Chad: Fully Persuaded and Totally Convinced

Earlier this week, while I was standing in a book shop at Grand Canyon National Park, a young twenty or thirty-something man walked up to me and slid a manila envelope on to the counter that lay between us. He flashed a broad smile and said he had something he wished to share with me. Inside the envelope was an  8 1/2 X 11 full-color photograph accompanied by a two-page typed note.

Here, in its entirety (unedited), is the message:

I found this photograph in a book titled Life Sixty Years A 60th Anniversary Celebration 1936-1996 shopping in an antique store. Inside was this picture of a deaf child holding his ear that is titled “A deaf child hears for the first time. Pittsburgh,1993.


Just by the expression on this little boy’s face tells it all. He has just heard something for the first time. And though he may not be able to explain it he is totally convinced he has heard something. You would have a hard time trying to persuade this little boy that he did not hear anything.

I feel the exact same way about Jesus Christ. I am fully persuaded and totally convinced that Jesus is real. On June of the year 2000, I turned from a lifestyle that was totally opposite of a lifestyle that our Lord Jesus desires. I stopped running from Jesus and started running to Jesus. I found out that it is not about what you give up living for Jesus but what you gain. I also found out that the things I did not want to give up were not worth having. I can never repay Jesus for this because it’s a gift I could never earn. But I can give Him my one and only life here and now, and continue to give Him thanks everyday. As a result of living for Jesus I have been able to see the evidence of a changed life in other people besides myself. It is such a wonderful thing. I also have a new desire to tell people about this free gift of salvation that is available to everyone. Jesus is truly the God of second chances and new beginnings. The most wonderful thing is that Jesus is only one prayer away.

The way to heaven is not complicated. The bible simply tells us in Romans chapter 10 verses 9-13, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The lady in this picture is overwhelmed with joy. She represents everyone that has ever prayed for me and reminds me of the angels in heaven. The bible says in Luke 15:10, “…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The word repents means to turn around. So if you are not running to Jesus, stop, turn, and run to Jesus. He will welcome you in His loving open arms. No matter what you have done or what you are involved in the love of Jesus is for everyone!

The simple question is this-do you live your life for Jesus? Are you just as convinced as the little boy in this picture?

Yours in Christ,


Chad didn’t remain to see if I would open the envelope; he didn’t stay to engage me in conversation and didn’t leave any contact information so I am unable to tell him that I’m sharing his message via this blog. My prayer, in sharing his gift, is that others may be moved by his testimony of faith to run to Jesus in whose protective care they will find–as has Chad and as have I–joy, peace, salvation from sin, and eternal life.

Grand Canyon Reopens!

IMG_3321As I walked up from the Kolb Studio and arrived at the El Tovar on the South Rim, the Grand Canyon’s Park Superintendent greeted me with a broad smile and a gentle fist bump. Dave Uberuaga’s great delight over the reopening of Arizona’s treasured landmark emanated from him like a beacon. We joined a crowd of perhaps 100 individuals–park rangers, other park employees, community leaders, and tourists—who’d begun to assemble in anticipation of the arrival of Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer.

Brewer emerged from the hotel, stepped up to a podium that bore the emblem of the National Park Service, and uttered her first words: “Right in the sun. Feels good. Arizona sun . . . We have reopened the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! The Grand Canyon is open for business. We just refused to let wrong-headed policies deny people the use of this park.”

Just over 400 national parks, recreation areas and monuments—including Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone—were closed on October 1 because of the government shutdown. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees were then furloughed along with thousands of other individuals who work for the parks’ hotels, restaurants, retail shops, outdoor outfitters, tours, and transportation companies.

The state of Arizona has committed $93,000 a day, for a total of $651,000, to keep the park open through October 18. Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan joined the Governor at the podium and handed her a check for $426,500 on behalf of the businesses in the gateway community that sits just outside the south entrance to the park. Bryan noted that, through the 11 days of the shutdown, his town had lost millions in revenue. Superintendent Uberuaga estimated river operators, alone, lost $900,000 over these days.

Four other states have also stepped up to reopen the national parks within their borders. Utah is spending $1.67 million to keep five of its national parks open for 10 days. The Statue of Liberty will reopen today thanks to the state of New York. Colorado is chipping in $360,000 to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park and South Dakota will reopen Mount Rushmore on Monday. Legislation has been introduced, by some members of Congress, to refund these state dollars within 90 days, but nothing is assured at this point.

Some 18,000 people on average visit the Grand Canyon each day at this time of year. On the Saturday of reopening, we saw a steady stream of visitors who were absolutely thrilled at being able to see the canyon. I chatted with one family who, after saving for two years to fund a 60th birthday trip for Dad, had landed in Denver excitedly looking forward to seeing many of the national parks. The only park they were able to visit before their flight back to England was Grand Canyon.

Other individuals told me how they’d waited in hotels outside the park hoping the announcement of the reopening would come in time for them to get in before they had to return home. Still others had given up hope of seeing the canyon but, when they heard the news on TV on the evening of October 10, turned their vehicles around to make the dash to the park. I had conversations throughout the day with folks from dozens of countries and dozens of states. I was delighted to hear so many speak so elatedly about their visit.

The closure had not only spoiled the dreams of the many who save for years to visit the national parks; the closure had also proved devastating for many who depend on receiving regular paychecks from the parks. A community of 2,000 to 3,000 live and work, for example, in Grand Canyon and the hardship for some had been severe enough to prompt St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix to deliver 600 boxes of non-perishables and additional quantities of bread and produce. Xanterra, one of the largest employers in the park, has been feeding its furloughed employees three meals a day during the shutdown. The Grand Canyon Association, the park’s non-profit partner and the organization for which I work, has managed thus far to keep its people steadily employed doing a variety of projects during the shutdown.

During the press conference, Brewer was asked if she expects any checks anytime soon from the national government. She replied with unveiled derision, “Uh, no.” But, she added, “Arizona should not have to pay the tab; that’s the responsibility of the national government.”

The final question field by Brewer was posed by a woman who, through tears, hinted at the challenges she has faced in taking care of her family through the shutdown. “How am I supposed to pay my bills?” she asked.

Brewer replied, “Contact your congressional delegation and the federal government. The President and Congress should step up. The state is stepping up [by reopening the park]. If this is not resolved, we are going to be facing probably a calamity.”

For a video of the press conference, see:,AAAABvZFMzE~,IXjx0MpOF0rsEQgYIrxsaECo_gHwSrmR&bctid=2740133307001

Grand Canyon National Park on Day Nine of the Government Shutdown

The Visitors' Center at Grand Canyon National Park on Day Nine of the government shutdown. October is one of the highest attendance months at the park. The uncharacteristic emptiness was termed   "eerie" and "creepy by those whom we chanced upon at the south rim.
The Visitors’ Center at Grand Canyon National Park on Day Nine of the government shutdown. October is one of the highest attendance months at the park. The uncharacteristic emptiness was termed “eerie” and “creepy by those whom we chanced upon at the South Rim today.

Following a week of mishaps and misadventures on the road, we arrived at Grand Canyon National Park on September 23. We’ll be spending the next several months  living in and exploring the park and surrounds.

As most every reader will know, the shutdown of the U.S. government on Oct. 1 forced the closure of the park and I have a front row seat to what this means for the community of 2,000-3,000 that is Grand Canyon.

Sign on Route 64 as one approaches the town of Tusayan from the south.

Once the park reopens, I expect to be working part-time in the Kolb Studio while my husband serves at Verkamps. The Grand Canyon Association, the park’s non-profit partner, operates these facilities and has been expending tremendous efforts to keep its people employed during the shutdown. The GCA’s Board of Directors, CEO Susan Schroeder and her management team are to be commended.

Thanks to Verizon (which appears to be the ONLY WiFi company able to provide Internet service here), I’m able to resume blogging and will be posting stories on a number of topics relative to the park’s closure.

My husband and I spent a good bit of today walking the South Rim and engaging in conversation. We chanced upon Lance Diskan, founder of the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition, near the (now closed) El Tovar Hotel (I’ll be reporting here on the Dark Skies project). Lance’s wife has been working on reintroducing native plant species to the park (I’ll have more on this as well). I had another conversation with Caitlyn Shaw, a young woman from Utah (a Red Sox fan!), whom I met as she was walking up Bright Angel Trail behind a mule train led by a wrangler and a park ranger. Caitlyn had traveled up Bright Angel after running the rapids on the Colorado (she’d put in on October 1) and the mule train was bringing up materials used by rangers in the canyon. I’ll have more on her story and more about those still running the river.

St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix shipped up 600 boxes of food to be distributed to those in need at Grand Canyon. Each box was filled with a box of corn flakes, cans of fruit and vegetables, pasta, tomato sauce, and rice.
St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix delivered 600 boxes of food to be distributed to those in need at Grand Canyon. Each box was filled with a box of corn flakes, cans of fruit and vegetables, pasta, tomato sauce, and rice.

In the Maswik Lodge Cafeteria, I chatted with folks who are distributing boxes of household staples to those in need. Ten pallets holding 60 boxes each were provided by St. Mary’s Food Bank of Phoenix. A number of these 30-40 lb. boxes were also dropped at the North Rim and at Tusayan, a small community that sits just outside the south entrance of the park. St. Mary’s will return on Oct. 11 with fresh produce and bread to be distributed from the Backcountry Office Parking Lot.

Keep watching this space for updates.