Monday, December 16, 2013

Uplifting Weekend

When with a cough I mentioned to a co-workers I would be camping this last weekend, they just rolled their eyes as if to say, "There goes that loon again, out tempting the elements." I had to laugh to myself because if I were to be completely honest I would probably have said the same thing. My doctor prescribed meds for me on Thurs and on Fri I was out in near freezing weather on a backcountry (read this as trivial trails in Texas) hiking campout where we hiked in 3 miles to a remote site and stayed the night. No fire to warm us. No extra food other than what he humped in (ramen and hot cocoa). This was my 5th annual Dinosaur Valley campout and I enjoy each one. Past years have been below freezing (21 degrees with ice crystal on the inside of the tent) with a river that could not be forded and some years it's been a balmy 65 degrees with a nice breeze blowing under a borrowed hammock. Each year offers a unique challenge, provides adventures in the hike and sometimes gets exciting when we lose scouts and leaders and have to form search parties.

Surprisingly, this year's campout was altogether non-eventful. There were no emergencies. The weather was cold but not extreme. The recent ice storm still held it's grip on the trails with unmelted ice banks mocking my treadless running shoes (yep, still don't have a good pair of hiking boots after 13 years of adult scouting) urging each step to be cautious. The company was pleasant and the drive to and from was likewise non-eventful.

However, different from all other years, I took the serene morning hour before the boys and leaders were waking and took a short little hike just around the bend from our site to be alone and pray. I was standing on the top of a hill with most of the valley below obscurred by the mesquite and scrub oak that grew around the trail. The morning sun was beginning to change the dark night sky into brilliant pinks and oranges but then became swallowed by clouds that immediately cast their grey colors across the ceiling of my personal temple.

In my solitude I was able to pour my heart out to the Lord, unobstructed by the distraction and diversion of men, and was able to focus on His creations before me. After a few minutes, my heart became full and I could feel His love pour out around me, filling me with hope, desire for good and faith to carry on. I so needed His personal love for me that morning and as I gave my will over to Him he blessed me.

The rest of the weekend was filled with other spiritual outpourings for which I'm truly grateful. Both Saturday and Sunday evenings my daughters participated in the annual "Sing Noel" concert put on by our church. The concert is completely free, has over 170 participants who volunteer their time over two months for rehearsals and is one of the best choral/orchestral performances in the area. Of course I'm biased as I participated in all of the previous events. The experience this year was quite different being on the audience side of the concert. Through certain performances, especially when orchestra and choir sang together, God's Spirit touched my heart and I felt such a "thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices," as the song goes. Both performances were truly touching and I was so grateful to have witnessed them, grateful my daughters were likewise experiencing something so powerful and helping others to feel the same.

Lastly, I was able to teach a 5 year old Primary class which completely rocked my world. If these little kids were sharks, they definitely smelled blood in the water when I walked in. But through their exuberance for life, it was very clear to me how our Father in Heaven loves each one of us, wants us to put off our prideful ways, submit to His will and become like a little child. These children were so full of joy and love it was unmistakeable. While I was the assigned teacher, I certainly learned from them yesterday.

There are some bumpy roads directly ahead of my path and I'm grateful to have received some strength from a loving  Father. Part of life is figuring out how to deal with each bump. They knock us around a little, loosen up the cruft that is hanging off of us, holding us back. In the end, if we're faithful, the journey He leads us down refines us, shapes us and molds us into what He wants us to become.  I'm grateful He loves and cares enough for me to allow me to bump and struggle and I trust He will make me into something useful one day.
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