The Pilgrimage

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Last month Danette, told of her trip “The Camino de Santiago de Compostela”, also known in English as The Way of St James.  For more than 1000 years pilgrims have been walking along the Camino de Santiago. The main Camino route is the Camino Frances. This part of the Camino de Santiago traditionally starts in St Jean Pied de Port and finishes in Santiago de Compostela about 780km later, after traveling the breadth of Northern Spain. This was the route of Danette.  This is what I learned from her account of the 30 day trip.  Click here to continue

As Danette spoke I likened her journey- all on foot, to my life. Her pilgrimage way was marked by “shell” signs or yellow arrows along the way.  These trail markers were what she needed to stay on the right track to reach her destination.  Danette talked about getting up early and at times starting with as many as 200 other pilgrim walkers, yet find herself on the trail alone within a few hours.  She spoke about the many times she got “off track” mostly in the cities where there were so many distractions that the subdued signs were easily overlooked.  Danette spoke about how encouraged she was by the graciousness of strangers who would guide her back to the right path even though it was 3 -4 blocks out of their way.

Walking in the dark turned out to be a bigger fear than she had thought. Walking in the dark, or in the barrenness of the open hills and valleys the shell way signs were actually much easier to follow.  She spoke of the barrenness of the desert area and her conversations with God who was  her only traveling companion for most of the trail.  When she spoke of how God sent comfort and rescue in the form of a fatherly older man when a pack of wild dogs threatened her in the early morning hours, her face lit up at the remembrance.

Danette spoke of how simple her life had become.  Her only belongings for the trip had to fit into her back pack.  The choice of walking companions also was important for this trip and required certain discernment.  It was important to share walking time only with those that also had their eyes on the Lord and the completion of the goal in mind.  Complainers that discouraged would not do.

It was interesting that taverns and hostels in the towns along the way provided discounted “pilgrim” prices for overnight stays and wonderful meals keeping the trek affordable.  And, even though there were days when Danette questioned “Why did I do this”, she now says she is planning to go again.

To me this pilgrimage reinforced:

  1. Living my life according to His will isn’t easy. (walking the walk)
  2. It’s harder to see His signs for me, when I’m distracted and “busy” in my life- like Danette was in the cities.
  3. We may all be “walking” together, but will always find times when we walk alone; illness, financial distress, emotional distress, death of a loved one or a relationship etc. Alone, on the path. Alone in the dark.  Alone in the chaos of living.
  4. When we get off the path, especially if our hearts are searching for the right way, God will provide someone to come into our lives to help us back to the right path. We have to be “open” to listen.  Just as Danette was when she accepted the ride from the fatherly stranger.
  5. It’s always difficult to walk in the dark. Whether a literal dark road or our road during dark times. It is during those dark times and when we walk through the barrenness of life… that we are closer to God and he communes with us.  It is when we are in a simpler state of being that we “hear” God.
  6. Then there are times in our life when no matter how hard we try, the fear and the real dangers of the world would overcome us – God sends in the rescue team. Angels in disguise? Perhaps.  Or, the words of a Christian man or women whose heart and mind are in tune with the Lord.  Praise Him for his daily deliverances.
  7. When Danette described how her life consisted of the simple but necessary items in her back pack. The importance of traveling “light” – but having the right clothing. Spoke volumes about how we overcomplicate our lives with “things”.  Things that have needs.  Everything we own needs care and takes time… How much time do I devote to the “care” of items that in the big scope of things are really needless?
  8. When you have a certain and rather strenuous goal in mind it is really important who you choose as a traveling companion. How much more important is it to choose your daily life friends and spouse? – Heart for God… right frame of mind… similar values? Light back pack or heavy?? Encouraging walking partners or daily discouragement?
  9. And, as the towns people took care of the pilgrims with hearty yet affordable meals and the overnight lodgings were clean, affordable and available… God always provides to us the riches of His grace and mercy and strength to allow us to complete our pilgrimage here through the earthly territories.
  10. Have you ever gone through a terrible trial, and found God to be so close to you when in the midst of the troubles. Yet you question “why me” why now” why God?”… Then when the travail is over and you look back… It is the closeness of the Lord the love you felt in His presence, the warmth of His touch and whispered encouragement that says… “yes, I’d do this again”. Just like Danette who says she is now looking forward to doing this trip again.

Country, Church, Family and Forests

What does our country, our church and our family life have in common with a forest?

Bark beetle beginnings in a forest

Bark beetle beginnings in a forest

There has been a severe drought in California these last few years and the Northern California forests have been especially hard hit.  The lack of water has stressed our beautiful conifer trees causing them to become susceptible to a little creature call the bark beetle. Stressed trees equate to suitable host material for bark beetles and successful reproduction results in more beetles and higher levels of tree mortality.   Read More

Sacrifice of Praise

Peace & Joy UnspeakableSometimes we, like all God’s children, face heart wrenching brokenness.  This brokenness typically comes from loss.  Loss of family, loss of home, loss of love, even the loss of our family pets..  Loss comes in so very, very many heart breaking ways threatening to destroy our faith in a loving creator God.

Tragic heart wrenching personal losses can turn a sunny day into dreary night.  Clouded with doubt, fear of the future and every uncertainty.  It can bring fountains of non-ending tears pouring from the soul which asks why…  Why me…  Why now?  Continue reading


Grafted into the Family of God

Vineyard needing clean up for grafting

Spring is upon us!  The grey rain clouds have blown away and the flowers are blooming.  Everywhere I look I see the wonders of God’s creation in the varying shades of green and the lush growth.  This growth includes the budding of leaves in our vineyard… all the suckers… and weeds.  This year we have a daunting project before us.  The vineyards planted 6 and 10 years ago will be changed over.  The grapes that had been growing were not right for our “zone” and the resulting fruit was not tasty… and certainly did not produce good fruit for wine. (Or, anything else that matter).

We started with the older vineyard first.  The object was to graft buds into the camber of the trunk also called the “vine”.  The buds were to be cut out of tIMG_20160408_111802782he Zinfandel cuttings from our pruning kept dormant for just this time in the refrigerator.  However, no matter how hard Rick tried to cut through to the camber (the living part of the vine/trunk) it couldn’t be done.  Only the hardened woody part of the trunk could be accessed.  These vines were just too old, too hardened.  The only way to use the well-established root structure was to train up a new vine/trunk from the new growth growing from the base.  For these vines, it will be two years before grafting can be done… and another 2 years before the branch will yield a harvest.

bud successfully grafted


We moved on to the younger vines, testing camber access… Success!  These trunks were softer and the camber could be more easily accessed.  The buds could be easily grafted into these trunks. As I spent time in the vineyard with my husband over the last two weeks, God spoke to my heart using the vineyard as an example.  This vineyard did not produce good fruit so we had to make drastic changes.

God also does this when we chose to become Christians and follow in the steps of Jesus who gave His life for the forgiveness of our sins.  Just as we the vineyard keepers chose to keep the vines and graft in the new branches God chooses those pre-destined to enter into eternal life through grafting.   We are “grafted” into the family of God becoming one of God’s chosen people.  Ephesians 1:4-7

4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…

We can now call Him Aba or Papa, Father.   This is what Jesus wants.  This is why He came to suffer and die so that ALL who would hear and freely chose could become a child of the living God.

Just as with our gnarly vineyard some folks grow a tough bark around the living soul.  This doesn’t have to come with age in years … older/tougher can be reflective of life experiences.  Hard life experiences can age/toughen an even young person and harden the “bark” around the camber of the living soul.

The alternative then is for God to grow a whole new trunk or vine, allowing a new tender vine to grow up from His roots in the soil of eternity.  Eventually, this new vine will become a full trunk and be ready to accept the grafting into the family of God. Oh, how good He is!   John 15:1-2

Jesus the True Vine
1I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.…

Where are you in this process? Are you the new branch that has been grafted into the family of God bearing good fruit?  Or, is your living soul buried deeply beneath hurts and bruises of life… all the cold winds, rain, hail with a thick protective bark producing the wrong fruit?  There is hope, God is here.. Look around He may be preparing you even now…  open your heart and be grafted into everlasting life through Christ and to produce abundant fruit in the family of God…  Christ’s Invitation


Where Feet May Fail


ocean_waves_207578It was early afternoon on a hot and sunny June day when my husband finally admitted that he was really sick. It was time to go to ER, he had difficulty in walking and breathing… Then realized he couldn’t walk or even get up out of the chair. This man who had been a runner… never sick, always strong even during some of the previous medical challenges… I was called out on the waters..  click here continue reading

My Son Cancer?

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Roll back the years to my son’s Jr. year in high school, football, weight training and a shoulder that just plain would work no more.  What was wrong?  The doctor’s x-rays showed an abnormal bone growth and in hushed tones he mentioned to me that we would need to schedule a full body MRI to be sure that this type of “abnormality” wouldn’t be found in any other bones.

The 45 minute ride home was very quiet as we were both absorbed in our own thoughts… Terror, rippled down my spine and through my bones as I visualized my only son … Bone cancer is what the doctor had so quietly mumbled, hoping that my son wouldn’t hear.  But he had heard and through the soft hum of tires on the freeway said, “Mom, I just hope that I don’t light up like a Christmas tree when they do that test next week.”  This was sure to be a long week end.  The Friday doctor’s visit was over, a long week end of wondering and concern lay on the horizon.  Monday we should expect a call to schedule an immediate MRI.  The doctor had been very clear that there should be no delay. To continue

Kimberly’s Story of Healing~ Cancer

When we call, He hears and answers. The answers don’t always come in the way we seek or expect… but they come. God is a faithful Father, and Jesus as the Shepard of our lives keeps us safe and is always within reach… often carrying us through the most stressful times here in this life. Kimberly’s life reflects His love, grace mercy AND healing touch. Thank you Kimberly for sharing.