Category Archives: 2013


What we treasureA few years before my mother died, she visited me in Florida. Since someone was driving her, she loaded the car with her most treasured possessions – scrapbooks. Following my father’s death she had spent hours creating thick, heavy scrapbooks from the memorabilia and photos that had survived a score of moves.

At that time, my husband was unemployed and I worked two jobs to meet our financial obligations. I juggled my schedule to make sure Mom met a Haitian pastor she had supported, spent time with her great granddaughter, had a memorable birthday party, met my friends, and visited special places in South Florida. I flipped through her scrapbooks quickly, complimented her on her hard work, but didn’t take time to sit with her and look at faded photos and listen to oft-repeated stories about people I had never met.

Before I knew it, Mom was packing to return home. She didn’t say much about the “special” excursions I had arranged, but did express disappointment that I had not sat with her and looked at the scrapbooks.  Now, I look back with regret because I later realized taking time to sit with her, and listen  to the scrapbook stories was more important to her than any  special outing I could arrange.

In our fast-track lives, we spend a lot of time doing what we think will please God. We sign up for every event at church, look after neighbors that need help, and volunteer for community projects.  Although exhausted and sometimes frazzled, we feel good about what we have done for God.

Sometimes, though, I think it might be better to take breaks from “doing” for God. I think God would like for us to sit a while and look at the oft-repeated  scriptures and familiar stories of the men and women in the Bible. I wonder how often God looks at us at the end of a day, a month, a year, a lifetime and says, “I was hoping you would take time to sit with me a while and let me show you my living scrapbook. Yes, you’ve heard these stories until you could repeat them, but instead of dashing about trying to please me, why don’t we take time to sit a while and look at my Word.”

Martha Hawn VanCise©2016
Photo. MHVanCise


Spiritual Hypoxia

High Spiritual Places


As we approached La Cumbre Pass in the Bolivian Andes, the driver said, “We’ll stop for a few minutes to take photos, but we can’t linger. At 5000 meters (16,000 feet) we will soon suffer hypoxia or oxygen deprivation.”


I stand here at the cumbre ‑ a high pass of my journey. The thin air intoxicates.  I feel that I could step into the heavenlies from here.  The world below seems unreal, irrelevant, insignificant. There is danger here, I’m told, danger of thinking foolish thoughts. Am I suffering from spiritual hypoxia? Will I stray and stumble from some cliff of reality?

I find assurance in seeing signposts left by others in these high passes.

Calvin Miller wrote, “There is a substance to rapture – to find it is wonder – to dwell in
the near light of God is joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Hannah Hurnard in Hind’s Feet on High Places posted the Shepherds words to Much-Afraid, “Perhaps it may even seem as though everything you have seen here on the high places was just a dream, or the work of your own imagination … But you have seen reality, and the mist which seems to swallow it up is the illusion. Believe steadfastly in what you have seen.”

I want to stay here, where your presence exhilarates and lifts my spirit. But… there are dangers here. When the soul breathes only air of the high trails, euphoria garbles our message and we speak of matters that make no sense to the masses who breathe the heavy air.

I treasure these brief times in the high passes, but that is not where the people dwell. I must go down and try to lead others to the high passes where they can experience the heavenly places for themselves.

Martha Hawn VanCise©2016 www.signpostsonhightrails.comPhoto: