Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Tour of Colorado's Fall Aspen

Denise in a forest of Aspen trees

Today's blog post is a collection of pictures taken by my dear friend Denise, who, with her husband, recently returned from a road trip survey of Colorado's Rocky Mountain autumn color.

the bridge at the Royal Gorge
They headed south of here to visit the Royal Gorge, which is near Canon City and as you will see, is not a place for the faint of heart.

cable cars cross the gorge

The options for viewing the gorge are to drive or walk across the expansion bridge, take a cable car, or....

the Arkansas River

... just gaze at it from high above. There is also a passenger train that runs through this area, although I have no pictures of it.

Aspens in the Collegiate Peaks area

The majority of autumn color, by far, is made up of the golds and yellows against the deep evergreen trees.

We have been told that the result of the devastating loss of Lodgepole Pine trees has resulted in greater space for the Aspen to grow, creating more gold and (this year) giving us one of the most spectacular shows we've had in a long time.

St. Elmo, a ghost town
St. Elmo is a ghost town in Chaffee Country, Colorado that was founded in 1880 at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet above sea level. Gold mining and the railroad were its claim to fame until the mines eventually shut down and postal service was discontinued when the post master died in 1952.

a tourist friend of ours in St. Elmo
Tourism brings many people to St. Elmo these days (during the summer months) where old mining roads are now used as jeep and four-wheeler trails. We hear that fishing is good at Chalk Creek, which runs through town.

St. Elmo's restored schoolhouse

Many of the town's buildings are still intact, although the town hall burnt down in 2002. Buena Vista Heritage is rebuilding the town hall to its original state. (courtesy of Wikipedia)

driving the Collegiate Byway

Mountains in this area are called The Collegiate Peaks, named for universities: Princeton, Yale, and so forth.

the Continental Divide
Signs like this are fascinating to me. All rivers on the left side of the sign flow to the Atlantic Ocean (or the Gulf of Mexico) and all rivers to the right of this sign flow to the Pacific Ocean. Also note the elevation: 12,126 feet. The air is getting pretty thin up there!

Rain moves in over Cottonwood Pass
en route to Independence Pass
Views of the Aspen forests look to me like God opened up all of His pockets to let the gold fall out onto the earth.
Denise looking slender and tall atop Independence Pass, Colorado
Beloved and I rode over Independence Pass several years ago. It doesn't look scary in this view, but suffice it to say, Beloved promised me he would never take us back up there again.

a warning to keep the speed down
There is a cop car with a sign warning people to go no faster than 30mph. Upon closer inspection, our friends saw the law enforcement officer is of the hearty type that remains in place year 'round!

the Twin Lakes area
The Inn, local lodging
rain clouds move in at The Twin Lakes
Rain or snow -- both are frequent visitors to the Rocky Mountains.

on the way from Guanella Pass to Georgetown
This is just a sampling of the pictures Denise shared with me during their trip. While we don't get a lot of the deep red, purple and orange leaves in our Colorado Rockies during September and early October, we are so grateful for the abundance of gold. 

However, it doesn't last long!  This morning's newscast showed us pictures of snow that fell at Vail just last night.

And so it begins... pretty much 9 months of winter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Balm for the Spirit

a single yellow rose from my husband

I feel as if I had opened a book 
and found roses of yesterday 
sweet and fragrant, 
between its leaves.
L.M. Montgomery,
Anne of the Island

* * * * *

Reading and quoting to myself verses of scripture from the Bible is a wonderful balm to my troubled mind as I hear of violent attacks increasing in our nation. Often when I wake in the mornings, my first thoughts are troubled. My mind muses over the daily news as I sleep, trying to make sense of it all.

The enemy of our soul would like nothing better than to bring us down in the arena of the mind so that we are too weakened to think straight and do what is wise. 

There are many scripture verses we can and should use to combat the negativity bombarding us. Two in particular that have ministered to me in the last couple of days are these:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. 
The righteous run to it and are safe. 
Proverbs 18:10

Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and all that is within me, 
bless His holy name. 
Psalm 103:1

When I run in my mind and spirit to the Lord as one would physically run to a tall stone tower to hide, in that mental action, peace comes over me. 

When I speak to myself, essentially commanding all that is within my body to bless God, that means even the negative thoughts have to submit to Him. This mental exercise works well.  

It looks like we are in a physical battle with all the violence that keeps erupting in our cities.  We are.  But even more so, we are in a spiritual battle that seeks to weaken our resolves to do what is right and holy.  

Turning to scripture is my source of the sweet fragrance of peace and wisdom for these troubling times. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Who Are You?

my lunch box  with a homemade mixed bean salad,
grapes, and brown rice crackers

With this post I am wrapping up my articles about the ladies' retreat at my church this past weekend. 

On Saturday morning of our retreat, a young woman from the Navigators Ministry (based in Colorado Springs), led us in a thorough interactive Bible study exercise regarding decision-making, which was very good and focused on the importance of seeking God's wisdom.

At midday we were given lunch boxes from Kneaders Bakery and Cafe which had half a sandwich, a fruit cup, a bag of chips, and a scrumptious-looking brownie.  Since I am gluten-intolerant, I knew ahead of time to bring my own lunch. The box I had paid for  with my retreat registration was saved for Beloved's supper that night; he absolutely loved that brownie!

The afternoon speaker was a local radio talk show host who shared with us many insights regarding her career with radio, government service, and teaching at Colorado Christian University. She spoke at length about the many resources she reads to prepare herself for the weekday radio show, encouraging us to educate ourselves on the political issues as we prepare for the elections in November.  Of all the sources she listed, it was her opinion that CNN will give you the best "center left" views, and the Wall Street Journal will give you the best "center right" views. She tries to avoid the "fringe" sources on both the right and left. 

One last item I want to share with you is a questionnaire we were given to help us get better acquainted with the other ladies.  You might want to keep this list to use sometime with your gathering of friends. I have it below, with my own answers.


Favorite book (besides the Bible): 
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Best Vacation: 
Princess Cruise of Alaska's Inside Passage
Go to comfort food: 
Favorite movie:
My Blue Heaven with Steve Martin 
What famous/non-famous person would you like to have lunch with?
It's a tie with Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. 
How many times have you been engaged?
Where would you like to take a vacation?
I'd like to ride the Canadian railway through the Rockies with a sleeper car and meals in the dining car
What age did you become a Christian/Believer?
Age six
How many states have you lived in?
Ten: Oklahoma, Oregon, New York, California, New Jersey, Colorado, South Dakota, Alabama, Virginia, Florida (and British Columbia, Canada)
How many foreign countries have you been to?
Two: Canada and Mexico
What was your childhood nickname?
I didn't really have one
Do you like coffee or tea?
What is your favorite Bible study?
Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis
What pets do you have?
None right now, but in the past I've had a couple of mixed-breed dogs, a Boxer, a Great Dane, a Beagle, a Basset Hound, and 2 Cocker Spaniels (for whom I still grieve)
What is your favorite color?
dusty rose
What is your favorite song?
the Doxology
What is the most dare-devil thing you have done?
I rode in a  Remax hot air balloon at my kids' elementary school carnival. It was secured with ropes the entire time, but we did rise several stories straight up and then came back down again. (don't laugh. Not everybody is cut out to be Evel Knievel)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Time to Decide

Decisions: what to wear

... continuing with the weekend ladies' retreat.

As stated in my previous post, the theme for the annual ladies' retreat at my church was "In Focus, Decision Making."  Did you know that the experts say the average person makes about 35,000 decisions every day?!! (when they asked me, I said "Ten."!!)

Decisions I make every morning begin with how to style my hair, clothing choices, what foods to put into my morning smoothie, and it goes on from there. Those decisions are pretty easy (although I'll be honest in staying I do stress about them from time to time). 

For the more weighty determinations of life, here is a list of questions we might ask ourselves:

- have I prayed about this decision?
- is this in line with biblical principles?
- who will this affect?
- how will this affect them?
- is it an improvement?
- is it practical?
- is this the correct time to make this decision?
- how much will it cost?
- is the cost reasonable?
- how much time or effort will it take?
- do I have all the facts to make this decision?
- will the decision glorify the Lord?
- have I sought counsel about this decision?
- what are the alternatives to this decision?
- am I trusting God with faith about this decision?
- do I have peace about this decision?
- will this decisions hurt me or others spiritually?

These questions are great when we have the time to ponder all the ins and outs of the matter. Sometimes we don't have time.

Oddly enough, on my way to the Saturday morning session of the retreat, I encountered a dilemma that gave me no time -- I had to just react.

I was driving the speed limit on the Interstate with a pick up truck about five car lengths ahead of me in my lane when a very large piece of cardboard rose up out of the truck bed and blew straight toward my car.

I had time to whisper, "Lord, help me!" and then the cardboard crashed right into my car, apparently on the front grill work. I could not see it in my rear view mirrors, so at first I didn't know exactly where it was.

Traffic was on both sides of me, so I continued driving straight ahead in my lane. Shortly after that, a man in an SUV came alongside me on the right side and motioned for me to pull over to the shoulder. I was able to safely do that -- obviously other drivers had seen what happened and slowed to allow me to maneuver to the shoulder and bring the car to a stop. As I did that, the cardboard blew away to the side and behind me, lost to my sight forever.

I got out of my car and inspected it on all sides, thankful to see no damage at all. I was able to continue my drive to the church and all was well. My prayer for help was answered!

It is wise to turn over in our mind the options before us with decisions we have to make, not rushing into anything when at all possible.

But when an immediate determination is required, we need to always cry out to our Lord before we do anything else.

I cried unto the LORD with my voice...
Psalm 142:1

Post Script: One of my blogging friends, Terri, author of  Your Friend From Florida, left a comment on my previous post, hoping I would provide the answers to what the Coast Guard says we need if we are shipwrecked and/or stranded at sea.  Here is what I wrote down.  (There could be some mistakes on my part, so please keep that in mind): also note that a pack of matches should be in the list somewhere, like maybe #2???

1. a shaving mirror (for signaling)
2. a can of petrol (to burn as a signal)
3. a water container (to catch rain water -- can't drink the ocean water)
4. emergency rations
5. a waterproof sheet (protection and for collecting rain water)
6. some chocolate bars
7. a fishing rod (for fishing and/or hoisting a sail)
8. a rope 
9. floating seat or cushion
10. shark repellant
11. a bottle of rum (to dull reality? no, to burn, again, for a signal)
12. a VHF radio
13. a sea chart
14. a mosquito net
15. a sextant

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lost at Sea in Denver

centerpiece at ladies' retreat 

This past weekend was taken up in large part with the annual ladies' retreat at my church. The women's ministry team opted to have all the sessions at our church and we each went to our own homes to sleep -- a cost-saving measure that probably resulted in more participation. (I was not attending this church last year when the retreat was held at a local hotel, so I have no basis for comparison) 

popcorn table - deciding which flavor to eat
(one of the first decisions of the evening)

I liked it because I am well past any love I had for slumber parties as a kid. I don't know the final head count but it was about 60 gals seated at 9 large round tables in our multi-use-style worship center.

white cheddar popcorn

The theme was "In Focus, Decision Making." 

On Friday evening we munched on a variety of popcorn flavors and chocolates while playing an ice-breaker game with many decisions. We were hypothetically stranded at sea with a list of 15 items we had to number in importance for bringing about our rescue. 

Sweet-n-Salty (kettle corn)

First, we ranked the items personally, then with our table-group, and last we were told how the Coast Guard listed them in order of usefulness/importance, and why.

nearly naked, plain, popcorn

Would you like to play?  Here's the list:

a mosquito net
a can of petrol
a water container
a shaving mirror
a sextant
Emergency rations
a sea chart
a floating seat or cushion
a rope
Some chocolate bars
a waterproof sheet
a fishing rod
shark repellant
a bottle of rum
a VH radio 

caramel corn be continued.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hodgepodge Wednesday for September 14

Country decorating for autumn - dining room
my mother's cedar chest
bears from Sue
all quilting/needlework from my sewing room
Today is Hodgepodge Wednesday. Joyce, from her blog,  From This Side of the Pond, comes up with questions every week and then a host of bloggers reply (like me).  It's a wonderful way to get a sense of what others across our nation (and some beyond our borders) are thinking about current issues and such. Internet friendships are formed as we link up with each other, leaving comments on each other's blogs. Thank you, Joyce, for this fun and informative opportunity you provide to us so faithfully.

1. What's changed in your life, home, or community since your last birthday?

My last birthday was six months ago. Since that time my husband has retired, improvements have been made to our back yard, and my town has completed construction of a new freeway exit that was greatly needed.

2. September is Classical Music Month. Do you like/listen to classical music? If so, what's a favorite piece and/or who is a favorite composer?

Yes, I love to listen to classical instrumental music because it calms my mind and tends to lead me to pleasant, peaceful patterns of thought. Here are my favorites (below). Click on each title to hear them on Youtube.

Trumpet Voluntary by Clarke
Pachelbel/Cannon in D by Aureum Collegium

3. Beside The Bible, what's a book that has positively changed your life, relationships, career, or perspective? How so?

Hands down, the best book I've read in years is Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It informed me greatly about what to expect when I get to Heaven and has helped me to be more content with some delayed (or it's just not gonna happen) dreams of this present life, which is a mere blip in light of all of eternity. I wrote a book review on it a few weeks ago. To see that, click here: Book Review: Heaven by Randy Alcorn

4. I read here these ten hobbies will make you smarter ... 

play a musical instrument
read voraciously

*meditate regularly
work out your brain (puzzles, sudoku, bored games, etc)
exercise often
learn a new language
*write your feelings down (blog, journal, just write)
*travel to new places
*cook different kinds of meals
participate in sports actively

Are any on this list your current hobbies? Yes. See the *s above. Which hobby on the list would you be most inclined to try? I could be persuaded to read more, exercise a little more, and perhaps do Sudoku.

5. What sports traditions does your family have?

Anybody who knows my husband is well aware of his love for the Denver Broncos. 

6. In a few words, weigh in on the current football/National Anthem brouhaha. Keep it family friendly please.

In recent years, so many of our nation's time-honored morals, traditions, ideals, and now even laws have been challenged and changed. Showing respect for our flag and the National Anthem has been a wonderful binding agent for us but now even that is scorned by some. There are so many other ways one can make a statement about their beliefs (blogging, for one) that could be respectful and more effective. I am grieved that those who should be setting a stellar example for our nation (our young people, in particular) are making this choice to "sit out" the National Anthem. 

7. Where do you have loads of patience, and where do you lack patience?

(smile) My answer would be too revealing. I choose to not reply to this question. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

one of my friends sitting atop the fireplace mantel

Linking up at

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thankful But Incredulous

sunset in my town a few days ago

Here it is, the eve of 9/11 and we are still here, living and breathing, living out normal lives for Americans, and mostly free.

I say "mostly free" because we all know some of our constitutional rights are threatened in today's climate and therefore, it's hard to consider ourselves as free as we used to be.

Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001?  What were your first thoughts when you heard or saw the news of what was developing on our East Coast? 

My first thoughts were, "This is it. We are being attacked and will soon be invaded. Life will completely change for all of us." 

My next thought was the words to a hymn, "O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home."

Thus far, He has been "our shelter from the stormy blast." While thousands lost their lives in that horrible event, many more of us have been spared from further attacks on that scale on our homeland soil.

But in the fifteen years since then, our morals have fallen greatly in multiple areas, we have had many smaller disasters, and it is hard to envision things making a turn for the better any time soon.

Hence my blog title for today, "Thankful But Incredulous." I am struck with God's mercies on us when we, as a nation, are so completely undeserving.