Last weekend my husband and I attended a dance competition to watch our ten-year-old granddaughter. She does highland dance and the accompanying music is provided by a piper.
As well as the traditional Highland Fling, there was also a Santa Fling. We had fun watching the dancers do the traditional steps to a bagpipe version of Jingle Bells!
During the morning, I learned some dances can have variations to steps and arm movements. Not all dance schools teach the same version and this is totally acceptable to the judges.
I commented to my daughter that it must be distracting for a dancer to have the person beside her doing different movements. She told me it was the responsibility of the dancer to be aware of the space around her. If one bumped into another both would be penalized.
The footwork is quite intricate and I could appreciate the difficulty of focusing on their own moves without becoming distracted by others doing different steps. At the same time, they need to constantly be aware of those nearby. A lack of concentration could cause problems for more than themselves.
This was such a good analogy for life. There are multiple ways of getting from point A to point B. I don’t have to do it the same way as everyone else. The important things to remember are to focus on my own steps rather than trying to match the ones someone else is taking and to ensure my movements are not going to cause problems for those around me. My goal is to master this as well as those young dancers did.
I was drawn to the lighthouses we saw on our travels. From the shores of the Great Lakes in Ontario to the coastline of the Maritime Provinces, every lighthouse was photo worthy.
There was something about these structures that captured my imagination. Most were operational but I also wanted to stop and admire ones that were purely for decoration.
The distinct tower shape, topped by a lantern area at the top is easily recognized as something to help ships navigate safely through treacherous waters.
The symbolism in this runs deep. To many, lighthouses are seen as showing us how to navigate through the rough waters of life. They speak of safety and security in the face of adversity and challenge.
Maybe that is why I was drawn to them. Even the well-weathered structures with peeling paint held an attraction.
They reminded me that, no matter my age, I have the ability to make a positive impact. A lighthouse doesn’t rush around, attempting to save people. It stands still and shines a beacon of light to illuminate the darkness. That is its great power.
Jesus is my personal lighthouse. He keeps me safe and secure no matter what storms challenge my life. I never have to walk in darkness when I can look to Him to guide me. His light fills me and equips me to reflect that to those around me. In that way, I can be a beacon that points people to Him.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)
“Do you want me to back the car out for you?” my husband asked. It was early morning and he was getting ready to leave for an appointment in the city. The car I would need a little later was in a challenging spot, close to the garage wall. I wouldn’t be able to back straight out because another vehicle was blocking the driveway directly behind it.
My mind told me I would never do this on my won. A quick glance at the clock let me know Brian would be pressed for time if he took the time to help me. I also knew that he wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice his time to ensure I was okay.
I swallowed my fear, attempted to look confident and said I could do it.
When the time came to leave, I looked at the position of the vehicles and wondered why I said I could handle this challenge. It looked impossible but unless I cancelled my plans, I had to figure out a way.
With trepidation I got behind the wheel. Aloud I repeated, “I can do this” several times, hoping to talk myself into a feeling.
Inching backwards, I relied on my side mirror as I came within inches of the van in the driveway. After safely passing by it I had the most amazing feeling of accomplishment. Immediately I shouted, “I did it!”
I drove off, thankful to have overcome this challenge. If I had given in to my fears, I wouldn’t be experiencing the immense satisfaction I was now enjoying.
Backing up that morning helped me to move forward. It was a powerful reminder that when given the opportunity, I can accomplish more than I thought possible.
Have you heard the saying, “Somebody pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming”? That is exactly how I felt.
My husband and I had a long time dream and were about to make it happen. The time for saying, “One day we’d like to” had come to an end.
Too many times we have let opportunities pass us by. This time we weren’t going to look back in regret, wondering what it would have been like.
Plans were set in motion and initial preparations were started. We told others about our plans. It surprised us to hear how many people wanted to do the same. Not only were we going after our dream, we would also be living that of many others as well.
We packed up Vanessa, our 1996 travel van and headed across Canada.
Intentionally, we kept our schedule flexible. We had a rough idea of timing for some areas and commitments for specific dates in others. For the most part, we were free to go where the wind, or whim, took us.
Nine weeks and over 16,000 km on the road in a camper van was certainly the adventure of a lifetime for us. We witnessed firsthand the diverse beauty of our country. We were inspired by people we met. We overcame challenges and shared frustrations and laughter.
I learned to be content in a small space. I enjoyed not knowing what we might see during the day or where we would stop for the night. Having our food and accommodation with us gave us incredible flexibility. I am convinced this trip helped me to embrace a spontaneity that had been hidden for far too long. That in itself was a gift.
Now instead of saying, “One day” we have amazing memories of pursuing our dream and turning it into a dream come true.
Some precious gens are well known and others are more like hidden treasures. One of my favourites, the opal, is often overlooked.
An opal is made out of desert dust, sand and silica and its beauty comes not from its perfection, but because of defects. It is a stone with a broken heart. An opal is full of minute fissures, or cracks, that allow air inside. This air then refracts the light, creating swirls of colour.
An opal will lose its luster if it is kept in a cold, dark place, but that luster is restored when it is held in a warm hand or when the light shines on it.
By comparing the opal to myself I see that when I am warmed by God’s love I reflect His colour and brilliance. When I am broken inside myself, through my defects, I can give back the lovely hues of His light to others. Only then can the lamp can burn brightly within me and not flicker or go out.
Still, there are times when I lose the luster in my life and wonder how to restore it. What can I do when I need to bring back the shine?
I can pause early in the day to seek God’s guidance. Counting my blessings also helps me see that I am held in His loving hands.
This attitude of gratitude rids my life of the film of frustration, the rust of resentment and the varnish of vanity.
Without God’s touch our lives, there is no sparkle. When we allow Him to work within us, His warmth and light restores our luster. In His hands, we become precious gems that beautify His kingdom.