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Wintery view of Mt. Shuksan

Wintery view of Mt. Shuksan

Safe in His dwelling!

Have you ever done anything spontaneously and then in hindsight wondered what in the world you could possibly have been thinking? If you like adventure like I like adventure, then you probably answered, “Oh yeah!”

My Mama has always said our middle names should have just been, Go! I get it honestly, from a long line of goers, on both sides of my family. So I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise at all.

We have owned a full sized 12-passenger periwinkle blue Ford van since just before Levi was born – he turned 14 this past July. I can’t even tell you how many miles that van has on it – but we left Atlanta and drove out here all the way across the southern tier of the US and then north from Arizona. And that was the short trip (just kidding, but it does seem like it when compared to how many miles it has made just visiting the sites around the Great Northwest the last 13 years!).

That van has been numerous places it probably shouldn’t have been – but like I said, I live for the adventure ~ especially adventures of the unexpected kind. You know, the ones most ordinary folks would call “problems” or, at best, “challenges”. And most of our adventures have taken place in that wonderful 12-passenger periwinkle blue van.

We moved to Lynden on Thanksgiving Day 1996. There was already snow on the ground that year, and it didn’t leave till like, February or March. You know that picture up on the header of this blog? That is Mt. Baker – as seen from the front of our house. I didn’t get to see that mountain too many times our first year out here. It was being eaten by the cloud monsters quite frequently – a lot of snow to begin with and then a LOT of rain our first spring and summer.

You see that hill in front of Mt. Baker – the dark one with no snow on it; you can just barely see the top of the ridge in this picture? Well, when we first came out to visit and find a place to live, I kept hearing Mt. Baker this and Mt. Baker that, with folks pointing in that general direction. Now, I grew up spending a lot of time in Smoky Mountains, so I have to admit, my idea of a tall mountain was somewhat skewed. I thought that short one in the picture was Mt. Baker for quite a while. What did I know!?

Imagine my surprise the first clear day when suddenly this HIGH (as in nearly 11,000 feet), snow covered peak appeared and absolutely dwarfed poor little Sumas. Okay, so I now have a much greater appreciation for the difference between “tall” and “not tall”.

We had been here a few weeks and the clouds parted and we could SEE Mt. Baker! Woohoo! I decided that the kids and I just needed to go up and explore the possibilities this huge white mass offered. So we loaded up in the big blue van – car seats, booster seats, back packs, snacks, waters, and everything else we could get our hands on – and off we went. Six kids under the age of 12 and me – on our newest adventure, following the call to GO! Only this time we were going east, not west, since we live west of the mountain. 😉

Tabletop from the upper parking lot.

Tabletop from the upper parking lot.

So here we went, driving up and up and up and up and up some more. As we began to leave the foothills and got nearer the mountain, the snow banks along the side of the road were higher than the top of the van from the plows pushing the snow off and up and off and up each time they cleared the road! We made it just past Glacier and the Ranger Station and there was now snow on the road as well as alongside the road. Then we began to see signs warning that snow tires or chains would be required. An executive decision was needed ~ so I decided. I found the first place I could turn around and back down the mountain we went. We were beginning to slide on the snow and there was no way I would be able to put chains on the tires. The mountain would have to wait to be conquered by this clan.

Fast-forward about ten months – to the first snowfall of the new winter season. During those ten months, I was surprised to learn how many folks around here didn’t share my family’s heritage of Go! – I met many who had never even been up to Mt. Baker – ever! So, with the report of new snow at the level we could drive and get out and play, I loaded up my six plus five extras of the kids’ friends. So, you’ve got to get the picture here! I now have eleven kids age 12 and under (Levi is 2 by now) and ME! We load up the van again, yes – car seats, booster seats, backpacks, snacks, waters, AND toboggans! And away we go – all the way to the parking lot at the Upper Lodge at Mt. Baker Ski Area. Woohoo!

It was beautiful! We unloaded and decided we would walk the quarter mile trek up to the visitor center where we were sure we would get a better view and probably better playing area. We were well rewarded. Looking across the peaks and down the sides of the mountain and little eddies and hills made for a great time for all the kids. I was having so much fun with the kids, I really didn’t notice as the clouds began to thicken and thicken and then the snow began to fall. Okay, that got my attention – but even better, we were now catching snowflakes on our tongues and enjoying the uniqueness of each flake as it fell on our mittens. This was the life!

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5 (NIV)

Then I began to look out over the vista and realized I could only see 30 or 40 feet away from me. And the snow was now coming down even faster and thicker each moment, and visibility was quickly dropping. Great, I could just see the headlines – woman and 11 children missing, not to be found until the thaw next spring! That got me praying ~ Help! What was I thinking ~ or better yet, did I think at all?!

I got the older kids to help gather up the younger kids (who of course were all boys – so imagine that picture – like herding cats!) and we began our trek back down the now-slippery-with-fresh-snow road to find the van. I continued to call out to Yahweh to rescue us from my naivety. I wasn’t exactly panicked, I knew we were safely tucked in the protection of His Presence, but I was a little concerned about the consequences of my lack of knowledge about snowy places and mountain weather patterns.

I was so happy to see that big blue van when we made it back to the parking lot, but now we had to load everything back up and I had to drive down the mountain in this blizzard. I got the kids singing so they at least wouldn’t be arguing in the back and I could concentrate and SLOWLY we began our drive down the mountain. As we dropped down several hundred feet in elevation, the blizzard became a gentle snowfall and the road wasn’t so completely covered with fresh snow and I began to breathe a little easier and could join in the singing and praising our wonderful Father.

More wintery beauty from Mt. Baker Highway.

More wintery beauty from Mt. Baker Highway.

We had just experienced an adventure! And for those of you who are wondering did she even learn her lesson, the lesson I learned is probably not the one you think I should have. I did learn that I needed to know how to be better prepared. I did learn more about the strange weather patterns of this region. And mostly, I learned to continue to walk in faith, seeking the Presence of the Almighty, and to not panic in the adventures of life, but to rest in the safety He has promised and the faithfulness He has demonstrated in my life time and time again!

Yahweh never wants us to make our decisions out of fear, but to be filled with His love and power and sound thinking. As I fear Yahweh and Yahweh only, my every decision is influenced by the reverence and awe I have for Him. I want to honor Him and walk in His purpose and plan for my life. I want to see Him in every detail of His creation. And I continue to want to share those moments of adventure with others and stretch their faith and understanding of Yahweh’s Presence in every situation.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT)

I don’t ever want the basis of my life to be “safety” and “security” that are provided by human effort, but rather to see clearly that HE alone is my refuge and safety and absolutely trustworthy at ALL times! He always delivers us according to His purpose so that we fulfill His plan for our lives! And so, I seek to grow ever closer to Him and to fall more deeply in love with my Lord Jesus Christ every day I draw breath!

I am sure over time I will share more “big blue van” stories with you, there are quite a few!

How about you? Do you have any “big blue van” stories – adventures that have drawn you closer to God and stretched your faith and caused your awe and wonder of His faithfulness and mercies to grow bigger and bigger? If so, I would love to hear about them and rejoice in God’s faithfulness with you!