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Recently Mike and I returned from a 10-day road trip to the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite. Every year when we do this trip, we try to visit new places. This time, we stayed in the town of Lone Pine, which lies in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. In this area are many mountains over 12,000 feet in elevation, and the scenery is often breathtaking in beauty. There was a meadow that Mike wanted to explore near Lone Pine called “Horseshoe Meadow”. The road leading to this meadow could be seen from way down below in the valley as a double Z of switchback roads zig zagging their way up the side of a mountain. The long drive up the eastern escarpment of the southern Sierra via the paved Horseshoe Meadow Road is an adventure in itself. The road rises from 4,000 feet in the arid Owens Valley to the timberline forests at Horseshoe Meadow at 10,000 feet. As we began the drive up this road, I realized that there were hardly any guardrails, and only a couple of feet of pavement were between us and gravity’s grasp. In all honesty, by the time we were near the top, I was terrified. The dramatic view from that height threw me into survival mode, and it was all I could do not to panic. And yet at the same time, the view was riveting and beautiful. It was hard to fathom that we were 6,000 feet above the valley floor. I could not comprehend such height. It was too much for me. I am reminded of a scripture in the bible that says,..”that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). The breadth, length, depth and HEIGHT of God’s love is even greater than the dizzying heights that I experienced. And this altitude encounter once more reminded me of His great love which is higher than any earthly heights.

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Today has been a day of contemplation for me.  I am home alone, recovering from a viral infection in my throat.  When you’re sick and have some down time, it gives you a chance to get off the merry-go-round of life for a moment and commune more with God and with your heart.  That has been the case for me.

Yesterday, when I was in the throes of agony with a swollen throat, aches and pains, I received a phone call from my friend Dana that kind of put things in perspective.  She had called me from the hospital.  I learned that Dana’s heart had stopped beating several times that day. The doctors were getting ready to perform surgery to implant a pacemaker/defibrillator in her chest.  43 years old is relatively young to need this kind of procedure, but such is life.  Sometimes it throws you unexpected twists and turns.  My family’s first pastor and his wife had an unexpected turn in their lives when their youngest daughter Brooke’s husband Wes, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo extreme surgery.  The normal that they knew had been forever changed.  These circumstances may surprise us, but God, the Creator of all living sees the end from the beginning.  And He has a purpose for everything that happens in our lives.  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Our task is to trust the Lord with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding.  Not always an easy thing to do, but oh how sweet to trust in the Lord and find refuge in His everlasting arms.

Sixteen years ago, I wrote the following poem.  It was born out of a heart of grief due to the unexpected death of my father.  While dwelling here in the shadow lands of life, none of us are exempt from heartbreak and loss.  But as the Patriarch Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him…”  He knows the way that we take, and someday, He will wipe away all our tears and make all things new.

LESSONS IN THE SHADOW

There are lessons to learn in the shadow

That can never be learned in the light.

His rod and His staff they will comfort

And guide you through the night.

Be not anxious to get through the valley.

With its weariness and care.

There are lessons to learn in the shadow

For God will be with you there.

There are lessons to learn in the shadow,

That can never be learned in the light.

Restoration begins in the valley.

This is where God turns wrong into right.

There are lessons to learn in the shadow,

Though we long for the morning to break.

As you traverse the darkness remember,

“He knoweth the way that I take!”

There are lessons to learn in the shadow.

Do not pray for an easy time.

Ask God instead to be stronger,

And He will teach you to climb.

Yes, there are lessons to learn in the shadow,

That can never be learned in the light.

When the valley’s dark clouds overtake you,

We walk by faith, not by sight.

So study and learn through the dark times.

When you pass the final test,

The lessons you learned in the shadow,

Will gain you a city of rest!

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Thanksgiving 09

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

2009 has certainly been a year of milestones for the Mesters. Mike turned 50, and we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. But the surprise turning point in our lives came when Jeremy and Molly told us we were going to be grandparents in 2010! Malachi James Mester should make his entrance around January 17. The arrival of a grandbaby signifies the start of a new generation in our family. It’s a time of wonder and excitement! We await his arrival with joyful expectation. And one thing is certain: Our lives will never be the same!

Some 2,000 years ago, God made His entrance into the world as a tiny baby in a manger in Bethlehem. Royalty lay in a robe of rags. Divinity had merged with humanity. Emmanuel, God with us. Prophets of old foretold of his birth, angels heralded his arrival, shepherds were witnesses, and kings worshipped Him. The God who spun the galaxies into space and spoke the world into existence had become one of us. The heavens could not hold Him, yet a body did. JESUS; God has become our salvation. He healed the sick, He raised the dead. He comforts all that mourn. He preached good tidings to the meek. He set the captives free. He gave us beauty for ashes and replaced our mourning with joy. And one thing is certain: Because of Him, our lives will never be the same. And for that, we Rejoice!

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june 2009 vacation 121

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

We stopped at the store to pick up a few items and then headed northwest on Hwy 395 towards a canyon that Mike wanted to explore. I later found out it was called Pine Creek Canyon. We took the Pine Creek Road exit. It was about 5:30 PM by now. We saw a sign that said the road we were on would end in six miles. Shortly after, we passed the small town of Rovana. Rovana is a community located in Inyo County. The elevation is 5,141 feet. Continuing further, we were headed into a narrow canyon up in the mountains. Below we could see the volcanic tablelands as we rose higher and went deeper into this towering mountain canyon. The snow-capped mountains further in the canyon loomed high and formidable above us. As we were taking in this fantastic scenery, Mike stopped the car and hurried outside. “What is he doing”? I wondered. In my side view mirror, I saw Mike looking at the rear tire on the passenger side of our SUV. He did not have a happy look on his face. I stepped out of the car and to my dismay; I saw that the rear tire was completely flat! We knew we had a spare tire under the vehicle. But Mike had never changed a flat tire on an SUV before. We had only owned our Sequoia two years. By now, it was almost 6:00 PM. I checked my cell phone thinking I could call AAA. To my dismay, we had absolutely no coverage up here. The winds were picking up in this narrow mountain canyon. The skies were darkening, and it would not be long before the sun would be setting behind the mountains. I felt panic rise up in my spirit. What would we do if we could not get down this mountain before dark? Would we have to spend the night here? There was not a single soul around who could help us. I felt like breaking down and crying and giving in to my fear. Instead, I began to pray to God and ask Him to help us. Mike found the auto manual in our glove compartment and began to read it. He placed heavy rocks under each wheel so our SUV would not roll over him. We had our bikes on the rack behind our vehicle. In order for him to get to the spare tire, he had to remove the bikes and the rack from our hitch. Next, He crawled under and began to move the spare tire down from its place. It was held in place by a winch. He had no real problems getting the spare tire out from under the vehicle. There was a hydraulic jack that came with our car, and after a couple of tries, he was able to raise the SUV enough to remove the spare. It was not easy work. I felt pretty helpless just standing there watching him and offering any help I could provide. We were in a race against time and the elements. After removing the flat tire, we saw a big screw inside. Thank God we did not have a blow out when we were on Hwy 395 driving 70 MPH. The spare tire was full of air. Thank God for small miracles! The tire was quite heavy, but Mike was able to hoist it in place and screw the bolts back in. It took about 40 minutes for him to complete the tire change and put the rack and bikes back in place. Before we left, Mike took three of the big rocks he had placed under our vehicle and piled them on top of each other as a memorial. The fourth rock we kept as a reminder of God’s provision. We then held hands and thanked the good Lord for helping us. Whew! This was our near peril miss, and we are grateful to God for His hand of protection and His help!

We made it back to our hotel about 7:00 PM. Mike called AAA and was told that they do not repair tires. We knew we were going to be leaving tomorrow and driving up to Yosemite, so we started looking in the local Yellow Pages for a tire repair location nearby. Most businesses by this time were closed. However, Mike called one place and was given the phone number of a man named Bill who had just left for the day. Bill agreed to meet us at his place of business and repair our damaged tire. He and his wife were there when we arrived. They were so kind and gracious to not only repair our tire, but to take the spare off and put the repaired tire back on our vehicle. And they only charged us $40. Bill and his wife Patty are around the same age as we are. They are recent empty-nesters like us. Patty is originally from the Midwest as we are. We had a lot in common. Sometimes I believe God sends people our way in times of urgent need to help us out. This was one of those times. If you are ever in the town of Bishop and need your car towed or a flat tire repaired, look up Bill’s Towing Service in the Yellow Pages.

We had not yet had dinner. It was about 8:15. We stopped at a KFC across from our hotel, and brought the food back to our room. It felt so good to know we would be sleeping in a warm hotel room and not on a mountain in our car. We fell asleep with grateful hearts.

Into the Foreboding Canyon

Into the Foreboding Canyon

fixing flat

Memorial

Memorial

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DSC_0472

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Today our plans were to stop at the local Laws Railroad Museum, visit the Galen Rowell Light Gallery and do some exploring. After a continental breakfast provided by The Best Western lodge where we were staying, we headed in the direction of the Laws Railroad Museum. Since it did not open until 10:00AM, we decided to driver further down on Hwy 6 and do some exploring. The humidity was up, and we could see clouds gathering in the skies. Regardless of the climate, the scenery was still spectacular. When you’re surrounded by snow-capped peaks on all sides, whether the skies are blue or not, it’s still amazing to behold. We visited the small town of Chalfant, nestled beneath the White Mountains. It was a peaceful little town with well-kept homes, most of which appeared to be modular or mobile home units. Shortly thereafter, we turned around and arrived at the Laws Railroad Museum in Bishop, California. Laws was once a railroad town apparently named after one of the railroad agents. It was built in the early 1880’s with the first train arriving in April of 1883. The depot, agent’s house, section boss’s house, outhouses, water tank and turntable were all ready when the train arrived. In addition to the railroad buildings, other construction quickly followed which included many homes, barns and corrals, two general stores, a rooming house, eating house, hotel, boarding house, pool hall, blacksmith shop, post office, barber shop, powder magazine and warehouses. Several industrial buildings followed later. Many ranches surrounded Laws and used the railroad to ship their crops. The decline and demise of Laws and the railroad were the result of the local mines closing, trucking becoming cheaper than rail freight, and the City of Los Angeles buying most of the valley for the water rights. The railroad ceased operation in 1959. Only the depot, agent’s house, oil and water tanks and the turntable survived. There were several other buildings that we toured at the museum that were doomed for destruction locally, but were moved to the museum grounds for preservation.
Seeing the relics of a bygone era held an air of nostalgia for us. After all, Mike is half a century old, and I am not too far behind him. Some of the highlights for me of this museum were the following:

• Julia, the lady who ran the gift shop and greeted all visitors, was the first person we met. She has lived in Bishop for a long, long time and is in her 80’s. Julia recited to us the facts and history of Laws and gave us a map of the layout which she knew like the back of her hand. She was sharp as a whip. I hope I am as mentally alert as she is when I reach her tender age.
• The depot agent’s home was very impressive for a number of reasons. The lady who greeted us at this home gave us a tour. She pointed out some framed wall hangings in the parlor that appeared to be embroidered flowers. We learned that they were actually made out of human hair! Back in that time period, women rarely cut their hair. But they saved their hair and used it to make these beautiful embroidered pieces of art! It was truly amazing.
• Another item we found of noteworthiness in this home was sitting on top of an old organ. It was a songbook. The title of it was “Pentecostal Hymns Three and Four”. Mike opened the book to see if he could find a copyright date. We were not able to find one, and did not want to further open the songbook due to its age and fragile condition. The first song in the book was titled “O Why Not Tonight?” I’ve never heard of this song but plan to investigate and see if I can find it somewhere. I took a picture of the lyrics, but it turned out fuzzy. However, the theme of the song was about the urgency of the hour and pleading with those who are without God to give their hearts to Him. Hence the name, “O Why Not Tonight?”

Another item of interest were a couple of wreaths made entirely of human hair.  Back in those days, women did not cut their hair.  Any hair that they lost was collected and used to embroider wreathes such as the one in the picture below.

We spent about an hour and a half at this delightful museum which was set up like an old western town. The backdrop of the White Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range added to the scenery.

Next we stopped at the Galen Rowell Gallery of Light in Bishop. Galen Rowell was an amazing photographer. We have a couple of his books at home. While perusing the gallery, we heard a distant rumble of thunder. Clouds and thunderheads had been forming all afternoon, so we weren’t entirely surprised when we heard the first clap of thunder. Mike and I went to the lobby and looked out towards the West. Dark clouds were all around, and it was raining quite hard. More thunder claps followed and even some hail. We enjoyed the display of God’s power and majesty made equally exciting being in the mountains we so love. After awhile, the storm cleared, and it stopped raining. On to our next adventure to be continued in the next post.

Train at Laws Railroad Musuem

Train at Laws Railroad Musuem

Wreath made of human hair

Wreath made of human hair

pentecostal hymns

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Father & Son hanging out (literally)

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

This Father’s Day was extra special because our son is now a father-to-be. We spent a relaxing afternoon here at the house with Jeremy and Molly. After Jeremy did a bang up job grilling our food, and our tummies were happy and filled, Mike pulled out our new hammock, which was a free gift. We took turns trying it out, and Jeremy even took a nap in it. I found this poem about fathers, and it reminded me of my husband. Although fathers don’t seem to enjoy all the fuss and fanfare that we moms do on mother’s day, they are a very important and vital part of the family. They are the foundation and backbone of strength and leadership. I thank God that the man I married has been such an outstanding father to our son. Happy Father’s Day Honey. I love you with all my heart.

Fathers are Wonderful People

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…

For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…

And Father struggles daily
To live up to “HIS IMAGE”
As protector and provider
And “hero or the scrimmage”…

And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,

But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…

But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…

But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,

For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…

And like OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE.
Helen Steiner Rice

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