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Life goes on

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On the morning of September 11, 2001 and the hours and days immediately following the terrorist attacks, life as usual for U. S. citizens came to an abrupt and collective halt. We eventually resumed our lives, forever changed but cognizant of the fact that life does indeed continue. Such will be the case for the people of Japan and other places around the world touched and forever changed by natural and man-made disasters and acts of violence.

As difficult as large scale disasters are, there is a degree of comfort in shared tragedy, knowing you are not alone in your suffering. But what of personal tragedy? How do you deal with life around you moving forward when the life you know is suddenly ripped out from under you?

I’ve been pondering this question quite a bit this past week. So much so that a friend suggested that I would hear something at church Sunday morning that God needed me to hear. My friend was right. Jeff’s sermon, which he had planned long before personal tragedies touched the lives of so many of our church family last week was “Hope in Suffering”.

One of the songs we sang was Matt Redmond’s “You never let go”. We’ve sang this song numerous times, but the lyrics meant much more this time:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth


Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

If you are walking in the shadowlands right now, please know that God has you in his grip and he will never let go of you. He is close even when he feels a million miles away.

“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

The Beauty of the Trail (by Annie K)

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Annie K, who can write AND take amazing photographs. I happen to think she’s combined both talents here beautifully. Enjoy.

I grew up surrounded by the forest, mountains, lakes and a river that flows through the town I call home. I always loved spending time out in the wilderness and the older I get the more I feel drawn to the winding trails and the solitude of what I consider one of the most peaceful places I know.

This time of year there are very few people on the trail and the stillness that surrounds me is incredibly comforting. The only sounds I hear are the faint jingle of Boz’s collar, the occasional chattering of a squirrel that was most likely disturbed by said dog, the wind rustling through the trees and the sound of my footsteps as I make my way along the trail that is covered with fallen pine needles and Aspen leaves.

The leaves from the Aspens fall all around me as if they are being dropped from the heavens, and for a few hours, I watch the lazy river flow by, breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the colors of fall as if they were put there especially for me.

Yesterday, I made my way around one corner of the trail and I saw a flash of incredible color that went from red to orange, to gold and green. As I inspected it more closely, I realized that it was a part of an aspen tree that was in full fall color and had fallen. Recently.

Curiosity got the better of me and so I made my way down the steep rocky slope to get a better view. The moment I laid eyes on the base of the tree a smile crept over my face and two words escaped my lips as I looked down at Boz. “Dang beaver.”

It’s a shame to see this aspen lying on the ground, knowing that it is the last time it’s going to produce such beauty, and all because some beaver thinks he’s going to dam the Deschutes. But that is nature and I would never have enjoyed being so close to these brilliant colors had the tree still been standing.

I could walk this trail a hundred times an see it a thousand different ways. All because God instilled in me a passion for the outdoors.

As I walked and drank in the surroundings I thought about how this trail is a lot like my life. There are uphills and downhills, mountains and valleys, calm waters and rapids, twist and turns, rocky paths and clear paths, dark places and places full of light. I see the trail in black and white and astounding color. I can think I’ve got it all figured out, turn a corner and see the trail from a different angle and realize I’m seeing something I didn’t notice before. I can find beauty in all of it because I know that God was the creator of this incredible place and He gave me a passion, a deep desire to be out on this trail enjoying his creation.

And that is how I should see my life. No matter what mountain I’m on or valley I’m in, or how dark the day may be, or what twists and turns I’m facing I should be able to see the beauty in the trail God is leading me down because that is the plan He has for my life. I should walk down the path with my eyes wide open, so as not to miss what it is I have to see while embracing life in color and the contrast of black and white. The rocky path needs to be faced with a spirit of determination and the dark places maneuvered by His light on the path.

I believe we find incredible beauty in whatever we are passionate about. Our lives, no matter what the situation should be lived with the same passion for fear we’ll miss what’s around the next turn in the trail.

To read more from Annie, visit her at Buzz by Annie’s, her photography blog, Annie’s Daily Picture, and follow her on the twitter at @buzzbyannies.