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Candle in the Night

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"This is the Stuff"

Some days are really rough.  Yesterday was one of those days.  By the time Brian got home, I had had it.  With H being clingy.  With H's fussing.  With the fact that my kitchen is a mess because we fixed some of the cabinets over the weekend.  With the dog being crazy because I didn't let her run in the yard because of the mud.  With my own lack of patience.  That was the biggest frustration of them all.

Mu wonderful husband could see that I was a mess and even though H didn't like it and he'd had a rough day himself, he took her for me.  I just sat down and had myself a good cry.  Call it a pity party, call it what you want.  Sometimes crying helps.  This time, it just made me feel more sorry for myself.  Probably because H was crying along with me.  Or maybe because I knew she'd still be fussing when I was done.  Or the fact that I knew that it was only 5:00 and there were still three hours until bedtime.  I was also stressing because we're going to start weaning next week and if she's this fussy now, what is THAT going to be like??  So yes, probably a pity party is the best word for it.

After H went to bed, Brian offered to give me a foot massage (I told you he was wonderful!) and we sat down to watch Star Trek.  I know, I'm a nerd, but sometimes a little TV helps me clear my head and there aren't a lot of good shows out there.  After Brian went to bed, I got out the computer and was working on editing some pictures.  That was just more frustration.

I made a short post about it on Facebook and received a lot of positive encouragement.  One of my friends told me I should listen to the song "This is the Stuff" by Francsca Battistelli.  Since Brian was in bed, I didn't go look it up until just now.  Wow.  Here are the lyrics.

I lost my keys in the great unknown
And call me please 'Cuz I can't find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

45 in a 35
Sirens and fines while I'm running behind

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I've got a new appreciation
It's not the end of the world
Oh Oh Oh

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff
Someone save me
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
And I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Oh Oh Oh Oh
This is the stuff You use

This song totally hit me.  Why do I continually forget how big I'm blessed?  Why do we all?  I let so many little things get to me when God has done so much for me.  And how God is using all these little things.  Using them for what?  The song doesn't exactly say, but I think I can guess at least a few things.  I know he uses them to build up my patience.  He uses them to show me how small I am.  He uses them to show me that I'm not perfect.  He uses them to help me overcome myself.  He uses them to show me that it's not all about me.

Sometimes it takes a big kick in the pants for people to see those things and sometimes God does that.  But I think that more often, he just slowly nudges until we've figured them out.  And once we do, it doesn't make the trials (if you can even call them that) go away, it just makes them bearable.  Once we step away from our own little worlds, all the little stuff is just that.  Little stuff.  Stuff that doesn't even matter.  It might even become stuff that makes us laugh instead of cry.

Like the fact that H is right now pulling all the recycling (cereal boxes, junk mail, newspaper, milk cartons) out of the recycling box and climbing into it.  I'm laughing...not crying.  And I'm gonna go grab my camera!


Monday, March 28, 2011

My Kindle Opinions

Well, I know I've only had the Kindle for a few days, but I already have some opinions and since I have had several people ask, I thought I'd go ahead and blog about it. I love reading on my kindle! It's so much easier than holding a book--especially with H around wanting to tear paper all the time! The e-ink technology is awesome. Basically the way it is explained is that it's real ink in there that is just moved around as you turn pages. It makes it so easy on the eyes. You can also change the font size, search through any book, or even have it read aloud to you. (This sounds a little computerized, but not too bad.) There are quite a few free books on Amazon that you can download. All the old classics are basically free as long as you get the basic version--no side notes or illustrations or anything. 

I also like that you can email your own documents (PDF, Word, TXT, etc) to your kindle email address and it will convert them and add them to your reading list. This is how I got the scriptures. They weren't available on the Amazon site, but I was able to download them by saving them to my computer and then emailing them to myself. I can now carry my scriptures in a thin, handheld, 8.5 oz device instead of in a large bag. LOVE!!

Now the cons. I would not have bought a kindle at this time. I love it that I got it for free, and I really wanted one, and it's great, but I wouldn't have spent the money on it. First of all, I don't buy books. I get them from the library unless they are something I'm going to read over and over. Even then, I only buy them used or on sale. The basic kindle is about $140 and I just couldn't justify that. 

Now, if the kindle could download ebooks from the library, it might be a different story, but after doing extensive research and downloading several programs to try to convert library ebooks into kindle format, I've come to the conclusion that it can't be done. (The library website said that in the first place...I just had to try!) The library books have something linked to them (Digital Rights Agreement or something) that causes them to "return" themselves within the alloted amount of time. The kindle does not support this format. I'm thinking that will surely change in the future since so many other digital reading devices (Nook, Kobe Reader, Pocketbook Pro, Sony Reader, etc.) support that format. The kindle will be left in the dust if Amazon doesn't upgrade that feature. These readers also support basically any ebook format. The problem with them is that they are WAY out of my price range or don't have WiFi (another feature I really like). The kindle is closer, but like I said, I wouldn't have purchased it...yet. 

I also wish it had color. For the book feature of this, it's not a big deal, but it would be nice when browsing the web. I honestly don't get online that much with it because it's a bit slower than the laptop. Also, right now, I have nine tabs open and earlier had closer to 20. You can only do one thing at a time on the kindle's web service. Fine for just checking email. Not fine for constant internet use. 

So if you're looking into getting some sort of e-reader, I'd either decide you REALLY want it right now and invest in something a little more expensive, or wait it out. Honestly, I did a lot of looking through the library's ebook site today, and there aren't that many titles there that I have an interest in. I was searching for some fiction books that I like to read and almost none of them were there. It might be worth it to wait until their database is a little more extensive (it's still new and still growing) and hope that by then, the kindle has begun accepting downloads with digital rights agreements. 

Moral of the story:  I LOVE my kindle!  And I love that it was free!  I probably would have eventually bought an e-reader of some sort, but if I were you, I'd be patient.  This is still fairly new technology and prices are bound to come down while technology is bound to get better.  


Thursday, March 17, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 8: Who knew making oatmeal could be so difficult???

I got up this morning thrilled about my fairly clean kitchen and the fact that I was planning to spend the day outside!  I decided to make oatmeal and wanted to make it in the microwave since I grind H's before cooking and I didn't want to get to pans dirty.  I ground her serving in the Magic Bullet, added water, and stuck it in the microwave for the recommended amount of time.  When I got it out, it was a MESS!!!  It had boiled over and was all over the microwave, the cover I have over it, and the outside of the bowl.  To save as much oatmeal as possible without burning myself, I scooped what little oatmeal was left in the bowl into another bowl. Then, I pulled the microwave tray out and washed it and set the bowl in the sink to soak all the cooked oatmeal off of it.

I sat H down and went to fix my oatmeal.  Now, this is where I made my bigger mistake.  I thought H's had boiled over because it was ground so finely.  I put mine in for the recommended time thinking it would be fine since I was using the whole oats.  Not so.  When I went to get it out, I was greeted with the same mess.  No, I didn't watch it.  You don't stand there watching the oatmeal cook when you have a starving 10 month old waiting in her high chair.  So, I did the same thing.  In the end, I'd washed the microwave tray twice, the food cover twice, and had four bowls, and three spoons dirty.  Next time, I'll cook it in the pot and put hers in the Magic Bullet after it is cooked.

Other than that, I had a great day!  I went to the Home Educators St. Patrick's day picnic at the park with my mom (no, H is not starting kindergarten just yet!) and it was SO NICE!  I got to see my Bradley instructor and we had a nice talk.  H LOVED being at the park, had fun watching the geese and ducks, and fell asleep in her stroller on our walk.  She napped on the way home and woke up right before we got here.  I had time to vacuum the living room and do all the dishes before any of Brian's violin students got here.  It's been a great day!  :)

H watching the kids play

Looking at the geese with Grandma.  

 Such a happy girl!!

Lounging in the stroller.  She loves to ride with her feet up!  :)

Pooped out!!  What a busy day!  
(This was at about 2:30.  She didn't nap at all before that today!)

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10 Minute Challenge Day 7

Well, I had high aspirations for yesterday, but I had forgotten about my original plans.  :)  I didn't do anything on my list.  During the morning hours, I tried REALLY HARD to get H to take an earlier morning nap.  (We're trying to sort her nap schedule out) It didn't happen and neither did vacuuming the living room or anything else.  I basically maintained my clean house yesterday which is really a good thing for me.  So often, on busy days, my house totally falls apart!

In the afternoon, I went over to my great friend Nannette's apartment to help her pack.  H was a huge help as we put everything from the kitchen cabinets we could into boxes, trash cans, and any other containers we could find!  Then I got to drive over and see Nannette and Brett's new house.  It's beautiful!  I'm so happy for the two of them!  We unpacked all the stuff that had been in the cars and put it into its respective room.  I really enjoyed getting to spend time with Brett, Nannette, and Judy.  It was a really good way to spend my afternoon.

Today, I'm going to the park!  I think I have a serious case of the spring fever and I could really care less what I get done around the house!  While I am here, I am going to open the windows and enjoy this beautiful spring weather.  Here's what the farmer's almanac says for later this month...

Mar 20-24: Snow, then sunny, warm; Mar 25-31: Showers, chilly.

Another place, it says...

24th-27th. A major storm evolves over the Southern Rockies and pushes eastward, bringing significant snows to Kansas and Missouri. Less snow farther north.
28th-31st. Clear most areas. Unseasonably cold for the Northern Plains.

Who knows if the farmer's can be trusted :) but I do know that Missouri weather cannot, so I'm going to enjoy this while I can!

Have a great day everyone!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 6

Well, I must confess that I failed today.  I spent way too much time on Facebook at lunch and this evening as well.  I should be in bed asleep, but am still up to write this blog.

On the bright side, I got a considerable amount done today!  I finished the laundry!  All in all, I did 9 loads and it is all folded and put away.  I cleaned out my closet.  I put clothes in bags according to categories.  "Return to Sarah", "Donate", "To Wear While Nursing, but Not Pregnant", "To Wear While Neither Nursing Nor Pregnant".  Now I have to find a place to store those bags.  I also cleared out our kitchen cabinet that we keep our glasses in.  It had kind of also become a miscellaneous cabinet and I couldn't fit some of the glasses in it anymore.  Anyway, it's neat and organized.  I caught up on a few dishes.

I also got to spend some good snuggle time with my girl this evening.  She's still not feeling well (poor baby!), but the up side is that she is very cuddly!  Tonight, at about 8:05, she'd been playing under the table at my feet (her new favorite spot) and she went and got her blanket from across the room and brought it to me and tried to climb up on my lap.  I of course scooped her up, went and changed her diaper and nursed her for a little while.  Then, I spent some time just rocking her and snuggling.  I love it when she's sweet and cuddly like that!  :)  She's so sweet!

So on tomorrow's to-do list, I have some much more enjoyable things planned!

  • Vacuum Living Room (okay, so that's not so enjoyable)
  • Make a Tutu for H (much more enjoyable...hopefully!)
  • Set up Photo Studio Equipment
  • Take Pictures!
The last two things will only happen of course if H doesn't wake up with a black eye.  She bonked it pretty good on a chair.  Figures, huh?  I've been planning for over a week to do these pictures when she's feeling better and I decided she has enough happy times during the day that when the laundry was all out of the living room, I'd go ahead and do it and she goes and bruises her eye!  :(  Oh well.  Whether it happens tomorrow or not, I'm going to do them soon!!  Can't wait forever!  She's growing up so fast and it's time for more pictures!  :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 6

Well, I told you I'd write about Friday, so here it goes!  I started the morning putting together the shelves for plant stands that I borrowed from my mom and hooking up the lights I bought at Lowe's Thursday night.  Here's how it turned out.

There's just junk on the top right now, but when I clean up in there, I'll have room for actual plants that can get light from the window up there.  My seedlings have sprouted and they were actually mostly dying.  They've perked up since putting the light over them though.  I have another light to go on the bottom shelf and am planning on starting my herbs and veggies down there.

On Friday, I also put some older seeds in baggies to test for viability.  They are seeds that have been sitting in the garage for a couple years, so I'm not expecting much, but I had to test them before I threw them away.

Today, I made a HUGE dent in the laundry.  I washed, dried, and folded 4 loads, there is a load in the dryer and one in the washer right now, and I only have 4 more loads to go.  I'm still not counting H's laundry in all that.  Maybe I should, but really, I do a pretty good job keeping up with her laundry.  She only has so many outfits and then I want my favorites to be clean, so I wash them.  :)

All in all, it was a pretty good day.  I feel like I accomplished a lot and am excited that I'll have a closet and drawers full of clean clothes tomorrow!


10 Minute Challenge Day 5 (And the start of Day 6)

I'm sorry I wasn't able to post on Friday night.  We celebrated Brian's birthday and I was exhausted!  Tonight, I'll post about what I got done on Friday (with pictures!) and hopefully about everything I get done today.

Today is Laundry Day.  Laundry is probably my least favorite chore.  It's the one I put off and put off until it is absolutely necessary to put it off no longer.  I get a giant pile of laundry in my room and then one day, Brian will sweetly say, "Honey, I'm on my last clean ______"  You fill in the blank.  T-shirt, pair of underwear, work shirt...  He does say it very sweetly because he knows I do hate laundry.  And he hates it too and knows that if he doesn't say it sweetly, I'll probably say "do it yourself!!!"  But I don't because I know that I should have been doing it in little bits all along, but have put it off.

So, if it's t-shirts he's out of, I pull out ALL of the t-shirts from the gynormous pile and bits of other things that I know he'll need.  The most common load at our house is underwear (his and mine), t-shirts, and a few work shirts and a few of my shirts.  I know!  Terrible, isn't it!!  I always feel bad putting whites with non-so-lights and sometimes even throwing some darks in there!  But I don't feel bad enough to change it because I just hate doing laundry.

So last night, I'd had it with myself.  I made up my mind to make today laundry day.  This morning, I drug out all the laundry from the bedroom and I now have five huge piles on the floor in the living room.  (No, I won't take a picture of that.)  Heavy lights, light lights, whites, heavy darks, and light darks.  I'm guessing each pile is two loads of laundry.  This doesn't even include H's laundry that is still in her bedroom!

The reason for having it in the living room?  I have to have it cleaned up by Thursday when Brian teaches lessons and I am NOT carrying it all back to the bedroom!  Plus, I see it right there all day.  I can't close the door on it and I have to work to keep H out of it.  All these factors motivate me to work on it more quickly.

I'm sure you're all thrilled to death to hear about my laundry experiences, but that's what I have on my mind today.  Maybe if some of you hate doing laundry too, it'll give you the push you need to get in there and tackle it!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 4

Well, today was much better than yesterday as far as H was concerned!  She DID take a morning nap (yay!) and although she did not take an afternoon nap, she wasn't incredibly crabby either.  I got some laundry done, did a few dishes (when I keep up with them, that's all it takes!), finished reading Square Foot Gardening, picked up some fluorescent lights to start my seeds inside, set up shelves to start my seeds on, taught an art lesson, and took some time to relax!  No pictures today, but I feel really good about everything I accomplished!

I'm very excited to try a Square Foot Garden this year.  I've heard success stories and it looks like a logical, EASY way to grow veggies, herbs, and flowers.  I'm pumped to see if it works!  I'll be blogging along the way about my progress and keep you all updated!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 3

Well, it seems that whenever we try to do something good, Satan attacks.  I have been very frustrated with this very thing today.  Over the past two days, I have been able to get a lot done!  Today...not so much.  My 10 month old, H, has a runny nose, congested throat and has mostly been clingy.  The worst of it though is that she is refusing to fall asleep without me sitting in her room.  My afternoon 10 minutes turned into about 30 minutes for this reason.  After I was sure she was asleep (about 15 minutes), I sneaked out.  I started to get busy and 15 minutes later, she was crying again.  The poor thing just can't sleep because she can hardly even breathe!

Anyway, so here's what I got done today.  I snuggled with the most precious baby I know.  I comforted a crying child.  I helped a runny nose clear out (H's least favorite part of the day).  I was there for a baby who wanted to play, but needed to know that Mommy was RIGHT there.  That's what I did today.  And she's so worth it!

Here are pictures from yesterday's accomplishments!  And some pictures of the sweetie I spent all my time with today.

Dining Room


Hope Chest




Party Decorations!

My Big Girl!
She's not really as big as she looks.  This chair is really very tiny!  

I'm really enjoying hearing what all of you are getting done as well!  Continue to share!  I have big plans to get lots done tomorrow, so hopefully H will wake up feeling great and ready to be her playful self!  


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 2

WOW!!  I got a LOT done today!  I had a Lilla Rose party at my house tonight and it was a great success!  I enjoyed getting everything clean (it was my equivalent to Spring Cleaning) and decorating it up with bright colors!  No pictures tonight...I've got to get to bed!  I'll post some tomorrow though.

I got the dining room, bathroom, and living room picked up today, dusted everything, and vacuumed and scrubbed all the floors!  It smells fresh in here, like Summer, which I for one am ready for.  It's so nice to have it fresh and cheery inside when it's so gloomy outside.

H and I had fun shopping today at JoAnn's.  I think she's going to be a crafty person like her mommy!  :)  She liked looking at and touching all the fabrics.  It was fun to see what caught her eye and watch her reach for the brighter colors and shiny fabrics.  She's such a cutie and growing so fast!

Well, that's all for tonight!  I'll post pictures in the morning.

What did YOU get done today???


Monday, March 7, 2011

10 Minute Challenge Day 1

Well, here it is the end of the day and I'm exhausted.  It's much more tiring to actually work than it is to sit at the computer!  I feel good though.  I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped because my baby girl wasn't feeling good and just wanted to snuggle.  I was okay with that though.  I got the kitchen all clean, the dining room close and picked up some in the living room.  Below are my before and after photos of the kitchen.  Big difference!

Stove Area


Counter Space




Dish Drying Counter


So, yes, there are still dishes in the dish rack, but I'm thrilled with my progress today.  :)  What did you get accomplished?  


The 10 Minute 10 Day Challenge

Yesterday I was thinking about how much I have to do this week, how much I want to do this week, and how little I normally get done in a week.  I've known for a while now that I spend far too much time on the computer. It started when H was little and nursing all the time.  I quit when she got older and I was able to do things around the house during her naps and even while she was awake sometimes.  Then, I got pregnant and was sick and didn't feel like doing anything.  I would sit at the computer all day sometimes and just try to keep from getting sick.  But that excuse is gone.  I'm feeling much better, so it's time to break this habit again.

So I came up with the 10 Minute 10 Day Challenge.  I originally thought I'd just do this for myself, but then I thought of all my friends (and family) who have said they struggle with this same thing.  So I decided to share my challenge and to challenge all of you as well.  This challenge is not for those of you who are already disciplined.  This is for those who say, "I'm going to sit down here for just a few minutes and check my Facebook" (or email, or stocks, or whatever it is that you end up spending a lot of time on), and an hour later, you look at the clock and realize it's been far longer than you'd planned and you've gotten nothing done!  For me, it's when H goes down for a nap.  I think I'll just browse Facebook for a few minutes and before I know it, she's awake and I've done nothing!!

So here's the challenge.  For 10 days (I'm going to do 5 weekdays, skip the weekend, and then do 5 more weekdays), only get on Facebook (or whatever your weakness is) for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening.  Do whatever you want during the morning 10 minutes and afternoon 10 minutes, but during the evening 10 minutes, make sure you let everyone know what you got done that day!  SET A TIMER to be sure you don't lose track of time!

I'll be blogging each evening (only for 10 minutes) and I plan to take before and after photos of each project I do.  I dread showing what my kitchen looks like now, but I'm excited to show what it will look like in the after photos!  I think that'll just make it more fun for everyone.  I'd also love to share some of the projects you do during your computer-"free" days!  I think if a bunch of us get on board here, we can really support each other and get a lot done!

Be sure you're realistic in your commitment too.  If your job is online, don't swear off the whole computer.  I'm actually going to make an exception to my commitment.   One thing Brian and I like to do together is play Wheel of Fortune.  I'm not going to include that in my 10 minutes.  But I'm also not going to play at all until he's home.

Well, my 10 minutes are up for this morning!  Let me know if you'll be joining me and I'll see you all around lunch time!


National Parks 2011 Fee-Free Days

Melissa over at Saving Cents with Sense posted a while back a list of the National Parks Fee-Free days for 2011.  I thought I'd share those days with my readers and reminisce about some of the National Parks I have visited.  Here is the list of Free Days from Melissa's blog.  

2011 Fee-Free Days Include:
  • January 15-17 
    (Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday weekend)
  • April 16-24 
    (National Park Week)
  • June 21 
    (First day of summer)
  • September 24 
    (Public Lands Day)
  • November 11-13 
    (Veterans Day weekend)
I have been to a total of three National Parks.  I thought it was four, but evidently, Niagara Falls has not made the list.  Surprised me, but I guess I'm not the one who picks them!  If you're looking for a good list of parks, you can find one here.  The one on the National Park website is no fun to navigate.  You pick a state and not only does it have the parks, but also the historical sites and any other thing that has ever been made National.  

The first National Park I visited was Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).  In fact, I kind of feel like I grew up there.  As a child, my family went to Colorado several times during the spring and summer and spent a lot of our time driving through the park.  We would often stay at the YMCA of the Rockies which is just minutes from RMNP.  Driving through the park, you see all kinds of wildlife.  Big horn sheep, elk, birds of all kinds, and even an occasional moose can be spotted.  There are numerous stops along the road where you can pull over, watch the animals, and take pictures.  When I was little, before they posted all the "Do NOT Feed The Animals Under Penalty Of Death" signs, we would take peanuts and feed the chipmunks.  They'd come right up to you and eat them from your hand.  If you were brave, you could hold the nuts up in the air and big black birds would come and take them from you.  I think I saw my dad almost lose a finger doing that once, so I was careful to keep my hands out of the air.  As you drive higher and higher, the temperature drops more and more.  At the top of the mountain, there is a visitor center.  We have numerous family pictures of us shivering in our shorts and springtime jackets while there is snow all around us!  It's incredible that it can be 80 degrees at the bottom of the mountain and 30 at the top!  

Staying at the cabin at the YMCA, we would sit out on the porch and watch deer (or were they elk?) walk through the yard.  The cabins are so neat because you feel like you're alone in the middle of nowhere.  You can't see other cabins from where you are and you're surrounded by grasslands and woods.  The smell of pine is a fond memory from those stays.  Each cabin had a hummingbird feeder hanging out front (I guess it's okay to feed THOSE birds!) and we would sit on the porch and they'd come right up to us!  It was so neat!  

My most recent memory of RMNP is from the fall of 2008 when my sister flew me out to visit her in Colorado.  She asked me what I wanted to do while on my visit and of course, I wanted to go to RMNP!  I had never been there in the fall and it was incredible!  The aspens were changing color and it was like nothing I've ever seen before.  

Since I no longer have family living in Colorado (praise the Lord!) I look forward to taking my children to RMNP someday.  I know it's one of the most beautiful pieces of God's creation I have ever seen and I can't wait to share it with them.  

The next National Park on my very short list is Badlands National Park.  I've only been there once and I was fairly young, so my memories are fairly limited, but the best way to describe it is just like Rocky Mountain National Park, only completely different!  There are high points and valleys, but compared to the Rocky Mountains, there is very little foliage.  The high rock peaks are jagged and lifeless and the only color comes from the layers of rock and dirt.  Although it doesn't sound like a very pleasant place, it is an incredible site to see.  As we walked through the park, I was amazed that there could be such a place in a part of the country that wasn't the desert.  It was incredible.  Definitely a great place to visit.  

I also have to add that if you go to South Dakota, you will have no shortage of other great places to see.  Custer State Park holds the largest herd of buffalo in the United States.  Of course, you'd have to visit Mt. Rushmore, which is actually a National Memorial.  The Black Hills are also worth your time.  And if you feel like taking a short excursion into Wyoming, you'll be much impressed to see Devil's Tower National Monument.  Overall, I think a vacation to South Dakota and the surrounding states is definitely in my future!  Even though I've already visited once before, I'd love to go back!  

The final National Park I have visited is Grand Canyon National Park.  I must say that out of all the places I've visited, this is possibly the most impressive simply because of the sheer size of it.  For anyone to look at the Grand Canyon, unbelief in God has to be due to their fundamental desire to not believe.  Actually, I feel that way about each of the places I've just talked about.  God's fingerprints are clearly visible in His creation.  

One of the things that amazes me about the Grand Canyon is how it creeps up on you.  You're driving through the woods basically and then, in front of you opens this great crevice in the earth.  Can you imagine being the first one to discover it?  That would be quite an experience!  The river that runs through the bottom is so small, and the canyon so vast that there is no way it could possibly have been the cause of it.  God's fingerprints are everywhere!  

Well, spending time writing about these National Parks has really made me want to take a vacation!  I hope it has been enjoyable for you to read as well!