Years back, I began what has been a decade-long and running interest in fitness. Having been a rather sickly and non-athletic child and teenager, I was excited to realize I could train my body to run several miles, lift weights, and even do a few “guy pushups.” The one thing I really wanted to do, but didn’t think I would be able to, was a chin-up. As in, the pull-up with a reverse grip. I had tried a few times and barely moved upward, let alone to where my chin touched the bar. I was fairly convinced I just did not have that upper-body strength.
I’ve kept a journal of some kind since my preteen years. At the beginning of this year, I decided that I would not only record things of obvious significance when they occurred, but I would write at least a line or two every single day, whether or not anything apparently noteworthy took place. I’m happy to say I’m well on track to finish strong.
There are moments when the earth's beauty parallels the glories of heaven, when you look at your surroundings with awe and know there is a God who loves and cares about you. Growing up on a farm with a 360-degree view of the sky, I was always very in tune with nature. When I look at the clear dawn sky after a night of rain and observe the unique optical effect created by the mingling of mist and dust, I’m reminded of King David’s last recorded words: “[A godly ruler] is like the light of morning at sunrise, like a morning without clouds, like the gleaming of the sun on new grass after rain.”1
In my turn-of-the year clean-up, I found an old yearbook. I smiled as I read down the very long list of my resolutions for that year. I guess I had high expectations of myself!
This past year, I decided to make only three resolutions: Be more loving and encouraging, finish a major writing project I was working on and start a new one, and keep a prayer list.
There are many fortunate people who enjoy the celebrations, relishing the break from work, savoring the culinary treats, treasuring happy memories or making new ones, and relaxing in the company of family and friends. But it’s not like that for everyone. Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year for those suffering from depression. In fact, it’s well documented that the seasonal break is followed by a spike in attempted suicides and enquiries about divorce.
My old friend Jack lived in a large house in a pleasant, leafy suburb. It was a great place to raise his family of five, but his children have long since married and moved on. Around 15 years ago, Jack’s business failed, and although it would have made financial and practical sense for Jack and his wife to downsize, they loved their home and always put off the tough decision.
Some months ago while visiting Keith and Caryn1 in San Antonio, Texas, they invited me to accompany them on a visit to their friend Phoebe. Phoebe, just 22 years old, had been diagnosed with leukemia and was undergoing treatment.
During our dinner together, Phoebe told me that she had just found out two days earlier that the cancer was found to no longer be in remission and that it was very aggressive. She probably had no more than four months to live.
I was in a bad mood recently, and it wasn’t easy to pull out of it. I’m not a hugely emotional person; I don’t usually have trouble motivating myself to get moving, but this time I was having a rough go of it. In the midst of this, a friend of a friend won a Mercedes-Benz through some kind of lottery!
First thought: I was happy. So these things do happen to people within my somewhat extended world! Second thought: Where’s my Mercedes-Benz?
In the dark of a winter morning, I set off for university. I’m a Distance Education student and needed to pick up the month’s bus pass—the shiny card that makes key connections in my day possible while cutting transportation costs.
British writer Bernard Hare tells1 the true story of an incident that changed his life, transforming him, as he described it, “from a selfish, potentially violent hedonist into a decent human being.”
Back in 1982 when he was a student living in London, he was informed that his mother had been taken to the hospital and was unlikely to survive the night. He left immediately to make the journey up to the north of the country.