This year, something unique happened for my birthday! My two older brothers came from California and New York City to help me celebrate. We had SO MUCH FUN! Included were a host of special opportunities, and right at the top was a mini-reunion with our sister over in the east side of the state!
Other highlights included a “day at the farm” with our niece’s family,
and a day with my daughter and her family, including a tour of my son-in-law’s studio,
where he heads up the videography department at their church.
Back in GR, we took a trip to Meijer Garden— always captivating!
We visited Alan’s office and toured the campus of Pine Rest Christian Hospital, where Alan works.
We took a trip to Robinettes for cider and donuts! (What would fall in Michigan be without a cider mill and donuts?). We also took a mini tour of the publishing house where our youngest son works as an editor.
One night, we went to Grand Haven for dinner and a walk along the pier at sunset.
However, we didn’t know that evening was the night of the lighting ceremony for the new catwalk (after four years of construction). The place was jammed with well wishers. We enjoyed marching band music, a flyover, and fireworks,
but the end of the pier was blocked off, so we didn’t get in our quiet stroll.
Nevertheless, it was a very memorable evening on an amazingly balmy night for autumn!
We toured Exalta, where my son Daniel is the dental director.
We also saw Daniel and Brianna’s new home, with its wonderful backyard where the children can play!
The grand finale was my birthday party, complete with great big balloons
and a nerf gun war (sponsored by four-year-old grandson, Sammy).
Needless to say, it was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday! I’m just a little groggy and tired this week, but I wouldn’t have traded it for a trip to some exotic island! Thank you, Lord, for the great privilege and joy of family!!
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21).
Have you ever noticed there is more to do in life than will ever be done? No amount of prayerful planning and meticulous organization can align all the opportunities in such a way that we can be hither and yon at the proper moment to squeeze every last drop out of our lives’ orangey goodness!
I cannot watch over my grandson’s surgery across the state and still provide for my grand children here in GR while my daughter-in-law cares for her father’s medical needs.
I couldn’t host my son’s family, coming home from Belgium to America, and still fly to Scotland to attend the 500th reunion of the Armstrong Clan, now, could I?
Indeed, I could not. However, we had a splendid reunion of our “Armstrong Clan” right here in GR while the world-wide Armstrong Clan’s 500th Celebration was occurring!
And, although Alan and I had to miss it, Alan’s brother and his wife were able to attend. So—I wanted to share just a little bit about the event.
Perhaps the world’s most famous Armstrong is Neil, First Man on the moon, so the events of the clan centered around the Armstrongs’ 500th anniversary generally, but also the 50th anniversary of the lunar takeoff, which was July 16, 2019.
For over 900 years, there has been a tradition of “common riding” (groups of riders [raiders, really]) on horses riding along the border between Scotland and England during the summer months. Happily, this has turned into a non-raiding riding event for fun and has become one of Europe’s biggest equestrian spectacles!
What I didn’t really understand when I married Alan was that I’d married into a wild band of “reivers” (“from the old Scottish word “to steal”)! Back in their hay day, it was said that to survive to thirty was an accomplishment and that no one walked along the border . . . they ran for their lives!
(However, lest I think poorly of our esteemed Armstrong heritage, my grandmother was a Kerr, who is also on the list of wild border clans, along with Nixon, Elliot, Scott, and a host of others!)
Terry and Eileen explored the area and shared much of what they learned with us. The last famous reiver of the Armstrong Clan was John Armstrong, who owned Gilnockie Tower and was a fearsome raider, although in July of 1530 he was executed by the forces of King James V in an attempt to bring peace to the borderlands between Scotland and England.
Fifty years ago, Ted and Judy Armstrong revived the Armstrong Clan Association, and since that time, Gilnockie Tower has been restored and become the focal point for Armstrongs from around the world who are interested in DNA and genealogical research into their past.
I don’t know if you’re an Armstrong or have any Armstrong blood, but it has been fascinating and fun to learn a little bit more about our family heritage, and I’m guessing you might enjoy exploring yours too, if you ever get any spare time!
Terry and Eileen (and their faithful dog, Maggie) are retired and are able to enjoy some leisure time traveling through Europe and exploring their history. Talk about keeping fit and being a lifelong learner!
They’ve spent several years adventuring, and I have to say, I lick my chops when I read of their travels and see the gorgeous places they’ve visited!
Still, I am content, even if we didn’t make it to the moon and back for tea in July! God is good. Life is good. As my father used to say (quoting Aldous Huxley from Brave New World): “You pays your money and you takes your choice.” Are you happy with the choices you’re making? I hope so! If not, you are the only one who can change your choices!!
Only One Life (—Avis B. Christiansen and Merrill Dunlop)
“Only one life to offer Jesus my Lord and King. Only one tongue to praise Thee And of Thy mercy sing (forever). Only one heart’s devotion Savior, O may it be consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory, Yielded fully to Thee.
“Only one life to offer Take it dear Lord I pray. Nothing from Thee withholding Thy will I now obey. Thou who hast freely given Thine all in all for me Claim this life for Thine own to be used My Savior Ev’ry moment for Thee.”
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
I’m wondering if our grandson Samuel is a bit of a budding prophet . . . maybe a little like his namesake from the Bible!
Last year, before his mother was pregnant, he asked her if she had a baby boy in her tummy named Alex (with whom Samuel planned to shoot hoops).
Brianna thought Sammy’s question was cute, but she did take note, and when she became pregnant soon afterward, it made us all wonder if the baby was going to be a boy . . . especially since Sammy had informed us all the his first younger sibling was going to be a girl . . . and she was!
Brianna and Daniel like to be surprised so don’t test for gender but rather wait until delivery to learn the good news!
Can you guess?
Samuel was right!
We are now celebrating the birth of our 18th grand child, a beautiful baby boy.
Dan and Brianna have named him Cornelius both to honor Brianna’s grandfather and because the Cornelius in the Bible was a very honorable person who sought out God and opened the door to the gospel in Caesarea, where he became the first gentile convert to Christ.
However, Cornelius is going to go by the nickname “Neil” (rather than “Cory” or whatever).
We are all overjoyed with Baby Neil Armstrong and hope he lives up to the virtuous examples of those brave and godly men who’ve come before him.
Oh, and for the record, his mom and daddy blessed him with the middle name of “Alexander,” which means “Defender of the People,” so Sammy can call him “Alex” any time he wants!
We are all in love with our new grand child/son/nephew/cousin/little person!
May he grow up to be a man of great faith and courage, one who is full of good works and prayers and loves God and man.
May he walk in the Truth, defend the just, and live a long, fruitful life!
“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway . . . Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee . . .
34 “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (The entire story can be found in Acts 10.)
Have you ever thought about the fact that some time may be your last time? When our children were little, we lived in a beautiful home on 50 acres of pristine woods that abutted the Dead River Falls in Marquette, Michigan.
Our six sons and little girl spent endless hours playing among the ferns and foliage in that somewhat paradisal setting, and so when we took our two oldest and their children on a Roots Tour of the Upper Peninsula last month, it was important to us (and them!) to hike their beloved Dead River Falls with their kids.
I had contracted a miserable cold and felt feverish that morning, so I slept until after noon while the kids took their hike, which broke my heart in a way, but I was too sick to participate. So . . . what are you going to do??
They didn’t want to disturb the present owners of our old home (with nine rambunctious children), so they parked along the power line (on property which had been taken away from us by “right of public domain” . . . so we felt justified in still using it) and retraced what had been a very common and extremely pleasurable hike.
In the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan), it is so cold and the growing season so short that all the flowers and fruits that are going to grow have to grow quickly, and you can often find more than one crop of wild berries ripening at the same time!
If you’re ever in the Marquette area, a half day adventure climbing the Dead River Falls is well worth the effort! According to “Great Lakes Waterfalls and Beyond,” this is “one of the best waterfall adventures in Michigan,” and I totally agree!
In a 0.7-mile stretch, the Dead River drops 90 feet on its way to Lake Superior, tumbling over a wonderful series of waterfalls.
Three of the waterfalls drop over 15 feet, but there are dozens of merry falls cascading down the rocky river bed.
Shortly after we moved to Marquette, Alan and I took a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands, and we felt like Maui’s “Seven Sacred Pools” were no more beautiful (albeit a great deal more well known)!
(In truth, it was very dry when we visited Maui, and just googling for images of the Seven Sacred Pools now, I see that when they are full they are bigger and more spectacular. Still, there aren’t as many waterfalls, and they are less cloistered, so I think thirty years later I still prefer the Dead River Falls!)
Besides, there are no snakes in Hawaii, and what would a nature hike be without snakes?
(What, you say you’d like that??!?) 🙂
If you’d like to use your GPS to find the lower trailhead, it’s located at: 46.56841N 87.47839W
Before making the somewhat arduous trek back to the top of the falls, they stopped for a picnic lunch. Major Armstrong’s army skills and strength came in handy, as he packed and carried ALL the supplies for a scrumptious lunch (along with his youngest son in a front pack).
The Dead River Falls were such a magical part of the kids’ growing up years that I wrote a mystery story for them called The Dead River Diamonds. A GR publishing house expressed interest in it, although they wanted me to cut down the number of children from seven to four, which I couldn’t imagine doing! How could I ever “cut out” any of my kids? Maybe someday I will improve it and find a publishing house who will consider a mystery series based on a such an unfashionably large family. 🙂
I have every hope of returning to the Dead River Falls again some day, but as I write, I’m grieving with a young friend who just lost her precious husband, who is the age of my sons.
One of my sons dated her older sister when they were teens. It occurred to me that I may never live to hike the Dead River Falls again. In fact, my sons and even my grand sons may not live to hike the falls again—what a horrible thought!
Looking back, even long lives seem short; how much shorter those that end before their youthful beauty fades? “The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth” (Isaiah 40:6-7).
It is my earnest hope and prayer that my family—and everyone who reads this—will enjoy a long, healthy, active life. But, I have to ask: Are you as prepared to die as you are to live? “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:13-14). “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). Are you saved? If you’re not sure, all you have to do is ask Christ to save you: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:9-11).
Although Crêpes Suzette were popular in France over 100 years ago (and even 60 years ago when I was a budding wanna be cheffette),
I think in the past 10-15 years crêpes have crept from the Continent (of Europe)—likely aboard luxury cruise liners—across the Atlantic
and are now on trend in American menus!
In France four years ago, we were delighted to find little storefront crêperies everywhere vending both savory and sweet crêpes as fast food options—both as meals or for snacks.
It was with great relish that our team stopped to test both types, carrying them off to a local park to savor for our picnic lunch.
However, I was more than impressed to see that there are now crêperies springing up in Michigan, not only in Lansing (our capital), but even in our tiny little hometown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, right across from the Soo Locks!
How fun is that? Of course, we had to stop in for breakfast the next morning after we visited the Soo Locks!
We sampled everything from their “Farmer” (stuffed with egg, bacon, spinach, tomato, cheddar, and hash browns) to a traditional Nutella and strawberry crêpe . . .
and even their “Birthday Cake” which included cream cheese frosting, waffle bits, and sprinkles.
Now, just for the record, I’ve been making crêpes for years, and they’re not really very hard to make, so I think it’s time to share what I’ve learned over the years!
The hardest part is to make the batter light enough. I’ll give you two recipes. The first is the “legit” way to make them, but I’m usually running behind so usually “cheat” by using pancake mix, which seems to taste and crisp just as well. The traditional method also includes letting the batter rest for a half an hour (or two . . . or even overnight, if you’re really organized and able to run ahead of schedule). If you have time, great! If you don’t have time to let it rest (and how many of us have time even to rest ourselves at such times as we’re likely to go to the fuss of making crêpes?), then you can do what I do and just whip up the batter and spread in on your hot, well buttered pan.
Option One (Traditional)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together: 1 cup flour 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 1 cup milk 1/3 cup water 3 tablespoons melted butter
Non-Traditional (but quick and easy) Crêpe Batter
In a mixing bowl, whisk together: 1 cup pancake mix 1.5 cups milk 2 eggs 3 tablespoons melted butter (When I make batter for savory crêpes, which is what I posted above, I often substitute 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings for the melted butter and sometimes add bacon bits)
The second hardest part is learning how to spread the batter thin enough and cook them fast enough and hot enough to make them very light and crispy without burning them. Professionals have large, smooth cooking surfaces with no edges, but most of us mortals can’t afford such a luxury. However, having a batter spreader is very crucial to success and a luxury almost any of us can afford.
“Fearless Leader” (as I affectionately dubbed our church team leader during our trip to France) went to great pains to help me find this simple tool, which was not (at least four years ago) sold commonly in kitchen stores in America but goes for 1E everywhere in France and can be bought very inexpensively from Amazon now as long as you know what search for: “crêpe batter spreader.”
If you have a flat, 9″ cast-iron skillet, that’s ideal, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Start by making sure the entire surface area of the skillet is lavished with butter (that has melted). Over medium heat, pour about 1/4 cup of mix onto the steamy surface, smoothing the batter out as much as possible, and fry the crêpe until it bubbles, which should only take about a minute. If you want your batter a bit thinner (and this one above is pushing the edge of too thick), you can add just a touch of water as needed.
Once the batter bubbles, loosen the edges with a spatula and flip the crêpe over. As you can see, I didn’t do a very professional job of flipping mine, and it didn’t end up centered properly, but in a few seconds you can usually coax it back into a more centered position. Also, make sure your pan is squarely over the heat. The far edge of this one was not equally close to the center of the fire so was underdone.
Making crêpes “hot and now” is really a full-time job, so it’s great if you can pursuade someone into being your sous chef. Thankfully, my son is an excellent cook in his own right and always willing to help, so while I pump out the crêpes, he fills and serves them. If you have to work alone, you can stack them with parchment paper in between and keep them in a warm oven, but I can’t make oodles of these fast enough for a sit-down breakfast so prefer serving them one kid/adult at a time, as they emerge from their sleepy beds. (If it’s just Alan, Joel, and I, we can make enough quickly to sit and eat together.)
Although you need to prepare your fillings first so that all the meats and veggies are fully cooked (just keep the pan covered and warm while you make your crêpes), I’m going to discuss the fillings last, because you fill the crêpe hot off the press if possible. This one has sausage, cheese, red peppers, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes, but the options are legion and depend totally on your taste and what you have on hand.
Just think ahead about what you want to use so that it’s fully cooked or else ready to be added. Any meat, veg, or cheese that you enjoy in an omelet will taste great served in a savory crêpe!
The other super popular types of crêpe are the sweet ones. On cruise ships, you can usually pick your own toppings. The morning I took this photo, I added Nutella (almost a staple in Western Europe), cherries, blueberries, and whipping cream.
I’m a huge van of all things sweet, but if you think you should have some protein, you can always add it as a side (or an under!). 🙂
Or, you can make crêpes as a “part” of a balanced breakfast, along with eggs and bacon (or whatever).
For sweet crêpes, my grandchildren’s favorite is the one above, but whatever you like on toast can work: not only Nutella but peanut butter and all sorts of jams (or fresh fruit, which will stick nicely in the Nutella or peanut butter).
If you haven’t tried making crêpes yet, I hope this inspires you to try . . .
or at least to look around for a local crêpe shop where you can stop by for a bite!
If this is new to you, start easy, but have lots of fun!
The Doxology (Written by Thomas Ken in 1674)
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”
If you ever go to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, be sure to take time to visit the Soo Locks, which is the single most significant cultural contribution the Yoopers (“folks from Michigan’s upper peninsula”) make to American heritage.
Alan and I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, so we sort of took the Soo Locks for granted, although we loved sitting together by their lovely fountain even 50 years ago!
However, since traversing the Panama Canal a couple of years ago, we now have a new appreciation for the importance of the Soo Locks, so on our recent “Roots” tour, it meant a lot of us to be able to take some of our kids and grand children there and tell them “all about it!”
Begun back in the early 1800’s and opened in 1855, the Soo Locks was one of America’s great infrastructure engineering feats, making it possible to ship the resources from the Lake Superior region to the rest of America’s Great Lakes (and beyond).
The project was heroic, as it meant forming a lock to accommodate the 21-foot drop in water level from Lake Superior to Lake Huron via the existing rapids along a 1000-foot-thick sandstone river bed on the St. Mary’s River.
Although the Soo Locks are one of America’s National Historic Landmarks, they continue to be a vital part of the modern shipping trade, receiving ships from around the world, and by cargo tonnage they are the busiest locks in the world!
They consist of four individual locks that allow between 7,000-10,000 ships carrying more than 80 million tons of cargo (including over $500 billion’s worth of iron ore) per year to pass free of charge through their gates.
The locks are powered entirely by gravity, and each traverse requires 22 million gallons of water to fill the lock.
A complete transit takes about 9 hours through the St. Mary’s River system.
Because they are part of the transportation system from Duluth, Minnesota all the way to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway, cargo ships may be on a 2,342- mile trip when they traverse the Soo Locks, although ships from around the world have passed through this port.
The biggest freighters that come through the locks are up to 1,013 feet long (which is more than three football fields!), but the morning we visited, we got to see the Joseph H. Thompson pass through.
Although the Thompson is only 706 feet long, it is one of the Great Lakes’ most historic vessels.
It was originally built in 1944 and has served both on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic, during wartime and peacetime!
Although impressive to watch, even for youngsters, it’s really helpful to go to the Visitor Center, where there are excellent explanations on the history and technical aspects of how the locks work.
The most fun (and educational) exhibit for kids is a hands-on display where you can “open” and “close” the locks and let the ships go through.
Obviously, you want to be out (or better yet, up on the Observation Deck) when a ship is passing through the locks, but if you have time beforehand, I almost think it’s better for people with young children to see the Visitor Center first so they have a better understanding of what it is they’re seeing.
Reflecting on our trip, I couldn’t help but think about how much we humans take for granted. Alan and I—as young kids fifty years ago—enjoyed the ambience and lovely gardens around the locks as just “the garden in our backyard” without any deep appreciation for the significance of the locks. Our grandchildren had a similar response. They had fun running around watching the big freighter come in and exploring the park, but they reacted with a simple acceptance of what “is” without any apparent wonder over the locks’ complexity or significance.
My grandchildren remind me of myself! In so many ways, I am completely oblivious to the vast complexities of both God’s creation and the world’s civilizations. I find myself taxed trying to figure out how to use and care for the material blessings in my life—everything from turning on our video system to caring for the flowers in our garden—but I couldn’t begin to make a video system or create a flower! Could you?
However, like a child, I want to learn, and experiment, and grow in my understanding of what’s around me, and I am thankful for the wondrous world God has made! I’ll never learn everything, but I want to understand the most important things about life, and for that, I turn every day to the God’s Word! 🙂
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
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,
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!
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).