"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
June 30, 2010
Jon and I recently went on vacation to Yellowstone. On our way there we drove through Colorado, then up to Wyoming. We then drove east into the corner of Utah and up around Bear Lake, which sits on the border of Utah and Idaho; then drove through a small section of Idaho to get back into Wyoming. After a night of rest, we then spent the next day in the Tetons as we slowly made our way to Yellowstone. The Teton Mountains were absolutely stunning! While there we took an aerial tram to the peak of the Tetons, which was almost 2 miles high. The view from the top was absolutely stunning! We spent about 2 1/2 days exploring Yellowstone, and found it extremely interesting and beautiful. We then drove through the Shoshone and Bighorn Mountains on our way to South Dakota. We spent our last day going to Mt. Rushmore and driving through the Badlands.
While on vacation, the beauty we saw was just breathtaking. One particular song kept going over and over in my mind the whole week. It had been years since I had heard it, so didn't remember all the lyrics--only certain lines. It's the old Louie Armstrong song, "What a Wonderful World". Here are some of the lyrics:
I see trees of green.... red roses too
I see them bloom... for me and for you
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue... clouds of white
Bright blessed days.... dark sacred nights
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world
The colors of a rainbow... so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces... of people passing by
I see friends shaking hands... saying how do you do
They're really saying... I love you
It's almost impossible to think of enough adjectives to describe the wide variety of landscape and nature we saw on our trip. We took over 1000 pictures, but even those can't really capture the true colors and expanse of scenery. We were true tourist who stopped at most of the overlook areas. The weather we experienced was everything from rain, to snow, to sunshine, to wind, to cold, to heat. We might get out of our car one time and think, "I wish I had worn shorts today!" Then the next time we got out a short time later the clouds would be hiding the sun and temperatures would drop and we'd grab our jackets and zip them up. But regardless of what the weather was like outside, we would roll the passenger window down and stick our camera out the window and snap pictures if we saw something interesting and couldn't find a safe place to pull over. We'd put the camera strap around our neck so we wouldn't accidentally drop and ruin it. We'd even stick our head out the window and snap pictures sometimes. We laughed and joked that no one would ever want to go on vacation with us!
When we went up to the peak of the Tetons in the aerial tram, a lady passenger kept making comments to the effect that only God could have created such beauty. Amen to that!
In Yellowstone you can read all the signs about the earthquakes, volcanoes, and various catastrophes that caused the land to form like it did. That may be true, but God allowed those things to occur, and painted the landscape and shaped it with His hands. No man could have the imagination to create landscape as varied and breathtaking as what we saw. It makes you think, "If God cared enough to create such beauty for mankind to enjoy while on earth, just think what He has created for us to enjoy for eternity in heaven!" In our wildest imagination I don't think any of us can even begin to grasp the splendor and glory that God has in store for us in heaven.
Jon mentioned this briefly last week, but it was surprising when we saw people who obviously weren't enjoying themselves in Yellowstone. Honestly, it was mostly women and teenagers who seemed to be the party-poopers. Jon wrote in particular about the teenagers last week. I'm sure most of them were "bored" and wanted to be at home or inside somewhere so they could play video games, text their friends, and watch TV. There is basically no cell phone reception inside Yellowstone and in much of the surrounding area. I think during our time there, Jon picked up service for one short moment of time.
But I noticed wives who looked as if their husband had dragged them there. The men would be taking pictures and enjoying the beauty around them, and the wives would either go back to the car or end up walking as fast as they could around the area, then standing there impatiently waiting on their husbands to hurry up so they could leave. It really aggravated me and I wanted to just go shake those women and tell them to loosen up and relax and enjoy themselves; to stop ruining it for their husband. I heard one lady ask, "Do we really have to walk all the way over there and look at that? Can't we just leave?"
There was one particular gentleman who I guessed was from another country. He had two women with him, and I heard them speaking in a foreign language. I'm guessing that one of the women was his wife, and the other was probably a mother to one of them. It was in the Black Sands Basin area where there were hot thermal pots and geysers. There was a sulphur smell when the wind blew the steam in our faces. But the colors that the gasses had created in the rocks and water was amazing. Most areas in the hot thermal areas have a wooden walkway across them and you can walk out over them to see the different points of interest. In most areas the walkways are anywhere from several feet to 1/2 mile long.
In this area, the rocks were white and bright oranges with some bright greens. The water was anywhere from a green to a bright blue color. It was very interesting and cool to see. I overheard this man trying to point out certain features to the two women, and he was taking pictures, and you could tell he was very excited and interested in seeing this. The women looked bored and weren't really paying any attention to him. They ended up going back to the parking lot while he looked around and took pictures. I thought to myself, "This may be a trip that he had planned and dreamed of for years, and he may have been excited to finally have been able be there. But then the ladies with him were putting a damper on it for him by their selfishness and boredom."
Granted, there were many women who were thoroughly enjoying Yellowstone; myself being one of them! I though it was absolutely incredible!! You would see lots of couples driving or walking and they'd have binoculars and cameras with huge lenses on them. Anytime you saw a lot of cars pulled over to the side or a huge crowd, you knew that an animal had been spotted. Everyone would stop, run up to the "spot" with their binoculars, cameras, big lenses, and tripods. There was an excitement and a kinship amongst all those there because you were sharing this special moment together. People enjoyed sharing information, pointing out something they saw, and were overall courteous to one another so that everyone could get a picture. When there was an animal sighting, traffic would be jammed and barely moving as those who couldn't find a parking spot would stop and take pictures, then move on so the next car could take pictures. People would be lined up beside the road. Although there were a few impatient people who just wanted to drive through without stopping to take in the views, overall, there was a purpose in being there, and most people slowed their pace and enjoyed the scenery. One thing that Jon and I have talked about is that fact that although we drove a lot and saw a lot during the week we were gone, we never felt rushed. We took our time to really slow down and enjoy the nature around us. Although we did have reservations and needed to be in a particular place each night, we planned it so that we could set our own pace. If we saw something that looked interesting we'd stop. If we saw a pretty view, we'd stop and get out and walk around and take pictures. We got up at sunrise one morning and watched the sun rise over a valley where a black bear was foraging for food, and 2 bald eagles sat watching from a bluff. We stayed there for probably an hour or longer just enjoying ourselves. We sat in the car one evening in a little dirt driveway and watched the sunset behind Devil's Tower. We found dirt roads a couple times that went through national forest areas and drove down those. Our main purpose and agenda was to have fun and enjoy ourselves. We didn't return home stressed out, worn out and in heed of another vacation. We felt relaxed, revived, and refreshed. It was fantastic!
Psalms 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies proclaim the work of His hands." How true that scripture is!!
The wonder and majesty of God's creation is amazing. Too often though I think we get in a hurry, have a rigid agenda that we think we have to follow, and fail to take the time to really stop and enjoy the world around us. And sometimes we want to arrive at our destination as soon as we can, and don't take the time to take pleasure in the trip. And sometimes seeing beauty in something is all about perspective.
Jon and I were driving to Missouri a year or so after we got married, and I commented that I didn't like winter because everything looked so dead and barren. There's no green and the landscape just looks boring and ugly. He responded that he actually enjoyed looking at trees during winter because you can really see their shape and tell things about them that you can't see when they have leaves on them. He began pointing out different things about the various trees, like how one had broken over and grew straight higher up, or how another must have been in the shadow of another tree years ago, and as he did so I realized that he was right. We began looking at different things in the landscape and trees and my perspective changed. Things that I used to ignore because I thought were dull and boring, I began to see beauty in them. Now when we go places during winter, I can enjoy the trip and find beauty. That doesn't necessarily mean that winter is now my favorite season, but I can appreciate it and the varied landscape that it presents.
In Yellowstone there were areas that were just gorgeous; rivers, waterfalls, canyons, mountains, valleys and wooded areas. It didn't take a lot of effort to really appreciate the beauty of those places. But there were other places that you had to search for the beauty. There are several areas where the smell of sulphur is fairly strong, which is a little unpleasant. But if you drove past those places and ignored them, then you'd miss some of the coolest aspects of the park. When you look beyond the smell and begin to look at the different surfaces and colors and formations, you see how amazing those areas are. But if your attitude is, "This stinks, I want to leave!!" and you focus on the unpleasant smell instead of taking time to look for the beauty, then you'll miss an awesome aspect of Yellowstone.
Sometimes in life we have stinky things that we have to deal with. And when those things occur, we often want to stick our head under the covers and ignore the situation. We think if we hide long enough then maybe it will go away. If we complain loud enough, make a big enough scene, make others around us feel miserable, nag, and make our discomfort known enough times to someone, then we'll get our way and our circumstance will change. We want to just drive past them and go on.
Honestly, when we saw people doing those very things while we were in Yellowstone it didn't make us feel sorry for them or pity them. It just made them look like a big jerk. They drew attention to themselves in a negative way.
We don't realize that when we react to situations in that way that it doesn't cause others to feel sympathy for us. It just makes us look like whiny, spoiled children. People tend to have a negative opinion of us.
Two points I'd like to make from this. First of all, slow down and enjoy the world that God created for us. There is beauty all around us, regardless of where we may be. Sometimes we may have to look for it harder than others, but that doesn't mean that it's missing. When we find the beauty and take time to appreciate and enjoy it, it makes us realize how awesome and creative God really is. What a wonderful world this truly is!
Secondly, when life throws you stink bombs, don't hide your face and try to ignore them. Somewhere in the midst of them, God will give you beauty to enjoy. And it's those stinky phases that can cause the beauty to be created. Regardless of how yucky life may get, God can use those times to shape and mold us into something amazing.
One of the more striking things about Yellowstone is how full it is of contrasts. It isn't exclusive to Yellowstone. We saw a lot of contrasts elsewhere, like some of the brightest red dirt with some of the brightest green grass sprouting from it.
We've seen bikers around many times before, so it wasn't really new to us. We've seen hundreds of motorcyclists on scenic drives in Oklahoma, too. Two times stand out in my memory of our vacation: Once was a man who looked like he could rip a phonebook in half with his teeth, holding a high-quality camera, trying to get a picture of some very cute buffalo calves. The other was a man and woman who had just gotten off their motorcycle. He slowed down and reached out to take her hand.
The point is simple, and familiar. No one can judge what is in another's heart. Just like it may take time to study and find the beauty in the land, it can take time to wait and see a bear of a man stop to admire a cute calf.
What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
What is the shortest verse in the Bible?
What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
How many days did it take God to create the heavens and earth?
Who committed the first murder in the Bible?
2 pkg. Cream Cheese
1 c. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Soften cream cheese. Mix all ingredients together. Serve with sliced fresh fruit.
Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
6 days -- on the 7th day God rested.
Cain murdered his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:8)
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3
We love you!
Loretta & Jon