PERSPECTIVE

Long Road (2)

Perspective

Today; the first day of 2014; a new year.  

I relish new year’s day and new year’s eve; not for the festivities, the holiday from work, the guaranteed kiss at midnight; nor for the over-booked, over-priced menus at all restaurants that evening ;). Like standing atop the highest peak and looking out across an expansive valley below; this holiday can bring a different perspective.  For me, it’s a time for reflection: to look back on a year and wish it “good riddance!” or to revel in the accomplishments, goals reached and struggles overcome; often both.

January 1 holds in it a clean slate. If you didn’t waste yourself too much the night before, it is a day to behold the promise of new goals, a fresh start and the endless possibilities for the next 365 days!

Or not. It really is just a day. Probably a day of recovery with many people swearing, “I will never again…”

The more precious time I get on this planet, the more I sense God speaking to us through His creation I realize the importance of perspective.

Perspective.

 

I took these pictures from the same location just a few months apart.

Isn’t this how we can feel sometimes? Like there is so much beauty bouncing around life in a kaleidoscope of hope and opportunity, yet other times life is a foreboding, dangerous and dark place.

But it is the same place; just a different time.

I am not one who typically relishes the unknown of what change can bring. I am a planner and seek to control the outcomes. But every season of life contains a bounty of change, so I cling to the constant:

“For the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Jeremiah 33:11)

As I write down my hopes for this new year, my resolutions for change, and I wipe away the failures and flops of 2013; I envision the possibilities that this road holds as spring sprinkles her magic dew and new life down her path. I can hardly wait to see the buds blossom into a wide array of fruits and fulfillment of purpose as summer breaks through. And I vow to remember that, regardless of dark days, looming fog, or storms that seem they won’t let up, a new season is often just around the corner; His love is an enduring constant that will carry me through those seasons.

So, whatever season you find yourself in, may your perspective be filled with hope and newness, and may you cling to the promise of His enduring, faithful, unchanging love as you travel down your path.

 Happy New Year!

LOST

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LOST

“Feeling my way through the darkness.

Guided by a beating heart…” –Avicii

I have a good (and unique!) friend who enjoys getting lost. Despite having GPS in her vehicle, she goes it on her own and considers getting lost an adventure! She savors finding undiscovered places she normally wouldn’t.

Me…not-so-much. I LOATHE getting lost. I have ZERO sense of direction. I plan ahead with maps and detailed turn-by-turn instructions because I get turned around and discombobulated very easily.

When I first moved to Phoenix, without my Rocky Mountains to direct me, I experienced this very thing.

Returning from a road trip to Lake Powell, I got lost for hours, in the dark, on the unfamiliar streets of Phoenix.  With no landmarks to direct me and no light to see by; I had no point of reference. I completely panicked.

I knew I was lost and hated every minute of it.

The tears began brimming. My breathing accelerated. My heart went wild. My brain locked up…

Hours later, when I eventually followed the right road signs, I pulled into my neighborhood as the gas gauge danced around “E.”   My blood pressure steadied, my tears dried up and, in the comfort of my apartment as I studied a map, I discovered my error. Compelled by fear and repeatedly making wrong choices, I actually drove in circles for those hours.

“We do the best by the light we have to see by.”—Julie Cameron

Something about the vast amount of trees, rain and places to lose yourself in northern Oregon reminds me a little of The Shack and Deliverance.

And, yes, one chilly, rainy, foggy day my fiancé and I decided to take a long run in northern Oregon. Since he was from those parts, (even though he hadn’t been back in years,) I trusted his proclamations that he knew where he was going.

The adventure began.

About an hour into the run, we got low on water. Amidst mossy back roads, gargantuan trees and a fog that hung down on us as a storm pressed in–

We got lost.

No, we didn’t hear banjos, but it got a bit precarious.

At one point we came into a clearing. We crossed the expanse and approached an ominous, brick building that looked like a modern day castle. We rounded the “castle” and, just as it began to rain harder, our hope ignited as we came upon the first person we had seen in miles.

She was crouched low, sitting on a curb by some large green dumpsters and her thin fingers held a burning cigarette with a long, dangling ash about to drop. As we approached her, in high hopes of asking where the heck we were, something stopped us.

She didn’t move.

As we got closer, her pale skin and statuesque figure seemed like an illusion. She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t hear the splashing of our running shoes, our gasps of breaths and she was completely oblivious to the rain that fell harder all around us. She was wearing a grey sweater that hung on her, leggings that clung to her bone-thin legs and flip flops. She also wore a men’s ball cap that hid her face and mostly covered the long brown locks of hair that escaped just below the plastic rim. Empty eyes stared straight ahead. She took a long drag on that cigarette.

Feeling quite out of place and with the panic of our predicament oozing out of our pores, how did she not sense us?

But she didn’t.

She looked right through us.

I choke up when I think of the look of pain in her. Something we couldn’t see had a hold on this woman.

She was lost.

Regardless of the increasing rain, our mounting thirst and our growing anxiety, neither of us said a word as we quieted our steps and passed by her. The rain gushed through the gutters and over her feet and, as I looked back at her one last time, she looked up.

We rounded the other side of the “castle” into another clearing and noticed the landscape here was dotted with small signs.

Approaching the first sign it read:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We continued on; looking for direction in the next sign about 200 yards further. It read: “Step one: We admit that we are powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable.”

Both our jaws dropped. We looked at each other and then back at the “castle” then sprinted back to the opening in the fence that brought us here.  On our way out, we passed two more signs.

One read: “ABSOLUTELY NO TRESPASSING”

And another that read:

“A power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.”

About two miles later, the rain lightened and we found ourselves on the campus of George Fox University. We also found refreshment and relief.

Breathing deep and trudging our legs a few more miles back to home base, we both were haunted by the invisible chains we saw weighing down this young lady’s soul.

“I once was lost, But now am found.

Was blind, But now I see.” –Amazing Grace

I often think of that young lady.

What happened to her? What were her struggles? Could we have said anything to her that could’ve encouraged her? Something we could’ve done that might’ve helped her find her way?

And yet, I know there was a time when I wasn’t “found.”– Well meaning words from friends and strangers alike fell on deaf ears.

“All this time I was finding myself…

And I didn’t know I was lost.” – Avicii

Yet, I admitted I was utterly powerless to change my “directional dysfunctionality;”

I sought a guide for my journey;

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.…” (Matthew 7:7)

And now I am found.–I know where I am, where I am going and Who I follow to get me through.

In Jesus, I found a guiding light of Hope to direct me through the darkness.

And though I will still get off the beaten path and won’t always make the right choices; because I know The Way, I will never be lost again.

So, wherever you find yourself along this journey, may you discover enough courage to seek, to find and to look up in the storms of life.