Not Our Usual Kind of Vacation



Lunch break at a rest area in Utah

My Presence will go with you. Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

Twenty-seven days. Fifteen states. Nearly 7,000 miles and 2,623 pictures. Vacation 2017 wasn’t a “rest and recharge” escape—the kind we prefer. Rather, it was a “see as much as you can in the four weeks you have” journey. A definite move out of our comfort zone.

And see we did! Glacier National Park. Mount Rainier. Mount St. Helens. The Space Needle. The rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Indian reservations.

We toured visitor’s centers and museums. We watched video clips and hiked paths to waterfronts and mountaintops. Our F-150 pulled our 29-foot fifth-wheel camper 17 miles up Hurricane Ridge Road in Olympic National Park—a narrow, steep, winding mountain road.

Lesson Number 1: If you want to experience the thrill of the mountaintop, you have to take the risk and climb the mountain.

Gondola ride up Whitefish Mountain

We took a gondola ride up Whitefish Mountain in Montana—elevation 6,817 feet above sea level. We ate seafood at Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56 then rode the Seattle Great Wheel—a gigantic Ferris wheel rising 175 feet over Elliott Bay.

The Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle

Yes, I, with my fear of heights, rode both the ski lift and the Great Wheel. (It helped that we rode in an enclosed gondola both times.) My fear dissipated, and I loved every minute of it!

Let me back up here for a minute. When we pulled into the parking lot at Whitefish Mountain Resort, I took one look at the ski lift gliding up the mountain, cars suspended high over the ski-slope-turned-mountain-bike-trail, and I told Dean, “No way.”

Then I noticed that some of the cars were enclosed.

“I can do this,” I told myself. And I did. I pushed away that fear of heights and had a marvelous ride to the top, where the panoramic view was spectacular.

Lesson Number 2: Don’t let fear stop you from experiencing unique adventures. Remember me and the footlog bridges in Smoky Mountain National Park a couple of years ago?

As we cruised along the scenic routes (“sped” is more like it—but we were traveling with two other couples, who had motorhomes and lead feet), I was amazed at the diverse terrains and in awe of their Creator: waterfalls cascading down rocky cliffs; snow-capped mountain peaks; glacier-green lakes, rivers, and streams gushing through lush green valleys; forests of lodge pole pines pointing to heaven; craggy peaks jutting into a cloud-studded blue sky; feather wisp clouds crowning mountaintops; the brown, barren, treeless, desert-like landscape of eastern Washington state.

Lesson Number 3: Don’t take the scenic route at 60 mph. Slow down and inhale the scent of pine and honeysuckle, listen to the waves rustling to shore, taste the local cuisine, inspect the wildflowers growing by the roadside and wonder what they are, and enjoy the view you’ll probably never get to see again.

Oh, so much packed in 27 days! I could spend 27 months—27 years—in the Pacific Northwest and still not see everything there is to see.

Lesson Number 4: Isn’t that like our life journey? Don’t waste a minute of your sojourn on earth.

I want to share my experiences with you, dear readers. (Some of you followed our journey as I chronicled it on Facebook.)

So over the next several weeks—and perhaps months—I’ll be writing about different aspects of our trip, stops along the way, the adventures and misadventures (yes, there were a few of those!), and how God was there every mile of the way, blessing us with His presence, His protection, and His provision.

So, tune in next week for a close-up look at Vacation 2017.

Oh, Triune God, what a beautiful world You have created for us! Open our eyes to see You in everything around us. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalms 8 and 19.

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.


In a Stew

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

One of my husband’s favorite dishes is beef or venison stew. A good stew, however, takes time. All the ingredients – meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices – must be mixed together and allowed to simmer for several hours before serving. He says he likes the stew even better the second and third day after I’ve made it because the different flavors have more time to blend.

The best stew I ever made was when we’d lost our electric power for three days after an ice storm. I cooked the batch in a cast iron Dutch oven on top of the woodburner. It took all day, keeping a slow fire in the stove, but the aroma of homemade stew, made the old-fashioned way, filled the house – and whet our appetites. I had to watch the fire, though. Too much heat, and the stew would burn. Too little heat, and the vegetables would still be crunchy, the meat raw, and the stew flavorless.

A lasting, satisfying marriage is like a good stew: It takes time for all the ingredients of both personalities to blend together.

Like a stew, which must first come to a boil before simmering, a marriage also has boiling times, especially in the early years. Bringing a stew to a boil allows it to get hot enough for the vegetables, stiff and resistant at first, to begin to soften. Yet, when allowed to simmer together, each vegetable still retains its individuality – a carrot does not turn into a potato. But at the same time, each vegetable lends its unique flavor to the whole and receives the flavor of the other ingredients. But it must soften first, and that’s what takes time. Cook it too quickly, and you get crusty, uncooked vegetables that stand out but don’t blend into the whole.

Too many couples mistake the first turbulent years of a marriage as a sign the union isn’t working out. Instead, their personality traits, stiff and resistant at first, are being softened so that they can add something to the whole, as well as absorb flavors from the other. Yet each spouse does not get completely absorbed and lose his or her individuality. God made each of us unique, and we retain that uniqueness even after marriage. Like the herbs and spices added to the stew, each spouse’s uniqueness adds flavor and zest to the whole.

As time goes by, we sometimes get too busy and allow the fire to die down. The stew stops cooking and cools. But, to get it cooking again, all we have to do is tend to the fire. So with a marriage. Our many roles and responsibilities consume our time and energy, and we assume the stew is cooking. “She knows I love her.” But she needs to hear it every day. “He knows I love him.” But he needs to see concrete evidence – like his favorite meal on the table after a long, hard day.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “A good wife . . . is far more precious than jewels . . . the heart of her husband trusts in her . . . she brings him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10–12).

A man and woman become married in a moment, but it takes a lifetime to make a marriage, where two individuals, with all their different personality traits, like the ingredients in a stew, truly become one.

Dear God, thank You for seeing us through the boiling points and the cooled-off times in our marriage. Amen.

Read and meditate on Genesis 2:19–24

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.