Vermont Vacation

Stephen and I got home yesterday from a glorious, restful week away in Vermont. We stayed in a charming one-room cabin with our three dogs, enjoying fresh air, gorgeous mountain views, and no schedule. The cabin and its deck overlooked beautiful pastures, a valley with a lake, and a backdrop of mountains. We watched the sunset nearly every evening, and most evenings we sat on the deck watching the stars slowly appear, with shooting stars flying across the sky several nights. The Milky Way was clearly visible, as were stars without number, because there were no houses lighting up the night around us.

This was one of the few times Stephen and I have gone on a vacation just for the two of us, and the first time we’ve taken the dogs on a vacation without lots of extended family, so we really enjoyed time together with each other and with our wonderful dogs. We intentionally didn’t plan much, and although we ended up doing a fair amount of hiking, we had slow, low-key mornings every day and plenty of time to sit on the deck enjoying the view and each other’s company. We were each reading good books and I was sketching a lot, so we had lots of quiet time and then good discussion about what we had been reading. So refreshing and a wonderful reminder of how well-suited we are for each other.

Sunset from the cabin deck
Belmont, VT sunset sketch

We hiked most days, some easy hikes that even Rowan could manage, one that Petra and Milo went on, one that only Petra joined us for, and one that we didn’t think would be good for any of the dogs (turned out it would have been fine for Petra). It was great having the dogs along, and I am so happy and thankful that Rowan is doing so well on prednisone that he was able to really enjoy our vacation.

Petra discussing the hike with Stephen (actually asking why in the world we’re sitting still and not hiking at this moment)
Hanging out while I sketch
Milo- looking good for twelve and a half years old!
Rowan enjoying water, as always
All my furry guys around me while I sketch a waterfall
Hiking on a deserted forest road
White Rocks Cliff Overlook
Rowan making his funny puffed lips face — always makes me smile :)

One day it was so foggy we couldn’t see more than a short distance from the deck. We could hear the occasional car on the nearby road but see nothing, so we stayed inside most of the day, the cabin cozy with the stove running (a gas stove that looks like a wood stove), and read almost all day long. I always love having one cozy, quiet day like that on a vacation.

Foggy day in Belmont, VT sketches
Fog in Belmont, VT sketches

DSCN6532

Milo in his favorite place by the stove

One day I laid a track through several fabulous pastures and then tracked it with Milo, which is always so much fun for both him and me. He did wonderfully, as usual, and I loved the connection with my amazing Beagle. I made a map of our track in my sketchbook, since I didn’t have Milo’s Tracking Log with me and then watercolored over it.

Milo tracking
Milo’s tracking map

This week reminded me of one of the times Jesus led his disciples away to get some rest:
Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Mark 6:31-32 The Message

Rest for your Soul

Sometimes life feels overwhelming and exhausting, and the last thing we want is another obligation, yet it seems like there’s always more that needs to be done. In our Sunday morning discussion of Sabbath rest yesterday, we spent most of the hour delving into Jesus’ invitation to come to him, rest, and learn from him. Jesus invites those who are weary and burdened; let’s come to him this week and receive his refreshing peace.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Monday: Do you tend to view with spending time with God as a duty or a privilege? Meditate on Jesus’ words in this passage and ponder what they say about time with him.

Tuesday: Jesus invites us into his presence. We don’t need to make an appointment or be in church or make ourselves worthy- he invites each of us now, wherever we are. Spend some time with him today and thank him for welcoming you.

Wednesday: We don’t have to come to Jesus all upbeat and happy. He invites us to bring our burdens to him and to come when we’re weary and in need. Bring your troubles to Jesus, and rest. Just rest.

Thursday: Jesus tells us to take his yoke upon us, to walk in step with him, and that we’ll find his yoke easy and light. Walk in his ways him and talk with him throughout the day today.

Friday: Jesus is gentle and humble. Think about what grace this is for us, when he is also Lord of all. Pray for the ability to likewise be gentle and humble with those over whom you have power or influence.

Saturday: It is only in Jesus that we can find true rest for our souls. Come to him, learn from him, and receive the peaceful rest he gives.

Close of Day

All are welcome to join us for our discussions about rest and Sabbath on Sunday mornings from 9-10. More information below…

Come join us!

Perspective in the midst of Injustice- Musings and Prayers

There is more than enough injustice in the world, and sometimes we can get very stuck when confronted with it, whether in the public arena or in our personal lives. How can we deal with injustice without getting tied up in knots or overwhelmed by it, without giving in to discouragement or exploding in unproductive anger? This week let’s see what Psalm 37 tells us about moving from agitation to peaceful trust.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
 for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him…
Psalm 37:1-2, 5-7

Monday: What is your natural response to injustice and evil? Anxiety? Anger? Agitation? Discuss the situation and your feelings with God and listen for his response.

Tuesday: It’s easy to slip into being resentful or envying others and their achievements. Let’s examine our attitudes today to see if we’re motivated by envy in any way.

Wednesday: God assures us that those who do evil will not last forever. Pray for faith to have this perspective and to be able to trust God in the meantime, even when it seems that evil has the day.

Thursday: Instead of fretting, we can commit our way to God and trust in him. This isn’t always easy, but let’s ponder how powerful and trustworthy he is and commit ourselves to following him.

Friday: If we commit our way to God and trust in him, we can count on him to make the justice of our cause clear before others. Let’s ask him to help us continue to trust and live in a way that honors him.

Saturday: Let’s take time today to be still before God, quieting our whirling minds and churning thoughts, and waiting patiently for him to act in his time.

Salt marsh watercolor

American Robin Fall Flocks

This morning I looked out the window and saw a multitude of mature male and juvenile Robins scattered over the yard and in the shrubs. There may have been some females mixed in, but they were all moving and flying from one low shrub to another, and I only got good looks at the dark-headed mature males and the spotty-breasted juveniles that stood out. Flocking provides some level of safety, since there are more eyes and ears alert for potential danger, as I witnessed this morning. One bird saw me while I was in the kitchen, and he took off, immediately causing all the others to move across the yard. The females may still be raising their last brood of the summer, and when those young fledge, they and the females will be joining these flocks, too.

American Robin sketches

These birds are most likely ones that nested in our yard or neighboring yards and woods this year and last year or were just hatched this summer, as Robins typically return to the same nesting area year after year. They’re preparing for winter and for their fall migration now, eating worms as they can find them (somewhat scarce due to the dry conditions right now), insects, and berries. We have some magnificent pokeweed plants that are the size of shrubs, and the berries are just now ripening– a bountiful feast for birds.

When food supplies diminish in the fall, most of these birds will be flying to points south, not necessarily the same places as they’ve gone before. Some stay in the north, so though we often look upon our first Robin sighting as a harbinger of spring, we may just be seeing an overwintering bird. Birds that stay north will mostly eat fruit (berries and other fruits they can find), but there isn’t enough for the whole population, so many fly south where food will be more readily available.

Very good and very loved– Musings and Prayers

I’ve been reading on Sabbath rest as I prepare to teach a Sunday school class on it, and several authors point out that often our extreme busyness is due to our efforts to justify ourselves; to prove to ourselves or others that we are valuable. To combat that I find it helpful to meditate on Scripture verses that speak of my inherent worth as someone created by God and loved just for who I am. Over time, this message is sinking in deeper into my sense of who I am, but it’s always good to review, so this week, that’s what I’m going to focus on here.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:27, 31

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

God created mankind in his image and said that we were very good, and he now delights in us. This week let’s allow that to sink in and affect how we view both ourselves and others.

Monday: Think about the marvelous truth that you are created in God’s image. What does that say about your value? Do you treat yourself as one bearing the image of God?

Tuesday: Ask God to open your eyes to the beauty of his image in everyone you encounter today. Look for opportunities to affirm them as image-bearers of God.

Wednesday: God said the people he made were very good. Look with admiration at the work he has done in how he’s made you and others. Praise him for his craftsmanship!

Thursday: God rejoices over us. Isn’t that amazing?!! Quiet yourself in his presence today, meditate on the words of this verse, and bask in the wonder of God’s love.

Friday: When you speak with anyone today, try to think of them as someone over whom God is rejoicing with gladness. Pray for the ability to be able to join with God in rejoicing over who he has made them to be.

Saturday: Meditate on these and other verses and let God’s word transform your opinion of yourself and others. Allow yourself to be filled with awe and joy as you see God’s handiwork in and love for people of all sorts.

Baby Paul
Tanzanian Safari Guide