MISSION ACCOMPLISHED thanks to Kate!!!

Back in April of last year, in a blog post I shared a journey that my grandson Noah and I were beginning to hike all four Georgia State Park Canyon Climbers trails and earn a T-shirt.  You can read the post and see the pictures of the Providence Canyon trail here.  Providence Canyon is the only one of the four that has a southwest USA look and feel to it.

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Due to the cancer complications I have experienced since early winter, I have been unable to complete the fourth and final hike at Cloudland Canyon in Northwest Georgia.  So my loving niece Kate volunteered to do the final hike in my place with Noah so we could earn our t-shirt.  Thank Kate!!!

So Saturday morning found Noah (complete with his cousin’s Go-Pro camera) at canyon rim’s edge ready to complete the final hike and earn the coveted t-shirt.

Canyon Climbers LOGO

(Note: Everything within double quotes for remainder of
post has been pulled verbatim from
Georgia State Parks websites. bw)

“CANYON CLIMBERS CLUB  — Get a card, hike 4 trails, earn a t-shirt.”

“Georgia’s Canyon Climbers Club is for those few who have scaled to the top of Amicalola Falls, explored the depths of Providence Canyon, braved the swinging bridge in Tallulah Gorge and mastered the staircase in Cloudland Canyon.”

“Hike all four parks and earn a Canyon Climbers Club t-shirt!”

———————————————————————————

“One of Georgia’s most photographed landscapes is Providence Canyon State Park in the southwest. The beautiful multi-hued soil of these canyons was originally exposed after farmers used poor erosion control during the 1800s. Today, the area is a protected state park with 10 miles of trails and backpacking sites. A surprising feature of the park is the perpetually wet canyon floor. The exposed water table creates a pretty pattern in the sand, called a “braided stream.” Club members need to hike the loop trail, with a side trip into scenic canyon 5, to complete their 1.5-mile quest.  Because the park’s visitor center is now closed, membership cards are punched at Florence Marina State Park, a short drive away.”

“The 729-foot Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascade east of the Mississippi River. A paved, one-mile Base of Falls Trail begins at the bottom and climbs up the mountain while following the water’s edge. Overlooks and staircases with a total of 604 steps provide excellent views, and thankfully a few benches offer places to rest. Club members must hike this red-blazed trail to get their card punched. Amicalola Falls State Park is near Dawsonville in the middle of north Georgia. Overnight accommodations include a mountain-top lodge, rental cottages and campground.”

An added note here … many Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine trail) thru-hikers begin from this park as the start of the AT is a short 8 mile aways at Springer Mountain.  bw

Tallulah Gorge State Park in northeast Georgia is one of the most spectacular canyons in the South. The 1,000-foot-deep gorge was crossed twice by high wire acrobats – Professor Leon in 1886 and Karl Wallenda in 1970. Today, visitors can hike from one side to the other via a suspension bridge swaying 80 feet from the bottom. The staircases leading to the bridge include 310 steps from the north rim and 340 from the south rim – quite a workout for visitors who complete the whole journey. However, Canyon Climbers Club members need walk only up and down from the north rim’s overlook 2.”

Here is a photoblog of this trail from a December 2013 hike.  From the canyon’s north rim to canyon floor at Hurricane Falls and up to the south rim is 1,099 steps.  And I proudly drink my coffee from a mug for the Tallulah Gorge celebrating that 1,099 step accomplishment.  There has been a lot of talk in recent months that Karl Wallenda’s great grandson wants to repeat the tightrope (or cable) accomplishment of his great grandfather … but to this point nothing firm has been set. bw

“On the edge of Lookout Mountain in northwest Georgia sits Cloudland Canyon State Park. The rugged gorge has more than six miles of hiking trails, including the one-mile Waterfalls Trail with a 600-step staircase. During very dry summers, the park’s two waterfalls can shrink to a trickle, yet the rugged scenery of this park remains some of the best in the state. Club members must hike down the Waterfalls Trail, and back up of course, to get their card punched.”

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On the canyon floor of Cloudland Canyon at one of the two waterfalls … MISSION ACCOMPLISHED … t-shirt earned … thanks to Kate!

Praising God this morning for the ever embracing love of family!

Bernie

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a memorable prenuptial ceremony

Since I would not be able to attend my daughter Kerstyn and Caleb’s wedding last Friday, my challenge was to create, prior to the wedding, a moment between us so special and intimate that it would take away some of the sting for all of us because of my absence.  Their wedding was to be a joy-filled experience and my absence could not hinder that objective.

After four daughters leaving the nest, you’d think I’d have this whole father-daughter and father-fiancé conversation down pat … but alas you would be badly mistaken.  In this I have failed my daughters more often than not.

IMHO … whenever I see the adjective prenuptial, the noun following should be addressing  some sort of commitment to marriage … not the exit strategy from marriage.  Keep that in mind as you read …

Thursday morning we had Kerstyn and Caleb come over.  My wife Sheryl and I sat in the love seat with the about-to-be-weds sitting in chairs facing us.

Gift of remembrance – Caleb

“Caleb, for 23 years I have been Kerstyn’s Daddy and ‘the man in her life.‘”

“While I will continue to be her Daddy, the mantle of ‘the man in her life’ will officially pass from me to you tomorrow night at your wedding.”

“Many years ago Kerstyn gave me this gift as ‘the man in her life’ on Father’s Day and it has been a gift I have treasured and carry with me daily.”

“As a symbolic gesture of the passing of the mantle of ‘the man in her life’ from me to you, I would like to give you this pocket knife.  May it serve as a daily reminder and an agreement between you and me that you’re now the man primarily responsible for the love, care, protection and provision for my daughter Kerstyn … all things I am trusting you to do … all things I am confident you will do in an excellent manner!”

Gift of remembrance – Kerstyn

“Kerstyn, as father-daughter, we have shared in many adventures.  Four typically come to mind:

  • Lunches at Taco Bell followed by a movie
  • Trips to Grandma and Granddad’s cabin
  • Your first trip to the Renaissance Festival
  • And this special adventure

While Caleb has now shared in the first three adventures and memories with you, he has yet to share in the last one.  So I am giving you this silver pewter dragon figurine I got at the Dragon Museum in Chattanooga as a token reminder of our dragon adventure.

May it …

  • Remind you of the few hours that day we spent making memories
  • Prompt you one day to also share this memory with Caleb
  • Encourage you to fill your life with Caleb pursuing new adventures and making new memories

After all … WHAR THAR BE DRAGONS, THAR BE ADVENTURES AND MEMORIES!

Reflections in the Rear View Mirror

We spent a little time reflecting on their past individually and together.  After all, they have known each other since Kerstyn was in 2nd grade.  His parents taught her Sunday School class in 2nd and 3rd grade.  They both successfully completed their homeschooling education.  As teens, they both became employed and were hardworking employees committed to their jobs.  Kerstyn has experienced success pursuing her artistic and creative passions.  She and Caleb were able to save up the down payment and at the ages of 20 and 23 respectively purchase their own home a few months ago.  Yet they maintained the purity in their relationship by their wedding night being the first night Caleb spent there.  Caleb has been working on his computer technician education for the last couple of years … already acquiring A + certification.  Finally, they have been in a committed relationship for the past 4 years … a relationship filled with love and so giving to one another.  So to sum up we just shared some of the things (and I know I’ve forgotten something) we are proud of them for accomplishing.

Key Scripture on Marriage

“Caleb, Kerstyn; marriage is about a lot of things but one key characteristic of successful marriages is out of love and respect being mutually submitted to one another and no passage of Scripture more clearly explains this than Ephesians 5:22-33.”

‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’

“Caleb, many a man has heard the preacher read these first three verses and celebrated pre-maturely.  Kerstyn, many a woman reads this and in her heart says ‘No way!’  In the last verse Paul hints at what’s coming for the man.  So let’s continue …”

‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

“So it’s really simple to explain … just challenging to live.  Wives be submissive to your husbands as believers in the church are called to be submissive to Jesus Christ.  Husbands be submissive to your wives as Jesus Christ is submissive to the church … remember He came to serve not to be served. Does that make sense to you?”

“One more passage of Scripture and we’re done.”

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

All throughout this passage Solomon writes about how the two have a much greater return on their labor and efforts than one.  Then suddenly … A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

That third strand is Jesus Christ … he is the strand that strengthens the one marriage cord making it virtually indestructible.  While Jesus and the church played an active role in your lives as children and teens … that role has been diminished somewhat in your young adult years.  Sheryl and I are praying that you both together will find your way back to Jesus in the very near future.

The Prenuptial Giving of Kerstyn’s hand in marriage

“Caleb, we take very seriously the commitment made between husband and wife in marriage.”

“It is with our deepest love and heartfelt blessings, that her Momma and Daddy, Sheryl and I give, Kerstyn to you in holy matrimony, to be one in marriage as God intended.”

May God bless Caleb and Kerstyn in their marriage!

Bernie

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more thank you notes from the wedding

A little housekeeping is needed first thing this morning to wrap up Sunday night’s post about the wedding … there were a few thank you notes that were left unsaid:

First. thanks to my sister Beth who made a special two-hour round trip to our house on Thursday to bring me a copy of the ceremony and all that her husband Jack would be saying as a part of the ceremony.  She also brought a monogrammed mug and some of the napkins as well as a ‘Mint to be’ tin and a framed photo of Caleb on one knee proposing to Kerstyn.  Even though I wouldn’t be there, she wanted me to be able to follow along with the ceremony as if I was … complete with the wedding day ambiance.  Thanks Sis!

Thanks to my daughter Kerstyn who stopped by in route to having her hair done to make sure I had the boutonniere I would have worn had I been at the wedding giving her away.  I love you sweetheart.  You were a beautiful bride.

Thanks to my daughter Cindy and her husband Jamey who volunteered for eldercare duty … basically babysitting dear old dad so that my wife and grandson could be at the wedding.  Thanks so much guys!!!

Thanks to my niece Kate’s friends … the two Sarah’s … for assisting with some of the last minute directorial duties at the wedding and helping ensure the months of planning and preparation done by Beth, Jack and Kate were executed to perfection on wedding day.  While I’ve never met you ladies … thank you for the supporting role you played in helping this be such a special moment for Kerstyn, Caleb and our family.

And finally … another thanks to my sister Beth, who for nearly an hour, took pre, during and post ceremony pictures of the wedding texting them to us every few minutes so we could share in the joy and happiness of the wedding real time.  Cindy, Jamey and I so thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the wedding this way.  I love you so much!

We are family!

Bernie

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Welcome our newest addition to the family at 21 …

On Friday evening at 7:30pm, we welcomed our newest addition to our family at 21 years of age as Caleb and our daughter Kerstyn were joined in holy matrimony … welcome Caleb!

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Above is a post wedding picture of the bride and groom with their respective parents.  (pictured from left to right: my wife Sheryl, myself … I have some good color today, our daughter Kerstyn, our new son-in-law Caleb, his mom Rebecca and his dad Sandy).

Yes, that is a pink flamingo.  My love of pink flamingos is infamous within our family.  And typically the first picture I receive from the grandkids always includes … a pink flamingo.  And no, this is not a joke done in poor taste but one done by my daughter the bride out of love and respect for her Daddy.

You see, my Stage IV colon cancer has taken a turn for the worse … with the spread to the liver it is now untreatable.  So I find myself on in home hospice and typically I am either in the bed or in the recliner and last week was one of the worst of the last six weeks so I could not attend the wedding.  So having a pink flamingo as a stand-in for this picture and all the laughter it will bring through the coming years to my family … well, it was done out of love respect and honor.

(Lord willing, later this week I will share about the prenuptial ceremony Sheryl and I had with Kerstyn and Caleb Thursday morning.)

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The theme and attire for the wedding was casual beach.  Here my son aka grandson escorts his Nana and my wife Sheryl to their seats … he is pulling double duty as ring bearer.

Tradition typically calls for the family of the bride to take responsibility of planning, preparing and running the wedding.  With my cancer complication, taking on that responsibility was beyond the realm of possibilities for Sheryl and me.  So my sister Beth, her husband Jack and my niece Kate not only took on all those responsibilities but also offered to host the wedding and reception afterward poolside, on the deck and in their house.  What a blessing they are and everyone I have spoken to has said the wedding just could not have been any more perfect.

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Above my 90 year old dad escorts my daughter to her husband-to-be and the altar.  When asked who gives Kerstyn’s hand in marriage, ‘Her family does.’  Thanks Dad for standing in on this special day.  You are greatly loved and appreciated!

You may notice that they are walking in hand-in-hand.  When each of the grandkids stayed with my Mom and Dad, my Dad would tell them to hold his hand so they wouldn’t get run over in the parking lot.  After that didn’t work, he asked them to hold his hand so he wouldn’t get run over in the parking lot.  And that has stuck with Kerstyn to this very day.  She still holds his hand in the parking lot.

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Let me close with the above picture … which I absolutely love.  My sister Beth is taking this picture over the shoulders of our Mom and Dad as my daughter Kerstyn and Caleb are joined in holy matrimony by my brother-in-law Jack.

A day full of thanksgiving … Lord, we ask for your blessings upon their marriage!

Bernie

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I can only imagine

A little more than a decade ago, the band Mercy Me prompted us to consider that scenario with their hit song:

“I Can Only Imagine”

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine Yeah

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for your Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine, yeah I can only imagine

Repeat chorus 2X:

Yeah I can only imagine I can only imagine
Yeah I can only imagine I can only imagine
I can only imagine I can only imagine
When all I will do Is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine

 Recently someone shared a story where a reporter asked Mother Theresa what she would say to Jesus when she found herself face to face with Him for the first time. Her witty response, “You’ve got some explaining to do.” Wise people have a way of coming up with witty answers like that in the moment … questions we’d all like to ask but seem taboo to raise (or perhaps we’re just too chicken to admit).

I’ve been thinking on this question a few days now and I really think that any and all questions of this earthly realm will fade away into the sea of unimportance as I find myself in the realm of heavenly ones and face to face with the Lamb of God. Much like the Mercy Me song, I could see myself in such an overwhelming sense of awe that I would be speechless. Or perhaps the songs of praise and worship echoing across the heavenly realms would be so engaging my heart would be prompting me to sing.   Or perhaps so filled with thanksgiving and gratitude for God’s plan and His strength that brought endurance to the finish line, I would gratefully offer but three simple words, “Thank you Lord.” Maybe just maybe the power of that moment and being reconciled face to face with the Bridegroom would bring out the most passionate ‘I love you’ I have ever spoken.

Yes, there is much truth in the song above, I can only imagine …

When you come face to face with Jesus, what do you imagine you will say?

Bernie

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Jesus’ teaching bout prayer …

I’m sure that most of you have noticed that typically when offering Scripture in my posts I use ESV, NASB and occasionally NIV. Even less often I use the KJV, usually I use it because the way the verse was translated in the KJV is what has been ingrained into my soul through memorization, reading and repetition.

Just so you know, I believe the Holy Spirit is indeed the teacher of Scripture just as God inspired the writers through Him … based on that I believe most all (but not all) translations can be effectively used by the Holy Spirit as the living word. Apart from the Holy Spirit, it is virtually impossible for men to understand the spiritual things of the Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:11-16) IMHO …

All that said … let’s take a look at Jesus’ teaching bout prayer in Matthew 6: 5-13 (KJV) …

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

This verse is pretty self-explanatory. Our time of prayer is not a time to put ourselves on display before men with wordy, thesaurus (see Tim Hawkins video) flowing prayers. There are really two issues here. First, as Jesus declares, men’s praise and adoration is your reward. Second, those types of prayers set the bar to a level, that others believe they can’t pray because they can’t pray like the hypocrites.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Prayer is to be done in private before an audience of one … just you and God the Father.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Don’t pray with a sense of false pride and an exaggerated sense of self-worth thinking that by repeating over and over what you want that God will hear you … prayer is not about what you and I want … it’s about what God wants.

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

God the Father know what you need before you ask Him … the goal of your prayers is to align your requests with what He already knows you and those you are praying for need.

After this manner therefore pray ye:

The Lord’s prayer is a model for prayer … not a prayer for vain repetition …

Our Father which art in heaven,

Our prayers are directed to God the Father who is our Father and resides in heaven …

Hallowed be thy name.

The name of God is blessed … sacred … holy … worthy of honor and fear … worthy to be praised!

Thy kingdom come.

We are to pray and request that the kingdom of God … the kingdom of heaven … come to this earth …

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

One of the most important aspects of the prayer … we are to pray that God’s will be done on earth … for me, for you, for those we pray for … ALL should be according to His will.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Provide for our necessities Lord.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Forgive us for our sins Father as we forgive others for their sins against us (Matthew 7:2) … that is huge and demands constant love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

And lead us not into temptation,

This is the one statement in the prayer I find odd, as James later writes that God tempts no man (James 1:13) … perhaps it is simply serving as a reminder to the believer that God does not tempt but that He is right there with us in the midst of temptation.

but deliver us from evil:

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes that God provides a way of escape for every temptation … here we are simply asking that when tempted, He would guide us to that route of escape … away from sin and evil and into the midst of His will.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

The kingdom, the power, and the glory eternally belong to God the Father!!!

Amen.

In its simplest definition it means ‘so be it’, I have also heard it defined as ‘so be it according to God’s will.’

Oh Lord, my prayer life needs a major and divine overhaul … your will be done!

Bernie

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throwing down a gauntlet before God

Few believers want to unintentionally challenge God … a lesson I learned the hard way many years ago.

This is kind of a funny lesson because in telling you what not to do I basically immediately violate what I am advising against … LOL

That said two phrases I have learned to never start a sentence with are …

  • I will never
  • I will always

My first lesson came almost 16 years ago. I was attending Sugar Hill United Methodist Church. I told someone that I could never see myself going to another church and I would always be a member of that church (a double whammy!)

Within a month, we left that church and started attending Shadowbrook Baptist. And within six months we moved lock, stock and barrel from the Buford area 30 miles northeast to rural Georgia.

So what exactly is wrong with those two phrases?

First, ‘I will’ says that my will is stronger that the will of God … LOL

Second, ‘always’ and ‘never’ indicate I am in complete control of all circumstances in my life … LOL

James offers a pretty clear lesson on this topic and the arrogance it reflects …

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16 (ESV)

I think the same guideline can be applied to making promises or oaths … note what Jesus taught at the Sermon on the Mount …

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No'; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:33-37 (ESV)

Did you notice that … both of those passages ended with the word evil?  Very interesting …

Just so you understand I am still learning these lessons … I guess I’m a slow learner …

In the middle of the first decade of the third millennium, I studied the evils inherent with mega churches and the multi-campus model and pretty much decided I would always go to a small church. Within a year I found myself and my family going to 12Stone Church … a spiritually vibrant church and one of the fastest growing mega churches in America. After five or six years, I sensed the need to move again … this time to a smaller local community church.

So where did we end up?

An even larger spiritually vibrant mega-church as an on-line attendee … North Point Community Church.

So the moral to the story is be careful not only of what you say, but what you think as well regarding ‘I will always’, ‘I will never’ and promises and oaths..

Still learning … If the Lord wills

Bernie

P.S.  This post is dedicated to Jamey … thanks for loving and caring for me and my family brother!  You are greatly appreciated and loved!!!

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