Learning new skills: my first attempt at using Canva.com to combine words and images.
I stopped at the Post Office to mail a copy of my book (Picture Imperfect) and figured I should pick up a few stamps.
“Any of authors?” I asked the clerk.
She pointed out the Maya Angelou forever stamps. That sounded good to me, so I took a sheet. Only on the way out did I actually read what was on the stamp.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
Sometimes I feel I should have all the answers before I speak, or before I write. But Maya Angelou has a better idea. Sing your song, write your book, paint your picture, or just live whatever life you feel called to live. And do it with joy like a robin singing its morning song. Because the song is the answer.
Our first camping trip of the year—and extra-special because our son who lives in Japan would be coming. In fact, it was planned especially for him. We had done a lot of camping and hiking when he was young, taking two-week camping trips every September (one of the advantages of homeschooling) to places like British Columbia, the California redwoods, Yellowstone Park, and a wide range of sites in Oregon and Washington. He had also camped a lot in Boy Scouts. But now, with trips home mainly taking place around Christmas, he missed spending time in the great outdoors.
We did a lot of planning, trying to find a place that would be dry in May, a bit of a challenge in the Pacific Northwest. However, as the time drew near, forecasts were mostly positive, so we set our sights on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Kalaloch Campground—right on the Pacific Ocean—sounded good for our first stop, once we learned how to pronounce it (Kah-lay-lock). And it turned out to be a good choice.
We pulled into the campground mid-afternoon Saturday, relieved to find many campsites still open (First come, first served can be scary at a popular campground.). The beachside places were all filled, but we found a lovely, large site with plenty of room for the trailer and a tent for our son and a local friend who had come along. Lots of privacy and a Middle Earth feel to it. Surely elves lurked nearby. Sunshine filtered through twisting, mossy branches onto ferns and wildflowers as we set up our camp. A fresh sea breeze blew enticingly, and a feeling of peace settled into my soul.
Soon we were down on the beach, drawn by the surf’s roar. The wind blew us along the rock-strewn, sandy beach, causing us to zip up sweatshirts and pull up hoods, despite the sunshine. We walked and we talked and we enjoyed being out in nature, away from computers and work and all those other things that crowd our lives. Just the four of us and the mighty ocean. We admired agates, watched gulls glide by overhead, noted the scraggly pines above the beach, all bent in the same direction.
The ocean is so big, its motion ever-changing yet ever the same. I feel connected to eternity by the ocean, a tiny part of something great and wonderful. To share that with a son I rarely get to see was the best Mother’s Day gift possible.
A warm, sunny spring day when my work shift is unexpectedly cancelled. What better thing to do than go bike riding on a nearby trail? From our place it’s a short drive into beautiful downtown Boring, a two-block long town which recently became sister cities with Dull, Scotland. Past the only gas station into the gravel parking lot, empty at the moment. Nice. We unload our bikes, strap on our helmets, and hit the trail.
Very little pedaling is required on the trail in, as it is almost all downhill. Sunlight sparkles through the mossy trees and lights up the Scotch broom along the trail. I make mental notes on where to stop for photos on the way back. That is when I will need the rest that photo breaks can give.
We pass a family walking their dogs down toward Deep Creek, but we keep going to the end of the gravel trail. Climb through the wooden fence to look down on the stream below, glittering in the afternoon sun. As we return to our bikes, a man comes down the trail, riding on a fancy recumbent bike, complete with windshield, blinkers, and saddlebags. He’s already gone over twenty miles today and has several still to go. More ambitious than I will ever be.
We start back, slowly now. Pedaling uphill is more work, and I take my time, enjoying the scenery, stopping to photograph flowers, moss-covered trees, and whatever else catches my eye. We take a side trail down to the creek. Trilliums and ferns line the shady dirt path. The air smells fresh, the bubbling water is clear and bright. We skirt the family with the dogs, giving them their privacy. Stand for a few minutes drinking in the spring greenness. Then back up to the main trail and more pedaling, as my face reddens with the effort. Ah, why must exercise be so much work? Still, the beauty makes it all worthwhile.
Stop and smell the roses, the saying goes. And look at the wildflowers in bloom, feel the sunshine on your face, hear the splashing brook. Look and see the beauty that God has made, and drink it all in. Let it fill you up with joy. This world can bring much pain and confusion, but here in the woods, I find the peace I need to keep going.
We sit in the comfy chairs on the third floor of the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, gazing out at the gray sky and the rolling white caps. It’s our 36th anniversary, and we came to celebrate in this wonderful book-filled hotel. But my mouth hurts from the tooth that had to be extracted yesterday, and husband is coughing from the cold he caught recently. In our younger days, this might have ruined our special day.
However 36 years give one a little perspective. Seagulls soar past the windows, pushed by the wind. The sun peeks out briefly to light up the waves. Husband sketches a beach scene; I write these words. The ocean beats a constant rhythm into our souls. We are at peace.
Life needn’t be perfect to be good. So many times our expectations prevent us from enjoying the blessings we receive. We want the perfect job, the perfect wedding, the perfect spouse, house, and kids. But life has more glitches than a new computer system, and perfection is a rare commodity here on earth.
My husband’s uncle had a stroke. While Uncle John partially recovered, he remained weak on one side and had difficulty speaking. A former outdoorsman, he took up painting with his good hand. He made the most of what he had. And whenever he was asked how he was—or many other questions for that matter—his answer was always “Good enough.”
And what’s so wrong with “good enough?” We all have things that keep our lives from being perfect—whether health issues, money problems, disagreements with family or neighbors, job hassles, whatever. We can spend our days bemoaning our problems, or we can accept what we are given and make the most of it. We can enjoy the blessings we are given.
The waves keep pounding onto the sand, an ever-changing, but ever-the-same pattern. Dark clouds promise rain. We sit side-by-side, staring out the window, sharing the beauty of the moment. Thirty-six years. Years filled with smiles and tears, joys and frustrations. Not perfect years, but definitely “good enough.”
I read once that the reason babies are so cute is for their own protection. They can be so demanding and so noisy and so much work, but then they smile, and the whole world is beautiful. Same thing for baby animals. What could be cuter than a fuzzy little puppy or a teeny furry kitten with those huge eyes staring up at you so innocent and all?
Anyone who has owned a puppy or a kitten knows they can be far from innocent. In December we acquired little Fiona. She was a tiny thing, runt of the litter, so sweet and cuddly. We fell in love with her. But every morning and evening—and a few other times a day—she morphs into something possessed. She tears across the room and across anything in her path—chairs, tables, couches, piano, computer—at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breath. She scratches the chairs, chews up any pens left on the table, zips between our legs as we try to walk. In the morning we find evidence she has been on the kitchen counters, even the refrigerator, and who knows where else?
However, after each wild spree she finally winds down, out of energy. She jumps on my lap, stretches up to sniff my nose, and looks at me with those big, beautiful eyes. And I smile back at her and mutter, “Kitten, you would be in so much trouble if you weren’t so dang cute!”
Of course, kittens are nothing compared to grandbabies. Want to hear about my grandson? I have a couple hundred pictures I can show you. I’d have even more if he didn’t live clear across the country. I swear he’s just about the cutest baby that ever lived. You sure you don’t want to see some more pictures??
A couple of weeks ago we spent some time hiking in British Columbia. We saw many beautiful places–from snow-topped mountains to rushing waterfalls to turquoise lakes. However, one of my favorite hikes was the Lightning Lake Trail in Manning Provincial Park. Although one of the longer hikes we took, it was a pleasant ramble through green forests along quiet, little lakes. And it contained very little elevation gain: a big plus for a wimp like me! When I called for a camera break, it was actually to take pictures, not as an excuse to plop down on a log and pant until I had the strength to continue.
Later on the Joffres Lakes Trail, we saw beautiful, turquoise lakes, their color coming from glacial silt that fed into them. At Lightning Lakes, on the other hand, the color of the lake itself was hard to determine. The lakes were so still and silent that they simply mirrored the world above: tall, green conifers, summer blue sky, white fluffy clouds. Rather than calling attention to themselves, they modestly drew one’s eyes to the beauty around them. Even the paddles of two early morning kayakers scarcely raised a ripple. They appeared to paddle through the treetops in their lake reflection.
If only I could be like Lightning Lake–so calm and peaceful that when people look at me, they see the love of God shining from my face. Lord, in all I do, let my life reflect your beauty!