. One thing that remains the same for us all, is the need to be careful to keep the burden of parenthood squarely on our fathers broad shoulders and not on our own. Refreshing and recharging will only occur when we find a way to reconnect with Jesus personally and leave the heaviest of our worries at the foot of the cross, for him to carry for us.

(Isaiah 40: 28-31) ESV – Biblegateway.com

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Drilling Down to Get Vertical….

The path of our spiritual lives can and will lead at some point to some seriously dry ground. A desert in fact.

Turns out there isn’t any water in a desert. desert pic

Parched becomes a reality not a metaphor and very quickly our spiritual sensitivity evaporates as we go brittle. Our souls feel cracked, dry and empty of everything flexible and accommodating as we sense our soft hearts become rigid and dusty. Lots of us know what I’m talking about and the rest are in denial.

Life can suck all of the moisture out of our lives and leave us completely barren, empty of anything to share or live or love.

We won’t allow ourselves to live that way for long…. something will need to change, or we will die. Anything that gives us a chance for change will grab our immediate attention…ANYTHING that promises to¬†make us happy. We’ll listen intently¬†to anything or anyone¬†that seems to know a way to show us a better life. We long to someday¬†find hope and¬†we strangle-hold onto¬†anything we believe will bring some desperately needed refreshment to our desert. tears_of_sadness

It can be a new relationship or an old relationship (thank you Facebook)… a new life mission or worthy charitable effort to save the world. It can be an over focused obsession for our kids to succeed where we failed… or more knowledge, higher education, a new fashionable¬†look¬†or an alternative¬†profession to replace our current dull existence. But for sure, if your in a real desert… we can’t,¬†we won’t allow ourselves to suffer too long….it HURTS TOO MUCH.

Truthfully, our chosen distractions¬†will bring some relief,¬†they really do. Sometimes even for a long time.¬†Unfortunately¬†it/they don’t ever completely refresh us. We revive for a season…but eventually it wears thin, and then the light¬†flickers out…. leaving us exactly where we began, alone and in the desert of our soul.

What if we chose to look to our Christian faith ?

What if we choose to quit chasing an emotional¬†thrill or the next “must have” distraction or possession and instead make a simpler determination, a less sexy – but-¬†oh- so¬†–¬†rewarding choice to ask God to make us like His son Jesus…

King Solomon said it like this in Proverbs 3

Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh[b]
    and refreshment[c] to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8 ESV) Biblegateway.com

Why not¬†end living in a¬†desert¬†that endlessly¬†repeats¬†like an evil version of “Groundhog Day” and chose¬†instead¬†to let¬†God work in our hearts to re-align our wants, desires and ambitions into something much better…¬†something Jesus called, true life. cropped-leaf-water-desktop-background.jpg

That would be like digging deeper, or drilling down into our faith to get vertical.

I believe responding to Christ Jesus will be the only true solution to get rid of that brittle-about-life feeling that can start to smolder in our souls.

Peace out RTP!

Love you, Pastor B.

January 2013 RoadTrip Final thoughts…

After a wonderful day¬†trip through the rugged and snow packed¬†Glacier National park in Canada,¬†we stopped for¬†an afternoon of snowmobiling in Golden, BC where “Flying Father Brian” made another appearance on a sun¬†drenched afternoon on the backside of Yoho National Park… by sunset we reluctantly decided to wind our way south Wet N Wild Snowmobiling in Golden BC back towards Idaho and the good ol’ USA.

We had truly enjoyed a three-day¬†run of Canadian beauty in its most epic demonstration… right in the¬†middle¬†of one of their legendary winters. Cold, clear and crisp… the weather and snow and beauty all combined to win our hearts once again.

We left, but only with the sad and heart-sick expressions that accompanies leaving someone you truly¬†love. Oh Canada…how I long for you! Some things in life are indescribable and¬†the absolutely breath-taking beauty of the snow-covered Canadian Rockies is one of them…

Compared to our adventures in Canada last year (2012 RoadTrip) we were overwhelmed. The cold, gray – foggy filled days of last January can’t even be considered in the same breath as the blue skies and crystal clear views we shared this year. It was like black and white, sadness and hope… completely opposite experiences, but in the same exact places.

Glacier NP - and the Majesty of Canada

Glacier NP – and the Majesty of Canada

God was talking to us… I believe He was hinting to us to consider re-visiting the dark and foggy places of our lives. The places we have been before, but eventually had to leave disappointed, discouraged and downtrodden from the experience.

I believe God was hinting to us of the promise just ahead and for us to¬†trust Him one more time and¬†try again. To give 2013 a chance, to trust Him to exceed our expectations and to enjoy the amazing difference that light can make on the darkest and saddest of places in our hearts. To get back up and risk the possibility of disappointment one more time. Except this time… it may well¬†hold the key to an amazing encounter with something beautiful beyond description. Like Canada in the wintertime of 2013¬†was for us or throwing the net one more time was for Peter and the risen Christ Jesus at the sea of Galilee…

The drive out of Canada was hauntingly beautiful as we watched the skies darken and the glow of gold and orange and purple fading to black as we moved steadily south… it seemed to take extra time tonight as if Canada was delaying her goodbye and dragging out her gift of golden beauty for just a few more moments. It was fitting and kind of her to do so.

Goodbye Canada!

Goodbye Canada!

We crashed at quaint mountainside town we knew well from last year… Sandpoint ID. Beautiful, hip¬†and serene on the edge of one of the great northwestern fresh¬†lakes in America. (Lake Pend¬†Oreille) Sandpoint is a great base for families to stay at and offers four seasons of great outdoor adventure and lots of dining/shopping options for the ladies and kids.

Sunrise from the Edgewater Hotel

Sunrise from the Edgewater Hotel

Beaches and clear water, skiing and hunting, hiking and horseback riding…this town really does have it all. I recommend the Best Western Edgewater, nestled downtown &¬†directly on the shore. In the winter they have great rates, spacious rooms and an amazing view overlooking the mountains and lake.

Rising early and braving some lingering morning mountain fog, we headed south through the heart of Idaho on our way back to Salt Lake City. The terrain changed as often as the hours on our digital clock and we enjoyed the smooth transitions of high mountain lakes to rolling hills and farms to high desert valleys and winding rivers. We chugged down Hwy 95 and took the eastern spur of Hwy 55 into the rugged interior of Idaho and enjoyed the alpine lakeside views of the city of McCall, ID. A beautiful and family friendly resort town on the edge of paradise. ( I hope to re-visit there soon)

Out of time, we pushed on south via Hwy 55 via the back roads and were treated to an amazing sunset display of the old west… gorgeous golden shades of sunlight filtered in from the silhouettes of the hills and mountains as we slowly descended into the familiar sights of Boise. We pushed on with a five-hour night run to Salt Lake City and our ride back to Nashville the next day.

Southern Utah - Jan 13'

Southern Utah Road

We awoke to find ourselves in the middle of the Mormon homeland and a hazy smog like atmosphere that resembled LA. Weird ? We puttered around the southern hills of Provo and the outer bands of the ski-resort traffic as we processed all that we had seen on this trip. Words fail me… but thankfully we have pictures.

I encourage you to take a chance and get out to drive, take your spouse or a friend…but go discover your own path to refreshment, to find your own Canadian Rockies equivalent. To set yourself apart for a day or a week and ask God to show up and speak with you like He always does for us. I promise you it’s worth every effort!

Happy 2013 RTP and may God richly bless each and every one of you and your precious families in the year ahead.

Pastor B.