January 29, 2014
January 26, 2014
The sun began its descent, settling low into the horizon.
With each minute, rays of sunlight faded. Only hours before, daytime illuminated groves, mountain slopes, and the lake, in vibrant hues of summer. My cousins and I had basked in its warmth. We'd run up and down the road next to the family campsite, kicking up dust with our Keds in a game of tag. The cottonwoods towering overhead provided respite from the heat at midday. Smaller trees formed leaf shrouded alcoves that served as hiding places. The water, shimmering with promise, afforded abundant opportunities for swimming and splashing, and adventures rowing in my grandfather's small fishing boat.
But dusk stole the light and repaid the landscape with shades of ever darkening gray.
Blackness crept in around us. We retreated to camp. Rimmed by large rocks, a fire cracked and popped around lengths of wood split by my Grandpa Frank. We fed sticks and small branches to the flames and watched them grow. Sitting fireside was a comfort. Grandma's dinner warmed our
stomachs. Shared tales of the day warmed our hearts. All too soon, conversation dimmed. For the adults, warm beds beckoned from inside camp trailers. Much earlier my cousins and I set up our tents a distance away from the adults–– and the campfire. We boasted to each other about braving the wilds.
It was then fear had started to gnaw at my stomach.
I was afraid of the dark.
All day long, I told myself I'd somehow figure out how to conquer my apprehension by nightfall. Our one-man tents were set in a circle, flaps facing inward. Common sense told me that if I needed them my cousins would be only an arm length away. But with darkness, panic settled into me bone deep. I tried to reason out, as much as my young mind would allow, why darkness filled me with dread. Aloneness. Uncertainty. The unknown. Stuff not always easily understood when you're a kid; and not easily explained to other kids. In desperation my mind grasped what seemed to be a reasonable, common concern that I hoped wouldn't garner ridicule.
And I proclaimed it aloud.
"We need to check the tents and make sure there are no bugs." I grabbed up a half-burnt stick from the fire. The flame at its end served as torch as we searched. My ruse worked. My cousins engaged with me to hunt for the peril of creeping, crawling insects––which bought me more time.
My thoughts raced. We could search my tent last. If I were to prop the burning stick right outside the tent, I'd have the comfort of a nightlight. However, a gentle breeze was blowing. Embers falling from the torch and onto the sleeping bag loaned me by my father––leaving singed holes I'd somehow have to explain in the morning––quickly dispelled the notion. And, unfortunately, only a few beetles had taken up residence on the tent walls. My cousin Scott quickly flicked them out.
Yawning, everyone turned to enter their own tents. In a last-ditch effort to save face and not have to admit my fear, I began to cough. Smoke from the torch and those burning embers that scorched Dad's sleeping bag stung my eyes and throat, I complained. By then my cousins were too tired to care what I did.
I spent the night with Grandpa and Grandma in their trailer.
It wouldn't be until years later that I discovered I'd had available to me the comfort of light all along. A light that can help force back the darkness of remote campsites, as well as the aching darkness of aloneness, uncertainly, doubt, and despair, along with the many other varieties of darkness in the world.
We are all blessed with the Light of Christ.
It persuades us to seek and do good as it assists us in navigating darkness. When we gain a testimony of Christ and his love for us––and when we apply faith as an action verb––that light shines brighter than anything we must face. When we don't allow it to be diminished by fear, uncertainly and disillusionment, or the bitter winds of sin, we are guaranteed essential light to dispel darkness. In the difficult landscapes we must often traverse in our journey through life, guidance and comfort can ever be ours.
January 23, 2014
In this day of high tech communication, we can get lost.
Text messaging. Email. Chat. Social media.
There are more ways to communicate than ever before.
But all too often they offer only a means of superficial communication,
. . . and a means of busyness.
The word busy is defined by active and attentive engagement in work or a pastime--
yet busyness is characterized by meaningless activity.
Technological busyness helps us feel like we're always in control.
But the reality is that it can occupy us to the extent
we lose sight of life's most precious and important elements.
Like the wonder of ourselves.
Validation from outside sources is fleeting.
When we slow the flow of social media consumption and superficial communication
and again listen to our own heart and intuition
and again listen to our own heart and intuition
--get to know ourselves again--
we gain time to seek and discover the inherent value within us:
power and wonder that will lift and sustain us as we pursue our goals and dreams.
January 18, 2014
Since I first asked last year what gives you hope/what hope means to you, many of you have sent letters and emails that have truly touched my heart. For some of you, hope is found in the smile of a child--knowing that something of you will live on in them and in generations to come. For some of you it's in the recognition of your talents and potential and the myriad opportunities that are ahead as you strive for your dreams. For others hope is anchored on God, the faith He will uplift and sustain you as you nourish your relationship with Him; still others hope to know He is mindful of them and seek reassurance of His hand in their lives.
For me hope is a mix of all these things and more. I love that each morning when we arise our hope can begin anew. Whatever has happened the previous day, week, or year doesn't matter. If others have hurt us, if we've made mistakes, even if we've been bereft of hope, we have another shot at it. The gift hope gives us is that it lets us pick up the pieces of the past and make something beautiful for the future.
Familius is featuring my quote on hope today as a pinnable. Check it out here.
January 8, 2014
But we have a choice to live differently.
Each morning as we wake, if we consciously determine to shift our focus away from life's usual frenetic, stress-filled pace to one of finding God in each moment we can experience the true joy each day has to offer.
January 7, 2014
Three years ago next month, I decided to write A Year's Journey/Simple Things--an in depth look at living life more fully with gratitude and joy. I spent nearly 15 months writing the book; various changes and edits (with two very patient and encouraging editors--thanks Kirk and Stacey) spanned the next nineteen months. Some days (lots, actually) I didn't think I'd ever see the book reach print.
I arrived home yesterday to find my box of author's copies. It's official: Simple Things is now "real" and starting to arrive in bookstores. My most sincere thanks to all of you who encouraged me these past three years: my editors, beta readers, friends, and family. Heartfelt gratitude and thanks for making a dream come true.