The bird let me approach him. He fluttered his wings, twittered, and buzzed, but he remained on the barren branch. I stood very still as I took his picture, and it made me think of the poem our family pastor posted. Hope is a thing with feathers, I recited as I looked at this bird. But first we need to get off the ground and take that first flight into a new future. That was my addition to Emily Dickinson’s poem this week.
Fly with faith.
Fay Canyon Trail is only a mile. However, you can extend this simple hike by taking a small path that leads away from what I call the staircase. The small, side trail leads away from the main trail and brings you deeper into Fay Canyon. Originally, we wanted to hike a twelve mile hike, but got lost and did this one instead. Overall, by combining the trail at Fay Canyon and the other trail nearest the parkinglot, we hiked five miles. Sedona is absolutely beautiful, and this part of Sedona won’t cost you a $5 pass so common here.
“I’m an old hippie from the 70’s.” The man says, dressed in his sweat pants and gray tee-shirt. “Do you have to have a gun to hike here?”
The lake ripples behind him, studded by lillypads and fall leaves. A stop-and-go breeze cools the warm October day. Nearby, a man in a blue truck shakes the water out of his electric boat. The old hippie leans against his car and crosses his arms over his chest.
“No,” I smile, enjoying my next sentence a little too much. “This place is the highest population of mountain lions in the area. Animals usually like to come out early mornings and late, late afternoons.”
“Just the time when I am going to go hike that trail.” He points to the trail head behind the public bathrooms. “In the morning.”
“There’s a lot of human scent on those trails. Chances are you’d be okay, but there have been times, like when that rapid fox latched onto the arm of a hiker a few years ago.” I say.
“We don’t go anywhere without our firearm.” Tony nods.
The conversation continues and Tony ends up shaking hands with the old hippie. As Tony and I begin our hike to the summit of Granite Mountain, I say to him:
“I should have told him we know a hippie who now packs a firearm.”
We both laugh. A bee does a rude fly by past my ear. A duck takes off across the lake, leaving ripples in his wake as he tries to gain altitude.
My husband would later say, the man at the truck rolled his eyes. He had an attitude, but as the conversation continued in an unoffended way, that old hippie appeared to soften.
Militant liberals tend to brain wash regular liberals with false facts and stereo types. So when an old hippie meets a couple wearing a gun, his response is curiosity and gentle sarcasm. It’s interesting to say the sarcasm seemed to hide a genuine interest. For that, I am glad on that warm Sunday to have met the old hippy and to show him that gun owners aren’t the threat.
Mt. Elden is more difficult than climbing Mt. Humphreys in that it is steeper. It’s only six miles round trip. Each mile as you get closer to the top feels longer. It took us four and a half hours total, including a lunch break at the top. The ranger allowed us to climb the tower.
Life is too short to live life on Facebook. On a rainy day, a deluge, my husband and I went on an impetuous road trip. Tonto Natural Bridge is located just outside of Payson, Arizona. It’s not a difficult hike, but it is a slippery one. One portion required some balance and climbing. Otherwise, the rain fell in sheets and we enjoyed the freedom of living, breathing, and tasting life in it’s very real form.
Unfortunately, our Anonymous Blogger gave me a paper petition. I am unable to pdf it from this location. Be aware that a citizen’s petition for the “Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2013 (S.890) is being circulated. American Policy Center is requesting that the signed petitions be sent to them. Please call Senator McCain and Flake to support passage of this bill.
The mouse trap snapped in the middle of the night. I smiled. The intruder was caught. I stared up at the pocked ceiling and let my eyes follow the lines of this simple, yet beautiful church. Tonight marked a first—spending the night in a church. The whole experience this past weekend showed the glory of God’s Word with no frills, including the simplicity of our sleeping arrangements.
When I first arranged for my husband and I to visit our host pastor and his wife on Navajo Land in Kayenta, Arizona, we did it without representing our church. We were going as Tony and Nikole Hahn to get our feet wet in missions, to experience a different culture only four hours away from home, but the truth was I’ve felt a tugging towards the Navajos for many years. I don’t know if I would call it a calling or not. That seems so super-spiritual, like I should be wearing robes and a bright, golden halo or something. Daylight Savings Time was our first hurdle.
The Navajo Nation in Arizona is not on Mountain Time, but Daylight Savings Time. We didn’t know this, but we were afraid that mapquest was wrong on how long it would take for us to drive to Kayenta. So we left an hour early and arrived 30 minutes before the start of service and discovered the difference in time. I didn’t have time to print out my notes and instead took my laptop. Teaching Sunday School nearly terrified me.
When our host pastor first mentioned teaching Sunday School, I thought, “I never attended Bible College!” What makes me authoritative to teach young or old? God has put a burden on my heart for people who have “daddy-issues” and so I spoke on how marriage is an illustration of what God wants our relationship with Him to look like. I spoke a little of my testimony, on strong families and marriages, and I used Ephesians 5:30-32 to conclude my talk. Amazingly, the pastor’s sermon coincided with my talk though we didn’t really plan it together. I did tell him what my topic was and our host pastor said it was what the Navajos needed to hear.
When I arrived at the church, I felt comfortable. Even while I was teaching the Sunday School, I really felt God with me. I was in the right place at the right time. The Navajo people are so loving. Their church is a refreshing change from the music, the choirs, the high definition televisions, the order of services, the bands, etc.
The day was spent without access to a television or internet. Cell phone service was spotty. We weren’t familiar with Kayenta and where one could hike. So we drove the 19 miles to Kayenta from the church and did a quick sight-seeing tour. Then, we spent the rest of the day relaxing in the quiet, drinking tea, making a simple dinner, and reflecting on all we observed and experienced.
Experiencing the Word of God without frills felt good, peaceful, and intimate. The people were different than any church I had ever attended. The service had songs sang with just a piano in accompaniment. I felt privileged to hear prayers in Navajo. They had a Navajo class for those who didn’t know English and a Sunday School class for english-speaking Navajos. Young and old gathered in the same room as I taught. They all heard the same message from ages 5 to 70 from all walks of life. The message our host pastor delivered spoke about joy in trials. The Navajo people certainly show this from the gas station attendant, the people getting gas, to the mini-mart. People smiled at you.
People were content with what little they owned. Five or six people lived in some of these one-room hogans. One hogan was beautiful, and in that simplicity, the person who owned it is growing closer to God and her children every day. There are no distractions that our culture, even our Christian culture, offers where she lives. Just her, her community, acres of land, and her children with morning and evening devotions. We arrived to teach and left a student, having learned much more than we taught.
Tony and I made a promise that we would come back once or twice a year to visit and serve. They are so hospitable and kind. You can’t help but love them. I even made new friends with a promise to keep in touch.
Spending the night in a church is by far unique. We also made sure to leave the place as clean as we found it, even cleaner when I disposed of the mouse caught in a trap.
Pastor Will Tsosie and his wife, Lena, have many needs! In the next few weeks, they need plumbers and electricians for the new church building. The next phase of the construction of their new church building begins in September. If you can help provide the workers, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and phone and I will forward it to Pastor Will.
Pray for us while my husband and I get our feet wet in missions. We will be on our second day in Kayenta, Arizona serving the Navajos. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy my guest post at BibleDude here. I’ll respond to your comments on Tuesday or Wednesday.
I wrote the above guest post because I get tired of the hypocrisy. We tell our children to not bully, but in the next breath, we’re sending a vitriol tweet to someone wishing them illness or death; or we’re suing someone because we disagree with them. Read my post and see if you agree or disagree. Leave a comment. I love comments.
Today we celebrate Independence Day, but for many, death has eclipsed this day. Nineteen firefighters of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died on Sunday, June 30. Our whole community came together on Tuesday, July 2 for a candlelight vigil. 5,000 people were present, not counting the hundreds perhaps at the nearby annual rodeo who also paid tribute to the firefighters in the arena.
Northern Arizona is a close community. What affects one affects others. Hate-mongers, like Westboro Baptist Church, tweeted that they intended to picket the memorials. This is not surprising, but what they intended for evil, God brought together an army of His own made up of, “police, firefighters , Marines, Army, Hells Angels, Latin Riders, Freedom Riders, normal people , young people, and old; you name it, we had it! (quoted from San Martin Rodriguez’s site).” Not only did this add a wall of protection for the families of the firefighters and those participating in showing their love to those families, but it served to remind the outside world of the love which comes from above.
To all those there for the purpose of protection, THANK YOU.
To those who do not understand the difference between Westboro Baptist Church and other Baptist Churches, it’s simple. Westboro does not follow the Bible. They are faux Christians, part of the devils work, to discredit legitimate Baptist churches. They are not a church, but a cult. I attend a Baptist church. We are not connected organizationally or theologically with Westboro as all other Baptist churches are not connected to that cult.
Attend a church service at other Baptist churches and you’ll see a huge difference in how people act and love. Yes, we are a tattered bunch of sinners who are struggling to not sin, to honor God by our words and actions, but we are nonetheless followers of Christ. We are a community connected to other like-minded churches, and when tragedy occurs, our pastors and ministry leaders come together to help a grieving community heal, not because it’s convenient, but because we love each other.
So today is a tough day and in spite of the fireworks in the sky or the smell of BBQ in the air, some widow is burying her head in a pillow and crying until her eyes are swollen. She’s living day-to-day, and wondering if this is all a dream. Friends of the fallen firefighters remember it was just last week that their comrades were full of life. A church friend shook hands after the Doce Fire with one of the fallen and now can’t believe that man is gone. Today remember the roots of our country, what our founding fathers fought for, and remember these 19.
Please write a prayer in the comments. I will post it on the Granite Mountain Hot Shots Site. Or you can post your comments here yourself. To the family and friends of the 19, you are in my prayers daily and will be everyday!