I Joyfully Announce A “Birth”

I’m pleased to be here to announce the birth of my new book.
But pleased is not enough.
I’m happy to announce it!
No, happy doesn’t quite do it either.
I joyfully announce the birth of my new book!

It’s my first paperback, and I’m like a kid who just 
received exactly what he wanted for Christmas!
No, I’m not like a child, I am a child – a child of God!
I am the ordinary, if not insignificant, young boy, remarkable only 
because I happened to be on the scene, and I was willing to 
give Him my plain little loaves of stories that He, Himself, inspired.
Along with the loaves, I shared some of the small,
but potentially nourishing, word-fishes I had in my lunch sack .
I hope, and pray, and have faith, that my Master
will multiply these light loaves and salty fishes, these stories,
as only He can do, that they might be 
“eaten”, digested, and otherwise put to good use
by any readers who might need spiritual sustenance,
might need a nudge toward The One
who can resolve and redeem all troubles.

Every single reader of my stuff is
loved, and cherished, and prayed for,
by yours truly

 

Glorystories: A Gloryteller Compilation by [Lenn Snider]

Find it here:
https://www.amazon.com/Lenn-Snider/e/B09B5HZK65/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Prophet, I’m Not

 
But, although I’m not,
although it doesn’t seem one of my gifts,
through the H.S., I do know this:

Someday, somewhere, someone will,
by the most remote chance,
stumble upon,
trip over,
by happy accident,
or puzzling “coincidence”,
by a mysterious urging,
or mere curiosity,
read one of my stories,

one of my posts,
one of my poems,
one of my lines,
or one of my fabricated words,
and, quite unexpectedly, think:
Perhaps he’s onto something.
Perhaps God is real.
Maybe this points to Him.
Could this be a message from God?

Maybe there is Some One who actually cares.
A God Who loves.
One who creates,
and forgives,
and rescues,
and saves,
and transforms,
and is ever-faithful,

and gives undeserved favor,
and shows mercy,
and is present,
and gives joy with His presence.

“Perhaps” will become “possibly”,
possibly will become probably,
probably will become definitely,
definitely will become yes!,
and yes! will develop into the joy of a deeply personal relationship. 
Perhaps . . .
Perhaps you are that someone.
And perhaps I AM a bit of a prophet after all . . .

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You’re Living On The Surface . . .

 

A repeat post I sense The H.S. wants me to put up.

Father, send this to someone who needs it.
Father, bless the need of the reader who reads it. Amen.

^~ ~ ~^

I don’t remember what mood or incident triggered this rather “different” drafting;
rather more outspoken, and opinionated, and, maybe, judgemental than my usual.
It is almost a rant – a departure from my normal voice, but I feel
that it was put in me for a reason; that it is a rant against the enemy,
and that a special someone will benefit by hearing it, and I pray
the Holy Spirit sends it where it should go:
To YOU – there is more of every good thing than you think possible,
more joy than you can imagine in a relationship with your
Creator who loves you dearly and wants you near.

    ^~ ~ ~ ~^

You’re Living On The Surface

I see you up there where my own self once languished,
Pleasure seeker.
(Never think that I arrogantly deem myself better than you,
For I have been you
And am you)
But at the same time,
This is how the Endteller said it would be;
That most would not see past their hands
Feel past their skins
Think past their morning coffee
Their all-day coffee-chased pills
Their evening intox
Giving themselves away in so many imaginative ways
Their narco-laced, caffeine-based,
Red-saffron blood-fed
Self-stimulated gorge
And surge
And purge

And urge
Huge, insatiable appetites whet
Tiny, urgent, skimming lives.

Food, drink, pleasure, weep;
Slather, blather, rinse, repeat.
Rat-race to anxiety,
Retreat into a fetal sleep.

Where Me, Myself, and I is a
meaningful relationship.

Loving only love is false.
Where the tee-vee is the mirror
And the mirror is queen,
Where desperation-devastation has the taste of sinn-amon
Sin-ammonia
Sin-pneumonia
Stinking poison
Sin euphoria
Where life’s meaning wades in a shallow, muddy puddle
And no new taste
(sing this part to your favorite tune)
No new place
No new clothing
No new feeling
No new art
No new wine
No new toy
No new noise
No new bauble
No new ring
No new car
No new poem
No new scenery
No new skin
No new lie
No new anything can satisfy for long.
No new association is a satiation anymore
And even the plaintive inside voice
That says “there must be something more”
Is fading.
This is how the Endteller said it would be
Oh, Beautiful,
Oh, sad, lost, desperate pleasure seeker.
Oh youthful, doomed, nightmare dreamer.
And there’s no way out but more of the same
More of the same
More of the shame
More of the same…

The elusive answer is hiding in plain sight:
Awaken from surface sleep,
For morning awaits with gifts in her hands.
Transforming and new
For there is much more than you have seen or imagined.
Dive deep beneath the flotsam of an empty existence,
Dive deep to where Love Himself waits well beyond the shallows
Though you may not love Love yet,
There, in the depths where you are loved so intensely,
Is a start
Is your ransom
Is your beginning
Is your only hope
Dive deep, drown in Love
Oh, Beautiful, becoming, emerging seeker.
Astound the Endteller.
Dare the depths and be saved from the nowhere-place
The nothing-time
Of a surface-self existence.
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“I Want To Meet The One Who Made This”

My dear reader, I’d like to convey a true story along with some thoughts:

In May, a certain man made his way to a campground in Rocky Mountain National Park. He considered this campground, the Moraine Park Campground, to be the “back porch” of a prominent mountain he had come to know and think highly of.
His camper was self-designed and self-built in the A-frame style. It was completely unique and some might say exceptional. Having been painted red, with silver, white, and blue highlights, the camper upon its aluminum trailer stood out and attracted a large amount of attention.
People would stop while driving past and inquire, “Did you build that?” Others would walk past and say, “That’s amazing!” A few would ask to take a look inside, at which time the man would gladly show them inside to take a look at his ideas and his handiwork. The man was glad that his camper prompted smiles and happiness.
The most memorable incident happened just after the man went inside his camper to put on a jacket. He had left the door slightly ajar and there came a knocking on it, along with a male voice saying, “Hello in there?”
“Hello, I’ll be right out.”
“So sorry to bother you,” came a female voice.
“No bother at all,” he said, opening the door to find a friendly looking couple at his doorstep.
“We are so glad you’re here! We have been trying to catch you home for two days and this is our last try before we have to leave.” Looking at her husband, she exclaimed, we just walked all the way over here hoping; “He just really wanted to meet the person who made this!”
“I’m glad you caught me, too! I’m so flattered! Can I show you around?”
They had a very pleasant conversation following the tour, and all parted with la
rge smiles.

The encounter made a lasting impression on “camper man” and he began to think. “They really wanted to meet me, and I’m glad to have met them. But I wonder why folks are drawn to seek out people who have made or done something special. By extension, folks seem attracted to others who possess special abilities, knowledge, wisdom, fame, celebrity, wealth, or power. Is it simply curiosity? Bragging rights? Hope that some of that “specialness” will rub off? A need to have their approval or blessing? To gain a friendly relationship with said person? An honest desire to give a bit of credit and praise to someone they deem deserving?” With that couple, he was certain that the latter two ideas had been involved.

So, those desires seem almost universal, and if that is true, why don’t more people seek out God? It seems like we all should naturally be drawn to Him! No other being has His abilities, knowledge, wisdom, fame, celebrity, wealth, and power. He is the Ultimate in all those things. Not to mention that He is the Ultimate Rescuer, Doer of Good Things, Lover of Our Souls, and Creator of All Things (especially us). I know the average person might have trouble believing
that Someone they can’t see not only exists, but loves them. They might have trouble believing they are created souls and not a cosmic accident. They might have trouble believing that when we stand in the center of such overwhelming beauty in the likes of our national parks, that He created that and all beautiful things. There was a time when I, I mean “camper man”, found all of it hard to believe, but the best thing he ever did was to seek That Guy, get to know Him, praise and worship Him, become friends, love and have an awesome relationship with The One Who sacrificed His own life to save mine because He loves me!

Camper man’s most fervent prayer is that every person follow their inner urgings and say:

I really want to meet the One who made this!












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Long’s Peak Memoir – Adventuring With God

 

NEVER ALONE
Chronicle of an epic journey up a high mountain –
“Yes, though I walk upon the narrow ledge
overlooking the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
I will fear no evil. I will hang on diligently,
step carefully, but I will not fear,
for You are with me.”
L. S. <

^^ ^ ^^

Fore-Words

People who have read things I’ve written might have noticed my infatuation with metaphor. For me, the use of figurative language like analogy, symbolism, simile, allusion, allegory, and metaphor, creates mystery. It creates complexity, and depth of meaning. Jesus, Himself, was adept at using metaphoric parables in His own ministry to make difficult concepts understandable to His listeners.
In my mind, nothing seems to me more metaphoric of a person’s spiritual journey than the illustration of a path, or trail, especially one going upward. As for myself, a difficult hike or climb on a trail and route to the top of a very tall mountain is the epitome of that concept .
I’m not going to say “read this all – read to the end”. It is long. Parts may bore you, or bring up impatience. If that happens, please skip ahead. Find the parts that do you good. Find the poem at the end. Just know I’m grateful you’re here with me!

 ~   ~   ~

I once wrote a quick synopsis of my landmark adventure and posted it, but here, much later, I’m back writing in more detail on the same topic. I still think hardly anything is more metaphoric regarding one’s spiritual and physical journey through a lifetime than a long, difficult, arduous, joyous, successful, climb – a climb to the incredibly extreme, radically remote, impressively noble, summit of a majestic mountain.
   In the beginning, there is a goal, and to reach that goal there is a path, a trail, a way, which a hiker would be wise to follow in its windings, its ups and downs, its obstacles, its surprises, its challenges. Though the trail may be difficult, it is usually the best way upward through dense, cluttered forests, swampy places, chaotic boulder fields, and dangerous cliff edges. The trail maker/way maker intentionally builds bridges across impassable streams, and over treacherously deep crevasses, and dangerously impassible abysses. He skirts the worst obstacles and makes rock or log steps to decrease the difficulty of the ascent, and when the terrain really gets rough, where a definite trail is impossible, He marks the least dangerous routes, lest you get lost and find yourself in serious trouble. The metaphors are obvious.

I had never seen any mountains at all, first hand, let alone the spectacular Rockies, until I was about 23. That year I found myself in magnificent, huge, Rocky Mountain National Park looking up at Long’s Peak. Yes, both literally and figuratively found myself there, and also found that I was falling in love with that very special part of Creation, although it was unfortunate that I would not know our shared Creator for quite some time.

Forty one years later, at 64, after many, many skiing, hiking, windsurfing, camping and sightseeing encounters with my paramours, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I found myself at the foot of that awe-inspiring mountain-of-mountains. My epitome of mountainhood! I was ready to introduce myself and begin an intimate relationship with her, understanding full well she would not be easy to get to know. Some said she was friendly, and quite hospitable. Others named her aloof, treacherous, and cruel. I had to find out for myself! My encounter with her would come to be the defining adventure of my lifetime.
   I must tell you that several years ago, in a miraculous encounter, I finally met her Creator. I recant. That was the beginning of the defining adventure of my lifetime! I am learning more and more about Him, and I long to get to know Him more fully. One good way to do that is through His creations. The benefits of that are astounding! The difference between belief and non-belief in the One Creator God becomes obvious, and affects, profoundly, the way life is lived, loved, and enjoyed.

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More Fore-Words:

At 14,259 feet, Long’s Peak is the only “fourteener” in RMNP, the northernmost fourteener in Colorado, and the most prominent landmark for the vast surrounding area.

Why did I want to climb Long’s Peak?
Because it is there.  (Well, of course it is there, wow!)
Because I can, was my thinking before I knew what it would take. (Well, maybe I can. It’s within the realm of possibility.)
Because it kept looking at me. (I stared at the mountain and it stared back)
Because it is visible to me, day or night, wherever I go.  ( O^O )
Because I was getting older fast and wanted to do it while my legs, etc, still worked.
Because I wanted to see the top before the beaver-rat eats it. (It is sniffing at it right now. See it on the left slope, near the summit?)
Because it transmits a siren-song that resonates in my frequency. (It calls to me)
Because it somehow MADE me do it.

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Things the attempt required :

Hours of research to determine what I was getting into and what to do once I did.
Good planning.  Mental conditioning.  Ummm, too many people die up there . . .
Good fortune (luck), or blessings.  Only 3 out of every 10 climbers who attempt the summit actually make it.
The proper equipment and clothing.
Adequate amounts of food and water.
Knowledge of alpine weather.  (It is predictably extremely unpredictable.)
Top physical conditioning.
Myself to hike 5.5 miles in the dark while gaining nearly 3,400 feet in altitude then climbing a difficult, sometimes highly exposed, 1.5 mile, nearly 1,500 vertical-foot  route to the summit. (“exposed” means a mistake results in serious death or injury)  :p
Good timing to be off the summit by noon to avoid lightning, rain, or snow-slickened granite.
Myself to avoid injury, especially foot, ankle, or leg injury.
Myself to avoid “summit fever” and be ready to turn back at any point due to adverse weather changes, or altitude sickness. (At 14,000 feet only 60% of sea level oxygen is available in each breath)
Myself climbing wearily and carefully down and somehow hiking back to ‘base-camp’. This is statistically the most dangerous part due to fatigue, exhaustion, weather concerns, and hypoxia.

~   ^   ~

Preparation

I had officially started my quest to climb Long’s Peak, about six months earlier, in late March, when I finally decided to commit. Long’s Peak was calling! I had read many articles written by people, some who had succeeded and some who failed. Was I too old? Was it too dangerous? Could I get myself fit for the task? Could I learn everything I would need to know? A hundred questions. I decided No, No, Yes, and Yes! I would go ahead. From this point on, I would remain undaunted! It would be a very serious venture, but I’m a confirmed optimist, and moreover I was confident that God had my back. The Holy Spirit was, of course, supportive, and encouraging, and faithful.

My training involved walking extensively, hiking, playing lots of disc golf, working out on the recumbent bike, and using weight machines. I knew that there was no training like actually hiking at altitude on mountain trails, but this was the best I could do, and it would have to do!
   I sought purpose for the climb. I wanted to bring The Good News to someone while “on the mountain”, if possible, and not climb it only for my own pleasure. Surely God would back me in that!
I remember well the encounter I had with the Lord when I was walking the quarter-mile perimeter inside a large building. My right knee had been bothering me for several weeks. It felt like torn-meniscus pain. I asked God to heal it and take the pain away as I half limped along. “I will need this knee to work a hundred percent if I’m to climb up and spread the good news,” I pleaded. I was aware that my plea might have sounded like coercion, and wished I had thought of a better way to ask. Another half mile and it was hurting worse. “Father, what do I do?”
   “Keep going,” He plainly spoke into my spirit. I trusted that He knew something I didn’t, and I kept going. Normally, I would not have. I finished my two miles still in pain. I still had the feeling that I would be healed. Ibuprofen and prayer took me to bedtime. The next morning, I carefully stepped out of bed ready to limp to the bathroom. I was taken aback! The pain was completely gone! I remember it well. I was full of thanks and praise all that day. Amazingly, to this very day, the “meniscus” pain in that knee hasn’t come back anywhere nearly as intense and persistent as it was before that night. Another miracle – I’ve experienced quite a few – and I then knew that He had a plan and purpose for my trip. From then on, I was able to train intensively. I spent a lot of time doing extensive research and hiking the route in my mind. The Father had my back, indeed!

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A Side Trip

When thinking of plan and purpose, I was reminded of a hike I had taken a couple of years before, when God placed me right where I was needed.
I wanted to reach Emerald Lake, one of my favorite lakes high in Rocky Mountain National Park using one of my favorite trails. I was excited to use that trail because it offered an excellent view of the west face of Long’s Peak and, in addition, it skirted the banks of two other scenic lakes on the way to the third, Emerald, which is higher than ten-thousand feet in elevation. I needed to hurry because my family was waiting for me, so I ran where possible, and jogged, and just walked fast up any crude steps I found. I was in good condition for a 60+ “flat-lander”. Getting enough oxygen, however, was a challenge!  As I ascended, I stopped long enough to view Long’s several times, but suddenly was aware that a hiker up ahead was descending very fast. He looked worried as he ran past. After several minutes, I overheard a group of hikers talking about what sounded like a serious matter. I asked and was told that an elderly man had collapsed on the trail up ahead. He seemed to be having heart problems. I kept going at a fast pace, and soon I heard in my spirit, “pray for that man”! I did! With compassion and empathy, I did! I passed the beautiful Alberta Falls, and after some time had passed, a park ranger wearing a large backpack came running up the trail. Not far behind her were several more, actually running with a large, one-wheeled gurney. I was thoroughly impressed! “Pray for them too”, I heard.
I kept running, jogging hard, and hurrying upward, stopping to catch my breath and taking every advantage to admire the valley below, Glacier Gorge, and the awe-striking views of Long’s and Storm Peaks, as well as Pagoda and Chief’s Head farther to the south. Long’s is a mountain with “many faces”. From the Bear Lake area and Glacier Gorge, the north and west sides, the top of the majestic mountain looks roughly cubical – a massive block of granite. From the east or south sides, the peak looks pointed.
Soon I was within sight of the young rangers gathered around the gurney which now held the man whom they had placed upon it. They waved me on as I slowed with intention of saying an audible prayer for the guy. They were not going to allow it. I wasn’t surprised. “Keep praying, especially for them – they don’t know Me yet,” I heard. After passing by Nymph and Dream Lakes, it wasn’t long before I reached Emerald. I ate a snack, took photos (one of the selfies appears at the top, right-hand corner of my blog), admired the beauty of all the surrounding Creation, and thanked My Creator for placing me there in the center of it. Across the lake was the astounding chunk of granite which forms the East Buttress of Hallett’s Peak. I noted that Hallett’s would be a good mountain to climb one day, which aspiration I have since been blessed to complete with my son.
My family was waiting. I had made “good time” on the way up and expected to do better on the way downhill. I slipped into my pack straps and headed down, continuing my prayers and having conversations with my Lord. I didn’t stop to gawk except to rest briefly and catch my breath. About two-thirds of the way back I saw the group of rescuers stopped next to the trail. They had an I.V. going and were adjusting things for the man who was still alive, praise God. I slowed, again with the intention of encouraging the man with a prayer if he wanted it. Once again, I was waved on, this time with a few angry glares. I was only an intruder to them. They didn’t understand. I forgave. I started down a steep slope and noticed a little elderly lady standing by herself at the bottom. I’ll never forget her standing there in her white long-sleeved knit shirt and blue jeans, her hands clasped in front of her chest, looking up at “the rescue”, with an anxious look on her face.
“Hello. Do you know the man up there?”, I ventured as I approached her.
“He’s my husband.”
“Oh, ma’am, I don’t know if it means anything to you, but I’ve been praying for him for more than two hours.”
She got a strange look on her face. I thought “Oh no, not a believer” . . .
Time stood still, but then she said, “I have too, and I was hoping someone else was. We are Christians too. Thank you so much!”

“My pleasure, I think he’s going to be alright, God is with him and He’s with you. He loves you two! I’d be glad to stay with you on the way back.”
“I’ll be alright now. God provided me the word I needed and you’ve been a faithful brother to us. Please keep praying as long as you can. Thank you so very much!”
I was elated the rest of the way back, and I was fulfilled. I had been where I was needed, place, time, ready to pray, have compassion, and provide encouragement using His strength not my own. Plan and purpose!
Alright, story within a story, a little lengthy but relevant. Glory within glory!

~   ^   ~

Essentials

By September, I was in good physical and mental condition. My feet and legs felt great. My back, which had undergone serious lumbar surgery a decade before, was ready for a moderately heavy backpack. My cardio-pulmonary system was strong, and I was optimistic and confident.  I chose mid September for the climb because the chances of good weather were better and all the snow had melted from the peaks that year. That’s a bit late in the season, but was the best I could do that year. Snow or rain on slick granite can be deadly, and some of the granite was reportedly already shiny from the wear of thousands of shoes. In addition, the summer rush would be over, and traffic on the routes would be much less. Rockfalls caused by careless climbers, especially in “the Trough”, should be much less of a danger. Most importantly, I felt strongly that I was supposed to be doing this.

Among the things I learned about, and that were essential to know:
Alpine weather – how it can change radically from blue sky to a lightning storm in fifteen minutes. There is no protection from lightning above treeline. People are killed by it every year just in the park, thus one needs to begin the trek at 3:00 am or earlier in order to be back down close to timberline by noon to avoid the almost daily afternoon storms.
Wind conditions can change quickly and gusty winds can be deadly at high altitude. People have been blown right off the mountain to their death.
Physical and mental health – The body needs to be in top condition. Just to reach the “boulder field” requires a hike of more than five and one-half miles and a gain in altitude of about 3,500 feet, then the real hard stuff begins. When the summit is reached, you are only halfway home. It seems counter intuitive, but the climb down and the hike back are statistically the most difficult and dangerous part. Exhaustion, fatigue, and the constant pounding on already taxed joints can cause dangerous missteps. Mentally, one needs to know what to expect, and how to pace oneself, and when to turn back if conditions warrant it. Fear has no place in a place like this, but concentration, focus, caution, and respect for nature’s whims are essential.
Dehydration is a huge concern and is believed to contribute to altitude sickness. Carry plenty of water and drink constantly even when not thirsty. Also carry light and portable food such as energy bars to keep carbs up and stay fueled.
Rockfalls – both natural and caused by climbers, can be deadly. Should I wear a helmet?
Altitude sickness can be deadly up there. Only 60% of sea level oxygen is available above 14,000 feet. Headache, nausea, dizziness, loss of energy, and irrational behavior can have dire consequences, not to mention a case of deadly pulmonary edema. If a person doesn’t get back to lower altitudes quickly when those symptoms arise, it could mean “worst-case-scenario”. These symptoms can happen to anyone at any time when “at altitude”. Ibuprofen is said to help stave off altitude sickness. I took one when starting off and one every 4 hours decreasing the interval when I got to 12,000 feet. I reasoned that its anti-inflammatory effects alone would be beneficial for my whole body.
Proper clothing, footwear, and supplies. Layers of clothing like I wear for skiing. New hiking shoes with good “tread” for sticking to slick boulders, sturdy, yet lightweight. Two Camelback (bladder type) water reservoirs with sipper tubes. They each hold about three liters. Rain gear. Spare socks. Sunscreen. Anti-UV lip balm and sunglasses.
Know the route. I would be using the Keyhole Route, which would require, a 15 to 16 mile round trip. That’s a long way to walk under the best of circumstances. It is essential not to get lost or off route, which might lead to putting myself in great danger.

~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~

The Adventure

I drove nearly 1,000 miles to Colorado. I once lived much closer and was able to make many more trips up there in all seasons.
In Boulder, I bought an expensive new pair of name-brand hiking shoes which had nice “grippy” soles. They were expensive, but turned out to be lifesavers.
Camping in the Long’s Peak Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park was my plan. I found a nice campsite, there being an off-season lack of many other campers. Being at 9,400 ft. at the foot of the trail for several nights would be a perfect way to acclimate to the extreme altitudes at which I would be hiking. I’ve never had problems with altitude, but this climb would take me at least 3,000 feet higher than I’d ever climbed.
The temperature hovered around freezing at night and 60 degrees during the day. I did two warm up hikes of about four miles round-trip each on Sunday and Monday. I was sweating wearing summer hiking clothing. I planned to attempt the top very early Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

As it turned out, weather was going to be the deciding factor for deciding when to set out for the summit. Choosing my launch time was more difficult than I expected. I walked up to the station and talked to the rangers several times. They told me that the local weather was unpredictable enough, but the “fourteener” had what might be termed its “own weather”. The local weather stations predicted a low pressure system and a cold front that was due early Thursday morning. That meant possible rain, snow, and high wind on the mountain, any and all of which could be extremely dangerous. To increase my chances of success, I made the decision to move up my departure time by 24 hours. I would begin Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning) and be back Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday evening I packed up. I double and triple-checked my gear and supplies beside the campfire. I would sleep in my 3-person dome tent in my nice warm sleeping bag and leave at 3:00 am Wednesday, which would give me about six hours of sleep and plenty of time to reach the summit by 10:00 am, after which there was a greater risk of storms and wind.

Well, “best laid plans of mice and men” . . .  I was completely awake before 1:00 am, gaining less than four hours of sleep. Not ideal, but I have performed well on less. There was nothing to do but get going.
With a prayer and a pack full of optimism, I took off at 1:30 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011. The air was cold – just above freezing, and I hiked with a heavy pack (at least, for me it was) into the wilderness. Under the nearly-full moon and glittering stars, for the next 5 1/2 hours until daybreak, I gained about 3,500 feet in altitude, and 5.5 miles in distance before I reached the flats leading to the Boulderfield Campground.

On the winding uphill forested trail, at treeline and beyond, He was with me, helping me upward. He had been close for the past 6 months through all my preparations and “training” for the challenge. Almighty God was taking me to the top! He filled me with elation, and with joy, because He filled me with His presence! We conversed in a way unique to us!
If I were to write down all my thoughts, perceptions, and emotions, there would be enough content to fill a large volume. I will only chronicle the high points here.

My flow of consciousness went something like this:

      “First sign the log book in the kiosk near the ranger station, not only to record my attempt but to tell what time I left and hopefully, returned. I’ve heard they don’t check it often, but a late rescue is better than none at all. That formality is done, and it’s time to do a mental checklist of everything I’ve brought with me as I begin my ascent up the slope with many wooden steps. Not too fast, now, don’t get too excited. Adjust my headlamp to light the trail about ten to fifteen feet ahead.
How easily I forget to pray. Lord, I open myself to constant prayer. Constant interaction. Let my every step be a prayer. Let each plant of my hiking poles punctuate Your praise. Let your wisdom come to me like second nature – first nature! Indeed!
Stay hydrated, keep sipping  water. Pace yourself. There’s the Eugenia Mine Trail turnoff that goes up to Estes Cone. I should do that hike someday!
Log bridges and rough plank bridges crossing rushing mountain streams. Maybe I should count them. Larkspur Creek and Alpine Brook if memory serves.
About two hours of steady increase in altitude, time to fuel up with a granola/energy bar. Feels good to take this pack off, rest my legs. Turn the lamp off. Enjoy the clear night sky. The bright moon. The sharp, crisp stars, like the sharp, crisp air. The Milky Way like a sparkling sash across the heavens. Too long! Get going before the muscles get cold.
   Almost to treeline. Trees much shorter. Trail more rocky. Sometimes have to pick my way carefully through them, don’t want to twist an ankle. I see hikers way up ahead and higher in altitude, their headlamps moving very slowly. Maybe a mile ahead? Up on the side of Mt. Lady Washington and moving to the right, which is roughly north.
The air is, thankfully, almost still, and I only have half my available layers on. Treeline is about 2.5 miles up. I’m at about 11,000 feet now and I’m surprised at how quickly the transition from forest to Krummholz (stunted, deformed vegetation), to only small plant life, occurs. Without trees in the way, I can easily see the lights of Estes northeast of here. A little higher and I can see Boulder, and there is the massive glow of Denver to the south.
One drawback of having to do this section in the dark is missing out on the jaw-dropping scenery I knew was ahead. The crags between Meeker and Long’s. The “Beaver”, the Notch, the Diamond Face. Not able to take pictures. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance this afternoon on the way down. Keep sipping water, it’s easy to forget when you’re not even thirsty.
I’m starting to feel the weight of my backpack. It’s good that it’s getting lighter, the more water I drink. Suddenly I’m reflecting on the last three hours up the incline – how I’ve never felt closer to You, Father.
Your presence is like the steady hum of “telephone wires” in the wind. That memory is from my youth, more than fifty years ago. I always wondered why they hummed. Now, phones are wireless and they also play music.
   Now I hear the happy “music” of the mountain streams in murmulation (my own word) beside the trail down in the forest. Your companionship is like that. You are a constant happy stream of goodness, kindness, love, wisdom, and strength flowing through my soul. Perceived by my mind and transferred to my body, arms, legs. Connecting me to the path and all Creation under my feet. I delight in this close communion with You, Lord. I wish everyone would seek it.

   Back in the woods when I was taking a short break, a guy passed by. He was moving fast. I was eager to promote Your name and I said something like “God bless your trip to the top.” He kind of grunted a quick “yeah”. O’ Lord, please send by people who need encouragement, who need to know You are with them. I want to fulfill the reasons You have for bringing me up this mountain! I want to proclaim You in the flesh, as well as in writing at Gloryteller, for You are indeed glorious!
Enjoy the heavens, soon the majesty of the night sky will be hidden.
I’ve been hiking for about three hours. Was hoping to make close to 2 miles an hour on this first leg. That’s easily my pace at home. I’m doing a little more than one mile an hour. The incline, decreased oxygen, and weight of this pack must be slowing me down, and I am stopping for rest breaks once in a while.
The trail has been flatter for the last half hour, but now there is a steeper slope up to the junction.
And here’s Chasm junction! Take a quick look at the sign in the beam of my lamp and follow the Long’s Peak arrow. The trail turns a bit to the right. I’m more than halfway to the Keyhole, but it’s still around five miles to the summit.
I just know there is some great scenery that I can’t see! The trail is steeper and rougher. I need to watch my footing because of rocky obstacles to negotiate as well as the smaller fist, to football, sized rocks that can flip or roll if they’re stepped on wrong. I call them “rollers”. Ha! Rocks and rollers!
Now it’s about a mile across the side of Mt. Lady Washington up to the saddle between her and Battle Mountain. The incline is not too steep, but there are lots of obstacles – large rocks – that need to be carefully stepped up and over and between. I need to pay attention to where I’m stepping. I’m headed northwest on the flanks of Mt. Lady Washington. I like saying that, it makes me feel clever. I doubt many people would see it that way, haha.
Just a steady increase in altitude.

I think I can see where the saddle is, which is named Granite Pass, up ahead. It’s the lowest and best place to cross the ridge that leads to the boulder field. Lord, You still there?
Of course!
Sorry, I tend to get wrapped up in where I am and what I’m doing.

That’s alright, those things are necessary!
      Granite pass! I did that last mile a bit faster. 12,000 feet up! 5:30 am. Four and a half miles in four hours. I think I’m stopping too much, haha. This pass is not only a milestone on the climb, but one in my life. My previous highest hike was to Emerald Lake, about 10,100 feet in elevation. Oh, remember you’ve been close to 11,000 feet on cross-country skis two or three times. That was near Breckenridge. What fun times back in the days of Telemarking on the slopes of Summit County, Colorado!

Now we get down to business . . . here begin the six or seven switchbacks that lead to the boulder field of Long’s Peak. Another mile and a half to the campground. The trail turns sharply to the left, from northwest to southeast and heads around the north end of The Lady. Again, I feel a personal humor. But she will laugh best, as this first incline is taking my wind! I stop to catch my breath many times! For the first time I feel as though this is an ascent rather than a mere hike.
I’m getting behind schedule, too, though when I stop, the views to the east and the peaks of the Continental Divide to the northwest are astounding. It is just beginning to be light enough to see them. A great distraction from the demands of this section. And it’s colder here. A cold breeze hitting my face. Go twenty yards and stop to breathe. Repeat. I’m really breathing hard. Take this hoodie off, I’m sweating. Getting a slight headache, time for another ibuprofen, and keep sipping water. The boulder field shouldn’t be far.
Finally, there it is! A sudden transition to a large, flat-ish, very gently sloping area covered with rocks – the boulder field! The sun is finally peaking up. I wonder how much the altitude affects sunrise up here. It seems much earlier. Time to turn off my headlamp and stow it in the pack. Did your job well, but won’t be needing you again today! The hairpins took my breath away, but this is truly breathtaking in a literal and figurative sense! The trail is mostly gone and there is hardly a place to set my feet that doesn’t involve an encounter with a rock. It will probably be this way all the way to the top. This is my first view of the western sky and I’m glad to see that it is blue with very few clouds in the direction the “weather” comes from. I need to adjust and find the safest and easiest route up to the campground. Do some rock-hopping and also skirt some hazardous places. The top part of Long’s Diamond face is in view! Beautiful! The summit is directly above it. I’m surprised that this section is so expansive. Different than it appears the pictures. There’s the Keyhole. It looks tiny from here, but I know it’s large. Everything up here is large. There is Storm Peak to the right of the Keyhole. I ascended about 700 feet in the last half mile. This place is more than 12,700 feet up! I’ve gained 3,300 vertical feet. I’m amazed at our ongoing conversation, and I’m amazed that you are letting me do this, Father – not only letting me, but encouraging it, enabling it, strengthening me!
This is truly the alpine zone where there are only relatively small clumps of alpine plants growing. They are green, and I can spot a few flowers at the tail end of their season. I’m seeing cute puffball pikas, little squeakers running about gathering and storing food for the fast approaching winter. I read that they dry the grasses and wildflowers on the sun warmed rocks before storage, to prevent mold and rot. They are not rodents, but are related to rabbits! Oh, and there is one of the ever present marmots . . . and another. Whistle pigs! They are rodents and these must be some of the last outside the den before hibernation.
Making good time here on the flat. Less than a mile between the switchbacks and the Boulderfield Campground. Almost there. Getting a good view of The Dove, a large, flying bird-shaped snowfield on the side of the mountain to the lower left of the Keyhole. For a dove, it has a freakishly long tail, but it is a beautiful snow-white. There’s the Agnes Vaille Shelter just under the Keyhole. I’ve done this so many times in my head, it’s almost like I’ve been here before, but that was the figurative version – I’m so fortunate to be experiencing all this literally, first hand, here and now!
There’s the famous Boulderfield Campground, I can see the two privies! I wonder if anyone is camping there . . . Yes there is a tent. The rocks are getting thicker and larger. As I approach the campground, perhaps I should make my presence known. I’ll make my pole plants on the rocks a little more pronounced. I need to find out what, if anything, God wants me to do with this person. I haven’t seen anyone else for a couple of miles. I’ll stop here, three or four yards from the tent. Man am I tired! Not exhausted, though.
The tent flap was being unzipped. “Hey, good morning,”  a young man poked his head outside.
“Yes, it is!” I was removing my pack and gloves.
“I guess you’ve been hiking half the night, huh?”
“Sure have. I left at 1:30.”
“Hi, how are you?” A young woman’s face appeared beside the man’s.
“Great! Tired! This place is awesome! Are you guys going to the top this morning?’
“Yes, we are excited! Ready to get warm, that was a cold night!”
Time to debate with myself. Do I wait for them or continue to solo this peak as I planned? Some company would be nice, and what if I got injured? Their assistance would be valuable. I saw two guys crossing below The Dove, going south to view the Diamond Face I assume. They are the only other people up here that I know of. And what of my purpose and wishes to spread news of the Lord up here? Is this couple part of your plan, Father?
“Of course, everyone is!”
That debate only lasted two or three seconds, now I hear myself saying, “Can I tag along with you? Unless you were planning a private time of climbing to the top by yourselves. I don’t presume to intrude.”

“Absolutely! We’d be glad for the company and the help,” they agreed, with smiles. “I’m G., the young man is saying, and this is my wife, K. . Just give us a few minutes to get ready.” They were both extremely pleasant and we quickly became new friends. Coincidence? I think not! I need to head for the much needed privies. This itself is a challenge as it is somewhat of an ascent over boulders.
I’ll sit here on this rock wall and rest while they get ready and eat a pair of energy bars. Drink some water. Have an ibuprofen. And a banana. I got here at about 6:45. Five and a quarter hours to go 5.5 miles. Previously I’ve only gone four or five miles per hike. I’m setting personal records here! This is like three hikes in one day. My brother and I once did a ten-miler mostly above 9 – 10 thousand feet, but it took two nights and two and a half days because we camped, and I was a lot younger then.
My sense of wonder is going wild. This place is ethereal. Like a completely different world. I look up at the Keyhole and the Agnes Vaille Memorial Shelter. They are only about 0.4 miles away according to the maps, but look farther. And higher. The slope of boulders is steeper and the boulders larger.  Much different from this angle than in the photos of others. The Keyhole is around 13,000 feet up – from here, kind of like climbing a 240 foot ladder. A little intimidating when I remember talking to some men my age who had attempted the summit two days ago and decided to turn around at the Keyhole because of exhaustion. Not surprising. More than half the people who attempt the summit turn back before they reach it. And more than fifty people have died up here, but I’m still undaunted. I’m going to join the thousands who have succeeded! I feel like I can do this!
I really would like to climb that big sloping rock pile to the south and take a look at that massive east rock face of Long’s. The sun is shining on The Diamond so pretty and making it look a brilliant rusty red. Now that’s a rock wall! Maybe another time. I need to be conservative. Keep the primary goal in mind.
They must be eating breakfast and packing up. I’m getting cold. Put on the hoodie, there’s a slight breeze and it’s chilly. I hope the wind stays down up in the Keyhole and beyond. Wind on the Ledges and especially the Narrows could be a trip killer. Okay check supplies. I should ditch some of this water. I started with close to one and a half gallons – more than twelve pounds – and it looks like I drank a little over two quarts, four or five pounds. I think I’ll take only two quarts up. Remember, lots of water helps stave off altitude sickness . . . I still think that will be plenty, and I’ll save four or five pounds of weight. Significant! I’ll just transfer some from one hands-free bladder to the other and leave that here along with my poles. They will be of no use for scrambling.
Okay, I have my wind back, a few minutes has stretched out to forty, and I’m eager to go. I’m on the edge of getting stiff with cold muscles. Need to do some stretches. Now we are ready to set out and it’s 8:15 am. That should give us plenty of time to summit and get back here at my target of 12:00 to 12:30. That would get us back down to treeline by about 1:30 to give some protection from possible afternoon lightning storms. There’s very little shelter up here on “the rock”. Here goes – two miles of tricky, dangerous, exhausting scrambling, climbing, route finding, and gaining another 1,500 feet in altitude. I’m ready! Let’s go!
I’m stepping from boulder to boulder, leaping at times. Some of the largest are as big as refrigerators and cars. Other smaller rocks are kind of “tippy” – watch your step. These grippy shoes are great on these granite rocks! I’m having to stop for breath more often. This section is harder than I thought it would be. Following the cairns and piled up rock markers helps some. Now it’s really getting steep. I’m scrambling with both hands and feet. Heading for the shelter out of curiosity. There are huge slabs of granite on each side of the Keyhole formation, itself being composed of a thick jutting slab that seem to hang out impossibly far. Kind of reminds me of a lion’s head, or a warrior’s face. Breathing hard, I’ll go into the shelter and sit down for a minute. Take a picture out the door. Fantastic shot of Storm!
   Eat an energy bar. Breathe. They went a little farther to the right and are going through the Keyhole. There is Storm Peak just to the north, and way down there is the campsite. Just a dot of color. That leg took much longer than I expected. Load up. A short scramble and I’m through the Keyhole. Making it this far is an awesome accomplishment in itself! Thank you God! Standing directly under the many tons of rock just cantilevered there has an element of danger. What are the chances of it letting go right this moment? I’ll not tempt fate, haha.

The view down the back side of the ridge is spectacular! We are in a jumble of boulders that look down on a very steep drop-off that ends way down there in beautiful Glacier Gorge. There’s Mills Lake to the north, been there, and Black Lake, Blue Lake, and Frozen Lake. There is Spearhead, McHenry’s Peak, Chief’s Head, Pagoda and the top part of the Keyboard of the Winds. We need to take lots of photos of the scenery, of each other, and of each other with the scenery! We are all elated to be here, but we need to get moving. The sky to the west is an amazing blue with a few white clouds. I’m back down to my windbreaker.
We are really on the west side of the mountain now, the back side I call it. We need to scramble between and over some boulders to get to the route. I’m saying “This is where the Summit Team begins to rock!” They politely laughed in agreement, and then we looked at the amazing view across the dangerous half-mile traverse called the Ledges. There are four demanding sections to negotiate in the next mile and a half to the summit, with lots of class 3 scrambling and some serious exposure. Exposure means a slip, misstep, loss of balance, or mistake could mean serious injury or your demise.  There are several places where a misstep, a trip, or a slip could result in a fall of several hundred feet.  I prayed for us constantly and He gave me the ability to concentrate, focus, make good decisions, and problem-solve, all of which I have trouble with in the lowlands. Hahaha!

The route requires lots of scrambling. It runs along the top of a slope which falls steeply down to the right and there is more or less of a back slanting wall on the left. I see some bullseye route markers ahead. Bright yellow circles inside bright red rings. We need to follow those rigorously. Getting off route here can bring serious trouble. About halfway I can see The Trough which is a “couloir”, a steep narrow gully. When I skied all the time, we called that an “avalanche chute”, and joked that the word couloir was French for “frozen ravine of death“. Here is the big block of rock that forms an obstacle that must be negotiated to proceed farther. There are steel rods that the Park Service has drilled into the boulder as hand-holds. It would be much harder without them, and I feel a bit exposed here. This is where climbing companions helping each other is a comfort.
Now I see the part of the route that slopes downward before it meets the Trough. Now we are in that French ravine, and it is every bit as daunting as it’s reputed to be. Much of it is talus covered, and it has been described as a “scree field”. We are taking some breaks together and conversing. Now I’m below my mates, so I need to stay to the side where I won’t be hit if they dislodge a rock. It is steep and there are lots of loose rocks and I surely want to avoid getting hit in the head or any other part, for that matter. That’s the nice thing about this time of year though, can you imagine what it would be like if dozens of inexperienced people were kicking through here and every few seconds you hear “Rock!“, meaning that something deadly is bouncing uncontrolled at a high rate of speed toward someone below the shouter.
There doesn’t seem to be a way straight up, I’ll need to route-find and wind my way up. Stopping to catch my breath more often, but I do like this kind of climbing, and . . .  ugh, something’s wrong . . . I don’t feel so well . . . weak . . . dizzy . . . headache . . . nausea . . . altitude sickness! It hit so quickly – without warning. Never had it before. I feel like I “hit the wall” and can’t go on. Fatigue. Drained. I’m done. Shoot! I need to turn back according to everything I’ve read . . . So dejected . . . having gotten this far . . .

Just breathe a minute. Bend down and get some blood to your brain,” I heard The Voice say.
After a few minutes, I’m not panting so hard. Nausea and headache abating some. Dizziness too, that’s a really bad thing to be up here – is dizzy!

“Hey, are you alright,?” my two partners are asking, not being very far from me. “You look a little pale, do you need some help?” 

“I just ‘hit the wall’, but I’m starting to feel better. Thanks, just give me a minute . . .”
I don’t remember reading that A.S. can pass quickly, but it seems to be passing. I feel much better. Drinking water and taking another ibuprofen. It’s about time anyway. All symptoms fading, and the depressive dejection as well.
The whole episode was only five to ten minutes, Thank You, gracious Father, Thank You! I’ll continue with You . . . cautiously.
There are some tough scrambles. We’re boosting and pulling each other up. It is slow going and, I just looked, and we’ve been on the Ledges and Trough for over two hours! We did stop to take some photos . . .
I’ve been praying constantly for myself and more earnestly for my companions. I do not want to see one of them get injured or worse. Could that be part of my purpose up here, to intercede for them?
Twenty minutes ago, I noticed a lone figure way down below us. He was ascending quickly up the gully. Now He’s passing us. It’s good to exchange pleasant greetings up here. He’s the only other person we’ve seen up here. Now he’s climbing over the large boulders up ahead. He appears to be in very good condition! And here I am having to stop and catch my breath all the time!
Finally we’ve come to where we need to ‘scramble’ over the large obstacles at the top of the Trough. The Narrows beckons.
As soon as we top the final boulders, we know we are “in deep” now. Looking down on the narrow passage and the steep drop-off of death on the right takes one’s breath away. I’m not afraid. Fear takes away concentration, and distracts from what needs to be done. I sense fear in my companions. I quickly pray, and carefully edge forward making certain of each footfall and handhold. In some places, the granite ‘path’ is so narrow that it is worn smooth by all the feet that have been forced to walk the same twenty inch route. I’m thankful for my good leather gloves and my great new climbing shoes. The clouds had been building, but don’t look stormy. We are above the cloud deck and can’t see the valley below very clearly when I dare look. This is the south side of the mountain. I wish I could see the Wild Basin area down there. And they say there is a large, black, rock formation appropriately named The Hearse right down below somewhere. But this is no place to think these things, even for a second. Focus! Right hand, right foot, left foot, left hand. Concentrate! I’m so thankful there is no wind to speak of. I’ve heard of people being swept right off places like this. Keep going, get this section behind us . . .
I followed them all across the Ledges and up the Trough, but I’m leading across the Narrows. I can hardly believe it. Adrenaline is a powerful hormone! I don’t think I’ve ever had so much! Now I’m almost to the end and I’m faced with a steep ‘wall’ of small, loose rocks and boulders. I’ts steep but there seem to be plenty of footholds and handholds. Just to the right, the fall line is straight down. This feels very precarious . . .
I’m studying the rock trying to decide the best way to get over the cliff-like edge of the last huge boulder when suddenly a face and arm are appearing and reaching down! I hesitate. “Come on, I’ll give you a hand!” He said with a smile. It was the man who passed us back in the Trough. I smile back and offer my hand. We lock hands. He’s not very big, but has a strong grip. I choose my footholds carefully, and with this new friend’s help, I’m over the top. Thanks, Mr. Lee! Soon, K. and G. are up too, with his help. “You’re almost there,” he states, pointing at a very steep, very impressive ‘slab’ of smooth granite, “I’m heading up, see you at the top!”

I’m thinking, yeah, so close! Crossing an easier semi-flat place, and here I am. The Homestretch! The last section before the summit is a 45 degree slope of smooth granite. So tired, but this is no place to be tired . . .
It’s daunting, but pick a route and get up there! Long’s Peak’s summit is calling, and I must go!
Oh great and merciful Father, You have made me a way up this far, I just need this final one!
There’s a nice looking crack on the left. Two cracks, with a sort of narrow ‘sidewalk’ between them. See you guys at the top, I’m shouting to the resting K. and G., who seemed to be trying to persuade each other to do this last, tough stretch. Putting my fingers in the crack on the left, I start up the granite slope. It’s amazingly smooth from the wear of thousands of shoes. I need all four points of contact here. Thank God for good Vibram soles and a tenacious grip! Soon, I stop for breath. This is fourteen thousand feet! I’m overwhelmed with the reality! Looking back I see my companions below. I’ve been so focused on the mountain, I failed to notice that the clouds have been filling in around us and our visibility is much less. I can still see some dark rusty brown spires of rock to the south, maybe a hundred yards away. No sign of Mr. Lee, he’s already up!
Halfway there! Stopping to take some photos of my companions below.

And I’m here! The edge of the flat summit and now I’m up! My longtime goal is met!  My Everest is conquered! It’s overwhelming, and Mr. Lee is here in welcome. Thank You, Lord!

My cohorts are arriving now and we all are hugging and congratulating one another. It is said that only 3 out of 10 people who attempt the summit actually make it, so we are feeling good. “I wonder what the other 7 are doing”, I quipped. We are taking pictures. Mr. Lee is heading for home after making sure we are alright. He has been up here several times. I now have his email address. G. finds the register, the summit log sheets, rolled up inside a cabled PVC tube in a crevice between two large boulders. I’m pretty sure the taller one is the absolute highest point on the peak. I should climb it and stand upon it, but that would only be a hollow gesture, and besides, I am completely spent. I’m happy to just rest here beside it and record my name along with G. and K. on the list of Spartans who made this climb. I’m in a state of joyful delight – blissful pleasure.
Now I must praise my Father and Lord who brought me here, enabled me, strengthened me, encouraged me, and blessed me. I’m convinced I could not have done it using only my own meager resources. 14,259 feet above sea level! Not on my own power, but Yours, Father! Now the race is run, the task finished, the goal reached. I’m spent and elated and filled with joy!

^ ~  ^ ~  ^

The Summit

Here, I’ll depart from my flow-of-consciousness, my present tense, the ‘in the now’. That stream is hard, for, no matter how much I want to, it’s impossible to relate every thought, emotion, and nuance of one’s state of being, especially given the light-speed rate at which they happen . . .

Then I was sitting there next to the eight-foot tall “summit boulder” of Long’s Peak in euphoria, dining happily on the beef jerky I had brought for the occasion. How much of the euphoria was from oxygen deprivation? That was a humorous thought. I wasn’t as hungry as I expected to be. I guess I was too full of water. The euphoria was being replaced by the fog of reality in small increments, thought by thought. Figurative fog and real fog too! I looked at the flat-ish, football field-sized summit. The fog was rolling past in waves. So this is what it’s like being in a cloud! Cloud 9, but a cloud, nevertheless! Sometimes everything was visible, then mostly not. I lamented not being able to see Chasm Lake, Mt. Meeker, Wild Basin, Mt. Lady Washington, the eastern plains, the western mountain ranges.  Funny, I had hardly noticed the fog until now. It moved in like a prowling cat. My watch showed 12:30 pm! How had it taken so long to get here from the Keyhole? I’d planned to summit and be back down at least to the campground by now. I’ve been on my feet for most of eleven hours! O Lord, please hold back the thunderstorms! The breeze isn’t strong, but it’s cool. This rock is hard – and cold, but at least I can sit and rest a while. I want to walk around, maybe look over the edge of the Diamond Face, but alas, I’m very tired, and that is what makes the trip down so dangerous and scary – fatigue. Fatigue! O Lord, how am I ever going to get down this steep rock, let alone all the miles of trail back to camp?
“One step at a time, fear not.” 
The fear that tried to come vanished again. Peace came over me, and I knew I was wrong again – the race was not run, the task not finished. I had completed only half of a marathon and had a new task before me – getting home (back to camp) alive and uninjured. I felt optimistic again, and “positivity” returned. It was really pretty pleasant up here! Except for not having recliners, the summit was comfortable today. I had companions! What more could I ask? Nothing!
After conversing, celebrating, resting, and recovering for about forty minutes, the weight of our circumstances pushes us into motion. If that smooth granite gets rain on it . . .  So we saddle up. As I said before, the descent is statistically the most dangerous part of the trip. If people perish, it most likely to happen on the descent. Fatigue is the culprit, and we now have the concerns of the time crunch we’re facing. Hurrying is not a good option, so now we are at the mercy of the weather. We need the ultimate Source of mercy more than ever! The fog has hampered our visibility of the skies – the skies that we are now standing in! We hear no thunder, but lightning storms can develop quickly. It is almost 1:00 pm. We should be nearing treeline by now, but we are uncomfortably exposed up here above treeline for at least the next two or three hours. I feel much better, physically, after resting, but my muscles have already gotten cold and stiff, so I do some stretches. I don’t want to strain a muscle, ligament, or tendon up here. Human help is many hours away.
Only 7.5 miles to go . . . That’s a pretty long hike itself.

Descent  

Time to hitch up my resolve. Looking over the edge of the lip of the Homestretch, I’m taken aback at its steepness. How to do this? Then I remembered an extremely important piece of advice from my son, the experienced and accomplished rock climber. He told me to down-climb a steep slope of rock instead of walking down, butt-sliding down, or inverted spider-walking (facing away from the mountain). Those actions could result in an unrecoverable slide or tumble. Down-climbing affords the security and safety of three-point holds every one of which you can choose, and if you do slip or slide, there are many opportunities to recover your stability. In addition, you can see both up-slope and down. It’s like climbing down a ladder. You don’t want to face outward! So I turned around, faced the rock, and went over the “cliff edge” and down. It worked! Looking down between my feet, I felt very secure all the way down to where I could turn around and walk. Goodbye, Long’s Peak summit . . .
The fog wasn’t quite as bad as I down-climbed again down to the Narrows. My companions were not down-climbing, so I kept praying, and concentrated upon crossing that ridiculously-exposed section. At the west end of the Narrows, we had to climb up and inch around the precarious point of rock at the top of the Trough, after which more down-climbing technique was needed. Poles would have come in handy for going down that steep chute. Descending may be easier and faster than ascending, and it doesn’t make me breathe as hard, but it surely pounds and stresses old joints. The “kids” didn’t seem to be having any problems, though, and that made me smile. Then we found the bullseye marker where we had to enter the Ledges. We had to ascend to get to the traverse, and the Ledges traverse itself seemed to be a gradual upward incline all the way to the Keyhole. I could understand why it took so long to cover this section on the way up. It’s just a lot of scrambling. Tiring scrambling. I wasn’t drinking water as often as I had been, but didn’t have much left anyway. I assumed that altitude sickness was no longer a concern, but dehydration probably was.
The fog came and went, but halfway through the traverse, the fog became a light mist. I was glad to have help and companionship. We had become friends by this time and had a good “working” relationship.
Finally! There was the Keyhole formation! We couldn’t even see Glacier Gorge on the left, so we eagerly went through the Keyhole and started down-climbing the boulders of the Boulderfield. No stopping at the shelter, because the sight of the privies and the tent way down in the distance was enticing. The “hard part” was almost behind us.
All seemed to be going well until the mist turned into drizzle. The granite was getting wet . . .
More down-climbing! Although there was no longer a single path worn by herds of Vibrams, I had to choose my steps carefully.
It was much slower going than we wanted. Time wore on, and so did I. The Boulderfield seemed to be fighting me. I was really tired again. But, I was once again thankful for my new grippy-soled shoes.
At last! A privy to call my own. It was 3:45. It took two hours and forty-five minutes to get down here from the top and it felt good to be back at the low altitude of 12,700 feet. Haha!
Unfortunately, the marmots had thrown a party while mom and dad were absent. Their ground pads and some other things had become snacks for the giant rodents. Why they would chew on that is a mystery to me.
It was getting colder, and sunset was not far off. I retrieved my hiking poles and water bladder. I was glad the big squirrels had not chewed holes in that. (I did protect it under some rocks). I fueled up with a couple more energy bars. I figured I only needed about a quart of water to get home, so I packed a little extra and dumped the rest. It never hurt to have a reserve. It was getting colder. I hoped it would not start snowing. I put all my clothing on except for my rain gear. So, at 4:15 or so, we were ready to go. I was about four hours behind my planned schedule. I thought I could easily get back by 5 pm and that’s what I wrote in the trailhead log book. God, are you laughing at my silly plans? Still He preserved me this long and the regular afternoon storms held back today. It should be a relatively easy walk back. One step at a time!
It took 5.5 hours to get here this morning, so maybe 3.5 to get back? I should be home by 8 pm if all goes well. Three hours behind schedule. Would the rangers send someone to look for me? Would they even notice? Was I being silly again? I smiled. Our walk to the switchbacks was fast. I was thankful my pack was much lighter, but I was pushing myself to keep up with those young legs. They looked like they were fresh. Of course I had hiked much farther than they had today – eleven miles already. Farther than I’ve ever walked in one try. Keep going!
Then, sometime before the switchbacks, I looked to my left about thirty feet up on a ridge of rocks and stopped in my tracks. There was the silhouette of a wolf! It was sitting and could see its head and a little of its shoulders. The head was bigger than a coyote’s and its muzzle more boxy. Its ears were pointing straight up, and – it was looking straight at me! I took my pack off and dug out my camera to take a photo. No one would believe me otherwise. When I turned, it wasn’t there any longer! I began to wonder if I had imagined it. No! I was fatigued, but not addled! By the time I replaced my pack and hurried on, G. and K. had stopped down in the switchbacks to wait for me. They asked if I was okay because I was breathing hard in my hurry to catch up and I told them about the wolf. Their reaction was as expected – you had to be there . . .
They kept getting way ahead. I couldn’t keep up. I knew they needed to be in Estes Park by a certain time and needed to hurry. Besides that, they only had one flashlight and it would be dark soon. It’s hard to negotiate a trail if you don’t have your own light. And there’s another life metaphor! There was only one solution – ” You guys need to get down fast. Go ahead and get to Estes. Don’t worry about me, I’ll make it fine!” I said. They protested about leaving me by myself. We had bonded, and we cared about one another. I finally won out, and we talked about our wonderful day together, our summiting together, all we had done and been through together. We hugged and exchanged email addresses and vowed to stay in touch. They still felt bad about leaving me alone, but I told them I wasn’t alone – not ever! That was the most important part of this whole day. By now, they knew of my faith, Who I believed in, and why, because of things I had said during the day. I hope they remember me and my relentless faith. I hope they one day find Him for themselves. That’s my fondest desire for everyone I interact with . . .
   So, okay, they hurried away and soon were out of sight. It wasn’t long before I reached Granite Pass, and then the traverse on the side of Mount Lady Washington. I picked up my pace, picking my way down the rocky trail. My knees and hip joints were taking a beating, not to mention my lower back, but my poles were helping a lot. Where the drops between steps were large, I’d put my hands atop the grips, plant them ahead of me, and swing myself down, all my weight being on my arms. That was good, because my arms had done very little all day. They became indispensable appendages to help my extremely tired lower ones.
The drizzle had been increasing and finally became a light rain – a very cold, light rain. I stopped, dug my rain gear out of my pack, and put it on. I covered the pack with a rain cover I had brought and continued on, but soon became annoyed at the flapping of my too big rain pants, so I decided to remove them. I rolled them up and put them away, however, putting my pack back on, the left  strap tore free. Expletive! Sorry! Defective piece of . . .  What do I do now?
“Fix it!”
Yes, there must be some way (what would Macgyver do?) . . .  And there was. It was time-consuming, but I used some materials I had on hand. I tied a few knots, to make a long story short, and got back on the trail. It wasn’t long before dark closed in. I got my headlamp back out, not expecting to need it again today. I took comfort that I had brought spare batteries. Then I realized my mistake. What if the lamp itself failed? I had no backup! Mistake! More prayer needed! Less than four miles to go. How am I going to walk four more miles?

The rain was falling lightly but steadily now, but there was no wind, and that I considered a blessing. Finally, the trail turned away from the Lady and I knew Chasm Junction wasn’t far. It was dark as midnight, but my trusty headlamp was still bright. I kept going around rocks and boulders that were half buried, mostly buried, or lying on the ground. I continued using my poles to cushion sharp drops and big steps. I reached the junction at about 6:15, took a quick look at the signpost, and kept going. I probably was not drinking enough water. I didn’t think about eating. I wasn’t hungry. I thought about time and distance. I had covered about 2.5 miles since 4:15 including the conversation time and pack repair time. I was almost halfway back to camp and the easiest sections were ahead. Three-plus miles to go. Maybe I could do it in two hours . . .
It was less than a mile to treeline. I couldn’t believe I was still above treeline. I should have been down there hours ago! How blessed I was that my miscalculated schedule planning had not caused me a serious problem! It was less than a mile down Mills Moraine to treeline, and only a 600 foot drop in elevation. Fairly flat. I made good time. Was it just me, or had the rain been increasing? Also increasing, were scrubby vegetation and twisted, stunted trees along the trail. I made good progress, and soon I was at the marker that said “Ranger Station – 2.5”. Though it was getting foggy, the rain was cold and falling hard on my hood and shoulders, and my breath was condensing in front of me, I smiled and headed in the direction the arrow pointed.
After ten minutes or so, I began to feel just a bit uneasy. The trail didn’t look quite right. Of course it was dark when I covered this section early this morning. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me, after all it must be getting fatigued. I was still above 10,000 feet. My brain had been operating on four hours sleep, and had made tens of thousands of decisions nonstop for the past sixteen hours. Foot and hand placement. Do this, do that. It had processed unprecedented sights and sensations, much of it with a low oxygen supply . . . I kept going, but couldn’t shake the feeling of unease. I crossed a bridge across a small, fast running creek and came to a grove of willows at the end. Willows? I didn’t remember willows near a bridge. Soon, I noticed that the trail seemed to be ascending slightly, but steadily. I stopped, bewildered. Turn around, came a faint suggestion. I went a few more steps and tried to see what the trail ahead looked like. Turn around, came stronger. Surely, if I kept going, I would regain my certainty. This was not rocket surgery! Several more brave steps, and, . . . TURN AROUND! It wasn’t a suggestion. I sensed His presence. It was my Shepherd. I turned. I went back to the bridge. Was I lost? Had I branched off this trail I was on? This was serious. I had forgotten about Him for hours and I felt dumb and somewhat ashamed.
“Turn around.” What a metaphor those two words were for repentance on the trail of life.
I carefully, trustingly, made my way back, hoping that I could find the sign again. I didn’t see any forks or branches that might have deceived me, and after time stretched confusingly, I was back at the sign. It seemed miraculous. Thank You, Father, Son, Shepherd, Spirit!
I got close to the sign and tried to see where I erred. I had “misread” the funny little arrow in my haste. I was still disoriented, though. Which way had I come from? I checked the trails and recognized the characteristics of the trail which delivered me here from Chasm Junction. Then that must be the correct way to the trailhead! Yes, this way, came a confident word, and soon I felt much better. I was descending down a smoother, wider trail.
On a side note of reflection, I realize how easy it is to get off-track. Through the relationship, you get to know the Shepherd’s voice, but I had forgotten to listen. The sound of my own unworthy voice was too loud, and when you are trying to discern what your own voice is saying, there can be that other one trying to mimic yours. It’s the voice of the enemy, always working against your good, always trying to steal, kill, and destroy. Always trying to cover my Good Shepherd’s voice. This time, it tried to get me lost . . .
However, I came to my senses and stopped listening to those other two, listened to The One, and was saved. Another metaphor. Got to love it.
So, by this time, I’m really fatigued, physically, but mentally uplifted a bit. I knew how to persevere, I knew how to grind. This would be a serious grind. I had lost close to thirty minutes, and most of my strength and power. Now I would have to rely on any of those things God would give me. It was always so, whether or not I perceived it.

It was very dark. A deep cave kind of dark. It was raining even harder. On a positive note, my headlamp was still shining brightly. I knew I had gone a half mile when I came to the sharp turn in the trail that switched from east to north. You could have fooled me on the directions. I was soaked from the hips down. Rain was running off the bill of my cap. I started thinking about predators. I was the only human prey on the mountain by now. Black bears. Mountain lions are worse. They stalk you. I made sure I could quickly access my two sharp knives. They tell you to fight back, and I would if I had to. Perhaps the weather would keep any predators holed up. I prayed again.

Time passed, and I thought two miles in this section of trail shouldn’t be too bad if conditions don’t worsen . . . They did. It rained harder. I didn’t think it could. No lightning, though, and no hail or snow. It wasn’t quite cold enough for snow, thankfully. Even a small amount of snow would cover the trail, its hazards, make it hard to find,  and then I’d be in a pickle. I drew near to a stream several times. I could hear the water rapidly moving down what seemed a “fuller”-than-normal watercourse. I began to think about flash floods. They killed people as surely as lightning. I began to pay closer attention to the sounds upstream. Perhaps I could detect a wall of water coming and climb to higher ground. I remembered the Big Thompson flash-flood disaster of 1976, and the sudden flooding all along the front range in September of 2013. It happens in watersheds as extreme as these. 

After more time passed, splashing through puddles and slogging through muddy patches, I reached a split-log bridge which I remembered, and then some familiar switchbacks which were steep. I was now on the part of the trail I had hiked Sunday and Monday for acclimation and warm-ups. I was waiting for a “second wind”, a “third wind”, or any helpful “wind”, but none came.
This would be the sixth time I’ve covered this section. I shouldn’t get lost here, I thought. But I kind of did. Three or four times, what I thought was the trail ended against a barricade of boulders, a copse of aspens, or a pile of rocks. Behind the aspens, I could see an abrupt drop-off.  I was grateful that those things had stopped me before I went very far wrong. Only short reversals were needed to find the main trail. Everything began to look the same. “DO NOT GET YOURSELF LOST”! I Repeated. I began to imagine myself finding some kind of shelter under a fir tree and huddling there until daylight. KEEP GOING, do not stop for anything.” I sensed that if I stopped and sat down to rest, I would not be able to get going again.

Due to heavy use, the trail had been worn concave in many places and had become a flowing stream of rushing cold water. There were shallow pools behind the rock steps and anti-erosion log steps. By trying to walk on the higher sides of the path, and also choosing rocks to step upon, I tried to avoid stepping in water over my shoe tops, even though they were filled already.  That made the trek much longer and more difficult, but the water outside my shoes was just a lot colder than that inside them. Except for my squishing footsteps, pole plants, hard breathing, and rain sounds, it was completely silent. Downright spooky! Was this Goblin’s Forest? I began to feel like the only human on the planet, and I missed seeing the next three signs I had memorized before. Goblin’s Forest, Eugenia Mine, and one other. I was only looking down. That’s where all the important action was. There was another set of steep switchbacks somewhere around a mile in. I did recognize those. The Eugenia Mine Trail sign would have told me I was thirty minutes from camp, had I seen it. My watch told me another hour had passed.

Oh, Lord, I need help. I’m at the end of my rope . . . “I WILL TIE A KNOT. YOU HANG ON!
I was literally slogging, plodding, and trudging, shoes and gloves sodden and heavy with water as my brain was sodden with fatigue when the end of the trail back to camp was near. But it was not near – not like I thought it was. I saw no lights, and no signs where I thought they should be. Was I lost again? “NO, KEEP WALKING” He said firmly. I trudged on and on, now understanding much more personally the meaning of that word, and also of oppressive fatigue. Endlessly . . .
I might have crumpled if not for my poles. My legs were not responding properly to my brain’s commands. It was as though I were intoxicated, but in my spirit it was an intoxication of wonder and of faith, for . . .
I thought I saw a glimmer through the trees! The fog was less! Am I really seeing them? Another thirty yards. Yes! There are the lights I expected way back! I am going to make it! Another thirty and I could see the rail fence where the trail turned toward the parking lot. I wobbled to the kiosk where I could finally stop and record my return time. It was the first time I had stopped moving since the Battle Mountain sign. It was 9:00 pm. I was four hours past my generous estimate of a 5:00 pm return time in the log book. I could feel my last tiny drop of adrenaline coursing through me. My last bit of excitement. I was drained of everything else. I had just hiked, and scrambled, and climbed the vertical equivalent of a 486-story building, logged between fifteen and sixteen miles, and I had been “on the mountain” for 19 1/2 hours, but I was fairly lucid as I wrote: WET, COLD, EXHAUSTED, HAPPY in the “comments” column, and proudly checked the “successfully reached destination” column.
Then I took a photo of my penciled notation and joyously, unsteadily, made my way downhill, footsteps splashing in the water covering the empty blacktop parking lot.

The last 200 meters from the kiosk to my camp seemed to take hours to walk. When I finally staggered down the campground road and into camp, it was still raining hard and I was delighted to see my faithful pickup waiting where I left it. My tent! I was home! But my heart sunk when I saw it sitting in two inches of water. The tent pad wasn’t draining. I quickly used my camp shovel to make drainage holes in the raised pad, then I removed my rain gear and shook off the water before unzipping the rain-fly, and climbing in. The base of the tent had leaked a little. It wasn’t supposed to. However, only the foot of my sleeping bag was wet, and I was thankful it was not the whole bed.  What a struggle it was to remove wet clothes sitting down while fighting an aching fatigue! Everything seemed to resist! In time, I had toweled dry and installed fresh, dry, sleep clothing. I forgot gratitude, but every part of my being was smiling, and I’m certain I wasn’t the only one. There at 9400 feet, with the delightful sound of rain hitting the fly, my body feeling half alive, and my emotions super-alive, I went to sleep instantly, and slept “curled up” for nine hours straight without dreaming, rousing, or even moving.

The next morning, I awoke to birds singing and squirrels chittering. I thought I would just climb out of the sleeping bag, get dressed, and greet the sun. Nothing doing! I could hardly move due to the pain. Almost every part of me hurt. Muscles were stiff and sore. Joints were inflamed and aching, but it was one of those “good kinds of hurt”. Pain meant I had survived! I was alive in the best sense! And I was very hungry, essentially not having had a real meal for 36 hours. I remembered the gratitude I had forgotten, and lavishly thanked my Creator Lord and Savior, my Shepherd, Guide, Constant Companion, and my Wonder, my Friend, Loved One, and Lover of unworthy me. Glory to the One Mighty God, all the glory belongs to Him! I felt relieved and rescued. Fortunate and fulfilled!

Struggling into my clothes and out of the tent into the chilly but sunny morning, took far too long. It was a great feeling to drive again. I went into Estes and indulged in a huge breakfast, but on the way I stopped in a pullout to look at “my” mountain. I could hardly believe my eyes! She was covered with snow! While I was coming down in the cold rain, it was snowing on the peak! The cold front that had been expected this morning arrived last evening. I could well imagine the front with its cold air and snow following at my heels as I descended to lower altitudes. At 9400 feet it remained a rain, but at 11000 feet, or treeline and higher, it was a snow event. I could see that Meeker and the Lady were also covered in white. How blessed I was not to have been caught in that snowstorm!

I spent all that day exploring RMNP by vehicle. It was a day of euphoria, of recovery, and of rejoicing. Adventuring with God is emotional stuff . . . richly exhilarating . . . that is my testimony to which there is no end, except to strongly suggest that you go — go now, and find your own.

A Keyhole Glimpse

Through a keyhole,
I caught a glimpse of Heaven.
I dared to walk and climb
Upon a wonder of Creation, where
I learned more of its Creator’s wondrous attributes.
It must have been a thin place,
Thin of air,
But thick with grace.
We almost touched.
I almost felt the golden gates,
Up high where Jesus led and is
The only Trail, the Path, and Route,
The Way to the sacred Peak of Gates,
The only Channel of Locks, 
The only Passkey.
And He is the Gates,
And He is the Keeper of Gates,
He is the Marker of Routes,

and He is the Marks,
He’s the mysterious Wolf at dusk,
The Mountain Lion,
Full of pursuit and power. 
He’s the Bridge,

And the clear Living Water beneath.
He is the Light at my feet,
And He is the only Aperture
Through which to peep
The glimpses of Heavenly Wonders
Long, high, wide, and deep.

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After-Words

    So many things could have gone wrong, but hardly anything did. 

   It had its harrowing parts. It had excitement and joy. It was exhausting. It was enlightening. It was a sampler of many emotions, but there was no fear the whole time. There was an underlying peace.
   I was thankful that God woke me two hours early, lack of sleep notwithstanding. I might never had met my companions. I might have gotten back at 11:30 pm. I might have gotten lost in the snowstorm. I might not have gotten back at all, but for grace . . . The thing is, “might” is supposition, the reality is that it all happened just the way it was designed to, within grace, purpose, plan, and faith!
   I stood on the pinnacle, but that is only the tip of the iceberg of MY meager understanding of Creation’s astounding complexity. There are higher mountains on earth that I have imagined myself standing atop, and, for that matter, there are even taller mountains on other planets, in other galaxies, upon which I can only imagine raising my hands in His praise. Perhaps, in eternity, Jesus will take me to those and countless other wonders.
   
Thank you, dear reader, for persevering through this memoir of my lifetime event. You truly complete the cycle of the wonderful writing/reading relationship. I’m eternally grateful.
Your Gloryteller.

 

© Copyright by Lenn Snider 4-10-21
           All rights reserved

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A Platform Of Grace

Great blocks of grace, upon grace, upon grace
Layered from peak to earth
Forming wondrous pyramidal base
Which I gratefully abide atop
Surveying the miracle of rebirth
The Highest, whom I might praise nonstop
See brightest springtime rays of morning
Where mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy’s dawning
Secured by the mortar of rescue undeserved
Falling like rain from One I scarcely served.
The gilding of hope, upon hope, upon hope
Edges draped with gleaming golden rope
Where I am preserved, I wait
Held by Love’s embrace, upon embrace, upon embrace
Temple of Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai
Jesus, Messiah, El-Shaddai
O Ancient Of Days, right here I’ll wait
Being held by Love, upon hope, upon mercy, upon faith
Living high upon grace, upon grace, upon grace
Upon grace, upon grace, upon grace.

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The Griswold Switch

I just coined a term:
The “Griswold Switch”!
What in the world is that?

Definition:  1. The forgotten, or yet to be discovered, solution to a major problem, or a mystery.
2. The elusive missing piece of a puzzle that is making someone crazy who can’t find it.
3. The prime factor upon which everything hinges; the thing that makes everything “work” correctly.
4. The means by which darkness is dispelled and light is brought forth, said light revealing truths which were previously hidden from “blind eyes”. 

       In the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” *, Clark Griswold is trying desperately to make Christmas wonderful for His family despite not getting his expected annual holiday bonus. Part of his efforts include the more than 20,000-light exterior illumination of his house. He hilariously risks life and limb to create a spectacular display, however, every time he makes the final connection in the yard, the display comes on and immediately goes off, or doesn’t come on at all. He gets frustrated. He’s at his wit’s end.
      As it turns out, all the octopus-like circuitry for the display is connected to a certain receptacle in the garage controlled by a light switch which his mother and his wife flip on and off not knowing the consequences. By coincidence, his wife finally leaves the switch on, and Clark is able to make the connection, lighting the overly brilliant display and causing a massive power surge at his house. As I remember, the solution is only revealed to us, the audience, and not even to the Griswolds themselves.

Yes, you guessed it, that is the “Griswold Switch”!

I know people who have sought their own “Griswold Switch”
all their lives and have not found it.
I, myself, finally found it in the early autumn of my life.

Jesus
has been that “Griswold Switch” for me.

I had forgotten Him.
Re-discovering Him, I found Him
to be the solver of all problems,
the One for whom there are no mysteries. (1.)

He is the crucial and indispensable piece
central to the puzzle of life. (2.)

Jesus is the One who makes all Creation work properly.
He is the Prime Factor upon whom all life hinges,
including my own. (3.)

He switched me on – lit me up –
Caused a glorious power surge in my circuits.
His light dispelled darkness in my life,
and illuminated The Truth,
which is the beginning of the understanding
of God’s eternal existence, and the revelation
of what The Father’s love looks like 
through that of His Son.  (4.)

I now think of Jesus as much more than 
my “Griswold Switch”.
He is my glorious and highly revered “God Switch”!

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* This is an irreverent movie. It contains a lot of profanity and misuse of the name of God and Jesus.
On that basis, I can’t recommend it.
However, I can’t condemn it either. If I did that, I couldn’t explain my term “the Griswold Switch”. My advice is, if you wish to watch it, watch with discretion and discernment. It is a “worldly” movie, but some parts are hilariously funny.

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2021 Should Begin With Prayer

I am prompted by the Spirit to use my site to present a prayer to begin 2021.
But what kind of prayer? Which one? Should I create one?
Wait, the best and most important prayer has already been given:

Our Father,
Who lives in Heaven,
Sacred is your name.
May Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
Here on earth as it is in Heaven.
Lord, give us bread for the day
and forgive our wrongs toward You,
as we forgive those who
have wronged us.
Lead us away from temptation, Father,
and deliver us from evil.
Amen
For the Highest Kingdom, the Greatest Power, and
the most majestic Glory belong only to you, Father,

forever!
and Amen

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He Reigns, He Shall Reign Forever

The year 2020 has been arguably the worst I’ve ever seen in my many years. Well, in many ways, it was, yet lots of good things happened as well. I prefer to dwell on those and count my blessings, for this is the “day” the Lord has made and I will be grateful – I will rejoice and be glad in it!

The result of the disasters of 2020, for me has been an increase of faith in Jesus whose birth we just celebrated, an increased awareness of His love, a resurgence of hope, a greater awareness of joy welling up, and the permeating peace He gives integrated with all the above gifts.
Peace to you, dear reader, and to you, a happy and blessed 2021 !

I began December with this deeply awe-inspiring music from Handel, so I shall end it the same.

Hallelujah 
Written by George Friedrich Handel

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
(For the lord God omnipotent reigneth)
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
(Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah)
Hallelujah

The kingdom of this world;
is become
the kingdom of our Lord,
and of His Christ
and of His Christ

And He shall reign for ever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords

And he shall reign
And he shall reign
And he shall reign
He shall reign
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings forever and ever
and lord of lords hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords
And he shall reign forever and ever

Forever and ever and ever and ever
(King of kings and lord of lords)

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah


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Angels From the Realms of Glory Sing Gloria In Excelsis Deo

I like this special production. The music is top notch! The effect of angels coming down from the sky is spectacular, and all participants are praising Him with all their might! Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Every knee shall bow, even the camel!

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My Third Christmas Story

A Sugarplum of a Dream Danced In My Head –
My Third Christmas Story –
Not Only A Christmas Story


I write from my experiences, from my knowledge, from divine personal revelation;

I write from my imagination,
from my heart,
and from my dreams.

I don’t completely understand dreaming. I can’t exactly figure out how it works, or can I fathom how Father God can somehow use a dream for my good,
or how the enemy can use one as a lie against my good. I’m thankful
for the gift of being able to discern which is which.


All I know is that some dreams are infused with truth,

and some are infested with mistruths.
All I know is that in dreams I often fly . . .

Some of what follows is odd, somewhat “crazy”, disjointed, strange, and as my fabricated redneck cousin, Chaff Rantley, would say, “Don’t make no sense”.
That is the way most dreams are, but there was something unique and special about the one I had last night. Many of my dreams are complex and detailed, with plots and storylines that I would be glad to use if I could only remember them for more than a few seconds after I awaken.

However, in a detailed dream, God gave me what turned out to be my “next” Christmas story. I awoke three times, then dreamed on, three times keeping the same theme, which is highly unusual in my dreaming experience. After each “chapter”, I thought, without logical cause to do so, and being only half to one-third awake, “This is my next Christmas story.”
This particular one was a dream that I somehow remembered in vivid detail. I didn’t intend for this story to be a long one, but God “wouldn’t leave me alone about it”, and I believe it turned out pretty much the way He wanted it to be.

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Travelling in my black Jeep ( * I grin.*  I have never owned a Jeep and don’t care for black vehicles), I became ensnared in a freak blizzard, the 100-year kind. Because the snow was getting deep and the visibility was so poor, I pulled off the mountain highway at an isolated intersection. I was looking for a place to stop and take shelter, and ended up on a gravel road. The wind was howling, and my 4-wheel drive was churning furiously through deep snow. At the top of a long slope, up on a high hill, I found a small town that appeared to be roughly a quarter mile long – slightly longer than four, dream football fields , stretched out along one side of the road. The barely readable sign read “Calvinton”.

The buildings were situated just off the road. I passed a small church, an old restaurant/diner/tavern, a tiny library, sheriff’s office, P.O., and city offices, among other random buildings. Their parking lots were all adjacent to the road, or close to it. I saw a residential area behind the buildings. It felt as though I were in a very odd, unusual, part of Canada – a country I hope to visit one day, but haven’t yet in real life. It looked like one of those idyllic porcelain Christmas villages, only kind-of impoverished.

I made a U-turn at the far end of town, came back, and parked at the diner. The church was next door. I saw the church, got curious, and went in. The church parking lot was graveled, but well plowed of snow. It was chilly inside but much warmer than the wind chill outdoors. The unpadded wooden pews could have used refinishing and the lighting could have been better, but it was comfortable, if a bit drab and austere. I noticed the standard pulpit, and standard small altar, standing upon the standard platform.

Sitting in the left-hand back pew, was a man with slightly disheveled black hair, a black five o’clock shadow, nice slacks, dress shirt, and loafers. His arms were draped over the back of the pew and he had had one leg stretched out casually on the seat, but grew tense when he saw me, and placed his foot on the floor. Looking me square in the eyes and raising his voice, he said, “Isaiah: 64, God has turned his back on us and left us to die under the swords of our enemies!” I was taken aback as he shouted, “Vengeance is mine, says the god of evil! An eye for an eye! Kill them ALL!” Then he pointed an index finger at me and yelled, “If God exists, he is a bad god! Evil! If he exists, I hate him! But he does NOT exist! This is a place of death! Now get OUT of here!”

I recoiled. The black five o’clock shadow seemed to have roots in his soul. I considered running, for a second, but a hand touched my shoulder. I turned to see a man in coveralls who motioned for me to follow him. While Five O’clock glared at me, Coveralls took me to the other side of the church, toward the front, where a tall stepladder stood under the building’s only stained glass window.
“Excuse my garb, I’m the maintenance man here. I’m also the pastor. More the former than the latter, these days. My window is leaking and I’m patching it up. Oh, and don’t mind Bob, he has his reasons for ranting. I figure, what better place for him to curse God than here?”

We shook hands, made introductions, and talked. The lithe, eagle-eyed, middle-aged pastor eagerly told me of himself, the town, and Bob. He talked non-stop. It seemed as though he hadn’t had anyone to speak with for a long time. I learned many things: Due to dire circumstances he got his seminarial/divinity/pastor’s degree at the online, and mail-order, San Juan’s School of Faith and Bible College.  He joked – he was a ” St John’s Fool of Scathe”. Being a fan of spoonerisms, I got it, and laughed.  This pastor confided that although his degree was online-mail order, he was serious about bringing the presence of God and His Word to this little town. The pastor said Bob was one of his best parishioners, in that, “hardly anyone else ever comes here any more”. He’s my lost sheep, a congregation of one. But, he stopped listening to me long ago, and probably stopped seeing me. Perhaps he listens to me pray. Perhaps something seeps in. No outward signs yet, sad to say . . .”
It seems Bob and his wife had attended services there until the wife had passed away during the birth of their son. Together, they had operated the town’s combination attorney/accountant/tax preparers’, and insurance office. They had done quite well, as you can imagine, until tragedy took her. Bob had gone a bit off kilter; some said he went mad.
He told me how The Word was sorely needed here due to the greater tragedy that befell when a terrible school bus accident killed many of the village’s children and the heart of the town along with them. That was 13 years ago. All the families with surviving children gradually moved away. His congregation faded, the schoolhouse sat empty, and the heart of the town sank. Sure, life went on. Business, and commerce, and ranching, went on. Going to work and coming home went on. But it was like a town without a reason. Its heartbeat weak, its pulse thready.
Some people still attended services, like Mary Ann something, Sheila somebody, some ranchers male and female, and his foster son, for whom he had great love and compassion as he did for every soul in town. Bob stayed home on Sunday morning. That was the nonexistent god’s day.

“Well, I’ve talked enough, gotta get this done. You should go next door to the tavern, meet some of the folks, have a brat and a brew, wait out this blizzard. Good meeting ya. Oh, and we would appreciate a prayer or three if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Be glad to,” I replied.

Bob’s glare never wavered. He strained to hear every word, it was obvious.

I awoke, well, partially. “This is my next Christmas story,” I thought. “What? The snow is the only thing remotely common to the Christmas season. That was strange . . .”
I rolled over.

Part Two

I walked through the blizzard to the diner, saying a quick prayer for Pastor and Bob, and went in. Adjacent to the main eating area where there were booths and tables, through a wide door, there was an indoor Biergarten sort of room under a lean-to roof. “This must be the tavern,” I thought. I wandered in and sat on the bench on one side of the single long wooden table in the center of the room. I ordered, and the waitress, Sheila, delivered my lunch. It was huge, delicious, and inexpensive. I ate with several ordinary down-to-earth townsfolk. As is my habit, I conversed with anyone willing. They were amiable. And the food was a delicious, though curious, mix of Austrian, German and Norwegian fare. Ha! Yes, Norwegian!  There was lots of good craft-beer. There was a great lot of conversing. People were jovial enough, yet there was an underlying feeling of a distressing loneliness; of something missing, of going through the motions – an emptiness.

My dream persona was a freelance writer, published in various magazines and newspapers. Once the woman named Mary Ann discovered that, she began to place old photos of the town, newspaper articles, old documents, even artifacts, like outdated baseballs and gloves, in a pile in front of me. She must have been hoarding the stuff away for years. I found out the woman was a retired teacher; kind, and insightful, who now worked in the “city” government office and also in the library. She had experienced a premonition that some positive press would save the wasting soul of Calvinton. I was intrigued with the idea of writing about the town, its denizens, and its history. On top of the pile, there was a newspaper article illustrating better days. The town’s buildings were gaily decorated, children were snowball fighting, a manger scene glorified the front sidewalk of the church. Figure skaters used the frozen pond. Hockey was played. There were colored lights; a tree lot. The caption said, “Christmas in the High Country”.

Suddenly, there was the strangest sight outside the window looking across the slope of the hill. An ice-removal maintainer was working to open the road. There were two large green and blue bulldozers hooked up in series, pulling a very long military style (think WWII Seabees style equipment) grader with huge, heavy, blade in the center. The grader had a rectangular body consisting of about 3 x 4 x 60 feet of solid steel. It was going slowly; a turtle’s pace, yet sparks were shooting off the blade as it peeled up the hard, thick ice on the uphill pull. I can’t explain the sparks, nor any of what follows.
Between the two front dozers, was attached a sky blue race-car with a woman inside, army-helmeted head leaning out the window, who appeared to be directing the operation using a walkie-talkie. The three front machines (dozer – car – dozer) were connected in a line with huge log-chains by which they pulled the long, boxlike, blading machine.
The blade itself looked stout and sharp enough to cut the top right off a granite boulder. There was also a great, large, bulldozer pushing the whole train. At one point the blade rode up over the ice causing the female foreman in the car to want to stop , back up, and reset to get under the ice again. The front dozer stopped but the one behind her didn’t, which crumpled the rear of her nice, pristine race-car. She was livid, screaming into the walkie , “I said stop, you lamebrained     @$#%$^&&^##@%^     so-and-sos!!!”, while waving her arms and bouncing up and down in her seat. She finally got the whole, complex rig backed up and reset. After a long effort, they reached the top of the hill. I told you it was a weird dream, (chuckles) . . .

Just then, a good looking, tall, very fit, young man of about 18 walked in. He said, “Aii-ara-bu-nee.” I immediately saw his challenge. Deaf Boy, I called him. Sad to say I have no proper name for him at this time. Blame the dreamstate. He wore a starched-and-pressed, button down, light maroon with white pinstripes, long sleeved shirt, jeans, and work boots. He worked at the town’s combination grocery/feed/hardware store. Deaf Boy sat beside me and got it across to me how if I put my head bones against his in a certain way, or used a plastic glass against the side of his head to talk into, He could translate the vibrations into something meaningful. It worked! Eventually, I pieced together from him and various others that he was the preacher’s foster son, deaf at birth, super intelligent, and that Mary Ann had home-schooled him at the library using picture-books to teach him reading and writing, and most everything else. She also taught him some lip reading and signing, but he preferred the head vibes, and even learned his own kind of speech. Everybody loved him. So did I.

Then the large, muscular, sheriff and his deputy came in. They wore the stereotypical tight, military style khaki shirts, the wide brim hats, and the sunglasses. They were all sidearms and shiny boots as they sat down on either side of me, I presume, to check out the stranger in town. Even though they said nothing, it was slightly intimidating until the pretty, good-natured, Sheila came to my defense telling them quietly and politely, but firmly, to back off, which they did. “How about giving him some slack. Come get a cuppa fresh coffee” she said. They followed her like puppies. Did I pick up on the quick “look” that passed between Sheila and Deaf Boy? You bet I did.

Rats. Roused again . . . “This is my next Christmas story,” I thought, fuzzily, for the second time. How funny, odd, and strange. At least some vestiges of Christmas had surfaced this time. I smacked three times thinking it was done, and turned over again. Perhaps I only dreamed that I had awoken . . .

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Part Three

 It was mid-afternoon in Calvinton as my dream-self returned to the Biergarten. I was sitting in front of, and delving into, Mary Ann’s growing heap of memorabilia. Out of the blue, I felt compelled to return to the church. Bob’s plight was bothering me. God wouldn’t leave me alone about it. I had to learn more about Bob and about Calvinton.
The wind driving the snowfall sideways had not abated. Drifts were building on the downwind side of everything standing. I entered the church and closed the door gently. Bob was still in his place, but he was bent over and had his hands on his forehead, shielding his eyes. He was busy muttering to himself and didn’t look up, or acknowledge my presence.

The preacher caught my eye. He was motioning for me to join him in front of the left-hand front pew where he now had the step ladder set up under a rectangular opening in the high ceiling that led to the attic storage space. Beside the ladder, were three of the pieces of the church’s manger scene – Mary, the Child in his manger bed, and Joseph.
“Would you mind following me up the ladder and handing me Mary in a minute?”
“Be glad to help,” I grinned.
He went up, and I heard him moving things around.
“Okay, ready for Mary.”
I carried Jesus’ mother up and handed her to Preacher.
“Come on up, it’s warmer up here.”
I did, and watched as he covered Mary with a sheet. The whole process of lifting her up above all the other items, and caring for her, seemed somewhat symbolic, if you get my drift.

“I got to know some of the people next door, and some things about this town,” I stated. “I would like to write an article about this interesting community, but I need to know more, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.”

He motioned me to sit in one of the two folding chairs conveniently placed near Mary. “What would you like to know?” he asked.

“Well, I’ve made a few assumptions and formed a few guesses, but I want to be able to write the truth. First, I’d like to know what happened after Bob’s wife died. You mentioned a son?

“Yes, the baby was born healthy,” he paused and stared at me. “It wasn’t long before it was apparent that the boy didn’t respond to sounds,” he paused again, seeming to discern my ability to perceive beyond the surface of things. “If you guessed that Jess is my foster son, you are correct. Bob was suffering terrible grief at the loss of Iris. When he discovered little Jess was handicapped with deafness, the bottom fell out. He couldn’t conceive of how he would be able to care for and raise the boy without a mother; without his wife. Bob withdrew into himself and later developed a strong hatred for the God he convinced himself was responsible. At very least, He ignored prayers and did nothing, in Bob’s mind. He wanted to hurt that god – if indeed he even existed. Jess, essentially had no-one. So, needing a form of sacrifice in my ministry, and because of my compassion for the child and his family, I took him into my home and cared for him with the help of a few kind people in the church. Iris was an avid believer and would have wanted Jess to be raised as a Bible-believing Christ follower. Bob knows, on some level that Jess is his baby boy. We think that he comes here to be near the boy and not just to rail against “his enemy”. We think that, bit by bit, the message of the cross will sink in. We also never kept Jess from knowing he is Bob’s son. He prays every day for his dad to be well and whole again.”

“You and Mary Ann have certainly done a remarkably good job with Jess. I commend you.”

“Thanks, but Jess, himself, made it easy. He is a very bright and loving young man.

“And what about the dire straights Calvinton seems to be in? The community seems to have lost its spirit. It seems to be bleeding internally. Mary Ann has high hopes that I can somehow bring a revival through publishing a few pro-Calvinton articles. 

“I think she has a point, but, in my opinion, healing of this town requires a qualified Physician, if you get my meaning. The heart and soul of a community is no less in the hands of its Creator than the hearts and souls of its citizens. They have, to a large extent, turned their backs on Him, allowing His enemy’s conniving cohorts to put in place lies of every destructive kind. I pray against those devils constantly along with my little circle of Guardians in the church. I have even had visions of families with children returning, and, until that time, turning the vacant schoolhouse into a center of learning for the deaf. Jess and Mary Ann would be a nice fit in a place like that. Bottom line is that the church must become the center of the community again, somehow. There must be a body of believers – the Bride – before this town can see restoration. 

“I’ll have to agree on that point. I will try to reflect your hopes in my writing.”

“Thanks, my friend. Well, it’s getting late. Shall we finish this task and head to the diner for some supper? My treat!”

“Sounds good to me!”

I went first down the ladder. The figures of Joseph and the baby Jesus were still together. Joseph was kneeling next to the manger with his hand touching his adopted baby’s head as if in a blessing, as if in wonder, as if in love. Preacher hadn’t come down yet and I saw why. From the opening in the ceiling, he motioned to me with his eyes to look up the aisle. Bob was walking hesitantly toward me.

“You really should leave,” he insisted gruffly. “There’s nothing for you here and you can’t help. There is really no God here. This is the place where the damned come to lose themselves. Is that what you want? You need to go!”

“Well, only the damned can be saved,” I muttered barely above my breath.

“What? . . . What did you say?” his pitch was rising.

“Nothing, I was just . . .
I prayed silently. “Oh God help me, I’m in over my head here,”

At that moment, Bob’s eyes fell upon the scene of Joseph worshiping his son. He was transfixed. It was as though they were speaking to him. I sensed a crux, a tipping point. I heard myself say, “Sir, would you mind if I prayed with you for a little while?” Now I was in it. Oh, God, what do I say now? I have no idea!
I silently begged God to work the miracle upon Bob’s heart that He had upon mine.

“It won’t do any good. It’s too late for me.” Nevertheless he turned and sat in the front left-hand pew. “I won’t stop you, Stranger, but I sure don’t see the point. There is nobody here to pray to.”

As if in answer to my desperation, a picture with a caption appeared in my spirit.
“Just talk to Me; from your heart, that’s all.”
The picture was a child on his knees beside his bed, hands folded, large eyes looking up. “Brilliant,” I thought. I sat on the floor beside Bob’s knees and folded my arms on the bench next to him. Before I buried my face in my arms, I saw that he was shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

“No! I can’t just stop not believing. I would lose myself, lose who I am. I won’t do it. I’m not listening!” If God is real, and I’m pretty sure He’s not, He must hate me bad.

Perceptive Preacher had wisdom, and good timing. I heard him put on some background music. Soft and gentle, an instrumental version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. I’m not much of an out-loud pray-er, but I launched it anyway:

“Father God, I thank you for that time when I was still Your enemy and You sent me a messenger who told me:
‘It’s never too late; He loves you;
Told me ‘He is with you, not against you; There is nothing that He can’t forgive.’

Back when I couldn’t believe, I was afraid of the truth, Father, I was blind, and lost, and losing hold of my life, yet I was was told of what You had endured to save me . . .
I was so broken. Thank you for healing me. Thanks for having a greater plan for me and working all things for my good in spite of my lack of understanding.”
“Thank You for making a way, a path, for me to live with You in Your eternal home,
from where my loved ones beckon to me.
I do want to spend Forever with You and with them, dear Lord.”
Your amazing love gave me a way to believe in You; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Shedding a few tears, I continued;
“Thank you for loving me, Father. I ask the same grace and mercy and compassion for my friend, here. 
I praise You in his place, for he doesn’t know how right now.
Gather him to You, Father.
I ask and I plead in Jesus’ name . . . Amen”

Halfway through, I heard Bob begin to weep. Before I was finished, he was on the floor beside me, sobbing, with his head buried in his arms on the seat, like mine. There was only music for a long time. He became quiet. I heard him very softly whisper, “Iris”. . .  then “Amen”.

There was only soft music, then there was light. I raised my head and looked up. Sunlight was streaming through Preacher’s stained glass window. Even the air seemed to be transformed. “The storm must be over,” I thought. “In more ways than one.”

I heard the door open, looked, and saw Mary Ann hurrying into the sanctuary. I stood, and Bob stood beside me. I think Bob had wept the “scales” right off his eyes. There was a look of fear and surprise on his face, yet I noticed the unmistakable glint of hope in in his eyes. I also perceived an aura of weight dropping off his once-drooping shoulders.

Mary Ann, staring at Bob, was concerned and excited.”Is everything alright? We saw a strange light coming from here and thought there might be a fire.”

Behind her came the two lawmen, the feed store owner, assorted ranchers and townspeople, who began streaming into the church, their steady flow mimicking the sunlight streaming through the stained glass. They all stopped and stared at Bob and me. Someone said, “Yup, it was dreary outside when the snow quit, we felt a far away shakin’, like an avalanche, and then saw lights in the church winda’s. We thought there had been a ‘splosion and the church was own far! The door was flang open, then we heard an aingelic kinda music and the sun come out!”

Someone else observed, “That’s right, we were kind of, well, drawn over here!”

Another stated, “Sheesh, I ain’t been in the church fer quite a while, this place sure seems differ’nt! I like it!”

It was as though a shockwave of The Baby’s first loud birth-cry had sounded from Preacher’s manger scene, radiating outward in a circular pattern over the whole town.

Some of the last to enter, were Sheila and Deaf Boy – I mean Jess – hand in hand. The crowd opened to let them through. Bob had the barest hint of a peaceful smile on his face when their eyes met. Jess assessed the situation and discerned. Bob looked at Joseph and his infant son, then back at Jess.

“I, . . . I, . . . I don’t . . . know what to say, . . . except, this stranger here . . . this messenger . . .  God is here! He is real, and alive! I know because He just touched me. I owe Him an apology. I owe all of you an apology. It was like being in prison . . . I have wasted so much time, but no more!”

He brushed away the remaining tears and walked slowly, hesitantly, toward the young man and held out his hand. Jess’ voice was low, yet bold and sincere.
“Ah – ub – oo, -Nan.”
He bypassed the outstretched hand and instead embraced his birth father. Cheek to cheek and headbone to headbone, Bob’s long pent and overdue reply was, “I love you too, son, . . . we . . . both do. Your mother would be so proud . . .

The sun streaming in took on the qualities of a warm tropical breeze, which wafted through the expanding group of Calvintonites and out the still-open church door. Some in the front of the crowd took a knee facing the cross, and the altar where Preacher stood smiling. Some bowed their heads. Some looked up at the sunlit window. And all knew that redeeming transformation was taking place right where they stood.

Myself? I noticed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was still playing, and I whispered a heartfelt “Thank You”.

I awoke for the third and final time. (Or am I still dreaming? : )
Yes, I’m certain this is, indeed, My Next Christmas Story!

~   ~   ~

Epilogue


Assuredly, I built upon the framework of my dream.

I filled in many blanks, added missing details, and surely, I embellished.
That’s what a writer does, especially one who dreams and writes in the Spirit.

But it took a dream to let me witness something I have longed for – a soul redeemed, right in front of me, due, in part, to one of my prayers.  I still couldn’t figure it out, though, “My Next Christmas Story?” What did that mean? It wasn’t even close to Christmas, and it seemed like Christmas themes were only a small part of the dream-story. It wasn’t even reality, although many, rightly, in my opinion, argue the reality of dreams.

I pondered, then it hit me like an avalanche! I had witnessed the miracle of Christ being born into the inner man. God with Bob. Immanuel. Jesus, coming to live in him just like He came to live in the world – and in me! To save us out of love for us.
Being born into the spirit of a single lost and needful man, and not only that, but into the spirit of a stagnant, ill, and needful town. Christmas! Christbirth! Jesus, born into the world, a town, a person, for redemption – for love’s sake.
And, also, for Resurrection.
Redemption and Resurrection of everything.
Next Christmas Story, indeed!
Not only that, but why not My Next Easter Story as well?

©Gloryteller Len Snider @Gloryteller.com
5-30-2017
All rights reserved


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On Using Secular Christmas Traditions To Lead People to Jesus

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Here’s a repeat piece that I didn’t get posted before Christmas:

“What do you think about the false deification of Santa Clause?” asked somebody.
“Sure, I’d be glad to weigh in on the Santa controversy,” I replied . . .

It has been said, ad nauseum, that secular traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Clause, and even the word “Christmas” should be condemned and abolished by Christians because they distract and detract from the true meaning of Christ’s birth.
I disagree.
Those many traditions are so ingrained into society that they cannot now be reversed nor abolished even if we wanted to, which most of us don’t. They can, however, be used in a positive manner to point to God’s glory. I’ve previously discussed how the Christmas tree points to Jesus Christ. It is easy for me to tell, as well, how Saint Nicholas‘ (the real-life man behind the legend of Santa Claus) life and existence points to the life and teachings of Jesus.

I only implore you, dear reader, not to foster the mistruths about Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, but tell the factual truth about those figures. Fact is, they are legends and fantasies based on a good man’s acts, but they must not be passed down as reality. The generous acts, themselves, are the Christlike reality.

It’s the same for the gift-giving, the lights, the colors, the tree, the decorating, and the joyous celebrating. One can ignore any or all of it, or one can use those traditions of secular Christmastime as reminders of Jesus’ birth, life, instructive words, and miraculous deeds. I strive for that as I constantly try to keep Him at the forefront of the celebration.

I believe that we should not only accept, as a fact of life, the secular traditions – the things that have been distorted and perverted away from the original intent of honoring the Christ-child, but turn them back upon themselves to their original purpose which is to celebrate His birth, to point to Him, to highlight Him, and to glorify Him in the unfettered, hopeful, optimistic, rejoicing manner in which the host of angels announced His arrival to the shepherds, and to us.

We can’t do away with Santa, and I don’t want to do that anyway. We can, however present him in a different light – the light that shines when he extends a gift to a child who has none, or the glow when he calls to a little one to come sit on his knee, or the beacon that shines when he tells the story of Jesus’ birth to a group of awestruck children, or when he silently prays for a sick or needy child and their family, or the radiant streaming rays that illuminate the scene when he kneels to worship beside the manger which contains his Savior Lord swaddled in humble cloth. All those actions mimic or respect Christ, The Light of the World, as Santa, the legend, mimics the real man, Nicholas, who was a somewhat Christlike child of God, himself!

We have so many commonly seen secular symbols that can be used to point to Jesus at Christmastime:

 Common decorative wreaths, for example, can be found on doors, in windows, or inside many secular homes, even on city light posts, but the circles of evergreen boughs symbolize eternal life and the never-ending love of God. The non-believers don’t even know that! We believers even elevate the wreath to worship status. The five candles of the Advent wreath are lit in order bring to mind hope, peace, joy, love, and the purity of Christ, the Light of the World who was sent for us. It also encircles the promise that He will return to us, not in humility this time, but in His full power and glory!

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness —
on them light has shined. Isaiah 9: 2-7

The Advent wreath is loaded with symbolism to “get the ball rolling” early in December before the really secular traditions begin.

The ever-present Christmas tree itself is a real or a reasonable facsimile of an evergreen tree, which also symbolizes eternal life. It points to Heaven, and, in my world, all the lights, ornaments, and decorations on the tree represent all believers in Jesus. The lights remind me that The Light of the World has come and we wait for Him to come again.

The presents under the tree are reminders of the original Christmas gift – the gift of Jesus sent to us by Father God, and His presence with us – and the wrappings, His swaddling cloths. Everyone who is able participates in the giving of gifts. Some gifts are frivolous and some needful. Gift giving is a reminder of how Father God sent us, the very needy, a huge gift of forgiveness, grace,mercy, hope, and love delivered through His Son. And we all, believers and non-believers, must receive any and all gifts with gracefulness and gratefulness. The gift of The Savior Child, our Light of the World, is given to every one of us Earthlings, but that gift must be received, and willingly accepted before it can be unwrapped and enjoyed.

The star at the top of the tree points to Christ and leads people to Him. It reminds us of the nativity story because of its important role therein. If there is an angel instead of a star, it evokes memories of the very powerful presence of angels involving Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. Even more astonishing was their appearance to the shepherds just after Jesus’ birth – not just one, but a whole host of them!

 Those traditions and others I’ve not thought of can be used to help us illuminate Jesus in a darkened world. I believe proclaiming Him is our commission, our duty, and our pleasure, as believers and as beneficiaries of The Father’s miraculously generous, humble, and humbling gift.

We are still living in a land of deep darkness, thousands of years after Isaiah’s God-given words. Billions of people are walking in darkness today, but many have seen the great Light. It is given to them to shine the Light of the World upon the land of deep darkness and all those walking in it.

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Whatever you do,
Whatever you think,
Seek Him in all things
And have yourself a happy,
Have yourself a joyous,
Have yourself the merriest Christmas!

Above all,
Remember Who is glorious,

Give Him all your glory,
Keep it Christmas-Story-ous!

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Still

After a busy, but very pleasurable, Advent season,
I find myself still, and resting in peace this evening.
What an eventful time I’ve had here at “Gloryteller
over the last three weeks and five days!
It passed so quickly, I can hardly catch my breath!

I’ve learned new things about the Christ Child’s birth
and some of the “old” things have struck me in new ways.
I went deep into the sweetly miraculous Profound Mystery, and today,
after the crescendo buildup of excitement surrounding –

The Birth That Shook The Earth,

I find myself overwhelmed;
physically and emotionally 
drained,
but spiritually uplifted . . .  

The Baby is sleeping peacefully now.
He and His family have endured a world-changing night;
A mother-changing, husband-changing, son-changing night!
I feel like I went through it with them, in a sense . . .
And, at this moment, about all I can do
is be still and adore Him,
be still in the knowledge that He is my Lord God,
be still and worship Him,
be still and rest here at His feet . . .

Still, still, still,
His bright eyes softly close
And Mary, breathless,
Draws him sleeping
To her heart,
Made pure for keeping
Still, still, still,
His bright eyes softly close.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
He hears, and sweetly smiles.
And kneeling Joseph
Joins in chorus
With the angels
Bending o’er us
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
He hears, and sweetly smiles.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep,
He breathes a tender sigh,
For soon he’ll wake
The world from slumber
Bringing life
And endless wonder
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
He breathes a tender sigh

Sleep, Holy Jesus,
Sleep . . .

   ~   ~   ~
I really like this Austrian Christmas carol in the form of a lullaby.
(a “lullbaby” perhaps?)
It so saturates me with peace . . .
And tonight, dear Jesus, I will simply be still and know –
know that you are no more than human
know that you are no less than God . . .

But now, dear reader, I must sadly,
yet joyfully, send out one last,

heartfelt,
Merry Christmas
and wishes for peace to you this season.
It is Christmas night, 2020,

Goodnight
from Lenn, here at Gloryteller.com

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Für die deutschsprachigen Völker:  
 Stille, stille, stille,
Seine hellen Augen schließen sich leise
Und Maria, atemlos,
Zieht ihn schlafend
Zu ihrem Herzen,
Rein zum Halten gemacht
Immer noch, immer noch, immer noch,
Seine hellen Augen schließen sich leise.

Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf,
Er hört und lächelt freundlich.
Und kniend Joseph
Joins im Chorus
Mit den Engeln
Über uns gebeugt
Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf,
Er hört und lächelt freundlich.
 
Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf,
Er atmet einen zärtlichen Seufzer,
Denn bald wird er aufwachen
Die Welt aus dem Schlummer
Leben bringen
Und endloses Wunder
Schlaf Schlaf Schlaf
Er atmet einen zärtlichen Seufzer
 
Schlaf, heiliger Jesus Schlaf
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The WORD of GOD Is Born

As I’ve said before,
I wish I could have been more prepared,
more ready to receive Him.
Much of the world was not ready 2021 ± years ago,
just as much of it is not ready for Him now.

But, for the 2021st time, or more,
(Infinitely more, in a sense).
He.
Was.
Born.
Last.
Night ! ? !
Could it be?
Yes, it is true! :

 It’s Christmas Day!


Then. the season of expectant waiting is complete!
I light the largest, purest, center candle,
the only One left unlit,

and the flame in my heart roars to life!
To life!
Hope is fulfilled!
In our Immanuel, all prophecies and promises are now reality!
His name is Light of the World!
His name is Peace!
His name is Son!
His name is Love!
His name is Jesus!

 His name is God!
His name is the name above all names,

And His presence is good news,
bringing great joy for all people!

His presence makes darkness flee!
The Light of the World has finally come!
And like so many believers,
so many bloggers, ministers,
Singers, musicians, and evangelists,

I repeat the sounding JOY!

Joy To the World,
and Peace to ALL mankind!

Joy to the World, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing!

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy!

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found!

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love!

~   ~   ~
And yet,
it is not over . . .
I must keep preparing ;
keep waiting expectantly;
with faith, and hope,
with all the peace, joy, and love, grace can provide;
The “second” and final Advent begins now,
He is coming back here,
Not in humble meekness this time,
But in all His Power, and all His Glory!
And all Creation is pregnant with anticipation!

Merry Christmas and Happiest Christbirth
celebration from Gloryteller. com!

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Christmas Eve 2020 – The Hunger

The last few hours of The Advent of Christ are before us.
We can wait no longer and we don’t need to.
Our hunger for hope, peace, joy, and love, is hard to bear;
We prepare the meal we will eat tonight after church.
We know we will be hungry for that food too,
but I want my hunger for Jesus to be foremost!

We can stay awake watching long into the night,
or go to sleep and let Him be born in peace.
Either is fine, for in the morning we will have the certainty
of Jesus’ birth!

The birth that shook the earth!

About 2021 years ago, everything was in place
to bring the astounding event into reality for humanity.
God’s gracious, merciful plan was about to
take a new turn and reach a new level.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
And the Word became human.

And the Word was named Jesus,
He was born in a stable,
wrapped in cloth, and placed in a manger to sleep . . .

Placed in a manger . . .
Have you ever thought about that?
A manger is a type of feed trough for animals.
Here on the farm we call that a “feeder”.

It occurs to me that Jesus, lying in that feeder,
among all the other deep meaning and symbolism,

seems to have made Himself a symbol
for our spiritual nourishment!
Both a symbol and a reality all at once!

Is it any wonder that He told Peter, “Feed my sheep”?
Is it any wonder that He called Himself

“The Bread of Life”, or spoke over some bread, saying
This is my body“?
He wants us to partake of Himself!
To drink deeply of Him in a spiritual manner!
“The Bread of Life”, and “The Water of Life”!

He, lying in that feeder, was already telling us,
“I AM your nourishment, your sustenance,
your very life’s provision;

Come to Me and be filled”!

~ ~ ~

Happy Christmas Eve!
Your Gloryteller

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Morning Star

The holy night of Jesus’ birth,
With shining glory and gleaming star,

Was the brightest night on earth, so far.
The sky was ethereal, with angels adorned,
But ordained events passed,
And soon it was morn,
Daytime, burst forth,
He was called “Morning Star”!
People saw glimmers and set out from afar.

Now morning, midday, evening, and night,
His glory outshines all, and He is our Light.
Children and parents, husbands and wives,
He’s The One Living Light for each of our lives!
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©Lenn Snider

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Christmas Groovin’

Lately, I find that the troubles of the “world”
are trying to get me down.
It’s all, like, tryin’ to steal my groove, man!
Know what I mean?
People seem too serious about “things”, to the point where
“things” are stealing their time and energy;
taking over their lives,
making them like slaves to a cruel situational master.
There seems hardly any time left for the facets of life
which are most important,
but get pushed to the back burner.
Lighten up! We need some fun.
We need some whimsy!

Does anybody remember the sixties?
Simon and Garfunkel? The Rascals?
Groovin’?

I woke up feeling good this morning, and:

Arkansas Christmas Groovin’

The world is doin’ a stint in joovy,
It doesn’t seem to have a cloovy,
Everyone’s viral antibody proovy,

But I awoke all feelin’ groovy,
Needed something fun to doovy,
Decided to go and see a moovy,
But halfway through, I had to poovy,
Then met a girl outside the loovy,
Walked in alone, came out with yoovy,
Now we really feelin’ groovy,
At the stand, we bought a smoovy,

Then she asked, “What shall we doovy?”,
So we walked down to the zoovy,
The folks were all like ahhs and oovy,
Some peeps were yellin’ “Woo Pig Soovy
They were sure all feelin’ groovy,
Big flakes fell, we walked through snoovy,

Christmastime is always groovy,
Christ is born in Bethlehoovy,
Presents ‘neath the lit-up troovy,
Now, by the fire we feel, like, cooovy,
Eatin’ cookies with hot choovy,

All is well, we feelin’ Merry Christmas grooovy

~  ~  ~

O, thank You Lord, for keeping us separate from the “world”
while living in the world.
Thank You for the spirit of playful joy that lifts us;
Gives us hope.
Thank You for the greater joy we find in Christmas!

I grin as I say – I will try to be more serious tomorrow . . .

© Len Snider
12-23-2018

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The Primal Christmas Tree

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
A fun little distraction while we wait.
Do you like prime numbers?
(Prime numbers are evenly divisable
only by themselves and 1)
To help you get started, the first three
prime numbers are 2, 3, and 5.
Remember, 1 is not a prime number.
Children of any age, look what can be done with them:

(One Star and five prime numbers . . . a Christmas tree of perfection!)
(Remember to turn your phone sideways or it won’t work right)
Can you decipher the pattern?
Count up the stars (*s) or the words in each row.
Which numbers do you get?
Are they all prime numbers which make up the “trees”?


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*****
*******
***********
!


The

Star is

on top, sovereign

His light illuminates all life

below.  All below Him, made in perfection.

Gathered, enfolded, protected – like a mother hen does – under His wings.
!!!

~   ~   ~


!
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***********

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!!!
Is this tree upside-down? Wrong? Distressing? Let it not be so!  It

is made in perfection, for He is still supreme and sovereign.

All lives supported upon His shoulders. Kept

by His strength. Maintained by

His goodness.  Lit

by His

Love.
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Always remember Who created the prime numbers,
and all numbers, and how to count
things, and math, and music, and rhythm,
and orderliness, and the dance of the
moons around planets, planets around stars, and
stars inside galaxies!
God created all those for our use
and our enjoyment!

Merry Merry Christmas!
Happy Happy Christbirth!
How many days left? Is it a prime number?  : >)
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©Lenn Snider
12-21-20

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Suddenly Sunday – The Fourth Sunday of Advent

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today, December 20, 2020, is the fourth Sunday of Advent.
Already!
We light the fourth candle – the love candle,
in my book, the easiest one to light in the heart,
for Father God loved us first and sent His Jesus
to enable us to love Him in a completely new way, and
interact, and have a real relationship with Him.
Love rescued, and love reconciled!

This candle also signifies His imminent presence.
The Advent season is all about expectant waiting;
excited, hopeful, waiting for the Baby’s presence!
We want Him to be born soon!
We want to see Him!
He seems so close;
the air is charged!
We can almost feel angels in the air.
The Spirit of God certainly presides over our village.

 In a few nights, everything will be poised,
miraculously in position,
as it was around 2021 years ago!
Mary, her Baby, Joseph, shepherds,
angels – lots of angels!
The heavens were filled with the glory of God’s love!
Peace and joy are closing in.
Thursday night is the Holy Night – Jesus Christ’s night.
The Advent of Christ is all but complete!

Are preparations perfect?
Is my heart ready for His arrival?
I find myself wishing that I could be less imperfect;
better prepared,
And more ready.
Yet, hope in Him, the peace and joy He brings,
His love, and all His magnificent light,
uphold and uplift my soul.
I am ready as I can be for Jesus’ arrival!
Soon, incarnation!
Soon, adoration!
Soon, celebration!

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The BIRTH !


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His birth!
It simply rocked!

This fallen rock!
Knew not its worth!

Nor extent!
Of Godly love toward man!

‘Til Son was given then!
 Not just lent!

None yet knew!
Just what it meant!

That mankind’s grief!
Would He redeem to mirth!

Until The Birth!
The Birth That Rocked The Earth!
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©Lenn Snider
12-19-2020

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The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

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"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
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"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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