Categories
Vacations

1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona

When you imagine the state of Arizona, do you think of fields of flowers and evergreens? If not, I have to let you in on 1 best kept, but emerging secret you want to know: Northern Arizona. It has a vastly different topography than the state’s southern side and it feels like an entirely different place.

In winter months, Arizona is a phenomenon where you can ski in the snow-covered northern mountains and be back in the desert warmth in just a couple hours by car. I visited the Phoenix, East Valley (click here to read my 3 favorite things about that portion of my trip) and the mountains of Northern Arizona in the summertime, traveling low to high elevation. This took me from triple digits on the thermometer to cool and breezy low eighties temperatures on a short stretch of highway.

I experienced three main highlights which completely convinced me that Northern Arizona is the 1 best kept, but emerging secret you may want to know.

1. Summer Flowers

Northern Arizona is bursting with life and color! The evergreen trees already provide a surprising year-around hue for what is known as a desert state, but the summer flowers are on a whole other level! Northern Arizona is anything but dusty and dry.

‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Luke 12:27

The mild, breezy weather and the summer colors of blue sky and vibrant foliage made Northern Arizona ripe for exploration. And explore we did! This brings me to the 2nd reason why I am convinced that this area is 1 of the best kept, but emerging secrets you want to know.

2. Nostalgia

Historic Route 66 runs through the mountains of Northern Arizona. The museums, shops, and restaurants cater heavily to the theme of nostalgic transportation and adventure. Have you heard the famous song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” song by the Nat King Cole Trio? Everywhere we looked, we saw nods to this idea, but my silly self got a good chuckle out of this one.

Firewood on Route 66: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Get your Sticks on Route 66, Firewood Pile

Here are more photos I took along the few miles we experienced of Route 66.

We got our kicks, even just on this small portion of Route 66, and wow, did we work up an appetite! The third reason I think you should consider Northern Arizona the 1 best kept, but emerging secret you want to know is my favorite of them all.

3. The Food

In Phoenix, we got spoiled with amazing home-cooked meals. On this part of the trip, we had to rely on local restaurants. We found some favorites in the Northern Arizona city of Flagstaff. I just couldn’t keep them a secret. Here are 4 places I simply have to highlight, because… well you’ll see why.

Mexican appetizer platter: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
El Tapatio’s Mexican Food

El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant: We’ve been really trying to eat healthy lately, so this appetizer platter was such a decadent treat! Cheesy goodness upon cheesy goodness! This was more than enough to be my meal. You can see my husband’s taco and chili relleno in the background there. Every inch of this restaurant was decorated in native prints, Mexican style art, and authentic textures, even the backs of the chairs! I hope I get to eat there again someday!

Matty G's Steakburgers: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Matty G’s in Flagstaff

Matty G’s Steakburgers: This was the best burger I’ve had in a long time. Ok, to be fair, it is the only burger I’ve had in a while, but even if that were not the case, this place, Matty G’s, would have made my list. I have to say this was a moment of discovery for me.

I expected to receive Matty G’s sauce for my burger (the orange one in the photos) and ranch for my sweet potato fries. When I opened my ranch, it was super sticky! I licked my finger, and it was sweet…?

“Eww!”, I said out loud. “Is this marshmallow cream?” And then I felt my facial expression change from repulsion to curiosity as my mind thought of the possibilities. I cautiously dipped a fry into the white, clingy fluff. I put it in my mouth with some concern, which quickly turned into happy revelation. Boy, was that good! I ate way more of my fries than I had otherwise intended. Have you ever tried this combination? If not, do it – I triple dog dare you!!

Wildflower: This cozy spot had an amazing atmosphere. From the loaves of fresh baked bread to the imaginative menu and indoor and outdoor fireplaces, Wildflower willed us to linger. We savored the delicious cuisine. My husband ordered salmon toast and fried eggs. My entrée was greens and pepitas with sweet potatoes and fresh veggies under fried eggs and a drizzle of sriracha. I want to return to Wildflower again and again until I’ve tried everything on their menu. If you’re nearby, I highly recommend stopping in for a bite.

Tourist Home All Day Cafe: I’m sorry if I’m belaboring the point with the food I ate in Northern Arizona, but Tourist Home Cafe begs to be mentioned. This was the tallest quiche I’ve ever seen, full of spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and roasted bell peppers. You can’t tell from the way it is hidden behind the greens in the photo, but it was at least 4 inches tall, like a majestic cheesecake. My husband enjoyed eggs benedict (look how small it looks next to my quiche!) with homestyle potatoes, which were also scrumptious.

The last thing I want to share is a photo of a sign I found on a wall at a Route 66 gift shop. It seemed a bit out of place where it was, and I resisted the urge to bring it home with me. It would, however, have fit in very nicely above the desk where I write this blog, which I call Mama Lava’s Back Porch.

Life is Better on the Porch sign: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Life is Better on the Porch! I’m so thankful to all who join me here!

Well, are you convinced? I’ve told you about the perfect temperatures and summer flowers. I’ve invited you to surround yourself with nostalgia on Route 66, and I’ve tempted you with photos of amazing food. Could Northern Arizona be the 1 best kept, but emerging secret you want to know? Are you interested in visiting there some day? Have you already been? Do you have any suggestions for rival best kept secret places?

Categories
Vacations

3 Favorite Things to Recommend from my Vacation to East Valley, Phoenix

I am here to testify that a trip to the Phoenix area of Arizona can be an absolute delight, even in the summertime. You may need to explore the hiking trails early in the morning and frequent air-conditioned buildings and refreshing swimming pools for the rest of the day, but don’t let the thermometer scare you away. I am so excited to share with you my 3 favorite things to recommend from my vacation to East Valley, Phoenix. Each are well worth the visit, no matter the season!

1. San Tan Mountain Regional Park


This East Valley destination is one of my 3 favorites because it is jaw-dropping awesome! It contains mazes of trails from short and flat to long and steep. There is something for everyone. The natural terrain is breath-taking, with saguaro cactus and desert colors as far as the eye can see. Did you know a saguaro cactus does not sprout arms until it is 50-100 years old? Just think of what these beauties have seen and endured over the years!

The trails in San Tan Mountain Regional Park are dusty. Bring plenty of water! There are ample opportunities to stop and hydrate while you rest on a benched viewpoint or stand aside the path to let a horse or mountain bike pass you by.

Jumping Cholla Cactus: 3 Favorite Things to Recommend from my Vacation to East Valley, Phoenix
Jumping Cholla:
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Have you heard of the Jumping Cholla cactus? They are totally terrifying and incredibly interesting. In my opinion, they definitely deserve your cautious intrigue. Apparently, their real name is Teddy Bear Cholla, but they are not cuddly! They easily release their wads of barbed spines, so if you or your pet get too close, it will seemingly “jump” and stick into the flesh of whatever disturbed it. Know what they look like and stay on the trails if you hike in San Tan Mountain Regional Park. Watch this short but incredibly informative and also agonizing video!

2. The Queen Creek Olive Mill

Do not miss this attraction if you are anywhere near the Phoenix East Valley. Seriously, this is a must stop! It is one of my 3 favorite recommendations, because whether you are an information junkie, a nifty souvenir hunter, a food connoisseur, or all the above, you will thoroughly enjoy the time you spend here.

Flavored Olive Oils: 3 Favorite Things to Recommend from my Vacation to East Valley, Phoenix
Olive Tree Treasures from Queen Creek Olive Mill

Ok, forgive my ineptness at taking selfies, I’m learning. Focus on the bounty! The large gift shop area of the mill contains bottles upon bottles of olive oil in many varieties of richness and flavors. The best part is you can sample them all! In addition to the oils, they have a section of balsamic vinegars and recommended pairings galore. They also sell wooden treasures made from the bark of the olive trees and olive oil skin care products. We found gifts for all our adult kids at this one-stop souvenir shop!

And the food! You can dine on baked goods, deli creations or signature entrees, and the olive oil is the star of every selection! I’m not yet an olive oil aficionado, but every one of my senses enjoyed this experience. We ate lunch indoors, but the outdoor patio was equipped with misters and a stage for live music. Just one more reason to go back and enjoy the Queen Creek Olive Mill again and again!

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

We took a guided tour of the working mill and learned that an olive tree can produce, seasonally, for up to 3000 years! If you’ve been to Israel, you may have walked under an olive tree that was there when Jesus walked by. I read that there is an olive tree in Bethlehem that is thought to be 5000 years old. Think of that!

We were given information about the process of making olive oil and how to know if you’re paying a good price for the quality. But honestly, it was the Biblical references that occupied my thoughts. I simply must interrupt this recommendation post with a quick devotional thought…

2 Corinthians 4:8, 9: 3 Favorite Things to Recommend from my Vacation to East Valley, Phoenix
2 Corinthians 4:8, 9: Biblical reference to the process of making olive oil.

Our mill tour guide explained that the olives are pressed, but never crushed. If they are crushed, they fall apart, and the particles contaminate the oil. Suddenly, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 came alive to me. The Apostle Paul, who may have eaten olive oil from a tree whose oil is still being served in Israel today, was making a reference to something familiar.

We may be pressed, perplexed, and the rest, but only to the extent that Godly purity can pour forth from us and shine. We are not crushed or abandoned by our Lord in any way which would contaminate His goodness. Tell me that isn’t an incredibly relevant picture!

3. Peixoto Coffee Roasters

This was my favorite coffee stop on my trip and coffee is one of my favorite things, so there were many coffee stops. If you are ever in the East Valley area of Phoenix, this quaint shop in Chandler must be on your list. I had a decadent iced coconut espresso, complete with coconut crème and toasted coconut flakes on top. My husband had something similar with cold brew and my friend tried the matcha green tea. We all raved!

Well, those are my 3 favorite things to recommend to you from my vacation to East Valley, Phoenix. The best thing about the whole trip, though, is not a recommendation I can make, only an experience to tell you about. My most cherished thing of all was staying with friends.

They rolled out the welcome mat for my husband and me and made us feel right at home in theirs. I can’t finish a post about the wonders of the East Valley without including a few photos and comments about our time with these dear people.

This gal has been blessing me with the gift of Godly friendship since 7th grade and I couldn’t appreciate her more. Besides being the ultimate tour guides and taking us to each of the above highlighted 3 favorite places, she and her husband spoiled us and made us wish vacations could last forever.

The morning Arizona sunrises were glorious in their backyard hammock. My blogging time was interrupted only by mosquitos, who must have been as surprised to find themselves in that beautiful spot as I was to see them there. Normally, there are very few mosquitos in the East Valley, I learned, but due to the unusual monsoon activity in the Phoenix area this year, there were many.

Any discomfort from mosquito bites was quickly forgotten when I bit into my friend’s from-scratch, oat and blueberry pancakes topped with strawberries and a mountain of homemade whipped cream the size of my face. She also served us huevos rancheros, lemon chicken, carne asada tacos with street corn, several delicious and healthy salads, and so much more! She has inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen again because I’ve tasted the results and they are worth it!

Quality time with Friends: 3 Favorite Things to Recommend from my Vacation to East Valley, Phoenix
My Husband and Me with our Dear Friends!

We all cleaned up pretty well, if I do say so myself! We spent our last evening with a meal out and a movie in. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful visit full of fellowship and fun. My hubby and I are deeply grateful for the warm hospitality we received. We are already looking forward to our next visit to Phoenix, East Valley. Have you ever been there? What were some of your favorite things?

Tell me about somewhere you’ve travelled or somewhere close to home you like to visit. Do you have a recommendation to share from one of your favorite spots? I’d love to hear them!

Categories
Reflections

5 Important Things to Consider when Deciding Where to Go on Vacation

Guys, I’m going on vacation! I am so excited! I cannot wait until it is just me and my best friend (to whom I’m married), the radio, a few good audio books, some yummy snacks and the open road. I expect a deeply satisfying and long-overdue exhale as we leave town.

Where do you think I’m headed? I will tell you. But first, I want to share the following:

5 important things to consider when deciding where to go on vacation

1. Finances – how much money do I have to spend?

This list may not be in order of importance, but for me, finances must always be one of my first vacation considerations. It would do me no good to plan an elaborate trip which was not within my realm of possibility. Once I know my budget, I can make some exciting decisions.

2. Time – what is my desired duration and season?

How much time can I set aside? Would I rather spend my vacation money on a short luxurious experience or spread it out over a longer, but less elaborate get-away? What season will it be and how does that affect my options?

3. Participants – who will be joining me?

A family vacation is different than a lover’s retreat is different than a team get-away. Whose expectations do I need to consider? How do the needs of others play into the plans I am making?

4. Purpose – what do I hope to accomplish?

Do I want to relax, or would I prefer to experience an extreme adventure? Would I like to get off the grid or explore a bustling new city? I can plan a research expedition, take time to visit friends, choose to pursue a hobby, or any number of different things. My favorite vacations usually incorporate a few great ideas into one trip.

5. Transportation – how will I get there?

In a way, this list is more circular than linear. Here we are at number 5 and transportation will link us back to finances, time, participants and purpose. Are we driving? Flying? Taking a cruise? The destination is directly linked to the modes of transportation at our disposal.

VW in rocky terrain: 5 Important Things To Consider when Deciding Where to Go on Vacation
Photo by Alfonso Escalante on Pexels.com

So, where am I headed? Well, it’s the middle of August, so Arizona, of course! (My posting schedule will have you reading this upon my return.) If you know Arizona summers, you might think I’m crazy. But it is the perfect conversion, for me, of all 5 of the above important things to consider when deciding where to go on vacation.

It fits our budget, and we can drive there and back within our 8-day time frame. It is right, even considering the season, because we need to determine if it is a place where we could live one day. We want to experience the Phoenix area when its “Great Ball of Hate” is doing its worst. (That is what my friend calls the Arizona Summer Sun.)

It will just be my husband and I. We are spending quality time together, visiting dear friends, and researching our next place to call home. After Phoenix, we’ll head to the mountains of Northern Arizona, which is currently a front-runner in our list of future homestead locations.

Route 66: 5 Important Things To Consider when Deciding Where to Go on Vacation
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Whether you love the heat or the mountains or road trips to anywhere, I want to include you on our journey over the next several days. I will write the highlights (hopefully many) and lowlights (hopefully very few) and share them in my next couple of posts. If you’re interested, please be sure to follow along.

Have these 5 important things to consider when deciding where to go on vacation been helpful? Obvious? Humorous? I hope they have added value to your life, relative to the time you’ve spent reading.

But I have one more thing to offer, which may be worth more than everything I’ve just said. I have been waiting for this vacation. I’ve anticipated it for the break it represents from the tough stuff at home, the craziness at work, and all that the normal day to day routine throws at me.

And if I’m so anxious to take a vacation, how much more eagerly should I be looking forward to Heaven?

Sometimes the hope of Heaven gets overwhelming, and I desperately yearn for that place where I belong and will fit in so flawlessly. I dare to imagine what it will be like to have no more sin to contend with, mine or anyone else’s. There will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more anxiety and no more stress. Everything will be absolutely, stunningly, unimaginably perfect.

I mentioned the exhale I am expecting as my husband and I head out onto the open road. I can’t describe what I believe that first gasp in Heaven will feel like. These 5 important things to consider when deciding where to go on vacation will have no bearing on that blink-of-an-eye trip. Well, except one. Participants matter. My friend, I really hope you’ll be joining me for that eternal adventure.

 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me

John 14:2-4,6

If you’re not sure where you will spend eternity, read The Gospel in a Nutshell and/or reach out to me. I would love literally nothing more than to help you settle this most important matter once and for all.

Categories
Celebrations

It’s My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?

Aloha! A special day is occasion for a special story, right? Well, it’s my birthday! May I serve you a piece of one of my favorite memories? This is a memoir I wrote a few years back, on the day after it happened, simply entitled:

Sea Glass

I asked Jesus on a date.  I was going to be near our ‘special spot’ and I planned a day and time to meet Him there.  Is that strange? 

It isn’t to me.  After all, I have specific places that hold unique significance to my husband and I and some with my friends as well.  And in my special spot with Jesus, which happens to be a stretch of beach on Oahu, worship flows without coercion, conversation is easy, and my heart seems naturally primed for the Master’s touch. 

However, as my date with Jesus approached, the weather report turned nasty.  I have no qualms about walking with Jesus in the rain, but the expectation for our day was thunderstorms.  I told Jesus it was ok if He needed to change our plans – that I would meet Him anywhere – and I waited to see what could be worked out.  The rest of my family also needed to adjust their outdoor agenda for the day and it was all a bit unsettled.   

Palm Trees against the Clouds:
The Cloudy Sky

Yesterday was the day.  I woke up early and realized I did not hear rain.  I drank my coffee hurriedly and put my shoes on, hoping to squeeze a quick walk around the neighborhood with Jesus before the storm arrived.  As I walked, the sun came out! 

It was as if Jesus said to me “Hey, we have a date today. Aren’t we meeting at the beach?”  I went home and woke everybody up with the good news that our schedule was back on track.  I dropped the family off at their planned activity and went where I had asked Jesus to meet me.   

The tears started flowing as soon as my toes hit the sand.  I felt so personally romanced by my Lord.  He had held back the storm and told the sun to shine on our special day. 

He showed up and was waiting there for me, not with flowers or chocolates, but with delights, created by Him, for all my senses. He provided the smell of sea air, the gentle grind of sand between my toes, the sound of crashing waves, the taste of salt spray, and my favorite view of all time.  

At one especially difficult point in my life, I had lived near that beach. Back then, Jesus and I met there almost daily.  That was where He taught me how to let go of the things that I esteemed in addition to Him.  It was also where He consistently took the broken fragments of me and masterfully molded them into something new.  

Beautiful Beach: Its My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?
My Date with Jesus

On that sand is where Jesus has taken what I’ve learned about Him in church and ministry and everywhere else and made it personal.  He has altered me copiously on that stretch of beach.  And yesterday was no different. 

We walked and talked; I marveled and adored Him and thanked Him profusely again and again.  And then it got real. 

The focus shifted to the issues of my heart and my confessions poured out. Shortcomings are more difficult to discuss in person, and He was right there.  My tears turned from amazement and joy to sorrow and grief.  

Sea Glass on a woven mat:
Sea Glass Treasure

And yet, Jesus, being the perfect example of confrontation in love, never stopped the perpetual crashing of cool waves over my toes or the consistent exposure of sea glass which I treasure and save.  It was through this interest in sea glass that He would create the most poignant lesson of the day. 

I noticed a rather large piece of blue sparkling in shallow water.  As the sea ebbed and flowed, it covered and uncovered the fragment. I quickly grabbed it at an opportune moment and discovered it to be much more like a broken bottle than a piece of smooth sea glass. 

Blue glass in the ocean: Its My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?
Photo by natsuki on Unsplash

I promptly threw it back in the water and said “It needs more time with You, Lord.” 

Immediately I heard “As do you.  You are still ‘slick’ and your edges are still sharp. You need more time with me.  And just like that piece of glass, you must submit fully to the churning and pounding.  If I allow you to be tossed against the rocks, it is out of necessity for your transformation.” 

As I heard this, I pictured the hot and dry place where I live and thought, “Oh, that lucky piece of glass, it gets to undergo this daunting process in this most beautiful spot, in these refreshing waves.”  And almost simultaneously I realized that I am privileged to experience this refinement in the sea of Jesus’ love – in the refreshment that covers my soul and never runs dry. He will be with me through every tumble I endure.

Shoreline: Its My Birthday! May I Serve You a Piece of One of My Favorite Memories?
Beautiful Waves

I will remember that blue chip of glass.  As it is carried and bumped and scraped and broken, I will also be.  And I will be grateful.  Because just as one day someone will marvel at the exceptionality of that colored treasure on the beach, I will also be a more brilliant display of the wonder of my God. 

I will be better able to exhibit the majesty and glory of the One who is molding and making me.  When I am finally called to Heaven, I want to stand before Him as resplendent as a piece of sea glass, beautifully bearing the marks of complete surrender to His artistry. 

I had a date with Jesus.  He made it exceptional.  I will never forget it and never be the same.


It’s my birthday! I’d love for you to celebrate with me by going on your own date with Jesus. Don’t forget to write about it! Thank you for stopping by the Back Porch and allowing me to serve you a piece of one of my favorite memories today. I deeply appreciate each of you!

Categories
Reflections

Gratitude to Grumbling: How Long Does it Take a Perspective to Change?

I was out for a walk on a glorious day. It was going to be a scorcher, but it was early, and the temperature was perfect. The flowers seemed to be elaborately arrayed in all their colorful splendor. The birds were singing, the sky was blue, and I was happy to have successfully carved out the time for this opportunity.

Flowering trees and bushes: Gratitude to Grumbling: How Long Does it Take a Perspective to Change?
Living Color

I took over 17,000 steps, thanking God, blissfully unaware that my gratitude was about to turn to grumbling. Have you ever wondered how long it takes a perspective to change completely? I have discovered the answer. It takes about the same amount of time it takes a bike wheel to rotate 25 times. This is how it happened.

I had come to a steep incline in my walking route. I began to climb it, step by step, when I heard a noise and looked back to see what it was. There were three people coming up behind me on bicycles. One of them had paper in the wheel, which had caused the sound.

A paved hill going up: Gratitude to Grumbling: How Long Does it Take a Perspective to Change?
Steep Incline

I immediately felt gratitude that I was not on a bike, trying to conquer the hill. I was tired from walking, but in my experience, it was nothing compared to the fatigue of biking up a grade like this. I had it easy today!

As the bikers came up and past me, something was amiss. There was not a drop of perspiration on them. They were moving quickly, and yet they weren’t leaning into their pedals at all.

Most bikers in their situation would have been huffing and puffing and straining against the hill’s gravity. Maybe one would have managed an acknowledging grunt in my direction. But these folks were sitting on the seats with perfectly straight posture, casually pumping their legs and smiling and waving at me.

What on earth? Finally, as the third bike passed me by, I heard it. It was ever so faint, but there was the hum of a motor. I had never seen a bike like those before. They were self-propelled!

A paved hill going down: Gratitude to Grumbling: How Long Does it Take a Perspective to Change?
Looong Hill

Suddenly, my perspective changed. My plight seemed so strenuous in comparison. I had to trudge all the way up on my own strength. The hill seemed larger and steeper in my grumbling state of mind than it had in my gratitude, although of course, its size was the same.

It immediately struck me how the power of suggestion can have a very real effect on our psyche. When I compared my situation to one I thought was more difficult, I felt energetic and grateful. But when I perceived my circumstance to be the less enviable one, I became grumpy and depleted of strength. My position hadn’t changed but my perspective sure had!

Once I realized this, I had to admit how susceptible I was. I returned my focus to thanking God for this glorious walk and that I had the time and ability to enjoy it. How long does it take a perspective to change? It took the same amount of time to go from grumbling to gratitude as it had the other way around.

Peaches growing on a tree: Gratitude to Grumbling: How Long Does it Take a Perspective to Change?
Fresh Summer Fruit, Ripe for the Pickin’

There was a quote I once read that said something to the effect of:

“If we all threw our problems in a heap and saw everyone else’s, we’d take ours back.”

When we think we have a bunch to grumble about, we would do well to immediately start listing all that we have to be grateful for. Considering my experience, we may only have as much time as it takes a bike wheel to rotate 25 times before our perspective changes for better or for worse. And even when we have legitimate reasons to grumble, if we realize that we’d choose ours over others, we can still be grateful.

So, friends, how are you? Is there anything you’re grumbling or grateful about that you’re willing to share? We’re all in this together, as the saying goes. How do things look from your current perspective?

Categories
Reflections

How Hand In Hand With My Girl Plunged Me Heart To Heart With My God

Knock, knock, “Mima (pronounced like Meemaw), is it time for your lunch break? Can we go for a walk?” My granddaughter and I have been walking partners since she was born.

I checked my computer’s clock; 12:04pm. “It IS lunch time!” I was impressed with her instinct. “Go put your shoes on. I’ll get mine and meet you downstairs.” A few minutes later, we were out the door, hand in hand.

We were just past the corner when she started to complain. “Mima, my legs hurt, will you carry me?”

My eyes widened, “Oh gracious no! You’re much too big for that. If you don’t want to walk today, it’s okay. We can head back home.”

She shook her head, “No, I want to walk.” She returned her hand to mine.

We were headed to say “hello” to the goats, who were feeding in the open space between our neighborhood and the houses up the hill. We reached the trail that led beside their grazing grounds, and she started whining again. “Mima, my ankle hurts. I don’t think I can walk anymore.”

I thought for a second and decided, “It is still quickest to go back the way we came. Let’s turn around now.” She frowned. “No, I want to see the baby goats.” And she gave me her hand.

A child watching goats graze on the hillside
My granddaughter and the goats.

As we passed the tribe (did you know that is what they call a herd of goats?), she whimpered again. “Mima, please carry me. My pinky toe is squished, and it hurts really bad.”

By now we were past the half-way point in our loop and forging ahead was the best choice. But I had noticed that her shoes had been difficult to get on, and I feared she might really be getting a blister.

“Tell you what”, I bargained. “You can take your shoes off once we get off the trail and back onto the sidewalk in our neighborhood.”

She agreed. I held her hand and we started again, but a few yards further, she stopped. “I can’t walk, Mima, my toe REALLY hurts.”

I fell for it. I love that girl. I would have carried her piggy-back, but I slept funny on my shoulder last night. Instead, I held her like a baby – a big baby! – with her knees over one arm and her shoulders and head resting on my other. She giggled, put her hand over mine, and we continued on our way. I was getting an unexpected upper body workout!

“Mima, can’t you carry me like mommy carries my baby sister? You know, with my head on your shoulder?”

She was really too big for that, but a change in position sounded oh-so good. So down the hill I trekked, her head on my shoulder, my hands across her torso and her feet dangling near my knees.

“Good gracious, when did this child get so big?”

“Mima, I’m falling! Scoot me up!”

I mustered all the strength I had left, popped her way up and folded her waist over my shoulder like a sack of rice. She giggled and from upsidown, held my hand. I was so relieved when that sidewalk came into view! When we got there, I put her down and told her she could take off her shoes.

She quickly removed them, squeezed my hand, and skipped on ahead. As I trailed behind, marveling over how sore my arms were from a walk, my heart realized something…

What an amazing picture of what we do so often to God.

How do we do it?

We ask God for something and then complain incessantly about it. An example might be a:

  • Spouse
  • Job
  • Home
  • Car

or

We want God to provide certain experiences but then find fault and fail to enjoy them. These could be:

  • Vacations
  • Memberships
  • Friendships
  • Meals
Tent on a lake shore at sunset: hand in hand
Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com

It is exactly what the Israelites did in Exodus. They had been slaves in Egypt and prayed to God to free them. He removed them from the grip of Pharaoh’s hand, but they found all kinds of reasons to whine.

As I thought about the ways people around the globe, all through the centuries, have grumbled against God and His hand of provision, I wanted to fall on my knees in awe. He has put up with so much! He gives us what we want, and we change our minds and complain. He carries us, but we gripe, wanting more and different.

We all have a hand in grumbling against God.

I do it. You do it. All of mankind, generation after generation has done it. And yet He loves us. He still cares for us. His heart is still for us.

And I thought my arms were tired? The pain I felt was absolutely nothing compared to what Jesus endured with nailed hands outstretched on the cross, body bleeding, lungs suffocating, heart breaking… all of that for the grumbling, whining, never-satisfied human race.

Wow. I jogged and caught up with my granddaughter. Oh, how I love that girl! One day, I’ll explain to her how a hand in hand walk with her plunged me into a heart to heart talk with God. But for today, I’ll just be grateful that He loves me so perfectly and I get to love her.