Tag Archive: Travel

Twinkling Lights and a Shepherd

Twinkling lights spreading warmth through colorful shopping markets. Cuckoo clocks, shawls, candles, handmade porcelain and other gifts. Lighted carousels and Christmas trees and snow! Weinerschnitzel, where the tender veal covers the edges of the plate. One dish definitely enough for two!

Photo by Thomas Schmidt / Eyeem

Don and I were looking forward to visiting the Christmas Markets on the Danube, leaving the day after Thanksgiving. Seeing sparkling lights in beautiful old villages along the Danube.

Then Austria locked down, and our cruise was cancelled.

Surprisingly, we were almost relieved. There had been so much “will we, won’t we, can we, can’t we” as we gathered warm clothing, tried to ensure we had all our needs covered, that we were stressing about it. We didn’t realize how much until, the night after we got the cancellation notice, we slept ’til 9:30 am!

As much as I would love to take this trip, I have a Shepherd who watches over me. He knows what is best for us, even when it doesn’t feel so great. And in light of the trials so many are experiencing, this is a small thing.

Last week I wrote about how the Shepherd guides me, my GPS, directing my steps and leading me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. This week, Pastor Tim talked about God’s name in Psalm 23, Jehovah Rohi, the Shepherd and Companion. He covers not only my physical needs (rest, refreshment, guidance), but also my emotional needs.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

He is not surprised by our valleys–death, illness, loss, hostility, depression, fear, plan changes. While these things can mess with our minds for a time, we can walk through them with Him at our side. My Shepherd is with me. His rod guards, like a club, to protect. His staff guides and directs. With a shepherd’s crook he can hook a wayward sheep and pull it back into the fold. I want that kind of Shepherd!

We’ve all experienced losses these past two years–family or friends who have died from Covid or for other reasons. Friends who have gotten Covid, walked through the valley and come out on the other side. Loneliness and fear have become prevalent companions for many, as fear was for me last year.

I don’t know what valley you’ve experienced recently, but I do know you’re not alone. You have a Shepherd, and hopefully other companions who have walked with you through your particular valley.

We can’t walk from mountain to mountain without going through a valley. But we walk through by realizing the valleys are not our final destination. We must keep walking through them to reach the mountains on the other side.

So instead of traipsing through the snow and looking at Christmas wonderland in Austria and Germany, Don and I will put our tree up earlier than expected, will have Christmas carols playing through the house, will reach out to our neighbors, family and friends to extend love and hope and joy.

I wish you a joy-filled Thanksgiving filled with praise for our Good Shepherd!

New Horizons, Renewed Connections!

Twenty-eight hundred miles later and four pounds lighter, Don and I returned from our road trip, filled with the love, majesty and grace we experienced along the way!

We spent our first night out in Imlay, NV, a one-exit, two-church town (Catholic, Baptist) whose only food is the Taco Bell inside the truck stop. A local couple built three small, one-room cabins in October of last year that have been filled ever since since! We stayed in the “Wyatt Earp” cabin (on left in photo).

Our room was tiny. We shared a one-person restroom with other guests in the other cabins, and the kitchen in another. The cabins and yard were very cute and everything was spotless. We played bean bag toss (both got two out of four in the hole), chatted with the owner about the gold mining in this area, and drove two miles down the road to a rustic cafe filled with cowboy memorabilia, signed dollar bills stapled all around the counter posts. Guess they’re doing well enough they don’t need those! It was fun to be in a local diner, with a group celebrating three birthdays next to us, and a man at the bar talking about being born in San Jose.

We wakened at 6 am to a loud train whistle. And the passage of a 100-150 car train rumbling down the rails just behind the property. And baby, we felt the earth move! All in all, great fun.

Despite smoky grey skies from our Northwest fires, mountains hazy in the distance, we saw so much of God’s creative beauty along the way. Forests, rivers, mountains, volcanic ash. And gracious people wherever we stopped.

But driving was fun and, after only four hours’ sleep that night, I was grateful to be awake and alert to drive as we listened to a book on tape.

We drove to Star, Idaho on Friday, where we met Don’s niece Karen and her husband John, who had invited us to stay with them. Karen just got out of the hospital that morning so John ordered mouth-watering Italian take-out. Don’s son Victor joined us for dinner and got to know his adult cousins better, who moved to the area just recently.

The following day we took dear friend Anne Marie Ritchie, whom many of you know from Peninsula Bible Church or Menlo Church, out to breakfast. We enjoyed wonderful fellowship with Anne Marie’s thankful, rejoicing heart! She loves the Eagle/Boise area where they had moved shortly before her beloved Ron’s passing a year ago, and where she has two sons.

We continued packing our schedule with a lovely lunch on the river with Shelly and Bob Mincy, California friends who have just moved to Eagle and are enjoying the beginning of their retirement! What a delight to spend time and see the house they are having built!

That evening we hung out with Victor and his family. The foliage on his yard reminded me of Camp Arnes on Lake Winnipeg (Canada), where I received Christ as my Savior. Enjoyed the time together!

Nathaniel, Gabrielle, Jess, Noah

Three days of wonderful renewing of relationships, valuing of family and friends, enjoying different scenery, and thanking God for the gifts of each. Sunday morning we left for Yellowstone…to be continued.

Renewing, Returning

Greatest guy in the world with whom to be still - or not ...

Greatest guy in the world with whom to fly away – and come home again …

“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again …”

What do you look forward to when you go on vacation? Is it being away from home’s day-to-day challenges? Relaxing on a beach with a sunset-hued drink topped by a little umbrella? Having cooking and cleaning done for you? Enjoying concentrated time with your partner and/or friends?

For me it’s all the above…well, except the sunset-hued drink…my drink of choice is Diet Coke, but that doesn’t sound as romantic, nor is it as pretty. However, give me a maraschino cherry in my DC and I’m a happy girl. Although I’m retired and make my own schedule, life is busy–wonderful, but busy. Demands come from many arenas…time with my hubby, commitments to family and friends and groups I’m part of or lead, worship, caring for our dogs, writing, cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking, paying bills, entertaining, traveling, voting…

Away from home, I look forward to the mental reprieve…I can put aside tension because of a disagreement with a colleague regarding his approach to mutual friends about an investment opportunity. There’s no mail to sort  ’til we get home. We get STACKS of unsolicited mail every day. I think our address alone gives Veronica, our wonderful mail person, job security. And time with Don…yay, I love my man and cherish it when we have focused time together to enjoy the beauties of God’s creation, walk hand in hand, enjoy new friendships and relaxed conversations, and food that someone else has prepared.

One day on our last cruise, the ship offered a myriad of scarves, ties, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, each only $10. Two other women and I shared opinions.

“That’s great.”
“I already have one like that.”
“That’s not my color but would look great on you” …

Paigey, our feisty little beauty

Paigey, our feisty little beauty

My sweet number 1 girl

My sweet number 1 girl, Kelly

… and talked about the ‘treasures’ we were finding. My comment: “Isn’t it amazing how quickly women can bond over a sale!”

What I miss is my mother and our dogs. And, much as I treasure the renewal of time away, I also look forward to the joy of returning home…

…hearing Mom’s welcoming voice
…enjoying Kelly and Paige’s happy yips
…watching my awesome husband enjoy beautifying our yard
…sorting through piles of mail for the few treasured personal notes and
…crawling into our own bed again, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on top of the comforter, cuddling in.

So, who’s ready to fly fly away…and then return to our love-filled home? I am.