Saturday, June 28, 2014

Are we supposed to be "happy" all the time?

Were we really created to be "happy" all the time?  I find I often blind myself to God's reality if I get down or depressed when I feel "my" needs are not being met.

"There is a hard truth to be told: before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck.  I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice.  But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created.”  Parker Palmer

Mt Emily Recreation Area, MERA

Strawberry Lake

Zumwalt Prairie, Wallowa Mts

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Strawberry Lake and Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

The Strawberry Mountains are the eroded remnants of a volcanic explosion fifteen million years ago. Strawberry Lake is a small glacial lake, not very deep, with transparent water that shows off the bottom and reflects the mountains above. Its evocative name came from an early pioneer who named the creek that flows out of the lake for the abundance of wild strawberries that grew in the area. The lake is about a mile and half hike from the campground at the end of the road.  Beyond the lake, Strawberry Falls cascades down from a height of eighty feet.

This area lies in Grant County, Oregon, about half an hour from the town of Prairie City. The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is relatively small--70,000 acres, but the pines and firs are deep and the beauty intense.









Troop 514 at Strawberry Lake

Strawberry Lake sits in a basin surrounded by colorful, eroded andesite, a mile and half from the trailhead into the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Five Scouts from BSA Troop 514 in La Grande just spent a delightful weekend there.  Four of the scouts were young and new, carrying packs that challenged their stamina and energy. Yet, they remained cheerful. They worked quickly and efficiently to pitch their tents. They played in the water, and then we hiked up to Strawberry Falls.  They cooked a one pot meal of couscous and chicken on a one burner stove, and in the morning made up blue berry pancakes.

Their enthusiasm for working together and for learning new skills was excellent.  I think I am becoming younger on each outing!  

Troop 514, Strawberry Falls

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More than the eye can see

As my body has aged, the acuteness of my eyesight and hearing has diminished. In May, I had cataract surgery on both eyes. Between the two surgeries, I could compare the colors and the sharpness between my “new” eye and my old one.  The difference was stunning.  In our church sanctuary, a wall that looked a dull gray was in fact a subtle pink.

Also, Meg has given me a special hearing aid that reduces the high frequency of bird songs to a frequency my ears can hear.  Suddenly, as I sit on the front porch in the early morning, drinking coffee and reading my devotions, the world is filled with this wonderful music that almost seems like a tape recording of bird sounds. Sounds I no longer knew existed.

As I think of what I had lost and the awareness what has been restored, I realize how much more awaits us in God's Kingdom.  Beyond anything we can imagine, God’s eternal infinity awaits us.  Someday, for each of us, the curtain will be pulled back, and like Steve Jobs on his death bed, all we can say will be “Oh, wow, oh wow, oh wow!”

Jordan Valley, Malheur county

Blue Mts Oregon, Umatilla county

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Zumwalt Prairie country of Wallowa County in NE Oregon

The Zumwalt Prairie seemed a polycultural sea of greens--springtime mint greens, forest greens, shamrock greens.  They were every hue and shine--pale, bright, dull, and verdant--and always changing from the height of the sun in the sky or the volume and cover of the clouds. The wind changed the colors as did morning and evening dew.  Morning color was heightened, noontime was flat, and late afternoon shone gold-green and shadowy."  Marcy Houle, The Prairie Keepers

Many of these pictures were taken on property that the Nature Conservancy manages. The vast vistas of the grasslands and the Wallowa Mts always call me back.  Meg and I are blessed to be able to live close to areas like this one.

Zumwalt Prairie

Wallowa Mts, Zumwalt Prairie

meadow lark, Zumwalt Prairie

Zumwalt Prairie

Zumwalt Prairie, Wallowa Mts

Zumwalt Prairie, Wallowa County

Zumwalt Prairie

Zumwalt Prairie, Wallowa Mts

Zumwalt road and barn

Wallowa Mts, Wallowa County

Zumwalt Prairie, The Nature Conservancy  

Zumwalt Prairie, Wallowa Mts

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Meg and I have been dog sitting a friend’s golden retriever. Once again, I am reminded how absolutely loving devoted these creatures are.  They seem to believe that God created human beings to give them constant love.  And again, I ask myself, how devoted am I am to loving God as deeply and as constantly?  I am grateful He is merciful.

Wallowa County, Hells Canyon

Wallowa Mts, Zumwalt Prairie

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Along the Oregon Trail

When Meg and I arrived in La Grande long ago, we had no idea that the Oregon Trail passed through the west side of the Grande Ronde Valley, under the landmark of Mt Emily. It then rises up into the hills to find a way above the Grande Ronde river.  Although we have hiked it several times, we had not been on it for quite a while.  So, this past Saturday, we headed up into the hills above La Grande to the first trail marker at a saddle where the trail drops down to a spring that provided an oasis for an overnight stay.

As you can see, the wildflowers (mules ear balsam root, yellow lupine, larkspur) are still superb, and in places, the grass nearly waist high. As the wind blew gently, memories also swirled in our minds, of our own travels, and of the remarkable journey of these hard working, enduring/endearing pioneers.

mules ear balsam root, yellow lupine

Mt Emily, La Grande


Grande Ronde Valley, Mt Emily, Mt Harris

Oregon Trail, La Grande

Mt Emily

yellow lupine

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Psalm 25: His unfailing love--yesterday, today, and tomorrow

As I read Psalm 25, I am taken by its timelessness.  The ancient psalm writer certainly could not have imagined the world, the readers, of the 21st century.  Yet here we are, once again reminded that God is timeless and eternal, breathing deeply the meaning of this Psalm in our everyday lives.

                              Lord, I give my life to you.
                                                                                                 I trust in you, my God!
Grande Ronde Valley
                                Show me the right path, O Lord;
                                                                                          point out the road for me to follow.
                                            Lead me by your truth and teach me,

                                                  you are the God who saves me.
                                               All day long I put my hope in you.

Mt Emily Recreation Area
                             Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
                                                                             which you have shown from long ages past.

MERA, La Grande

Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
    for you are merciful, O Lord.

The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
    all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Mt Emily Recreation Area

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Closing the gap, ever so slowly

Last week I mused on the force of my ego, and my unwillingness to surrender it to God. Paul writes  how Christ has freed us from the need to be self centered on our material needs and desires--that we should serve one another in love. Whether I am reading the Old Testament 
or the New, I realize that indeed my call is to love and to walk humbly with God. 

The call of the prophet Micah, the call of Christ, is so simple, yet so difficult to live daily.  But only in doing so, do I open myself to hear God's word and feel His presence; only when I let go on my dependency on society's approval do I create space for God and for others.

Succor Creek, Malheur County
Mt Emily, Ladd Marsh
Mt Harris, Ladd Marsh, Union County

Leslie Gulch, Malheur County