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I had reached a lonely hilltop,
All my thoughts were deep despair;
But my burdens were soon lifted
When I found God waiting there.
Evening mist was in the valley,
As I slowly trudged along;
I found peace and sweet assurance
When I found God in a song.
When storm clouds seemed to gather,
As I faced a new-born day,
I found joy beyond the shadows;
God was there along the way.
All those years of searching, longing,
Are faint memory; I am free;
I found joy that’s ever-lasting
When I found God’s love in me.
~ `~ by Bess Darnell McKain ~ ~
Photo taken at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Didn’t I say I’d never come back here??? Well I did and it is still beautiful, especially without so many people.
“Good luck and Good work for the happy mountain raindrops, each one of them a high waterfall in itself, descending from the cliffs and hollows of the clouds to the cliffs and hollows of the rocks, out of the sky-thunder into the thunder of the falling rivers.” John Muir
All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child. – Marie Curie
I was a little disappointed with this park. It was more of a wilderness area than a park. No access to the interior unless you’re backpacking.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. – John Muir
I didn’t know much about this little park until I was teaching about the national parks. I didn’t get here on my last trip west. Just too much out of the way. I’m grateful to be able to visit this time
I do live my sci-fi. Yes, a sci-fi movie was filmed here. Know which one? Independence Day. Besides my love of science fiction my reasons for visiting White Sands go a little deeper. I’ve had a rough week and I’m ready to relax. Can’t think of any place more relaxing than the desert; warmth, beauty, peace & solitude are just what I needed. There’s still a kid at heart here, playing in the sand, sand sledding and making sand angels are so much more fun than in the snow.
Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. Luke 4:42 (NKJV)
Cimarron State Park
Eagles Nest Recreation Area
I’ve always regarded nature as the clothing of God. – Alan Hovhaness
I’m impressed, no overcome, by the enormous size of these sand dunes. Not the beautiful tan or white I’m used to, a daunting grey, but yet this park is a stunning beauty.
I have a strong interest in the ancient cultures of both North and South America. During my last trip west I didn’t do my research well and chose the Navajo National Monument to visit cliff dwellings. I must say it was a disappointment. They could hardly be seen even through the viewers. I knew Mesa Verde was supposed to be the best so this trip it definitely made my itinerary. Sadly, I was still unable to walk among the ancient dwellings as the trails were closed for the season.
Herrington Manor State Park, Swallow Falls State Park & Sliding Hills scenic rest area
Good luck and Good work for the happy mountain raindrops, each one of them a high waterfall in itself, descending from the cliffs and hollows of the clouds to the cliffs and hollows of the rocks, out of the sky-thunder into the thunder of the falling rivers. John Muir
“I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me.” William Hazlitt
I only had two and a half days in Canada, not much time to venture out but I saw as much as I could. The weather here was gloomy and cold but not nearly as bad as Montana. Lucky for me I decide to take this trip during a 100-year cold snap. Oh I hate the cold.
Canadian Rockies, Lethbridge, Alberta
Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Psalm 24:3 (NLV)
Katepwa Lake, Saskatchewan
The Plains, Katepwa Beach, Saskatchewan
To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. – Helen Keller
Lake Winnipeg, Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park
As I approached Glacier I thought I made it to Alaska. Huge snow covered mountains and it’s only October 1. Oh, what was I getting myself into? I have no coat or winter clothes, only a thin jacket. But no fear, it actually wasn’t that bad…at first. The first day was nice, only a little cold. This park surprised me with it’s rugged peaks and striking landscapes. But cold, wind and a light snow came in the late afternoon so I sought shelter.
Day two, I’ll try it again from the other end of the “Going-to-the-sun” road. The road was closed somewhere in the middle so there was much I was going to miss. As the day passed it got colder and hiking seemed to be something that was going to have to wait for another trip. Everywhere I went I saw the signs “beware of grizzly bear. Do not hike alone”. I obey those signs. You know fears number 1, 3, 5…
By early afternoon I had enough of the cold and snow and headed north to Canada where it was much warmer.
Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. – Henry David Thoreau
Yellowstone is also a place that needed a repeat visit. Yellowstone is so large that the wildfires here didn’t dampen my spirit. I rarely saw smoke. When my girls and I visited here in 2005 we pulled up to the entrance and the clerk told us it was late and we should turn around and stay in Cody for the night and camp tomorrow. He said if we got to the campground and it was full we’d have to drive 100 miles back to Cody. I said shocked “how far is it to the closest campground?” He said “50 miles”. I was stunned, I thought “how big is this park.” All my preparation, my study, teaching about the national parks didn’t prepare me for this. I knew this park was big but 50 miles to camp was incomprehensible. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s one thing to know with your mind but to experience it first hand is another. It’s the same with the Christian experience; you can know God with your mind or your heart. When you know him from your heart you are overwhelmed by his size and strength.
We spent three days exploring and didn’t come close to hitting the biggest attractions. While Yellowstone is known for it’s geothermal features this landscape is as varied as it can get; mountains, lakes, forests, deserts and the most beautiful waterfalls. There are hundreds of them.
So this time I taking a few roads I missed last time. Be warned, these roads will take a toll on your breaks and rotors.
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in. – George Washington Carver
The first time I visited this park my daughters and I were driving south from Yellowstone. I was in the passenger seat looking out the window, jaw dropped, breathing rapidly. I had never seen such a site. The mountains appear shoot out of the ground effortlessly. It was amazing. I’m from the east coast where 4000 feet is considered a good size mountain. We were already at 8000 feet and these peaks shot up another 7000. This was a spiritual experience, the force it took to create these massive peaks can only compare with the power of God. I decided then to change my geographic focus from cultural to geomorphology. Everywhere you look, this earth is filled with his glory.
I had to come back. No the experience wasn’t the same, the wild fires put a damper in my enthusiasm but I realized it was just as amazing and a new experience. It didn’t have to be the same. This time Jesus was with me.
How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! – John Muir
I am beginning to realize that time in the desert with Jesus is a time of refreshing and renewal. Deserts, the wilderness, are often thought of as a place you don’t want to be, that it is a place of hard times. But in fact, it is glorious. Soothing warmth and deadly quiet are conduits to the almighty. The bible speaks of the challenges Jesus faced in the desert but what most fail to understand from the verse is that he was there with the Father. There is nothing more restful than the desert when you are there with the Father.
Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming & Caribou National Forest, Idaho
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sego Canyon. I took this little detour to see the pictographs left by ancient cultures and found a quiet desert landscape that captivates the soul with a sense of peace. It draws you in and the warmth makes you want to stay…but there is more desert to see. On to Arches.
Arches National Park. This place is amazing, but be warned, if you take a trail that will keep you hiking for more than 15 minutes…don’t forget the water. I missed hiking to Delicate Arch from heat exhaustion from lack of water on an extended hike.
Canyonlands National Park. Unfortunately I arrived late in the day so I was only able to spend a couple of hours. There’s a few trails I would have liked to take, perhaps there will be a next time.
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” – George Washington Carver
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau
Included in this gallery are Rifle Falls State Park – Falls of my dreams, Rifle Gap State Park, Harvey Gap State Park, Island Acres State Park, and Colorado National Monument.
“Drinking nature is an unquenchable thirst.” – Berri Clove
Having mentioned my waterfall dream in my last post I need to expound upon it so you may see God’s work, grace and blessings.
In April of this year as I was preparing for this trip I had a dream. Here is the CliffsNotes version.
I was traveling and was soon joined by a man who I believe was a representation of Jesus. In the first part of the dream there were three waterfalls. I was trying to walk across a boardwalk that went along the front of the falls to a get closer look but there was snow and ice; I turned to the man and said “I can’t make it, I’m afraid”. He understood but I sensed he was disappointed in my lack of trust.
So we left to find another vantage point where I could photograph them. Across the river he stood along the fence, distracted I took another route without telling him. I attempted to cross a small shallow stream but found that I was over my head. The man helped me out and asked with frustration “why didn’t you stay with me, I can’t be there for you if you’re going to keep wondering off”.
He suggested a boat ride to get closer. There were many branches off this river, each with three waterfalls. I tried desperately to photograph them but the captain was going so fast that everything was a blur. I asked him to slow down and he responded “busy, busy, busy, lots of people to accommodate”.
There was far more symbolism imbedded in this dream than I can go into here but the theme of the waterfalls is that there have been three things in my life that have been a barrier to my going forward with Jesus. First, fear. I had to learn unconditional trust. Just leaving on this trip was a huge leap of faith. Fears of grisly bears, danger, black bears, loneliness, bridges, brown bears, narrow winding mountain roads and did I mentions BEARS. Fear of failing, fear You wouldn’t be there to catch me if I fall. Second, distraction. As my girls will tell you, when we are together they are often having to hunt me down as I’m distraction to the point of walking away, like a little child in a toy store. I have had to learn to focus and listen to Jesus. This trip has shown me so many wonders because I focused on what Jesus wanted me to see. What he put in my heart. Third, busyness. I cannot remember a time when I was not driven to do, to accomplish, to succeed, even if I was the only one who knew it. My third week west showed me how destructive busyness can be. I worked so much and was consumed by it that I missed God’s blessing, I missed the romancing He wanted to share with me and his beauty. It left me empty and frustrated and that is not what God wants for his children. My vow to slow down, listen to Jesus, and enjoy the journey that brings me to the place of my dream.
Months ago as I was researching places to visit I found the waterfalls I had dreamt about. Having let go of my list of places to visit and letting Jesus lead me I had forgotten all about visiting the falls. They were in Colorado and Colorado had not made my list of states to visit until perhaps later. Monday I called Eric, my guide of sorts, and out of the blue I asked if he had any counties in Northern Colorado since I was so close. He sent me to Craig, Colorado. As I was pondering what to do for the weekend I looked at the map and realized Arches National Park wasn’t that far…only 4 hrs, a mere “Sunday drive” at this point in the trip. Then my heart said “where are the waterfalls?” I got out my list, found the name of the park, put it in the map program and wow! There is was, right on my route.
When I let go of fear, business and distraction God romanced me with such a stunning gift and a dream turned into reality. Rifle Falls State Park, just northeast or Rifle, CO, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve traveled to. Three waterfalls, side by side, equal in power and beauty but each unique. And I did walk across the boardwalk at the top of the falls.
A side note on conquering fear.
After leaving Rifle Fall heading to Utah, I took a side trip to Colorado National Monument. The last trip west my daughter, Ashley, drove us up the side of a mesa. I was literally sick with fear and panic. As I approach the Colorado Plateau I see it is much taller than the one we traversed in Utah four years ago but as Joyce Meyer says “Do it afraid”. So I did. It took hours to drive through miles of winding, narrow roads with adjacent cliffs. “I should be panicking” I thought, but I wasn’t. Of course this road was two-lane and paved unlike the narrow gravel road in Utah but still a milestone. I was fearless. God certainly had helped me through this fear and I was able to enjoy the beauty.
God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one. 1 John 2:14b (NLT)
Routt National Forest & Steamboat Springs, CO
“Nature is the time-vesture of God that reveals Him to the wise, and hides Him from the foolish”. – Thomas Carlyle