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BE THE SALT AND LIGHT
"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:13
Described as" the greatest meeting of land and water in the world”, I had dreamed for over 15 years of one day venturing all the way to the almost mythic Big Sur, CA and driving up and down the "longest and most scenic stretches off undeveloped coastline in the U.S". It was the first place I had ever visited that absolutely blew away what I had only held in my mind’s eye. I’m pretty convinced the “Sur” part of its name is on purpose as this place surpasses all expectations of what true, raw beauty can be. For now, I will dream of returning and bringing our firstborn one day. We camped on the side of a cliff for 2 nights with some longtime friend’s and their beautiful husky dogs. Before sunset, we would traverse down a narrow trail surrounded by poison oak to the rocky shoreline to catch the sunset in this rock formation that I couldn’t take my eyes off since I saw it the day before. My friend and I climbed out on it and stood atop while fully becoming immersed by the pacific waves crashing it's invigorating waters over us. I felt so alive and connected to the everything all at once. We were laughing for no reason like children again. So full of true joy and amazement for no reason! I can still taste the salt on my lips and the warmth of light glowing on my skin as the icy waters began to dry on me. It was reminder. It was a taste and a feeling of what truth really was. And for no reason, other than to just embrace it, it was there for us. It always had been. It always will be. It teaches us to be just that for others.
The region was ceded from Mexico to the U.S in 1848 and was the United states “last frontier.” It was once the most isolated areas in the U.S until, after 18 years of construction, the infamous Hwy 1 was completed in 1937.
Author Henry Miller said, “Big Sur is the California that men dreamed of years ago, this is the face of the earth the creator intended it to look like.”
Novelist Herbert Gold described Big Sur as “one of the grand American retreats for those who nourish themselves with wilderness."
First known people to have inhabited here were the Ohlone, Esselen, and Salinan Native American tribes. The area was later colonized by Spanish Europeans in 1770 and established the California Missions, where they baptized and forced the native population to labor at the missions where their population and culture were later devastated by unknown diseases at the time smallpox and measles.
WE WILL RISE AGAIN
“For though we fall, we will rise again. Though we sit in Darkness now, the Lord will give us Light.” - Micah 7:8
Recognized as the finest and most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California, The Oceano Sand Dunes were first inhabited by the Chumash Native Americans well before the 1700’s and since have been sought after by explorers, seekers, artists and hermits who believed the Dunes were a place of creative energy and solitude unmatched.
I woke up early in October to catch the sunrise to the east while the golden coast lay just behind the other side of the dunes and I began to understand the unmatched solitude and stillness the seekers and roamers before me had found.
There are fewer places that I have been that feel like they take you to another country or even another world as you stand in the vast design and shapes of the Dunes. Depending on where you stood, perception would defy reality and you began to wonder if you were looking outward or upward. The sand was the finest I had ever touched and time didn’t feel real anymore. All I could sense was something eternal.
Fun Fact: The original 1923 “The Ten Commandments” movie was filmed here to recreate ancient Egypt and the massive props used were buried onsite to prevent reuse until 2013.
LIFT YOUR EYES ON HIGH
“Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see: who created the stars? He who brings them out like an army, one after the other, calling each by it’s name. Because of his greatness and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.“ - Isaiah 40:26
Page, AZ is uniquely Navajo and borders the Navajo Nation. Thousands come to visit the iconic Horseshoe Bend every year. It is cut by the Colorado River.
It was the morning of Valentines Day and we had came to watch the sunset the night before over Horseshoe Bend. We had absolutely no where to stay that night in the desert so we ended up camping out in the dirt parking lot after all the tourists left. I’ll never forget that night as my wife and I stuck our heads out the window together and fell asleep from staring at the vastness of the universe and the millions of stars for over an hour or so. To comprehend the amount of space our eyes held and to fathom the span of time was enough to wear our minds and hearts to sleep. I think it is meant to be this way. We find ourselves looking into nothing and at the same time everything.
The next morning I woke up to experience the same nothingness as I approached the mighty overlook and watched everything begin to happen as the sun came up behind me and set the walls and cliffs on fire with its amazing brushes of light. It was just a vastness that spanned beyond what my eyes view. Just like the night before…. Everything felt so far away, yet it felt as intimate as falling asleep and waking up next to a true lover.
WE WILL RISE AGAIN
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or principalities, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, no height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, could separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:39
Some of my most cherished memories I will carry the rest of my life began in this small beach town known as Pacific City. My wife and I stumbled across this town many years ago and never stopped coming back for birthdays, anniversaries, and getaways. Every time we stay I get up before sunrise and start my trek down to the beach, up the might sand dune, and onto the other side where there is always something beyond words to witness and just be in the presence of true greatness, power, and glory.
It is not an easy trek and many have met their death getting to close to an edge and falling off the unstable cliffs made of brittle sandstone. I have never been to a place where I felt like I have been in the belly of a storm or in the stomach of the sea. I sat mesmerized for over 3 hours watching as waves pounded relentlessly onto the seawalls. Some waves were so mighty when the crashed, the ocean spray reached the top of the cliffs. I was in awe as I thought how this drama and violence of the ocean has been playing this out since the beginning of time. I thought about how it probably has looked different every single day since it began. I thought about how there was no beginning or end in sight. The waves keep returning to where there from. The sea walls erode more and more everyday by the beating they receive. Everything changes. Nothing will stay the same. I return here year after year and the waves never stop their assault on this side of the chasm. It’s violence captivates me. It’s sounds still echo and reverberates through my soul and I never forget could forget it’s sweeping melody for all my life. I am just in the middle of this. That is all. I am only a part of this. With or without me, everything going on will do what it has always done. One wrong move and I could never return the same. Coming back still, I am not the same.
The Nestugga Native American tribe were the first settlers here due to being driven from their land that was desimated by one of the largest forest fires in American history (1,500,000 acres) of old growth forest burned caused by a single person starting a brush fire to clear debris. Settlers in 1854 relocated them since then and began lucrative cannery businesses and later logging and dairy farming. The area also became a vacation destination for Oregon Trail pioneers from the midwest who had never seen the ocean.
SEEK WITH ALL YOUR HEART
For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then, You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will Seek me and find me, when you seek with all your heart. I will be found by you and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from the places where I have driven you, and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile. - Jeremiah 29:13
I came back to explore more of the Central California Coast and wanted to venture further North toward San Fransisco. So to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary, my wife and I found a quite little beach town just north of the bay area to stay in. I would walk down to the beach every morning before sunrise and start seeking out the best vista to witness a new day rising. I continually gravitated to this area where the cliffs met the beach and where the sun would kiss the water and clouds. Dodging the tide and scaling some decent seawalls, I climbed over to this remote cove of heaven where it was just myself and a few birds meeting for breakfast. I sat on top of the seawall that I climbed and thought to myself how far my life has come. How fortunate I am to be right here, right now. I felt my heart beat. I listened to my lungs fill with the Autumn air. My soul became still. I began to pray a prayer of thankfulness. My heart has spent most of it's life seeking. And here I am. Sitting still on my 5th wedding anniversary and the sun is rising beyond the cliffs while San Fransisco floats in the distance. A new morning. A new discovery. Something so private and secluded. Like a gift given in secret between loved ones. Something so valuable and fragile. So much life ahead to hope for. I thought about my beautiful wife I would begin my day with. I wanted to stay forever in what I had found. So many years I have been seeking out good desires and they became alive right here in this moment. It was nothing more than that. Just a moment that soon passed. But it was perfection in true form. It needed to be nothing more. Nothing less. It was enough for me to carry on with hope in my heart. Joy in my soul. Peace in my head. I am so grateful for this moment.
Formerly known as Willow Camp in 1870, this beach is one of the cleanest beaches in California.
Fun Fact: Refugees from the San Fransisco earthquake came to this area and built some of it’s first businesses. Also, Wes Craven’s original horror film “The Fog” was filmed in this small town and beach. The beach is also known as the red Triangle due to the amount of great white shark attacks since 1952. Also, Janis Joplin’s cremated ashes were scattered along this beach