Monday, June 29, 2015



I am back from taking my kids, the youth from my church, on their annual retreat.  We went to the Blackfoot Mountains in Idaho.  It was a wonderful time.  We played in the water, skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, kayaking, paddle boarding.  We tubed down a river (no photos of that as I didn't think my camera would survive).  We played games, ate, camp fire, devotions, prayer, sharing, and so so much more.  I am exhausted, but it is the good kind.  Here is a short video of our fun.

Part of our retreat we focused on a movie called The True Cost.  It is a new documentary movie and it had a dramatic impact on my kids.  I recommend it to ANYONE and I would like to thank See Beautiful for sharing it with me.  It was incredible to see my kids reaction to this movie and how it affected them.  You can click on the The True Cost link above to watch a trailer of the movie.  I hope it inspires you as well, maybe even share it with those you know. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Time with Bert


On my journey on the "Road Less Traveled" I did have Bert with me.  It's different than hiking with Goose.  With Goose he would forge the way (mostly).  Run ahead a little ways, turn, run back to me, run ahead, come back to me and so it would go.  (and when I say run ahead I don't mean 100 yards, it was more like 10 or 15 yards at the most).  In between Gooses runs ahead and run back he would walk a few feet ahead of me for a period of time.  With Bert it is different.  Letting me lead, and then just be a foot in front of me and the rest of the time right beside me where my hand could rest on his head.  That is until he sees WATER!  Then he SPRINTS to the water, stands there, then sprints back to me.  That part is actually very comical.  "Hey Michelle there's water over there, RIGHT OVER THERE!  Come on let's hurry.  There is WATER!"  Here is a bit of a video of some of our time together.

I'm blessed that Bert's Vickie lets me have these moments with Bert.
In a few days I am headed to the Blackfoot Mountains in Idaho, taking my kids (the youth at church) on their annual retreat.  Be back with you soon and I am sure I will have some things to share with you.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Road Less Traveled


Imagine this: You’re walking on a path through forest. The path seems to split. The trail to the left looks well-traveled, but you almost didn’t notice the trail to the right because it’s so overgrown. Which trail do you take? Of course, you take the well-traveled trail. But what if your guidebook says to go right?

What road do you travel in life? Is it the narrow road of trust in God and others, or is it the wide road of trust in yourself alone? Do you briskly travel down the road of life with the masses, or is your trip more measured and prayerful? The wide road may seem more exciting in the beginning, but it’s the narrow road that leads to fulfillment and beauty.

I was thinking yesterday about that famous quote as I was hiking, “I have taken the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference.”  See I have always taken the path less traveled when hiking.  I love to follow the path that the animals use.  True, it is much more rugged and overgrown and not always clear.  And at times I must make my way when there is no path at all.

I love the path less traveled, I have found beauty beyond what I could even imagine.  It may have taken more effort and I have stumble along the way, sometimes over rocks or logs, even my own feet.  But I have NEVER once been disappointed, only grateful for the journey and what I felt, learned, and experienced along the way.

With that said I have not always taken the road less traveled in life.  There have been times I have opted for the wide easy road. What I have found is that while this road may seem easy, and indeed it often is, it does not compare to that road less traveled.  I think we all know about those roads—roads where the rules and regulations of the world apply—roads we might assume take us to places of joy and happiness, only to find that they lead instead to nowhere and at the end of those roads there is often loneliness and emptiness.  We’ve all been down those roads.

For me I have never traveled these paths alone.  For 15 years Goose has been by my side and before him Pete and now sometimes I have Bert join me.  But always, always Jesus is with me.  He sets my sights higher and replaces my self-centered road map with a different one—full of love for God and for my fellow travelers (no matter what road they are traveling.)

He gives me a different set of rules, where anything is possible and truth, beauty, love and mercy is my only guide.  The way seems to be more difficult, with higher hills to climb and dangerous curves.  But oh the beauty, the adventure, the purpose!!!  AND I’m not in control.  God is the guide.  And following that narrow path He has laid before me gives me life and life abundantly.

Consider the possibilities following the road less traveled!  Consider the excitement and the joy!  Consider the hope and beauty!  Consider the love that surpasses anything the world can offer!

The road less traveled, it has made all the difference in my life.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Addition


I may have miss led you with the title.  The new addition is not a dog.  But it is a new addition Gooses Wall.

There it is right by the table lamp.

It is a canvas of Goose walking his gal pal, Belle, to his rock. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

As If

A little bit ago KB from Romping and Rolling in the Rockies said something to me to the effect "just put one foot in front of the other and life will eventually get easier".  I like to call it, “Living As If.”  While in the desert I had the opportunity to meditate on this, this living As If.

It’s the rare child who makes it to adulthood without having to participate in some kind of “science project.” Do you remember yours?

I remember mine, we would cut a milk carton in half, filled it with dirt, poked a hole in the bottom for drainage, planted some kind of seed in the dirt, and perched it on the window ledge of our classroom so it could get light.  After a couple weeks of watering—-WOW, a miracle.  A small green sprout appeared.  This fragile, pale green, miraculous morsel of growth pushed its way through the milk-carton dirt and reached out for life.

Those “show-and-tell” plants almost never made it to the point where they were able to actually produce any crop.  But they definitely produced.  They produced a sense of wonder.  They produced a sense of mystery. They produced a sense of curiosity and inquiry. Those first little sprouts gave all of us a glimpse into the beautiful mystery of life, of unstoppable, creative powers that were not in our control.  A seed in a milk carton, on a window ledge, in a class room, is a tiny, but completely clear, peek-hole into the mystery of God’s creative power.

The mystery and miracle of a dried up seed birthing a brand new plant is a joy every gardener, every farmer prays for and appreciates as a new season of grace.  In the twenty-first century, we know all about the science, the combination of nutrients, moisture, heat, and light that make the transformation from a dried bit of seed into a green and growing plant possible.  But the moment that transforms a dormant seed into a new, growing creation, is still a mystery.  The gift of life is always and every time, a gift.  The when and where is never wholly predictable.  The why, is why we have faith.

In Gospel of Mark, Mark 4:26-34, Mark gives us the now familiar image of a growing seed, a crop in progress, and of the disparity between the small size of a seed and the harvest it can produce.

Mustard seeds were great animations of the miracle of life and hope and growth.  From something small, came something large, and something that continued to grow.  The parable of the mustard seed is all about an unbelievable growth toward the future.  The mustard seed shrub Mark envisions houses the roosting places of all sorts of other creatures.  It’s a newly envisioned home, created by faith in the kingdom that is Jesus and the kingdom Jesus is promising, that gives a “roosting place” for a reborn faith in God’s kingdom.
Sticking a dead-looking, desiccated, wrinkled thing into the dirt, and expecting the growth of new life, of a new plant, is ludicrous.  Yet it works.  We get a new crop every year.  Poet and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry, asks this question: “What is the greater miracle?”  Is it turning water into wine, or is it the miracle of the dirt, the ground upon which we walk, being graced with the ability to take tiny seeds and through the magic of the elements produce vines, and fruit, not to mention the ability of humans to make wine out of that fruit.  They are both miracles.  Life is a miracle.
But the miracle of life takes time.  Biologists make a big deal about elephants taking 22 months to give birth.  That’s so NOT a big deal. How many of you have children over the age of 18 living with you full time?  The cost of apartments, the cost of college, the cost of life-—we are once again, and it is NOT a bad thing, a land of extended family living.  For elephants, pregnancy lasts 22 months. For human moms and dads, giving birth lasts forever. We are forever family.
Being forever family means being forever living in an “as if” mode.” When you are a Mom or Dad you know you operate on an “as if” mainstream.  Okay, maybe things are not going too smoothly––some bills are overdue, somebody needs braces, you lose a loved one, there is a letter from the IRS.  But there are people and purposes that need us to respond “as if” they were going smooth as silk.  Their growth and health depend on our “as if” living.
“As if” means you respond with grace and good will.  “As if” is prophesying your way forward (profif) in a profit world that tries to plan and program its way forward.  “As if” is nothing less than “faith.”  And that’s a hard thing to maintain on a day-to-day basis.  Even for the saints and reformers.
Take John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.  Wesley found himself in a funk.  He began doubting everything, and no longer had the faith to preach with conviction.  He confided his lack of faith to his Moravian friend, Peter Böhler, and confessed that he was thinking about leaving the ministry.  Böhler counseled otherwise. “Preach faith till you have it,” he advised. “And then because you have it, you will preach faith.”
Wesley was not the first to come to this conclusion.  Throughout history, the caution to “Act as if you have faith and it will be granted to you” has been a staple of Christians moving forward.  Behave with grace, and your life will reflect that grace.  Aristotle wrote that we learn about being virtuous by being virtuous.  Shakespeare had his hero Hamlet declare that we should “Assume a virtue if you have it not—-for use can change the stamp of nature.” In other words, acting good will eventually help us to be good.  Doing becomes being.  But we need to remember that our very “doing” is also a gift of grace.
During the civil rights movement in the 1960’s (and let’s not kid ourselves—the 1970’s and 1980’s), change was not voluntary, it was mandatory.  Lunch counters, schools, public transportation, and even drinking fountains were forcibly integrated.  Opponents said that such forced new behavior was pointless.  People would not change.  But guess what?  After a few years, people got used to sitting, sipping, and slurping together.  Actions, a change of behavior before there was a change of attitude, made a difference.  If you live it, you learn it.
Cognitive research scientists have now discovered this ancient truth is exactly how the brain works.  G. Elton Trueblood was right: “It is easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.”  Action precedes thought.
You want to feel sad? Turn your mouth down.   You want to feel upset? Frown.  You want to feel happy? Smile.   You want to feel determined? Clench your fists.  Actions create actuality.
This is the power of ritual.  Ritual is subjunctive, not subjective.  By your actions, you are prophesying your way forward, acting as if something were true, and in so doing making it come true
When you pass someone in need, don’t just think nice thoughts about them.  Smile at them.  Shake hands with them.  Help them. “Mindfulness” is spinning the wheels.  Get some traction with hopefulness, cheerfulness, and faithfulness that expresses itself in goodness and righteousness.
The miracle of the mustard seed is that actions outweigh actuality. The smallest looking seed brings forth the largest, most pungent, most fragrant shrub.
Nazareth was small stuff.  Jesus was small stuff—-a small town rabbi with no big-time entourage of followers and scholars.  And yet his message of hope and redemption saved the world.
A good life is not just of good thinking or good feeling but of good living.  For your actions create actualities.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

See Beautiful


Welcome to "This Moment See Beautiful" hosted by SUGAR.  It's a blog hop every 2nd Friday of each month where we get to share how we saw, shared and created beautiful.  It was one month ago yesterday that my beautiful song, Goose crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  How do you See Beautiful in the light of that?  It's not that hard really.  I have over 15 years of beautiful memories of my Goosie.  Time I would not change for anything, even if that meant not feeling the pain I feel.  The truth is I would not feel this pain if it were not for the unbelievable unconditional love that he gave me

I also See Beautiful and experienced beautiful form all of you.   Just look at the countless cards I received from you.  The numerous emails.  The gifts of love you gave in honor of Goose from trees being planted (so the world does not run out of sticks) to donations made in his honor to help feed people and pets, donations to St. Anne's/Lantern House Pet Area, beautiful flowers, bushes, and plants, thoughts and prayers.  That's indeed what Beautiful looks like, even in the midst of pain and sorrow. 
Over my birthday weekend, as you may know, I took a trip to the desert.  It was a trip to reflect, meditate and pray.  I had my concerns, water being one and the concern of the unknown.  I have always taken Goose with me on trips like this (always in the mountains).  He brought me comfort, protection, the feeling of safety when in the middle of nowhere.  But it is the desert where I felt I needed to be.  It's hard to explain.... I guess you can call it whimsy.  And that was without doubt a trait of Goose.  So here is a See Beautiful Video of that whimsical journey. 

You see friends flowers bloom in the desert and that includes the deserts of our lives.
And I felt Goose with me every step of the way.  Even though my heart is broken it's his goofy face I see with that "Come on MOM I'm still with you, still apart of you, still Seeing Beautiful with you, just in a different way."

And I like to think that he led the way to water.  Life giving, cooling, and refreshing water, an oasis in the middle of hot dry sand .  And in part that is what Seeing Beautiful is about.  When you see it, create it and share it not only gives you the refreshment you need but what those around you seek.

And with every stick I saw, stepped over, and rested upon my boy was there. 
Winnie the Pooh once said something like, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard".  True that Pooh, true that.  But it's not really good-bye it's "Until we meet again."  And I have every confidence and know with every fiber of my being that we will one day hike the mountains and deserts of heaven.
Beautiful indeed does bloom in the desert places.  It blooms wherever you share it, create it, and see it.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Wild Horse Canyon


I have just returned from my birthday get a way to the desert.  To recap, normally on the birthday weekend Goose and I go backpacking for 3 or 4 days.  We have done that for 14 of our 15 years together.  This year I decided to go somewhere that I rarely go, the desert.  It's not that I don't like the desert, I do. It's just I really am a mountain girls, with green meadows, waterfalls, forests, streams, rivers, pond and so forth.  I happen to be comforted by the fact that in the mountains I never worry about finding and getting water. The desert is a different story, as far as water in concerned.  I have ventured out into the desert a few times, but each of those times I was with friends.  There is comfort in that too.  But for this birthday get a way I decided to go to the desert by myself.  It really was wonderful.  I did a little crying, a whole lot of walking and hiking, meditating, reflecting and praying.  AND I did not die of thirst (found some water, I think Goose helped me out with this, no really I think he did).  Anyway, here is a short video of one of the things I did.  This is called Little Wild Horse Canyon.  It's a slot canyon about 3.5 miles long.  I hiked through it to the end and turned around and headed back to where I started.  It was amazing!  For those of you who have never hiked a slot canyon but think you might want to.... DO NOT do this if it is raining, or threating to rain, even if that rain is miles away.  Check the sky's and forecast.  If you get caught in a slot canyon when all that water starts to rush through the canyon you WILL be swept away, crushed against the walls of the canyon and or drown.  With that said enjoy this video.

This Friday is This Moment See Beautiful.  I hope you all will join in this blog hop.  I will and I can tell you I am putting together a See Beautiful video of my time in the desert.  See you on Friday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bert's New Yard


Bert's new yard is complete. 
And here it is. 
Where once there were rock, sand, pee gravel, and such, now, because of his rock eating obsession, he now plays in the concrete jungle.
Miss Vickie saved his last two rocks and now they are imbedded in the concrete.  I suggested she write these words around those rocks, "Here lies Bert's rocks, better them than him." 

And that's the truth my friends. 

Sure now he lives and plays in the concrete jungle, but he lives, plays, and he shares his jungle with all his brothers and sisters and the many many pups and dogs that come to Canine Country Club.  And you see that dog right in front of Bert?  That's Madi.  Although Miss Vickie won't confirm this, I think Madi will soon be one of Bert's siblings AND we all think she is going to make a terrific therapy dog.  And speaking of therapy....

Bert went back to work at the Salt Lake International Airport, bringing comfort and smiles to passengers and staff. 

ps..... I still have not decided how to proceed with Gooses blog.  I hope to have an answer soon.  Normally on my birthday weekend Goose and I would go backpacking in the mountains somewhere. We loved sharing the beauty of our incredible mountains together.  Since Goose is no longer with me in the flesh I have decided to spend this birthday weekend in the desert for several days.  This will be an adventure and challenge to be sure (I happen to be very fond of water).  I'm hoping for several things, one of those things is how to proceed with Gooses Blog.  Thank you all for your continued support.  I still enjoy visiting your blogs (even if I don't comment, I know what Goose would say but find it difficult to be me and not him, does that make sense?)