Sahalie Falls–A Fun Hike for the Adventurous

 On our way to a family reunion this weekend we traveled along the Santiam Pass, stopping to catch some splash at Sahalie Falls Viewpoint. The wayside is located on Highway 126, a stretch of road formerly called the Clear Lake Cutoff, and is part of the Willamette National Forest.

Sahalie is a Chinook word meaning high. The waterfall is believed to have emerged more than 3000 years ago when lava flows from the now extinct volcanoes formed the McKenzie River.              ( information provided by )

 Sahalie Falls is spectacular to view by itself, but the hiking trails that loop above and below the falls, along the river and through the surrounding old growth forests offer the adventurer some great scenery. You don’t have to be a hiking enthusiast to navigate these trails—a newbie beginner could handle most of them.

We’ve hiked the trail along the river and viewed the breathtaking white water that gurgles its way down the mountain from the 140-foot waterfall. The path that leads upward to the top of the falls is lined with massive trees and plentiful crops of ferns and other undergrowth. At certain times during the summer when the water level is lower, I’m told a hiker can venture along a path behind the waterfall, though I’ve never found my way there.  A kiosk that maps the available trails around the falls is available for viewing near the parking lot.

Whenever I visit, or as in this case, re-visit something as beautiful as this area is, I can’t help but stop and give thanks to a God who created the grandeur. What kind of mind could bring to life such marvelous fauna—the magnificent trees, the lush ferns, the exotic wildflowers—and arrange them around the glorious display of water?

In Psalm 19:1(NKJV) the psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

In Psalm 40:5 (NKJV) we are told, “Many, O Lord My God, are your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order, If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.”

I took pictures of  Sahalie Falls, as well as the Three Sisters (Faith, Hope and Charity) from the roadside, and some of Tumalo State Park along the Deschutes River where our reunion picnic was held.

Enjoy the pictures and give the Creator your praise.  He is worthy.

God Draws Us Like the Sun Beckons a Flower

More than twelve inches of flower

Today my dinner plate bloomed.

Before you imagine a heap of shrubbery for my evening meal, let me remind you I grow flowers. BIG flowers. Dahlias the size of a dinner plate. 

Like a child before Christmas shaking the presents under the tree, I walk through my dahlias peering into unopened blossoms, waiting for the sun to coax the flowers from their buds. My anticipation grows with each new day, remembering the colors I grew last summer, yet anxious to see the new flowers I added this spring. Like the  holiday package you know contains socks and the one for which you have no clue because Dad bought it to surprise you, both are welcomed.

 I’ve transferred my enthusiasm for dahlias to my husband. He enjoys (or so he says) hauling compost, running water lines, and driving t-posts into the ground. I follow along behind tying up the stalks, weeding the gremlins creeping into the garden and spraying any bugs brave enough to invade my blossoms.

 Often I take a picture of a bloom before it has fully opened, not realizing how wide the flower will spread. A day or two later I return to find the petals rounded out, and, as if drawn by an unseen force, the dahlia’s face has surrendered to the sun, its beauty completely regaled.

Like the sun beckoning the flowers to open, so God calls us to himself. He desires to lighten our load and lead us if we trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5 (NKJV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

 Our human nature holds us back. We don’t always trust Him with a full part of ourselves, giving control only over that which we say. Like a flower refusing the sun, we resist His power to unfold us completely.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Imagine the flower we could become if we were totally surrendered to a loving heavenly Father.





Happy Anniversary to an Amazing Husband

Don't you love the hat and the hair?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us. . .

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

With our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary ahead of us this week, my husband and I can relate to the quote above. Together we’ve weathered two recessions—not counting the current economic whatever-it-is—said good-bye to both of our mothers as well as to three siblings, reared two children, and watched the world change through three different wars.

I can remember interviews on television and in the newspaper where the reporter asked couples who have stayed together for many decades what their secret to marriage might be.

Some said to never go to bed angry. A biblical concept—Ephesians 4:26, (NKJV) “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”

Others said to respect each other. Again, a biblical teaching. “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3.(NKJV)

Still others said to love unconditionally. Amazing, isn’t it? The Bible teaches that as well. I John 3:11(NKJV) “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

The pastor who married us said he tied a slip knot—the more we struggled against it, the tighter the knot became. His words reflected years of wisdom, because the greater the struggle facing us, the stronger the need to pull together. We are more in love now than when we said, “I do.”

In His word God says “It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18 (NKJV). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

Our pastor said, “What God has brought together, let no man put asunder.”

That was only the beginning. What followed were years of growing together, living God’s truths and seeking His blessing. Because of those times,we can look back, as we will this week, and say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .”  But we walked through it together.

Happy Anniversary, Loren.


Fourth of July–Celebrate Our Freedom

The street is quiet, the barbecue cold, the celebration over

The street has quieted, the barbecue is cold, and the cats which disappeared after the first Boom! on Wednesday have returned, though one of them slinks around like a war casualty. Fourth of July 2012 is behind us.

 A friend mentioned how this holiday, falling in the middle of the week like it did, seemed to encourage more days of booms, bells and whistles. Her dog, like my cats, reacted in nervousness, the noises outside terrifying if their source wasn’t understood.

Indeed, I heard what sounded like blasts from a rifle amid the other shrieks and crackles and wondered myself what might be happening. I also noticed that the sounds ended earlier Wednesday evening since working people returned to jobs the next day.

When I was a child, I celebrated like everyone else—setting off firecrackers, picnicking, and attending the local fireworks display with my family. The Fourth of July represented only a day for fun. I didn’t know there were others around the world who couldn’t play as I did.

But now, as an adult, having seen what war can do to countries and what oppression can do to peoples, I appreciate my freedom. I know we live in a country we take for granted, operate a government we the people control, and bask in basic rights that others ruled by lesser leaders only dream about. Our soldiers have put themselves in harm’s way that we might continue to live as we do.

 America, though, may be in trouble. Choices—all in the name of rights—have been made apart from what God’s Word tells us to do. Losing God’s blessing is not something I want to see for this country that I love. Future Fourth of July celebrations could be in jeopardy.

In II Chronicles 7:14 God says, “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people discovered God meant what He said and paid the price for disobedience. Likewise we should pay attention.

May God bless America.

Nineteenth Century Hero, 21st Century Heroine

Handsome and Daring

I grew up knowing I was the descendant of pioneer stock. I heard the stories of the wagon trains, the land claims, and the families of long ago. My interest expanded as I read other authors’ tales of life in the last two centuries. I decided to explore my own history and chose the patriarch—Cornelius Joel Hills—my great-great grandfather who crossed the plains on horseback in 1847 at the age of 29.

My search led me to the Oakridge (Oregon) Pioneer Museum and its now retired curators, Del and Rachel Spencer. Over the years, Rachel had made it her personal project to research and maintain records of the Hills family. Today I met with her over lunch and for almost two hours she shared her files, two big fat whopping brown ones, containing documents, pictures and writings about my family.

 As if not generous enough, Rachel took me to the Green Waters Park where a monument marks the crossing of the Lost Wagon Train in 1853. One thousand people and 250 wagons were promised a short cut over the mountains by their leader Elijah Elliot. What they found was a hazardous trail to nowhere. When they were starving, one of their young men left to find help.

At the base of the monument is an article telling their story. My grandfather is mentioned as one of those who rode to the rescue when he learned of the wagon train’s plight. One of the heroes, he and five others carried provisions to the stranded emigrants. Now I not only knew my ancestors were hardy people, they were also people of character, persons who cared for their fellow man.

In that same light, I would nominate Rachel Spencer for the role of heroine. She didn’t know me, yet she gave up five hours of her Saturday to help me uncover my family history. She could have used her time for other things, but instead she surrendered her time to me. 

In Matthew 25:35, 40 (NKJV) Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in . . . And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Hats off to Cornelius, a hero of the 19th Century and to Rachel, a heroine for today.