Rest, Relaxation and Renewal

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in the States for almost two months.  I find I am still catching up on my rest.  I must say I don’t think I’ve slept this much in my entire life!  Since being back in the states I’ve mainly been enjoying time with family and friends and catching up on their lives over the last 4 years.   The first two weeks I was in the States I spent at home in Round Rock, Texas.  While it was  good to be home, the drought has been so bad that all of the grass and bushes and even some of the trees are dead.  The temperatures were in the 100’s so going outside wasn’t real inviting.  Then I went to the Seattle area in Washington to spend time with my oldest son, Christopher and his wife Jen.  They actually live on Bainbridge Island which is across the bay from Seattle.  Bainbridge Island is a beautiful small community with lots of wooded areas, hiking trails and places to walk near the water.  It was exactly what the Lord knew I needed to rest and renew my soul.  After 3 1/2 weeks I flew down to Oakland, California to be with my dear friend and her mom who had sudden and serious medical problems.   Although the pace is the exact opposite of Washington (and certainly Africa!), it is just where the Lord wants me to be for right now.  Most of the time in California is being spent at the Rehabilitation Center where her mom was transferred to following spinal cord surgery.  This has been an overwhelming thrust into American culture because I’m driving to and from the Rehab center on a busy freeway with six lanes going in each direction!  This has definitely been a challenge in trying to “be still and know” and having the faith to get from one place to another without getting caught into the “rat race.”  I lived in this area of California for many, many years but it is amazing how much things have changed over the years, and what a difference it is coming from Africa.  But I’m preserving and praising God every step of the way that His protection is still with me.  November 1st I will fly back to Texas for a couple of weeks and then I will take off again, this time to go see my brother and sister-in-law in Idaho and stop by Washington again to spend Thanksgiving with Christoper and Jen.  I knew the Lord was calling me home because it was time to be with family.  I had no idea this is what my time in the States would look like.  But it has all been a blessing and I thank Him once again for His grand plan.

The following are some pictures from my time in Washington.  Let me warn you of two things:  One there are a lot of pictures and two, they don’t begin to show the true beauty I was resting in.

Bainbridge Island has a lot of little parks with trails.  This was one of the paths I took often.  The plants, trees and the peaceful quiet just seem to breathe fresh life into me.

One of the small little harbors around the island. We had several days when the weather was absolutely perfect.

I fell in love with this plant. It's called a Chinese Lantern plant. It was so bright and colorful. The little "lanterns" will turn brown and then fade to a lace-like transparent Lantern.

Mount Ranier as viewed from the ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle. I would never get tired of this view. It is so magnificent.

I took a few days and drove through the Olympic National Park. On the first day I took a small hike at Hurricane Ridge and as I rounded a corner I saw this doe and her baby. They were so precious, but I must say, it's not quite the same as being this close to a rhino, elephant, zebra or even Impalas.

The view on my walk. Notice the small patch of clouds starting to blow in over the top of the mountain peaks.

I made it to the top of Hurricane Ridge. This is the view as I started back down the path. This hike was quite a workout for me since I haven't done much hiking in mountains since July, 2010. Everywhere you looked, was mountains and then more mountains. I LOVED it!

Crescent Lake. I drove past this lake on the 2nd day. A couple of years ago I hiked near here with Christopher. It was winter then and the day was rainy and cold with lots of fog/clouds hanging over this lake. I'm not sure which was more beautiful; the lake in clouds or the lake in beautiful sunlight. Both were magnificent. God's creation is SO amazing!

The next stop after Crescent Lake was Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean. I spent several hours here sitting in God's presence and listening to His voice and the sound of the ocean. Because this entire area is surrounded by forests, dead trees and logs were washed up on the beach. The size of this tree trunk that washed up on the beach is one of the examples of God's power. This tree trunk was huge and yet when it fell it was washed into the ocean and the waves of the ocean over time washed it up on the shore. Everything has it's purpose and there is a season and time for everything all according to God's plan.

 

Our idea of beaches is usually nice, fine sand but not all beaches are like that. This beach was all rocks. I pondered on the shapes, sizes and colors of the rocks for quite a while. These rocks all started out as big, strong, rough boulders but over time, they were washed out to sea and as they were washed up on the shore, they were slowly refined by the action of the waves washing them to shore, out again to sea and then up onto shore again over and over and over. I thought of the times of refining the Lord has seen me through over the years. I'm quite sure I am still not far enough on shore for the process to be complete!

The tide washing up on a rock that was smooth from all it had been through, but still had lots refining action left to become like the others. Or maybe God's plan for this rock is different. Maybe it will stay this size. Only God knows.

The view of islands made out of rock looking trough the roots of the tree truck made by the tide and waves.

A view looking north up the beach. I forgot how much I love being by the ocen especially when the weather is perfect as it was on this day.

When I left the beach I drove to the Quinault Rain Forest and spent the night at Lake Quinault. I went on several shorter hikes in this area. I was told a black bear had been seen in the area and to take precautions. I asked what precautions I should take. The answer was not to hike alone (ok, but I am alone, so next?) and to stand firm if I see a bear. I also learned that if you talk, they will know you are a human and go away from you. While walking I saw this log with four notches taken out of it. I wondered if someone was marking their way so they wouldn't get lost or maybe the bear marked how many humans it had spotted on the path. It's interesting the way the imagination can run away with you if you let it! I refused to let it get to me and held fast to God's promise that He will always be with me.

This was some not too fresh bear droppings right in my path. I started singing "Jesus Loves Me" over and over and over again while I hiked. I was claiming the name and scaring the bear away with my singing at the same time! I saw a few more traces of the bear on this walk but praise God, I never saw the bear.

The view looking up to the tree tops.

This is a chicken mushroom. I just love walking through God's creation and finding new amazing flowers and plants.

I don't know the name of this smooth, white mushroom, but it was so amazing that there were little droplets of water all over it and it wasn't raining. I guess this is why it is called a "rain" forest! These mushrooms were another example of how we usually think of something like a mushroom (or sometimes certain people) as not being too attractive or worth our while, but you look at it with God's eyes, you can see the glory, beauty and purpose of whatever you are looking at.

Let the waters flow...

One of many, many waterfalls.

Same area, but not actually in the rain forest.

Driving along the river. You can't see it in this picture, but small golden leaves would gently float down with the slight breeze. The sun would shine on the leaves and it looked like gold falling from the sky.

This was on another small hike in the rain forest. I was so amazed at how different the area was and yet this was only a few miles from the other section of the rain forest. How does God do this?????

Another view of Mount Ranier looking past the docks and elevated freeway of Seattle.

A snapshot of the ferry to Bainbridge Island with the Olympic mountains in the back. Just looking at this picture again makes me take in a deep breath, praise God for His beautiful gift of His creation, and feel a bit more peaceful and blessed.