Keep Walking

Sometimes in life we find ourselves in a deep, dark valley. Often it feels more like a narrow slot canyon where no sunshine can reach.

The Narrows slot canyon at Zion National Park is 18 miles long and if you want to walk up it you’re in water—often very deep water, with a strong current and rocky bottom—all the way. It’s not for the weak or faint of heart.

My husband and I hiked part of the way up the Narrows this summer. There was no way I could make it the full 18 miles. Even the mile we did trek was almost too much for me. My wristband that says “I can and I will” reminded me of the hope I needed to make it back down river.

Life itself isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s impossible without hope. Thankfully, hope never dies. And God never leaves us alone.

David reminds us in Psalm 23 that no matter how dark the slot canyon of life becomes, we are not alone. We must always remember these words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” We are only walking through the dark valley and on our darkest days, hope is there.

So if you find yourself today walking in darkness, unable to see the light, keep walking. Even if you can barely muster a crawl, keep moving forward through the dark valley. You can and you will reach the other side. And when you do, you’ll find hope was there all along.

My valley of the shadow of death lasted more than seven years. At the time, I felt all hope was lost. But looking back I can see that my Savior never left me. Hope never died, dim though it was.

I pray you may one day look back and see that hope has never left you either.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is the ninth anniversary of the start of this blog. I began on a whim and it’s grown into so much more.

I had grand plans of writing a post, waxing poetic about the joys and heartaches of blogging, but there simply wasn’t time. Too many other responsibilities competed for my attention.

I’ll have to settle for a little sharing of the stats. Here’s a snapshot of this blog by the numbers, not counting this post:

  • 1,475 = Total posts to date
  • 541,763 = Total words written for posts (my writing coach commented, “That’s enough for 11 books!”)
  • 229,567 = Total page views
  • 11,057 = Total likes
  • 1,580 = Total followers
  • Innumerable = The blessings I’ve enjoyed in the journey

God willing, I plan to keep it up. I hope you’ll join me.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Embrace the Unsafe Life

Deep water holds the thrill of grand adventure
and the potential for grievous suffering

One mustn’t place the two upon the scale of life
and act according to the balance thereof

Instead flee the safety of the harbor
and embark on your noble destiny

_______________________________

It’s Quadrille Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. Lillian is running the pub and will likely serve you up a drink with perhaps a shrimp cocktail on the side or perhaps some fish & chips, especially if you pay your bill with a Quadrille containing the word harbor.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Invest a Penny

Yesterday I attended a wonderful all-day seminar put on by author and speaker Bo Stern. The title of the seminar was Speakology. Bo shared tips for women who want to speak publicly to share the Gospel of Jesus—tips on both what TO do and what NOT to do. She talked about thesis statements, illustrations, and how to craft a story in a way that you keep your listener’s and reader’s attention to the end.

The seminar was broken into three parts. At the beginning of the second part, right after lunch, she passed a cup full of pennies down each row of attendees and instructed us to each take one. Here’s the penny I got:

Bo then read Matthew 25, the parable of the talents. You know the story. The master leaves on a trip and entrusts his servants with some of his money. One servant gets five talents (a unit of money in the Bible), one gets two, and the last gets one. The first two servants double their money, but the third one hides the talent in the ground because he is afraid of losing it and angering the master.

When the master returns, the first two servants are commended for their efforts (not necessarily their results) and given more responsibility. The third servant is chastised, called wicked and lazy, and thrown out into darkness.

I love versions of this parable that use the term “talents” rather than bags of money. What we are each entrusted with by God may not be money. It may truly be some sort of talent or skill that can be used to the benefit of God’s kingdom.

Bo said this penny represented all the words God has given each of us to write and speak. We are to use them, not hide them away, so that they might multiply the kingdom of God.

As she spoke, I examined my little penny. Of the fifty or sixty pennies distributed that day, I believe I received just the one I was supposed to. As is my habit with coins, I noted the mint date on my penny: 1975.

I was eleven years old in 1975. That year I accepted Jesus as my Savior at Missionettes Bible camp. At that time, God entrusted me with words of truth and a reason to use my talent for writing.

For a long time, I didn’t invest my talent as God would have me do. But in 2009 He prompted me to start this blog and use my talent to multiply the love and grace of His kingdom. I have been rewarded immensely, knowing I have blessed others with my words.

What talent has God entrusted you with? If I gave you a penny, what would it represent for you? Are you an encourager? Do you have the gift of hospitality? Are you also a writer? Perhaps it is financial blessing that God has given you, or simply the endurance to see a job through to completion to the best of your ability.

When God returns, or brings you home, will you hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

Whatever it is that God has entrusted you with to multiply the blessing of His kingdom in the world, will you choose to set aside the fear holding you back and use your talent for His glory? Will you invest your penny today? Let me know in the comments.

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Food for the Hungry

Salty crisp potato chips tantalize my tongue
because Ruffles have ridges
but mostly Ruffles have flavor
and they fill my belly
already stuffed and bloated

My stomach is fat
My soul is lean

Cold creamy Cherry Garcia swirls my taste buds
slides down my throat
sweet cherries and chunks of chocolate
satisfy my stomach
glutted from a steak and potato dinner

My stomach is swollen
My soul is barren

Loudly-flavored lemon Luna Bar
the perfect afternoon snack
devoured in moments
the memory faintly lingers
on my lips

My stomach is gorged
My soul is gaunt

My spirit longs for food
that gladdens the heart
invigorates the soul

Woman can’t thrive
on bread alone
on Ruffles alone
on Cherry Garcia alone
on lemon Luna alone

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Quadrille of Qs

Quiet all around
from the quarterdeck I spied
the quick quillback
I heard a quack
Saw a quark and a quist
quickly glide away

My phone camera rolled
but quonk querked the video
and it quit

The great Quarterback above
chuckled at my quest

_____________________________________

I decided to have a little fun today with De Jackson’s call for Quadrilles including the work quick dVerse Poets Pub at today. There’s never been a “Q” word used for Quadrille Monday before, she says. So I took it up a notch and using http://www.wordhippo.com found as many words that began with Q and ended with K or T as I could.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

For the Love of Coffee

I love coffee. I do live in the Pacific Northwest, after all, and coffee is a big deal here. But unlike many coffee snobs I know, my favorite is a simple cup of Yuban drip coffee with a splash of dark chocolate almond milk. (If you’re a French-press-only kind of coffee drinker, I hope you’ll keep reading, because the lesson here may be for you, too).

At home, I drink two 16-ounce mugs of coffee before I leave the house in the morning and take a third to go. Sometimes my family tries to talk to me before my first cup is gone, but it doesn’t do them much good.

When I travel, concerns over where I’ll get that first cup of morning fuel consume me. Will the room have a coffee maker (preferably not a Keurig)? Will housekeeping have left enough real coffee instead of decaf, and will it be a decent blend? Will I have to go down to the hotel lobby to get a cup? Where will I find almond milk and will there be a fridge in the room to store it?

These are critical questions that demand an answer. The right answer.

I recently attended a writers conference and stayed at the hotel where the conference was held. I shared a room with a dear friend who is unconcerned with coffee, which worked well because the tiny four-cup pot was just enough to get me out the door and down to the hotel coffee bar for a latte. (And, yes, there was a fridge for my almond milk).

The second day of the conference, I was blessed to have a half-hour mentor session with author Kim Meeder. Our discussion came around to the things I had put ahead of God in my life. I hadn’t given Him first priority with my time, and it had affected my writing.

I confessed to Kim that I’d been feeling my well was dry. I hadn’t been inspired to write more than a few words in months. This period coincided with when I had let my regular prayer and devotion time slip through the cracks. I’d been trying to make it through each day on coffee and sheer willpower alone. I’d grown weary and unfocused.

I left that mentor session with a renewed commitment to put God first by beginning each day reading my Bible and worshiping God. I returned to my room to pray and make a new worship playlist on my iPod.

The next morning, while my roommate was in the shower, I sat in our darkened room listening to my new playlist. As one ear listened to the music, the other ear listened to the coffee pot drip out my four cups of morning brew, waiting for the tell-tale gurgle signaling my first cup was ready to pour. When will that coffee be done?

God gently replied, What if you needed Me more than that cup of coffee?

That thought has stuck with me in the weeks since. With every cup of coffee, I’m reminded that I need something—Someone—even more.

The truth is I do need God more than a cup of coffee. Only He can take my weariness and lack of focus and turn them into rest and direction. I must consume His Word and savor His truth every morning.

I returned home and began to develop my habit of daily Bible reading as the first thing each morning. I started with an old favorite: the Gospel of John. A few days in, a verse jumped out at me that I hadn’t truly noticed before. Perhaps it’s because I was reading a different translation, or perhaps God chose to help me see its application to me at this moment in time.

So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. John 4:6 (NASB).

Although I continued reading further in the chapter and onto the next, I was drawn time and again to that one verse. I saw two important lessons in it:

  1. If Jesus could grow weary, then there was no shame in me feeling weary; and
  2. When Jesus was weary, He went to the well, which is exactly where I need to go, too.

I still love coffee and probably always will. But it’s a poor substitute for the well that is God’s Word and truth when one is weary.

Are you feeling weary today in spite of all your efforts to spur yourself on? Is coffee no longer enough to keep you energized for your busy day? Do you feel as though your well has run dry? Perhaps it’s time to seek strength and rest at the well of God’s Word.

Posted in Christian Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments