Highlights of Biking Around Mackinac Island (and Life)

July is the perfect time to visit Mackinac Island!

And, the eight-mile road around the island on Highway M-185 is the perfect venue for taking young kids on a big biking adventure, because it’s the only highway in America where no cars are allowed!

So, a couple of weeks ago we headed north with our two oldest sons and their families on a U.P. “roots” tour, including a trip across the Straits of Mackinac on a Shepler ferry boat to spend a day on Mackinac Island.

Horse and buggy in front of Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island

It was a picture-perfect day, and we were all in very high spirits!

Although the nine grandchildren are living in suburban California and Belgium now (read that, no easy, safe places for long bike adventures), they were all up for the challenge, so the first stop was to get fitted on bikes.

Mike pulled the baby in a Burley, and Grace had a trail-a-bike for their four-year-old. Actually, trailer bikes (which have wheels for pedaling while allowing the parent to control the balance) are recommended for the 4-7 year-old set, but our two seven-year-olds opted to ride their own bikes, which was very brave of them!

A Bicycle Built for Two. Mackinac Island

Alan and I took a little razzing from the attendant for what he must have considered a non-feminist approach to modern cycling, but we opted for a bicycle built for two. After (literally) more than 50 years of riding such bicycles around the island together, we weren’t about to be talked out of our old-fashioned favorite.

Burley and trail-a-bike on Mackinac Island State Park, Michigan

There are many advantages to riding on a bicycle built for two! You’re always together; you can hear, talk, and be super close to each other at all times (very bonding).

Roadsides full of wild, pink roses on Mackinac Island

The other advantage, at least for me, is having total freedom to take photographs of all the gorgeous scenery as we pass by!

Highway M-185 is full of flowers on both sides of the road all through the summer, so all you have to do is avoid horses and other people while soaking in the beauty!

We did take numerous stops along the way to enjoy all the byways, including a little wetland walk, where we learned that there are over 415 varieties of wildflowers on the island!

Monarch caterpillar on a milk weed

We have lots of budding (and grown) botanists in the family, so the kids stopped to check out many of the flowers and captivating critters.

Golden coreopsis and purple harebells on Mackinac Island

I’m not sure if it was the flowers, the the gorgeous water, or too many cousins riding too close together, but one of the seven-year-olds took a bad spill at one point!

I’m sure Judah was in a lot of pain from the bad scrape on one leg, but after taking a breather to regain his shaken confidence, he was willing to take off on his own again. It’s good to be tough!!

Thankfully, it wasn’t too much longer before we reached the halfway point! Whew!

We stopped for lunch at British Landing, where lots of seagulls as well as people hang out.

Just in case you’re wondering, the seagulls are not only beautiful and interested in people, they LOVE good food as much as humans!

Hungry biker eating a Cannonball at British Landing on Mackinac Island

We stopped for hotdogs and hamburgers at the Cannonball snack shop.

Everybody was “starving” by the time we got there, so it was a really welcome break.

(Of course, some of us are still pretty insistent about what we like best for lunch!)

Other highlights of the bike adventure included skipping stones,

riding beneath tree-lined canopies of fragrant cedars,

The Island House, Mackinac Island

enjoying all the spectacular hotels, homes, and gardens that line the island,

and our long-standing tradition of stopping at “The Devil’s Kitchen,” a series of limestone caves. (Can you see the Devil’s eyes and nose?)

When Alan and I were kids in the 60’s, and when Aaron and Mike were kids in the 80’s, we were free to scramble up the rocks, and that’s exactly what kids do if left to their own devices, but today there are signs prohibiting such pleasures. 😦

However, nobody can stop a child
from having fun and being just a little scared!

I think everybody was happy to return victorious from our big ride. (Aaron and his oldest had to go an extra two miles to qualify for a boy scout badge, but they are also extra tough!!)

After returning our bikes, we wandered down Main Street, checking out all the possibilities for an afternoon treat to celebrate conquering the trail.

When our kids were little, I usually made fudge to bring with us (to keep down the expense), but this trip our generous (and rather more affluent than we were) sons bought a little fudge and then let each of their kids pick a treat of their own.

Despite being dead tired, I didn’t hear any complaining as we waited for the ferry!

Waiting for the Shepler Ferry on Mackinac Island

It seemed like the perfect end to a perfect day, although I was a little worried about Judah and wondered if his spill on the bike had traumatized him. So, I asked him what his favorite parts of the day had been.

His response was unequivocal: “The trip to the candy store . . . and the bike ride!”

That made me super happy, but it also made me think about my own life. I’ve been on a journey. Most of it has been really great, but like Judah—I had one bad fall near the beginning and got pretty scraped up! However, wouldn’t it be sad if we let our hurts and pains and accidents make us too skiddish to keep trying? And, isn’t it wonderful that we have a Father who watches over us, encouraging us along, and who promises to reward us at the end?! Do you know Him? Are you trusting in Him? God is good. Life is good. It’s not all picnics and vacation days, but it’s all good for us when we let God be our Father and never stop trying!

Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast” (Psalm 36:5-6).

Spring Beauty All Around!

This is the time of year when everything bursts
into glorious song and bloom!

Every day there is something new and splendid popping up.

The rebirth of life in springtime is both
majestic and mysterious!

It seems like just a few weeks ago the geese were waiting impatiently
for water to open up.

And now, there are fuzzy goslings and ducklings
coming ashore for breakfast every morning here at Tanglewood Cottage!

Robins are busy rearing their broods,

and a parade of exquisite song birds (like this rose-breasted grosbeak)
come to our feeder every day!

This sassy Baltimore oriole, for some reason, even seems determined
to figure out a way to get inside and keeps attacking my window pane!

Turtles of all sizes and stripes emerge and sunbathe in our swamp.

This phenomenon isn’t just local, either!

Our grandchildren in Belgium found their forests
dotted with tiny woodland anemones

and later covered with bright bluebells!

Our California grandchildren discovered southern hills
covered with bright orange poppies,

and alive with glowing colors from all kinds of beautiful wildflowers!

Some might say this all happened by chance, but I read recently (in a very technical but nevertheless awesome book called Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer) that there’s not one chance in something like 10 to the 40,000th power that a DNA cell would develop by chance. In other words, even if the world is billions and billions of years old, it’s less likely that the squirrel breaking into my bird feeder spontaneously evolved over eons of time than it is that the bird feeder itself spontaneously evolved!

How did all this incredibly brilliant and intricate beauty come to be? I believe it was by “intelligent design,” not chance, and that the Mastermind behind the intelligent design is none other than our Almighty God! “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, ESV).

There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6, ESV).

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, ESV).

“For the Beauty of the Earth”
(—Folliott Sandfor Pierpoint, 1864, Public Domain)

1 For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies.

Christ, our Lord, to you we raise
this, our hymn of grateful praise.

2 For the wonder of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light, [Refrain ]

3 For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild, [Refrain]

4 For yourself, best gift divine,
to the world so freely given,
agent of God’s grand design:
peace on earth and joy in heaven. [Refrain]

(All photos taken this spring by myself or my kids. Happy Spring to you!!)

Casting Your Bread Upon the Waters

Over the years, I’ve felt led by the verse, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8) when it comes to blogging and sharing photos, so whenever someone has asked my permission to use a picture, I’ve always given permission without charge. Of course, I appreciate it when they credit me (and give a link back to my blog if appropriate), but as long as they aren’t selling my work per se, I’m happy to share the gifts that God has given me—in this case the privilege and leisure to observe and record glimpses into God’s magnificent creation.

Over time, my photos have shown up in dozens of diverse venues. To name a few: posters for national parks, a book on Central Park, advertisements for state fairs and tourist sites, a video for carpet cleaner, the front cover for an Episcopalian magazine, a tee-shirt design, as part of a composer’s music video, to enlarge and print for use in various people’s private homes, as subject matter for a young artist’s painting, many times to illustrate the blogs of fellow writers, and most recently, to be used in a large-format sepia drawing to be displayed in a public building. I’ve even noticed (a bit to my dismay) that sometimes my photos are used without my permission. In particular, two have showed up as wall paper designs for sale in Greece! 🙂

I have also had many friends and family members who have allowed me to use their photos and other creative work on my blogs, and I am deeply grateful for each of these dear friends! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! However, I have recently been amazed and blessed by a gift from an extremely talented Korean artist, Yongsung Kim.

It all happened as I began diligently searching the internet for free images of the life of Christ to illustrate my new series (“Meditating on the Commands of Christ”) since I cannot go anywhere to take photographs of Jesus at this point and have no talent as an illustrator. I can find wonderful classical paintings of Jesus, but I was longing for some fresh, modern interpretations that might be more appealing to today’s generation and kept coming across paintings by Yongsung Kim that were so original and evocative that they’d take my breath away.

I found Yongsung Kim’s website but was reluctant to ask if I could use his pictures because his artistry is his living, but I also knew that I could never afford to pay him for the value of using of his paintings, since I am not generating any income.

However, I also knew that I have been happy to share what God has given me as a free blessing to others, and so I thought it might be worth asking him! Amazingly, he has given me permission to use his paintings on my blog as long as I credit him and don’t use them for commercial purposes.

So, a huge thank you to Yongsung Kim. I will be sure to credit him at the end of any blog where I use his paintings, and I’ll start right now with a link to his home page:https://www.foundationarts.com/yongsung-kim

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

Happy Eleventh Anniversary, Summer Setting!

Life is beautiful.
It’s never what you expect,
But it’s still sublime.

Would you like to guess what I was trying to capture in this photo? Life never sits still for us, does it? Worse yet, we move even when we’re trying to hold still! Life is grander, more colorful, and more full of light and dark than we can begin to imagine. It makes me think of what I’ve been trying to accomplish with my blog these past eleven years. . . and even more, what God has been faithfully working to create in my life. I catch a vision, but it’s gone before I can even record it clearly. The funny thing is, the result can be more beautiful than what I was originally trying to capture! If your life seems messy, out of focus, and moving too fast, don’t despair! Give it to God. He can turn anything into something sublime.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Southern Caribbean Favorites

After mentioning that Alan was in hot pursuit of “the perfect” Southern Caribbean island, I thought you might be interested in a quick look into what we found. We know lots of people who’ve been (or are even down there right now), so if you have photos or thoughts to share about what you found, or you have highlight experiences to recommend, please add them in the comment box below. One friend told me about an island where they were given bread to cast to the fish (while standing in waist deep water), and the fish nibbled at their toes. 🙂#1. Our first port was St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Due to terrible blizzards up north, we missed sailing from San Juan, so we flew into St. Croix and took a taxi to the ship. This gave us more of an unvarnished view of the island, as we took back roads from the airport to the port in Frederiksted. From the ship, we were able to walk to the beautifully sandy, warm Frederiksted Beach and enjoyed Fort Frederik, but as senior citizens, we felt a little intimidated by the poverty and number of young men who seemed to be homeless and roaming the streets with nothing to do. St. Croix is famous for fishing and is home to America’s only underwater National Park, Buck Island Reef, so if you’re a snorkeler or scuba diver, or love to fish, this might be a game changer for you. There are also miles of hiking trials and Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, old sugar plantations, etc. However, we felt like Baby Bear from the three bears: This island was too HOT! (Well, maybe a little too remote and wild for us.)#2. St. Maarten. We landed at Philipsburg in St. Maarten and could walk to this gorgeous beach after several blocks of meandering through neatly arranged shops loaded with every possible item to allure tourists, including diamond jewelry, etc. I did end up buying a beautiful lacey coverup for 25E, which was about the only “major” purchase I made on the whole trip. St. Maarten is very cosmopolitan and rich. The little bears thought this island was too COLD  for us (not temperature-wise, but in sophistication, nightlife, golfing, expense, etc.).#3. St. Lucia felt like a real country, not just a remote wilderness or tourist trap. We anchored in the capital city, Castries, and then toured the island.Alan’s older brother used to be the Peace Corp Director of St. Lucia, so we’d heard many interesting stories about the people and culture. A highlight for us was touring “Mama’s (Botanical) Garden” and tasting various new fruits, like “golden apples” (which aren’t like apples at all), agave juice, sugar cane, etc. One story that stands out in my memory is that despite the many beautiful beaches in the Southern Caribbean, many people (20 years ago) didn’t know how to swim! I’m not sure if that’s still true or not, but swimming isn’t an instinct we’re born with, so just living by gorgeous beaches doesn’t make one a swimmer.The last time we were in St. Lucia, we took a mud bath at the sulfur springs at Soufriere, advertised as “the only drive-in volcano in the world” which was definitely a unique, fun adventure. This time we spent some time at Rodney Bay, a beautiful, family-friendly beach with clear, warm water and soft, clean sand!St. Lucia was definitely a place Alan and I would both enjoy visiting again. Lots of natural beauty, lovely beaches, interesting terrain, more than just tourism going. The little bears would say this island is JUST RIGHT!#4. For unexcelled beauty, Alan and I both fell in love with Grenada!Grand Anse Beach (as I mentioned in an earlier post) is one of the most splendid in the Caribbean, and the day we were there, it was alive with colorful sailboats, due to a big race that day. Also, there were  more lobsters being grilled than I’ve ever seen at one time. We thought we’d found “the perfect” spot until we inquired and found that rooms rent for about a thousand dollars per night, which is approximately twice as much as we paid per person for our entire 12-day trip, so we decided that we’d have to leave Grand Anse for rich grand aunts or whoever else might afford it!#5. This is Bridgetown, Barbados. If you’re there on a Sunday, try “The People’s Cathedral” for a morning of spirited worship! God is good, all the time!#6. Kingstown, St. Vincent is home to the oldest tropical botanic garden in the Western Hemisphere and definitely worth a visit. By the time we arrived in St. Vincent, we’d given up trying to find paradise on earth and began exploring highlights from each island. Their botanical garden was definitely a highlight!#7. This is Fort-de-France, Martinique. The height of modern civilization.Or not! The largest iguana we’ve ever seen outside a zoo was this fine fellow, just sauntering across the waterfront park. He was a bit on the bashful side, though, and would sit for a portrait but took off as soon as I asked for his autograph.#8. Dominica is rather wild and romantic. They have steaming mud pots, lush waterfalls, and the perfect setting for movies. In fact, some of the scenes from The Pirates of the Caribbean were shot here. We swam upstream (literally where the bases of two mountains meet) through the icy cold waters of the Titou River and along this gorge (used in one of the Pirates movies) to peer at Titou Falls. Definitely cold. Definitely gorgeous. Definitely took our breath away on both counts!Thankfully, our tour guide was thinking ahead, because after we were all half frozen from our time in the mountain stream, he took us to some idyllic mineral baths at Bongo Hot Springs to lounge until we were steaming hot!#9. St. Kitts was especially interesting to me, or else we just happened to have an especially varied tour. (This was where we ported, at Basseterre, St. Kitts.) We visited the Fairview Great House and their lovely botanical gardens that overlooked the Caribbean Sea.(This is a “Hong Kong Orchid.”)We also toured some beautiful tropical gardens at Caribbe Batik,and learned all about the artistry involved in making true batik prints. Oh, and there are some monkeys on St. Kitts—although I think most of them are used as pets and for commercial cuddling purposes. Pay as you hold! Many of the Caribbean islands are mostly beautiful sandbars, but don’t they look alluring? Bali-Hai, come to me! Our driver, on the other hand, said that St. Kitts looks like a chicken drumstick on a map, with Nevis (also under the same governmental authority . . . the island furthest away in this photo) looks like a dumpling, so together, folks have chicken and dumplings every day here. 🙂We definitely enjoyed our day in St. Kitts, but I’m not sure if it would be interesting enough (at least for us) to stay for weeks. Still, there was something almost heavenly about the ambience and glowing sunset, which made us want to linger rather than leave!#10. Antigua had lingered in my memory as a tropical paradise ever since it was our last stop before launching out across the Atlantic to Africa one year. Antigua is famous for having 365 beaches: One for every day of the year! I rode hoses down the beach and through the water once in Antigua (although they wouldn’t let you gallop or run free like you see in the movies . . . all quite sedate and in follow-the-leader format).      St. John’s, the capital of Antigua, is a unique blend of historic Spanish and modern English culture. Antigua is the largest of the British Leeward Islands and has a complex history.The area around Nelson’s Dockyard is a World Heritage Site and full of living history as well as a fascinating museum and array of old (but well maintained) buildings. The area also attracts  a huge sailing crowd in April, but even when we were there, there were lots of people around, as the Talisker Atlantic Challenge, “The World’s Toughest Row” was just finishing. I thought this was a sailing race, but it truly is a race where teams literally row across the Atlantic! I was amazed! I can’t even imagine trying to row across the ocean! The winning team had already arrived. They’d rowed 3,000 miles in 34 days, 12 hours, and 9 minutes, and I heard they looked pretty skinny when they arrived! Alan and I aren’t nearly so daring, I’m afraid. Our idea of a good time was a 90-minute swim at Fort James Beach. The weather and  swimming in the Southern Caribbean (almost uniformly on every island) were unparalleled in my mind.#11. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Downtown Puerto Rico was completely jammed with hundreds of women (and a few men) in pink tutus running to support breast cancer research and awareness. Our bus driver was very frustrated that he couldn’t take us to all the wonderful sites he wanted us to see, but we enjoyed what we did see, including the beautiful Castillo San Felipe del Morro, which is also a World Heritage Site.This fortress, along with El Canuelo (across the bay), protected the entrance to San Juan quite effectively, as cannon fire between the two fortresses could completely reach any enemy ship attempting to attack the city. After giving careful consideration to which was our favorite island (as you may have read a couple of weeks ago), we decided that our first choice would be to cruise from port to port, leaving all the difficulty of  transportation and food prep to the experts, and giving us maximal time to kick back and relax.On the other hand, if you have a favorite island and accommodation, I’d love to hear about it! However, my conclusion from our trip is to be very thankful for what we have, and to remember again to take joy in the journey. Ditto for our pilgrimage through this life. There’s always that illusive “perfect life” that seems to be out there somewhere—possibly a little out of reach but still within the realm of imagination. I think it’s the longing for heaven, but we’ll never really get there until we leave earth!

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

Grand Plans and Grand Anse

Now that we’re approaching 70 in the next couple of years, Alan has started daydreaming about retirement possibilities. In particular, he developed a cherished fantasy about living in a little shack on a beach somewhere on a Southern Caribbean island during our first winter of “freedom.” That would suit me just fine, because I love to write and can keep myself occupied endlessly, but I had trouble picturing Alan content just puttering around a straw hut, hiking the shoreline, and chasing sea gulls for three months (without getting bored), so I thought it would be worth checking out prospects. About that time, I found an incredible deal for an inside cabin on the 5-star ship, Celebrity Summit, heading to the Southern Caribbean for 12 days, stopping at 11 ports, for only $579, which is $48 a day. (Okay, so add $15 per day for tips, but that’s still only $63 per day for room, transportation, and all you care to eat, which seems like a phenomenal deal for a vacation no matter how you cut it!) It was just what the doctor needed, so it’s just what the doctor’s wife ordered, and away we went!Our plan was to hop off the ship at each port and wander about, checking out the ambience, finding a close beach, and swimming all afternoon. In the process, I thought we’d get a good rest and give Alan a chance to find “the perfect island” for a three-month venture.Our dreams were fulfilled! Every day was gloriously warm, as was the water, and  every island had beaches every bit as beautiful as the ads! We were 100% happy! However, I also hadn’t been wrong about Alan’s capacity for rest. After a couple of days, he decided maybe two months would be enough on a Caribbean Island. After a couple more days, he thought probably one month would be long enough. And, about halfway through our trip, he thought a couple of weeks would do. By then, we had arrived at Grenada and discovered Grand Anse Beach, a two-mile stretch of silky sand and turquoise waters. (Since returning home, I learned that this beach was voted the Caribbean’s #1 beach by USA Today, 2018.)  We were so enthralled that I stopped at one of the hotels to find out how much it would cost for a room for a couple of weeks. $1,000 per day. No kidding! 😦  We started considering. The only real grass huts were in folk parks, not on beaches, and the mosquitoes would be an issue even if we could find one to rent. The food on the ship had been first class! We enjoyed open-air, gourmet breakfasts with beautiful ocean views each day.Each evening for dinner, attentive waiters doted on us, making sure we had everything we wanted from the menu, and that each dish was “just right!” The food alone would have cost us more than what we paid for our entire cruise, and it was always such a treat! As Alan’s mother used to say, “If I don’t have to cook it, and I don’t have to clean it up, I’m going to enjoy it!” In fact, life on a cruise ship is extremely cushy! After considering our options, Alan and I decided that maybe two weeks on a cruise each winter would be just about perfect! Our cruise ship could deliver us to fantastic ports, provide for our meals (so I would never have to cook), ensure us clean, freshly made up rooms each day (our cabin steward was a joy),and if we ever got tired of relaxing, reading, and enjoying the ship’s amenities, we could always hop off the ship and go exploring. Considering that we aren’t big on night life, and most Caribbean Islands aren’t big on day life (Culture? Yes, but not like Europe or Asia), island hopping affords ample opportunities to enjoy unique experiences and enjoy each country’s natural beauty without ever getting “island fever” (aka bored). Sound like a plan? We think so! By the way, are you dreaming about your sunset years yet? Do you have big plans or dreams? What do you think would be “just perfect”? May I encourage you to test out your theories a little before making any big decisions? It’s possible that what we think is going to be the greatest and best won’t turn out to be as good as something else . . . possibly something we already have! In my life, the very greatest and best is knowing and loving God, and I can do that at home or abroad. I don’t have to travel anywhere to know that being his child and experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus as my Lord and Savior is better than anything else the world has to offer. Hands down!Jesus is the true gateway to every joy in life, not only while we’re young, but when we retire, and even—and especially—after we die! Have you got plans for your post-retirement years? If not, please explore life with Jesus. I think you’ll discover that it beats all the other options!!!

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).

(All photos taken in the Southern Caribbean on our trip a couple of weeks ago, February, 2019.)



Crossing the Arctic Circle on the Koningsdam

Although I’ve never been deep-sea fishing, Alan and I have definitely been sailing on the deep blue sea, and not always when it was sunny and bright!  Our scariest adventures have been during big cruises . . . once trying to outrun a hurricane in the Caribbean, and once hiding behind the Hawaiian Islands in an effort to avoid too much damage to the ship.  In both instances, the ships and passengers all survived, although Alan was sicker than a dog both times and couldn’t eat for a few days until the soup stopped sliding off the tables. Another memorable trip was rounding Cape Horn off the southern tip of South America. That was breathtaking, because the wind was so strong it took our breath away and we could hardly stand on the deck (only 3% exaggeration). However, that day was also breathtaking because we saw a rainbow arching over the Beagle Channel as we made our way from Ushuaia around the horn.At the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, Alan and I were standing on terra firma celebrating a beautiful spring afternoon, so it wasn’t the least bit frightening, although still awe-inspiring and unforgettable for us. With these memories bolstering our courage, we looked forward to crossing the Arctic Circle on our cruise with Holland America’s Koningsdam, although I will admit to having some visions of the Titanic going down as we stood dreamily on deck in Iceland’s Isafjordur Harbor the night before our crossing.  Our captain was Werner Timmers, a Dutchman who had served over 30 years with Holland America, and we had heard him talk about his career. He said that over the course of his years as captain, he’d experienced almost everything! Low points included a man overboard, losing an anchor, and facing a storm with 80-foot waves. The fact that Captain Timmers had weathered such a terrible storm and survived gave me a sense of confidence that he could probably pilot us safely through the icy, possibly treacherous waters ahead, so after our usual bedtime prayers,  Alan and I went to sleep, knowing there wasn’t anything else we could do to help! As it turned out, the crossing was smooth and uneventful, and we woke up the next morning in a cloud of foggy sunshine.    As the fog cleared, I could tell that we’d arrived safely at our new harbor . . .                            a beautiful, new land full of promise and adventure.             Alan and I are also on an adventure in our personal lives. Are you? We’re heading to a faraway land called “heaven,” and we’re going to have to cross some very deep water to get there. I don’t know if the crossing will be choppy and frightening . . . if we’ll see a rainbow of hope or have to weather huge storms.As we embark on this journey, it’s reassuring to know that we have a pilot, Jesus, who has experienced both life—and death—and can lead us safely to heaven. Captain Timmers piloted us to our port in the North Sea, but only Jesus Christ can bring us safely into heaven’s harbor, and I know it will also be a fantastically beautiful land, full of unbelievably wonderful love, joy, peace . . . and adventure! Are you trying to pilot your own ship? Have you lost your anchor? Are you facing storms that could shipwreck you emotionally and spiritually? I hope you are trusting Jesus to guide you safely to  heaven’s haven of rest!

The Haven of Rest
(—Henry L. Gilmore, 1890, public domain)

  1. My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea,
    So burdened with sin and distressed,
    Till I heard a sweet voice, saying, “Make Me your choice,”
    And I entered the Haven of Rest!

    • Refrain:
      I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest,
      I’ll sail the wide seas no more;
      The tempest may sweep over wild, stormy, deep,
      In Jesus I’m safe evermore.
  2. I yielded myself to His tender embrace,
    In faith taking hold of the Word,
    My fetters fell off, and I anchored my soul;
    The Haven of Rest is my Lord.
  3. The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole,
    Has been the old story so blest,
    Of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have
    A home in the Haven of Rest.
  4. How precious the thought that we all may recline,
    Like John, the beloved so blest,
    On Jesus’ strong arm, where no tempest can harm,
    Secure in the Haven of Rest.
  5. Oh, come to the Savior, He patiently waits
    To save by His power divine;
    Come, anchor your soul in the Haven of Rest,
    And say, “My Beloved is mine.”

    Jesus taught us in John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    (All photos taken during our cruise of the North Seas on the Koningsdam except for the three taken in South America and South Africa.)