Looking Danger Square In the Eye

Good morning from Buckeye Flats

Good, Vibrant Morning! by Marybeth Haydon

TRAVELING ALONG THIS IMPRESSIVE RIVER, WHICH IS FLOWING NORTHWEST, paralleling the coast, I scramble up a hill for a photo op. Standing as close to the edge of my perch as safely possible, I hesitate to begin shooting. The awe and power of the river is complimented by the fantastic diversity of the rock walls and it is commanding my full attention. Clearly, iron dominates the rock canyon, leaving a fantastic rusty patina which is frequently interrupted with dark green trees and shrub. Gray to black mudstones, siltstones and sandstones further the pleasant variations. Even a swipe of golden brown color to complete the picture.

Rough pallet of color

Rugged Pallet of Color by Marybeth Haydon

The river’s edge cuts a raw, white, jagged saw tooth line, the salt-crusted shoreline and boulders that rise above the water, where the natural water’s pulse and current spray have frequently misted the protruding boulders, scatter these highlights throughout the landscape. The current is intense, furious whenever the canyon walls insinuate upon the channel.
There is an odd, captivating rock formation close to the more turbulent section of the channel. It appears as though molten gray rock has spilled from the canyon wall with a round, spoon-shaped end closest to the water’s edge with its wide handle, ladle-like, balancing on the upper riverbank.  This salmon-frequented river flows primarily northeast before changing course to southern pastures and wetlands.

7-17-12 Leaving Fortuna 011

Interesting Color Contrast by Marybeth Haydon

Only a few hours into the trek and I’m met with dry-grass contrasting a man-made path with lush forests of oak and pines and other trees that I can’t distinguish, looming into its distant future. This revs my energy level, the promise of cooler, green pastures is inviting.

It doesn’t take long to leave signs of civilization behind and soon the hushed, fog-covered forest embraces my curious nature.  Every step is soft, debris-mulched and fragrant under my boot.

This is true paradise.

Burlington campground Fortuna CA 092

Lush Greenery Abounds by Marybeth Haydon

On up the trail I continue, not knowing just why I feel I should get really deep into the forest today but I am very happy to be here, doing what I’m doing.  The scenery never gets old, thank You God. The wildflowers are in full bloom and some are exceedingly fragrant. Their youth is renewed every spring, man, what a thrill that must be! I continue to scan the ubiquitous plant life and deeply inhale the surrounding scents. The perfume of the forest, nothing can beat it. The fragrances change as I proceed, pine mingling with wild licorice, licorice mingling with bay, bay mingling with mustard … I’m not sure if the oak trees have a scent but their dropped acorns are like marbles under my boots.

There is a spot reserved for me under a very large sequoia, its branches outstretched in a welcoming, “Come hither, under my canopy and rest.”  I oblige.  I remove my pack, habitually snapping the belt closed and settle down for a snack.  The sound of rusting paper from my energy bar has apparently alerted many creatures, the most forward and aggressive of which is the scrub jay in front of me.  Not far behind are a few squirrels & chipmunks in various stages of anticipation and wariness, and I’m beginning to wonder where Thumper and Bambi are.

I ignore the advancing blue jay and tip my head back to see if I can see any sky.  What I do see sends my heart racing and my hands shaking.

My head now on a swivel, I check my surroundings more thoroughly, then up again into the trees.  I begin to rise, keeping my eyes on the trees above me, moving ever so carefully, forcing slow and deliberate movement.

Where is mama bear?

Two curious black bear cubs are peeking down and over the foliage of the pine that is right next to the big sequoia that I am against.  Still looking up, I reach for my pack, once again thankful for my habit of cinching the belt, and toss my power bar over past the oak that holds the cubs. Backing away, thankful for the soft, cushy debris and needle-carpeted ground I am looking everywhere. Seriously everywhere. Behind me, above me, beside me. No longer does my immediate forest hold a critter audience, the animals have left town.

I just can not even believe this is happening.

cubs in monrovia

Black bear cubs. courtesy Google images

My heart ratchets yet another level as I swing my eyes towards the scraping, then soft thump sound.  NO WAY! Those cubs are heading towards me, SNAP! I speak firmly to them, “No bear!” but apparently they don’t understand English. The larger of the two is still, although a bit hesitant, coming forward. I am nearly paralyzed with fear. WHERE IS MAMA BEAR?

Lord, please

I bump into a bush, maybe a tree I don’t really care and could not afford to be distracted with finding out. My entire body is shaking, my muscles feel weak, defenseless  and inadequate. I sneak a look and find the path I came in on still backing away. Both cubs seem to be very perplexed, the smaller a bit distracted with a flying insect of sorts, the other looking from its sibling then to me, sizing up the situation.  Thankfully they are remaining grounded where they are.  But for how long, and the million dollar question: Where’s mama bear?!

I need not wonder any longer.


Angry bear courtesy Google images

Emerging from the underbrush, sending a fleeting glance toward my power bar, is protective mama bear!  She brawls at her cubs like a mother admonishing her children for straying beyond the yard, then gives her full, very direct attention to me.  Somehow I continue to back away, averting eye contact, wild and insane thoughts swirling through my mind. Out of the corner of my eye I see the cubs scrambling up a tree to safety.  Obedient children now that mom’s back.

Realizing that I have been shaking my head in a “no, no, no!” while retreating further, I force every cell, every adrenalin dump into sniper-concentrated focus.  I know the choices on what to do, now how on earth do I choose which avenue to take?  “Read the body language” comes back to memory and I continue backing away, not saying a word, my hands needlessly out in a “stay away” gesture.

Mama grunts threats, her sounds deep and quite menacing, then makes a swipe at the ground in front of her, sending dust and sticks flying into the air, shaking her lowered head. I’m reminded of a bull about to charge and I’m certain I’m going to lose it completely, right here. Right now.  She has not charged me, I take this as a very good sign.  I am still backing away when suddenly I’m falling, and I still haven’t landed yet!

Tangled in brush and briars, I look up the hill to see if she has decided to follow, then end me.  Piece by piece, Marybeth-mulch nourishing the forest. At this point I have lost all reason, tearing my clothes and skin as I thrash through the sticky under brush in full panic mode. I don’t see her, I have lost my pack somewhere along the fall and I no longer care. I am completely overcome with irrational fear as I begin to run down the trail.  DO NOT RUN FROM A PREDATOR but I figure after the fall that I’m far enough away and I’m around the bend so that she can’t see me? Panic trumps reason, it really does.


Paradise behind me. Courtesy Google images

I am back to the manmade pathway, out of the dense forest and I have not heard any movement or growl behind me since the fall but every fiber of my being is still at high alert. I collapse in a sobbing heap, then I begin to laugh. I think perhaps I’m hysterical, just a thought.

Once I recovered and was shakily on my way home I was first, exceedingly grateful that I was reasonably unharmed. Physically. Emotionally I’ll probably never be the same. I thought about the good habit of keeping my keys and phone separate from my pack and for the habit of always fastening my pack belt. Even though I lost my pack, had I not fallen, I would have had it for minute protection or for the first aid kit inside it.

Establishing good hiking habits and knowing how to interpret and react to animal behavior goes a very long way. Even when you mess up the best laid plans.

red daisy

For information on safety, signs of presence, and first aid please click: 

Pt 1    http://ow.ly/gY1Yn    Pt 2  http://ow.ly/gY1UB      Pt 3    http://ow.ly/gY1Og    Fight or Flight

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“…I was able to review Marybeth’s book and it is extraordinary. I thouroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading the rest of her works. are exactly the same. Our passions and desires for God and leading people to Him are exactly the same. Her experiences and survival stories are a great example of God’s love in a believer’s life.”   – Jason Kinnan  http://ow.ly/hVH0J

“… Wilderness Training is a smooth, enjoyable read. As you are reading, it almost feels as though you are on the trail with Marybeth. The details of what she sees are vivid, and colorful, and form a picture in your mind’s eye that you can enjoy while reading.  Wilderness hiking, like life, is not without perils, and we get a good look at this as well.  The near misses Marybeth experiences are exciting and I found myself turning pages quickly as I wanted to see just what was going to happen next! … As Marybeth is sharing with the reader an enjoyable adventure on the trails, she is also sharing with the reader her faith in God. … You feel challenged in a way to get busy and do something about your own faith.”  – Greg Holt  http://ow.ly/hAVyU

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Hiking in Sol Duc River Valley

Interview With Author Marybeth Haydon By Greg Holt from Inspirational Christian Blogs

Interview with Author Marybeth Haydon eye_of_god

February 8, 2013 by  Greg Holt

ICB: Marybeth I know you are a cancer survivor and have had some other close calls as well. Would you mind giving us a little background on yourself?

A: Thanks for asking, Greg. I’m a Spirit-filled Christian mother who has discovered an increasing love for the Lord while hiking in the wilderness. A breast cancer survivor, and was miraculously healed of lung cancer. I am now finding out why; to fall more deeply in love with my Lord and Savior and to share that and the joy of the journey with others. I also earned my certification as a Wilderness Leader during my recovery. I’ve written a series entitled Wilderness Training, detailing some of my times and trials in the wilderness and how the Lord is training me while I’m out among His creations.

ICB: How did you become interested in wilderness hiking, what was the attraction for you? How long have you been doing this?

A: I’ve been on trail a brief five-fantastic-years with a backpack full of exciting experiences since I averaged 2-3 hikes per work week, weather and seasons permitting. I started out walking an inner city 6-mile path in an attempt to lose weight and get healthy after my diagnosis but I was so disgusted by automobile fumes that I headed for the hills. Once there I discovered that I loved discovery. My imagination was engaged, my curiosity inflamed, I felt alive. My heart leapt with joy at the sight of deer, bobcat, fox or any wildlife. I was fascinated by their natural behaviors and instinctively began thanking the Lord for His most inventive and intricate creations. Then I began to notice the elaborate wilderness itself: the foliage, the hues, the depth the height, the seasons with the gifts that they allow, the complexity of it all, the inherent regeneration and multifaceted reproduction of it all. I was like a blind person who suddenly gained their sight!

ICB: In Wilderness Training the Novice you mention that you feel close to the Lord while hiking in the wilderness. I can relate to this as I have felt the same while walking in the woods especially when a stream is involved! What about being out in His creation, in the woods, or on the mountain trail really touches you and brings that special moment of realization that the Creator Himself is with you?

A: (Oh, I certainly “hear you” on the streams!) The awesomeness of the wilderness is like a magnet to my soul, a pulling and drawing-near to God that is certain and secure. Once I opened myself up to Him, whether through verbal praise, prayer or sitting still and comfortably alone; quiet before Him, I sensed that my Maker desired relationship. With me! In my early travels, I unwittingly experienced some dangerous mistakes. So I began to ask the Lord the night before my planned hike if whether it was a “go” or not. And He would speak to my spirit with a “go”, or a “no-go”. (I have to admit in the beginning I did pout somewhat when it was a “no”).  Since only He knew what the future hike had in store, I figured I had better check with Papa/Abba before heading out. There was an understanding that He was not giving me permission to go by myself, but that the “go” hike was a joint venture. It wasn’t, “Yes, you go ahead.” It was, “Let’s go!”  I also learned (the hard way) that even with a “go” that I still needed to use best practices and not just haphazardly march through the thick and thin of the trails.  He taught me to remain diligent in continually listening to His direction and to use my God-given ability to reason, to be observant and to use the safety skills learned, when to continue in the direction I’m headed in, and when to take the alternate route. If I was hiking correctly, then I was continually “checking in” with Him for His input, a safety plan that I’m now applying to my life on or off trail. The first moment I realized that the Creator Himself was with me was when I, without forethought, began to speak praise to Him, inviting Him to share the wondrous experience with me. When I acknowledged that “all of this” was testament to His handiwork, He confirmed my awe and wonder to my spirit and a whole new dimension of our relationship blossomed. I’m still somewhat dumb-founded that GOD wants to share experiences with everyday, regular me. That He wants intimate involvement in every facet of my ordinary life. The fantastic thing Greg, is that He desires the same, intimate relationship, with each and every one of us. We need to respond to His leadings.

ICB: Marybeth, you mention a night-time decent down a trail, it had just rained so you are soaked, there is no way to bear-proof your food, and your feet are painfully blistered. You decide to hike down, somewhat afraid, and in pain. As you are walking you begin quoting Scripture…and all of a sudden you are laughing aloud all by yourself! As God’s presence fills and reassures you, you have a wonderful “God moment, or moments” here, would you elaborate on this for us?
Editor’s note: this story within the story was a powerful and moving moment, it just grabs you and you can feel some of Marybeth’s exhilaration yourself!

A: Oh, I’m smiling at the memory! Fire never felt so great, however brief and fleeting, nor did this new perspective on perspective. Greg, if I could only continuously keep the right perspective throughout my everyday life, that would be a very wonderful thing. To have His perspective on the wildernesses of daily events; diagnosis, challenges, insecurities, relationships, mounting bills, decisions, the list can be endless. He showed me that my wildernesses were both literal and spiritually symbolic. We all have “wilderness experiences”. They are the spiritual challenges, they are the physical challenges, and the emotional challenges to march on through, to conquer, to overcome, to win! I realized that He is training me while I’m in the wilderness. Through Him, I’m never alone in any of my road blocks, no matter how rocky or isolated the path. Keeping memorized scripture, scripture being the correct perspective since it’s His perspective, is an absolutely essential tool and He gave me scripture to proclaim that night. When I first asked Him if it was safe to leave, vs staying the enormity of His presence nearly blew me over, yet it was intensely gentle. He instructed me to focus on what was important which puzzled me momentarily and of course He knew that. He then impressed “perspective”. Wow. The JOY that His perspective brings is so liberating! Fear took a swift and total flight that night. With full assurance that He is with me, fear doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I don’t need its crippling influence; I’m all about enjoying Him in the moment, in all of my “moments”. I’m also very appreciative that I’m able to share it while in the wilds as well. That night, as with many other times, the spectacular joy of the Lord, and knowing that He was with me, moved seamlessly right into praise. And isn’t that why we were created? To bring Him the glory and praise that is so righteously His alone?

ICB: Marybeth you speak quite candidly in your book about an incident that occurred with your dad and then a couple others as well, all being violent. In what ways did these incidents change you? What did you take away from them?

A: First, that it’s truly a miracle that I’m even alive, all things considered. Secondly, I have been threatened with a gun way too many times.  But I learned that the Lord has been with me through every one of those events, since He knew me even though I had not yet come to know Him. I did not fully realize it at the time but I had a choice to make, those events could be my stumbling stone or my stepping stone. The hard and threatening times forged an inner strength that I was later able to draw from, particularly while faced with danger in the wilderness. As I have been more diligent in seeking Him in my recent years, I see that His Hand has been on me my entire life, for which I am eternally grateful. This should give others who hear or read about it, hope. Hope because He cares so deeply, so spectacularly for each and every one of us, and to imagine that the God of the universe wants to talk to us, to be involved in our daily routines, our cares, our concerns, our very life. My only regret is that I did not get to know Him much sooner. I do not recommend putting it off.

ICB: In your book Wilderness Training the Novice, you mention the Lord healing you of the lymphedema that you were afflicted with. First, how did this divine deliverance make you feel?
Second, after you realized the Lord had healed you Marybeth, you were going to do something to “check up” on this healing. What did the Lord impress on you about this and how did you feel after what He impressed upon you?

A: He revealed, using a wildlife parallel that spoke personally to me, (which really enhanced the “light bulb moment”), that the lymphedema condition was an enemy of my body, the impact of that very clear truth at first confused and stunned me, then completely exhilarated me! His instruction to rebuke that condition made perfect sense. So I did, and He rewarded my faith and obedience. Then later, concern began to cloud my mind, I went off track with my “reality check”. If I didn’t treat the arm as I had been taught by my doctor, I would eventually lose that limb. To ignore the procedure I had been taught was a real leap of faith and I felt I was barely at a “hopping stage”. (Oh, me of little faith). I decided that I couldn’t be foolish about this, and to at minimum, measure the arm and compare that measurement to the unaffected arm every day for a while, just to be sure. Gently, (I’m crying now, snap!) He ever-so gently spoke to my spirit without judgment, “Do what you have to do. But know that I have healed you.” Oh man, I was instantly humbled, gently reproved, and I told Him how very sorry I was for my lack of faith. I felt that I had offended Him and His gift of flat-out miraculous healing and yet He was so loving and tender in telling me that I didn’t need “just to be sure.” I’m so grateful to Him. He is love, He does not hold grudges, He is forgiving, patient and does not take offense easily. He is the One and only good God! And He heals. Not only body, but imperatively, our souls.

ICB:  Would you please tell us about the day you were leading a hike, the last one to receive your certification, a hike after having run afoul of a rattler on a previous hike?
Afterwards, when the group hike you were leading was finished, how did the sum total of the day’s events leave you feeling?

A: Greg, after previously standing on a rattlesnake, I was plagued with unreasonable fear, I was terrified of making the same dumb mistake and just how many more near-death events could I possibly escape? I even feared the phantom snake in my home, unable to get out of bed without turning on lights, sweating and shaking violently. I had greatly overreacted when a rattler warned me of its presence during a solo hike a few weeks after the incident and I really could not allow that to happen again. This day, as a leader, I needed to pilot calm and confidence. I’d trained for this and knew what precautions and safety steps to take. I had already led other group hikes; I knew how to adjust a hike to fit the group and how to make the outing a fun, educational and impressive event. I knew that I needed to approach the trail with composure for the good of the group and for my own sanity. The wilderness is no place for panic and high drama! I thought about this while driving to the trailhead, when suddenly from the foothill of the mountain, out shoots this white bird, flying past my vehicle and up and away. I’ve not seen white birds this size in this particular neck of the woods, not even in this part of the state. The manner in which this bird shot up and over my vehicle really was startling, notable. Simply pleased with another “chance” sighting, I continued my drive and went on to lead the hike with calm and assurance and, thankfully without any mishap. Later, the image of that white bird came back to me with important clarity. Then it hit me: it was a symbol of His Spirit in the form of a dove (just like in the Bible!) that His Spirit was with me and would guide and protect me and the members of the group. A sign that, as I listen to His promptings, I would not “meet” another rattle snake under my boot again. This is so profound, so very important: I was not to focus on what I did (that horrific, accidental misstep off trail, ending with standing on a rattler) but to focus on what He did! He protected me so obviously, no matter how much adrenalin was pumping, no way was I able to outrun that rattlers strike! God prevented that snakes fangs from penetrating me! He manifested His protection and care that day, (as well as in my past), and will continue to the rest of my days. He continues to be protective and in control as I submit to His will and instructions. I’m learning; it’s an ongoing process. End of the day feeling? Humbled. Humbled by His interest in me, in my life and in the lives that I touch. I recognize that my faith is stretching, growing. He’s actually nurturing my faith! We all have our tests-of-faith and once one has invited Jesus into their heart, into their lives, we are more than a conqueror through Him during those trials and faith-testers (which build more faith, how cool is that?). I can no longer imagine going through the various challenges that life or my health, presents without His interaction, His help. All I have to do is remember: It’s not what I did, but what He did! When memory wanders back to that situation, and it does quite frequently, when I’m tempted to shutter and focus on the mental picture of a big, fat, coiled snake under my boot, still feeling the softness under me as I put my weight onto the step, that memory turns. And what I see is His Hand closing that rattlers mouth, and holding it back from moving as I ran, screaming like an insane person, from it. He turned that near-fatal situation into an impressive faith-builder to last me the rest of my days! I only need to draw from that deep pool, that deep well of knowing that through Him, it is done, He’s got it handled. I’m liberated from having to judge or deciding whether the particular outcome is what I wanted or not, because He has only my best interest in Mind and only gives good gifts.

ICB: At the end of chapter sixteen, you launch into a great commentary on God that is so encouraging; this is just a small sample of that commentary from the book: “He has a multitude of different ways to reach you and me, an infinite number in fact; He knows what is most relevant to you.”
Is there anything you would like to add to this Marybeth?

A: Creative God certainly has a limitless supply of methods to best communicate to us. He knows what is most significant to each person and He responds Personally to each of our needs, big, small or in-between. He cares about the most infinitesimal thing in each of our lives; physically, spiritually, mentally. His Word tells us, and it is Jesus Who is speaking, that He even knows the number of hairs on our head. (Matt 10:30) That is knowing someone quite thoroughly! He knows precisely how to speak to each of us, what will “hit home” for each of us, He knows each of us that well! Our contribution in this is to listen for His promptings and directions (key: be obedient to them) and to have relationship with Him. Worship, love and an ever-increasing faith simply follows, naturally. Greg, when I piece together a quilt, I know precisely where the weak points are, where the strengths are. Because I created it, I know that quilt. From selecting the just-right materials, to cutting up that beautiful fabric, then re-shaping it, then piecing it all together, all of this to make a symphony of useful beauty. Then I join and unite top, insulating middle, and bottom together into a single, valuable, warm and pleasing unit. Something like that, He “pieces” us together (our experiences, skills, weaknesses, preferences, talents, etc) He knows our strengths and weaknesses because He created each of us, individually. He knows what makes us tick, He has been watching us all of our lives. He created each reader reading this, into a warm, useful, beautiful creature and He certainly knows what is most significant and important to us individually. What He does for me, He will do for others in a unique manner because He has limitless, intimate knowledge of the inner and outer workings of each of us. He has invested Himself into each of us and He wants to wrap His warming Self around us in harmonious relationship!

ICB: Marybeth, based on your life experiences, what is the one thing you would share with people who are going through any kind of serious struggle in their lives?

A: I acknowledge that every single one of us is facing a challenge or many challenges, of varying degrees; it’s called “life”. Some of our lives hold more serious issues than others, but each life is equally important in the Eyes of God. Whether our “survival skills” are enduring chemo, wilderness exploring, stress management, caring for a disabled loved one or just getting oneself up out of bed today to brave one’s individual battlefield, they are all excellent accomplishments. But until we broaden the parameters of those techniques with faith in God, they’re just techniques with limitations. We need to conquer our fears, expand our horizons, and think outside the parameters of our circumstances. We, each and every one, all need supernatural help, divine intervention, enduring faith, and a personal relationship with God. Let Him capture your heart. We were designed to need Him, that is why trying to go about it alone feels so insufficient, so off balance, so frustrating. As one who has struggled, and was rather independent about it? If I could change the past, I would so that I could include my participation in the battlefield of my life to be co-soldier with Christ. I can’t so I move forward and not alone anymore, but in vital union with Him. I sometimes look at my life as a big puzzle. All the pieces need to fit together for it to make sense. The people around me are pieces of that puzzle as well. My sister’s elbow fits snugly into my abdomen, my foot into my neighbors arm, etc. There is a Vital Piece to my puzzle of life that is needed in order to complete it. 99.99% of it is there, but without that one Piece, it’s incomplete. You can’t frame and truly appreciate an incomplete puzzle.

ICB: I want to thank you Marybeth for being gracious enough to do this interview!
Do you have some final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

A: Greg, you are the gracious and generous one, and I justly appreciate the opportunity to chat with you and to be able to answer your insightful questions. Thank you for sharing this on your site. My desire is for anyone reading this who doesn’t already know, will come to know that the Lord Who is so good to Greg and to me, that He can be equally good to them. Getting to know Him is not a difficult thing but it is something that each of us must intentionally admit to 1) being a sinner, we have all sinned. 2) that each of us need a Savior, because good works won’t cut it, never has never will. 3) and that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, equally God, to save us from eternal damnation. All we need to do is admit, repent and accept. As always, God has the perfect plan and He is waiting for our acceptance of it and of Him. Be blessed, my friends with happy, fulfilling pursuits both on & off trail!

Editor’s Note: Your book really did touch me Marybeth; I enjoyed it and will read your other ones as well. I felt a connection with you Marybeth, almost like I was there with you at times; your writing is very good. I was I admit brought to tears in some places. This book is a blessing for sure! I hope others will read what you have striven to impart, that God is a vital part of our lives, no He is the reason for our lives. May the readers be blessed by your stories, and by the obvious love you have for our Father.  Greg

Pick up a copy of Marybeth’s book Wilderness Training: The Novice, for more information, please visit Marybeth’s home site here:  http://ow.ly/gY1ER  and visit her Facebook, get to to know this author a bit:  http://ow.ly/hycIm
Visit Greg at http://ow.ly/hAVyU   You will find his blogs truly inspirational, uplifting and you will be blessed for your efforts!   And to see Part One of the interview: http://ow.ly/hAVcY   Part Two: http://ow.ly/hAVhF

Taking the Time To Savor

Small Fall

Waterfall by Marybeth Haydon

In the Wilderness Training series I write about experiencing the unforgettable thrill of summiting high, intimidating mountains; the expedition strenuous and against heart, exhausting, demanding and relentless.  All the while experiencing the desperate need for rest, energy, endurance, and physical ability that is beyond what I’m actually capable of. Pressing-in, pressing onward, a can-not-fail attitude was developed as I struggled for every breath; the high-altitude air so very thin and miserly. I’m also humbled at my desperate need for vital union with Him. Despite the pain and difficulty, I joy and revel in His creation as I climb, captivated with the passing vistas and wildlife sightings. He is with me on my journeys, on the pleasant, no-stress leisure hikes as well as the dry, hot, draining struggle to place one-foot-in-front-of-the other journeys.  Metaphorically and physically.  In sickness and in health HE is there for me. Yes, it is very much like that.

The days destination acquired, the mountains deeply fresh air, is moist and sweet-smelling. The cool marine layer seems to enliven the natural scent from the abundant trees, flowers and native shrubs. I simply stand where I am, taking-in the pleasures of the beauty before me. A slight movement in the tree ahead of me steals my attention, my eyes shift to the source as I remain completely still. I don’t move in case this is something I do not want to frighten away. A small bird has poked its head out from the thick leaves and is looking at me. It cocks its head, twitching sharply, nervously side-to-side to get a better view, studying my position as friend or foe. Apparently, I’m not all that threatening, it zips back into its hide, chirping away.         Just how cute was that?

If I didn’t take the time to simply be still and enjoy the environment, I’d miss these cute moments. I think I have actually developed a relationship with the wilderness. Relationships shouldn’t be on the move or busy, which tends to crowd out the intimate times. Relationship is best when relaxed, unhurried, cherished.

Scotts Broom in bloom

Scottsbroom in Bloom by Marybeth Haydon

In my early travels I was nearly trampled by a panicked and really large deer, that if I had not stopped to listen to the unfamiliar sound of its panicked hoof’s clamoring on rock I would have been severely injured. It’s shoulders where higher than my own. One more step, one more stride and I would have been severely injured. I will never forget the eye-to-eye contact we had as it ran past me into the camouflaging brush on the side of the trail.

How many times have I neglected to turn my ear to His Spirit prompting me, am I continuing to listen for Him? Am I hearing Him daily, hourly, minute by minute before I make a decision, or any turn of the chapters of my life? Only He knows what is truly best for me, and what is or isn’t ahead for me and those who my life will touch, however transient.

So, daily, it’s an absolute MUST: I need to double-check myself: Am I actively seeking His will, and staying on-course? Am I listening to His gentle Voice, and importantly, am I submitted to His Voice, obedient? Do I savor His presence, His leading?   It’s time I be more diligent about this before I offend His Spirit in my hurried, distracted processing of daily life.


How about you?


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