Hell Hole Canyon to Mountain Tops and back again. Gratefulness andremembering when back in the trenches.

“He makes me as sure footed as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.”
Psalm 18:33

Sierra and Buttercup at the rim of Hell Hole Canyon

Savoring Mountain Tops. 

Our home overlooks Hell Hole Canyon- the rim is about 1/2 mile from our home.
It is the great divide between our refuge and the beautiful mountains our kids have longed to climb.

Finally, two weekends ago, we all went to the rim of the canyon.

From there, the youngest four, Buttercup and I waved good by.
David hiked with the big kids down into beautiful Hell Hole Canyon-

  
From the deepest part of the valley, in wilderness behind our home, they began their climb up in painful, strenuous, overwhelming endurance-  one step at a time- 
out of the valley- out of Hell Hole Canyon- until they reached the mountain tops. 
In triumph and victorious exhaustion, they looked out breathless over valley below-
and beyond.

Glorious pain of victory delivers a special quenching sweetness to pure mountain top air.
 Together they forged new memories. 
And someday, back down in life’s valleys, they will remember.

Can you find Liam in the tree?

A mountain top to remember.
And a dog to remember too.

Unexpected 4-legged Treasures in Hell Hole:
Some of life’s most precious treasures and memories of God’s provision are found in the valleys.
Leora had been afraid of seeing mountain lions on their hike and asked to bring Buttercup.
Concerned about our old dog’s endurance, David left her behind with me and the littles.

But, Leora’s Father in Heaven notices detail and at the bottom of Hell Hole Canyon, two friendly, energetic dogs showed up with Leora and playfully followed her
to the top of the mountain-
And back down again- wagging, playing and chasing along the way.
Then they stayed near her side until they all were back up to the start of the trail-
a six hour hike.

She rewarded them with lots of water along the way
and shared her lunch at the top.

When Leora finally reached the end of their hike, the dogs happily ran ahead- back to wherever they had originally come.

She missed them- 
but she will never forget the gift of their presence.

When life get’s hard and scary, she has another treasure in her memory to glean strength from.

Hardships are guaranteed. 

Looking over the landscape of our life, from this glorious mountain top season, my heart is filled with amazement at beauty below- beauty that shines out of soul ripping valleys from which we have climbed.
Provision has happened and impossible obstacles overcome.
Remembering those miracles and gifts boosts our strength in the next valley.

We have endured deep, jagged valleys- valleys that seemed impossible to endure- where every breath seemed to be an accomplishment. He called us- and trembling with fear, exhaustion and sorrow, we continued to stumble out of valleys- one trembling step at a time. 
Each dark valley of grief, loss, failure, mistakes, disappointments or cruelty that life has delivered, resulted in rich brokenness scattered over the landscape below- rocky crevices spilling out rivers of hope- pouring out-filled up ragged trenches, flowing into crevices.

 The most beautiful treasures by far, have been found far below- in those darkest places.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness– secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. 

God became beautifully real in those valleys.
Friendships deepened into life-long treasures-
friendships new and old.

Each one of our seven children came during or as a result of, a Hell Hole Canyon experience.

As we savor our seven treasures- pondering the valleys from which we have come, 
my weary, broken, thirsty heart fills up with life giving hope-

Special beauty springs up out of our most difficult places.

Before the Hike, David had been sick.
I asked him afterwards how he made the climb when he was already weak.
 He replied-
I focused on one step at a time.

Isn’t that another way we climb out of life’s valleys?
One step at a time?

This is the way, walk ye in it. Isaiah 30:21

We are guaranteed more valleys. But today, with Mohale home and thriving with the rest, I remember and savor, breathing fresh air that can only be experienced from the mountain top- a mountain top reached after an impossible climb.
We catch our breath and rest in abundant gratefulness-
 gaining strength for the next valley. 

Memory from a mountain peak in Lesotho where we met our son, Mohale.
Along with numerous others, friends of ours have recently brought their treasured,
long and passionately pursued sons and daughters home from the D.R. Congo!
We met their treasures this week and OH MELT MY HEART!  They are incredible children!!!
Now they each face storms of adjustment.
Their isolating climb out of Hell Hole has begun.

To those who have recently adopted,
You are normal to feel overwhelmed and even depressed.
Connecting with our traumatized, unattached children is crazy hard!
The long hike from “strangers to “family” is often excruciating

In time, and sometimes it’s a long time,
you will reach those beautiful mountain tops-
far more beautiful than you can currently imagine!

Even when we expect hard, the actual climb is excruciating. 
Although you know that cold, early morning swimming pool will be initially uncomfortable,
the shock still takes your breath away when you actually jump in.
How do we breathe in the valley?
By reaching up-
By finding something to be grateful for in the midst-
By being real, transparent, and reaching out to others who can encourage you,
and
by
REMEMBERING 
His faithfulness in the last valley
1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
    Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
    I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
    but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
    overwhelmed with longing for his help.
11 But then I remembered all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
19 Your road led through the sea,
    your pathway through the mighty waters—
    a pathway no one knew was there!
Oh how difficult it is, when in the valleys, to remember.
Yet, in grateful remembrance, strength is renewed.
Life isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be.
In fact- hard is a promise. 
An overwhelmed perspective can be a thief. Slipping into negative, discouraged focus causes me to miss rich blessings that surround us.
Gratefulness is the channel by which He commands his strength upon us in our weakness. 
And joy?  There is abundant joy.
The joy of the lord is our strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
A current little valley:
Precious Joseph continues to struggle from challenges he’s endured since birth. 
Daily I hold him through episodes-
He has grown large and remarkably strong so barely do I have the physical strength to endure holding him through his episodes.

We recently signed up for 10 hours per week of in-home therapy for him. 
I pray that one comes who is wise and skilled in ways to best coach us in managing our treasure’s symptoms.

Focusing on the hard, takes the wind out of our sails before daylight even breaks through. 
Facing a day with gratefulness is a channel by which he lifts us up like a breeze under eagles wings.  
Because life is hard, we need to be grateful- sometimes even for the strength to breathe-
Gratefulness is like a power-bar and a quenching drink of water on this climb.
Remembering provision in past valleys strengthens my heart. 
This morning, I strained to hold our beloved son through another ear-ringing, one hour episode. In weariness, my heart filled with gratefulness and renewed strength.  I get to hold him through this. It’s an honor to hold our beloved treasure through his struggles. We are crazy in love with him and my tears flow often along with his.
My heart bursts with grateful admiration as our five older ones daily ask to support me. They are learning to let HARD push them closer to His heart.
They are growing in character through this season into friends more than dependents.
David and I have the honor of being their life-coaches.

As we daily parent sweet, gentle, adored Mohale and our strong, precious beloved Joseph,
laughter and giggles flow- we deeply treasure and enjoy our adorable boys.
I’m humbled beyond words that we get to be their family.

Friends, I am incredibly grateful for strength that comes often through prayerful, wise, encouraging, unconditional, transparent, real, friends who surround our family.
Friends,
I thank God daily for you.
There are not words adequate to describe my gratefulness for you.

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