Winner of the Best New Public Golf Course in America by Golf Digest, the design of the Ozarks National course is a striking display for the senses.
Take in the scenery and marvel at the rugged beauty of the Ozark Mountains.
4 8510 December, 2019
It was a cloudy morning over the Atlantic Ocean on North Carolina's Outer Banks. I had gotten up early our first morning there, anticipating an unforgettable sunrise. Instead, I was greeted by darkness and gloom. My hope dimmed, but I decided to wait and see what might happen. The scheduled time came and went for that day’s sunrise. The clouds were still hanging on, when all of a sudden, they broke and the sun came shining through! This is a picture of God's relentless love and why, as believers, we should never give up hope. "And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:5. One of the themes of the Advent season is love. We often take the love of God for granted. Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to the fact that God loves us, and forget that He is not obligated to. In fact, His love came at a great cost to Him. This is what Christmas is all about. The very fact that the all-powerful, all-wise, Almighty Creator of this universe would stoop down, see our great need, and answer our helpless cries through such a great sacrifice should astound us everyday. Especially when we consider our sin, arrogance, and rejection of Him. When we are mistreated by someone, what is our usual response? Payback or revenge? At the very least, we harbor ill feelings and attitudes toward that person. We surely don't go out of our way to give up everything for the very one who did us harm. But that is what God has done for us, and He did it by sending His Son at Christmas time. Although we are undeserving and while we were still against Him, God has broken through the darkness of our lives and given us the greatest gift of love, His Son, Jesus Christ. He came in the most humble of ways, as a baby in a manger. The very Son of God lay where lowly animals fed. From that moment on, as He lived His earthly life, He threw off everything He deserved - the regal worship and glory of the King of kings and Lord of lords - and condescended to show us His love. This is why we don't give up in hard times. Hope never puts us to shame because God has poured out His love on us.
As the rising sun hits the magnificent Teton range, hope springs up inside you. The darkness is rapidly fading away as the light overtakes and conquers the landscape. What seems threatening in the shadows is diminishing in the radiance. What seems hopeless in the middle of the night is conquerable in the light of day. We all need hope, and I’m not talking about the flimsiness of wishful thinking. I’m talking about real hope - the expectation of a promise that will be fulfilled. That's what the season of Advent is all about. "'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.'" Jeremiah 33:14. This verse contains the greatest and brightest hope of all - the coming of the Messiah, our Savior. The people of Israel and Judah lived in great darkness. Sin had separated them from their God. In trying to find joy and purpose in life, they often turned to the very things that left them empty. They wandered away from the One who loved them most. Did He reciprocate by walking away from them? No. Instead of abandoning them and though they were undeserving, God promised goodness for their future. Our God is a promise-keeping God, and in His time, He fulfilled His promise by sending His precious Son to earth. Are we any different than the people of Israel and Judah? We live in a dark world and often wander away from God. Shadows loom before us as we face the adversities of life. We live in hopelessness because the path of life is hard, and difficulties and temptations threaten us at every turn. We easily turn to pleasures of this world to fulfill us, and we entangle ourselves in sin. Yet this promise of a Messiah is for us as well. Though we don't deserve it, God has turned towards us and provided a way of salvation from sin and from ourselves through Jesus. As we begin this Advent season, we are truly blessed, because unlike the people of Israel and Judah, our Hope has already been realized! God has kept His promise! If our greatest need - our need for salvation - has already been met by Him, let's entrust every other care we have to Him and truly focus on worshiping Him this Christmas.
As the colorful leaves of autumn give way to the peaceful quiet of winter, I'm reminded of the importance of seasons. Spring is the time for new life and summer, for growth. Fall is for harvesting, and winter, for rest. We got to see two seasons at once on this drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway one fall. Although we went in search of autumn leaves, we received a true October surprise at the highest elevations of the Parkway, as the rime ice that had formed overnight was still clinging to the trees in the sunshine. It was truly beautiful to see fall in the valley and winter on the mountaintops. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1. God's creation of seasons in nature shows us the pattern for seasons in our lives. Like spring, there are seasons of new life and new opportunity for us. New babies, new jobs, new schools, new homes, new relationships. And like summer, there are seasons of growth. Learning and growing as a student, an employee, a parent. Discovering the secret joys of the empty nest and thriving in those years. Growing through trials and difficulties. Then, like fall, we will go through times of harvest. Gleaning wisdom from experience. Putting to the test what we've learned. Reaping the rewards of a job well done. Even dealing with the consequences of bad decisions. We may always want it to be spring or summer or even fall, but winter is important also. It's a time for rest. Sometimes in our lives, it may even mean the death of something or someone we love. But no matter how the seasons come and go, with all their changes, one thing stays the same. And that is the One who created and controls the seasons. Just as He determines the length and characteristics of each season of nature, the Lord is sovereign over the seasons of our lives. As we witness His purpose and wisdom displayed in each season, we can trust that He has thoughtfully planned out each season we go through in life. Nothing is random, and each season has meaning and purpose. Just like you can find beauty in each of nature's seasons, we can find beauty in each of life's seasons, because the Creator is sovereign over both.
This past summer, we took a trip to the west and spent some time in the salt flats of Utah. We were amazed to see this barren wasteland, stretching out for miles before us. What a desolate place it must have been for those brave explorers who crossed it. No provisions, no comfort, no end in sight. It reminded me of what it must have been like for the people of God as they wandered in the wilderness. Scripture tells us that “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.” Psalm 107:4. The Israelites were lost, wandering around in circles in a barren desert wasteland, looking for a place of refuge where food and water was available. It seemed hopeless. There was nothing to sustain them. Though it seemed there was no hope, there actually was, and there always is. The Israelites turned to the only One who could bring help and hope, because they were helpless and hopeless on their own. “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.” Psalm 107:5. What was God’s response to their cries? Did He ignore them? Did He berate them? Did He shame them? No! He heard them and provided for them. God rescued them and as a result, the Bible tells us their response: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:6. Are you wandering in the wasteland today? Are you desperate for answers? Follow the example of the Israelites, and cry out to the Lord in your trouble. He will deliver you! It may not be in the way you expect, but trust Him and see how He will work on your behalf. Then take the time to thank Him for His care for you. When was the last time you gave thanks to the Lord for all His wonderful deeds? Think about a time when God satisfied your thirst for Him, or when He provided for you in ways that only He could. On this Thanksgiving week, take time to do what we all must do: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1. Make a list of all the ways God has been good to you, and remember to turn your grumbling into gratefulness.
I have explored the heights and depths of these mountains for many years. And one thing is for sure. Though I may traverse to the very lowest and darkest point, I will eventually emerge into the light again. I think we often forget what this earthly journey is about. We get caught up in life on this planet. At times, we believe that this life is about us - our goals, dreams, fulfillment, happiness. These are not bad things, but they are not the primary purpose of our lives. Until we realize this, there will be a tension between us and God. Especially when we are striving to be obedient to Him and our goals and dreams involve advancing His kingdom. “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.” Psalm 71:20. Our life’s purpose is all about God. That means we are at His disposal, and He may work in the way He chooses. In the process of His dealings with us, sometimes we get to experience the joy of a goal met, a dream realized, a fulfillment reached, and happiness obtained. But sometimes it means adversity comes upon us. Hardship enters our lives. Prayers feel like they hit the ceiling. We live with a broken heart. Many years ago, I gave my life to Christ and yielded myself to Him. For many years, His will for me meant a fruitful life filled with joy and abundance. Then, a season of adversity hit. It was devastating, and naturally, I attributed it to the enemy. Betrayal and loss hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t realize at the time, but God had ordained this for my good, and He was taking me to school. He was my Instructor, and adversity was my textbook. He taught me things I could never learn apart from His classroom, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The lessons He taught me through this have now become cherished, priceless treasures. He has changed my heart and my dreams. If you are suffering through adversity now, I urge you to yield yourself to the Lord. Don't let the disappointment of unmet expectations rob you of God's better plan for your life. He will restore your life, lift you from the depths, and give you purpose you never dreamed of.
People ask me all the time where my favorite place in the world is to hike and explore- most expect a place in Colorado, and while Colorado holds 2nd and 3rd. Zion by far holds first. There is just something about it- the lush green and the insane depth in the colors of the mountains. I also love hiking in the heat 🌞 If you don’t definitely avoid Zion from late spring to early fall! Fun fact: every time I get nervous about what my child birth experience will be like with piper I remember that I followed these chains down and back up the ridge you see to my left, there was a point in my life I would of passed out thinking about doing something like that. We are ALL immensely capable of more then we give ourselves credit for- so push yourself today in whatever area you need to and I bet you will end up pleasantly surprised 😌 I can’t wait to be on adventures like this with our new little love too encouraging her to conquer her fears💓
Woke up on the side of the road to the sunrise, been using the good ol’ map for directions since I keep hitting dead zones that last between 1-3 hours. Last push to the Pacific before I head to the Redwoods!
If you have ever hiked the wild hike that is angels landing you know why I’m so proud in this photo. Favorite and most challenging hike EVER YALL! You have to use a chain on this narrow ridge to pull yourself up the last half mile of the hike with over 1,000 foot drops on each side of you- adrenaline pumping for sure 🙌🏻 CHECK OUT MY STORY