Malad Gorge

Storytime:

When I was a student at Boise State University, I didn’t have a car. I lived 4 hours from my parents’ house. (In a Western state, 4 hours away means 4 hours of driving an average of 60 mph on the highway, not 4 hours of sitting in traffic as you go through various urban areas.) So, on holidays, I often found myself ride sharing with other students who were heading towards the eastern part of the state. That meant we took the highway pictured above.

I must have passed over Malad Gorge dozens of times before I noticed it.

As you can see above, the gorge is dramatic and steep, but at the point where it intersects the highway, very narrow. The amount of time the car spends actually crossing the gorge amounts to seconds.

Finally, on one of the car trips I happened to be looking up from my ever-present book (fiction, of course … I wouldn’t be reading a coursebook!) at just the right moment to spot this amazing gorge. After that, I started keeping an eye out for it.

It broadens out to the south.

In the years since, I have learned that you can get off at an exit and find a parking lot, park, and walking trail with a footbridge that takes you across the gorge. It’s from there that we got these pictures.

I’d hate to have been the first person, recklessly galloping along on a horse, who found this thing.

You’re Not Enough and That’s Okay

“If your self is the problem, how can your self also be the solution?”

Allie Beth Stuckey is a podcaster who speaks mostly to Millennial and Gen-Z aged women from a reformed Baptist perspective. She wrote this book to counteract the essentially Gnostic messages that are constantly being sent from all quarters to this demographic.

When Allie became a mom, it became obvious to her that young moms struggle with feeling inadequate as mothers and as people. There are a lot of reasons for this. One is that in our culture, motherhood is denigrated as a calling. Simply being a mother is not considered enough to make you an interesting, capable, intelligent person. Mothers are criticized no matter what they do. Another reason is that they are, in fact, inadequate. No one is really adequate to care for small children well while also maintaining a good relationship with a husband, and this problem is made worse by the fact that young women rarely receive any training in the domestic arts. Finally, we tend to feel overwhelmed when we are hormonal and sleep-deprived.

In response to this, a cottage industry has arisen that exists to affirm moms as follows: You are already doing great! This message comes from both secular and Christian sources. (Nominally Christian, though of course their theology leaves something to be desired.) Obviously, it’s a good business model to tell people they are already doing great. People like to hear that, and when the dopamine hit from the message inevitably wears off in the face of reality, they will come back for more, sometimes several times a day.

Allie uses her own experiences (being a mom, before that struggling with bulemia, and talking with hundreds of women) to apply some good Reformed theology to the following five myths. (She calls them myths, which is sort of polite. I would call them lies.)

  • “You Are Enough”
  • “You Determine Your Truth”
  • “You’re Pefect the Way You Are”
  • “You’re Entitled to Your Dreams”
  • “You Can’t Love Others Until You Love Yourself”

Obviously, these lies are not directed only at young women in our culture, and it’s not only young women that they are damaging.

Allie systematically shows how each of these creedal statements promises comfort and power, but ultimately, if we buy into it and try to implement it, delivers despair. She does so in her signature kind, personable way that is perfectly suited to her target audience. She quotes pertinent passages of Scripture (of which there are many) and shows us how the belief that we are enough in ourselves will trap us in an endless cycle of self-improvement and prevent us from turning to the one who is enough and who has the power to save and transform us, namely Christ.

Quote about something scary: Adolescence

Adolescence is a time of expanding spirituality; parents must never underestimate its authenticity or its intensity. But adolescent spirituality is not wise, it is not well formed, it is not mature. We accept the witness of our adolescents to the emphatic presence and necessity of spirituality at the center of our lives, but we do not to look to adolescents to guide us in matters of spirituality. It is essential to distinguish between the two elements. We are completely attentive to the witness of their lives; but we are detached and discerning regarding whatever they have to say on the matter. Like the canary to the miners, they are a signal that we notice, not a model that we imitate.

Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up with Your Teenager, by Eugene H. Peterson, p. 89

Now, THIS is how you bring down inflation!

Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels.

… Elisha said, “Hear the word of LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”

“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha. “but you will not eat any of it!”

Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’ — the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, for the LORD had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”

So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there — not a sound of anyone — only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.'”

One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here — yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.”

So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the LORD had said.

Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house.

2 Kings 6:24 – 25, 7:1 – 17

Quote: Overheard During Labor

As the next contraction starts building, I grip onto Kate again. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by wave after wave of pain, each one getting bigger and longer and stronger.

An eternity passes, then [labor nurse] Ann comes in again, this time accompanied by a male student midwife.

“Hmm. Still only four centimeters dilated,” she says to the student after examining me. “Minimal progress. Of course, there’s a much greater risk of a long and difficult labor with older ladies. The muscles of the womb don’t work so well.”

“Is everyone deliberately trying to undermine me?” I shout. “Has anybody got any positive words of encouragement here?”

“You’re doing a great job,” Ann says, unsmilingly.

The Cactus, by Sarah Haywood, p. 361

Book Review: Prepper’s Natural Medicine by Cat Ellis

pictured here with leaves of Mullein, which the books says is an analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, and mild sedative (page 100)

I bought this book to use a reference for my character Zillah. She has a built-up knowledge of herbal medicines and of emergency field medical procedures, but I don’t. I used this book to make sure that when she was using a remedy, I had the right plant. (I also had to look up whether the plant in question was native to the region of the world in which she was traveling.)

It turns out that, for almost any over-the-counter medicine and many prescription ones as well, there is a plant that will help with the symptom. God put this stuff in the world for us to find and use. He’s smart that way.

The book is great as a quick look-up reference, but as it turns out, there is also a benefit from reading it front to back. Then you will learn about the methods of collection, storage, and preparation, such as the difference between a tisane (used medicinally) and a tea (just for drinking); an infusion (made by steeping the delicate parts of the plant) and a decoction (made by boiling the hard parts of the plant). There is also basic medical and first-aid information, though obviously, to really know your stuff about that, you will need a much longer volume (such as Where There Is No Doctor), and ideally years of experience and a ton of luck as well.

I am already regretting not reading it front to back before using it as a resource in writing my novels. (It turns out that to make a tincture, you need to steep the herb in alcohol. Where on earth did Zillah get alcohol? She’s full of surprises.)

Speaking of surprises, it might be best not to wait until the apocalypse and then just go out and grab an herb for medicine (although in some cases that might be better than nothing). You’ve got to collect, dry, label, store, and refresh your collection, and also of course you’ve got to know what you’re doing. So, this is a very useful book for understanding the steepness of the learning curve.