The Big Trip – Las Vegas Area

Las Vegas. Oy. I do not have much good to say about the downtown gambling areas. We went during the week for cheaper room rates. Used it as our base location to visit both the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest area and Death Valley.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in “Old Vegas.” Bob took his quarters hoping to use them up with the slot machines. Disappointed that the machines all take paper money now and issue a paper voucher for your winnings. No rattling coins when there was a winner, but plenty of lights and noise! We were easy walking distance to the Fremont Avenue canopy that formed a pedestrian-only gambling mall. At night we saw zip line riders overhead, so many flashing neon lights coordinated with music for six minutes on the hour. Too many weird people. Women in scanty clothes and men too aroused for public display (in my opinion). We were amazed that tourists were there with their children. I never would have exposed my daugher to such behavior as a child or even as a teenager! Yes, I am old and fond of my values.

The “Strip” with the mega-hotels was also not to our liking. Bob was driving and the traffic was awful. Then a truck with a huge advertisement made with led lights pulled in front of us. It literally hurt our eyes. The sidewalks were crammed as bad or worse as the Avenues in New York. People shoulder to shoulder with shopping bags and jaws agape. We did not go into any of the huge hotels as parking was at a premium and we decided we were just not THAT interested.

The drive to the west of Las Vegas was so interesting. We were looking for Red Rock Canyon and did not manage to find it. But we found the scenic road into the National Forest and Charleston Peak Ski area. The cactus were blooming and very fragrant.

Notice one on the hilltop, too!

We noticed the cactus stopped growing at about 7000 feet in elevation, at least in this area. We drove to an elevation of 8,437 feet.

More new sights!

Words and Blog and Death

I am planning to close one of my blog sites and thinking about getting the blog printed so I do not lose the hard work and thought I have put into that. Perhaps one day my grandchildren would want to read it to learn more about me? Discovering entire worlds of on-line services to pay for to get ready to publish and then to actually print. Yikes. Decisions, decisions.

Then I am face-to-face with the reminder that no one will get out of this world alive unless the Lord comes soon. From my journal:

“Judy has died from cancer. Homer dead of cancer. Betty dead of old age and cancer form. Sonia’s mom dead from cancer. Surrounded by death of folks older and younger than me. Disposing of trapped chipmunks, killed on purpose by us.

1 Corinthians Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:51-55 (NRSV)

“Death and life, intertwined. There are just sometimes that the death is more clear than other times when we try to forget it, put it out of our minds, pretend it is not always near. No wonder the men in the NT Bible story did not want to help the man beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. It brought home the fact it could happen to any one of us and death is always near.

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Luke 10:30-32 (NRSV)

“I fertilized new shoots I should not have fertilized. I too kill things. And I will die someday, the day the Lord has appointed for me. “

So perhaps it is important to preserve the blog writings for the next generation to read after my death? Or is it all words? Would I have liked a record of where my parents went in Michigan when they went fishing there years before I was born? Heck yes! All I have is a postcard they sent my uncle which I did not see until his daughters sent it to me after his death.

Is this the best way to spend my saved money? Perhaps it will be valued by my offspring in the future? Maybe not saving it is like killing those new shoots in the garden. The killing was accidental, yet still they are dead. Do I let those words and thoughts that have come out of me go – just perish in the dust of on-line words? Perhaps that is not a good use of my funds or talent.

Oh my, conundrum after conundrum. Would Judy’s boys cherish a memoir from their mother now that she is gone? Perhaps my adult children might cherish one?

I wrote this several years after my mother died suddenly.

Oh the ache
The wrenching tear at your heart
When you want to share joy
With one who has passed over.

Oh the void
When those too familiar arms
Are no longer there
To embrace you.

Tonight I shared an experience
With my daughter
That I once shared
With my mother
“Ice Capades,” with this wondrous four year old!

If my granddaughter ever delights
In the swirling spangles
And enchanted wonderland on ice,
I pray both she and my daughter be spared
The anguish I feel tonight.

Perhaps the future generations of our family might know the joys and challenges of my life by reading what a wrote about this past year. Guess I will pursue publishing. Scary.

Bryce National Park #1

My favorite place on the trip! (The Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska were the most exciting.) We could not travel the entire Park because the road was closed due to excessive snow. National parks evidently are not allowed to salt roads, so any risk of snow melt causing sheets of ice or avalanche danger has the rangers closing that area of the road. I was still delighted with what I did get to see!

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.  It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.  It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Psalm 19: 1-6 NIV
The vast expanse

From The Book of Common Prayer:

“God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of glory and praise.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

“At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being. “

I love the shadows that appear to be undulating when in fact it is the rock face that undulates!

Let those kids get out and run off energy! Let this old woman marvel at the glory of the vista!

Bob liked the hollowed out area in the distance. Not certain how far away it was, but difficult to capture without a telephoto lens!
There is a hoodoo!

A what, you say? So glad you ask. Look to the left of the pine tree. There is a rock formation that looks as if it has a black ball on top, shorter than the pine tree. It is bald and wearing sunglasses and a serious expression.

Serious faced hoodoo looking at you!

We have had a few discussions about what constitutes a hoodoo. Here is the Wikipedia version.

“A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, or earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.

“Hoodoos are found mainly in the desert in dry, hot areas. In common usage, the difference between hoodoos and pinnacles (or spires) is that hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a “totem pole-shaped body”. A spire, on the other hand, has a smoother profile or uniform thickness that tapers from the ground upward.”

We generally saw hoodoos from below, so this was a treat to see one from above!!

Itinerary – Days 1 & 2

Cincinnati through Louisville to St. Louis. Day #1, 358 miles. We saw the flooded Mississippi and ate toasted ravioli at award winning Zia’s on the Hill.

That day we also saw an eagle in flight and my favorite, the great blue heron!

This is above the St. Louis walkway along the river. The wind and waves were such that the top steps were under water and waves kept splashing up when boats went past.

I kept applying what I saw to myself. Flooding puts river banks and pastures under water. Some say this refreshes the land like no other phenomenon, dropping fresh silt on the soil. Flood me Lord with Your Living Water and Presence in my everyday moments. Open my ears so that when You speak, I will hear You clearly and move towards obedience.

Day #2 St. Louis to Topeka to Kansas City, Missouri, 309 some miles. We stopped in Kansas City Kansas to look around and stumbled upon graffiti artists. Here is a local diva having her photo taken before their art.

Bar-B-Que lunch at Mr. Gates. The after church crowd joined us. I had fun watching and older gentleman watch me make a mess with barbecue sauce all over my face. He was waiting for his family to place their orders and bring his food. They were all dressed to the nines! When I finished they had just placed his tray in front of him. I teased him that it was my turn to watch him eat and not make a mess. Turns out he was blind in one eye and in his nineties. He was a retired preacher and song leader, sort of retired. His son was now in the pulpit. All his sons were preachers. We talked about how important it is to try to inspire the younger ones. I left him to enjoy his lunch with blessings upon the rest of his day and silently upon his life and legacy.

The Bar-B-Que was delicious going down and gave me fits all night! What a way to go though ;-D.

Blessed be My Rock!

We saw so many different rock formations across the USA and I could not help think of the God Who created them and is represented by the image of an immovable rock. The Living Bible says in Psalm 144:1 “Bless the Lord who is my immovable Rock. He gives me strength and skill in battle.”

Psalm 18:2 (NRSV)  The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 95:1 (NRSV)  O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Samuel 22:47 (NRSV)  The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation.

When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem the disciples were praising God loudly. The pharisees told Him to get them to hush. His reply was “I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
I wanted to sing the song below and play it in the car at full volume. Sadly, I did not have it on my mP3 player and had trouble finding it on YouTube, too! Pooh. So here it is for you. Turn up your speakers and get ready to get your praise on! Also, the lyrics are below. Followed by two New Testament references.

One Less Stone, One More Voice!

LYRICS: “Now Jesus was going up, on His way to Jerusalem, To be lifted high on a tree that He might draw men unto Him Well, the multitudes began to praise Him, While others were trying to stop Him. He said “If they hold their peace, the rocks are gonna cry out!”

“And here is one less stone, and I’m one more voice, To praise the mighty name, the name of the Lord I am one less stone and I’m one more voice to praises Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord

“Now David was a man of praise, praising God in the sanctuary He praised Him on the trumpet and the harp, and he praised Him in the dance I don’t want to offend anybody, but I’m gonna praise my Jesus He said “If I hold my peace, the rocks are gonna cry out!” And here is one less stone, and I’m one more voice, To praise the mighty name, the name of the Lord I am one less stone and I’m one more voice to praises Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord

“Now David was a man of praise, praising God in the sanctuary He praised Him on the trumpet and the harp, and he praised Him in the dance I don’t want to offend anybody, but I’m gonna worship Jesus He said “If I hold my peace, the rocks are gonna cry out!”

“And here is one less stone, and I’m one more voice, To praise the mighty name, the name of the Lord I am one less stone and I’m one more voice to praise Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord Now David was a man of praise, praising God in the sanctuary He praised Him on the trumpet and the harp, and he praised Him in the dance I don’t want to offend anybody, but I’m gonna praise my Jesus He said “If I hold my peace, the rocks are gonna cry out!”

And here is one less stone, and I’m one more voice, To praise the mighty name, the name of the Lord I am one less stone and I’m one more voice to praise Him

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord Blessed is the King (blessed is the King of Kings), Blessed is the King (blessed is the Lord of Lords), Blessed is the King (oh, we praise Your name), Blessed is the King (You’re worthy of the praise), Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord

Romans 9:32-33 (NRSV)  Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,  as it is written, “See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

1 Corinthians 10:4 (NRSV)  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

Enough said!

A Prompt in Plain Sight

Found this a year or so ago on the sidewalk. I have kept it ever since. It is a writing prompt and in some ways a prod. How so? you ask.

If you have a broken pencil you cannot write much unless you sharpen it and determine to use it. And that is the prod part. Was I willing to use it and sharpen it? This was before I started writing the blog. For years I had been putting off actually writing with regularity and purpose. Once again, I was being given the choice of just keeping a broken pencil, throwing it away, or putting it to work.

And the prompt? Even the stub of a pencil can be used to write. What is to stop the finder from using it? Yes, some kid is missing a green pencil from their colored pencil set, but what about the senior citizen who found and kept it. Will she make use of it, even in old age and gray hair? Will she step out in faith and just do it?

You can scroll through my posts and see if you agree. I think I am onto the discipline of using it and helping the last years of the pencil produce a harvest! Not to mention, the older woman holding said pencil.

Steve Green summed it up nicely with the song “You Want To, Now Will You”


You’ve heard the words
And know they’re true
And now they ring inside of you
They’re calling you to come away
Now will you come or stay.

You want to, now will you
You want to, now will you
The truth that burns within you
Like a bed of fiery coals
Contains that power to liberate
A thousand captive souls
But if the truth will ever set you free
Depends on you
You want to, now will you
You want to…now will you

The Weight of Wood

How much do you think your sins weigh? Just your personal screw-ups and errors? I know mine weigh plenty.

In Pilgrims Progress Bunyan wrote: “Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. “He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulcher. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.”

Have you intentionally taken your sins to the foot of the cross and let go of them? I find I cannot grow until I let loose of them.

Have you ever tried to move a piece of tree that has fallen or been cut down? I blew out my back once thinking I could move just a log, about 30 inches around but only 20 inches long. Partially ruptured a disc that still gives me fits years later. Now I find out by an on-line search that a sugar maple branch that is 10 inches on one end, 12 inches on another and 3 feet long can weigh 123 pounds!

So often I see crosses in this day and age, made from wood, but on close examination you can see that the shape is made of wooden planks and hollow on the inside. I know that is more practical for hanging on a wall or erecting in a yard, but imagine if they were solid wood like His was?

Can you imagine the weight of the cross beam that the Lord had to carry to Golgotha? The actual weight of the wood and the additional weight of our sins must have made it tremendously heavy! 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV 2011) says “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

The cross used in Roman crucifixions consisted of two parts: “the upright or mortise, referred to as the stipes, or staticulum, and the tenon or crosspiece, which is called the patibulum or antenna.” “In Mark 15:36, the scripture reads that Jesus was offered a sponge with vinegar stuck to a hyssop reed. The average height of a male in that time period was approximately 5 feet, and the reed of a hyssop averages 1 to 2 feet long. These figures indicate that the cross was approximately 7 to 9 feet tall. The patibulum that Jesus’ arms were outstretched and nailed to was likely 5 to 6 feet long. The entire cross is estimated to have weighed well over 300 pounds.” https://www.reference.com/world-view/were-dimensions-jesus-cross-406d63ed53e6b194?qo=contentSimilarQuestions

The horizontal bar known as the patibulum had a weight of between 75 and 125 pounds. Some believe that this is the only part of the cross that was carried. https://www.reference.com/world-view/much-did-cross-weigh-jesus-carried-299ed7bac97a3f86

“In the Passion of the Christ movie, Jim Caviezel was seemingly the perfect candidate to play Jesus Christ. What you may not have known is that he experienced a shoulder separation when the 130-pound cross was dropped unto his shoulder.” That scene is still in the movie. “That was a heavy cross. It was probably more than half the weight of a typical Jewish man. It took great inner strength for Jesus to carry such a weight after being severely scourged with a cat-o-nine whip, hit in the head with a reed, had a crown of thorn pressed into his head, and abandoned by all his friends. “Jim did it with a separated shoulder, though we are sure he did not traverse the full length of the journey but the pain in his face during that scene would have been real.” Read more at https://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/movies/galleries/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-passion-of-the-christ-movie.aspx?p=2#3m5q2PY4OhVyx0Tb.99

God says that you are worth all the pain and suffering that Jesus endured. He would have done it if you were the only person on earth. In Isaiah 49:14-16 (NIV 2011) we read “But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” And God replied: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

You are precious in His sight. Drop your sins at the foot of His cross and let them fall into the abyss. Thank Him today for each and every blessing and especially His sacrifice on your behalf. Walk with Him, talk with Him, rejoice that He has called you His own!