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Category Archives: The Hikes

Places we’ve walked and hiked.

Father in One Word or Less

ImageI took a one-word poll on facebook the other day. I had noticed that others had posted a lot of “dad” pictures and deduced that it was Father’s Day. Luckily, there was still time to post my own tribute to dear old dad before sundown and to kiss the father of my children and make a proper Father’s Day feast of Hebrew National Hot Dogs and baked beans from a can.

Any way, I asked all of my BFFs on my least favorite internet site to describe fathers in one word. The answers were pithy, thoughtful, nutshell descriptions of the “greatest generation” dads. Here you go.

Supportive       Repairer       Determined       Rock       Cornerstone       Strength       Faithful       Teacher       Putzer (in a good way)       Warm       Inspirational       Caring       Steady       Strong       Awesome       Thoughtful       Hardworking       Provider       Wonderful        

But sprinkled in were a few of the not-so-fond descriptors like…

Detached       Unengaged       Drinker       Frustrating       Unloving

The gutsy, honest, and wounded children of these men must, like all of us, come face to face with a God who has asked us to call him “Daddy.”  For many Christians, this relationship with a heavenly Dad does not come easily. And I’ve learned that God had reasons for this intimate descriptor. Jesus didn’t suggest Abba (daddy) as a way to address our Father, but the way. (“This then, is how you should pray, Our Father in heaven…” Matthew 6:9) While God celebrates gender and created male and female in His Image, He is more anxious for us to know Him as Daddy rather than Mum. So look at the lists above. How has God demonstrated His Love to you? If you described your Heavenly dad in one word, what would it be? 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in The Hikes

 

Marriage and Michelangelo

When Michelangelo’s David celebrated its 500th birthday, the world renowned sculpture was still unquestionably considered a Imagemasterpiece of art and design. Standing over 17 feet high, this depiction of the nude Biblical shepherd boy captures in every detail the heart of a young hero and has been a symbol of liberty and defense for centuries. Having suffered 500 years of dirt, grime and dust, it was determined by some that David needed a bit of restoration. After two years of research and careful thought, a committee was formed to determine just how to care for one of the world’s greatest treasures. Of highest importance was the preservation of the integrity of the work so that the future generations would not see the work of the “restorationists” but instead see the hand of Michelangelo himself.

Marriage celebrates its 5,000th anniversary this year, give or take a thousand years. Some say that, like David, it too needs a bit of restoration. Years of dirt and grime have obscured its natural beauty and integrity. Before launching into the job of “fixing marriage,” we should do some research. What do we know about this societal work of art? Whose hand sculpted this masterpiece? And how do we preserve and restore the beauty and purpose of this world renowned institution of marriage?

A judge in Pennsylvania simply decided to redefine the matter by allowing same sex marriage. That’s his fix to the old dusty relic. With a single pen stroke, he believes that marriage will now be less sexist, more inclusive, and more dignified. Perhaps he would also prefer plastering female body parts on David, to make the “restored” sculpture more “equal.”

Let’s step back from the debate for a moment and look at the history of the masterpiece of marriage. What was God trying to tell us about ourselves, about His character, and about our purpose? Here are just a few things that come to mind.

1.  God celebrates Gender differences.  He is best seen in two genders. “Let us create them in our image and after our likeness…in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.”  Genesis 1:26-27. We need to see both male and female in a covenant relationship to get the whole picture of God. Natural marriage celebrates gender. Male and female are equal, but not the same. Same sex marriage segregates and diminishes gender differences.

2.  God loves Creativity. The first command in the Bible is to “Be fruitful and multiply!” After creating everything on earth, God gives us a chance to share in the creative process, “Fill the earth!” Natural marriage is creative, bringing new life. Same sex marriage limits the creative process because it can’t ever create life.

3.  God communicates with Covenants. He tells us about himself by giving visual aids, symbols, parables, and physical road marks that clearly communicate His values and character. The great promises of God are made with signs that cannot be missed: Blood of animals, circumcision, the rainbow after the flood, sex and virginity. Marriage is a covenant between two people that together reveal the image of God and the fullness of the trinity–one flesh. The blood shed by a virgin bride is the seal of that promise just as Christ’s blood was the seal of his promise. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. God is trying to tell you something every time you go to a wedding. I love you, my Bride, my Church. I am your husband, you are my love.

Image“…For this reason, a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife…” For this reason indeed. Marriage is a symbol of God’s eternal love and covenant that is fully communicated when male and female are joined as one. Let’s make sure that future generations see the hand of the Master when they look at marriage. To redefine it is to mar a masterpiece and mock it’s designer.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in The Hikes

 

Who Wrote This Map Anyway?

vacation shots 2011 035Going “off trail” hasn’t ever really gone well for us. There was that one time when faded blazes and disappearing paths tempted us to rely on our own sense of direction. After walking for miles blindly following a map, we stopped and agreed, “This can’t be right!” “Who wrote this map anyway?” Trusting our keen “inner hiker” instincts, we set off in a direction that seemed shorter, or smoother, or just better. Yeah. After an hour or so, we saw the sign. Yes, Dolly Sods was a World War II testing site. And going “off trail” there has some interesting consequences.

When lost in life’s most challenging seasons, CS Lewis reminds us to continue following the path: “Was the map wrong? Maps can be wrong, but the other explanation is more often true.”  Just as most computer problems occur between the keyboard and the chair, many of life’s challenges happen when we stop looking at the signs. Maps and trail signs are very useful things.

The great thing about being a Christian is the map. The rules for the journey are all laid out in the Bible. God told us what we needed to know, we just need to trust it. The trail includes some dry miserable stretches that we didn’t expect. The challenges that we thought the map would help us avoid may in fact be the scenic attractions and destination points along the way. If we go off trail, we will never fully know that deep, tired satisfied feeling that “I made it!”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

So what are the signs? Start reading the Bible and you’ll find that sometimes the warnings and markers are glaringly obvious. One of God’s most grand and obvious signs to us is marriage.  It is His way of saying, “I love you. I will never stop loving you. I’m your husband, you are my bride.” Whether you are married or not, let this “map” of relationship, commitment, covenant, and joy really sink in. God said “I do” to you! Imagine it! You are eternally His! Have you been faithfully following His trail?

This week’s hike was at McConnell’s Mill’s Hell’s Hollow Trail. Icy and muddy but the “signs” that Spring has come were everywhere: robins, singing cardinals, and green grass peaking through the snow!

 

 
 

Urban Eagles and Curling

It’s in all the local papers. Mr. and Mrs. Bald Eagle from Hays in Pittsburgh have just laid a third egg in their big-ass nest. This is the second year in a row that the eagle couple has chosen to raise a family within the city limits of Pittsburgh. Last year, one egg hatched and fledged. The last time this happened was over 150 years ago according to the “eggsperts”.

eagle nest

Like most of the traffic on Route 19, their Hays area nest is now under 24 hour surveillance by remote cameras. If anything suspicious happens, it will be on film. I am enthralled with the return of the eagles and love to see them flying overhead but watching the live feed is much like watching Olympic Curling. You know it’s supposed to be interesting but you are not sure why. Click the picture for the link to the big event where egg number 1 is seen for the very first time. Find the frame for “first egg laid, 2-19-2014.” The first 2 minutes are cool. After that, it’s like the 6th End for the Great Britain Curling Team…just not really going anywhere. (http://www.pixcontroller.com/eagles/)

Tom and I will be heading over to congratulate the lucky new parents this weekend. Sadly, they have declined our invitation to join us for dinner afterward at the Hofbrauhaus. (If you visit along the trail, you’ll notice a sign insisting that you keep your voice to a whisper so as not to disturb the love birds whilst nesting. Apparently human voices might drown out the sounds of trains, traffic, construction vehicles, and barge horns that eagles love so much.)

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in The Hikes

 

Time For A Confession

eastern_bluebird_11“Can’t we take the shortcut?” That was me whining. It was getting colder as the afternoon wore on. The trail was a slippery mix of mud, ice and dirty snow. There wasn’t much to see and my ears were cold. But Tom was ever bright and hopeful. “You can make it!” My mouth smiled but the rest of me didn’t. And so, on we went. The Long Way.

Not even 100 yards of ooze later, I stopped so fast that Tom ran into me. A bluebird was sitting on a frozen branch right in front of my face. It was so incredibly bright blue against the dull gray woods. Then Tom spotted another. It was chirping out a cheery little chuckle of a song not 10 feet away. Two more flew into view, then five or six more. It was so exciting I could hardly breathe. Ok, yes, it’s true. You were going to find out sooner or later: I’m a bird nerd. Be warned. Once you start down this path of identification, bird calls, and migration schedules, you’ll find you just can’t stop. Binoculars, birding books…the whole Avian enchilada. Remember Jane Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies? That’s me in five years. Jane Hathaway

Tom too has succumbed and now shares my unnatural affinity for bird culture. But he looks more like Kenny Bostick from The Big Year. rrc_TBY_bostick_mag_clearance

There are four things I’ve noticed about birdwatching which are listed below. Since birding is inherently geeky, I totally understand if you never read my blog again.

1.  Birding is just not that cool. If you think otherwise, you are wrong and suffer from acute denial. 

2.  It’s not just a chick thing (no pun intended). There are an equal number of men out there, and they really look like they want to be, if you know what I mean.

3.  Birdwatchers are predominantly white. We need to seek Justice here and get our Black and Latino friends involved.

4.  The 15-39 year old age group is not well represented in the birding world. Make what ever conclusions seem logical.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Lessons from the Trail, The Hikes

 

What’s Your Legacy?

What is the most important legacy you can leave your children?  Most Christians would immediately say that building a strong Christian faith is the highest priority.  But if there were just one more value that you could instill in the hearts of your children, it should be the meaning and vision for marriage.

Remember when kids went to weddings?  No wonder young children, even those raised in the Church, lack a basic understanding of marriage.  By-gone church weddings have been replaced by today’s pricey adult affairs. The popular wedding site The Knot encourages brides to “stand strong” and “limit the guest list” and warns, “Don’t extend ‘ceremony only’ invitations to children.” Martha Stewart’s wedding etiquette agrees that inviting children is “not appropriate” at most weddings. (What? … really!?) When asked “who has been to a wedding?” very few elementary school children’s hands go up. The occasional “yes” will then reveal that it was “my mom’s” or “my dad’s” wedding. While marriage has become irrelevant to the post modern millennial generation, today’s Generation Alpha kids will be left completely adrift with no real understanding of the concept.

As a sexual abstinence educator for over 25 years, I’m convinced that if we are going to ask our kids to wait for marriage to have sex, then we’d darn well better show them that marriage is something worth waiting for.  God’s design, His purpose, and His very heartbeat is revealed in the sacred vows of marriage.  To understand a wedding is to glimpse into God’s love of His Bride, the Church.  The lifetime pledge of a husband to his wife sheds new light on the eternal covenant God makes with His people.  Without a vision for marriage, sex has no context, purity has no meaning, and we leave the next generation without the picture of God’s covenantal love.

ImageOh, yeah…today’s hike was fun.  I love being married to Tom Scheuring.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Lessons from the Trail, The Hikes

 

Why I Love Hiking in the Snow.

jan hike pic

No, really I’m serious. I love it.  Here are a few great reasons to march out into the snow before it’s all gone:

  • There are no bugs or poison ivy.  This is huge.
  • It’s gorgeous.  The leaves are down.  Snow shows every contour of the ground that you don’t see at other times of the year.  Views are spectacular and the occasional pine groves feel cozy and homey.
  • Everything smells wonderful.  Hints, of deer, pine needles and distant woodstoves make you stop in your tracks to suck it all in.
  • It’s bright.  Even on a cloudy day, the woods look bright and welcoming.  This is a real pick me up for the winter blues.
  • It’s quiet.  Other than the crunching beneath your boots, snow absorbs sound.  We didn’t see another human being on the trail today…sublime peace!
  • Tracks.  Today we saw zillions of tracks from bunnies, deer, birds, cross country skis, mountain bikes, dogs, and previous hikers.  And it’s so great to leave your own mark alongside the snowy traffic of the forest!

Today’s hike was at Deer Lakes Park. Find great trails here: deer lakes trail map

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2014 in The Hikes

 

Does This Count as a Hike?

We shoveled the driveway today, twice.  That’s it.  That’s the weekly hike right there.    tom shoveling

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in The Hikes

 

The Urban Hike

Perhaps the most practical place to hike (especially in winter!) is right out your front door.  Tom and I frequently take a quick walk around our little neighborhood and find that there is a comfort in the familiar day to day sights and sounds of Gibsonia (or, as our kids prefer, Gibsomnia).  I know we watch too much Sherlock but it’s amazing what you notice if you look.  If there are newspapers in the driveway and the Christmas decorations are still up, they’re probably on a cruise.  Old carpet on the curb means they got new flooring, a strange car means a son or daughter has moved back home, …oh, the drama!  And we love to conjure up nicknames for the people we see.  Stick Man, the Bag People (avid poop scoopers), Mustafa (an older Irish looking man who always walks 10 paces ahead of his wife), and the Hollywood Squares.  I shudder to think…do they have a nickname for us?  Probably Barbie and Ken.

We were out to dinner with some true Urban Hikers the other night.  They eagerly shared their passion for exploring the city on foot.  And Pittsburgh hiking is not for the faint of heart.  Even though OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe downtown area of Pittsburgh is truly a “walking city,” let’s face it, we’ve got a hill problem here.  In the one mile from Panther Hollow to the Peterson Event Center, you’ve got a nosebleed.  Undaunted, this couple shares an intimacy with the city they love.  They choose the road less travelled, walking the back streets and neighborhood routes.  While most of us are crawling along on the parkway, they embrace the people, the Churches, ethnic enclaves, corner markets, ruins of Pittsburgh’s past, cobblestone, trolley tracks, spectacular views, and hundreds of bridges.  We listened in while they hatched a cunning plan for their next 10 miler:  From North Oakland, across the HotMetalBridge, down the River Trail to Homestead, cross the bridge, up Brownshill, through Squirrel Hill to SchenleyPark and home again.  You could see how excited they were about the plan.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  “But will you stop to see the eagles?” says Tom.  On the River Trail between Hot Metal and Sandcastle, there is an eagles nest. Last Spring, Mr. and Mrs. Bald Eagle hatched the first chick to be born in Pittsburgh in 200 years.  We’ve visited often on foot and on bikes. It’s a relatively short walk 2-3 miles from the Hot Metal Bridge along the Monongahela River.   Bring your binoculars and plan on the Hofbrauhaus for dinner.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Lessons from the Trail, The Hikes

 

When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

It’s strange that the same sparkly boughs of holly that decked my halls to fabricate a magical Christmas miracle have now become an annoying assortment of glitter infested clutter.  I had a terrific headache and was completely pooped from a stressful week.   I did not feel like hiking.  I did not feel like doing anything. And we really needed to take down all those Christmas decorations. christmas 2013

Doesn’t it seem like we resist some things just when we need them most?  Tom (aka Mr. Wonderful) has some sort of hormone-detecting superpower.  He knows when I need to get out there.  We took a very short drive to one of our go-to trails near North Park.  Pittsburgh was having one of those global warming periods (they generally last anywhere from 7 to 10 hours) and it was a balmy 49 degrees.  After the sudden snow melt and 3 inches of rain, the trail/river was a royal sloppy mess but it felt good to have my boots in the mud and smell the earth again.  The stream that feeds the lake was too high to cross so we walked around it and took a steeper trail.   I was moving a bit slower than usual (slugs were passing me shaking their heads), but I kept moving.  We heard and then saw a pileated woodpecker.  (They are the big black and white ones with the bright red pointy heads…think Woody the Woodpecker if you are over 40.)  They are much easier to see when all the leaves are down.  A couple of deer stopped in the trail to look at us. (“Look dear, humans!”)  Tom rides his mountain bike here often so he knows which water pumps still work (the water that pumps up out of the ground is freezing cold—so refreshing!) and he knows where the nicer overlooks are.  An hour later, we walked back to the car.  Nothing remarkable…just a nice little break from the worries of the day and all the post Christmas blahs.  Sometimes that is all marriage is…just finding ways to say, “You are more important than my headache or my Christmas clutter, or anything else in this world.”