Meditation, Mountains, and Mountain Lions

One of my assignments for my doctrine class is to meditate on a few different passages 4 times a week for the next 2 weeks of class. Christian meditation is distinctly different from other kinds of mediation in that it is not emptying the mind but filling it. Specifically as I learnt last week, meditation in ancient Israel was repeating scripture slowly, methodically so that you could fill your mind with grand thoughts of God, turning over truths about him in your mind, aloud, chewing on them, digesting slowly. So I started the meditation exercise today with Psalm 19. It ended up being a great place to start because my plan for the day was to head to the mountains. We are at 5000 feet in Fort Collins but it seems flat and we are just at the foothills of the great Rockies. Not far from here though.. 40 miles is Estes Park which up in the mountains with higher mountain peaks surrounding it and beyond that the Rocky Mountain National Park.. with very little plans other than to head west with the generous car that my friend lent me.. let me share my adventure in photos..

“I went up to the mountains..” (- Patty Griffin) to rest. To see mountains. I went up to the mountains to spend time with God. I wanted to pray and read my Bible and maybe some books and just be. A theme of this year.

After some driving I got to a park with a carpark and a bunch of people parked and a few trails to climb.

Brilliant.

So I locked up my borrowed car and headed for one of the trails..

Beautiful flowers, the sky was dark and thundered with the threat of rain as I began to climb.. 
Mountains during a thunderstorm.. that is probably a bad idea right? 

The views were spectacular. 

 But as I climbed.. the fact that I was a lone girl in a dress and leggings and dance trainers that are no where near hiking boots.. without a gun (I don’t own a gun) began to ring loudly in my head. I carefully scanned the terrain for bears and mountain lions and moose…

Please don’t let me see bears or mountain lions or moose.. 
Ooohh pretty flowers!! 

But what if I saw a bear a mountain lion or a moose..?!??! 
The fear that one could be right around the corner overtook me… and so I retreated after 1/4 mile back down the path to the car.. I was too spooked.

Once I arrived in the parking lot I settled myself on a big rock within sight of my car (in case the mountain lions came). I found some less scary friends who joined me on my rock: baby chipmunks! They hung out with me while I read 1 Corinthians from the Bible on my phone until the warnings of thunder and lightening turned to big droplets of rain… and I retreated to my car.. 

my cafe where i read, listened to a sermon and looked at a river… 

I read a third of this kids bible today. It is my favourite. I have given it to so many friends. So refreshing to the soul… even if you are a grownup. It is theologically well put together and yet so simple and accessible. We are reading selections of it in my Biblical Communication class. Awesome. 🙂

“Now some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done. Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean…It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!”

A friend sent me this devotional today. A devotional is a little reflection on something from the Bible.. Little reminders I needed to hear and see today.. Prayer, the life-giving words of the Bible, a sermon, the mountains, the greatness of creation, the tininess of creation (mentioning my chipmunk friends) 

Better than Miracles 

Psalm 19 

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

19 iThe heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above<a class="fn" href="http://www.esvbible.org/1+Corinthians+13/#f1-1&quot; id="fb1-1" original-title="Hebrew the expanse; compare Genesis 1:6–8″ style=”border: 0px; color: grey; font-style: italic; font: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: top;”>1 proclaims his handiwork.
2Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4jTheir kvoice<a class="fn" href="http://www.esvbible.org/1+Corinthians+13/#f2-1&quot; id="fb2-1" original-title="Or Their measuring line” style=”border: 0px; color: grey; font-style: italic; font: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: top;”>2 goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for lthe sun,
5mwhich comes out like na bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7oThe law of the Lord is perfect,<a class="fn" href="http://www.esvbible.org/1+Corinthians+13/#f3-1&quot; id="fb3-1" original-title="Or blameless” style=”border: 0px; color: grey; font-style: italic; font: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: top;”>3
previving the soul;
qthe testimony of the Lord is rsure,
smaking wise tthe simple;
8uthe precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is vpure,
wenlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules<a class="fn" href="http://www.esvbible.org/1+Corinthians+13/#f4-1&quot; id="fb4-1" original-title="Or just decrees” style=”border: 0px; color: grey; font-style: italic; font: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: top;”>4 of the Lord are xtrue,
and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than ygold,
even much zfine gold;
asweeter also than honey
and drippings of bthe honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
cin keeping them there is great reward.

12dWho can discern his errors?
eDeclare me innocent from fhidden faults.
13gKeep back your servant also from hpresumptuous sins;
let them not have idominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
Lord, my jrock and my kredeemer.

Essays, Airports and Waiting

Hello from the Denver airport.

I can’t say I love that I’m writing you from the Denver airport.

I should have been on a plane a long time ago.

Some of you know I have been taking some sprint seminary masters level classes this month in Colorado. They have been brilliant. The craziness of my day has reminded me of all of the things I am learning, of gratitude, of Gods sovereignty when I just don’t “get” it and that sometimes life is like an airport when you are delayed 4 hours and will miss your connecting flight.. Sometimes all you can do is wait. Wait and pray.

I was graciously given a free flight by a kind and generous soul to go to LA this weekend so I could attend my cousins wedding. I was this far across the planet and they didn’t want me to miss because of cost. Reminding myself of lavish grace and the good gifts of friends and God in my life.

I worked my tail off all week to stay on my reading and assignments so I could relax with the family this weekend. All should have been finished and turned in before I flew, with the plan that Id finish writing in the airport. That was the plan until I discovered a serious problem with my computer that will leave it unusable this weekend until I get it to a shop on Monday. I texted a cousin to use theirs  tonight and then my flight was delayed this long.

I won’t be able to finish the assignments tonight realistically. I will also have to start one of them from scratch because its on my not working computer. And I have exams next week and all my notes are on my computer.

Assignments due Monday. No computer. Lost assignment. Delayed flight. Sometimes my life feels like one long delayed flight.

But then I remember. God knows. He is not surprised by this series of events. He loves me. He gets my stress. He is sovereign.

I have been given a free undeserved flight to LA. I’m getting to study Gods word for a month. I’m getting more vitamin D this month than in the previous year in rainy Ireland and England. Despite things not going my way, I have much to be grateful for.Tomorrow I will see family I haven’t seen in years.

The airport is frustrating. The lost work and 8 pages of typing will be hard work. But I can pray and ask God for grace, perspective, mercy on my hard drive, focus despite the upsets.. And then wait and trust him.

A lot of life is like that don’t ya think?

Trust, Rest, and Street Pianos

This month I find myself near the mountains in one of my favourite states.

Side note: Why do British people all go to Florida, NY or LA? You are totaaaalllyyy missing out.    Ditch Florida and their sticky humidity and sitting in traffic in dirty-and-plastic-LA and go to Colorado. 🙂

Tonight I wandered down into “Old town” which has an old western feel. It has upright pianos everywhere outdoors for the world to play: painted bright splashy graffiti patterns to catch your eye on every corner. Street musicians played everywhere: on those uprights, guitar on the street, guitar on a stage, violin; not even far enough away from the previous musician to completely lose their neighbours’ notes. Hippies and cowboys and goth kids and a break dancers circle: there were such a colourful mix of people, cultures, races, styles of dress, and attitude, I could have spent hours people watching. A couple friends and random new people ended up at a drive-in to watch a film with heat lightening shooting across the sky in the background. Miles away are forest fires that have burned all week.

I got to Colorado exhausted. In more ways than one. The last 18 months have been some of the most difficult. They have been some of the clearest interventions of God in my life, some of the deepest sorrows and unanswered questions and some of the happiest joys and moments of finally feeling like I have come home. But now I am here. I am waiting. I am waiting for the Lord to answer a lot of prayers. I am coming down from being tired for a long time. The last 6 months I have been slowing slowing slowing down and learning to rest and am still not there yet but getting there. So this month I have, with my life parked back in England, on hold for a bit while I play in the mountains and learn from God’s Word… I will use as a chance to sabbath.. a pause.. a stop.. a chance to rest and wait.. two things I am not good at.. and see what God has in store afterwards..

Colorado aims:

– Spend time with God
– Enjoy God
– Pause, rest, stop, my worth doesn’t come from doing… I want to just “be” for a bit..
– Maybe play one of those honky tonk pianos in town with the pretty paint jobs..
– Get to the mountains and be still

“Jesus says, “Follow me. I’m going to take you on a journey, and I don’t want you to turn to the left or to the right. I want you to put me first; I want you to keep trusting me; to stick with me, not turn back, not give up, turn to me in all the disappointments and injustices that will happen to you. I’m going to take you places that will make say, “Why in the world are you taking me there? Even then, I want you to trust me.” – excerpt from Kings Cross

Home Sweet Home

I will miss my lovely city while I am away for a bit. 
Home has become wherever I lay my head in some ways. 
I am a cross cultural worker who never knows where the last stop on the journey will be. 
Does anyone? 
But my city in the North of England has been home for many years now.. and even when I am away to great places, I always miss it. 
My friend blogs here and her and her husband lived in 11 places in their first 8 years of marriage. Madness. Here I think it’s bad because I’m single and do the grass is always greener thinking when I’m married me and my husband will have a space and just stay there. Maybe things aren’t always that simple. 🙂 Anyways she has learnt to make space home wherever she is. I think I want to cultivate that gratitude and simple life wherever I am too. 
Totally unrelated… I won’t be making my home in the sky.. here are some lovely clouds from the journey you might like. 🙂