Friday, December 16, 2011

Prayer in Harmony With the Destiny of Man--Andrew Murray (Chpt. 18)

I've decided to reprint the very next chapter of Murray's great work because it flows so naturally and logically from the previous one. As I've said before, the entire book is worth reading on a daily basis because of the short, "devotional" style chapters. But the content is also very profound and illuminating. This chapter is just another example of the depth and warmth of Murray's understanding.

-----Chapter 18-----

Prayer in Harmony With the Destiny of Man

Andrew Murray, “With Christ in the School of Prayer” (pg. 121-126)

And he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” (Matt. 22:20)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26)

     “Whose portrait is this?” By this question Jesus foiled His enemies when they planned to trick Him, and He settled the matter of duty in regard to the tribute. The question and the principle it involves are of universal application, nowhere more truly than in man himself. The image he bears decides his destiny. Bearing God’s image, he belongs to God. Prayer to God is what he was created for. Prayer is part of the wonderful likeness he bears to His divine original; of the deep mystery of the fellowship of love in which the triune god has His blessedness, prayer is the earthly image and likeness.

     The more we meditate on what prayer is, and its wonderful power with God, the more we feel constrained to ask, “Who—and what—is man that such a place in God’s counsels should have been allotted to him?” (cf. Psalm8:4-8). Sin has so degraded him that from what he is now we can form no conception of what he was meant to be. We must turn back to God’s own record of man’s creation to discover what God’s purpose was and what capacities man was endowed with for the fulfillment of that purpose.

     Man’s destiny appears clearly from God’s language at creation. It was to fill, to subdue, and to have dominion over the earth and all that is in it. All three expressions show us that man was meant to rule here on earth as God’s representative. As God’s viceroy, he was to fill God’s place. Subject to God, he was to keep all else in subjection to Him. It was the will of God that all that was to be done on earth should be done through man. The history of the earth was to be entirely in his hands.

     In accordance with such a destiny was the position he was to occupy and the power that was at his disposal. When an earthly sovereign send a representative to a distant province, it is understood that he advises as to the policy to be adopted and that advice is acted on. He is at liberty to apply for troops and the other means needed for carrying out the policy or maintaining the dignity of the empire. If his policy is not approved, he is recalled, to make way for someone who better understands his sovereign’s desires. As long as he is trusted, his advice is carried out. As God’s representatives, man was to have ruled. On his advice and at his request, heaven was to have bestowed its blessing on earth. His prayer was to have been the wonderful, though simple and most natural channel, in which the close relationship between the King in heaven and man, His faithful servant as lord of this world, was to have been maintained. The destinies of the world were given into the power of the wishes, the will, and the prayer of man.

     Of course, with the entrance of sin into the picture, this plan underwent a catastrophic change: man’s fall brought all the creation under the curse. With redemption, the beginning of a glorious restoration was seen. No sooner had god begun in Abraham to form for himself a people from whom kings—even the great King—should come forth than we see what power the prayer of God’s faithful servant has to decide the destinies of those who come into contact with him. In Abraham we see how prayer is not only, or even chiefly, the means of obtaining blessing for ourselves. Rather, it is the exercise of his royal prerogative to influence the destinies of men and the will of God that rules them. Not once do we find Abraham praying for himself. His prayer for Sodom and Lot, for Abimelech, and for Ishmael, prove what power a man who is God’s friend has to create the history of those around him.

     This has been man’s destiny from the start. Scripture no only tells us this but also teaches us how it was that God could entrust man with such a high calling. It was because He had created him in His own image and likeness. The external rule was not committed to him without the inner fitness. Bearing God’s image in having dominion, in being lord of all, had its root in the inner likeness, in his nature. An inner agreement and harmony existed between God and man, an incipient godlikeness, which fitted man to be the mediator between God and His world. Since he was to be prophet, priest, and king, he was to receive and dispense God’s bounty. In bearing God’s image, he could bear God’s rule. Indeed, he was so like God, so capable of entering into God’s purposes and carrying out His plans, that God could trust him with the wonderful privilege of asking and obtaining what the world might need.

     Although sin has for a time frustrated God’s plans, prayer still remains what it would have been if man had never fallen—the proof of man’s godlikeness, his link with the infinite unseen One, the power that is allowed to hold the hand that holds the destinies of the universe. Prayer is not merely the cry of the supplicant for mercy; it is the highest expression of His will by man, who knows himself to be of divine origin, created for and capable of being, in king-like liberty, the executer of the counsels of the Eternal.

     What sin destroyed, grace has restored. What the first Adam lost, the second has won back.  In Christ man regains his original position, and the church, abiding in Christ, inherits the promise “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7).

     By no means does such a promise refer primarily to the grace or blessing we need for ourselves. It refers to our position as fruit-bearing branches of the heavenly Vine, who, like Him, live only for the work and glory of the Father. It is for those who abide in Him, who have forsaken self to abide in Him with His life of obedience and self-sacrifice, those who have lost their life and found it in Him, and are now entirely given up to the interests of the Father and His kingdom. These are they who understand how their new creation has brought them back to their original destiny, has restored God’s image and likeness, and with it the power to have dominion. Such have indeed the power, each in their own circle, to obtain and dispense the powers of heaven here on earth. With holy boldness they may make known what they will. They live as priests in God’s presence. As kings the powers of the world to come begin to be at their disposal.* They enter upon the fulfillment of the promise: “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7).

     Church of the living God, your calling is higher and holier than you know. Through your members, as kings and priests unto God, would God rule the world; their prayers bestow and withhold the blessings of heaven. His elect are not simply content to be saved. Instead, they yield themselves wholly, that through them, just as through the Son, the Father may fulfill all His glorious counsel. In these His elect, who cry day and night unto Him, God would prove how wonderful man’s original destiny was.

     As the image-bearer of God on earth, the earth was indeed given into man’s hands. When he fell, all fell with him; the whole creation groans and travails in pain together. But now he is redeemed, and the restoration of the original dignity has begun. It is God’s purpose that the fulfillment of His eternal purpose and the coming of His kingdom should depend on those of His people who, abiding in Christ, are ready to take up their position in Him their head, the great Priest-King, and in their prayers are bold enough to say what they will that their God should do. As image-bearer and representative of God on earth, redeemed man by his prayers determines the history of this earth. Man was created and has been redeemed to pray, and by his prayer to have dominion.

     Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him? And the son of man, that you visit him? You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the work of your hands. You have put all things under his feet. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!

     Lord God, how low sin has made men sink. How it has darkened his mind that he does not even know his divine destiny: to be your servant and representative. How sad that even your people, when their eyes are opened, are so slow to accept their calling and seek to have power with God in order to have power with men and to bless them.

     Lord Jesus, in you the Father has crowned man with glory and honor and opened the way for us to be what He would have us to be. O Lord, have mercy on your people, and visit your heritage! Work mightily in your church and teach your believing disciples to go forth in their royal priesthood and in the power of prayer, to which you have given such wonderful promises. Teach them to serve your kingdom, to have rule over the nations, and make the name of God glorious in the earth. Amen.

Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, (Bethany House, MN 2002), 121-126.

*God is seeking priests among the sons of men. A human priesthood is one of the essential parts of His eternal plan. To rule creation by man is His design; to carry on the worship of creation by man is no less part of His design.

Priesthood is the appointed link between heaven and earth, the channel of communication between the sinner and God. Such a priesthood, insofar as expiation is concerned, is in the hands of the Son of God alone; insofar as it is to be the medium of communication between Creator and creature, it is also in the hands of redeemed men—of the church of God.

God is seeking kings not from the ranks of angels; fallen man must furnish Him with rulers of His universe. Human hands must wield the scepter; human heads must wear the crown. (Adapted from Dr. H. Bonar, The Rent Veil. No publication date available).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prayer in Harmony with The Person of God--Andrew Murray (chapter 17)

Well, as promised, here is a full chapter from Andrew Murray's classic, "With Christ in the School of Prayer". Though as I mentioned previously the chapters in this book are short (4-5 pages), each chapter makes for a rather long "blog" post. But since this chapter (as with most every chapter in the book) is full of such rich insight I thought I'd post the whole thing rather than simply posting my comments on it. And since there are only (maybe) two or three people who bother to read this blog I don't see the harm in reprinting a full chapter. I may even reprint a couple more down the road.

While I haven't necessarily agreed with everything that I've read in this little book, every chapter is full of deep nsight into this most important Christian discipline. I will also post the next chapter (Chapter 18, "Prayer in Harmony With the Destiny of Man") because it so wonderfully illustrates the implications from chapter 17 for what man was intended to be and to do. My prayer is that you will come away from Murray's writings in these next two posts with a far richer understanding of who Christ is, who we are in Christ and why understanding these things are so important for us who want to enjoy intimacy with God and pray with confidence and power.

-----Chapter 17-----

Prayer in Harmony With the Person of God

Andrew Murray, “With Christ in the School of Prayer” (pg. 113-119)

Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me (John 11:41-41).

You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance… (Psalm 2:7-8).

     In the New Testament we find a distinction made between faith and knowledge. “To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:8-9). In a child or a child-like Christian there may be much faith with little knowledge. Childlike simplicity accepts the truth without difficulty and often cares little to give itself or others any reason for its faith but this: God has said it. But it is the will of God that we should love and serve Him not only with all our heart but also with all our mind; that we should grow up into an insight into the divine wisdom and beauty of all His ways and words and works. Only by growing in this way will the believer be able to fully approach and rightly adore the glory of God’s grace. Only in this Way can our heart intelligently comprehend the treasures of wisdom and knowledge found in redemption and be prepared to enter fully into the highest note of the song that rises before the throne: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).

     This truth has its full application in our prayer life. While prayer and faith are so simple that the newborn convert can pray with power, the doctrine of prayer presents deep problems. Is the power of prayer a reality? How can God grant to prayer such a mighty power? How can the action of prayer be harmonized with the will and the decrees of God? How can God’s sovereignty and our will, god’s liberty and ours, be reconciled? These and other similar questions are valid subjects for Christian meditation and inquiry. The more earnestly and reverently we approach such mysteries, the more we will fall down in adoring awe to praise Him who has in prayer given such power to men.

     One of the secret difficulties with regard to prayer is one that though not expressed often hinders prayer. This difficulty is derived from the perfection of God, in His absolute independence of all that is outside of himself. Is He not the Infinite Being, who owes what He is to himself alone, who determines himself, and whose wise and holy will has determined all that is to be? How can prayer influence Him or He be moved by prayer to do what otherwise would not be done? Is not the promise of an answer to prayer simply condescension to our weakness? Is what is said of the much-availing power of prayer anything more than an accommodation to our way of thinking, since God can never be dependent on any action from without for His doings? Is not the blessing of prayer simply the influence it exercises upon us?

     In seeking an answer to such questions, we find the key in the very being of God, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. If God were only one person, shut up within himself, there could be no thought of nearness to Him or influence on Him. But in God there are three persons. In God we have Father and Son, who have in the Holy Spirit their living bond of unity and fellowship. When eternal Love begat the Son, and the Father gave the Son as the second person a place next to himself as His equal and His counselor, there was a way opened for prayer and its influence in the very inmost life of God itself.

     Just as on earth, so in heaven, the whole relationship between Father and Son is that of giving and taking. And if that taking is to be as voluntary and self-determined as the giving, there must be on the part of the Son as asking and receiving. In the holy fellowship of the divine persons, this asking of the Son was one of the great operations of the thrice-blessed life of God. We see it in Psalm 2: “Today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you…” The Father gave the Son the place and the power to act upon Him. The asking of the Son was no mere show or shadow, but one of those life-movements in which the love of the Father and the Son met and completed each other. The Father had determined that He should not be alone in His counsels: there was a Son on whose asking and accepting their fulfillment should depend. So there was in the very being and life of God as asking of which prayer on earth was to be the reflection and the outflow. It was not without including this that Jesus said, “I knew that you always hear me.” Just as the sonship of Jesus on earth may not be separated from His sonship in heaven, even so His prayer on earth is the continuation and counterpart of His asking in heaven. The prayer of the man Christ Jesus is the link between the eternal asking of the only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father and the prayer of humankind upon earth. Prayer has its rise and its deepest source in the very being of God. In the bosom of Deity nothing is ever done without prayer—the asking of the Son and the giving of the Father.

     This may help us somewhat to understand how our prayers, coming through the Son, can have an effect upon God. The decrees of God are not decisions made by Him without reference to the Son or His petition to be sent up through Him. The Lord Jesus is the first begotten, the head and heir of all things: all things were created through Him and unto Him, and all things consist in Him. In the counsels of the Father, the Son, as representative of all creation, has liberty as mediator and intercessor in the petitions of all who draw near to the Father in the Son.

     If we think this liberty and power of the Son to act upon the Father is at variance with the immutability of the divine decrees, let us not forget that with God there is no past to which He is irrevocably bound, as is the case with man. God does not live in time with its past and future. The distinctions of time have no reference to Him who inhabits eternity. Eternity is an ever-present now, in which the past is never past and the future is always present. To meet our human weakness, Scripture must speak of past decrees and a coming future. In reality, the immutability of God’s counsel is always in perfect harmony with His liberty to do whatsoever He will. The prayers of the Son and His people were not taken up into the eternal decrees so that their effect should on bbly be an apparent one. Instead, the Father-heart holds itself open and free to listen to every prayer that rises through the Son; God does indeed allow himself to be decided by prayer to do what He otherwise would not have done.

     This perfect harmony and union of divine sovereignty and human liberty is to us an unfathomable mystery, because God as the Eternal One transcends all our thoughts. But be assured that in the eternal fellowship of the Father and Son the power of prayer has its origin and certainty, and through our union with the Son our prayer is received and can have influence in the inner life of the blessed Trinity!

     God’s decrees are not an iron framework against which man’s liberty vainly seeks to struggle. God himself is the living Love, who in His Son, as man, has entered into a tender relationship with all that is human. God through the Holy Spirit takes our humanness into the divine life of love and frees himself to give every human prayer its place in His government of the world.

     It is in the revelation of such thoughts that the doctrine of the Trinity is no longer an abstract speculation, but the living manifestation of the way it is possible for man to be in fellowship with God and his prayer to become a factor in God’s rule of this earth. We can, as though from a distance, catch a glimpse of the light that from eternal glory shines on words such as these: “Through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18).

     This simple view of prayer is seen throughout Scripture: God hears us. It does not dwell on the reflex influence of prayer on our heart and life, although it abundantly shows the connection between prayer as an act and prayer as a state. Rather, it fixes or defines the objective or purpose of prayer: to obtain blessing, gifts, and deliverances from God. Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given.”

     The following is adapted from The Hidden Life and The Lord’s Prayer by A. Saphir (no publication data available).

     However true and valuable the reflection may be that God, foreseeing and foreordaining all things, has also foreseen and foreordained our prayers as links in the chain of events, of cause and effect, as a real power, yet we feel convinced that this is not the light in which the mind can find peace on this great subject, nor do we think that this is the attraction to draw us to prayer. We feel rather that such a reflection diverts the attention from the Object from whom comes the impulse, life, and strength of prayer. The living God, contemporary, yet eternal, the living, merciful, Holy One, God manifesting himself to the soul; God saying “Seek my face”; this is the magnet that draws us, this alone can open the heart and the voice….

     In Jesus Christ the Son of God, we have the full solution for the difficulty. He prayed on earth, not merely as man, but as the Son of God incarnate. His prayer on earth is only the manifestation of His prayer from all eternity, when in the divine counsel He was set up as the Christ…. The Son of God was the way, the mediator. He was, to use our imperfect language, from eternity speaking unto the Father on behalf of the world.

     Everlasting God, the Three-in-One, in deep reverence I would worship before the holy mystery of your divine Being. If it should please you, most glorious God, to unveil anything of that mystery, I would bow with fear and trembling and meditate on your glory.

     Father, I thank you that you bear this name not only as the Father of your children here on earth but also as having from eternity subsisted as the Father with your only-begotten Son. I thank you that as Father you can hear our prayers because you have from eternity given a place in your counsels to the asking of your Son. I thank you that we have seen in Him on earth the blessed relationship He had with you in heaven and how from eternity in all your counsels and decrees there was room left for His prayers and their answers. And I thank you above all that through His true human nature on your throne above, and through your Holy Spirit in our human nature here below, a way has been opened by which every human cry can be received into the life and love of God and receive an answer.

     Blessed Jesus, in whom as the Son the path of prayer has been opened up, and who gives us assurance of the answer, we beseech you to teach your people to pray. Each day let this be the sign of our own sonship: that like you we know that the Father always hears us. Amen.
Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, (Bethany House, MN 2002), 113-119.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


In between swimming in my brother’s pool and playing pool with my dad and other brothers, I have been doing a lot of reading while on this long vacation. Believe it or not, I have finished quite a few books since we’ve been here (maybe I’ll post some short reviews later) and among the many I am currently reading is Andrew Murray’s classic, “With Christ in the School of Prayer”. This is one of the most wonderfully devotional books I’ve ever come across. I’ve read a little more than half the book and I’ve already decided that I must have more Andrew Murray titles! His writing not only stretches my mind but it also enlarges my heart. Actually, Mrs. Moogly is also reading this and she is likewise touched by his writing.
This book has 31 chapters of 4-5 pages each which makes it very nice to read as a daily devotional. As a book on prayer, it is also an important work for the individual Christian and the church. Throughout my years as a Christian, I can attest to the lack of primacy given to prayer in the church; and that’s because, I believe, there is generally a lack of interest in prayer among the members of the church. I know. I’ve been there myself; and I still struggle in my desire to pray. We say we believe prayer is important, after all we see our Lord praying often in the Gospels and the New Testament practically commands us to pray. And if we are going follow Paul’s example, we know that we should be in a constant attitude of prayer. We even believe, because the Bible says so, that there is power in prayer and that prayer is the way that we commune with our Father in heaven.
But still…we just don’t do it. Why?
I’m sure there are a number of reasons for this, but I think for the most part it comes down to this: even if we do think God hears us, we don’t believe there is any real power in prayer. We don’t really think prayer changes God’s mind or affects Him at all. We don’t really believe prayer changes or affects anything. Except (maybe) us.
Really? Is that the only reason we are called to pray? So that we will change? Is the “power” in prayer only manifested in the effect it has on the spirit or inner character of the one doing the praying?
Andrew Murray puts it this way: One of the secret difficulties with regard to prayer is the one that though not expressed often hinders prayer. This difficulty is derived from the perfection of God, in His absolute independence of all that is outside of himself. Is He not the Infinite Being, who owes what He is to himself alone, who determines himself, and whose wise and holy will has determined all that is to be? How can prayer influence Him or He be moved by prayer to do what otherwise would not be done? Is not the promise of an answer to prayer simply condescension to our weakness? Is what is said of the much-availing power of prayer anything more than an accommodation to our way of thinking, since God can never be dependent on any action from without for His doings? Is not the blessing of prayer simply the influence it exercises upon us?
Murray then points the way: In seeking an answer to such questions, we find the key in the very being of God, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Murray suggests that the vitality of prayer that not only changes us but also affects real change in the world is found in the very being of God; in the relational life of Father, Son and Spirit. For Murray, then, our prayers should be effectual both within and outside of us: the effect of our prayers upon us is toward our maturity in Christ; the effect of our prayers upon others and the world is…real possibilities!
In my next post, I will let Mr. Murray explain himself as I reprint a chapter from his book, "With Christ in the School of Prayer".

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 24-26 Savannah, Tybee Island, Florida

Well, this is it! This is the last post regarding our “road trip”. At the present moment we are driving through the Ocala National Forest (very nice) on our way to The Villages. And it is still hot! Maybe the Lord has been preparing us for this ever since the Outer Banks because it has been nothing but HOT since then. Hang on! Cindy just spotted a “Bear Crossing” sign and I don’t want to miss photographing another bear crossing the street. Okay, I’m back. Anyway, as I was saying, we are heading towards my brothers place in The Villages. The last three days were spent in Savannah, GA.

Day 23

After spending the morning of the 11th at Fort Sumter (Charleston, SC) we arrived in Savannah in the afternoon in time to have some dinner and relax in the room. We wanted to see “historic” Savannah, but we also wanted a chance to just begin to “unwind” a little from a long trip; so we decided to spend three nights here. The first night was a casual dinner downtown, average Mexican and then homemade ice cream, and then back to the room to continue relaxing. The next day would be spent on Tybee Island.

Day 24 Tybee Island (Savannah, GA)

Since we didn’t get to enjoy much of the beaches on the Outer Banks, we decided to spend the day on Tybee Island. This is not a “tourist trap” place by any means and we enjoyed the more casual beach scene here as opposed to Ocean City, MD. I didn’t see any “adventure” booths on the main beach (parasailing, body-boarding, etc); only families laying and playing on the beach and people fishing from the pier. I (Jason) wore my swim trunks and decided to wade into the ocean for the first time. I wasn’t in the water more than two minutes (up to my waist) before being stung on my foot by a jellyfish! Can you believe it?! I just this minute get in the water already containing a bunch of other people and a jellyfish decides to single me out! Well, I probably just happened to have walked into it; but still! Can you believe it?! After getting out and going to the lifeguard to spray some vinegar on it, we spent some more time on the pier before getting in again.

After having lunch (seafood, of course), we went to another part of the island to see the lighthouse and the wildlife bird sanctuary. It seemed even hotter on this part of the island than the main beach. There were far fewer people on this, the north side, and I decided to get in the water again. The parking lot was much further away from the bird sanctuary than we had anticipated and even though we walked a long ways, we decided to turn back because it looked like there was some rain heading our way. On our way back up the beach we noticed a huge cargo ship from Italy making its way to the Port of Savannah. Where we were at is the main passage way for the cargo ships and we enjoyed watching this one. I was surprised by how massive this thing was! Anyway, it was time to go back to the hotel and take another shower! We are getting tired of this two-shower a day thing! We decided to stay close to the hotel for dinner and do the “historic downtown” thing tomorrow.

Day 25 Historic Downtown Savannah

Last day of our vacation drive before heading to The Villages. We parked in a garage near the Savannah River in Historic Downtown Savannah at around 11:00am and were already burning up before reaching the restaurant we had chosen to eat at. I had a huge fish sandwich and fries. Mmm…good! After lunch we started our walking tour. We started by going down to the waterfront. They have various sets of stone stairways leading down to the riverfront street (I forgot the name of it). The area is really cool: old brick and cobblestone streets, a trolley line that automobiles must navigate around, suspended walkways, and lots and lots of shops lining up and down the street overlooking the river. Even as hot as it was, I thought the scene was really cool. We walked down the riverfront enjoying the people and the shops but also looking for the famous “Waving Girl” monument…never found it. Oh well. We were too hot to continue looking for it, so we walked back up to continue our tour.

Savannah is well-known, we were told, for its “grid” layout with its specifically planned “city parks” interspersed symmetrically throughout historic downtown. And we definitely made use of these parks! We suppose that this is how people can live in this heat! We made our way every two blocks to sit on one of the many benches under the equally as many huge (old) shade trees that filled each park. The parks are called the “jewels of the city” and we can see why. They are like little oasis’ to enjoy major relief from the heat. We needed them! Even though we were once again drenched from the heat, we enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells in Savannah’s Historic Downtown.

So, today (Day 26) finds us arriving at The Villages tired from all the driving and the packing/unpacking at numerous hotels/motels along the way, but also a bit sad that our long journey across country has come to an end. We hope you have enjoyed spending a little time with us on our journey; we’ve enjoyed “bringing you along”, so-to-speak.

We will still be in “vacation” mode for some time; my brother and his wife have given us the keys to their house for a couple of months while they are away (thanks again Jeff and Linda!) and I plan on spending a lot of time in the pool! And of course, we will be enjoying spending a lot of time with our families. We will also be excited to visit with Paul and Marsha occasionally while here. But we also ask that you all continue to keep us in your prayers as we continue to seek our Lord’s guidance for our future. We want to be open to anything that our Father would have for us and we will need much prayer so that we are sensitive to His voice by His Spirit. So again, thank you for your prayers and keep them up.

Also, thanks for the many comments and emails along the way. For those of you who sent personal emails, thank you. We haven’t been able to respond directly while on our trip because time (and energy) has escaped us so often; but know that we appreciate your words and we will be going through them and responding shortly.

Thanks again and God bless.

jj & cj

p.s. Well, we didn’t get around to posting this yesterday and today we already played shuffleboard for 2 ½ hours this morning; and our week is already filling up with activities. This vacation thing is going to wear us out! And yes, I know I need to work on my tan! And I plan on doing that right now! J

p.p.s. We look forward to going through 1Cor. with you all and continuing to grow together (though from a distance) in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Settling In

Well, we've begun to "settle in" for a while here at The Villages. Mrs. Moogly has been enjoying various activities around town with her mother and I've been playing lots of billiards with my dad and brother. I've been losing less money lately, so I guess I'm improving (unless they are just being nice to me and letting me win some). I have discovered Scrabble and have been loving it; though this game makes me realize what a small vocabulary I really have. I must start memorizing the dictionary! Cindy has also been enjoying Mah Jong. I'm glad Cindy can play this with her mom and her group of friends because I couldn't figure this game out if my life depended on it. And of course, I'm still enjoying swimming in my brother's pool.

While we are not working, we've been trying to spend more time with each other doing "devotional" reading/studying as well as enoying the outdoors together. We look forward to visiting some wildlife parks (especially bird havens) when the weather cools down a bit. We will also try to spend some time on the many waterways out here as well. All the while we've been seeking to strengthen our relationship with our great God and Savior and each other. We hope (and pray) to have some clear direction for our lives sometime soon, but in the meantime we seek the Spirit to draw us closer to our heavenly Father and to know greater intimacy with Him on a daily basis. Please continue to pray for us and our future.
I hope to get back to writing while we are here. I can't remember where I left off (I guess that's what the "archives" are for), but I'm sure I've got something to say about something! In the meantime, check out the last few posts from one of my favorite blog sites here. Bob has a great understanding of the holistic nature of creation and man's part in it. I've recommended his site before as he talks much about Shalom and the Cosmic Redemption that has come in Christ. His latest posts, as you will see, deal with the false dichotomy between the Sacred and the Secular and, using books by Nicholas Wolterstorff and Calvin Seerveld, help us to see that the beauty of God can even shine through the so-called "unbeliever" in his/her creative (artistic) expression. Here is a great line from Bob:
The vocation of those who are made in God's image is to bring about shalom (which is , I believe, what it means for human beings to exercise "dominion" over the earth). This is the purpose of all callings, of all vocations. It is the purpose of art as well, for art is one of the ways that God brings about a lushness of life that goes beyond vulgar utilitarianism, a sin of modern evangelical Christianity.
I've recommended this before, and I'll do it again. Use the "search" field on Bob's site and lookup his posts on Shalom, Gospel, Creation, etc., and you will be blessed.

Until next time,

GGM (or is it Mr. Ducky?)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 20-23 Outer Banks, Charleston, Savannah

Okay, it looks like we are finally winding down our trip. We are presently heading to Savannah, GA after spending some time in Charleston, SC. I haven’t had time to write in the hotel rooms, so I’ve been trying to get some of these updates done while driving. Of course, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I also tend to take photos from the Jeep as well! Cindy has been joking that I should put together my own photo book; but instead of a photo book of scenic places and cities, which usually entails actually getting out of the vehicle, I should make one of scenic drives as seen through the windshield while driving! I actually like that idea, though I’m not sure I want to be driving all over the country again until I get some rest. J
Anyway, day 19 found us driving from Harrisburg, PA toward the Outer Banks, NC. On our way we decided to go around Baltimore rather than through Baltimore to save a little time and head to Ocean City, MD to check it out (though I’m sure I would have gotten some more awesome “windshield” shots for a future photo book!). I had been to Ocean City as a kid, but I didn’t remember anything about it. It was a nice drive through Maryland and we were looking forward to walking a bit on the Boardwalk, but when we got there it was just way too busy. We didn’t want to try to find a place to park and then to fight through the mass of people. It looked like it would be a fun place to spend a whole day or weekend, but not to just get out and walk for only an hour or two. So, we just drove down the strip and back out towards the hotel in Chesapeake, VA where we were staying that night. The Outer Banks would have to wait until the morning. Day 19 was basically just a “driving” day.

Day 20 Outer Banks
We got up early and headed to Cape Hatteras National Seashore and other places along the Outer Banks. Our first stop was Jockey’s Ridge State Park (between Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head) to climb the highest “living” sand dune in the…U.S.? Anyway, we were going to scale it: can anyone say HOT?! Cindy says it was like walking through hell in a desert with the sun just relentlessly beating us down. I had taken off my shoes so that I could walk in the deep sand but eventually I had to put my socks back on because my feet were burning. At one point I thought I saw smoke actually rising from under my feet! We didn’t even make it to the bottom of the dunes before we had to head back because of the heat. This may be highest sand dunes around, but we enjoyed the dunes at Cape Cod much better—we could actually walk on those (well, I could, Cindy would sink in them!) and we were able to enjoy the beach and water as well. Oh well, we decided to get back into the truck and head to Cape Hatteras Light House which is the tallest in the nation (248 spiral steps and equivalent to climbing a 12-story building) and is supposedly the most photographed.

And it was still HOT! In fact, because of the heat and the difficult stair climb facing her Cindy didn’t want to try the climb up into the lighthouse. There is actually a disclaimer discouraging certain people from climbing. It said: The climb is strenuous. The stairs have a handrail only on one side and a landing every 31 steps. There is no air conditioning. It may be noisy, humid (understatement!), hot (again understatement) and dim inside the lighthouse and there is two-way traffic on the narrow stairs. Visitors with heart, respiratory or other medical conditions or who have trouble climbing stairs should use their own discretion as to whether to climb the tower.
The rangers who guided the groups up to the top would even try to discourage people from doing this unless they thought they were really up for it. Cindy didn’t feel up to it because her back was beginning to bother her and her knee wasn’t up to the task; so I ended up going to the top myself.

and I got to pay them $7 for this! I asked the guy at the ticket counter, “You mean I actually get to pay you $7 to walk up 12 flights of stairs in a claustrophobic, hot and humid spiral stairwell in 100 degree heat with a mass of other people?” He said, “Yep”. So I paid the man and then waited in the heat for another 15 minutes until my “group” was called. While walking up I would occasionally see some individuals hanging out on one of the landings seemingly on the verge of passing out from the heat! All the while I was thinking how much you, Jerry, would have enjoyed this (based on your Panama Canal story). J All in all, though, the view from the top was worth it. Being up so high and on the coast brought a nice, cool breeze; so strong, in fact, that you would have to hang on to your hat so it didn’t blow away. Again, my photos don’t do the place justice. I wanted to stay up there longer, but Cindy was waiting for me below…and I wasn’t looking forward to the trip back down!
The lighthouse wasn’t quite all the way at the southern tip of the Outer Banks, but it was far enough for us. After this we headed back up and stopped to see the ocean. The sand walking to the Atlantic in this area was soft and thick (and hot), but the ocean view was spectacular. The waves were pretty good, too. This is supposedly one of the best places on the Atlantic, in the States anyway, for surfing. The trip down to the lighthouse was longer than we had anticipated and it was so hot outside that we decided to head west to Raleigh, stopping in Rocky Mount for the evening.

Day 21 Raleigh, NC
We went to Raleigh specifically to visit a bookstore. Stevens Bookstore is advertised the largest used bookstore between NYC and Chicago. I believe it. It was huge! It was much bigger, though not as architecturally pleasing, than the bookstore we went to in Harrisburg. And they specialize in Christian books. We spent a long time there and ended up getting 13 books. A couple of them were books that were out of print and the rest were priced low enough to splurge. And of course I’ve started them all already! I’ve read the Preface and Introduction to them all and they all seem like they will be very interesting reading…if I ever get to it. Actually, I think I’ll start a couple of them as soon as I finish the two books I bought (seemingly ages ago) in Minnesota at Woodland Hills Church (Day 4 or 5 of this seemingly endless journey J). (This is Cindy and I’m sorry that my husband keeps writing seemingly endless emails! Insert smiley face here) Raleigh was a nice, relaxing few hours. We then headed to Charleston, SC.

Oh, but first Cindy wanted me to tell you what happened when we left the bookstore. Do you remember the story of me leaving our Atlas on the top of the Jeep when we left our hotel on the North Shore (Minnesota) and having to drive back about 3 miles to get it? Well, it happened again! No, not the Atlas. This time it was the passenger side floor mat that flew off the car. For reasons too long to go into, the floor mat under my feet had gotten completely soaked with water. So, I had the brilliant idea of leaving it on the hood of the Jeep to dry out while we were in the bookstore. And it was a brilliant idea! We discovered that it was completely dry…after seeing it fly off the hood straight into the windshield and onto the pavement as we were driving down the road! After Cindy pulled into a garage and sent me walking back down the road to retrieve it, I brought back a clean, dry floor mat!
Day 22-23 Charleston, SC

We stayed the night in Florence and arrived in Charleston in the afternoon. After unloading our stuff (again), we headed to the historic district to see the water and eat some seafood. The “Historic Charleston” area is really very beautiful. If you look on a map you will see that the historic district and “downtown” are on one peninsula with Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island West Ashley and James Island surrounding it with bays and rivers scattered throughout making the region very appealing to look at and a boater’s paradise. And all the bridges connecting these land masses are very cool. And of course it is rich with history from the Revolutionary time and especially with regard to the Civil War. We think we’d like to come back here to spend some time visiting all the historic sights and learn more about the history of what they call the “holy city”. They refer to it as such because of all the churches that were built back in the day.
Anyway, we spent the afternoon/evening walking through one of the harbor parks and then eating at supposedly the best seafood restaurant on the east coast—Hymans Seafood. And it was HOT! Have I mentioned that yet? Before eating, however, we enjoyed a waterfront pier and park for a while and then we almost got caught in a thunderstorm. We saw it coming over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (the bridge you will see in the photos) and managed to jump into a bar/restaurant before getting drenched. We waited it out while having some…hmm…refreshments? I also ordered something called a “she-crab” soup. Cindy had heard of this before, so we got it. This soup is really a type of clam chowder bisque, as differentiated from a clam chowder soup. Anyway, it was awesome! After the rain stopped we headed for Hymans.

Cindy had the Captains Seafood Combo (fried fish, shrimp, and scallops) and I had, of course, Fish-n-Chips. Now, I had forgot to mention that I also had Fish-n-Chips at the Outer Banks. The fish there was Flounder. I’ve learned that Flounder is not my favorite fish. At Hymans, the fish is Haddock. And I’ve learned that I love Haddock. It is a white, flaky but chewy fish (if that makes sense). Anyway, Ken, I’ve found another awesome Fish-n-Chips place; though it’s a little far away from Colorado Springs. Their “signature” dish was a flounder dish and, needless to say, I didn’t want to try that; though I’m sure it would have been good. They served us boiled peanuts as well. Boiled peanuts? Whatever. Boiled peanuts didn’t do it for me! After dinner we walked around a bit more and headed back over the bridge to the hotel to get ready for our tour of Fort Sumter in the morning.
Day 23 Fort Sumter, Savannah

The hotel manager allowed us a later check out time so that we could take the tour in the morning. Fort Sumter is the place “where the Civil War began”. The history behind this place is fascinating. It took the boat ½ hour to reach the fort and then we spent an hour on it before heading back. We wanted to go first thing in the morning so that it wouldn’t be as hot, but I don’t think it mattered. We were drenched in sweat before we even got off the boat! And it was brutal on the island. But it was well worth it. Visiting the site of the start of the war has made us both more interested in this history. Cindy had bought a few books on the Civil War and now I want to read them (along with the books she bought on the Revolutionary War). Actually visiting such historical sites makes our history seem more real and tangible and interesting.
Well, the tour of the fort was incredible; and incredibly hot. Have I mentioned that it has been hot out here? We made it back to the hotel in time to shower (again) and pack (again) before checking out. So we loaded the Jeep and headed for Savannah. And this where we are now as I type. We checked in a little while ago and went to the “historic district” to have some dinner: subpar Mexican and then some homemade ice cream. Tomorrow and Saturday we will investigate the historic district and relax on the beaches of Tybee Island.

Well, as I said we’re winding down our trip (or maybe I didn’t say it. This is already page 4 and I can’t remember what I said on page one). After Savannah we will head to The Villages where we will spend the next few months. I will update again with a run-down of our time in Savannah with pics. Photos of the last few days will be uploaded (probably) tomorrow. Right now it’s time to read one of my twelve latest books. Okay, I’ll probably read a couple of them! J
Check back tomorrow for the pics of Outer Banks and Charleston. And for those of you who have managed to make it this far in this post J, please continue to keep us in your prayers. We are enjoying our more focused pursuit of Christ (in relationship) and are still eager to know what He has in store for us. He hasn’t let us in on His plans yet, so please pray that we will hear His voice when He speaks.

God bless,
jj & cj

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fallingwater and Quilts

Here are the pics from Fallingwater, Hershey and the Quilts. The first few quilts are specifically Amish from the early 20th Century. As I said, they seem somewhat plain, but the beauty is really in the intricate stitching. You can't really see this from the photos. If you can zoom in you might be able see what I'm talking about. At any rate, they were incredible; but I still really like the more "abstract" modern quilts.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 14-15 Cleveland & Pittsburgh

Yes, we’re still here (though I’m beginning to be not always sure of where “here” is…or even what day it is). I believe this is day 19 (August 7). We just left the hotel we stayed at for the past three nights (outside of Harrisburg, PA) and are heading to the Outer Banks (NC) by way of Baltimore and (possibly) D.C. We may decide to skip D.C. on this trip and make a special vacation to spend a few days there. Our main objective right now is to get to the Nag’s Head area and enjoy some of the NC coastline before reaching Savannah in a few days. Surprisingly, we’ve been sleeping pretty well throughout this trip (motel “dives” included!) and are ready for a major day of driving; if we decide to skip D.C., that is.
So…where did I leave off? Oh yeah: Last week we found our fearless heroes enjoying Michigan as they marched effortlessly (and casually!) toward “Camp Villages” in central Florida. Along the way they have enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation in its variously distinctive forms as well as the cultural distinctives of God’s children as they’ve settled throughout the land. They’ve enjoyed mountains with faces looking out of them to alien landing spots; they’ve driven through thick forests hiding all kinds of wildlife as well as dry, dusty canyons where nothing could possibly live over-looking beautiful green plains that once was home to many settlement villages; they traversed through cornfield after cornfield after cornfield after…(well, you get the idea) to gorgeous stream and river drenched lands; they’ve eaten fresh fish from three Great Lakes and seen the wonder of God in waterfalls emptying out into great rivers; they’ve witnessed picturesque homes and farms settled throughout hills and valleys as well as an incredible home practically built into a rock in a forest; they’ve seen beautiful metropolis’, country villages and harbor towns as well as depressed cities that have seen better days (and hopefully will again); and now they’ve just entered Maryland where we now resume our program, “Cross Country with Googly Mooglies”.
Well, the last four or five days have been fairly relaxing. We spent a day in Cleveland and were not overly impressed. Downtown was not very interesting though I enjoyed seeing the home of the Cleveland Browns; but we enjoyed spending some time in the Cleveland Museum of Art. This building was in the “cultural” section of Cleveland that was very pleasant. There were numerous areas along the scenic drive devoted to various ethnic people groups of the world and the museum was right next to the Botanical Gardens. We didn’t have time for the Gardens or to stop at any of the “cultural” parks that lined the drive, but we thought this place was pretty cool. And I saw some Picasso paintings at the museum (very, very cool) which, by the way, had free admission (also very cool). We then headed to Pittsburgh where we spent two nights.
Pittsburgh was an interesting city. I love to see big cities and drive through them (loved Minneapolis) and Pittsburgh is very cool because, as most of you know, it is situated on a peninsula that basically splits the Ohio river into two (the Allegheny and the Monongahela). Now I already knew this of course, since I’ve enjoyed baseball for years and I was well aware of where Pittsburgh was located. But to be driving through the beautiful hills and forests of Pennsylvania and then to have the road just “open up”, so-to-speak, to this large city sitting between two rivers was an awesome sight! I also loved the yellow bridges; painted to match the colors of the Pirates and Steelers, I assume. We weren’t staying downtown, so we had to drive over one bridge taking us over the Allegheny River and into downtown (around the two stadiums) and then over the Monongahela Bridge taking us out of downtown. That was cool enough, but as soon as we got on the second bridge to leave downtown we were immediately face-to-face with the side of a mountain (well, maybe a “hill” to us Coloradoans). Thankfully there was a tunnel! J We went through the tunnel and came out on the other side of the mountain where we found our hotel room (converted apartments) and settled in. We enjoyed a quiet evening in this area and got tickets for a baseball game for the next day. We needed to hang out somewhere for a day since Fallingwater was closed on Wednesday.
So, on Wednesday we got some business completed and spent some time in downtown Pittsburgh! It was overcast all day and it rained lightly during the game, so the photos don’t do the city justice (not enough light); but I thought Pittsburgh was very cool. We had fun walking around a little bit and then watching the game. I took lots of pictures, as you can see, because this is a unique area. The riverboats were constantly operating, taking people up and down the two rivers. We didn’t have time to do that, though I think it would have been fun. We also didn’t go check out Ted Nugent who playing just down the street after the game. Cindy and I had seen the Motor City Madman years ago while we were dating and she said that once was enough. Really?! Can you get too much of Uncle Ted?! Don’t answer that.
So, after the game we went back to the hotel to get ready for a wonderful day at Fallingwater. And it was!
We left Pittsburgh in the morning and travelled down 51 thinking we would be in some scenic territory. There were some scenic areas down this stretch but the traffic was horrendous. The traffic was pretty bad in and around downtown Pittsburgh, but this was awful. We began to wonder if we would make it to Fallingwater at our appointed time. After seemingly forever, we finally made it through “metro” Pittsburgh (really though, some of it was quite nice) and into Laurel Highlands, where we arrived at Fallingwater with two minutes to spare. I can’t begin to express how lovely (yes “lovely”! I’m a man and I can use the term lovely if I want to!) Laurel Highlands is. The gorgeous rolling hills interspersed with picturesque farmland and beautiful red barn houses seemed so surreal to me—like something you could only see in movies because it is make-believe. But here they were! Right in front of me! Everywhere I looked! I wish I had taken some photos but I don’t know where I would have begun and if I could have stopped. We would have never made it through if I had started taking pictures. You have to experience this area for yourself!
But the highlight, of course, was Fallingwater. This house is incredible. You’ve seen the pictures on TV and in magazines (and much better pictures than mine, of course), but until you see it in person you can’t grasp the marvel of this architectural wonder. Cindy has wanted to see this for over twenty years and it was worth the wait. The rooms were much smaller than I would have thought; but then again, it was built in the 1930’s when rooms typically were much smaller. The living space was about normal size, but the bedrooms and bathrooms (especially) just seemed quite small considering this was such an important house. And it was an important house even as Frank Lloyd Wright was building it. From the visitor’s center up the road, it was a five minute walk to get to the house. I’m so glad that they left the ambience of the location unspoiled. The house is tucked into the woods and literally built into the hilly rock and over a flowing stream. I could write about this for a long time, but you would do better to read about it yourself. Needless to say we (especially Cindy) loved it!
After the scenic drive through Laurel Highlands (we were on 381 and 653), we headed to Hershey for some…you guessed it…fish! No, that’s not right. We wanted to go to Hershey’s Chocolate World and also (per Cindy’s moms suggestion) to hang out in Lancaster County to see all the quilt places out there. We stayed three nights in Harrisburg. One day was devoted to Hershey and a huge used book store in Harrisburg, and the next day was devoted to Amish Country for the quilts.
Hershey was a bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the chocolate was great! But they didn’t have a tour of the actual factory; just a “Disneyesque” moving car “tour” through animation that told the story of how they make their chocolate. It was interesting, but not what we expected. And of course, at the end of the ride you exited into their huge Hershey store where you can buy all the candy and novelties that you want. Can anyone say Disney? Oh wait, I already did! Still, it was fun. And yes, I bought some candy (fudge, actually; and chocolate, of course).
From there we went to Harrisburg to the book store. I think I could have spent two full days in there and still not be satisfied. It was located in a renovated theater, so it had plenty of charm. I only bought two books (can you believe it?), but I thoroughly enjoyed looking around. We then went back to the hotel to rest for our big day in Lancaster County (Amish Country) looking at quilts and experiencing a bit of Amish culture.
We went to two quilt museums and they were both awesome! Thanks mom—you were right on the money with this suggestion! Even I (a real man, don’t forget—even though I use the term “lovely”), thought these quilts were incredible. The Amish quilts seemed a bit nondescript at first look, but a closer inspection revealed quite exquisite (there I go again) stitching. I mean these things were absolutely stunning! (I had better stop with the superlatives. I think I’ve tapped into my “feminine” side enough already!) But they were! And the quilts at the next museum were arguably even more amazing! (Yes, I know; I’ve been using a lot of “!” in this paragraph. I can’t help myself. I was very impressed with this stuff) I wish I had my large tripod so that the photos were better. But even so, when you see some of these that make your eyes seem to go cross-eyed…that is a good representation of the quilt itself. Some of these looked very three-dimensional and abstract. These (including the Amish quilts) are really “fine art’ in my opinion. See for yourself!
We also enjoyed watching the Amish driving their horse and buggy carriages around town. We didn’t take any of the tours. It was just fun watching them drive through town and around corners (sometimes pretty fast). A tourist “village” was also a lot of fun. I had a shake (chocolate, of course) made with local Amish cow milk. I don’t know what makes a cow “Amish”, but I wasn’t going to go do any research on it. I just wanted to enjoy it. And I did. We also saw something we never thought we’d see—an Amish woman hitchhiking! I guess she’s not breaking any oaths if she’s not the one driving, huh?!
All-in-all, I must say that Pittsburg, Fallingwater, Laurel Highlands and Lancaster County were all very enjoyable in their own way. I’m finishing this email at a hotel in Chesapeake, VA. Today we drove around Baltimore (we’ll do D.C some other time) to Ocean City (too many people!) and down the Maryland/Virginia peninsula to our hotel. This was a very scenic route in places especially going across (and through) the very long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Yes, you heard right: a “Bridge-Tunnel”. The area where the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean connect has a bridge/tunnel that connects the Maryland/Virginia peninsula with Virginia Beach. It was so cool to be driving on this bridge and then twice driving down through a tunnel under the water and then rising back up out of the tunnel back onto the bridge. The sight was magnificent!
All right, I guess I’ve written enough. I’m back up-to-date. Tomorrow we are heading down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina before heading over to the “Research Triangle” area of Raleigh/Durham. I hope to find another used book store there. From there we will be heading towards Hilton Head, S.C and then Savannah.
I’ll try to keep up with this more frequently so that I’m not writing a book for you to read.
Until then….
jj & cj

p.s. wi-fi is very slow. I will try to upload day 15-16 (Fallingwater and quilts) photos tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 11-13

Hello Everyone!

I know…it’s been a few days. But we are on vacation after all!  We are now driving through a heavy thunderstorm in Ohio along the coast of Lake Erie and since we really can’t see anything, I thought I’d start typing an update for the last few days. Okay, we’ve now decided to pull into the parking lot of Happy Hooker Bait and Tackle Shop (along with a number of other vehicles) to wait out this storm. We are on our way to a vineyard in Sandusky (on the scenic route, supposedly) and then off to Cleveland. But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? I have a couple of days to catch you all up on first.

Day 11 (July 30) Lake Michigan eastern coast and northwestern Wine Country

We left Mackinaw City in the morning after a wonderfully relaxing day on Mackinac Island. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention something cool about Mackinac Island: no automobiles are allowed on the island. Everyone gets around via walking, biking (or rollerblading, etc.) or horse and buggy. Even supplies are off-loaded at the docks and onto horse drawn buggies for delivery all over the island. Trucks with supplies are ferried over to the island and then off-loaded onto the buggies. Instead of car engine noise, all we heard were hooves of horses hitting the pavement as they transported supplies and people. And there were a lot of horse and buggy operators up and down Main Street because there were a ton of tourists! Of course this also means that instead of oil leaks all over the roads there was…well…other kinds of leakage (and we’ll leave it at that). The problem is that the street cleaners (you guessed it, people walking behind the horses dragging a container attached at their waist), well they just couldn’t keep up. It was funny to see all the bikers (and there were a ton of those) trying to avoid the…you know. Anyway, Mackinac was a highlight.

So, back to day 11

We decided to head out to the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula in the Traverse City area. This is part of Michigan’s extensive and state-wide “wine country”; and it was beautiful! I’ve never been to Sonoma, California, but I can’t imagine it being any more beautiful than this. I suppose it is, but this was awesome. The photos (again) don’t do this area justice. The scenery up and down Old Mission Peninsula was absolutely gorgeous and the vineyards of both peninsulas were incredible to see—and the wine tasting was delicious! The entire Traverse City area and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was great viewing. The whole trip down the east side of Lake Michigan took us through quaint little towns that seems the epitome of the ideal small-town, harbor living. We wanted to stop at these towns all along the way, but if we did we may have just now made it to Traverse City! Oh well, sometimes you have to make some sacrifices…right?

We couldn’t find a room at a hotel/motel at all in or around the dunes or even as far away as Muskegon (I was considering the unfortunate circumstances of Mary and Joseph at this point) until we finally happened upon a room at Lakeside Inn in Ludington. The name sounds so good! And after finally finding a place to stay at 7:30 in the evening we should have been very happy—and we were—until we saw the place. What a dump! O, it was right across the street from Lake Michigan (and the very nice beach and park). And the town was another pretty, quaint town; but the motel? Forget about it! Cindy says it was better than Hilltop Motel in Newcastle, WY. I don’t agree. But we remembered how truly blessed we are and how so many people (here in the US and abroad) that have no place to stay or food to eat; and so we checked our ungratefulness at the door and were appreciative that we actually found a room to stay the night. After a fairly fitful night sleep (but sleep, nonetheless), we packed up and headed across the state to “Little Bavaria” Frankenmuth, MI.

Day 12 (July 31) Little Bavaria and Largest Christmas store in the world!

Yes, that’s right! Frankenmuth, MI is home to the largest Christmas store in the world (Bonners CHRISTmas Store—and that’s how they spell it). And the property also includes a to-scale replica of the original Silent Night Memorial Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria (the site where Silent Night was first sung). The store really was Humungous! It had a map of the store including the different entrances so you wouldn’t get lost. I took lots of pictures (which they encouraged…much to Cindy’s chagrin), so you can get the idea. It definitely felt like Christmas. And they totally emphasize the Christness of Christmas. I get the idea that the Bonner’s were devout Christians who were definitely not ashamed of Christ! Scripture references abounded throughout the store and every mention of Christmas on a sign was spelled CHRISTmas. But to me the spirit of Christmas was felt even more so at the chapel. Personally, I enjoyed the chapel very much. They memorialized “Silent Night” in numerous ways and the song was played continuously in various languages. They also had placards throughout the property with the lyrics in various languages. They also had the story of Silent Night and the history of the original church and chapel displayed within the building. This was a very nice dedication.

Frankenmuth is also known as Little Bavaria and that was evident up and down Main Street. We enjoyed this little town very much, though it was much smaller than we expected. There were all kinds of gift shops (of course) and fudge and candy shops (of course) and cheese shops (of course); and pubs! We ate at the Famous Zehnders Restaurant and it was great! They are known for their all-you-can-eat Chicken plate, but after all the preliminary courses you are served, you really don’t have enough of an appetite to eat more than the chicken they serve you. In fact, we took a couple of pieces back to the hotel! Little Bavaria was a nice place.
Next stop—Ohio

Day 13 Ohio

Well, here we are now in Ohio (by way of Detroit—yawn. Nothing special there.). The rain has stopped and we pulled out of the Bait and Tackle shop to continue on our way along the coast of Lake Erie. Oh yeah, before the rain got real heavy we spotted 5 doe standing off the street in the woods. We tried to take some photos, but they didn’t come out very well. When we got back on the road we stopped at Fireland Winery outside of Sandusky to enjoy some wine and scenery. We are staying outside of Cleveland to spend a couple of days in the region before heading to Pittsburgh. We don’t know yet what we are going to do here, but we want to go to Falling Water (Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous house that he designed and built) outside of Pittsburgh and since they are closed on Wednesday we are forced to wait an extra day. Well, if this is God’s providence then we will find things to do around here! I suppose a day in Cleveland is just what the doctor ordered for us!

Lots of pictures coming soon!

Hopefully I’ll talk to you again at this same googly time and same googly channel.

Jj & cj

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 9-10 Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island

Day 9—Upper Peninsula (Michigan)

After a rainy, uneventful (except for the bear) “travel” day, we arose from our stay in Marquette to travel through the Upper Peninsula and see the sights. We stopped in Munising and took a short nature walk to see the falls. We then drove up to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We spent some time only on the western side where the rocks and cliffs were located (the sand dunes were in the eastern part of the park). We had a very nice time and enjoyed the scenery very much. From there we went to Tahquamenon Falls State Park where we visited the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. While these falls weren’t as large or powerful as the one at the Grand Portage State Park (on the North Shore in Minnesota just before Canada), they were also very cool and impressive. Having sunny weather for our excursions was great. Having travelled through the Upper Peninsula, we headed south to Mackinaw.

Day 10—Mackinac Island

Just returned from a great day of relaxation on Mackinac Island. We took a ferry over from Mackinaw City and just enjoyed a beautiful, clear day on a historic island. We didn’t investigate the island; we just walked a little around town and sat a lot on the lawn overlooking Lake Huron. I was thinking about parasailing, but I decided to wait until we get to Florida for that (since we’ll be in a bit warmer waters!). We’re staying a second night here in Mackinaw City and then heading down the western side of Michigan to the many wineries on the coast of Lake Michigan. We are looking forward to that!

There’s no telling when we will be in Florida, but we are finally beginning to head “south”.

Oh yeah, I had a fresh Pollock Fish-n-Chips last night and fresh Whitefish today—I’m finding good stuff out here on the Great Lakes!

Jj & cj

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 7 & 8 North Shore

Day 7—North Shore Minnesota

After having driven from Minneapolis through Duluth and into the northeastern forest lands of Minnesota as far as Ely (a beautiful little town which may be the canoe capital of North America as far as we could tell), we stayed the evening in a nice little hotel on Lake Superior. Our room had a balcony overlooking the lake and we enjoyed a nice, relaxing evening. In the morning we left to travel up the North Shore. We had to double back to the hotel after six miles to retrieve the map that fell off the roof because for some reason it didn’t manage to make it inside the Jeep when we left. Oh well, at least I didn’t have to jump into the dumpster to find something this time. It was laying on the drive heading out of the hotel when we got back; and it didn’t even have any tire tracks on it!

The drive up the North Shore was beautiful and very relaxing. We stopped a few times to enjoy some of God’s incredible creation before having lunch and spending some time in Grand Marais. This is a picturesque little harbor town that we enjoyed spending a few hours in. We had lunch at the Angry Trout CafĂ© right on Lake Superior. We both had…drum roll please…you guessed it—fish and chips! And the Cod Father says…amen!  That was some good stuff! And fresh. They have a little shack next to the restaurant that you can watch them filet all the fish before sending a batch into the restaurant to cook. They had all kinds of fish, but the fish for the fish and chips was Lake Superior Whitefish. This place, while still not God’s fish and chips (that’s still reserved for the Skagway Fish House where they serve fresh Halibut), is definitely a “keeper” in my book.

From Grand Marais we headed farther north to the Grand Portage State Park just south of the Canadian border (about 100 ft. away). We decided to not go into Canada and just hike out to the highest waterfall in Minnesota. Actually, half of the waterfall is in Canada because the border splits the river in half. We saw some wildlife across the river, too (see last photo). We saw four real-life Canadian Mammals on a platform across the way. Two of them were large and two of them were much smaller. The larger ones looked like they were just enjoying the sight of the waterfall while the two smaller ones were running around. They managed to stay there long enough for me to take their picture! I hardly ever get the chance to photograph real, live wildlife in their natural habitat!

After viewing the waterfall and enjoying more of God’s incredible creation, a creation that He wants us to enjoy…and care for (yes, I’m getting a little “greener” every year), we headed back to the Duluth area where we stayed for the night before heading east again through northern Wisconsin and Michigan.
Until next time…

Jj & cj


Day 8

Left Duluth (goodbye & good riddance) for Michigan through Wisconsin. It was raining all day (1st time on our trip), so we only got out a few times. We enjoyed the scenery while listening to many sermons on the iPod (and I read some to Cindy as well); nice change of pace. But somewhere in Wisconsin we did see a bear cross the road only about 15 feet in front of us. I didn’t have the camera on my lap or I would have had a great shot of a real life, up close and personal, bear. It was awesome!

We’re on our way to the Sand Dunes tomorrow and then we’ll spend a couple of days around the Mackinac Island before heading south down the west coast of Michigan.

Canadian Wildlife. If you look close you'll see them. I wonder if we have these kinds of animals in America?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011