Mt Emily Recreation Area winter






Through the dedicated efforts of a group of Union County citizens, the Mt Emily Recreation Area was purchased from timber/property company Boise. Whereas most folks use it in the spring, summer, winter months, the area offers excellent winter recreation. Meg and I have enjoyed snow shoeing here. Recently, several days of snow were followed by very cold weather and blue skies. The snow hung heavily on the pine and fir branches, creating a proverbial winter wonderland.

Celebrate. New Year’s Eve: 2010






I took these pictures yesterday morning, but I like them as a way to end the old year and begin the new one. The sliver moon pictures were taken at early sunrise and the remainder were taken at sunset, after spending the afternoon cross country skiing up at Anthony Lake with Marshal, Jasmine, and Chung.

As this season, this year draws to a close, I like what Henri Nouwen writes on the theme of celebration: “Celebration is not a party on special occasions, but an ongoing awareness that every moment is special and asks to be recognized as a blessing from on high. It lifts up not only the happy moments, but the sad moments as well. Since joy enhances all of life, it does not shy away from painful moments of failure, departure, and death. Following the Lord involves celebration, the ongoing, unceasing lifting up of God’s love that has proved itself victorious. Celebration is the concrete way in which God’s ecstatic joy becomes visible among us.”

Glory to God in the Highest



That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord’s glory shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior–yes the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you will recognize him by this sign: you will find the baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a whole host of others–the armies of heaven, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Overwhelmed with joy



How wonderful to be “overwhelmed with joy,” as the prophet Isaiah writes. This is the season to be overwhelmed with joy as we wait to celebrate the birth of Christ who came to live with us and for us, “God and sinners reconciled.” Yet we do need to be reminded continually, as the angels have told us, “do not be afraid…nothing is impossible with God.” We are surrounded, always, by this most incredible and joyful assurance!

Everlasting Joy



“Joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of barren trees. When you touch the hand of a returning friend, you already know that he or she will have to leave again. When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun colored ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same. Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can’t find words to capture your complex emotions.
“But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one can take away from us.” Henri Nouwen

God always calls us back



“I trust in you, Lord, but keep helping me in my many moments of distrust and doubt. They are there and will be every time I turn my eyes, ears or hands away from you. Please, Lord, keep calling me back to you, by day and by night, in joy and in sadness, during moments of success and moments of failure. Never let me leave you. I know you walk with me. Help me walk with you today, tomorrow and always.” Henri Nouwen

He will take great delight in you



In today’s “My Utmost for His Highest,” Oswald Chambers writes, “We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute.”

It is not busyness or achievement that brings us close to God. Our efforts will always fall short. Rather it is the undeserved kindness, the Grace God gives us, that makes us whole. Romans 3:24

In You I place my trust



I am again turning to Thomas a Kempis, a 15th century theologian for this deep desiring to know God.

“You are the object of all good, the apex of life, the depth of wisdom. Your servants’ greatest consolation is to hope in you above all things. I turn my eyes to you. In you, my God, Father of mercies, I place my trust. Bless my soul and make it holy with your heavenly blessing; let it become your holy dwelling, the place of your eternal glory. Let nothing be found in you temple that may offend the eyes of your majesty.”

Shaping our minds and souls


We are the recipients of God’s grace, but too often we live as though He doesn’t matter. We think mundane, routine thoughts instead of filling our minds with His glory. We get bored, depressed and allow ourselves to think we are separated from His love.

What we fill our mind with is so important. We become what we think about; our words and actions are influenced, for better or for worse, by out thoughts. Consider the difference in our behavior when our thoughts are angry, bitter, jealous versus when they are forgiving, gentle, patient. When we steep our minds and souls with prayer, we allow God to shape us, and we become closer to Him, and calmer in Him.

Photos by Eric Valentine