When All Other Lights Go Out

Stars Above Haleakala, Haleakala National Park, Maui, HI

 

“Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the stars farewell.”
-Samwise Gamgee (LOTR 909)

 

I am a chronic stargazer. Place me under an open evening sky and I will inevitably look up and try to spot as many celestial lights as I can. I’ve been known to hassle my family for weeks on end to go stargazing with me in the middle of winter.

The stars just never cease to amaze me. Whenever I look at them, I feel like I am peeking through the cracks of eternity into God’s workshop. The sight of them moves me in ways that no other work of nature or art can. There’s no other word to describe it – to me the stars are holy.

As it turns out, I am in good company in my love and admiration for the stars. Man has seemingly always looked to the stars and found them to be more than mere balls of gas burning billions of miles away. Continue reading

Peace, Be Still

Master, the Tempest is Raging by Walter Rane

Master, the Tempest is Raging  by Walter Rane

“Fearful heart – Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance…and save you.”
Isaiah 35:4

“He who commands the sea
has command of everything.”
-Cicero

Hello, my name is Julie.  I am a recovering worry-aholic.

I worry about health, finances, the future, and about my kids’ safety.  I worry about computer crashes, brain glitches, and what people think of me.  The older I get, seems each season brings fresh reasons for fear.  Ugh.

Now, the other half of me isn’t quite as unravelled.  On the flip-side I am confident, composed, enthusiastic, and faithful.  This is the side everyone sees. Yet, more often than I’d like to admit, clouds of worry billow in, getting the best of me.  And I am fearful.

Can a person be full of faith and full of fear at the same time?  In my humble opinion – Yes.

The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith.  Fear comes to everyone.  Even Jesus was scared (Mark 14:33-35).  And it feels horrible.  Fear puts gray in your day, sucks the life out of you, and robs you of contentment.

But what if you could change that?  What if faith – not fear – was your knee-jerk reaction to troubles?  How would that be?  Being stress-less.  Imagine – a day, a week, or a month with absolutely NO fear. Continue reading

Farewells and Elmo’s World

Airport Photo3

Lauren’s 4am Farewell at the Airport. Landon is still half asleep.

“‘You’ll stay with me?’
‘Until the very end,’ said James.”
J.K. Rowling,
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“If there ever comes a day
when we can’t be together,
keep me in your heart,
I’ll stay there forever.”
Winnie the Pooh

After sending Lauren off on her mission, everyone has been asking how I am doing. Well, thank you.  I am doing great now because a few weeks have passed and I have heard happy news and received all sorts of smiling pictures from her.  Now I’m doing great, but if you asked me a few weeks ago, you would have seen tears welling-up at the very question. Continue reading

Let It Be in the Lord

butterfly cacoon

“Love not what thou are,
but only what thou may become.”
– Don Quixote

Recently a visiting authority in the church called me up from the congregation to give an impromptu testimony. Since my dad is in the stake presidency, it would have been decent of him to have given me a heads up via text or creative hand gestures…but no.

So with heart beating, hands shaking, and a couple minutes to prepare, I made my way up to the front, and the following thoughts came to mind. So I shared. Continue reading

Tuor, Gondolin, and Our Life Mission

I am going to involve you all in my nerdiness today. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the writings of one of my favorite authors – J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve always found his mythology of Middle Earth particularly profound and inspired, full of life lessons. And this last week I was especially struck by a story that speaks to me of our purposes in life. It’s about a man named Tuor and his mission to the secret Elven city of Gondolin (from Tolkien’s lesser known works the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales).

Detail from Gondolin by digital-fantasy (via Deviantart)

Detail from Gondolin by digital-fantasy (via Deviantart)

Here’s some backstory:
Now, in the early days of Middle Earth (long before the Lord of the Rings takes place), the mighty elf-king Turgon was worrying about how to protect his people from the evil powers that sought to destroy the elves. So with the help of the sea god Ulmo, Turgon designed a secret city he named Gondolin. It was to be a sanctuary for elves hidden in the mountains, a place of protection, where no one would know its location except those who lived within it.

But the god Ulmo warned Turgon that the city’s secret would not last forever, and in the future Gondolin would be destroyed by enemies. Continue reading

Full of Years

532703

 

“In the end, it’s not the years
in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.”
Abraham Lincoln

“The purpose of life
is a life of purpose.”
Robert Byrne

 

In scripture, there is a thought-provoking expression attributed to one’s life. Periodically, when a prophet dies, the verse says he died “full of years.”  The phrase is used to describe Abraham, Isaac, Job, and King Benjamin.  Here is the verse about Abraham.

And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years.
Genesis 25:7-8

Now, “Full of years” could be thought of in several ways.  It could mean a large number of years.  After all, Abraham was 175 at the time of his death, Job was 142, and Isaac lived to be a whopping 180 years old.  Whew, that’s living long!  “Full of years” could mean a lot of years.

Yet, it might also describe a life full of usefulness. A life permeated with meaning, and packed with purpose.  Maybe it means that in the years allotted to them, these good men fulfilled everything they set out to do, or were meant to do. Continue reading