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abide Christianity face to face Family friendships http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post reflection relationships rest the Gospel

Face to Face

Some things have been rattling around in my mind over the last few weeks. I’m just trying to figure some of this life and myself out. You could look at this as a sneak peak into the internal thought process of analysis and decision making.


I need the Lord. Desperately. Subtly, I feel I’ve gone in a “just me and Jesus” direction. I may be on the verge of coming out of that, but it remains to be seen at this point. One of the ways the Lord makes himself known is through his Bride, the Church. The Holy Spirit ministers to his Bride through his Bride. Through fellowship. Relationships with other believers is more important and life-giving that I’ve given a credit for this year. I feel it’s easy to say bitterness has rot my posture toward the church.

Face-to-face time. This has been front and center at my attention over the past couple weeks. Not that I focus on it, really, but that it keeps popping up in conversations, podcasts, blog posts, sermons, etc. Relationships cannot grow, they cannot thrive without face-to-face time. This can be derailed in lots of ways. How much face to screen time takes away from face-to-face time? How many conversations that could knit two people closer together are lost for the sake of eavesdropping into someone else’s online drama or someone else’s white washed social media? Or just shopping and consuming? I don’t want to come to a place where I reject technology, but rather I want to start asking the question, “How can I harness this technology to where it enhances face-to-face time instead of creating a void in the relationship?” This will likely be a balance I will never achieve, but I must never cease to aim for it.

Time. I’m a finite creature. My capacity is only so high before things I engage in begin to suffer and I make halfhearted investments in others. Time is a limited resource, and one I will never get back. When it’s wasted, I feel the seeds of bitterness beginning to root.

When I say yes to something, I say no to something. This is where God, the church, relationships, face-to-face time, and stewardship all come together. What will I say yes to? Bitterness? Laziness? Anger? Prayer? Relationships? The Lord? My wife? My children? If I say yes to staring at my phone or some other screen beyond appropriateness, I say no to play and story time with the kids, board games, deep conversations, honest and open and lighthearted and laugh-filled and scary and fearful conversations? Just some examples. I have several behaviors that I need to change.

Who will I invest in? Who will have access to me? I realize that may sound cold, but I have to be realistic about my capacity.

My wife and kids will have the greatest access to me. This is going to mean they do not get crowded out by others, who will have lesser degrees of access. This has to start at home and branch out from there. Texting, email, social media, etc. Those screen time conversations that can enhance face-to-face time need to take a backseat to my own family. However this has to be the expectation set with the relationships I’m in.

I need the Lord. 

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Psalm 127:1 ESV

My wife. 
My children. 
My fellowship of believers. 
My family.
Everyone else.

Fellowship of believers. Those relationships in the church by whom the Holy Spirit minister’s and the father reveals himself. Few are long-term friends, and there are several who are in what I’ve been calling an “ember” stage of friendship. I feel what it looks like, as far as setting expectations, is to tell those closest and ember and beyond relationships my struggle to spend time with the Lord and face-to-face. To explain to them the enhance/void dynamic of technology, and that means I may be spotty in response to them because I’m trying to invest in my family. They will have higher access that most, but not above my wife and the kids. I must be pursuing the Lord above all. I guess this blog post will serve that purpose to those who will slog through it to this point. There may be times my excess ability is extremely limited because my phone may not even be with me. It may be *gasp* in another room of the house or in a drawer somewhere.

Rest is not something I can say I’ve had much of lately, physically or mentally or spiritually. As crazy as it sounds, it sometimes seems like the Lord calls me in the night. “Seek me. I am your rest.”

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 ESV

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Family hiking Jones Gap Middle Saluda River TheSCProject

A Middle Saluda Walk


We had the afternoon free, so we headed up to Jones Gap State Park for a hike I’ve been wanting to take Jenny and the kids on. We would take it as far as Jones Gap Falls, if the kids made it that far. If we didn’t make it to the falls, the hike alongside the Middle Saluda River would be scenic. Win either way.

According to the DNR, The Middle Saluda River became the first river protected under the Scenic Rivers Program in South Carolina in 1978. Starting at Jones Gap, the walk from the parking lot towards the main office and hiker registration gave us a taste of what we’d be seeing the rest of our day with a rocky path, big boulders for the kids to climb on, and the sound of rushing water close by. Crossing over the Middle Saluda on a bridge brought us to the main area for lazy days by the river and a great place for family picnics.

As we were registering at the kiosk, we overheard another hiker talking with a ranger about yellow jacket swarms. They make their nests, which they’re very protective of, in hollowed out trees and in the ground. Apparently, this is their more aggressive season.  


A few months ago, we all went on a hike in Paris Mountain that had some low level scrambling for the kids and they loved it. Jones Gap Trail is the next level up from there. The trail is quite rocky, which makes it more difficult for little kids, but the grand boulders alongside the trail are perfect for the kids to climb on. They really get a sense of satsifaction from climbing “to the top” and a sense of what it’s like to be “on the edge,” though none of it is particularly precarious under the watchful parental eye.


Climbing on all the rocks and hiking slowly along the trail ate up a lot more of our time than I had, in my drill sergeant planning, allowed for. We decided as to head back towards the entrance, as the sun was setting and we may be pushing the limits of the parks hours if we were to continue on any further. Mostly, the kids wouldn’t have time to wade around in the river, which they’d been looking forward to. 

Back near the registration kiosk,  there are a few good places to allow the kids to get their feet wet. The best spot we went to was right beneath the footbridge that brings you into the park. The water is lower there, or the ground is higher, however you want to look at it. Towards the middle there are a few deeper spots, so one still has to watch them. Keep in mind that the Middle Saluda River in Jones Gap is a rocky river. It’s not flat and sandy. Footing is very uneven in the riverbed, so the kids could easily slip and get soaked. River rocks are slick, so that adds to the potential of a full soak, if not twisted ankles or bonked heads.

In all, Jones Gap Trail along the Middle Saluda is a good adventure trail for kids. Lots to climb and play around on. When you sense they’re getting near having enough, you can turn around. What’s nice is that you don’t have to walk very far for nice scenery. 
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Family hiking History http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post Linville Gorge North Carolina scrambling Trip Planning Trip report

My History at Linville Gorge

Linville Gorge has become a pretty special place to me. Not only because its my favorite place to hike, but I have so many fond memories of my family and friends that have taken place in the Gorge. This post will serve as a log for any of my Linville Gorge trips, a short description of when and where we went, and who “we” were. This is kind of but not quite a trip report, but a boots-on-the-ground history report.
1. 5/21/2011: Linville Falls
With Jenny, Emma and Link Simons
2. 8/13/2011: Pine Gap parking, KMH/105, Babel Tower (climbed up south face, didn’t realize there was a trail to the top), LGT, Cabin (early exit), KMH/105
With Erich Johnson and Ben Maycock
3. 10/14-15/2011: Conley Cave, failed attempt to find Petraeus Point, bushwhack to eventually finding Lost Dog Camp, camped at KMH/105, Rock Jock (incl. Razor’s Edge Point, Razor’s Edge Rock, Hacker’s Point), Linville Falls
With Tom Pratt, Ben Maycock, Erich Johnson and Chris Johnson
4. 11/26/2011: Pinnacle, MST, Leadmine, LGT, PinchIn, KMH/105
With James Lanier
5. 12/17/2011: Table Rock parking, MST/Chimneys, Upper NC Wall
With Tom Pratt and Dave Cooper
6. 3/24/2012: Parked at Wiseman’s View, Sandy Flat, LGT, Cathedral Falls, Conley Cove, KMH/105
With Jenny Simons
7. 10/5-6/2012: Camped at Table Rock picnic area, MST/Chimneys, Mossy Monster, Lower NC Wall, Sphinx, Amphitheater, Upper NC Wall, MST/Chimneys, Table Rock parking.
With Erich Johnson, Nathan Walker, Josh Pratt, Dave Cooper and Rob Cooper
8. 10/23/2012: Fall Gorge Rat Gathering. Wolfpit/Shortoff, Crack of Doom, Olsen Trail, Spring Tree, Shortoff Pond, View 1, Wigg’s Tunnel.
With the Gorge Rats William Faulkner/Wigg, Tim/yogurt, Tom/TZBrown, Glen/mtncmpr, Billy Bowen/crazytrain
9. 1/12/2013: Camp at Hawksbill, old Hawksbill trail, Babel Tower, bushwhack to Hell’s Ridge camp, Babel Canyon entrance, Babel trail, Pinnacle, Wiseman’s View, Linville Falls.
With Ben Maycock and Jeremy Puskas/FireInMyBones
10. 3/9/2013: Pinnacle, PinchIn, LGT, Daffodil Flats in bloom, LGT, PinchIn, Wiseman’s View.
With Jenny Simons
11. 8/24/2013: Rockefeller Plaza, Unnamed (partial), Dellinger Falls, West Dellinger Wall, Coram Deo Ledge.
With Mike Jones/darkbyrd, Tyler Keene/hikerman, Todd Ransom and Ben Powell
12. 10/5/2013: Linville Falls and Wiseman’s View. With Jenny, Emma and Link, and Karen LeVeille.
13. 10/26-27/2013: Fall Gorge Rat Gathering: Hawksbill new trail, camp at Hawksbill, TR parking, LNCW via Zack Cat Ledge, Sphinx, Amphitheater, UNCW, Table Rock summit.
With Jeremy Puskas/FireInMyBones, Caleb Fleming, Mike Jones/darkbyrd, Rick Morris, Lonnie Crotts, Tyler Keene/hikerman, Mark Houser, and Melissa Braswell.
14. 11/2/2013: TR parking, Chimneys top trail, Camel overlook, Apricot Buttress, UNCW, MST, Crackerjack Point, Upper Linville Falls, Plunge Basin overlook and base, Wiseman’s View.
With Steve Villa, Mike Nicosia, and Brandon Torok.
15. 3/1/2014: Wiseman’s View, Babel Tower, Hell’s Ridge Camp, Avatar’s Rib (Upper and Lower), Linville River upstream past Henson Creek as far as two side by side waterfalls on the river, LGT (switchbacks to Cabin), Cabin Trail, KMH/105 road walk back to Babel.
With Lonnie Crotts, Billy Bowen, Erich Johnson, and Brandon Torok

16. 9/27/2014: Conley Cove, Rock Jock, L.O.S.T., Little Seneca, Zen Canyon, Zen Point. Rock Jock back to Old Conley parking.
With Steve Villa, Josh Jansen, TJ Smith, Chris Johnson, Luke Wilson, and Chad Collins.

17. 10/16-17/2015: Conley Cover, Rock Jock, L.O.S.T., Little Seneca, Lower Razor’s Ledge, Zen Canyon, Zen Point, Razor’s Edge Rock, Rock Jock back to Conley Cove. Camped on Old 105/KMH. Shortoff Trail, Climber’s Descent Gully, Shortoff Cliff Base, Shortoff Rock Garden, Weatherman Route of ’09, Edge of the Gap campsite, visit to the Crack of Doom entrance.
With Chris Johnson, Mike McKenzie, Waldemar Geisbrecht, Andy Kunkle (10/16), Thomas Mabry and Kitty Myers (10/17).
18. 10/13-14/2017: Babel Tower, Upper Avatar’s Rib, Hell’s Ridge Camp, Cabin Trail, Camped at Shortoff View Camp south of PinchIn on Old 105/KMH. MCRT Rock Jock, Crevasse Creek Point, Zen Point, Sunshine Access Trail.
With Steve Villa, Matt McCarnan, and Paul Gallucci.
19. 4/13-14/2018: Hawksbill sunset, camped at Hawksbill. LNCW, Sphinx, Amphitheater.
With Nathan Walker, Jared Alexander, Matt McCarnan, Waldemar Giesbrecht, Stan McCune, Jameson Wolfe, Chris Johnson, Mike McKenzie, and intersecting meetups with Thomas Mabry, Kitty Myers, and Jill Cash. Saw Spencer Clary on the Sphinx from a distance.