Sunday, August 18, 2013

The View From the Valley

My last blog post was about mountaintop experiences and the amazing perspective those God made wonders provide.  What goes up must eventually come down, and so this week I write about the View from the Valley.  While we were in California, we drove through three different valleys, each one picturesque and unique. Quite often my life experiences are similar to what I observed in the valleys while we enjoyed our sightseeing tour.
The Antelope Valley is located on the tip of the Mojave Desert. The antelopes that once inhabited this area of California have long since escaped the encroaching civilization and moved on. The land is dry and parched in the summer months with almost no precipitation and, depending on the winter rainfall, home to an array of poppies in the late spring. The distant San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountains ring the valley.
Sometimes I can feel I am in a dry, parched land and that better days will never come. Like the Antelope Valley, my mountain tops are far in the distance and seem inaccessible. I long for relief from my life circumstances and wish for the cool refreshing rain of hope to wash over me.   These times are really great opportunities for self-examination. I take comfort and encouragement from the Bible during my valley days. I am reminded of the verse from Psalms 42. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God…” and I feel refreshed.
Out next Valley experience was in the San Joaquin Valley. This area of California has been called “The food basket of the world.”  Crops of every description grow on the flat land for miles in the distance.  Table grapes, raisins, almonds and walnuts predominate as far as my eye can see.  A saying on one billboard caught my eye—“Food grows where water flows.”
Like these abundant crops, my life grows and flourishes when I allow myself to be nourished. I am reminded of one verse Jesus spoke when He gave what we call The Beatitudes. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 …and I feel restored.
Our final stop was in the Yosemite Valley. The only way to appreciate the beauty of the Yosemite Valley is to look up. Look up at the giant Sequoias; look up at El Capitan and Half Dome and the cathedral spires surrounding the Valley. After being in the parched valley, and the fruitful valley, I long to look up and soak in the magnificent beauty.  “I will lift my eyes to the hills …My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121 1-2 …and I feel renewed. 
Mountaintop and valley experiences are a part of all our lives, but all are useful in helping us become the persons God wants us to be.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Hills Are Alive...

…with the whoosh of thousands of wind turbines.  Five thousand power generators have been installed on 50 square miles in beautifully scenic Tehachapi, CA. Each turbine stands higher than the Statue of Liberty and has a blade span of 125 ft. Put 5000 of them together and they become a forest of steel on the desert mountains.  Quite a sight to see.
Our two weeks of flight testing in the Mojave Desert was mostly “hurry up and wait.” Mechanical difficulties grounded the Air Force test plane and gave us plenty of time for sight-seeing.  While we waited for parts to be delivered and installed, we drove to Yosemite National Park. On the way we saw the amazing display of wind farm technology pictured above. This relatively new green energy is not without controversy especially from those who are opposed to the steel monstrosities defacing the view.
The glorious view of Yosemite is protected against any kind of development and economic intrusion. The granite cliffs that we observed from above at Glacier Point and below in Yosemite Valley filled me with awe and wonder at the tremendous forces that created our planet.  The giant Sequoia trees, some of the oldest trees in the world, stood as towering monuments to the beauty of God’s handiwork. Observing the grandeur of Yosemite reminded us of the first verse of “How Great Thou Art”- “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds, thy hands have made.”
As we drove back from Yosemite, we saw another man made wonder-the Tehachapi Loop.  The spiral tracks allow trains to navigate the steep grade of the Tehachapi Pass.  Opened in 1876 by the Union Pacific Railroad to deliver the abundant produce of the San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles, this was considered one of the engineering feats of its day.  We were very excited to actually see a freight train navigating the tunnels and passing over itself as it went around the loop. It reminded me of a snake trying to catch its tail.  

Whether it is old technology (trains) or new technology (wind turbines) or God’s creative hand at work, we live in a fascinating world with lots of new things to explore.  I learn something new each day that makes me want to sing,  “How Great Thou Art.”