Tag Archives: Grand Marais Michigan


8 Mar


Last night I stumbled on photos of my hometown that I took during my last visit.

Achingly beautiful.

(Click on the photo to get a better idea of what I mean.)

Each photo called to me to put myself into the photo like Bert and Mary Poppins popped into his sidewalk chalk drawings. Everything within me answered the call. When I opened my eyes I was still here in front of my laptop screen. Sigh. Oh for Calvin’s transmogrifier.

At first I thought I was feeling an intense longing – longing to be there, longing for how I feel when I’m there. That was certainly part of it. More than that, though, my heart ached.

Down beyond the dailiness of life, past thoughts and consciousness, my heart was undone.

Being in nature opens my soul at another level. Even farther into my spirit, at the very essence of who God made me, lives the part of me that beauty touches. Little else makes it that far into my heart. Walls protect tenderness, and beauty ekes in through the chinks.

Glory streams in and my heart fills beyond its capacity. My soul is burstingly full, and yet still wants more.


As I continued looking at my photos another desire wafted in. Several friends came to mind– friends who would love my hometown as much as I; friends who would greatly benefit from the soul-scrubbing that happens when surrounded by natural beauty.

More than their welfare, however, I was thinking about experiencing the vistas of my hometown (glorious sunrises and sunsets, overlooks of Lake Superior, miles of sand dunes stretching toward the horizon) with my friends. Being there together.

Although I’m an introvert, and happy to enjoy a brilliant sunset by myself, there’s something about sharing beauty with others that makes it even more beautiful.


Much of worship is a mystery to me– physical touching spiritual; creator desiring attention from his created; God’s glory inhabiting our praises.

Of one thing I am certain: that God is beautiful, and we get a glimpse of that during worship.

Together, when we humbly journey to the foot of the cross, we are before his throne, and we gaze on the beauty of Jesus.

When I worship him alone, I see his beauty. When we worship him together, the Standard of beauty becomes even more beautiful because the moment is shared – magnified – with others who also ache in His presence.

His glory streams in and our hearts fill beyond capacity. Our souls are burstingly full… and still want more.



Here are a couple of ways to prepare our hearts for leading others tomorrow:

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
   that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
   and to inquire in his temple.  Psalm 27:4

O Lord, You’re Beautiful – original by Keith Green.

And covered by Jesus Culture. Some especially beautiful moments:
.   – When Kim Walker wipes her eyes at 1:55 (in response to God’s beauty?)
  – And at 4 minutes in when the leaders step away from the mics and the crowd sings out together

My prayer for all of us tomorrow: His glory will stream in and our hearts will be full beyond their capacity. Our souls will be burstingly full… and still want more.


If You Seek…

12 Oct


I’m in Michigan, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to be clear, for vacation in the town in which I grew up.

The Michigan Motto is: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you. (Or for you Latin buffs: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice.)

The wording is a little outdated, and doesn’t have that marketing ring to it (so now there is also “Pure Michigan”), but it really is the heart of this state.

First a geography lesson. Most people think of Michigan as the mitten part surrounded by the Great Lakes. That is only half of the state and where trolls live (because they are under the bridge – check out the Three Billy Goats Gruff.) The better half is farther north, connected to the mitten by the Mackinaw Bridge. While I obviously favor the Upper Peninsula, or da U.P., and I am a Yooper, both peninsulas are really beautiful. Everyone reading this post should come and see for yourself!

Now, back to the motto. The state is gorgeous, but sometimes, only if you seek beauty. Even the urban sprawl is usually near water where sunsets and deep blue reflections can transform crumbling industrial sites into pretty vistas. Looking for beauty is also important for those of us who have lived in places surrounded by natural wonders, because always having access can dim the view and numb the soul to how glorious the scenery is. Being back in my hometown after 30 years I see it all with fresh eyes and can’t get enough. That wasn’t always the case when I lived here, though.

Even this morning I overheard a conversation in the hardware between a tourist and a resident:

“Last night we just sat on the beach and watched the sun set into the hills.”
“You know, I need to do that more often. I just get so busy, I forget to take the time time do that.”

It’s easy for me to see God here. In the boundless deep blue of the lake, in the unending glory of golden and crimson foliage, in the chatter of aspen leaves to the wind. Everywhere I look. Everything I hear. I see and hear Him.



“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13. This prophecy is written to Jewish exiles in Babylon, but the Scriptural principle is throughout the Bible – when we look for God, we find him; when we listen for his voice, we hear him.

And when we see and hear him, we can’t help but adore him, worship him, and fall on our knees in awe and wonder.

In nature, it’s easy for me to worship him at every new panorama. But he is no less present in my current suburban home than he is here. If I seek him, I will find him. And when I find him I will bow in worship.


Photo: Sunrise over the bay in Grand Marais, Michigan at the mouth of Carpenter Creek taken two days ago.


18 Aug

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
   so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
   for (D)the living God.   Psalm 42:1-2

Starting in my chest, an undefinable longing slowly rose until it grew so acute I could taste the yearning.

Last night I was editing photos from a trip to my hometown on Lake Superior, and my soul was there – not just imagining, but really standing on the beach.  The crisp lake air pushed ripples toward the the shore, over the smooth pebbles and down into my heart.

C. S. Lewis called it Northernness.

He had several experiences as a child he couldn’t describe his heart was so overwhelmed.  “Later in life he would call this sensation Joy, which he defined as ‘an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.'”

As and adult, waves of Northernness crashed over him as he read ancient Norse legends (hence the directional nature of the term).  “I was uplifted into huge regions of northern sky, I desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described (except that it is cold, spacious, severe, pale, and remote)…. Pure Northernness engulfed me [with] a vision of huge, clear spaces hanging above the Atlantic in the endless twilight of northern summer.”

David called it thirsting.

He so yearned for more of God that he used a most desperate metaphor from his desert culture – a panting deer.  A deer pants for one of two reasons: either it is overheated (deer hide out in the forests during the day to avoid the heat) or the deer has been running (again, not a common occurrence, because deer are smarter than to unnecessarily run in the heat of the day).  The implication is the deer is stressed and super-desperate for water.  The sun is either blazing down excruciatingly, or the deer was forced to run – most likely from a predator – and must have water now instead of waiting for dusk.  In both life-threateningly grave situations the deer cannot not seek out water.

God uses his creation to speak to me.  Ankle deep in icy water, I hear His voice through the splashing waves, and my heart aches, flying free and twisting into knots at the same time; undefinable, but definitely not elusive.  Thirsty Northernness pushes me into His arms–  the only place my soul is satisfied.


Ready for Sunday

While I can cultivate a desperateness for God in my relationship with Him that comes close to the overwhelming moments described above, I don’t think I can “make them happen”.  I’m sure these are “deep calling to deep” – His Spirit inside me calling to Him.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t pursue Him!

Nowhere in Psalm 42 does David pine for the royal courts or the accoutrements of being King of Israel.  What he longed for was his God, and specifically, to lead others in worship.

My prayer is that I would be so desperate for Him, the living water, nothing else will satisfy my craving.

Lewis quotes taken from C. S. Lewis, An Examined Life, by Bruce Edwards, pp. 254-55.  Edwards is quoting from Surprised by Joy, The Shape of My Early Life, by C. S. Lewis.

While David is not listed as the author of Psalm 42, the commentaries I read to find the author’s name believe David wrote this psalm while he was hiding from his son Absalom who was trying to usurp the throne.

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