Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Get Away to Long Beach Peninsula

Are you looking for an adventure for the family, a quick trip before the kids start back to school? Or do you want to go to a bed and breakfast for a couple of days away, just you and your honey?

You need to check out Long Beach Peninsula, located on the southwest coast of Washington, where you can find good food, first class lodging, new things to learn and beauty enough for a feast.

We'd heard about the lighthouses on the peninsula and we'd talked about visiting them for years. Last week we took two days and made the four-and-a-half hour trip to Long Beach to celebrate Tom's birthday and finally see the lighthouses. We had a wonderful time, so I feel confident when I tell you that, with or without kids, this would be a great trip for you!

First things first. You need a place to stay when you travel, and we stayed at Boreas Inn, a B&B. The place was lovely yet homey, brimming with life but inviting you to rest. From the bouquet in our room to the patio seating to the gardens in full bloom, the enjoyment of their guests were priorities for hosts Susie and Bill. The following morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast, which was beautifully served, before we headed off.

Boreas Inn (photo from their website)

Flowers in our room

The day bed in our guest room

Boreas Inn patio

Gardens galore at Boreas Inn

Delicious fruit soup. just a small part of our delicious breakfast

After we checked in at the Boreas, which is in Long Beach, we drove three miles to Ilwaco, where we  saw the North Head Lighthouse. 

The path to the North Head Lighthouse

This is still a working lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse, built in 1898

Sea birds and their shadows

It's just a couple of miles on to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, the state's first lighthouse, lit in 1856. Curious about the name, I found this in a Seattle Times article by Kristin Jackson, written a year ago.
Great park. Bad name.
Cape Disappointment State Park gets its nonalluring name from an 18-century English explorer who, sailing past what's now Washington's southwest tip at the mouth of the Columbia River, missed the river's entrance. The explorer, John Meares, was disappointed; hence the name he bestowed upon the cape during his 1788 voyage.
The 3/4 mile hike from the parking lot to the lighthouse passed through old growth timber, Sitka pine,  vines, berry bushes, and nursery stumps. We passed Dead Man's Cove. In 1853 a boat sank at the mouth of the Columbia River and everyone aboard drowned. Some of the bodies washed up into this cove, hence, the name. We got close enough for photos, but greatly respected the edge of the cliff above the cove!

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Dead Man's Cove (This was taken with a zoom lens; we're much higher above it than it appears!)

Ginger in front of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment State Park is also the home of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It was very well done with many displays, most of them interactive. Families were there with children of all ages. We found it to be a moving experience to get a glimpse into the expedition that opened the West. The dedication, perseverance and ingenuity of the Corps of Discovery, the army unit recruited for this undertaking, astounded me.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center as seen from Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Members of the Corps of Discovery, as listed on the wall of the museum

It was a pretty rough trip

One of the many paintings on the wall

I thought there was only one Waikiki Beach in the world, but I was wrong. There's another one at Cape Disappointment State Park. It's not large, but it is wonderful! I'm guessing it got its name because it's a good beach for surfing, though the water was too calm when we were there for anyone to surf! Driftwood lay in piles around the beach, and a number of forts had been erected there. Parents and their young children built sand castles or played in the water; folks sat on beach towels, propped against logs, reading or chatting. Even though it was a hot day, the beach was not crowded. It is a perfect place for families. Of course there are camping spaces and picnic tables at the park, too.

Waikiki Beach with Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in the background

Tom at Waikiki Beach

One of many forts at Waikiki Beach

A great beach to run and play

We had our dinner in Ilwaco at Pelicano Restaurant. The crab cakes melted in our mouths. Tom's seafood chowder and my rockfish with quinoa and shitake were absolutely delicious and totally satisfying.

Ilwaco marina

Pelicano Restaurant (Photo from their website)

One more thing. The beach near our B&B was nearly empty. The town boasts that it's the longest beach in the world. That's good, because August 18-24 they will be hosting the International Kite Festival, and it the place will be packed with people and kites, another great family attraction!

The beach at Long Beach, nearly deserted

Long Beach International Kite Festival

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hymn of the Month -- Lord, I Need You

We often sang I Need Thee Every Hour, in our church growing up. Written in 1872, it's found in the Watchfulness and Prayer section of my 1951 Hymns of the Living Faith. "I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord; No tender voice like thine can peace afford. I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee." It's a song of submission to the only one whose voice offers peace, who helps us overcome temptation, who is with us in joy or pain, the Holy One.

This is one of the old hymns that has been made new in recent years, offering the truths that the church grew up on to the younger generation. This past Sunday morning at church we sang Lord, I Need You, the update by Chris Tomlin and Christy Nockles. It fit perfectly with Pastor Sam's  message about Psalm 63, and Joscelyn's solo, Grace by Laura Story, a reminder of how much we need God's grace.

Take a few minutes to read Psalm 63 before you listen to these two songs. In Psalm 63, the heart cry of David is for God. "My whole being thirsts for you," he says. Consider the longing expressed in this psalm, the desperation. David knew his satisfaction came from God alone, and his response was praise. Pastor Sam told us to replace the words "the king will rejoice in God" in verse 11 with "I, (fill in the blank with your own name), will rejoice in God." He is your help; you can sing in the shadow of his wings!

Might the scripture and these two songs bless you today and play through your mind as this new week unfolds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Garden of Our Minds

We raised our children in Mr Rogers' neighborhood. For three sweet years, when they were very young, we spent time each day with Mr Rogers and all his friends and neighbors. We were living in a wonderful old farmhouse, down the street from Tom's parents, in western New York, raising little boys and working from home. We loved how the gentle Mr Rogers and the strong values on the show supported what we were teaching our boys at home.

We seldom missed a day of Mr Rogers, and soon knew all his puppets and human friends, who seemed as much a part of our lives as our own neighbors. We loved the factory tours too. We saw how graham crackers were made, and crayons, fortune cookies, and even TV shows for Russian kids. (You can check out ten clips from shows of "How It Works" here.)

We loved the factory tours so much, in fact, that we took a few of our own. One day we packed up the boys and went to a factory that dyed wool and produced yarn. We spent a day with the spinners' guild, tending the vats of wool being dyed amazingly vibrant colors and watching people spin and weave. One day we drove to a university's extension program at Finger Lakes to check out the apples that were being propagated. We took the boys to a goat farm. And we spent time on several occasions at Mumford, a 19th century country village, complete with costumed interpreters in restored historic buildings, filling our minds with history first-hand.

But it wasn't just Mr Rogers' Neighborhood that got our creative juices flowing. It was also Reading Rainbow. Each day LeVar Burton introduced children (and at least two parents) to books that stirred their minds to encourage creativity. One such book was Barn Dance, a delightful story of animals sharing a joyous evening together in the barn. The show included some lively clogging and a visit to a man who made violins. In just five minutes we saw Jean Horner of Rockwood TN building a violin, from "an ordinary hunk of wood," as LeVar said.

The segment captivated Tom. He began to think about building a violin. He read about it; he watched videos about it; he studied violins in music shops. And one day, several years later, he selected an ordinary hunk of his dad's wood and began to craft a violin.

Part-way through his project we found a violin kit at the close-out sale of the music store in Stanwood. Tom put aside his original violin and made me a gorgeous, sweet sounding violin from the kit. The original one is not yet finished, but I have no doubt that it will be one day.

Our friend Brian Haight, who played with professional orchestras for several years, came over not long after Tom had completed the violin. He played it and complimented Tom on its nice sound, offering to play it at church for us! The day he shared his music on Tom's violin was a wonderful day.

Bian Haight with the violin Tom made
It was those sweet memories that were stirred when I saw the video below, produced by PBS. It's been around for a while and has over ten million views, so maybe you've seen it. But I hadn't seen it till yesterday. "There are so many things to learn about in this world," sings Mr Rogers. "It's good to be curious about many things..."

Those three years on the farm impacted our lives a lot. The seeds that Mr Rogers and LeVar Burton helped us plant in the garden of our minds -- our curiosity and desire to learn -- equipped us for much of what we have experienced through our marriage and parenting. Thank you, Mr Rogers, thank you LeVar. Thank you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

On Memorizing Scripture

When I opened Facebook this morning I was greeted by this wonderful post from my fiend Kelley:
We get together every Sunday night... Tonight, THREE year old Levi came up to me while we were watching RIO 2, & said "Grama, I want to whisper something in your ear." Expectantly, I bent down to hear maybe something sweet, or funny or silly. Then, he whispered, "Jesus said, I am the way, the truth & the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me" John 14:6 To you at Warm Beach Free Methodist who labored in love this last week, THANK YOU. Do you hear me? THANK YOU
Last week was our VBS. Levi's mama thought he wasn't paying attention while she helped her older son memorize the verse. but he was paying attention and learning the verse too.

Just three posts later was this photo and comment from my friend Laura:

Verna Black, Eastern Washington mountains
My beautiful mom turned 75 today... We hiked to the top of the mountain behind their house & she quoted The Sermon of the Mount to me...
To study and memorize scripture is to make deposits of rich jewels in the treasure chests of our lives. It is to take in truths that we can ponder on for days, weeks, years to come. It is to taste sweet honey that fills our mouths with such pleasure that we want to return again and again to it. Hiding God's Word in our hearts equips us for the trials that will come and reminds us that God is faithful.

We are told that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). What we think about is what's revealed through our words.

Don't you want to have a mind and heart full of truth? Isn't that what you want for your children?

Here are just a few of the benefits of taking in God's Word, as mentioned in Psalm 119. It:
Helps us obey God (verse 11)
Strengthens us in sorrow (28)
Gives freedom (32, 43)
Brings delight (35, 92)
Renews us in our suffering (50)
Gives us songs in the night (54-55)
Imparts knowledge and good judgment (66)
Preserves us (86-88)
Makes us wise (97-100)
Tastes sweeter than honey (103)
Sheds light on our path (105)
Offers protection (110)
Inspires joy (111)
Gives great peace (165)
Keeps us from stumbling (165)
Elicits songs (172)
Sustains us (175)
Do you wan to experience these blessings? They are all available -- and many more -- to those who are willing to feed on God's Word.

"Memorizing is hard for me," you say. Then choose a very short scripture, one that is meaningful to you but not too long. Read it over and over. Let its truth soak into you. Break it down into short phrases and meditate on the meaning of the phrase, and once you've got that down, move on to the next phrase. In time you will discover that you have indeed memorized it!

And even if you can't repeat it word for word, it has found a place in your heart. It is now a part of you. Who knows but that the Lord will bring it to mind when you are discouraged, or tempted, or need something to share with a friend.

Spend time reading the scripture with your children, talking about its meaning, rejoicing in the God who gave it to us. And help them memorize it. What greater gift could you give your children than a love for the Bible and a passion to hide it in their hearts?

God's living, active, sharp Word (Hebrews 3:16) applies to our lives today just as surely as it did when it was first written. It's never too soon to start to memorize it, and to do so will bring lifelong rewards. Plunge in!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bob McDowell

Bob McDowell, director of Warm Beach Camp for 21 years, with son Ed,
current camp director
(Photo from Warm Beach Camp archives)

I was a teenager when Bob McDowell hired me the first time. It was during the years that he was Christian Education Director for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Free Methodist Church and he was on the board for the Greater Seattle Sunday School Association. (You should have seen their cool logo, with the G pointy like the mouth of a fish, all the Ss the fish's body and the A the tail! Too bad I couldn't find it on Google Images.) The annual Sunday School convention was coming up and Bob was the director for the event. He needed someone to stuff envelopes, make phone calls, and assist with office details. He worked out of his home office, so that's where I went for my job. It was the first time I'd ever seen a home phone with two lines, and I could buzz the family upstairs if a call came for any of them! I was so impressed.

Back at the PNW office, the AV library was a mess. There were dozens of filmstrips, 16 mm movies, and other audio/visual teaching tools that needed to be sorted and catalogued, so I spent several weeks helping out, bringing some order to a room much in need of order.

(Photo from Warm Beach Camp archives)

Still later, when Bob was the director of Warm Beach Camp, my favorite place on earth, I called and asked if there might be work for me one summer. I'd just finished a stressful year of teaching and Warm Beach seemed like the perfect fit for me. "Well," Bob told me, "I can promise you part-time work for the summer, but after that there's no guarantee." That was fine with me. I hired on as an assistant to Muriel, Bob's wife and administrative assistant. I filed, answered phones, did registration and room assignments, helped in the print shop, managed the mailing list, and became the first bookstore manager. Needless to say, I never ran out of work, and I stayed three years.

Man, canBob McDowell play the piano! He knows all the old hymns and he plays them with his heart and soul, fingers running up and down the keyboard. Much of his life he has led the congregation in worship from the piano, melting from one hymn into the next, drawing people to the feet of Jesus. His granddaughter Christina says, "This is how I think of my Grandpa -- at the piano, leading all the singers, everyone gathered around him. This is my fondest childhood memory." She in turn is doing the same thing with her family.

Bob, leading his family in music from the piano
(Photo by Christina Bentley)

But it wasn't only at church or with his family that Bob shared his music. How well I remember those old days when, at youth retreats or camp staff events, we'd gather around the piano and sing our hearts out as Bob played. With Bob supplying the piano and me supplying the words (I love the hymns, as you may remember, and know most of the verses; I can't help it, it's just me) one song could go on for quite a while. And there were plenty of songs.

I remember one particularly raucous evening, after the planned program had finished but no one was ready to call it a night, that we gathered around Bob at the piano and started jamming. It was loud, and everyone was wailin'. Well, nobody was playing the string bass so I lifted it up on its peg, and started wildly plunking strings, my fingers jabbing at what I hoped were somewhat in-tune notes. "Ginger, I didn't know you played the bass!" Bob said. "I don't!" I replied. But it was sure fun trying!

Today is Bob McDowell's 84th birthday. I wish I had a video of his piano playing to share with you. But since I don't, I found this one with Greg Howlett playing Jesus is All the World to Me. (And no, that's not me in the orchestra.) Bob, thank you for your love for Jesus, lived out loud for all the world to see. Happy birthday!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Burundi On My Mind

Bolts of fabric at the market

Two years ago just now I was on my way home from Burundi where I had spent two weeks with a team from Sister Connection, a ministry to widows and orphans* of that small central African country. We visited the homes of widows that had been built with funds provided by Sister Connection donors, assisted in a retreat for the widows and one for their kids, toured Mt Hope, visited a hospital and the Busoma Project (a feeding program for undernourished, and delivered quilts to the orphans that were donated by Quilts Beyond Borders. Please indulge me one more time as I share a few photos from that trip.

(*The word orphan is used for a child without a father in Burundi.)

A widow and her 2 children (and a crowd of friends) stand outside her home, which was
built by funds provided by a donor. 

To date, 1244 homes have been built for widows and their families, at a cost of $600 per home. And there are now 658 widow and orphan-led households that are connected to sponsors. For just $30 a month these funds provide food, seed to plant, clothing, routine medical care, school supplies and household necessities. Learn how you can be involved with Sister Connection!

This woman gave us an extravagant thank you gift for visiting her home

Neighborhood kids

Kicking the retreat off with a welcome from the women

Joy was a hallmark of their worship


These ladies knew how to pray

Bringing their offerings to the altar

Denise and Joy, co-directors of Sister Connection

Waiting in line for lunch

Praying at Mount Hope

Mount Hope is being developed as a center for the widows -- offering job training, retreat site, a place of prayer. When we were there two years ago there was no water or electricity on Mount Hope. This summer a team has been addressing the water issue, having located a spring at the bottom of the mountain and preparing to pipe it to the top of the mountain,  digging over 2000 feet of trenches to house the water pipes. The picture below, taken by Craig Reese a month ago, shows the work in progress.

Photo Credit: Craig Reese 

With the widows sponsored by the Warm Beach Free Methodist Church

A mama let me hold her newborn baby at the hospital

Mothers and children waiting for the Busoma clinic

Just a few of the wonderful handmade quilts we took for the widows' kids

They loved them!

Such a great team to travel and work with

The fence at our mission house, edited, just for fun