Thriving in an Unfamiliar Life

My great-grandma was a woman of summer. She kept a garden. She grew the flowers and vegetables that graced her table. She picked the berries that topped our ice cream. Every once in a while, I helped her in the garden or the berry patch and it always shocked me when she showed up wearing pants. The garden was the only place I ever saw her dressed that way and even there she wore a dress over them, with a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. She was dressed to work. Right here are four important lessons Great-grandma taught with {Continue Reading}

What We Already Know About Navigating by Faith

Leaving the comforting bustle of the crowd, I stepped off the boardwalk onto the geyserite-strewn path. This was my first solo hike. I was leaving from the Old Faithful area, where I lived and worked, to make a six-mile round trip journey to a backcountry waterfall. The first section of the trail skirted the edge of the Upper Geyser Basin before crossing a highway, passing through another geyser basin, and entering deep forest. I breathed deep, inhaling the strong scents of sulfur and pine mingling in the crisp morning air. Just beyond the boardwalk, I stopped at the trailhead sign, {Continue Reading}

Walking by Faith Through New Things

We set off, my family and I, into the high desert. Unfamiliar territory, it was marked by slot canyons and stark terrain. We were mountain hikers, more accustomed to treading over soft, tree-lined paths than through stony expanses. Trailhead signs warned that heat kills, admonishing all who dared pass to carry two liters of water. Both seemed overzealous in the cool autumn morning—until I remembered: deserts change with the seasons. Spring rains and summer heat would transform this temperate landscape into something searing and tumultuous. Parched though it is, Utah’s slick rock is not dry and thirsty ground ready to {Continue Reading}

Walking by Faith Through Tough Terrain

The first trail—as in, an unpeopled, into the wilderness, marked-by-blazes-instead-of-a-worn-path trail—I remember taking was to the petrified forest in Yellowstone. I was fourteen, with my family, on our second visit to the park, and we’d finally stopped believing that we would be consumed by a bear if we left the crowded boardwalks and entered the quiet woods. It was not an easy hike. Oh, the walking part was fine. It was the finding the destination part that was the problem. Some trails through the wilderness are worn dirt paths, threadbare lines leading from where you’ve been to where you want {Continue Reading}

Sparkling in an Unfamiliar Life

My great-grandma was a woman of summer. She kept a garden. She grew the flowers and vegetables that graced her table. She picked the berries that topped our ice cream. Once in a while I helped her in the garden or the berry patch and it always shocked me when she showed up wearing slacks. The garden was the only place I ever saw her dressed that way and even there she wore a dress over them, with a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. She was dressed to work. Right there are four important lessons she taught with her life: {Continue Reading}

Overwhelm: A Bridge Toward Saner Living

J and I took our first trip to Yellowstone together twenty-two springs ago. As we zipped down the interstate ahead of schedule in the middle of the afternoon, I realized we could make it to the park that night. We could cancel our along-the-way reservation, drive to the Old Faithful Inn, and wake up already there rather than still long hours away. I calculated the miles and the time. I figured we’d pull into the Inn’s parking lot by ten. What I didn’t do was reckon on a sleet-spitting storm and the sludge that passing semis threw over the windshield of our little red {Continue Reading}

It Changes Everything

The pontoon pulled away from the dock and turned toward the open water where we drifted past brown and pastel cabins tucked into the trees along the shore. Under the influence of the overcast day, that was all there was to see. The sky, typically the star of our evening cruise, offered nothing but dismal grey gruel. Gloomy clouds stacked up overhead, familiar companions for some part of every day of that week. We were grateful the weather allowed us to be out at all. Between downpours and thunderstorms, electricity-eradicating straight-line winds and near-misses with tornadoes, it had been a {Continue Reading}

The Bird and the Wire

Summer mornings, I walk the gravel line between the drone of highway traffic and the twitter of birds in the pasture. A road that knows few cars and fewer houses, its ditches prosper rabbits and bees and the birds which lay down my morning soundtrack. I rarely notice the animals when I walk. Because I’m prone to tumble, I tend to keep my eyes fixed on at the ever-changing place where my feet meet the road. It’s hard to watch with my eyes glued to the ground. Even so, one morning I noticed a movement in the ditch. A bird flew straight up the front of the fence {Continue Reading}

For When It Rains On Your Parade

A few Saturdays ago, I woke to thunder and began to pray that it wouldn’t rain. Seconds later, I realized that it was 6:30 a.m., the time when my post The Best Thing One Can Do  was scheduled to land in inboxes, mine included. I wasn’t following Longfellow’s advice for a rainy day. Sometimes weather is a painful metaphor for life. Trials don’t have to come from camping to do their work, and their work isn’t limited to relationships. Chesterton says to look up. Longfellow, to let it rain. And James tells us to consider them with joy. None of those are {Continue Reading}