The Best Legacy

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The T.A. Moulton Barn is one of the most photographed and iconic images in Grand Teton National Park. Built by Thomas Alma Moulton and his sons between 1912 and 1945, it is all that remains of their hard-worked-for homestead. The barn went through many changes over the years, as Moulton’s homestead and resources grew and as his needs changed.

This historic village was once a thriving ranching community, which faced the many challenges of this land, yet met these hardships head on and became successful. Long-term success was not in the future for this community, however, as the federal government began to buy up surrounding land, which eventually became the National Park.

Eventually the residents sold their homesteads to the government. The one exception was Moulton, who eventually sold his land on a life lease and kept one acre for his family. Today, the great grandchildren of T.A. Moulton continue to live on one of the only privately owned pieces of land in Grand Teton National Park.

“A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children…” Proverbs 13:22a.

It’s one thing to leave property and material goods to your children. That is all well and good. But there is an inheritance that far surpasses any amount of worldly wealth we could ever acquire, and that is the heritage of a life lived for God.

I know that riches and material goods can be here today and gone tomorrow, but I know that the time I invest in my children and grandchildren can never disappear. The time I spend with them and the time I spend praying for them have lasting results that remain no matter how the economy performs.

We can all leave our children and grandchildren a lasting legacy that will do more good than all the money in the world. By teaching them about the Lord, praying for them, being a living example of godliness, and spending time with them, we are giving them the greatest inheritance of all.

The Bridge to New Life

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When I look at this picture of a Virginia bridge, I am reminded about the expanse between God and man and how God’s Son, Jesus Christ became the bridge that connects heaven and earth.

There is no way I can ever reach heaven. God is holy, and I am a sinner. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Because of sin, I can never reach heaven, even if I combined all the good deeds I have ever done.

If I could get to heaven by good works, then I could brag about what I did instead of what Jesus did for me on the cross. The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Jesus took the sins of the whole world onto Himself and paid the penalty for me and everyone else by dying on the cross for our sins. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

Jesus, God’s Son, is the bridge between God and me. He made a way possible for me and everyone in the world to cross that bridge into heaven.

All we have to do is: Repent (turn from your sins), ask for God’s forgiveness, and by faith, ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart and life and follow Him as your Lord and Savior. You can pray a prayer like this: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.” This is just the beginning of a new life following Jesus. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Do You Need Help?

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Probably one of the prettiest roads we’ve ever taken is the San Juan Skyway, or the Million Dollar Highway, in southwestern Colorado. It roughly runs parallel to the path of the narrow gauge railways and traverses through some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, filled with wildflower meadows, alpine lakes, historic towns, and more. You can actually ride on a narrow gauge railway, the historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, or visit the gold mine meccas of Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride along this road.

It’s not a drive for the faint of heart, as many parts of it have drop-offs that lack guard rails. But it is gorgeous, displaying the majesty of God’s creation.

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:8.

Our help in difficulty, our help in doubts, our help in disaster is the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He is our help in temptation and our help in trials. There is no other help that we need, although we may seek it elsewhere.

He is more than able, as Maker of heaven and earth, to help us in our time of need. He created all that we see, and He is able to protect us from all we cannot see. Think about the power of this. All the strength, wisdom, might, and ability that is behind every single thing in all of creation is available to us as our help! Why would we ever seek any other source of help than Almighty God?

What do you need help with today? Finances, relationships, direction, parenting, marriage, health? You have a reliable and loving God who is willing and able to give you all the help you could ever need.

Let Them Sing!

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Being a southern girl, I love the forest! Oh, how I love the forest! I was born, raised, and still live in the south, where the trees are so numerous, you have to clear the land of them before you build a house, or a road, or anything. Sometimes we Southerners take that for granted. We think it’s like that everywhere. But travel a little bit, and you’ll find out differently.

I love to go to the west, where you can see to the horizon in every direction. But after a while, I start missing the trees. The trees that gently wave as the breeze blows. The trees that give me a much needed respite from the summer heat. The trees that provide homes for my much loved backyard birds. The trees that turn a hundred different shades come autumn.

Here, at North Carolina’s Stone Mountain State Park, are hundreds (maybe thousands) of steps that take you into the forest. The bonus? A beautiful waterfall accompanies you down the mountain.

“Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth.” 1 Chronicles 16:33.

This verse is part of a hymn that David wrote for a very special occasion- the return of the Ark of the Covenant to a place of dignity and honor. It had been in an obscure place, collecting dust. But it was coming home! This was one of King David’s greatest desires and accomplishments. He could not rest until the Ark was in its rightful place. So he writes a song.

I can tell when my husband is super excited and happy about something. He will actually make up a song and sing about it. Well that’s what David did, and he must have loved the forest too. He must have spent time in the forest enough to know that the trees do sing, and he invites them to join in his jubilant song of praise to God! I love that. David is so excited about the Presence of God, that he just can’t contain his joy, and he wants everyone and all creation to get in on it.

I want that attitude and frame of mind – that there is nothing in this life that comes close to living in God’s Presence. Because there isn’t.

The Narrow Way

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Needles Highway, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is an amazing engineering marvel, as well as a fun and very scenic road on which to travel. The journey is as rewarding as any destination you may have in mind, as you traverse the very narrow roadway, pressed in by these rocks shaped like needles. Especially challenging are the tunnels. You have to take turns and make sure that no one in the other lane decides to enter at the same time you do. It’s a narrow and sometimes difficult road, but it’s worth the journey.

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14.

Jesus speaks of another narrow way, and the original language used in this verse actually means “pressed” or “hemmed in between walls or rocks, like the pathway in a mountain gorge.” The Needles Highway is an accurate word picture of what Jesus is describing here.

Because the gate of this way Jesus is referring to is small and the road is narrow, the entire passage is as difficult as the entry. Therefore, few people find it.

It’s easier to go on the broad road. There’s lots of company, and you’re swimming downstream. It’s the natural thing to do. But it leads to destruction.

On the other hand, the narrow road, though it be difficult and often lonely to traverse and though it may require its travelers to deny themselves, leads to life.

Giving your life to Jesus is a lifelong decision, and I’m afraid we sometimes oversimplify the Christian walk. It’s a life of yielding, submitting, and self-denial. Not that we ever arrive, but we continue by His strength, to ever be more like Christ.

But the joy of this journey is unspeakable. It’s a deep down joy that doesn’t go away even in the most difficult of seasons. There’s the constant companionship of Jesus that never leaves, even if everyone else does. I have found that the road that leads to life is worth taking.

You Can’t Hide

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There’s a very interesting story behind the family who lived in the home where the Civil War ended at Appomattox. Wilmer McLean and his family moved here in the first place to get away from the war, and there’s a reason for that.

The Battle of Bull Run began at his former home, his small plantation near Manassas Junction, Virginia. This was the first major encounter between the Union and the Confederate soldiers, and it ravaged his home and property.

In an effort to escape the war for the sake of himself and his family, McLean decided to move about 120 miles south to a “safer” place. He bought a substantial brick home near a country crossroads and began living a more peaceful existence in this small village.

However, it wasn’t long until the Civil War found him again. Ironically, the nearby fields of Appomattox played host to the last engagement between General Lee’s and General Grant’s troops on April 9, 1865. And perhaps in the most amazing turn of all, Wilmer McLean was called upon to allow the surrender to be signed in the parlor of his home. This man just could not get away.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7.

You can run, but you just can’t hide. As we visited this momentous historic place, I couldn’t help but think about this. There are just some things you can never escape. And I was reminded of someone in the Bible who realized that he truly could never get away from the Presence of God. The Psalmist, David, penned these words extolling the omnipresence of the Lord.

He is ever present in our lives, whether we welcome Him or not. He is as near as our heartbeat, so as terrible as it may be to realize, when we sin, we sin to the Almighty’s face. When we commit acts of disobedience, we commit them in view of the throne of the King of Kings.

At the same time, living in God’s Presence means He is always by our side to direct, correct, and protect. He is our constant help in time of need. He is our encourager and best friend. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He loves us more than we could ever conceive. What a blessing it is to have a God we can never escape.

What to Remember

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Things are not always as you remember them. This is Devils Tower in eastern Wyoming. For those of us born before the mid 1960s, it’s known as the place where people met aliens in the cult classic movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” People still come to visit this awesome creation of God for that very reason – to see the location this movie made famous.

I don’t have the greatest memory in the world, but I remember the happenings taking place on top of Devils Tower, and even my husband, who does have a decent memory, remembered it being like that.

However, when we decided to rent the movie after actually being at the Tower recently, we discovered we were wrong. The movie’s most famous scenes are shown taking place at the tower’s base. Our memories had deceived us. But who cares? It’s not that important. It’s just a movie.

However, there are other things we never want to forget. Important birthdays and anniversaries, unforgettable events and experiences with family and friends, special days with special people. Most of all we don’t want to forget God and what He has done for us.

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.” Isaiah 46:9.

My past is full of the grace of God. As bad as some days, weeks, and seasons may have seemed at the time, those sad memories fade into the background as I remember God and His faithfulness during those same times. God’s redemptive purposes and plans for my life shine through the mundane days, the moments of heartbreak, and even the most joyous of times. His acts of mercy cover my sin – big and little, known and unknown. His blessings shower down over my life.

And if I will just open my eyes, I’ll see all the ways in which He has worked. He has protected me in ways I’m not even aware of. He has provided everything I’ll ever need and so much more. And most of all, He has pursued a relationship with me through His precious Son. He’s done the same for you, and He loves you deeply. He is God, and there’s no one like Him.

Morning Is The Best

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When you catch the Badlands at sunrise, you gain a lot more than that, and the only thing you’ll lose is a little sleep. But hey, you can go back to your hotel and take a nap. And you’ll never forget the absolute awesomeness of having this amazing landscape to yourself (except for a few photographers and a family or two of bighorn sheep).

There are lots of reasons to get on up early. For one thing, the Badlands turn into a wonderful world of color around sunrise and sunset. The higher the sun rises, the less color you see (although they are still wondrous).

It’s also so peaceful and quiet. It’s like you’re the only one in the whole world who is up. The wildlife are up early too. You’ll see a lot more of them wandering about, looking for breakfast. Morning is a special time, and it’s super special in our National Parks.

“In the morning, LORD, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3.

We miss a lot when we sleep through the morning. We miss sunrises and quiet and peace.

But we especially miss hearing from the Lord and receiving His wisdom and direction for our day. We miss the opportunity for God to hear from us and to lay our requests before Him. We miss asking for His protection over ourselves and those we love.

Morning is the best time to pray. Anytime is a good time, but morning is best. That time with God affects the rest of our day. It affects our mindset, our behavior, our decisions.

Our early morning in the Badlands “colored” the rest of our time there. Their complexity and variety were revealed to us in a way that later visitors were not privy to. We saw them differently because we had seen them in the magnificence of morning.

In a similar way, our early mornings with God “color” the rest of our day, revealing wisdom and direction from His Word that we may miss later in the day. How can your mornings make a difference in your life?

Traveling Light

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We recently returned from an awesome trip to the West. We like to move fast and see lots, so we ventured from the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming over to the Dakotas – to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and the Badlands/Black Hills area of South Dakota. We saw a lot in a little bit of time, and it was fantastic!

One of the secrets to the success of a quick moving trip is in what you take. Because you are going to lug it around a lot. This time, I challenged myself to travel light and take only two items – my purse and a tote bag. My husband took only a small carry-on suitcase.

Several people wanted to know how it went and would we do it again. The answer is most definitely yes! It was so great to pick up and move quickly and easily. Our trip involved a plane ride, and this made traveling through the airport almost seamless. Yes, we washed out some things and wore the same thing A LOT! But who cares? The trade offs were so worth it. As we passed fellow travelers in the hotel lobbies, huffing, puffing and irritated at each other with their carts loaded down with stuff, we just smiled at each other. Because we have been there and done that – plenty of times! And it felt so good to just move freely about without encumbrance.

Another benefit to traveling light is that you just feel more organized. My husband is always organized, but I lose track of things easily. Taking less stuff enabled me to keep up with everything easily. I knew where things were. It took very little time to get my act together between hotels.

So what were in these bags? I packed three tops, two pairs of pants, pjs, five pairs of socks, five sets of unmentionables, an extra pair of shoes, a rain poncho, makeup, hair stuff, medications, extra glasses, charger, and hygiene items were safely tucked away in these two bags. I wore a light weight sweater on the plane and carried a light weight jacket. Could I have gotten away with less? Yes! And I will share that with you later. I really did not need all that I took.

So yes, we will travel light again. It is our “new favorite!”

When Flowers Appear

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The first flowers of spring always bring me joy and hope. The cold and barrenness of winter is over, and its time for new life and new growth.

We happened to be in the Tetons when spring was bursting forth in all its glory. Yes, there was still snow on the peaks to remind us that winter was trying to hold on. But these first little wildflowers stubbornly refused to be intimidated and were everywhere, brightening the valley floor with their sunny golden attire. These arrowleaf balsam roots are members of the sunflower family and are common in cold, dry areas of the West, brightening up many a mountain field at just the time it seems winter may never end.

“Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.” Song of Solomon 2:12.

Just as God awakens the flowers in the springtime to fulfill His purpose after a wintry season, He does the same for us. We go through times of spiritual lifelessness and drought, when we may not even sense His presence. But seasons have a purpose – even seasons we may perceive are fruitless. They are seasons of preparation and rest, and they are needed to make us ready for what the Lord has next for us.

As the first flowers appear, so does the sound of singing and of doves. We return to the fruitfulness of laboring for Christ, which leads to songs of joy and praise!

He never forgets us! He is always working, even when it feels like winter. He will come again, we will bask in the sunshine of His presence, like the sweet arrowleaf balsamroots after a long, cold winter.