What a joy to know that Father always watches over us no matter what life throws at us. He is a refuge as certain as the rising sun and as steady as a granite mountain.
One of the things that drew us to this neighborhood was the breathtaking views of Mt. Boney (just over Sara’s shoulder above) that we see down our street and from our backyard. It’s a constant reminder not only of the wonder of God’s Creation but also of the rock of refuge he is for whatever life might hurl at us.
Boney Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is 2,825 feet, also known as Boney Peak or Old Boney. It is the top section of a mass of volcanic rock, which scientists think solidified about 15 million years ago. It was later pushed up to its dominant position, overshadowing western Conejo Valley. The Chumash Native Americans have a long and deep spiritual history of interaction at and near the mountain, and their descendants consider the peak a sacred mountain.
As do I, though perhaps for different reasons. I’ve always been a mountain guy, much more than a beach dude. Now I have one rising over my neighborhood. I see it everywhere I walk and when we drive in and out of the community. It still takes my breath away and evokes the theme of Psalm 121. It has long been one of my favorites, and I play the first verse in my head each time and think about its meaning:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
The power is not in the mountain but in the God who made the mountain. That he will watch over and care for me is as certain as the presence of those mountains every morning. The same is true for you.
We are settling into our new home in Newbury Park, CA. The view of Old Boney is ever-changing as Sara and our dogs walk around the neighborhood or into the open area beneath the mountain. It’s hard not to take pictures, especially when the clouds and fog play with the hills, which it does almost every morning through May and June. One day, my friend Luis and I will take the trail to the top of that mountain.
Clouds and fog play with the mountains
We are growing increasingly settled here and connecting with new neighbors in a way we’ve never experienced before. Walking the streets is like a throwback to forty years ago when kids played in the streets and people conversed easily on the sidewalk. This is not your typical California neighborhood. The people are friendly and helpful and have gone out of their way to welcome us, one even bringing us a bouquet. They have graciously endured the noise and dust we’ve brought caused by the work we had to have done on this forty-year-old home. We are blessed to live on this cul-de-sac.
We have completed the work on the interior and are so over-the-moon delighted with how this space will reflect his peace to others. We are starting on Sara’s garden, which is a bit more dust and noise, but now our neighbors get to watch it take shape and are fascinated. And this time, Sara and I will not just view her garden out the back patio and across the creek; we will live in it, seeing it out every window. It seems clear Father has brought us here for this season in our lives, and we couldn’t be more excited about what this chapter might unfurl.
So, what’s ahead for us? Along with our ongoing conversations with people finding freedom in Father’s love, it looks like I’m going to be able to have some time to get back to the writing I have longed to do. I may pick up that sequel to the “Jake book,” which I had already started and put on hold when life took a surprising turn. I also feel a growing nudge to write a series of letters for the followers of Jesus who will be alive at the end of the age. I don’t know if this is that season, but I see many signs that point to the possibility. Whether we are approaching the end of days or not, Jesus invited us to live every day as if we were. I know, end times talk is the stuff of fear and disappointed expectations. I am not writing a prophecy but an invitation to find a life in Jesus strong enough to withstand the worst life can throw at you with the hope of his growing light guiding you through it.
And it’s likely we’re headed out on another RV trip this fall, probably through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas, before heading back to CA through New Mexico and Atlanta. Please let me know if you’re along that trail and want to get some people together to talk about living loved, trauma, healing, or following Jesus.
Also, I’ve got an outstanding promise to get to Austin, and I think this fall will do it. I may also speak at a conference for the Coalition Christian Colleges and Universities along with Arnita Taylor and Bob Prater about the concepts in our book, A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation. I also have an invitation to gather with some folks around Little Rock, so we’ll see what Father has in mind.
Wherever this next stage of our journey takes us, Sara and I know we will live under a mountain of God’s care, kindness, and direction. That same life is also available to you.