Time for a Walk

This week my family and I trekked up to New Jersey to visit my dad’s relatives for some post-Christmas celebration time. On one evening, dad decided to go for a walk. At this point, close to two feet of beautiful white snow lay on the ground, in some points drifting about chest high. Needless to say the night was gorgeous, lit with Christmas lights and silent aside from the occasional snow plow.

Unfortunately I left the house a bit too late to catch up with my dad, so I skirted around downtown Spring Lake on my own. Being a Tuesday evening, no place but the pizzeria was open. This made my stroll all the more enjoyable.  Unsurprisingly, I began to ponder things.

What were people doing in the houses I passed?

Who had left their house since the blizzard?

Why didn’t I bring my camera ?

Eventually I began to think about and reflect on other things as I have been in the habit of doing as of late. These things include several seemingly negative situations I have found myself in the past year, which led me to think, “Is there any good in dwelling on the negative?”

Negatives tend to be a part of life for a reason. As an illustration, look at a magnet. A magnet is polar, having a negative and positive end. In order for two magnets to join, they must be joined at polar opposites, otherwise they repel each other. Two positive ends and two negative ends would never join.

If our lives were to continually be surrounded in positive situations, we would be limited to experiencing only so many of them. With the absence of negative situations, we would never be fully attracted to the positive ones.

Going back to my original question (the one referring to negative… not my curiosity about people in random houses), how much should we really cling to the negative?

God does not bring negative situations to allow us to want more, but instead allows them in order to help us realize the goodness of the positive. If we can rejoice even in the seemingly negative situations, then our joy will be that much greater in seemingly positive.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 3:11-12

I think C.S Lewis illustrates this amazingly in his allegory “The Horse and His Boy” (part of the Chronicles of Narnia series):

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice. “I was the lion… I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength  of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child… I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”


A Portuguese Tale

The women’s Sunday school class I attend at my church is studying Linda Dillow’s book “Calm My Anxious Heart.” This past week we talked about “Trusting God with the ‘Whys,'” and in the chapter, Dillow opened the chapter with this story. It’s a beautifully simple story of how we only see a glimpse of the entirety our life entails.

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for
he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been
seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a
horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a
possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him.
“You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable.
That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you
The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”
The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest.
Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people
gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we
thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”
The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that
a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?
“Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”
“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgements.
“You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”
The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”
The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

Why Hello There

I am…

a photographer.
the oldest sister as well as daughter.
a proud Hokie.
an engineering student.
a brown-eyed girl.
a slight tea addict.
crafty, but not quite creative.
a sucker for any cologne that reminds me of my dad.
blessed with a wonderfully quirky family.
a thrill seeker.
drawn to being outdoors.
a guitarist and pianst.
fascinated by water.
daily trying to devote myself to serving God.

This is just a snippet of the person God’s shaped me to be the past 19 years of my life, but the list continues to grow and my experiences daily increase. I admit that I am no perfect person, nor am I expected to be… only that I continually seek help from the only God who can make me pure and recognize that I am as helpless as a tipped cow in the pasture.