Sunday, June 28, 2009


Up the Butte Falls Highway, past the quaint little mountain town of Butte Falls, is another portion of the Rogue River National Forest. Willow Lake is in this section, a camping. boating,and recreation mecca. If you are following twenty recreational vehicles, at least fifteen of them will turn on the road to Willow Lake. The rest will either proceed to catch Highway 140 or they will turn into the Big Butte Watershed and the pleasant campground & picnic area known as Whiskey Spring.

This camping adventure was the least adventursome so far. For me, it was a time to get caught up on a couple of projects, to think deep thoughts, to spend time in the Word and prayer, and to do nothing (not neccesarily in that order). I did not visit the beaver pond this go around...a place where in the early dawn you might catch a glimpse of furry beavers hard at work. In fact, I didn't wander far from the campsite. I was having too much fun just flaking.

Flaking is good sometimes. I remarked on Twitter that I had permission to leave on Friday afternoon a half hour early. Not only did I not leave a half hour early, but I ended up staying nearly a half hour later! "Getting away" for the weekend is a bit of a challenge. And come July, I will be on a marathon of VBS prep. But as I get more experience in this life, I'm finding that I must deliberately, willfully, stubbornly, and doggedly carve out time to do....nothing.
And I enjoyed it.

Dog on a raft?

Dog on a raft? Where? Where?

Nope...just a dog on an air mattress, soaking up the rays at the campsite (the mattress is on a blue tarp)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


One of the things I enjoy about southern Oregon living is the proximity of outdoor recreation. Above the mountain town of Prospect is a group of campgrounds that border the rafting haven of the Rogue River. One of those campgrounds is the "Natural Bridge" campground. Not as big or developed as Union Creek (see previous camping adventures), the Natural Bridge campground has...the Natural Bridge.

The Natural Bridge area was formed by a series of lava tubes, one of which actually bridges the Rogue River. The river simply disappears into the tube and then reappears a little further up. Pioneers would use this land bridge to cross over the rather dangerous rapids. It's really a remarkable sight.

Rain plus sunshine makes the campsite glow
The Rogue River runs past our campsite
The famous Solar Toilet. Using solar technology to "pump" the disagreeable odors away, this is a step above the ordinary outhouse.
One of the large lava tubes. Rafters like to zip in and out. Not for me, thank you.
The Natural Bridge. The Rogue goes underneath and comes out the other side.

One of the adventures on this trip was our hike. The Natural Bridge campsites are located on the east side of the river. The viewpoint is located on the west side. A very nice footbridge leads to a gentle, paved path with interpretive signs explaining the geography of the area. But once the paved path ends, the visitor can either turn around and go back over to the east side or take the trail that borders the west side of the river. We opted for the west side, because, after all, how hard could it be?

There is a reason why the trail is not taken much. Although technically classified as a "short, easy" trail, it is actually a couple of miles of narrow, steep grades that led us up further and further up the side of the hill. At one point, we could see our campsite far down and across the raging river. At several points, we wondered if we should have turned back. We had no idea how much further we were going to climb or how far down we would have to go before being able to cross over to the east side of the river.

And, oh yes, it started to rain. Wet and tired, we eventually found an older bridge that creaked a little as we crossed over, but returned us to the trail that led to our campsite. It was enjoyable, great exercise, fresh air, being out in nature.

And then I got to thinking...

Christian life and ministry is a lot like that hike. We don't always know what the trail will be like. As much as I'd like the path to be paved and even, the reality is that the going sometimes gets rough. And it rains. And a lot of times, I feel like turning back. But then the Lord reminds me that the best way to go is forward. The past is the past. The mistakes, hurts, and tragedies of yesterday fade into the distance as we keep going up and forward. And when we reach that bridge, when we "arrive", we can look back and rejoice that the path was taken.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


It was a good day.

The first Sunday of June is Promotion Day, in which our 9:00 a.m. Small Group Celebration kids are recognized and advanced into a new grade. For some of the kids, it means an actual move to a new group. For other kids, the transition is bigger, as they make the move from "children's ministries" to "youth ministries", joining the middle school group.

Earlier this year, we appointed a special committee to set up and develop the Promotion Day activities. They did a fantastic job, from coordinating "goodie bags" to making a special arch highlighted with bubbles for the kids to pass through.

The morning festivies were topped off with the jump house and refreshments. It was fun talking to the kids afterwords and seeing the excitment on their faces, knowing that they have spent the last school year hearing God's Word and growing in their faith. And the best part of all was being a link in a team that got to help do it.

Walking through the arch on the path to advancement

Celebrating Promotion Day by leaping in the jump house

But the day wasn't over with Promotion Day. The day also happened to be when our congregation moved outside for the 10:00 "Worship on the Lawn". What started as a periodic event (tied into a concert or barbecue) has become an almost-annual routine in which we spend the entire summer of Sundays on the spacious back yard of the church.

Since we are located in a residential neighborhood, there are quite a few folks who drive or walk by and wonder what is going on. We've actually had some families start attending because they saw the outdoor service. For those who don't care for the sun or the potential uneven spots in the lawn, the service is also broadcast on the screens indoors (okay, I know this is standard to my mega-church friends, but this is about as "multiple venue" as we get at the moment).
Gathering on the lawnOur worship team "bringing it" as they do every Sunday.

So the first Sunday of June is done. What a great way to start the month and to start the summer season!