A VALLEY

WHAT IS A VALLEY?

A valley can be a rock-filled chasm, a gloomy canyon, a deep gouge, or a rugged gully. In nicer terms, it might be a grass-swept dell or a lush basin. Ahh! Just the place to lay down and nap.

But what is meant when people indicate they’ve reached a valley?

If it’s a smiling hiker stating they’ve reached a valley, other people surmise they’ve just descended from gorgeous heights, to walk on flat land between mountain slopes. There might even be a cool stream weaving its way through the length of a lush, green basin.

But what if the person is not a smiling hiker or healthy explorer? What if the valley is actually circumstances in their life?

Those types of valleys can be gloomy and long, especially if someone is alone or even feels there is no one who understands. Health issues can create a scary valley, which many must walk through. All they can do is peer upwards—but not climb away from problems. Their eyes observe what looks like strong people standing on top of mountain peaks or hiking toward glorious summits.

The best of circumstances might seem to reflect off other people—giving them a surreal appearance of never-ending health, powerful strength, and awesome abilities … even if it isn’t true.

While hiking the trail of life, we humans often want to turn around. But then, hopefully, we regain courage and push toward the summits. But is that always the way it goes? No.

Many lag behind, struggling to climb out of steep valleys, while using the wrong path. Are their loads too heavy to carry? Are their backs bowed—indicating a weakening of resolve? Will they slip and tumble backwards, while others continue to watch?

A willingness to help, may mean removing loaded backpacks, ignoring pride, and getting down to the other hiker’s level. By reaching, someone might be able to grip their wrist and pull them up. Yes, the rescuer might meet a confused gaze—a look asking why anyone would care? But, then again, lonely people just might recognize God’s love in action.

That’s all that matters. And, of course, the dazed hiker may dust themselves off and just hike away, never acknowledging a helpful gesture. But the lightness in a helper’s heart will tell them … God is grinning.

Yes, that’s what was implied! God might have a grin on his face!

Perhaps, He takes delight in puzzled expressions, when loving people try to help others, and it just doesn’t work out. He knows all about rejection and about the inner sadness it can create. But, God also knows everyone’s heart, and he loves the fact that someone is willing to face rejection. It shows how far someone is going to follow Him. And only He knows who might be pulled out of a valley …  if just one person steps forward.

Karen

 

Copyright (c) Karen Campbell Prough 2017

 

A DAY FOR BUTTERFLIES!

Did you know there was a day set aside for butterflies? National Learn About Butterflies Day, is what they call it.

And so, I have to tell you about a butterfly we have visiting our yard every day. She is very special and a Monarch.

She hatched from an egg laid on my milkweed plants. Nothing unusual about that. But we have some busy lizards who seem to think baby caterpillars look like striped candy! One lizard plays a game of grabbing tiny caterpillars, jerking them off a stem or leaf, and tossing them away. So, I saved one Monarch caterpillar. We’ll call her Baby for this blog post.

I put Baby in a special jar I have for hatching butterflies. Within a week or so, on a Sunday morning, I realized I needed to release her. She had hatched, and her wings had stiffened into beautiful orange, black, and white colors. She was a perfect Monarch and lovely.

As we left for church, I let her cling to my finger, and I took her outside. She fluttered her wings in the sunlight. I knew she wasn’t ready to take a long flight, so I placed her within the branches of a small palm. She was still there when we came home, so I moved her to a different location on the palm. A short time later, she took off, using her wings for the first flight. She circled higher and higher, toward the top of an oak, and I went inside. She had left.

The following Sunday, we came home from church, and a butterfly came fluttering over our heads, circling and dipping in the gentle breeze. She landed on a milkweed plant.

I told my husband, “I bet that’s my butterfly.” We watched her for a moment, but I soon said, “I bet I can touch her.”

I slowly reached toward her and softly touched the sides of her body. She didn’t care!

She has hung around, since then, showing up and exploring the milkweed plants. She still likes to head for the palm tree and comes very close to me. My husband couldn’t stand being left out, so he tried touching her … and she sat still long enough for his fingers to almost touch her dark body, and then, she drifted up over his head.

I do believe it’s Baby! I’ve never had a butterfly act that way.

We have some cold weather coming, and there are caterpillars all over the milkweed plants. I never saw so many! But lizards are everywhere. They are probably playing “Toss the Caterpillar” when I’m not looking! So yesterday, I collected some of the caterpillars and put them in the special jar, with a huge bundle of leaves. They have grown over night! Five have already shed their striped coats and are waiting for the moment they can hatch and fly.

I’ll release them when they hatch. It is so much fun to watch the whole process. I’ve been doing it ever since I was a little girl in Michigan. Dad took pictures of butterflies hanging on my ears. I think every child should see the wonderful process from egg, to caterpillar, and then butterfly. And I’m glad there is a National Learn About Butterflies Day!

STAGES OF GROWTH

collage-of-butterflies-2016_01

God created unique stages of life for all living creatures, plant life, and humans. This is apparent with butterflies.

For instance, the Monarch butterfly starts life as a light-colored egg, the size of a pinhead.

You can turn over a slender milkweed leaf and spot the random eggs adhered to the leaf. But it doesn’t take long before a tiny, striped caterpillar emerges. It is very small, but it grows rapidly as it munches on milkweed  leaves–chewing at a very fast pace.

Take the time to bend close to a caterpillar and watch it gobble up a leaf. Even that stage of their life is amazing.

But most delightful is when a butterfly’s wings are ready to take on unique drafts of air and strong winds. Butterflies don’t usually jump from branch to branch with gentle flutters, or with repeated attempts at flying, as a baby bird might leave the nest. Instead, a butterfly just takes off flying, sometimes soaring upwards in loops and circles toward the tops of trees. It’s like a flight of joy.

Of course, that fast flight may keep them from immediately being captured.

Compared to God, we humans are tiny. After birth, we don’t jump into the role of an adult human–physically, mentally, or spiritually.

There are stages of growth in our life, and not everyone proceeds at the same pace. And that is so true about our spiritual growth! Some people have the advantage of being schooled from birth, taught about God, taken to church, and encouraged to attend a Christian college, etc.

But not everyone comes from a family who encourages spiritual growth.

God understands each person’s unique situation. He calls people to come to Him and experience life to the fullest. And spiritual growth may come in small steps, as we learn and believe.

We aren’t going to swirl to the top of a church steeple and have all we will ever need of God’s love and forgiveness. We must learn to walk through the stages of growth in our spiritual life, while depending on God and older Christians to guide us with each new situation.

God is good. He stays with us.

Please, leave your comments below! Have you experienced stages of growth in your life? Please, mention a couple incidents.  Remember, your comment may help another person!

~Karen Campbell Prough

 

Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2016

DUST COLLECTING, LONG UNDERWEAR, AND HUNTING

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Tonight I decided to dust my desk—which is a shock in itself. Dusting is the last word on a long list of things to accomplish in my life, but I decided to attack the layer of dust laughing at my attempts to ignore it.

I got a piece of blue material from the utility. It was clean, neatly folded—a new rag. But the rag in my hand brought up a treasured memory.

The soft fabric was once the top to a set of long underwear! Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I’ll pause … until you catch your breath.

When I went hunting with my dad, uncle, grandfather, three brothers, and a cousin, I wore light-blue long underwear under my layers of flannel and denim! It felt comfy! The weather was cold, and the top and bottoms kept me warm.

 

 

So, now I’m sitting at the computer thinking of hunting—instead of cleaning!

One piece of material can distract me from the joy of collecting dust.

That’s because it caused me to remember a crackling campfire—sparks drifting upward—and my grandfather and uncle telling old hunting stories.

I remember the shape of my dad’s hands as he put another log on the fire. I hear the chop of an axe as my middle brother decides we need more wood. I hear another camper’s hunting dog barking on the other side of camp. I hear my cousin chuckle at a funny story we all remember.

I can recall the scent of charred wood and stew cooking in a cast iron kettle.

And here I sit, writing a blog post I didn’t plan to write—a recollection connected to long underwear!

What stories hides in your past?

Now, I must dust this desk.

~Karen Campbell Prough

 

Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2016

 

 

THE MORNING SONG

Dad's pictureTHE MORNING SONG

Do you ever feel the beauty of this world is more than you can comprehend?

Early one morning, I realized a bird sang outside the window—not more than five feet from where I was making a bed. I peered out the window trying to see him.

But he hid in the leafy branches of a shrub. I sank to the bed and listened, reveling in the inspiring notes and short melodies.

God made the feathered creature with the ability to welcome morning’s light with a song.

I wanted to stay and listen. I longed to grasp the cadence and trills in the performance. But it ended too soon. Sunlight filtered through the tree branches, and then a dove joined in with a softer tone, as if pouring forth the benediction.

Within a ten-minute span of time, I witnessed a fragment of God’s wonderful handiwork. I cannot comprehend the enormity of His creations. His touch leaves an imprint on everything—right down to the miniature tree frog trilling forth a song after a summer rain.

So many adults and children never visit God’s natural settings or view His amazing gifts. Children sit with tiny screens in their hands, fingers moving, playing a manufactured game—which will be outdated and tossed aside in a few months.

And man has tried to tame nature.

But through the lack of appreciation, much is destroyed. And there is more to this world than man will ever comprehend. Just the awe of walking up a mountain trail and gazing at a single flower, which may wither away without another human being ever appreciating it, cannot be described.

But that is God. He knew what He created was good. That fact is recorded in the Bible.

But what struck me this morning was the thought that just a tiny bird singing is something we humans cannot fully grasp, even though we listen over and over. We do not know what the bird feels or why it sings the beautiful notes. What is it saying or proclaiming? Does it pour forth thanks? We can only pause, close our eyes and listen—listen intently.

When you step outside today, take a grateful look around you, even if there is snow piled in drifts over your yard. See God in the snowflakes, in the constant drip of melting icicles on the porch’s overhang, and in the fact you can see your breath. God breathed into us. We became living creatures with the capability to appreciate, as a gift, the rest of his creation.

 ~Karen

 

Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2015

Feel free to repost the blog and photos, keeping the copyright notices intact. Thank you.

 

A New Book-Within the Candle’s Glow

Sometimes the way isn't clear. The trust level drops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WITHIN THE CANDLE’S GLOW

 

I believe we’ve all had friends who became strangers.

We stop confiding in them, because the trust level is no longer there.

And many times we don’t ask God for protection or for healing within a relationship. We feel as if things are no longer clear.

We begin to feel alone, heading for danger, with no one scrambling to help us.

But suddenly we sense someone does cares. They will be there for us.

Hope and love begin to feel like the glow of a candle.

 

 

~Karen Campbell Prough

Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2016

Why Don’t They Know?

A Horse with spots 1

Those who want peace are people who know how wonderful it is.

Those who want terror and destruction will never understand peace, because generations have buried it under deep layers of hatred.

Have you ever walked out into a big sunlit field at the beginning of summer?

If the field is large enough, surrounded by a stand of trees,  and left in a cover of thick grass, you won’t hear a nearby highway.

No traffic blurs the whisper of a light breeze or the buzz of insects. The sound of a meadow lark is music, and the call of a bobwhite is comfort. The sun lays a warm arm over your shoulders and touches your head. The movement of horses entering the field by a side gate is muted, as if they walk with silent steps. Their heads bend to the tender shoots of new grass. You can even add the laughter of children entering the field by a side gate.

Within this scenario are no notes of terror or destruction.

You know what would signify peace to you and others close to you. Add the scenes in your head. What is peace to you? Is it peace within?

But what if you have been raised with no peace or desire for peace? What if your family has no understanding of peace? What if the faces around you have no expression of peace? Then there is no true happiness.

The Bible tells us to walk in peace with all men. We can keep peace within our hearts and reach out to those in need of comfort. Peace can be wonderful … if only the world knew that.

~Karen

Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2016

 

THERE ARE ….

THERE ARE ....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are ways to encourage someone? What words have the same meaning as courage? Who has encouraged you the most?

Sadness puts a damper on courage, so how do we throw splashes of light into the dark paths others are made to travel?

What uncertainty have you faced lately? Was it job related? Family related? Health issues? The lack of funds for the extras in life?

What are the patterns in life that seem to come about because of things people do?

Why do some people seem to become a wanderer through life, drifting and never settling into a straight course?

 

~Karen

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Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives