There are times in a Christian's life when you may find yourself dragging through the dust of the valley. Times you cannot even move forward and must be carried, wounded. There are times of walking, though tentatively and cautiously, and then those times when we sour high on eagle's wings. I decided some time ago that when I reach those moments in my life when I manage to soar, however briefly, to make sure I really soar. No looking in fear for the next crash. Years ago I used to ruin a good soar with worry. Things would be good, but I'd spend all my energy worrying about the next "what if". Worrying did not prepare me for the valleys, it only made them deeper, as I never gained a habit of hope for times I will again soar, I only confirmed there are valleys. That may be why the Bible clearly tells us not to worry about tomorrow. How do you give thanks for today if your mind is on worry or fear that may never manifest?
After a rather long valley last year, we are stretching our wings. I'm going to praise God for every moment of it. Someday we will go through another valley, either briefly, or perhaps have to walk for a long time, but I won't trade a moment of this time to worry about that, as it would be highly ungrateful to the One who is providing these wings for our joy. If the final destination of a Christian is meant for the joy of soaring for eternity, I am going to get in some practice and not fear the valleys, which only serve to make these moments all the more precious.
So, here are some pictures of that good flight we're on.
From the window of the bus this morning I spotted four swings in motion, and a lot of joyful noises. I grabbed my camera and snapped a few pictures of all the kids besting one another on how high they could swing, including Mary, with the help of her dad.
Candy Bar Bingo provided some fun distraction on the weekend, and a bit of free junk food to get them all wound up for the concert we provided for the park Saturday.
We have many great times on stage without a way of taking any pictures, so I was very excited when someone from the audience asked me if I would like her to snap a few photos. She caught some great pictures, and really great expressions! I love the snapshots probably more than the videos. Some of them are quite funny.
I have to wonder what Alex is thinking:
Then there is our one-eyed banjo player:
Any time there is a good shot of me, I am pretty happy, since I am picky about pictures, and initially never felt pictures of me with my mandolin were fully authentic. It's hard to explain why, but after playing mandolin for almost 4 years, I finally feel like I'm turning a corner and it has grown comfortable in my hands. I simply did not have the time or the young reflexes of the children, so they constantly out-played me, and I feared my amateur skills would shine through, but I am so glad I persevered now. It takes longer sometimes for an adult with high demands to make progress on an instrument, but it is so very worth it. I now can honestly say, I love playing the mandolin. It's not a chore, it's a joy, even if the kids will always out-play me.
Don't we look like we're having fun?
Don't we now look like we're watching aliens land?
What is that boy thinking? I don't think it's about the fiddle.
Finally, an "everybody" shot. It's hard to get those without someone's face covered by a microphone, but I am still glad to get them. Mary will be on stage more as she matures, but I like pictures of all of us together while she's little, too. She'll only be little once.
This is our last week in Texas, and I'm kind of sad. At the same time, I'm getting the travel itch again and it's time to go explore some other areas, like those amazing Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. We've been through them on very short trips to Branson, but never for long.
Our time in Texas has been amazing, from our early stay in January, to our return at the end of February. Highlights include boondocking on the beach in a fog, band practice outside with deer walking by the camp in hopes that we have some corn with our bluegrass, lovely little churches, the surprising kindness of strangers, night time jamming and telescope viewing with new friends, a tour of a air craft carrier museum, and more than I can write.
Can't wait to see what's next.