Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

10.29.2010

It's Not What You Don't Know that Can Hurt You

It is better not to know, than to know and do nothing.

“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21)

The other day, I was talking to Melanie, and something she said burrowed deep into my mind and wouldn’t budge. It was something she had been learning in Physics, of all subjects, (she’s amazing!)—God holds us responsible for what we know.

God holds us responsible for what we know.

You know what this means, don’t you? And fair warning in a blinking, neon pop-up (or maybe a sentence will have to do): If you don’t want that responsibility of knowing, you can shrug your shoulders and exit now.
(But then you'd have to deal with the consequences of ignoring. :-)

So here it is: if God holds us responsible for what we know, then knowledge is as sensitive an operation as nitroglycerin. And just as dangerous.

Because knowing yet doing nothing is called looking the other way with a deaf eye, blind ear, and all of that. It’s different than willful ignorance—it’s more like willful ignoring. And it’s despised the most by the very ones who are the most guilty.

It’s knowing how to do [fill in the blank] in Physics, or English, or Math, but reading novels instead, and letting your grades suffer.
It’s seeing a man lying beaten by the side of the road and walking by on the other side, whistling the Doxology.
It’s knowing that over 4,000 babies will be aborted today in America and doing nothing to stop that.
It’s knowing that Christ could come back today, and not telling that person you meet at the store about Him and, for that matter, not living like a Christian either.  It's knowing that Christ is God, but that you have not received Him as such, and still not humbling yourself before Him and confessing that He is Lord. 

But knowledge isn’t the problem here. And there’s nothing wrong with the neuroconnectors from the brain to the arm, either. The problem is laziness and selfishness—pure and simple.

Do you have to go out there on a crusade to right every wrong, dry every tear, and heal every disease? No.

You just have to act on what you know—you are responsible for what you know, the opportunities you have been given, and the gifts you have cultivated. Not purging that sin that God revealed to you last night, not devoting one hundred percent to your school or mothering or whatever God has you doing, not stepping in to fill the need for a pianist at church—these are drastically wrong.

Throughout history there have been the ages of exploration, enlightenment, and reason. Now we live in the Age of Information where knowledge is pummeled at us like balls at a McDonald’s playland. All that knowledge is wearing and utterly exhausting, I know. With just a click of a button you can Google whatever it is you want to know, with no accountability for follow-up.

But then, every age had its pummeling:

“Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent….And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20, 23-24)

William Wilberforce once said, in regards to the apathy of his age regarding slavery: “Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way…but you can never say again that you did not know.”

So don’t be the one to have to tell your great-grandchildren what you did not do. 



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Picture Credit

10.26.2010

Romeo and Juliet

Once upon a time, there were two cunning little kittens with fluffy, frizzy fur—one silver and one gold. They were the best of friends from the moment they met, and they frolicked together every day. The one sore spot in their life was their family—a rambunctious tribe with not one, not two, but four girls! In addition to that, were two male children and the parents. The kitties feared that their beautiful coats would be petted bare from all the caresses, and they were still bitter about being taken from their mothers.

One day, one of the girl owners dressed Juliet for the day in a dear green toile bonnet. Now Juliet was a sweet kitten, but she had a stubborn streak as well, and she waited for the girl to turn around before she tore her hat off. The girl repeated her efforts, but Juliet proved her obstinacy by losing the cap altogether.

Micah and Romeo


To add insult to injury, the kits' owners led them to a reddish brown mound. The kittens promptly began to investigate, only to discover that their owners had led them straight to…A DOG! A dog who was grinning at them and nosing them affectionately and gently and asking to be friends, but a dog nonetheless. On principle, both cats began to hiss.

Juliet
Another of the many girl owners held Romeo and cooed about how much calmer he was than Peabody, their poor, dead, beloved cat. And when little-boy owner spun Juliet around and then buried his face in Romeo’s fur, the two kittens had had it. They talked it over together that night, and plotted their escape for the next afternoon. Neither knew where they would be going, or how they would get there, but surely, anything would be better than this!
















The next morning, the kittens woke up sour and ready to run away, only to find a bowl of warm milk beside their warm bed. Then little boy owner wooed Juliet to sleep by wrapping her in a thick, fuzzy blanket, and one of the girl owners let Romeo investigate every square inch of her bedroom. Then Mama owner stroked both of their coats until they shone, and bigger boy owner refilled their food dish every two hours!










Finally, when older girl owner cuddled them both in her arms and looked lovingly into their eyes, murmuring about how wonderful it was to have kitties again, Romeo turned to his friend and suggested they scrap the running away plan. Juliet agreed, and they’ve never thought of it since—not even when Juliet had to endure a pink ribbon around her neck, and Romeo was tricked into enjoying a piece of yarn for three whole hours.


Mikaela with Romeo and Juliet (in her lap)


Disclaimer: The kittens' desire to run away and/or their owner's innocent tormenting may have been exaggerated for literary effect. All parties in the relationship are enjoying their safe, loving, and nurturing environment.

10.22.2010

Jus Soli. Jus Sanguinis.

Years ago, my Grandma set out to become a citizen of the United States. Born in Poland, she had come over with my Bobcha when she was only 5 or 6. She had been legally living in the US since that day, but she was content with the status quo and simply never got around to getting her citizenship. One day, though, when her to-do list read “Become a citizen” she set out on her quest to become a citizen of this nation. She paid the large fee that was part of the process and took the paperwork that would set her citizenship in motion. When she returned with eagerness, paperwork in hand, she was greeted with the sort of bombshell that infuriates and distresses all at once, so you don’t know whether to scream or to cry: “That’s the wrong paperwork. You must pay the fee again and start all over.” No amount of reasoning would prevail against the unreasonable beauracracy, and Grandma left the place distraught and upset. And she never went back.
Until now.

This month she returned to that government office, the place of former defeat, and made it a place of victory, answering questions such as
“How many US Senators are there?”
“The House of Representatives has how many voting members?”
“Who is the chief justice of the United States?”
“When was the Constitution written?”

And now my Grandma is a citizen of the United States! I am immensely proud, if you can’t already tell, and this is a moment of great joy and celebration for us.
She had to endure beauracracy, paperwork, fees, and tests. All I had to do was be born.
She had to swear her allegiance, be fingerprinted, and appear before a judge. I just had to emerge, a screaming newborn, in the US.

I am a citizen merely because of jus soli—right of the land and jus sanguinis—right through blood. I didn’t have to take any tests, submit to being called an “alien” or prove that I can speak English. I merely had to be born.
For by birth I have become a citizen through the Constitution, and that not of myself; it is the gift of the United States.
Sound familiar?

Ephesians 2:8-9, 18-19 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast….For through [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

With Christ, you see, there is no citizenship test. No fingerprinting, no paperwork. Because any test there could be to guarantee we are good enough for citizenship in Heaven would be unattainably difficult. Any fee that we could pay to ensure citizenship in God’s eyes would be insurmountably high. We are traitors and enemies of God, and just as no one who has commited crimes against the United States would ever be allowed to take the citizenship test, there is just no way we can become citizens of God—our crimes are too heinous, for they put the King on the cross.

We are turned away at the citizenship desk, told that we have the wrong paperwork, and given a fee too high for us to pay.
But there is a way.

Jus soli. There is a way through new birth in Christ.
Jus sanguinis. There is a way through Christ’s blood.

“The commander answered, ‘With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.’ And Paul said, ‘But I was born a citizen.’”(Acts 22:28)
If you have been born a citizen of God’s kingdom, if you have been covered in the blood of Christ, then no one can take it away from you.

On the worst days, when Satan has you sobbing because you cannot shake sin’s hold in your life, remember that you are forever a citizen of Heaven, and with that citizenship comes forgiveness.

On the busiest days, when your Bible lies unopened on your nightstand, remember that you are a citizen of Heaven, and it is your right, your duty, and your highest privilege to read the words of your King.

On the darkest days, when death approaches, recall that you are a citizen of Heaven, about to be transferred to your native country.

And on the other days, the October 22nds and the slow Mondays of life, remember that this world is a foreign country, and you are an alien in it. For if you are a citizen through the blood of Christ, you hail from God’s country, speak God’s language, and will swear your allegiance to Christ to the death.
If you are Christ’s, then you are a citizen of the household of God.

“These [men and women] all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
                                                               -Hebrews 11:13-16

Picture Credit

10.19.2010

An Honest Heart


Boys and girls…men and women: somewhere along the way, these relationships go from simple, delightful friendships to complicated interactions with expectations (or a lack thereof) on both sides. As a child, I would muddle through the scenes in a Louisa May Alcott book where a character tries her hand at flirting, only to realize its power and devastation. However, I honestly could not grasp the meaning of flirting. It took a personal experience—life mirroring literature, I suppose—before I finally comprehended the dangers of flirting and understood its power.

As a young woman who wants to keep her heart whole and pure for one man (please read our series on courtship), I do not cross certain boundaries that God has set in my life. The virtues of single-minded devotion to God and the dangers of entanglements with foolish people are advised on repeatedly in Scripture, and especially Proverbs. Thus, these boundaries I follow have been influenced by wise counsel (both from my parents and other wise people), wise examples (both from Scripture and daily life), and wise principles of the Bible. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."

Men and Women Cannot Be “Just Friends”
What a great lie Hollywood and our modern, casual culture has sold to the general public. Trying to have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex is like trying to sleep with fire—it will almost always get out of hand. I cannot even understand treating a man as my “brother”—I have such a close relationship with my brothers that to treat another man as I treat my brothers would be highly inappropriate. Certainly, I know guys, and we talk occasionally. But any typical friend activity meant to develop a relationship (phone calls, emails, IMs, long conversations, repeated texts) is off limits because it knits us together in a way that is unprincipled unless we have defined a clear purpose for our relationship (courtship, engagement…marriage).

Men and Women Must Treat Each Other With Respect
Aah…where are the Pride and Prejudice days of old where everyone was “Miss” and “Mister”? This, of course, was just an outward sign of respect and distance between acquaintances. There was no “hon” and “sweety” and nicknames after one week of friendship. A life-changing moment for me occurred while sitting in a huge auditorium listening to a family answer questions on courtship. The wise mother gave some genius advice that I have never forgotten to this day: “Everyone says, guys treat the girls like sisters, and girls treat the guys like brothers. But this is not right! Such a relationship would be too close. I have come to encourage my children to treat every person of the opposite sex as if they were already married.” The majority of the population will be married, and God already knows each and every match—in His eyes, I may as well be married (if marriage is indeed His plan for me), because He is already preparing my future spouse and I for each other. How presumptuous and selfish and corrupt is it then, for a man to come and meddle with my heart, knowing that he has no intention of marrying me, and stealing affection that is not his? Or, how dishonest and despicable of me to do the same with a man! Thus, treating each other respectfully, as though the other person were already married, is a wonderful way to avoid most problems.

Men and Women Are Not Designed for Each Other’s Entertainment
Oh, how immensely diverting it is to talk with a young man and realize with excitement that he actually doesn’t seem to mind talking with you, that he occasionally even seeks you out, and that you might hold some sort of power over him! And the young man looks across the room at a girl and smiles, seeks out a place next to her during a church dinner, and compliments her on her looks. Just one of these instances is flirting—but flirting rarely stops with just one. It begins the progression of a friendship into something more, when one or both of the parties involved are merely enjoying themselves and the feelings of power and self-worth they experience. Meddling with another's heart and feelings with no commitment to him or her is the height of selfishness--don't do it!

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. I have been among forty or more Christian young people, living together, eating together, studying together. Together, we had mutual, serious goals—to know and glorify our God. Together, we encouraged each other to do this each and every day. No one was “scared” to converse with someone of the opposite sex, but everyone kept it in balance and kept each other accountable. Girls did not use the boys to make themselves feel prettier and more desirable, and boys did not use the girls to make themselves feel more powerful and desirable. There was no using, no flirting, no “innocent” friendships where neither person is innocent. Instead, there was Christian love, mutual respect, and whole, pure hearts. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8)." This, ladies and gentleman, is one of the best ways I know to shine with dazzling intensity in your own corner.



PS--For an excellent read on this topic and the dangers of emotional affairs, check out the book above!

Picture Credit

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

10.15.2010

A Bitter Breakfast


One beautiful morning on our trip we were savoring a leisurely breakfast in our Grand Canyon hotel. I was sitting at a table with Sandi and Ron, visiting with them, and the rest of the family was at the table only a little ways away. We were enjoying potatoes and eggs and sausages and cranberry juice—and, suddenly, yelling and screaming. I swung my head around, completely confused, to discover a British brother and sister, livid over an imagined insult, shrieking at my mother and father. In as calm of voices as could be mustered under the circumstances, Mama tried figure out what was going on and Papa jumped in to defend his wife when they continued to rant. Before you could even say “bizarre” the twosome were storming out of the breakfast room, leaving a horrible curse word to ring in our ears. Our breakfast cooled as we stared at each other, open-mouthed, and furtive glances were stolen by our fellow breakfasters at us as they wondered, eggs still mid-air on their forks, “What was that all about?”

We wished we knew. It was completely surreal—that a family you had vaguely noticed walking by your breakfast table would stamp by later to engage you in a public display of fury. We were flabbergasted, shocked, and saddened.

For the rest of the day Mama prayed, “God, if you want me to see them again so I can do something to make this right, please bring us across each other’s paths!” But God in His wisdom didn’t arrange such a meeting, and we never saw each other again.

I’ve been thinking about that situation a lot lately, especially in light of another similar situation I’ve been dealing with with a person who recently hung up the phone on me in anger, refusing to listen to what I had to say. Through my mind ran a refrain that many of you have doubtless played: “I didn’t do anything wrong, and here so-and-so is getting angry at me, and so-and-so raised his voice at me! and don’t you feel sorry for me? All right then--let's have a pity party to celebrate the wounded and deeply offended.”

After all, since duels aren’t an option anymore, what is there left to do besides have a pity party when someone hurts you horribly and undeservedly?

You could always become a living object lesson of Proverbs 18:19: “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.” You could tell the story to whomever you meet to garner sympathy, and then when it’s all worn out you could anticipate the next time you see your offender and nod and smile at them in righteous self-control, but still keep track in your head of exactly which offenses have yet to be taken care of. And then you could become a wizened 80 year old woman or man, still caught up in the bitterness of half a century earlier. Other 80 year olds have done as much, so why not you?

Or you could go at it a different way. You could examine yourself in honest humility, and take care of any fault on your side. And, should you discover no fault at all (other than looking at someone across a breakfast room), you can make that faultlessness excruciatingly clear, and then shove the whole matter aside and forget it. Or try to.

But is that enough? To take care of any wrongdoing on your part is the Biblical first step, but leaving it at that is like stopping one hundred yards short of the top of Mt. Everest.  I have been dealing with this very issue, hesitating at this very point, knowing that this is the moment in which Satan is rubbing his hands together in eagerness—poised to creep in with bitterness. The devil wants to create for himself a stronghold in my life on the property of “I didn’t do anything wrong and she hurt me!” I just have to open the door to him.

But Romans 12:19-21 offers the only gameplan worth adopting. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

When I was little, I used to twist even this verse, viewing coals of fire as another scheme for revenge. It was after all the best, most efficient way to get back at someone, and I could never get into trouble for drowning the sibling or friend with my syrupy kindness while they growled at me in exasperation to “quit acting weird.” It worked every time, but I didn't really grasp the heart of the concept. If I had looked up Colossians 3:13 I might have gained a better understanding by reading what it has to say: “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

And today, the Lord knew exactly what verse I needed to really and finally drive the heart of the matter home. I have been struggling over forgiving someone who treated me rudely, over leaving my offense with God and forgetting it. I have been struggling over loving the one who offended me. I have been repeatedly begging God, “Give me forgiveness for this person! Remove any bitterness from my heart!” while still holding on to the offense just as tightly. I have been doing all that over one small hurt, but Jesus looked down from that cross and saw not just the whole world but me, still in my sin which was causing Him so much pain, still rejecting Him and spitting on Him, and even still He said, “Father forgive her.”

Even as He was in the most excruciating pain imaginable, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ (Luke 23:34)”

I am humbled beyond words. “Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. (Ps. 119:161)”

And so, as a dear friend reminded me recently, I will pray for those who may have wronged me in small ways.
I will pray that they will be blessed richly by God.
I will pray that God will give me a love for them and a desire to see them successful.
I will pray that God will be with them through whatever situations they are going through that may have caused their reactions.

Life is too short to be offended and not forgive. Life is too short to offend and not make it right. Life is too short, but eighty years is too long to wait.

Picture Credit

10.12.2010

When Everybody Bows

By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none. –Charlie Chaplin

I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose.—Clarence Darrow

No Gods -- No Masters. –Margaret Sanger

“Thus the existence of one God is according to reason; the existence of more than one God, contrary to reason; the resurrection of the dead, above reason.” --John Lock

"A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol." — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Let us fight valiantly, for this is our last pain; hereafter we shall rejoice with God in endless joy." - Joris, Wouter, a Christian martyr, Grietgen and Naentgen, p. 503

There will come a moment when the men and women here quoted and many more will be together. When waves upon waves of bodies and humans, and spirits, and angels, and demons will stand in rapt attention. When the billions upon billions of souls who have walked the earth will be called up, and when I will stand in this never-ending sea of humanity, stretching as far as I can see. Yet, despite the uncountable, inconceivable number surrounding me, it will be silent. Eerily silent—for it cannot feel natural to have such an unnatural amount of bodies making not a sound.

And then, there will be a moment—a moment I cannot imagine! Oh, a moment, when the eyes of the masses behold Jesus Himself, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. When the hearts of the billions begin to palpitate erratically, and the limbs of everyone go numb. I will be standing there, and I will hear Jesus’ name uttered. I will know, without a doubt, that this is my Lord before me; this is my King, my God, my Judge—my only hope, and my great undoing. I will be terrified at the perfection before me, and I will have only one course of action before. I will fall to my knees in worship, and I will declare with my mouth: “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

And as I prostrate myself before God, I probably won’t even notice the great rustling that now invades the silence. I will not care very much that billions of beings are falling hard to their knees and uttering the very words I spoke with such personal conviction. Not one will be left standing. The absolute force of the name of Jesus will leave no doubts, no atheists, no arguments, no agnostics, no denials, no Muslims. Everyone will know, and everyone will bow. Richard Dawkins will confess that Jesus is Lord beside Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Margaret Sanger and John Lock will utter identical words of confession. Chaplin and Darrow and Darwin and Hitchens and the Devil himself will be compelled to admit that Jesus Christ is Lord. Sadly, it will be too late for these and many other souls. Yes, they will confess Jesus as Lord, but they will confess after having lived a life rejecting their God. They will at that moment realize that their proud refusal to accept Jesus on earth now condemns them to an unspeakable eternity.

God said to them as He once said to me, "...Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2b)." God mercifully provides opportunities on earth, but after that time passes, there are no more opportunities. Everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but not everyone will live with Him in eternity. Only those covered in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ will be allowed into heaven. I will be oblivious to all this, though, because I will be busily occupied. I will be worshipping my God, my Savior, and my Lord, to His glory, in an intensity I never experienced on earth.



 "Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

10.08.2010

Colorful California Capers

Sitting for eight blissful hours in the car was our reward for making it out of the Grand Canyon, and I don’t think there was one of us who didn’t relish that opportunity! Besides simply resting, a dear family gave us gifts to open every day on our vacation, so that was a daily highlight, and my seat partner Susanna and I discovered that long car rides are the perfect opportunity to trade back, feet, and hand massages. That’s what sisters are for, right?


In any case, we’re not the sort of people to drive eight hours nonstop without taking in a few sights—like Historic Route 66.
Jonah was excited to see the eccentric little town upon which the movie Cars is based. 

We decided that we had to stop and In-n-Out Burger, and I must say it was one of the best burger places I have ever eaten at!  The menu consisted of less than ten items, but everything was inexpensive and delicious.  And the best part?  If you look really hard, you can find Bible verses hidden on their paper products!  Isn't that fabulous?
That evening, we found ourselves braving the infamous LA traffic, and it was still infamous at 9 o’ clock at night!  We pointed eagerly at the beautiful palm trees lining the streets, lit up against the night sky.  We gaped like small-towners from Washington at the lavish skyscrapers and buildings.  And then we arrived at Disneyland. 


Papa had been there thirty years ago, and Sandi and Ron have been there several times, but it was a brand new experience for the rest of us.  To be honest, Disneyland has never been the Mecca of vacation spots for me, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I certainly never expected to walk into an adorably quaint little town filled with complete, wholehearted fun and musicians on every corner!


In one corner, horse-drawn carriages were trotting through the square; in another, a trolley was getting ready to pull away, and in yet another Mary Poppins and Bert were decked out in their horse-race attendance attire, smiling and greeting everyone. 

Sandi and Ron prepare to ride the much-loved Peter Pan ride!

We rode roller coasters of frightening proportions, braved the Hollywood Tower of Terror elevator drop, and screamed all the way down Splash Mountain!


 



After Disneyland, we were all eagerly looking forward to SeaWorld, which we had heard so many good things about.  The first to greet us was this flock of flamingoes meandering down the walkway! 

God must have wanted to make sure we weren’t feeling homesick, though, because we took in a show at SeaWorld we weren’t quite planning on seeing: a thunderstorm. It lasted the whole day.
And while we're on the subject, what do you think of our chic storm attire? 

But we aren’t fairweather Californians—we are hardened Washingtonians, and we shrugged our shoulders and stuck it out: After all, what’s a little rain when you're getting dowsed by Shamu the whale?  And why should SeaWorld cancel the dolphin show and rides? Who wouldn't want to fly on a trapeze or ride a roller coaster in a lightning storm! (-:  Apparently they didn't quite see it that way.

Du-dum.  Du-dum. "I want you for dinner, little girl!"


The whales were magnificent!


In the evening, a beautiful sunset at a beach near San Diego called our names!  Sadly, we discovered the California ocean water was nearly as cold as at home.


Our vacation was nearing its end as we pulled into San Francisco, where I instantly fell in love with the beautiful yet eccentric city on the bay.  We weren’t quite as entranced with the offensive signs and advertisements that surrounded us, so we kept our eyes on the scenery! 



that first evening, the scenery was breathtaking as we strolled across the Golden Gate bridge at sunset, the wind swirling and the air quite brisk.


Such a chilly evening definitely called for clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls!  And the next day, we had to return to the sourdough factory for more of that world famous, 150 year old starter and a tour of the factory! 



Nope.  We were not excited to be at Ghirardelli Square!


Sibling love at the pier!


On the way out of town, we of course had to drive Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world.  Can you imagine driving our twelve passenger van down that thing?  Our heroic dad did!


Our final stop of our vacation was the Jelly Belly factory where we were privileged to taste such flavors as may cause inadvertant expectoration of the bean: barf, pencil shavings, skunk, and the like.  Classy stuff.  But this picture of Ronald Reagan made entirely of jelly beans helped to make up for those unfortunate flavors!


Our vacation now drawing to a close, we spent our last evening on a picnic reminiscing about our favorite parts of the vacation.  I feel so blessed to have been able to see so much with my family and discover even more the beauty of God's creation!  So with 9 states, 15 days, and over 3,000 miles behind us, we turn our attention to the mountains of dirty laundry and uncountable memories. 




Note: Photos taken by our official head vacation photographer Mama and assistant photographer Mikaela. 

10.05.2010

The Grand Canyon!

Two and a half weeks ago—on Saturday, September 18th, to be exact—my family and two dear friends (adopted grandparents, as we say) embarked upon what promised to be a vacation for the ages. What transpired was very much what we anticipated, though the particulars differed from the plan, as they always do. Our grand tour of the western United States encompassed nine states—four of which I had never visited before. Nine western states are a challenge entirely unknown on the East Coast—I assure you!—and we drove over 50 hours altogether during this vacation.

Our travels took us through Idaho and down into Utah, where we had the pleasure of dipping our toes in the Great Salt Lake. It’s a grand thing to see, but also a peculiar site as well, where everything stinks of sulphur, and great gusts of wind blow hardened crystals of salt into your skin like so many miniature daggers. The water does not sting even the freshest wound, but the taste! Oh, the taste! Unbearably salty, is the Great Salt Lake!


Sandi and Ron, the friends who traveled with us.


We zipped along the Utah interstate well below the posted speed of 80 mph—yes, 80!—and spent the next two days visiting Zion and Bryce Canyons respectively. The only thing to sully these spots of paradise was the never-ending propaganda—whether we glanced at a sign, or sat in on a twenty minute documentary, or listened to a well-meaning ranger, or paid attention to the script of our bus driver, all had the same story to tell: “Millions of years ago, this canyon began with a tiny stream…” This, of course, is their way of saying, “I don’t wish to be accountable to a just God, so I’ve chosen to reject Him and His commandments, which forces me to also reject that He created me and the world, and that He destroyed the earth with a worldwide flood (which, by the way, would be the perfect explanation for the formation of this canyon, but never mind that). Thus, I have no other choice but to follow the invention of man along with thousands of others, and subscribe to the theory of evolution.”


Thankfully, we were blessed to have located, bought, and downloaded a series of audio tours from Answers in Genesis, and narrated by Dr. Snelling, who has a PhD in geology. These took us to each vista point and bus stop, but presented us with the Biblical perspective on the formation of the canyons. For example, do you see that arch, way up in the distance (in the photo above)? This is a rare and exceedingly delicate phenomenon, and one which the signs and rangers proudly direct tourists’ attention too. What they neglect to mention, however, is that this arch never could have survived millions of years of erosion and natural forces. Instead, a much more logical explanation would be that this arch is only a few thousand years old, formed along with the rest of Zion Canyon in the flood.


Beautiful Bryce Canyon!


The tree bark smelled like butterscotch--no kidding!





We did a day hike at both Zion and Bryce Canyons.










Monument Valley and Four Corners (the only place in the United States where four states meet at one point) are tucked in the remote, eastern corner of Utah, and we covered many hours of driving time getting there—but what fun it was to be in four places at once!

Finally, we reached the crux of our trip—the Grand Canyon. Driving through the south rim park at 11 PM was maddening as trees would suddenly disappear and this great, black expanse would open up before us. We could just make out the skeleton of the Canyon, but strain as we might, we couldn’t get a sense of its grandness just yet. The next morning, however, when our shuttle bus passed one of these clearings, tears sprang into my eyes at the awesomeness before me. Pictures felt like a hopeless, thankless task—how could we ever, ever, ever capture the incredible 180 degree view before us? As Mr. Ken Ham (president of Answers in Genesis) reminded us on our audio tour, the official story is that the canyon was created by a little water and a lot of time…but Christians believe it was a lot of water and a little time.


It was such a relief to see this plaque glorifying God with Psalms 68:4 amidst the dozens of signs extolling humanism!


Micah is attempting to point out the trail we plan to take!


We toured the Canyon all day, but that was nothing compared to the next day. Finally, after months of talking, planning, training, and assembling, we rose at 3:30 AM to make it to the Canyon by 5:45 AM to begin our descent at the cool, dark time of 6 AM. Yes, we hiked the Canyon. This hiking the Canyon is no small potatoes—it took us 12 hours down and 10 hours up, struggling over rock slides, and terrain so rough that we often relied upon little stacks of rock to point out the path. It took us on a path that dropped 5,000 feet in just 11 miles, and a path that got hotter and hotter near the bottom (100 degrees a the bottom, to be exact, when the rim was only mid-80s).

One of the many fossils we found!








With the glaring sun, the strenuous exertion, and the rationed water, it was one of the most difficult things I have ever attempted. Ron and I both suffered from heat exhaustion in the canyon, and I threw up twice that evening at the bottom of the Canyon. Papa also succumbed after we reached the top. Thankfully, however, we successfully made it out the next day, and we have no regrets that we did it. To see the glorious Canyon close up and personal was a privilege few experience.


No neon flashing lights on this path! Just good, old-fashioned, hard-to-find piles of stone to mark the path.





Now of course, there was the journey back home, which in itself took a week and was filled to the brim with exciting adventures. That story, however, will have to wait for Friday and for Lauren.




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