My husband and I went to the mountains for a weekend escape. We arrived at night so weren’t able to take in the view until the next morning.
Our room promised a scenic vista and I was eager to check it out in the daylight. Although the mountains loomed close, they were shrouded in clouds so not as picturesque as I had hoped.
The next morning I saw an entirely different view. The mountains were the same but sun shining on the clearly defined peaks made them magnificent.
I took pictures at the same time each morning and they tell the story of the difference a day can make.
There are times in my life when the picture in front of me isn’t what I had hoped for. The days are gloomy and the future is anything but clear. It would be so easy to give in to despair.
Instead, I need to keep moving forward. My steps might not be as quick and lively as they once were but I can’t let that stop me.
I take comfort in a well-known Bible verse which says God will be with me as I walk through the dark valley. He doesn’t abandon me there. He is beside me every step of the way and will lead me to the bright sunshine once again. It may not be today or even tomorrow. All I need is the faith that a new day can make all the difference.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
I have a friend whose son has recently achieved his longtime dream of becoming a commercial pilot. She told me a story of one of his first flights and gave me permission to share.
Her son came home and said, “Mom, I was always the child that wanted to sit in an aisle seat with the hope of being able to see into the cockpit. I would lean into the aisle and watch for the cockpit door to be opened so I could get a glimpse inside. At the time I wondered if I would ever be able to fly an airplane.”
On one of his first flights, he looked back when a flight attendant opened the door to ask a question. There he saw people down the aisle of the plane, straining to get a look into the cockpit, where he now sat. This moment took him back to the childhood memory and reinforced that he has achieved his dream.
I loved this story and thought of how sometimes we need to look back to where we once were in order to see how much we’ve accomplished. I’ve been told there are only two good reasons for looking into the past; one is to learn from it and the other is to see how far we’ve come.
This is a good reminder for me. I can easily get frustrated because I haven’t achieved all that I hoped to. The next time this happens, I need to stop and think of the progress I have made. I may not be where I wanted to be but I am not where I once was.
Sometimes the only way to realize how far I’ve come is to remember where I started from. This is a good lesson for all of us.
We were on our way to visit friends living outside of the city. When the busy streets turned into quiet country roads the only illumination came from our headlights. The air was crisp and the sky clear enough to see a few twinkling stars. As more stars became visible a decision was made to pull over and get out of the car so we could have a better view.
What we saw when we stepped into the dark night was magnificent. The black velvet sky was filled with twinkling stars.
These celestial lights were there before we stopped but the distraction of streetlights, headlights and other man-made illumination kept us from seeing them. Closer lights with a much lower wattage kept us from seeing the brilliance in the heavens.
The analogy to life couldn’t have been clearer. It is so easy for me to be distracted by something close at hand. Often I’ve been drawn towards a glimmer of hope that has proven to be nothing more than a distraction from the light which is truly important.
To appreciate the light that was given to guide me, I need to look up. Not just up twenty feet to a street light, but way up to the one who created the stars.
The brightest hope and promise I will ever experience comes from a relationship with The Lord. Anything that keeps me from pursuing Him is an unwanted distraction.
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105 NLT)
My frustration level was high and I wanted to quit. “It’s no use,” I thought. “I’ve never been artistic and just can’t do this.”
The class I found myself in was not what I expected. Self-criticism was at an all-time high as I muttered inwardly. My work looked nothing like that of the instructor and I wondered if I should attempt to quietly slip out the door so as not to embarrass myself further.
Then the instructor said something that changed my entire outlook. Her words, “Give yourself permission to be a beginner,” were not directed to me but still hit me hard.
Why did I expect to be an expert at a craft I’d never tried before? This was totally unrealistic. Yet, I grew impatient with myself for needing time and practice to accomplish this new skill.
One thing I knew for sure; I would never learn it if I quit trying. It was time to change my mindset.
I thought back to my first attempts at writing. Only by persevering, studying my craft and learning from my mistakes did I start to improve. There is still much to learn but the more I work at it, the better the chance of continued improvement. If I hadn’t given myself permission to be a beginner I would not have discovered the passion I now have for writing.
This year my writing was accepted for publication in three anthologies. Each of these stories was written, refined, edited and rewritten many times before they were ready to be submitted for consideration. My first draft was not good enough. Nor, was the second or third.
Any new skill takes practice and by exploring new things and putting time and effort into them, there’s no telling what new abilities and passions I will discover.
My husband and I have just returned from a mini-vacation. We travelled a little over an hour from home and spent three nights in the mountains.
In such a short distance and time frame we enjoyed a complete change of pace. No goals or expectations were set ahead of time. This proved to be key to our experience.
Jagged mountain peaks were visible from our room. We appreciated some time outdoors in the crisp mountain air, but had no desire to fill every moment with activity. Instead, we spent quiet hours relaxing in the spacious lobby area where a large rustic fireplace dominated one wall.
Any other time we would have felt guilty for not being outside exploring. On these days we relished the time to rest and recharge. This is something we would not have been able to accomplish at home where many tasks constantly call out for our attention.
There are always things we can be doing, but how often do we give ourselves permission to just be still?
Rest is a biblical concept. Jesus took time from his hectic life to withdraw to a quiet place for prayer. This was a necessity for him. After spending quiet time with God, he was better prepared to face the busy and trying days to come.
When I do the same, I am allowing the Lord to breathe new energy and focus into my life, preparing me for what lies ahead.
The news about Jesus spread even more. Large crowds gathered to hear him and have their diseases cured. But he would go away to places where he could be alone for prayer. (Luke 5:15-16 GST)
Canadian Thanksgiving has its origins in Europe, where festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in the month of October.
Today, Thanksgiving is a celebration of being thankful for what one has and the bounty of the previous year. For some, the main focus is a turkey dinner followed by pumpkin pie.
I do appreciate gathering together with my family and turkey is one of my favourite meals. However, I don’t feel one day is enough to express gratitude for the abundance in my life.
I like to start my mornings by giving thanks for a new day. God has given me a fresh page on which to write the next chapter of the story of my life. I want to express my gratitude for this gift and use it to make a positive difference. I say I want to, because it doesn’t always happen. I do know my day will be off to a much better start when it begins with this kind of communion with The Lord.
In the past, I thought I’d have to do something huge and life changing in order to make a difference in the world. Now, I know it may be as simple as having a positive attitude. I may never know the effect a smile and friendly hello has on a stranger I pass on the street. The same goes for holding the door open for one following behind or allowing someone to merge in traffic in front of me. It is possible my words and actions will have a ripple effect much larger than I could possible know.
I will never be in control of every event in my day, but my attitude is totally within my control. I have learned that I can choose how I act, despite how I feel. After all, God gave me the gift of free choice. In that case, why wouldn’t I choose to be positive and thankful?
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20 NIV)
I was a participant in a project that had its unveiling at a recent community event. Twelve artists and twelve writers were paired up several months ago. Each pairing was given a sample of their partner’s work. We then created a piece inspired by that of our partner.
During the event, the work was displayed and the public was invited to mingle and talk to us about our creative process. The participants were each given a name tag identifying who we were and what our role was. Mine said, “Tandy Balson, Writer.”
Anyone approaching me knew immediately what my part was. I told my husband, “I must be a writer because my label says so.”
I took a picture of the tag and wondered what other labels I also wear. Although they may not be on a printed tag, I’m sure I have others that are every bit as visible to those who see me.
If I am smiling and happy, you will know I’m approachable. When you see a scowl or overhear harsh words, my attitude will label me as someone you don’t want to be near.
My actions can also give me the labels of trustworthy, helpful and compassionate rather than dishonest, uncooperative and judgmental.
Not all labels others give me are accurate. Some can limit my belief in myself. I read a quote from Act Accordingly by Colin Wright that said, “Labels help define you, but they are not you.” To that I say, AMEN!
My husband and I were enjoying the last night of the season in our trailer. The cooler weather and falling leaves signaled the need to prepare for the approaching winter.
As the sun started to set, a fire was lit. Soon we had gathered the roasting sticks and ingredients for smores. Under a dark autumn sky, we watched the flames spark and dance while beneath them the embers glowed. Enough heat was generated to warm us against the impending chill of the night.
When the flames started to recede we roasted our marshmallows over the hot coals. It was a fitting farewell to summer.
The time came to extinguish the fire and the burning coals were separated, allowing them to cool more quickly. If we stirred them up, a new flame appeared.
I thought of how these embers were a fitting metaphor for my spiritual life.
Like the embers, when I am alone my spark or flame of passion dies down. My ability to bring warmth into the world diminishes.
When I surround myself with other believers, my faith is warmed by theirs. Together, we fan the flames of potential each carry. The passion for Christ and the mission he has given us burns brightly.
I have been recently been blessed to have a team of friends support me with their prayers. As one season ends and another begins they ensure the light of the Lord will not grow dim.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20 NIV)