A sweet spirit

posted on: Tuesday, August 30, 2011

 This evening, as we began our FHE (Family Home Evening), Aaron chose this hymn out of the Children's Hymn Book to be our opening hymn. I had heard this several times before, but tonight, I really heard it for the first time. As the keys of the piano picked out the notes of this simple tune, Aaron and I, our voices blended, sang the words you see below. 

As we learned to sing this hymn over and over again, a sweet spirit permeated the room, and I believe my soul longed for a glimpse of what it might be like to be near Jesus, who shines brighter than all the stars in heaven above.
I looked over at my dear husband, who was singing this sweet hymn with such devotion as he led our small family of two in prayer, and my heart overflowed with gratitude for the blessing that he is to me. Time stood still, and I felt peace flood my being.

Click here for the music and feel free to sing along. 

Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer the moonlight
And all the stars in heav’n above;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
And brings to all the world his love.

Fair are the meadows,
Fairer the woodlands,
Robed in the flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer.
He makes the sorrowing spirit sing.

Beautiful Savior!
Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Thee will I honor, praise, and give glory,
Give praise and glory evermore!

Memorial Day & Monarch Butterflies

posted on: Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rolling green hills as far as the eye can see.
A panoramic view that will take your breath away. 
Quite literally. 

Memorial Day weekend. 
A short trip through some windy roads, to the beautiful Shenandoah National Forest for a camping trip with friends, old and new. An unplanned hike led us to some spectacular vistas, and had us gazing in awe of the sprawling, green expanse, from the peaks of Old Rag Mountain. 
A bit of research before the trip would have done me a world of good, and I would have been prepared for the hike. On the other hand, had I known that Old Rag was the most popular, the most challenging and the most dangerous hike of the Shenandoah Forest, I would have gladly volunteered to be the camp cook while the rest of them hiked.

My plan was to go up for a couple of miles, find a resting spot and read my book, while the men folk continued onward. However, that did not occur and I found myself, angled upwards, winding my way up the side of the treacherous mountain.  I trekked on, privileged to have my own cheering squad, my camera that began to feel like it had doubled in weight, my CamelPak filled with water, and a book, of course.

The switchbacks were brutal and lasted for hours, or so it seemed. Our friends were optimistic and Aaron was exhilarated to be hiking. I tried complaining but that lost its luster quickly and I just gave in, and joined the crowd. My body screamed at me to stop, and muscles I did not know existed began to make an appearance and demonstrate a pain that felt permanent. My joints had decided that I was not going to listen to them, and so they started their own symphony of creaks and pops. Yet, I forged on, ignorant of the distance, as my mileage tracker watch stopped tracking at 3 miles due to a dead battery.  The 18-month old baby girl, perched on the back of her father, was very well-behaved. I could not be outdone by a baby. So I kept going, my mind playing these words on a loop: "...and miles to go before I sleep."

This was, by no means, a leisurely stroll up a little hill. Every step I took was very important, and at some parts of the mountain, I was one step away from soaring with the eagles. So, ignoring my tantrum-throwing body, I focused all my energies on climbing. All this time, it was a steady uphill climb with clear markers to lead us in the right direction.
And then we saw it. 
The rock scramble. 
Someone must have named it as a joke or an ominous warning that really meant that one had to scramble for their lives.
We started up the scramble. 
The good news - we were almost at the top.
The bad news - this part would take us well over two hours, and if we survived, we could actually reach the summit. 
The rock scramble really tested your skills - not just your skills as a hiker, but your skills to stay focused, not continually chide yourself for being a fool to try to hike this mountain, to have nimble feet, to not vow to kill your spouse for making you go on this hike, and through all of these thoughts, a single stream of consciousness appeared. 

My life on this earth and my journey back to my Heavenly Father.
Fraught with obstacles, requiring every ounce of strength, equipped with my own cheering squad, and an earnest, sincere desire to reach the summit and be awestruck by the immense beauty that awaits me. 
I am grateful for my life.

After the rock scramble, enjoying the view.
 Ben & Bonnie Kacher with Paije

Flowers along the way.

Paije at one of the shelters at Old Rag

 A perfect place to climb up and read a book. 

 Monarch butterflies. 
Several of them - gorgeous, brilliantly colored, fragile.
Fluttering on the ground, undeterred by human observation at close quarters. 

Some new friends on a much more casual hike. The Tolboe family. 

On our mini hike.  The day after our major one. 

A wonderful weekend. 
Thanks to the Kachers for inviting us!


posted on: Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Here is where people,
One frequently finds,
Lower their voices
And raise their minds."
~Richard Armour 

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