Happy Spring to you!! We celebrated spring and Cindi’s birthday yesterday, which was so much fun that I wanted to share right away in case any of you living in the GR area might be interested in going to the Sugarbush Festival at Blandford Nature Center tomorrow (March 24, 2018) where they’ll be making maple syrup, etc! Also, this coming week would be an ideal time to take your kids
to the Critter Barn in Zeeland, MI, during spring break because they have all sorts of babies being birthed, and if you show up at feeding time, they may even let you give the baby goats a bottle of warm milk! (This may depend on how many children come.) Of course, being our Birthday Club, we stopped at Sandy’s Donut House for some of their famous donuts, and we took a lunch break at El Aztecas Mexican Restaurant, where they spontaneously blessed us with some festive fried ice cream and sang “Happy Birthday” when they found out we were celebrating Cindi’s birthday. If you go to the Sugarbush Festival tomorrow, dress warmly, because it’s only supposed to be a high of 39°F, but there are lots of things to see outside and some lovely nature walks. Also, think about stopping at Sandy’s for a donut on your way, or maybe serving pancakes and syrup at home first, because there isn’t a pancake breakfast there. However, they did let us taste the syrup,
and you’ll be able to buy some yummy maple syrup cotton candy or other treats! If you decide to go the Critter House, I’d recommend going in the next few weeks while the mothers are birthing, and call ahead to see what time the next feeding will be. Be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little warm milk on,
because even kids will be kids…but it’s well worth the spilled milk! I’d never in all my years fed a baby goat before, and it was so much fun!One of the things I love best about our Birthday Club (and about life), is that we’re never too old to try new things, experience new joys and find new beauties. Are you trying new adventures? Keep exploring! The world is full of good things!
“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:5).
“He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3).
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Adventures, Aging and Retirement Issues, Birthday Club, Critters, Friendship, Grandchildren, Local News, Nature Studies, Parks, Seasonal Pictures
Tagged Baby kids getting fed from milk bottles, Critter Barn in Zeeland MI, El Aztecas Mexican Restaurant of Allendale MI, Great ideas for spring break in Grand Rapids MI, Our birthday club having fun, Psalm 33:5, Psalm 40:3, Sandy's Donut Shop in Grand Rapids MI, Sugarbush at Blandford Nature Center in Allendale MI, You're never too old to learn and have fun!
There are small two towns just off I-96 between our home and Chicago, and we’ve driven by the exit sign probably more than a hundred times over the past 25 years. One is St. Joseph, and the other is Benton Harbor. They are known as “The Twin Cities” and are only separated by the St. Joseph River, so in my mind, I always thought of them as basically the same town. In fact, because of their proximity, I confused their reputations. Sadly, Benton Harbor has the lowest per capita income of any town in the state, with over 40% of the population being below the poverty level. The town also has a reputation for being crime-ridden and a place to avoid…rather like the south side of Chicago: Don’t venture in unless you’re prepared for the possibility of being mugged or shot. However, not long ago, Joel showed us a photo of a beach in St. Joseph that looked so appealing Alan and I decided to do something we’ve never done before: We stopped by to check out St. Joseph on our way home from Warren Dunes.
We were amazed…and delighted! St. Joseph is a beautiful little resort town. Last Saturday, they were having an auto show with a parade of old cars. How fun! They also had a great farmers’ market loaded with everything that makes an open-air market mouth-watering and delicious. They have a downtown area lined with restaurants and shops as cute as that in Holland, Michigan. They have their own neighborhood of classic old homes that looks like Heritage Hill here in Grand Rapids. They have a free splash pad at their ” Whirlpool Centennial Park,” and a gorgeous waterfront at Silver Beach Park that rivals that of our all-time favorite getaway, Grand Haven. In fact, the parking lot at the beach was full, and we had to park some blocks away down a quiet side street. However, that worked out just fine, because it gave us a good chance to have our own walking tour of the downtown area and waterfront, and Alan’s nose tracked down a delightful roof-top cafe for some fresh perch fish’n’chips.
All told, we had an A+ experience and marveled that in all these years we’d totally overlooked this little gem of a beachfront resort because of their “twin” city’s reputation. Now the harder question is: Why is one city thriving while the other is failing?, and I don’t know the answer to that. They’re both too far from home for me to try to get involved in solving that problem. (And, we have plenty of poverty and crime right here in GR.) But, the easier question is this: What or who else am I avoiding because of an undeserved bad reputation? Am I missing out on getting to know someone just because they are related to someone with a bad reputation? May I (we) learn to be more discerning, evaluating each potential friend according to their own character, not the character of their “family.” The Bible sets the right example: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). “Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity” (Psalm 98:8-9).
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Meditations and reflections, Michigan Beauty and Fun, Parks, Relationships
Tagged Auto Show in August. St. Joseph's MI, Choosing friends according to character not reputation, Differences between St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Ezekiel 18:20, Psalm 98:8-9, Rye Belles: Great Place to Eat in St. Josephs' MI, Silver Beach County Park, The Johnson House in St. Joseph MI, What is St. Joseph MI like?, Whirlpool Centennial Park in St. Joseph MI
Warren Dunes State Park on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan is one of Michigan’s most popular, and the campground is routinely rated among the top five.
With nearly a million visitors every year, the campground is generally completely full in July and August (with many cars bearing Illinois plates…just 90 miles from Chicago), so if you enjoy camping, get your reservation in exactly six months to the day before you hope to arrive, or you may be out of luck! The beach is wonderful—a wide, sugar sand stretch just perfect for swimming, wind surfing, kiting, walking or sunbathing. There are clean bathhouses
and a couple of lunch spots for hot dogs and ice cream. When our kids were little, they used to love playing in the stream that runs out to the lake. Upstream about a mile you can find clay for face and body painting, but that’s being discouraged now due to health and environmental issues. Besides all this, there are six miles of hiking trails and several large dunes with names like Mt. Fuller, Pike’s Peak and Mt. Edwards.
(The dunes are becoming quite popular for sand boarding!)
However, if you remember that Michigan is pretty much a sandbar, you’ll understand that this is sort of a joke, because the highest and most prominent sand dune, Tower Hill, is only 240 feet above sea level. 🙂 We went last Friday night after Alan was done with work, so we arrived during the golden glow of evening. (Rabbit Trail: We were too tired to climb the dune and do any stargazing, but if you happen to go, it’s a wonderful place to see the stars, and right now [mid-August] there are an unusually high number of shooting stars. This is true worldwide as Earth passes through the debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The peak viewing was last weekend—after midnight and before sunrise—with multiple dozens of Perseid meteorite “fireballs,” but the show runs July 13-August 26, so if you get a chance, look up tonight! http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/perseid-meteor-shower-august-shooting-stars-skywatching-science/ )
Well, Saturday morning we decided to climb! When our kids were little, it didn’t seem very far or hard to climb to the top, but this time we took some breaks on our way up, and by the time we reached the top, I literally had to stop and catch my breath! (Alan waited patiently for me!)I was somewhat reassured to notice that climbing the hill was a bit of a challenge for most of the families. (Of course, they’d been sledding and might have gone up and down before!) We’re admonished not to make mountains out of mole hills, but sometimes even mole hills do seem a bit like mountains, particularly for the young and old! I hope we can all be sensitive to what seems like a mountain to those we love—whether or not it seems like “a big deal” to us personally. Life is better shared, but we can’t share unless we learn compassion and try to understand the mountains in one another’s lives. Let’s keep climbing together!
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:1-2, ESV; This is written as “We then that are strong” but I now find myself more often in the “failings of the weak” category!)
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Michigan Beauty and Fun, Parks
Tagged Comet Swift-Tuttle, Did you know we have a Pike's Peak in Michigan?, Favorite Lake Michigan Beaches, Learning compassion for what seems hard to someone else, Mole hills versus mountains, Perseid Meteorite Shower, Romans 15:1-2, Sledding down sand dunes in Michigan, Top State Parks in Michigan, Tower Hill, Warren Dunes State Park, When is the best time to view meteorites?, Where can you go sand boarding in Michigan?
Did you know that there are 129 lighthouses in Michigan? There are 42 on Lake Superior, 43 on Lake Huron, and 44 on Lake Michigan. We’ve seen dozens of them. (I would have said “most” until I realized just how many there really are). No two are alike; each is unique, and all of them are picturesque. Our local favorite is the Grand Haven Lighthouse, which is being totally refurbished and will include a museum when it’s completed. Did you know that the Big Bay Point Lighthouse on Lake Superior
just north of Marquette also runs a bed and breakfast?* Wouldn’t it be fun to stay at a lighthouse? Actually, quite a few of the lighthouses have conservancies to help care for them where you can volunteer for a two-week stint in the summer
serving as a host and giving tours. While we were at Ludington State Park recently, we visited the Big Sable Lighthouse. We climbed the stairs to the top for spectacular views of the Lake Michigan Coastline, visited their museum and gift shop, watched a video,
and heard tales about rescues and shipwrecks. Seeing a list of all the ships that have sunk in Lake Michigan
made me appreciate lighthouses even more! Thousands have shipwrecked and lost their lives because they had no light
to guide them safely through the storms. Spiritually, God calls us to be like lighthouses to draw others toward Him.
“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7). Are you walking in the light? Can others see the light of God’s presence in you?
“Rescue the Perishing”
Refrain: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.” (~from Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “Rescue the Perishing,” 1869…in the era when hundreds of lighthouses were being built!)
- Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
- Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.
- Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
- Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.
(* Photo of Big Bay Point Lighthouse from their website; I took the rest.)
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, History, Inspiration, Local News, Michigan Beauty and Fun, Michigan's Marvelous Upper Peninsula, Nature Studies, Parks, Salvation, Songs, Travels in America
Tagged 1 John 1:5-7, Big Bay Point Lighthouse MI, Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington MI, How many lighthouses are there in Michigan?, Lake Michigan Lighthouses, lyrics to Rescue the Perishing by Frances J. Crosby, Photo of a lighthouse in a rose, Photos of Lighthouses and Ludington State Park, Rescue the Perishing by Fanny Crosby
If you live in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and you’re looking for something really special to do on a weekend, consider visiting Ludington State Park. We went camping there last weekend, but frankly, if you want to camp at one of their 350+ sites (plus 10 more for backpackers), you need to get your reservations about 6 months in advance, because the campgrounds fill up soooo fast! Still, it’s a great place to visit, if only for the day. What makes it so special? Well, its beauty, its size, and its variety for starters. Ludington State Park encompasses 5,300 acres of forest, sand dunes, and water, including a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan’s pristine, sandy shoreline. There are over 21 miles of marked hiking trails (also cross-country skiing, canoeing, and bike trails, including some lovely paved pathways that are handicap accessible). In summer, Lake Michigan waves and fresh water make for refreshing swimming, and if it’s too bracing for your taste, Lake Hamlin is usually warmer and appeals to swimmers and boaters. (This photo was taken last summer.) Although it was too cold this past weekend, hot days are also perfect for tubing down the Big Sable River to Lake Michigan. There is always a lot of wildlife, including good fishing! We saw deer (can you see the doe peeking out?), wild turkeys, a big, fat racoon (who scared some neighboring campers), and many colorful birds. The campsites are heavy with the scent of pines and the comforting sounds of water and birds. When I closed my eyes, I had to think twice. Was this real, or was it just a new recording of music for relaxation? Thankfully, at Ludington State Park, the soothing sounds of nature are real! Do you have any recordings of music meant to help you relax? We do, and we love them! Distant thunder, dripping rain, waves lapping and rolling, the haunting melody of the evening thrush…spring peepers. Of everything that is music to my ears, I think the sound that lulls me to sleep most peacefully is that still, small voice within me—God’s Holy Spirit—singing to me I am loved by God. He loves you too! I hope you know that and find peace and rest in His love!
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Michigan Beauty and Fun, Parks
Tagged Amenities at Ludington State Park, Best state parks in Michigan, Big Sable Lighthouse photos, Great place to spend the day in Southwest Michigan, Hamlin Lake MI, Michigan's Ludington State Park, Soothing music for relaxing, Soothing sounds of nature, State park with handicap-accessible trails, Tubing on the Big Sable River, Wildlife at Ludington State Park MI, Zephaniah 3:17
Last weekend we went camping at Ludington State Park, and I found myself fascinated by watching the flames leaping in our fire pit. One moment, I could just imagine an angel praying (see the cross at the top?!), and at the next I could see a hungry lion rearing his head for a mighty roar! It reminded me the 1960s when I was in graduate school studying clinical psychology, training to give the Rorschach, which was the most widely used projective test at that time. Have you ever taken one? It was developed by a Swiss psychologist, Hermann Rorschach, and consisted of a series of black and white ink blots on cards which the client was supposed to interpret. What do you see here? I see a surprised dragon with fire coming out his nostrils. How about this one? To me, there’s a genie emerging from the flames. How about this one? On the far left, do you see a scary yellow and orange face with a triangular eye and oblong mouth, or do you notice more the white image in front of the face that looks like a horned women with her hands on her hips? Or …close to the right can you see a scowling lizard-like creature with a beaked nose, white-tipped horns and a long, white eye? There are so many ways of interpreting what we see, aren’t there? As we sat around the fire, we decided to share stories. I can see why “ghost” stories are popular with campers, because the flames leap and flicker, creating eerie shapes that more often than not do conjure up images of ghosts or goblins.However, we chose to share stories from our past, and it was really fun! Alan told about his Uncle Bud having an entire room full of tennis shoes folks could borrow so they wouldn’t hurt their feet on the pebbly lake bottom when they went swimming. Joel shared the glorious sights and sounds he remembered from hiking the White Mountains with his housemates when he lived in Boston. I reminisced about spending the night with my childhood best friend, Brenda, and her grandparents, “Ma and Pa,” at their cottage on the St. Mary’s River. I loved waking up in the morning with the smell of Ma cooking breakfast and Pa sitting at the kitchen table, reading his Bible and praying. Brenda whispered to me that when Pa was young, he’d been involved with Al Capone, but by the time I knew him, he had become a Christian and was the picture of everything I’d always wished for in a grandpa! (Both my grandfathers died before I was born.) Of course, after the fire has burned down to glowing embers, there’s nothing so fun as roasting hot dogs…unless it’s toasting marshmallows! Just like leaping flames or ink blot images, we each take what we see and try to make sense of it, don’t we? I think the same goes for stories. Some stories are written with the morals obvious, like Aesop’s fables, but most of the time, we take in the stories and then try to figure out what they mean to us.Do you have a favorite story? My very favorite “story” (if you will, although it’s a true story) comes from the Bible. It tells about Jesus and how he came to rescue us from our sins. Have you heard that story? Have you figured out what it means to you? “Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause” (Job 5:6-8).
“Tell Me the Story of Jesus” (~Fanny Crosby, 1880)
- Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”
- Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.
- Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”
- Tell how He’s gone back to heaven,
Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding
While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit
He has poured out from above;
Tell how He’s coming in glory
For all the saints of His love.
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
(1 Timothy 2:5-6)
Posted in Meditations and reflections, Memories, Nature Studies, Parks, Salvation
Tagged 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Al Capone, Finding shapes in fires, Images of Fires leaping and dancing, Job 5: 6-8, Ludington State Park, Rorschach Inkblot Test, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, Tell me the Story of Jesus by Fanny Crosby, Telling stories around a campfire