Sideshow Distractions

So I ask you to bear with me as I stumble my way through the growth pains of being a beginning blogger. I am trying to figure out my look, my site, my font, my pictures! Trying to figure out how often to blog, when to find time to do it, what to write about… and on and on! 

One thing I am NOT trying to figure out is my reason for blogging. I feel that I have been purposed to share my mis-steps as well as my secure steps. As they come. I have been feeling that my fear, or insecurity, or caution, whatever you might call it, for this blog is really coming from the wrong side of the gully. The side I certainly don’t want to end up on. The gully I don’t want to fall into. I have learned that when faced with great opposition, I must fight through because the harder the fight, the greater the reward. 
The view for the newly chosen header is from a spot in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a short but steep hike up the hill. A hike full of 6 whiny, hungry children under the age of 7. A hike that should have leisurely taken about 20 minutes, but after water breaks, snack breaks, potty breaks, and sitting on the ground with not-moving toddler breaks, it must have been closer to an hour. Then, when we were almost at the top, the kids were more captivated by climbing a cool rock formation in the woods than the view. 
But kids, we said, “Just wait! Come over here and see the view! What a sight to see!”
Eventually we got most of them to look over the edge, to give us a quick “Wow!” before they went back to the rocks. They were not impressed or particularly interested in the view. They were just too tired and too young to realize that the end goal was the view at the top, not the rocks. They didn’t care. They just wanted to go back down and find some chicken nuggets. 
I was frustrated, and a bit perturbed. I wanted to go a bit further and see some more cool views, some interesting trees, and find the items on our nature scavenger hunt. I wanted to enjoy the gorgeous day. But once whininess began (x6), it was a rolling snowball that led us all straight back down the hill to try to find some peace! 
I wonder if that is how God sees us sometimes. Really we shouldn’t wonder, but KNOW that God sees us like those whiny toddlers. We might be SO close to reaching the goal, the great reveal of ALL He has planned for us. 
“It’s within your reach, just a few more steps!,” He says. 
But instead of pushing aside the branches and really SEEING the view, we are distracted by climbing the nearby rocks. Rocks are cool, rocks are rewarding, but rocks are NOT what HE had intended for our lives! HE intended for us to find the endless vista, along with joy in His beautiful creation, and the pride of reaching the summit. Instead, we are satisfied with what we have accomplished on our own, lacking the desire and the faith needed to take those few extra oh-so-important steps to reach the amazing things HE has planned for us!
How CAN we stay straight and true, keeping our eyes on His path and reaching the summit HE has intended for us, rather than the less lofty goals we set for ourselves? By endlessly pursuing and searching within His guidebook, our GPS for life, the WORD of GOD himself; by reading the Bible daily and taking directions from Him.
Proverbs 4:25-27 (MSG) says it like this: 
     Keep your eyes straight ahead,
           ignore all sideshow distractions. 
     Watch your step, 
          and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
     Look neither right nor left;
          leave evil in the dust. 
Don’t find yourself climbing on the rocks and missing the vista. Don’t look left or right. Don’t stop too many times for water, or potty or playing-in-the-dirt breaks. Those are opportunities for evil to entice us to dally, to make us forget the goal of the summit. 
I want to find my way to the top along a smooth path, and that means getting rid of distractions and keeping my eyes straight ahead. Moving directly towards HIM. I am certain that the vista He is planning for me is much more than I can imagine. Your vista is amazing too, so take that first step, in faith. 

Geocaching for Beginners

Like I mentioned before, our family enjoys Geocaching. This is an admittedly somewhat geeky hobby, but it is a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy nature as a family, with kids who are still too young to play organized sports.

What is Geocaching? Many who enjoy it call it the hobby where nature meets technology. You can find geocaches all over the world, and probably there are many very close to your town if you just knew where to look! That is where the website comes in. You input where you want to look, (a nearby park for example) and up comes a map with lots and lots of treasure chests on it. You just click on one, and it gives you the name, GPS coordinates, details, and sometimes a hint, on what you are looking for & where. Download the set coordinates into your GPS unit, and then follow the compass and/or map on the GPS, you find a small treasure at the set location.

Once found, you “log” your find, often with a cryptic hint for the next person to see and perhaps help them on their way. It is not considered “found” until you sign the log and then log your find online. Then your treasure chest icon becomes a smiley face… that treasure is found!

So you may ask, why is this fun? Well, we find it a good excuse to explore a local park we haven’t visited, to see a cool rock formation or vista, and to just enjoy God’s creation with a bit of an agenda. The kids enjoy the hunt, unless it is too hard, then they get frustrated and whiny. It makes a hike or a bike ride more interesting somehow. Sometimes, if your kids are lucky, there will be small trade items for them to ooh and aah over and then “trade up” with something from their bag of treasures. Things like pencils, silly bands or small toys are common trade items for a fun treasure chest.

Anyone “in the know” can hide a geocache for others to find. And Geocachers seem to be an interesting breed. A cool climbing rock or tree can hold a geocache. A playground hidden in the woods. A walking path that you didn’t know existed, these are common locations for caches. Those are the ones we enjoy the most.

We adults like to look for ones that have a bit of a puzzle, to torment us and challenge us a little. Ones with names like “Cruel and Unusual Punishment, (that you not only have to find, but then figure out how to open), or “Fort Knox” where you first have to find the key in another cache before you can open the primary treasure box. They add a bit of excitement to the find, some preparation and logic.

But with these, and geocaches in general, is that often the treasure is not worth finding. Once we planned and studied and found the key to “Fort Knox”, we went back and opened it, only to find a moldy log book, some mildewed toys, a giant spider in it’s web and poison ivy on the way to the box. The kids are disappointed, (and itching for a week after from the poison ivy), the adults pleased the task was accomplished but somehow let down. The treasure was NOT what we thought it would be.

In contrast, God’s treasures are ALWAYS worth finding. They never disappoint. They are easy to locate, with the coordinates found in your online or on-lap Bible. True, it takes a bit of work to locate what is TODAY’S treasure, what God wants you to find today, but once found… you won’t be let down.

When searching for God’s treasures, you first and foremost need a Bible. It can be online (BibleGateway is a good option), or on-lap (I like NIV). Using the concordance or topical index in the back of the bible (or online) just find/input what it is you are searching for today. Like the online map, there are many tiny treasures for each topic, you need to do the work to find the one God wants for you to find that day. Looking for a bit of peace? go to: Psalm 119:165. Want some hope? try: Isaiah 40: 31. Need help with worry? look at Matthew 6:25

His Word is full of tiny treasure chests. Once you find one of God’s treasures, it forever changes how you read that verse and becomes a smiley face in your heart. In my Bible, I underline, notate, sometimes scribble a picture near a verse that was my daily treasure. Sometimes, if I remember to, I even date it for future reference.

One thing I often forget to do though, is log my find with it’s creator. I forget to thank Him for the treasure he placed in His Word, for me to find in my time of need. I suppose I need to take a hint from the world of geocaching and bring it into my Godcaches… logging my finds with Him, and telling Him daily… TFTC!

(Thanks For The Cache!)


(originally posted 8/2/12)