Category Archives: California

From California to Wyoming, it’s only the beginning

We will be moving into our new apartment in Wyoming this time next week!  A tiny hospital in Rock Springs, WY, called Charlie on Tuesday for an interview then offered him the job that afternoon.  We didn’t even know his name was in for this position.  It was definitely the Lord who once again had a plan we couldn’t have anticipated and dropped us right in the middle of it when He was ready. I can’t wait to see what He has in mind for us in rural Wyoming – I can’t even really picture what living there will be like!

Since our incredible time in California is ending soon, last Thursday we headed back over the coast one last time.  We have actually been planning this particular trip for a while, but it kept getting pushed back.  We’ve had some action-packed days while on this assignment, but this day trip was all about relaxing and soaking up the last of the salt air.

We pulled into Half Moon Bay around 10:00 a.m. and saw that we were in for a chilly, overcast visit.  No worries though, since that’s the perfect weather for a drive up Hwy 1 with a caramel latte!  After a quick stop at our favorite coffee shop on Main Street, we drove about seven miles south to a small fishing village called Pescadero.

On the far side of town is Harley Farms, a small goat farm that produces a dozen varieties of goat cheese.  We got there just as they were opening and enjoyed sampling.  They even have an edible flower bed which they use to scent one variety of cheese, also making a gorgeous design on top of the wheel.  We chose a small tub of the garlic-herb flavor before heading out back to say hi to their goats.

We found a pen for three five-week-old kids and had a blast playing with them while they tried to eat our shirts.  Any anxiety about finding a job melted away as we stroked their soft fur, looking up at the mountains behind us and smelling the salt blowing in off the Pacific a mile away.  In another life, I think we’ll seriously consider owning an ocean-side goat farm.

Back in town, we stopped by the local market to pick up a warm loaf of their famous garlic-artichoke bread.  I have to admit: this was one of our main reasons for wanting to come to Pescadero!  There’s at least 8 artichoke hearts baked into each loaf of the soft, herbed bread, and it is to die for!  Charlie also slid a bottle of cheap wine onto the check-out line, and this (along with our gigantic Brentwood peaches) was our lunch twenty minutes later:

And to think I almost just brought us PB&Js to eat that day!  We camped out at a picnic table overlooking Pescadero Beach for about an hour, watching the seagulls hunt in the tidepools and the waves roll in beyond.  The air was still chilly and damp, so we decided that rather than sit on the beach all afternoon, we’d take a scenic drive down Hwy 1 to Santa Cruz.  This is the only section we hadn’t driven between Carmel and Pacifica, and we thought it would be fun to knock it out.

Only a few miles down the road, we ran into the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and stopped to enjoy its beautiful view of the coast.

For the next couple of hours, we wound our way down to Santa Cruz and then back up to Half Moon Bay.  Why the out-and-back?  We had somewhere to be!

We bought a Groupon several weeks ago to kayak in Half Moon Bay, and we were finally able to do it on this trip!  We spent the next hour gliding through the inner and outer harbors as we watched the pelicans bug the fishermen and the boats roll by beyond us.  We even saw a sea lion swimming just in front of Charlie’s kayak.

It was our first time getting beyond the shore (the water is freezing after all!), and it was a blast.  There was one moment where we were both still, just looking around and enjoying this new perspective, that we caught each other’s eye and grinned.

This is why we’re on this crazy, sometimes stressful, always exciting, adventure.  And it’s worth it.”

I can’t wait to see where we’ll be when that moment comes again (over and over and over!) in Wyoming.  This last picture is from the morning we left Alabama almost a year ago to begin travel nursing.  I look at it and feel overwhelmed at the thought that this was the moment we jumped off the cliff.  This was the moment we began a journey into places we’d never seen, never thought we’d see.

I’m also struck by how, as we look forward to beginning in a new place next week, we still have the same wide-eyed excitement to run full-force at whatever is in front of us.  We may be hitting the mid-point of our travel nursing plan, but we’re always just beginning again.

(I’m also thinking, “Ha!  I know how to pack that sucker better than that by now!”)

See more pictures from our trip here.

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What I Know

I don’t know where we’re going to be living on Saturday.

What I know is that Charlie works his last shift on Thursday night, and we have to leave our apartment after that.  I also know that we don’t yet have our next contract (or the place to live that comes with it). I know that we’re 2,400 miles from home. I know that we need to begin packing our things even though we don’t know what will happen next.

That’s what I know about our job situation. And to be honest, it does seem crazy.  But I also know several other things. (aren’t you glad? this was starting to sound scary!)

I know that God is good. I know He is in control. I know He has a plan for us and that He is not scrambling around trying to figure out what we’re going to do. I know He already knows.  I know I can trust Him to provide for us because I remember all the countless ways He already has. And since I know He doesn’t change, I know He won’t fail us now. I know there’s nothing we can do to help Him.  I know that all He’s asked us to do is wait on His timing and be nourished by the intimacy that comes from this deep dependence on Him.

Our Bible reading plan has led us to several Psalms lately in which David laments that God seems silent on some matter of distress.  Yet always within a few verses, David remembers how God has rescued him and provided for him before. With that remembrance, David’s laments immediately turn to praise and divine confidence.

God has never failed to give us what we need.  Right now we need our next travel nursing assignment.  Some might think we’re at a crisis point.  Yet I know we’re hidden in the shelter of the Almighty, and He is never, ever, in crisis.  

Even though this is the latest we’ve ever gone without knowing where we’ll go next, we fully believe and trust that nothing is wrong. It’s not as if God has gotten off track or forgotten us. We’ve realized His timing for revealing His plan is different from ours, and that is still very hard to accept in some moments, but I know He will reveal it.

Almost a year ago we asked Him to take us on an adventure that would dramatically grow our faith.  Even though we’re tempted to panic, we’re going to constantly choose to trust Him and praise Him for answering our prayer.

I now know that faith sometimes means packing your belongings without yet having a place to unpack them.

This hymn leapt out to me at church today, and I think sums up how God wants us to approach thinking about our situation right now:  “Praise ye the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth; Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth. Has thou not seen how they desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?”

He reigns over all things. He shelters us under His wings. He sustains us (provides what we need). We have seen before how He grants our desires according to His will.  For all these reasons, we praise Him!

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Finally exploring the East Bay!

As our time in California winds down, we’ve been hitting the road for some last-minute fun.  We finally took advantage of living in bigger cities and got tickets to a professional sporting event in the form of an Oakland A’s game.  Let’s just say that Oakland is exactly like what you might think – a little rough around the edges and passionately loud about their sports.

We had awesome seats in the upper deck right behind home plate.  Since the O.co coliseum is on the smaller side, even sitting in the upper deck gave us a great view in which we could literally see the path of the pitches as they crossed the plate.

The A’s had been on a winning streak, even scoring a walk-off home run win against the Seattle Mariners the night before.  However, we must have brought some bad luck because Seattle won the night we were there.  Even so, we still enjoyed being at the ballpark, as well as as our traditional baseball dinner of hot dogs and peanuts.

A few days later we headed back down the interstate to explore Berkeley.  Since Charlie worked the night before and needed to sleep some that morning, we only really had the afternoon to look around.  Despite skipping a lot of famous Berkeley sights or “must-dos,” we still had a great time visiting a couple of places our guidebook recommended!

Our first stop was the Bancroft Library on Cal’s campus.  Our Lonely Planet book describes this as a “rare manuscript library which is open to the public and houses all of Mark Twain’s surviving papers, as well as the letters from the doomed Donner Party.  Register at the front desk and spend an afternoon exploring.”  We both love history and thought it would be cool to take advantage of the opportunity to see some original historical documents – you know, for like an hour or so…just casually leaf through some interesting papers and head out for ice cream after.

What actually happened is that after we registered (involving giving our driver’s license numbers in case we stole anything and they had to hunt us down), we entered a room that was completely bare except for several large desks.  No books, no comfy chairs to read Twain’s civil war letters.  Just a sterile space with a wiry woman behind a counter looking at you like she can’t imagine what you might be doing there.

Us:  “Um…hi.  We’re just visiting and read somewhere that we could look through some original papers of Twain or maybe even some letters from the Donner Party…is that possible?”

Woman:  “What is your research for?”

Us: “Uh…we’re just tourists.  Did you know you’re in the California Lonely Planet guide?  You might want to check out their description of coming here…”

Woman: “Well, the Twain papers are on the fourth floor.  You’re on the second floor.”

Us:  “Ok…could we maybe check out some letters from the Donner Party?”

Woman:  “Sure.  Which specific letter would you like to look at?”

So that is how we looked like little kids trying to play in the big important library!  She was so nice to us, but clearly was not used to people just popping in to see their rare papers as part of a tourist stop in Berkeley.  We finally just told her we’d like to see anything from the Donner party – whatever she thought would be most interesting.

Once she picked a letter, we sat down at one of the sterile desks.  Ten minutes later, a woman comes over with an acid-free box and gives us instructions for handling the documents.  Inside the box are three letters from a girl named Virginia Reed written between 1847 and 1862.  One was to her cousin Mary describing her experience coming West with the Donner party.  Mary was making the trip the following spring, and this letter gave advice for avoiding the trouble they encountered (“don’t take shortcuts; resist selling your belongings too early for food – it will always be worse later, and you’ll be left with nothing”).  We actually read Virginia’s one-sentence description of how several members of their party chose to stay alive by consuming the bodies of the deceased. Imagine being Mary reading that, knowing you’d be on a similar journey soon!  It was a little surreal.

Another document – we’re actually holding paper and envelopes from 1847! – was Virginia’s letter to a man named McGlashan who wrote the most comprehensive account of the Donner party tragedy.  Virginia didn’t sign her name and instructed McGlashan to burn the letter because she wanted no ties to him.  She just wanted to tell him what she thought of his assessment and thank him for making it clear that her family was the only one that did not participate in the horror he described.

The final letter was written twenty years later to Virginia’s husband.  By this time, she was settled in San Jose, CA, and he was a Union soldier fighting in Virginia.  She begs him to write to her more often so she won’t worry so much.  She also spends a paragraph describing that God is good and she trusts the comfort He will bring her during the extreme hardship of their separation.

I love knowing we are in a relationship with an eternal God!  It was really encouraging to us to run our fingers over the words Virginia wrote 150 years ago describing her trust in the Lord’s goodness despite how hard things seemed around her at the time.

After we’d absorbed all we could of Virginia’s fascinating correspondence, we headed off campus towards Telegraph Avenue.  This seems to be hippy-central.  Several people on the sidewalks looked like they hadn’t left (or bathed regularly) since Berkeley’s hey-day in the 60s!  There were a lot of little stores selling all kind of things you might expect – crystals, retro jewelry, incense, etc.

However, in the midst of all this, was a brightly lit, modern little store front calling out to us.

That would be an awesome little shop where you can make your own ice cream sandwich by choosing your favorite flavors of warm, soft cookies and a huge scoop of ice cream.  We chose one snickerdoodle and one oatmeal raisin with cinnamon caramel ice cream smashed in between.  Then we high-tailed it out of there before we gave into the extreme temptation of standing in line all over again.

Next, we wound our way up to Shattuck Avenue.  We stopped at the famous Cheeseboard Collective which sells hundreds of gourmet cheeses, as well as really yummy breads.  It was really nice outside, so we ended up walking a couple of miles down Shattuck and into the bustling Berkeley Square area around University Avenue.  We grab some coffee at a corner cafe and enjoyed people watching for a little bit before heading home.

While I loved our chance to read Virginia’s letters, the people we saw on the streets was the most interesting thing about Berkeley to me.  On one corner, we saw a young guy from Greenpeace trying to encourage us all to save the Indonesian tigers.  Later, we watched as a rougher-looking man clasped hands with someone walking down the street, closed his eyes, and started praying on the sidewalk,  thanking the Lord for keeping his brother in Christ safe and for the blessing of seeing him again.

As much as I’m grateful for the Lord’s creation of nature, I think God’s much more interested in saving His people than saving the tigers. I would have loved to have bought that second man a cup of coffee and heard his story!

See more pictures here.

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Go, Go Bucket List!

We have less than three weeks left in this assignment. Three.  Ah!  I feel like we could be in northern California forever and still not have enough time to see all the wonderful, beautiful, interesting things it has to offer.

So with the end in sight, we’re on a whirlwind mission to cross some things off our Pacific bucket list.  First up: the redwood trees of Muir Woods (with an unexpected trip across the Golden Gate Bridge and an afternoon at Stinson Beach thrown in for good measure).

Since we’d be driving by Sausalito on our way to Muir Woods, I thought it would be a good chance to take some pictures of the bridge with San Francisco in the background (as opposed to taking pictures from the city with the Marin headlands in the background).  I wrote out directions to a viewpoint near Sausalito.  However, we missed a step somewhere and, before we knew it, we were here:

So we paid the $6 and drove over the Golden Gate, grinning ear to ear the whole way.  I kept telling Charlie, “You are driving on the Golden Gate Bridge, like, right now!”  We did finally make our way back to the viewpoint and took some pictures.  We also came back to Fort Baker later in the day for a better view, further to the side of the bridge.  I’m not usually one to get excited about man-made structures, but I have to admit, being this close to something so iconic was very, very cool!

By mid-morning we were walking into Muir Woods and getting lost in its gorgeous, dense forest.  I thought it was really interesting how different these trees are from the sequoias we saw in Yosemite.  I think I’ve previously used the words redwood and sequoia interchangeably, but they’re really unique from one another.  The sequoias we saw were more fat than they were tall, and the trees at Muir Woods reached impossibly high into the sky but were somewhat thinner.

We took the longest paved loop through the woods and were blessed to escape the chatty crowds in some sections.  It almost felt like the world was on pause as we walked hand in hand through the lush forest, hearing only our footsteps and the occasional birdsong.

Now, you may not think that the cafe at a national monument would serve up memorable food. However, I read somewhere that Tyler Florence chose the grilled cheese sandwich at the Muir Woods cafe (made with local Marin cheeses) on an episode of the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

All in the name of fact-checking, people. Somebody has to verify these claims, so it may as well be us.

After lunch, we hooked up with Highway 1 and drove a few miles north to Stinson Beach. We never know how to dress when we go over to the coast. We usually get a mix of wind and clouds, making it pleasant to be in jeans and a light jacket.  When we took the train to the airport in mid-June, everyone was in coats because it happened to be the right mix of chilly fog and wind.  However, sometimes you get completely surprised.  Like when you pull up to Stinson Beach in jeans and a 3/4 length top and everyone else is soaking up the hot sun in their bikinis.

We spread out our blanket near the shore and read as long as we could stand the heat.  It was so nice just to be sitting and enjoying the beach, not necessarily exploring or sightseeing, but just living at the beach.  We have plans to go back next week, swimsuits in tow, just to spend a day being lazy in the sun.

Stinson Beach is also a really neat little surf town.  It’s basically one short road with a bookstore, several cafes, and a little market.  You can walk everywhere, and we enjoyed strolling around a little.  We still had a few hours before dinner, so once we couldn’t take the heat any longer, we went off in search of the hidden town of Bolinas.

Bolinas is only three miles north of Stinson, but it’s notoriously hard to find.  When the highway department puts up directional signs along Hwy 1, Bolinas residents remove them in the middle of the night.  Apparently they don’t want the town turning into a tourist trap.  Luckily for us, our guide book gave turn-by-turn instructions to get to this little four-road hideaway!

We drove north on Hwy 1, hugging the pretty Bolinas Lagoon the whole way.  After a few left turns, we found ourselves parked on the only main street of Bolinas.  And then we realized why these residents want to stay hidden.  They’re all out of their minds.

The first person we see in town is an elderly lady wearing a clown hat and some crazy get-up.  Then while having a snack outside of the market, where the guy immediately knew we were visitors, we see the following couple:

We did head down to Bolinas Beach where we ran into several surfers coming in from the water, but mostly we ran into a lot of ex-hippies who looked like they needed a good detox.  So it was a fun little detour, and I can definitely see why they want to keep their little eccentric community to themselves.

Back in Stinson, we enjoyed dinner at the oldest restaurant in town, the Sand Dollar Cafe.  I don’t think anything feels more “California” than sitting outside eating delicious fish tacos (or, in Charlie’s case, fish and chips).  Mmm…yummy fish with fresh avocado and salsa fresca on a corn tortilla…

After dinner we drove back toward Sausalito and enjoyed seeing how the evening light made the landscape seem even more dramatic. You can’t get much more majestic than winding your way along the steep cliffs as the sun goes down over the Pacific.  We drove into Sausalito, our first time there, and had dessert while looking across at the city. Sausalito is a neat little town where all the homes spill down the cliffs to Richardson Bay, a small cove within the San Francisco Bay.  When we bike over the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow, we’ll actually bike into Sausalito where we’ll hop a ferry back over the city. It would be a great place to live since you could enjoy all the city has to offer without having to actually navigate it everyday.

Even though it sounds like we did a lot this day, it was really one of the most laid-back little trips we’ve taken so far.  I love the days when we’ve been good about not over-scheduling ourselves and just wander into a new town with no plans.  The fact that Charlie is my favorite travel buddy and co-explorer ever is definitely at the top of a very long list of why I’m so grateful to be his wife!  There’s no one who can make a day of doing nothing in particular more fun than him!

See more of our pictures from this trip here.

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Feels like home

No matter what, the South will always be home.  Not just the towns in Mississippi and Alabama where I’ve lived, but all of the South.  I can be in any town south of the Mason Dixon line and east of Texas and feel at home.  Though we’re all different, there’s just that one little something inside all Southerners that binds us together.  Whether it’s the ubiquitous backroads covered in kudzu, the little country gas stations where you stop for a diet coke and a pack of “Nabs,” or the fact that you feel compelled to talk and walk a little more slowly – there’s a thousand little connecting threads that make you breathe in deep and say, “This feels like home.”

When we were still in Arizona, we had the idea for me to use some upcoming birthday money to fly to South Carolina for my grandmother’s 85th birthday party and our family’s beach week.  It would be a rare chance to see not only my extended family on my dad’s side, but also my grandmother and aunt/uncle on my Mom’s side as well.  Since we’ll be out West for awhile, the chance to see so much family at once is rare and we decided I should make the most of it.  Unfortunately, Charlie doesn’t really get vacation time, so I had to go alone and leave him behind to work seven nights in a row (crazy California nursing strikes!).  However, I set him up with some gift certificates for a massage, a couple of movies, etc. to try to make up for it!

There were so many wonderful blessings on this trip that it’s hard to put them all into words.  While I can’t describe how my heart practically burst from being back home for ten days, here are some of my favorite moments:

  • My grandmother, Momer, staying up late in the hotel room in Atlanta just to hug me when I finally got off the plane.
  • My mom bringing a Tato-Nut all the way from Ocean Springs so that I’d have one on my birthday the next morning.
  • My Aunt Chae and Uncle Timmy surprising me with a cookie cake on my birthday at their cabin in the Smokies.
  • Having to tell my mom and uncle to get off their Facebooks so we could visit!
  • Enjoying a breakfast of fresh biscuits and blackberry jam with everyone as we watched the birds outside and looked out over the mountains.

  • Seeing my other grandmother, Grandmama, laugh with her friends at her 85th birthday party.  She and her friends lived in Rock Hill together as girls and have stuck together all this time.  They are a riot to be around!
  • Having the chance to visit with a lot of cousins I don’t get to see often enough.
  • Having a coke on Grandmama’s back porch – my favorite place ever – looking out over her huge hydrangeas and enjoying the breeze.
  • Celebrating my Uncle Cameron’s recent marriage to the wonderful Carol with a cake on our first night at the beach.

  • The food!  Peaches, Priester’s pecans, 14-layer caramel cakes, Kiawah trash mix, cobbler, cheese grits, Bates’ turkey sandwich, fresh steamed crab, sliced tomatoes with honeybaked ham, shrimp and grits. banana’s foster cheesecake, Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan.
  • Meeting my parents on the porch each morning to have our first cup of coffee and watch the sun come up.  On one morning, I woke up extra early and looked outside to see my mom down by the water.  I ran downstairs and we had a long walk along the water’s edge just as the sun was rising through the clouds.

The biggest blessing was seeing how the Lord already ordained this trip when we were still in Arizona.  On our second morning at the beach, my dad wrecked his bike and broke the left side of his pelvis.  He and mom had driven two cars to SC, and we needed a way to get both cars back to Mississippi since he couldn’t drive.  The Lord knew all of this was going to happen and allowed me to be there as an extra driver to take him home then fly back from Gulfport.  As much as I hate what happened to my dad, I’ll always treasure the extra two days we had in the car together and our dinner date in Biloxi the night before I left.

So in ten days, I hit every state in the South except Tennessee.  And though I only passed Auburn on the interstate (so hard not to stop!) and was in Ocean Springs for all of twelve hours, I definitely felt like I was “home” the entire time.  Of course, getting off the plane in San Francisco and seeing my wonderful husband waiting for me made it feel like I hadn’t left home at all –  I was just flying from one to another.

See more pictures from my trip home here

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Point Reyes

Salty marshes leading to untouched beaches with rolling waves….yellow, white and purple wildflowers tangling themselves in the breeze along the road…the lighthouse foghorn blowing steadily into the wind…a herd of elk barely visible as they roam through the afternoon fog.

Point Reyes.  It’s magical.

After our trip to Half Moon Bay a few weeks ago, we’ve been more than ready to get back over the coast.  Point Reyes is just north of San Francisco in Marin County.  Though it’s only twenty miles to the city, it may as well be on another planet.

Our morning began, as all mornings should, by checking out the local bakery and bookshop before heading into Point Reyes National Seashore Park.  I really can’t think of a better way to start a day than with a chocolate croissant on the way to the beach!

From the park entrance, we drove about 45 minutes to the Point Reyes lighthouse.  The drive was one of the best parts of the day as we passed various bays (known for their good oyster beds) and countless dairies (Marin Co. is chock full of dairies producing some incredible cheese).  The wildflowers along the road were so beautiful blowing in the breeze.  Parts of the drive made me feel like we were back in the lowcountry of South Carolina with that wonderful salty smell of the marsh.

The lighthouse is known as the windiest point on the entire western coast of the U.S.  We can attest to this!  The winds that day were blowing consistently at 30 mph, and it was a crazy walk down the 308 steps to the actual lighthouse.  Luckily, we enjoyed clear skies most of the morning and could see up and down the coast.

After sorting out our windblown selves (involving a lot of painful hairbrushing), we walked about a mile and half out to Chimney Rock where Drakes Bay meets the ocean.  We were the only ones on the trail through the tall grass, with the still bay on our left and the ocean crashing against the rocks on our right.  The colors here were incredible!  Both the sky and the ocean were a perfect Crayola blue.

Charlie’s day was made even better when we saw some giant elephant seals sunning themselves on the beach far below us!  The point at Chimney Rock is gorgeous and looks back on the white sandstone cliffs of Drakes Beach (on the bay) and towards the lighthouse in the other direction.  There is a little white clapboard home with green shutters near the bay, and I so wish we could somehow get this family to adopt us.   I’d put the coffee on every morning if they’re give me a bedroom overlooking the bay.

The fog was coming in when we got back to the car, and we drove on to the Tule Elk Preserve not sure what we’d actually be able to see.  Many years ago, a small group of elk was brought to the park to try to preserve this certain species.  There are now more than a hundred in the herd, and they roam free in the preserve above the ocean.  Even though the fog was pretty heavy by now, we were so happy that it didn’t totally obscure our view!

Excited that we had now seen both seals and elk in the same day, we headed back to Pt. Reyes Station for dinner at the Station House Cafe.  This restaurant uses all local ingredients when possible, including the most well-known local cheeses.  Therefore, we really can’t be blamed that we ordered an entree of mac n’ cheese as an appetizer followed by cheeseburgers.  It was all in the name of supporting small local farms!

Stuffed to the gills, we made the beautiful drive to Limantour Beach to watch the sunset.  Though it was still too foggy for a good sunset, we did enjoy being the only people on the beach.  We only spent a few moments there, but it’s solitary beauty was the perfect way to end the day.

Point Reyes is so varied that it’s really hard to pick any one feature as our favorite.  The wildflowers, the salt water smell being carried on the wind, the rolling hills leading to secluded beaches with waves crashing on shore…all of it is worthy of its own trip, and we’re so blessed to have enjoyed it all in just a day.  It’s as if God just couldn’t help Himself and spilled out every bit of His beauty on this place when He was creating the world – there’s no other explanation!

See more pictures from our day in Pt. Reyes here.

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Finding strength in His goodness

It’s not a huge secret that I am easily given over to anxiety.  I think a lot of “Type A” people struggle with the need for control, and we’re prone to feeling very anxious when things seem beyond our ability to manage.  (For example, travel nursing by nature is difficult to “control” since we’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants most of the time and our circumstances change every three months – constant changes in hospitals, pay, etc. can easily lead to anxiety over the lack of ability to really plan anything in advance.  Sure, it’s a glorious ride most of the time, but it has its stressful moments too).

The thing about life, however, is that it’s frequently beyond our ability to manage.  It’s supposed to be this way.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t need God.  He allows our world to be more than we can handle so that we realize we are dependent on Him to handle all things.

Our Bible readings for today (from our year-long plan of chronologically reading through Scripture) include several Psalms written by David when he’s being falsely accused and pursued by Saul.  David’s circumstances definitely seem ripe to produce anxiety!

However, I was struck this morning by the theme of hope in these psalms.  Even when faced with attacks and circumstances that are beyond his control and aimed to destroy him, David’s first response is often affirming his trust in the Lord and his belief in God’s goodness.  This trust in God’s goodness leads to hope, which leads to the strength he needs to bear his circumstances.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:13

Without the belief that we will see God’s goodness (not just hear of it, but see it!), our circumstances will swallow us up with despair because we would be without hope.  This trust and belief in His goodness gives us strength to wait on God as our redeemer and sustainer.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24

Hope is again linked to having strength and courage of heart.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4

God will answer me when I seek Him.  This exchange, the nearness of His living presence, will deliver me from all my fears because I will be so comforted and strengthened by His love and sovereignty.

O taste and see that the Lord is good!…They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”  Psalm 34:8, 10

All it takes is one “taste” (encounter) with the Living God to see that He is good!  If I seek Him, it is not within His nature to withhold any good thing from me.  I never have to fear that I am lacking in anything that I need or anything that would benefit me.  As my Father, He knows my needs and provides for them.  If it has not been provided, I do not need it.

God is good – not just in carefree times, but most especially in all other times!  These psalms constantly affirm that His goodness will prevail in the lives of all those who trust Him and fear Him.  David faces his uncertain circumstances head on and rather than panic, he finds strength in the belief that God’s goodness is stronger than any bad he may currently face.

What a lesson to me!

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