Monday, August 19, 2013


The perfect little rock tower beside the river, a bottle hanging from a noose in a tree, a mirror nailed to the trunk of a tree by the road. The anomaly that catches your eye, the distinctly man-made thing that peacefully resides in an abnormal place – these are the little quirks that remind me so impressively of the creativity of the human mind.

It is by these amazing little things that I am reminded of God’s immense power and creativity. And how astonishing that He should choose to pass these traits on to us!! I truly believe that our minds – our imagination, our creativity, our sense of artistry – are what make us so much like Him in our design. He gave us His love for beauty, for balance, for the things that please our eyes and give us a sense of rightness.

We were created to enjoy beauty and take pleasure in it. Of that I have no doubts.

Alas, that it would be so easy for this love of beauty to be such a stumbling block for the human race! Women can stress over looks until it becomes an obsession, men can be led astray by beauty that is not kept in check, and children can be distracted by the fluttering butterfly that will draw them off the beaten path.

Find the holiness in the beauty around you. Keep beauty in its rightful place – as something to please the eye and feed the soul. Do not let it lead your eyes to look where they should go, or tempt you into wrongdoing.

There can be such a thing as too much of the good things in life. Don’t let your love for beauty draw you astray.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


As I walked into the bank to cash my paycheck, I saw there was only one teller working the front desk, and two people already waiting in line. Since my day was pretty much over, I was in no rush to get my transaction completed.

I began daydreaming, letting my mind mull over the things of the day, thinking of everything that happened. As I’m doing so, one of the guys working at the bank stepped out of his cubicle and paused by the head of the line.

“I do apologize, folks, we’re getting someone up to help with your transactions as soon as we can.” And he slipped by to get behind the desk.

Another teller came up and began speaking to the man in front of me. “I’m sorry about your wait, sir, I can help you over here at my desk.” Apparently, he had a more complex mission than cashing a check. As I stepped up to the front of the line, I heard the man grumble, “All this smoke…it’s awful…I have fires all around my place…”

My first reaction was to scoff, but I stopped myself before I could think anything negative. I glanced over at him. You’re alive, you’re walking on your own two feet, in a nice, air-conditioned building that smells as much like smoke as a skunk smells like roses. What ARE you complaining about?

I’ve really been thinking lately about thankfulness. I’m certainly not the most thankful person in the world, but more often than not I find myself smiling when I really have no reason to be. Is it because I have no reason to not be happy? Or is happy just my default emotion when there’s nothing else fighting to be seen?

It’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in life, and forget to be thankful for what didn’t go wrong in your day. Your car broke down on the way to work? Be thankful it didn’t break down when you were in the middle of the desert, or that it didn’t go up in flames before you got out. Lost your keys? Be thankful you didn’t lose your wallet! Couldn’t get to work because your child/spouse/roommate was ill and needed to be cared for? Be thankful that that person is alive and their body is fighting off a disease and not succumbing to it. And be thankful that it’s not YOU that’s ill.

It’s so easy to tell a truly content Christian from one that is not content and has lost their vision of Christ. Examine a person under stress and difficulty; what do you get? A griping, whining complainer, or someone who smiles at their problems and says, “My God is bigger than you!”

Thankfulness is not hard. It may be trying, and humbling, but it’s not rocket science.

Thankfulness: don’t ever forget to be thankful. When things go wrong, or your day gets rough, always be thankful. Find the sun behind the storm, the silver lining in the clouds. See the rainbow through the rain, and learn to smile in the trouble.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Relating and Defining, by Unconditional Love

            When you relate to other people, what do you immediately pull from your hat of life experiences, and why? Do you look at their shirt, emblazoned with some mainstream slogan like “YOLO,” and tell them the story of your last near-death encounter? Do you see the dark circles around their eyes and ask them how they've been doing lately? Or do you just smile, say hi, and wait for them to talk?
            I used to tell people about the horses I worked with and their latest escapades. Now, after I've been out there in the world and begun relating to people, I wouldn't just run up to someone and start blabbing about horses. Not that horses (or talking about them) is a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I still love horses and I always will. But not everyone likes horses. When I was twelve, that hit me like a freight train. “Why on earth would anyone be afraid of horses?!”
            Anymore, I've learned that it’s better to ask someone else what they’re into before I start talking about my life. That eliminates a lot of awkwardness when a subject is not seen in the same light by both parties. I mean, seriously, why should I get in a debate with someone about horses being better than dogs? To each his own. There is no ethical or moral proof that horses are exponentially superior. Therefore, I shall not bother.
            The “ask first” method also says, “I’m interested in you as a person, I find you to have worth and importance, and I want to learn more about you!” Nothing says that you’re a true, kind, caring Christian like wanting to get to know someone without judging their political or social standing.
            But once you get to that point, where the ice is broken and you have your “Conversation Buddy” engaged, what do they see?
            When I talk to people, I hope that they see Christ’s love in me. I don’t want to be giving them my sob story, trying to gain sympathy – because, trust me, I do that a lot and it drives me crazy. I want to accept people as they are, not try to change them. I want them to see that it’s really only God who can give people true joy, and that there is truly nothing special about me but His saving grace.
            So what do YOU come across as? A video-gamer, an animal lover, a Potterhead (guilty), a fan of some obscure TV shows, or maybe even a Pinterest junkie? Name your genre. I can be seen as equal parts of any of those things.
            Don’t get me wrong, those things can be used in good ways, but like money, they are neutral – neither a source of evil nor a source of goodness. They can be used to do good, or they can be used in perverse or otherwise destructive ways. But is that how you wish to be defined? By the world’s trends and popular notions?

            I for one choose to be defined by the love and sacrifice of my Savior. There could certainly be nothing nobler than that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Of Words and Fear

I’m a writer by choice and a novelist by trade. A wannabe poet and an artist at heart. Reading that first line, you would think I have no problems using my tongue, my mind, and my words to communicate with the people around me.

Well, Dear Reader, think again.

It happens unexpectedly, in the middle of a deep, philosophical or otherwise important conversation. I feel the need to respond, to speak my mind, to say something moving or relevant – but nothing comes. My jaw locks. My tongue seizes. Any sound that could have been made lodges in my throat and refuses to budge. At first it seems as though it is my mouth that refuses to work, but there are no words, no thoughts that coherently form in my mind. The link from my mind to my mouth seems cut, and I remain silent. My face takes on a blank, uninterested look and people assume I am distant and not listening.

Oh, how untrue that is!

But when I write, my thoughts flow like a stream. They bump and slide and twist through my mind, eager to be realized and manifested into words, phrases, poems, stories. They are alive and well and itching to be brought to fruition. I can speak my mind freely with a pencil in my fingers or a keyboard under my hands. Sometimes it becomes impossible to contain myself, and I must write or draw to express the emotions and feelings threatening to burst through my excited self.

I become alive with my thoughts, flowing with them, letting myself be pulled along the dreams and ideas like a branch being pulled down a stream. Sometimes, I forget my place and let them carry me too far. Other times, I become afraid, and I pull myself onto the shore before the stream takes me into unknown, uncharted territories. It is a journey, and an adventure, just to write and dream.

Then how can I have such an issue, making my thoughts known? How can it be so hard just to say a few words?


I am afraid, to step off the known path of my thoughts and to share them with another person. To bare my soul, my essence, and leave it open for prying and prodding, for inspection and observation. I worry about what may be thought of me, of how I could be ridiculed and shamed for being myself. Of how my soul could be battered by some unthinking words.

But I should not be ashamed, because of that man who loved me so unreservedly as to let his life be ended for my sake. And how can I learn, if I do not subject myself to some form of pain from which to grow and learn? Without sacrifice, there can be little gain. Without falling, you can never pick yourself back up. You cannot be made stronger if you do not realize your weaknesses.

Perhaps if I am a bit more willing to fall, to fail, to be shown weak, I shall grow. My Savior will prove Himself strong in my weakness and failures, and to be used to show His glory in such a way is my heart’s greatest desire.