Thursday, June 5, 2008

The long and the short of it...

Hey, it's been a pretty fine week! We had some great company during this past week, Eric, a good friend, and classmate waaaayyy back in High School, visited the other night, thanks Eric! Then, there was Vicky, another from school days, and a good friend of my wife, Cari. They had a pretty tight-knit group back then, which included another classmate, April, and her sister Dawn. They all visited us this past week! Wow, were we getting blessed real good! They all got out for a visit with another of their group, Lloyd, who was another classmate of mine. It had been many years since they had all been together... pretty neat!

So, what does that have to do with ScriptureSticks?... Well, it does, I think... but, mostly I was just thinking about these old (as in the past) acquaintances and how they touch our lives. One most important common bond is that every one of them are Christians, and they all had an impact on me, especially when I was unsaved.

As I was giving thought to old friends, I worked away on some ScriptureSticks. Some of them had been requested by Dawn and April. Two of them, I reflected, were the shortest and longest sets of scripture verse that I had ever had the pleasure of placing on a ScriptureStick!

John 11:35... Jesus wept.

2 Peter 1:5-7... For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

(That second one barely fit on a BIG ScriptureStick! Whew!)

After finishing up on the sticks, I came downstairs, and got my Bible out. I spent a good hour this evening, just trying to get to know these scriptures a little bit better. Reading them... reading "around" them, to put them in context. I know, for sure, that although I got a lot out of this mini-study, I could study these scriptures all night, or all week, and still not have their meanings completely revealed to me. But... the point that I'm eventually getting to is this... Scripture was placed in front of me, and I felt the need to investigate further. I wondered about it... I was curious. ... ... ...That is exactly the hope I have in this little ScriptureStick ministry! That Cari and I will place Scripture on hiking sticks, and the sticks will be read, or hopefully fall into the hands of the unsaved. Our prayer is that the unsaved will wonder about the Scripture they read, and be compelled to seek the Word. It is also our hope that Christians who have a ScriptureStick will be emboldened to share their faith in Jesus Christ with the unsaved... that the ScriptureStick might be the conversation starter... Hey, neat stick! What does that say on it?

So... that is the long and the short of it... as they say.

Which means that it is really, really late right now, and time to ask God to Bless you all, real good! Thanks go out to all you friends that stopped by for a visit! Anybody else out there that I havn't seen for a bit? You're all welcome to stop in for a visit! G'Night, and God Bless!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Murphy, Mr. Cowpie, and Twisted Sister!

Just enjoying a few relaxing moments tonight, between work at the lumber yard, and work on the ScriptureSticks... So, I thought it might be nice to see, "Whatever happened to them!?!".

Through a quick search, this is the scoop...

"Murphy", aka Todd Murphy... You may remember my talking about Murph. He is a double amputee (lower legs), and is hiking the A.T.. We met Murphy at SHAW'S in Monson, Maine last year. What a guy, you'd love to be around him! Well, he didn't get to finish last year, but he's back out there! You can do a quick search for him on the net... try ""Todd Murphy", Hiker, A.T.", and you should get plenty of great articles, and his journal. Murphy has a great story, and I truly hope he puts it in print. Check him out!

"Mr. Cowpie", and "Twisted Sister"... Just use their names for a search, and you should be in pretty good shape. We exchanged "picture-taking duties" with them up on the Bigelow Range in Maine. (Thanks you two, the pictures were great!) We caught up with them for a bit, much further down trail, where they were hiking with Tengu. Anyway... seems that Twisted Sister had to stop her hike with a broken leg. But, thank God, she is all healed up, and she and Mr. Cowpie are back on trail! Mr. Cowpie is her Dad, and is also a children's entertainer. Type in "Mr. Cowpie" for that one!

Well... It lifted my spirits to see them all on trail! I hope you will join me in lifting them all in prayer for a safe and happy hike. Do you know of anyone else who is finishing this year? Any tidbits from the trail? Drop me a line, if you will, and please... God Bless you ALL!


Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 1st...Looking back...Looking forward!

So... It's June 1st! For me, and possibly a few others, a very memorable date. A year ago, today, Faithful and I were heading out of Andover, Maine, beginning a flip-flop hike. We were trekking North, towards Katahdin, where we would bounce back to Andover, and begin making our way South. It was somewhat surreal for me, having never really been a hiker... and recently I had become a survivor of a Fiftieth Birthday. We walked into the woods, away from friends and family, excited, hopeful, happy, sad, apprehensive, and not just a little bit lonely. Reality was sinking in. The purpose of my hike was Christian missions work, to spend time with other hikers, do my best to be a servant hiker, and gently spread the good news of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The hope was that I would meet SOBO hikers on our trip NOBO, then hike with some of them after we flipped back to Andover. And then, of course, meet lot's of NOBO hikers as we made our way South...

Faithful... Faithful Pilgrim... David Barnes in the real world, but on the trail he will always be Faithful. He was setting out on a young man's dream, a dream I had often shared at his age. A dream that had almost been lost to me. Faithful had a few reasons for not being out on that trail... and every reason to try it anyway. I don't believe he would mind my sharing that he has epilepsy, and has had surgeries to attempt to prevent seizures. Faithful, on the recommendation of his Doctor, was looking to hike with somebody, to make his trip safer. We connected, and decided that we would hit the trail together. It was to my delight to be hiking with another Christian! It was also nice to have a hiking partner, as I was terribly out of shape, and had a knee injury that had still not healed completely...

We had a great time, not without it's tough moments, but all in all, a GREAT time! We hiked together North, from Andover, starting out with tough hiking, and staying tough, up and down some rugged mountains, across the Bigelow Range, through the "100 mile wilderness" and up Katahdin! Then, back to Andover, and heading South, through the Mahoosics and the Whites, up and over beautiful Mt. Washington. On we went to Vermont, a terrific State to hike! I began to have a problem with swelling in my lower right leg, and could see my hike coming to a possible end. By the time we got into Bennington, I figured I may have a fracture, and it would be best for us to head home...

That was a turning point in our plans. I needed medical attention, and may have been finished... Faithful wanted so badly to go on... we both came home. I was thoroughly checked out, determined to have an infection in my leg, and needed to heal and rest. It was uncertain if I would return to the trail. Faithful, his family, and his Doctor made a decision... he would go back on trail, alone. After a week off trail, he headed back, bravely hiking solo.

Three weeks after coming home, my leg mostly healed, my body weight back up a bit, and my muscles definitely not as strong, I also returned to Bennington, Vermont. I had missed out on three weeks of hiking, but more importantly, I was well behind all of the SOBO's, and the NOBO's were very few. Most of them had gotten North of Bennington while I was off trail. I still got opportunities to witness to a few, and some dayhikers. There were a lot of Freshman orientation groups from various Colleges that were out for section hikes, and I got to speak with many of them. I tried as best as I could to catch up with some SOBO's, but even pacing off 22 miles or so a day, it was to no avail. The hiking was still very enjoyable, but witness opportunities were few. It was also becoming dangerous, as I may not see anybody for a couple of days, and if I got injured on a high ridge on a Monday, it was likely that I wouldn't be found until the next weekend... So... I hiked on, until I reached the Greymoor Friary, in Peekskill, New York, where I spent a night in prayer, seeking to find the right decision regarding continuing the hike. The next morning, I packed my gear, and headed out... seeking an easy path that would lead me home to Maine. In a brief 24 Hours, I was safe at home, resting. Hard to believe... I was again filled with many emotions, sadness of leaving the trail, joy in being home with my wife, Cari. Happiness that the Lord allowed me this wonderful time out on the trail, meeting so many wonderful, and sometimes lost, people. Dissapointment in not finishing the trail, missing out on being with other hikers. Wonderment that I was able to hike 800 miles! ...and, yeah, I know that I could have continued... but I knew that it wasn't my time to hike. God will have me do that at a later date.

So, here I was at home, making the most of it. I ventured up to Stratton/Eustis a couple of times, and was blessed with the opportunity to help out fellow (and lady) hikers. One lady, "Bunker", was a hiker I had met in Vermont! So, yes, the Lord continued to Bless! I continued to follow Faithful's progress, keeping him held up in prayer, as he meandered South. I began working on a few more ScriptureSticks, and tried to accustom myself to the "real world". Faithful continued on, making good progress, hiking all the way down South, into Virginia!

Springtime came to Maine, slowly, and as it did, Faithful returned to the trail, down South. I had the pleasure of following his progress once again, and I with others, shared his joy and victory, as he completed his thru-hike in May, finishing at Springer Mtn., Georgia!

As for myself, I have revisited, in my mind, bits and pieces of the trail, reminiscing about the time spent with Faithful, and so, so many people that I have met along my journey.

Last night, May 31st, was a culmination of our hikes, for both Faithful and I. His family and friends all got together at their little Church in Canaan, Maine. They had a celebration for him, and for the completion of his hike. It was a wonderful time, lot's of well-wishers, food, slide show, and great conversation. I got to talk a bit with Faithful, congratulating him on a hike well done... Somehow, a congratulation does not seem adequate, for I really do know what it takes to walk that path... or at least part of it. With a nice smile, Faithful seemed to understand. He also said something that meant an awful lot to me. "You walked the hardest part of the trail...". That, to me, was not meant as just an acknowledgement that I had done something hard... it was taken in the spirit of encouragement, that next time... next time. For sure, I will attempt it again.

Last year, and yesterday, are now sweet memories, for both Faithful and I. Today, and tonight, I continue to reminisce, and ponder the paths that we wandered down. Today, June 1st, one year ago... we had embarked on an incredible journey. One was completed, and the other complete, but not finished... Today, June 1st, one year ago, we were sleeping in the wilds, our first night of many.

Today, June 1st... Faithful, I suspect, is sleeping soundly, at home. I have opted to stay up late, savor the memories until the clock ticks off a new day, and everything that it holds for me. I will spend these last few minutes of June 1st wondering who has started SOBO, from Katahdin today... and lift them in prayer, for a safe and wonder-filled journey.

Looking forward... I am not a young man... but I still have a young man's dream in this old man's body. I hope and pray that I will be able to return to the trail someday, maybe in a year or two. I will work on the ScriptureStick Ministry in anticipation! So... as I pray for this new batch of hikers this evening, I hope you will join me... and include me in your prayers, too!

Tick, tick, tick... almost a new day! God Bless you all, and again, thank you for all of your love and support!