I got that just back from vacation thing going. I haven’t shaved in 7 days. I haven’t had ready Internet access for that period of time, just my iPhone.

We just returned from our annual week in Carmel. Linda’s lifelong friend Janet inherited a house there that is 5 blocks from the beach, 5 blocks from down town & light years from everyday life.

I do think Carmel is the prettiest place that I have seen on the planet. I think it’s safe to say I’ve been to more places average. I’ve seen some spectacular things. Heck, I live in a place that people just move to… “no job, no family, no problem; I’m moving to San Diego”. But Carmel is in a class by itself. Here are some pics.

Gerapata – about 5 miles south of Carmel


Andrew Molera State Park – 22 of the most scenic miles anywhere south of Carmel



Our Carmel trips feature a lot of hikes. It’s great that both Linda & I like to power up the sides of hills & mountains.


Both of us are big nature / scenery people. Sometimes we rent bikes & do parts of the famous 17 Mile Drive. As some of you know, I’m averse to actual “camping.” (Why take your time off from work to stay in a worse place than you live in? But that’s just me. I’m not trying to take you out of it.) The great thing is you can be in this wilderness area, feel like you are in the wild, the drive home & shower, watch a little ESPN & then eat at a 5 star restaurant.

Here are a few reflections & learnings I thinking about from the last week:
•    THE FASTER YOU GO, THE LESS YOU RECEIVE. There are breathtaking vistas all along highway 1. No question, one of the most beautiful stretches of road is between Carmel & Big Sur. That’s why all the car commercials are filmed there. But there are things that I see on a bike that that I miss when driving. Then there are things you see when you are walking that there is no way you can notice going any faster. But it’s not just about stuff you miss. It is about the ability to “take it in”. I’m not sure I can define this, but there is beauty that God has for us that we have to go slow or STOP to receive.

•    NO KIDS… NO PROBLEM! All of our 3 kids were unable to come with us or come up for part of the week because of work schedules & ministry stuff. Bethany is running our Summer Fun Camp as I write. No way she could come up. David is doing that with her, Charissa had to work… yada yada. This is a 1st for us. Initially we were kind of bummed out. It felt sad, like loss. But then I noticed how much cheaper stuff is, how much less hassle it is not trying to make 5 people happy. We still wish they could have come along, but it was fun remembering that we like to do stuff, the same stuff a lot of the time.
•    BEAUTY IS LIKE GIFTING… GOD POURS IT OUT AS HE PLEASES & NOT IN EQUAL MEASURE. As a guy that lived in the Midwest for 8 years, I learned to appreciate the subtle beauty of rolling hills, an old farm, a few trees, big sky type sunsets. But let’s get real; God has jammed a ridiculous amount of natural wonder on this west coast, specifically the central coast of California.


There are scenes that make you feel like you should hold your breath. Views that make you feel like you should not speak. Sights that choke you up… seriously. It seems like there is an analogy to how God gifts people. There is not an equal distribution of talent, even anointing. For reasons that are sometimes undetectable to us, God just gifts people, sometimes unworthy people.
•    GOING TO CHURCH IS SO GOOD & IF YOU ARE A CHRIST FOLLOWER YOU SHOULD BE LOATHE TO MISS WEEKLY GATHERINGS – I’ve had a couple of weeks since OGN to just “go to church”. That doesn’t seem like a big deal to most of you, but it’s rare for me. This last weekend, Mick Wilson opened up John 15 in a way that I will remember the rest of my life. The worship moved me deeply. I prayed with some wonderful people going through some horrible things. As my friend Mark Arant once put it on his blog (click here for Mark’s blog) God’s intention is for the local church to be central in our lives & affections.
•    REST IS HARD TO DO – at least for some of us. I’m sure I have a diagnosable neurosis in this area. It’s interesting how much the enemy attacks REST! It’s also interesting how hard it is to rest. I need to work harder at ordering my life. Shabbat, although a sign for Israel & not a covenant obligation for us in the church, is one of God’s principles & conforms to the way God made the world & us.

O.k. vacation is over. I’m looking at tons of appointments this week. I have a friend flying into town to hang out. I better go shave.