We all have special places, locations with sentimental significance, places where memories have been made, places that changed our lives. Here’s my top ten list. What’s yours?
Ft. Leonard Wood Chapel Balcony – December 1984 – The Army facility where I first heard the gospel and the news that there was hope for a sinner such as I. It wasn’t special in its construction, but it will forever remain a special place in my heart. The Bible was preached. The Spirit descended. I was never the same.
New Union Baptist Church Altar – In 1991, two became one flesh. A Rouse and a Wehse officially became a family. I will never forget the moments Jodi slowly walked down the aisle into my arms. I had not seen such a beautiful woman in my whole life. The woman God gave to me proved to be an excellent wife!
Hospitals – Sunrise Hospital, Las Vegas (Celena – 1999), Mountain View Hospital (TJ – 2002 and Dayton – 2005), Woman’s East-Erlanger (Cascade – 2008) and Erlanger (Cadence -2014). It is amazing how a sterile hospital can become the intersection of heaven and earth. I cried each time. God is indeed gracious. I have been greatly blessed.
Minneapolis, MN Convention Center – 2003 – 2007 – Site of the Desiring God National Conference, an event I attended for five consecutive years and where I encountered God afresh through worship and the Word. During those conferences, I was blessed to hear great teaching and be led to genuinely worship my sovereign God.
Grand Canyon – I’ve probably been to the canyon ten times and in it three times, twice to the bottom. I feel almost a spiritual connection to the ancient place. Its canyons and colors mesmerize me. In the bowels of the canyon, I felt swallowed up by eternity. I look forward to my children standing on the rim, praising the Creator and Sustainer of all that is–Jesus Christ.
Mountains – I love the mountains. I’ve been to the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, the Smokies, the White Mountains and the mountains of northern Japan. I’ve climbed mountains in the U.S. and Japan, including Mt. Fuji. The first mountain I climbed was Mt. Iwate in Japan. The last was Mt. Whitney in California. Whitney, in particular, was breathtaking. I may be done climbing mountains, but my memories remain.
Beaches – I’ve spent time on the beaches of California, Florida and Japan. The first time I saw the ocean was at Revere Beach in Boston. The most fun I had at the beach was at Gulf Shores, AL. Jodi and I used to visit New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic coast of Florida while I was in seminary. Several of our vacations were held on the Pacific coast in California, some with my parents. Good memories indeed!
Military Battlefields – The Alamo, San Antonio, TX – Chickamauga, GA – Cowpens, SC – Lexington and Concord, MA – Lookout Mountain,GA & Gettysburg, PA. I have had the honor of standing where heroes both stood and fell. There is a sense in which the holy is experienced there as no other place. Of the many sites I have visited, I especially want my children to see Gettysburg.
Presidential Libraries – I visited the Eisenhower library (Abilene, KS) and the Nixon library (Yorba Linda, CA). These were wonderful sights, beautiful and informative, but neither compared to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. I’ve been twice and would love to visit again. I am proud to be an American. Presidential libraries pour gas on that flame.
Disney – I’ve been to Disneyland in Tokyo and Disneyland in California, and I have visited Disney World in Florida several times. Every time I walked through the gates, I felt a wave of emotion. The inner child rises within. Disney truly is a magical place and I look forward to taking my kids there again (I don’t look forward to the cost of that trip!)