My daughter’s preschool teacher asked me to speak to the children about being a writer. Visiting parents were being presented to the class as “experts” in their professions. I agreed to talk to the children, although being an “expert” unnerved me a bit. I didn’t feel like an expert. That week, I’d been frustrated by a lack of good ideas and wondered if I would ever write anything of value again! I thought, You’re no expert. You’re not qualified to speak.
One of our favorite family vacation sites is a beautiful beach community located in an adjoining state. We like to go there during the “off season” when few tourists are around. Though the ocean water is a little chilly, we enjoy swimming in an indoor pool. Also, there’s a lazy river that surrounds the pool and holds a special appeal for our kids. They’ve tried to swim against its current over the years, only to be carried in the opposite direction.
Near the climax of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a villain shoots Indiana’s father to motivate the distressed son to enter a booby-trapped temple and retrieve the Holy Grail. “The healing power of the Grail is the only thing that can save your father now,” he said. “It’s time to ask yourself what you believe.” I deplore what the evil man did, but he was on to something: What we believe determines what we do.
Charles complained to his friend about some lower back pain. He was seeking a sympathetic ear, but his friend gave him an honest assessment. “Your back isn’t your problem,” he pointed out. “It’s your stomach. Your stomach is so big it’s pulling on your back.”
Scientists tell us that the chemical element carbon is the building block of life. Hidden from the naked eye, this vital atom is in everything, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. In fact, carbon makes up nearly 20 percent of the human body.
At the start of this year, a friend of mine made a statement that set the tone for the rest of my year. Nicola remains convinced that “control” is at the root of many of our internal struggles—with self-control being the most challenging to master. We get angry or lose heart when we can’t control people or circumstances. We lack discipline and lose control over our own thoughts, words, or actions, and spiral into a self-destructive cycle—hurting ourselves and others.
In early 2014, the attention of the world turned to Sochi, Russia, where Olympic athletes pursued their lifelong quests. Our family loves the Summer and Winter Games—the global pageantry, the athletes’ grit and fight, the goodwill expressed among countries.
During a visit to an art institute, I observed a German suit of armor made in 1521. None of the other defensive ensembles seemed as complete as this one. It featured vented metal to cover the face; a curved breastplate to deflect blows; metal that continued down the arms, hands, and covered each finger; leg shields that were seamlessly fitted to metal shoes. The craftsman had imagined every possible offensive strike and addressed each in his design.
When a supervolcano erupts—and thankfully that’s extremely rare—it leaves behind a massive basin known as a caldera. But they are so huge we tend to overlook them completely. As geophysicist Bob Smith described the 45-mile wide Yellowstone caldera, “The size is so immense that people don’t appreciate it.”
In December 2011, USA Today ran an article that analyzed a group of Americans called the “spiritually apathetic.” Their attitude could be summed up as: “So what?” The article presented the following sad statistics:
As the story goes, a man was hiking alone when he slipped and fell down a steep cliff. In desperation, he grabbed a tree limb and began shouting for help. Finally, he heard a booming voice answer, “Yes, I’m here.” The hiker was elated. “Who are you?” “It’s the Lord.” “Oh, thank you, Lord!” the hiker gasped. “What do you want me to do?” “Let go.” The terrified hiker couldn’t release the only security he thought he had, so finally he meekly asked, “Is there anyone else up there?” Life is tough. Circumstances often seem unfair, and there are times when we feel close to death. It’s usually in the midst of these moments of desperation that God urges us to “let go” of our feeble solutions and trust Him. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul shares an intimate account of the difficult time he had in Asia and of how he felt close to death. He also reminds his readers, however, that God is our source of comfort and that we can use our growth through trials to help others (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).