Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
We walk up that hill on a sunny day this time. We climb the same hill as last year, when it rained and Justin thought we were lost and sent out the ranger and an ex-Marine who were camping next to Cabin 4 1/2 to go and look for us. I wrote a post about how he was so scared because we were gone for four hours and we didn't tell him. And we had no cell coverage, so he couldn't get a hold of us. But we figured he was fishing, and I got so caught up in the adventure of climbing that hill that I just didn't think straight.
Sometimes, I guess, you just have to climb a hill.
Because it is awesome.
I was later startled and so sad that, since one thing let to another, I hadn't told Justin where we were going and he was more scared than he'd ever been. For the longest hours of his life, he said, he considered us lost--our three kids and our dog and I.
It was the strangest thing--to hear that you were lost when you never felt lost at all--especially when you discover something you love doing so much that you feel the most aware, the most alive, than you had been in a long time. (But I do recommend telling your poor husband if you might have the slighest desire to go climb that hill that is actuallly a small mountain . . because it might take you longer than you think to get up that thing. And you might be gone for kind of a long time.)
Still . . you should do it.
Almost a year later, we've recovered from being lost. Justin, too. So our family jumped in the green FJ Cruiser on Friday after school to drive to the King's River again. The battle of Bay Are traffic during rush hour was even worth it.
It is good to get to a place where your heart captures a bit of wanderlust and you can breathe a little more deeply. Don't you agree?
Yes, we need this--a place like this, so much. We love the cabin on the river in the middle of nowhere even with the guys in their ball caps who come around at one a.m. in their jeeps to fetch their hound dogs baying at the coons they've treed. And yes, we love coming at that perfect time in spring to fly-fish when the March Brown mayflies hatch. Justin heads out into the flowing water, one of our kids at his side at a time. We also love going to rest in a place with no phone and no Internet and no television. I actually started and finished an entire book while we were there. A book that made me laugh and cry and smile all weekend. I hadn't finished a book in one sitting in such a long, long time.
But the number one thing any of wanted to do on this trip--more than fly-fishing and exploring and telling stories around the dinner table at night--was to get out the door as soon as the sun rose and made the flowers sparkle in the dew: we couldn't wait to go again and climb up that hill.
But Justin was going with us, this time.
We hiked like we knew where we were going this time around: a mile down the dirt road bordering the river, across the steel bridge with the gaps in the floor so you can see right through. We cross the bridge and the boys scamper up the side of the hill, wet-grass soaking the tips of their shoes, dried moss decorating rocks and the sun shining like a jewel in the sky.
Justin leads the way for our seven-year old, Abby, and I follow behind. It takes both of us to give her the encouragement she needs to keep herself going up that steep incline, her determined little body leaning toward the dirt, hands grasping the stick she insists on taking with her, even though it makes this mother's heart nervous and impedes her climbing.
We climb up to almost the top, and then swing over to the left, where there is a hill a little lower, with tall grass and wildflowers and tall oaks stretching long and wide.
We walk right through those sweeps of wildflowers, making the air we breath sweet--purple lupines and golden poppies and baby blue eyes. Before we sit down all in a row on a fallen long up on top, with our bag of jalapeno sunflower seeds and water, to play Ticket to Ride, I can't help but ask everyone to hang on just a minute. That hill we just walked through needs me to sit on it. I need to sit right down in the middle of all that beauty and not say a word and just breathe deep.
So I do.
I have walked through this canvas of stunning beauty that is just too much to take in. And I am awake. I am part of His glory. I receive God's love whisper as I let His sun warm my hands and let His cool breeze kiss my cheek: "I love looking at you, part of my canvas, part of all this beauty. I love to look on you."
And I receive it with a heart that can believe His words are true, now--with a heart that He heals and restores and brings joy.
Yes, You see me in the beauty, and that is how You've made me. Yes, I believe I am beauty, too.
And I go back up to my family, these gifts to my heart sitting pressed up close, all five of us in a row on the soft bark of a beautiful fallen tree. The perfect seat.
The perfect moment. Oh, how this Father of ours loves to take our breath away. He stirs our hearts, showing us His beauty, so we can share with each other these moments with Him. We need each other's stories--climbing a hill or reading a book or washing the dishes or wiping a tear--to encourage each other on.
I wonder what your invitation to beauty is looking like right now, girls. I wonder what this moment holds for you--each moment a chance to be welcomed in to His arms within the canvas of His glory that He created, just for you.
Oh, how you are beautiful to behold.
Would you like to share here, what the invitation for you is?
Jennifer writes over at You are My Girls.com and would love to connect with you. If you don't want to miss her daily posts, click here to subscribe. She would also love to have you join in the fun at You Are My Girls Community on Facebook and Twitter. Come on over!