Friday, July 25, 2014

The Latest

A few weeks have passed since my last update.  They have been full ones!

L to R: me, Anastasia (Ukraine), Anastasia (Russia)
 in front of a giant stalagmite
Employees of Delaware North Companies Shenandoah, the concessioner of the park, get free entry into Luray Caverns, a popular local attraction, when we show our ID badge.  On one day off last week, I visited the caverns with two friends, Anastasia (from Russia) and Anastasia (from Ukraine)!  Our trip also included other fun adventures such as trying to find antique shops in the rain and eating ice cream at a favourite stand down in the valley.  It was interesting to learn about the different minerals and water flow that create the colours and shapes of the caves.  I remember that iron oxide is responsible for the red/orange, and calcite for the white I believe.  There was also some mention of cave algae...

The underground Dream Lake in the caverns.  The water is only about a foot
deep though it looks much bigger because of the reflection.

I'm pretty sure this is upside down, but I couldn't get it to turn over.
Here are some of the very interesting formations and colours in the cave.

Ty and I have also had the chance to do a little more hiking on our days off.  We did the Rose River Loop together, which I had done before and really enjoyed, but we also made a side trip on a connecting trail to Dark Hollow Falls.  This is probably one of the most impressive falls I've seen in the park so far (second only to Lewis Falls in my book).

From the foot of Dark Hollow Falls

Powerful water!

Along Rose River

Finally, one of the most entertaining hikes Ty and I have gone on this summer was to Nicholson Hollow and Corbin Cabin.  It is the site with the highest concentration of ruins (old cabins, fences, chimneys, etc.) in the park.  We saw a cabin that had been lived in by a man named Corbin in the pre-park days (the 30s) as well as the remains of one other cabin and several stone fences.  After returning home, I did some more reading on the history of this region of the park and made some interesting discoveries, including that many mountain dwellers were not so isolated as one might think they would have been!  Click here to make some discoveries of your own about a few settlements of the Blue Ridge Mountains including Nicholson Hollow.

Pray & Praise with us!
Praise that our services continue to be well attended by fellow employees, with at least one new-comer promising to attend this week!
Pray that even more people will notice our posters and hear about the services by word of mouth.

Praise that we are continuing to develop good friendships with many co-workers.
Pray that we will be a blessing to them, as well as to our employers, and be able to share more about the love of God with them.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Who Makes the Plans?

From Miller's Head Overlook
Happy Independence Day!  But it's ironic.  We (in the West) tend to celebrate independence as an inherent Good.  The speaker at a conference at my college this past year said just the opposite, calling the ideas of  independence and autonomy "vicious lies."  He claimed people were designed to rely on someone other than themselves - other people and/or God.  While I am happy to celebrate the country I live and many of the high ideals it aims to stand for, I also value dependence on and submission to Someone great than myself - God.

I'm going to be talking about submission in my message this Sunday in Shenandoah.  I'm going to share that I've been frustrated with my work schedule lately.  I've been getting just one day off for the past two weeks and my body has been feeling it.  Housekeeping is hard work!  But most of all, I realized, my frustration has been that having just one day off (Sundays, so I can lead services) has not allowed me to get much hiking in.  In fact, I haven't done much hiking, and no camping, this summer at all.

As I thought about my frustration, I realized it's source was the disappointment of this summer not meeting my expectations.  Being outdoors a lot was one of the things I was looking forward to most about this summer, even more than ministry, if I'm being honest.  But I realized that maybe God has another plan for my summer and that I would be less frustrated with how I spend my time if I surrendered it to Him, whether that's working or playing.  This change in perspective has changed my attitude, and though I am still hoping to get two days off next week, I won't be so frustrated if I don't.

I do believe God gives us free choice, the ability to make plans, but I don't think that is the same as giving us control over the outcomes of our plans.  Our choices may end up having different consequences than we think they should.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "I know that plans I have for you."  Trusting Him that those plans are good allows me to be content with any outcome of the choices He allows me to make.