Wisconsin – Part III

I have lived in Wisconsin close to 40 years. Most of that time has been spent in whatever local town we were living in at the time. Often we went to Lake Michigan or another smaller inland lake. Door County was also a popular destination. We have driven by Wisconsin Dells and through the town a few times, but had never gotten off the beaten path to discover why it was famous…why it had become a tourist trap. We were pleasantly surprised by what we found.

The only way to see the Dells is on the Wisconsin river. Since we weren’t about to rent a canoe the five of us decided to splurge on a boat tour. My sister, Jill and her husband Dennis were along for the adventure.

My granddaughter, Arianna snapped this picture of the boat. We chose to sit in the open air on top.

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At first the scenery reminded us of the hike in Devil’s Lake we had been on the day before.

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But then it got more and more interesting.

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Twice the boat docked to allow us to follow the trails that wound between the rocks.

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There are no words…

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My advice in all of this? Look for the hidden things. The things right under your nose. There is always beauty and good hiding somewhere close.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

 

 

Wisconsin – Part II

The journey continues. Tomorrow we will be in Wisconsin Dells, today it is…

DEVIL’S LAKE STATE PARK

Here is the beginning of the trail and a picture of what we will be climbing on.

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The steps went on forever much to Arianna’s dismay.

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Arianna found a stick to help get her up the steps.

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At last we made it to the top where we could look down on the lake below. (Remember the first picture?)

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After making our way down through more trees we wound through boulders and rocks.

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Finally leaving them behind to reach level ground that led us back to the beach where we started.

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(Most of the photography by Bill Pickering)

“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, … all things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things and by Him all things consist.”  Colossians 1:16-17

 

 

 

 

 

A Weekend in Wisconsin

A Weekend in Wisconsin

We spent a long weekend in a home on the Wisconsin river near Portage. The next few days I will put up some pictures of various hikes we took. Today we visit Mirror Lake and Parfrey’s Glen. Enjoy.

MIRROR LAKE

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PARFREY’S GLEN

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There was a short hike through woods that led to a stream that we crossed a few times.

 

The end of the hike we were rewarded with a small waterfall.

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And then it was the hike back to the car through a magical forest.

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“O Lord, how many are Your works. In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.” Psalm 104:24

Broken Things

I seem to accumulate broken things. Things I have purchased for next to nothing because they were broken. There is the ceramic tile of poppies that I bought while on vacation. I loved it from across the room and was delighted to find a price tag of $5.00 on it. It had two hairline cracks running through it, but they don’t show and I’m the only one who knows, (until now).

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There is the ancient rocker I picked up for $2 at an auction. The seat was shredded and it was missing one of the slats from the curved back, but I thought I could make it presentable again. I think the missing slat looks like it was part of the design and I have recovered the seat. It is one of my favorite chairs.

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There is another rocker with a missing seat that waits patiently in the basement for me to make it functional again. I mended the broken cross piece and gave it a fresh coat of paint.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know about my grandmother’s chair that I rescued from certain destruction. You can read about it here.

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My father’s violin had some cracks that needed repairing. When I took it to John Hawkins, a man skilled in such things, I also bought a violin for my son that John had saved from being thrown in the trash. A junior high boy had stepped on it in his haste to get somewhere quickly. It was basically in splinters, but he was determined to bring it back from the dead. My son played it until he outgrew it. Now it is waiting for his daughter to use once her fingers are big enough.

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We live in a society that throws things away. We want new and perfect. Fewer and fewer people repair things anymore.

Unfortunately our insisting on perfection spreads to not just things, but circumstances and people.

We want the perfect job, perfect church, perfect house, perfect parents, perfect husband, perfect children, and perfect friends. It they aren’t perfect we look for a different one. What we fail to see in our search for perfection is the beauty that lies in the broken things. They are still useful, they have lived through hard circumstances, and the scars they have acquired make them more beautiful, not less.

Living through imperfect circumstances makes us better people. Living with difficult people makes us kinder. Living with things that need attention and care make us more thankful for what we have. Going to a church with other sinners reminds us of our own lack and makes us grateful that they don’t ask us to leave, since we are far from perfect, ourselves.

God uses these imperfect things in our lives to help knock off the things in our own lives that need sanding down. (Sandblasting might be a better term.) Thankfully he doesn’t just give us a coat of paint or some glue, He works on us from the inside out. He works on our very heart.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Did you catch that? “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We are all a work in progress. We don’t always like the “construction” that is going on, but it has a good purpose in our lives.

Remember that the next time you want to give up on someone who is difficult to be around. Give them the grace we have been given. Learn from them. Love them like our Father loves us. Treat them like the treasure they are.

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” I John 4:32-5:1

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. We all want it, but have a hard time giving it to others.

I’ve been working several months on a book on forgiveness. It simply refuses to be written. I’ve started again and again. So today I decided to include you in the struggle. I’m going to put bits and pieces up here until I finish the job. Knowing you are looking over my shoulder might give me the kick in the pants I need to persevere.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

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We need to start at the beginning.

It nearly broke His heart. This man and woman God had created decided to believe Satan instead of God. They did the one thing God commanded them not to do, ate of the fruit of the only tree off limits.  Satan made Eve doubt God’s goodness. Made her think God was selfish. That He was keeping something good away from them. Satan deceived her into thinking he had her bests interests at heart. It was all a lie.

Eve gave some of the fruit to her husband and the rest is history. He chose her over God. The thought of losing her was too overwhelming. And then they hid. What else could they do? The shame and guilt were destroying them.

God sought them out. Gave them a chance to explain. Their explanation consisted of blaming each other, Satan, even God. Yes, Adam said…”this woman whom you gave to be with me…” (Genesis 3:12) Do you hear the not so subtle tone in his voice?

And so the perfect world was ruined. They were expelled from the garden, never to return. But God didn’t leave them without hope. He promised a Savior who would one day bring redemption, forgiveness. Things would be restored.

Satan thought he had won…but God’s plans are always bigger. Forgiveness would be a  reoccurring theme from now on. Satan, who was beyond forgiveness, would continue to cause all the trouble he could. The F word (forgiveness) would make him scream with anger. It must not happen. The redemption must not be complete. And so the battle continued.

Genesis 2:7 – 3:24

 

 

Home at Last

We moved this past year. My husband retired and we decided to relocate. We moved to a new house with new neighbors, in a new town and found a new church.

It has been about a year and we still feel unsettled.  We feel a longing to be known.

To have someone look at us with eyes of recognition. To know our names and ask about our kids.

I long for community.

…To have people know my name and ever so much more,

…To know I enjoy music and art, taking walks, a good cup of tea and auctions.

…That I have a sense of humor, am a pretty good cook and can be a fiercely loyal friend if given the chance.

I want them to know my heart aches from old wounds and some not so old. Things you can’t blurt out when you are just getting to know someone. It takes time…lots of time.

So, as I struggle to fit into our new community, I look expectantly to someday heaven. It will be a place of perfect acceptance, a place without longing.

I’ve been told a place is being prepared. (John 14:1-3) A just right place, a perfect place, a belonging place that isn’t uncomfortable. A place without an awkward adjustment period.

I imagine being greeted with a bear hug by the God who was unapproachable and untouchable in the Old Testament accounts. (*see below) Now he has promised to wipe away my tears. (Revelation 21:4)

I will be immediately known and loved. Not because I am good, but because I belong to a great King who purchased my freedom at an awful price. (I Peter 1:18 & 19)

He saved me even knowing who I would be and what I would do. Loved me in spite of all of it. Why? For a purpose, to worship and serve Him.

He will integrate me seamlessly into the heavenly community; giving me a job that suits just me. One where I can contribute and feel helpful.

He will delight that I am there, at home with Him. At home with the one who has loved me since the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)

And all of this will fade away. For I will be home at last.

 

 * God told Moses – “No man shall see me and live.” ( Exodus 33:20) ;                                Some men from Beth-shemesh looked into the ark and they were struck dead along with 50,070 others. (I Samuel 6:19);                                                                                                    Uzzah was killed for touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-7)