Cattle grazing on wide, open fields remind me of a bad time in my life. Because of what someone had deliberately done to me, I was hurting. I wanted to run away from the pain, but couldn’t.
But then, one day, I was driving past a huge, sun-drenched field of grass and cows, and I got the wildest urge to pull off the road, drive across the ditch, and stop by the fence. I thought about slipping under the barbed wire and running to the middle of the flat pasture. I wanted to sit in the grass, wrap my arms around my knees, and shut my eyes. All I needed was to stay there with only cows meandering around me—the sun on my back and head. The scene spoke of total peace—warmth, safety, comfort, and healing. I almost couldn’t push the urge away.
When I shared my crazy thoughts with a cousin, he reminded me of what I might sit on. Ha. But I didn’t care. Even now—though years have slipped by—if I pass that field, the thought still tugs at me. It doesn’t call out with the desperate pull it did back then, but the calmness still beckons.
Karen Campbell Prough
Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2017
How many times have you asked yourself, “What do I do now? What job do I accept? Who do I ask for advise? What way do I want to go with my line of work? What path do I follow?
Humans have been asking this question since the beginning of time. The only difference might be the fact we aren’t all walking cool grassy lanes or dirt paths outside in the woods and open land. Maybe, people don’t always ask the question out loud, but it will enter their minds many times down through their lives. What path?
Sometimes, it’s easy to decide which path we want, or it could be … a path is forced on us. But there are those times when we want help deciding the right path. We want to avoid frightening paths and detours.
We all walk many paths in life. Some are short, or we might end up turning off on another path appearing before us–such as a new line of work. There are job changes, situations within our families, and many times … health issues pushing us down paths we don’t want to walk.
We might willingly follow a path dictated by someone else, or we might choose to walk a path just to satisfy another person. Nothing is wrong with that. And there are those times when we accompany someone, because we realize they need companionship.
But … how often do we make our own path and leave our own footprints? Does it matter?
When I was growing up, I had one set of grandparents who wanted to select the best path for me. And I will admit, I balked at their attempts. The other grandparents were just the opposite. They would not have dreamed of forcing me to take a path I was not comfortable walking, but they warned me to be careful. And I suppose my parents were just plain reluctant to see me hike off on any path they had not walked. That is understandable.
But sometimes, as the years pass by, we begin to realize one special thing. Walking your own path may not be a bad thing, if God walks beside us. If all is good, between God and us, He can straighten out the crooked trails and smooth the rough ones. Along many paths, we might see blessings and realize we never want to change things.
While following what we believe God wants for us, we can feel good about our footprints.
Remember, as a child, how you walked in damp dirt or sand and looked behind you to see your own footprints? Remember the happiness you felt then? How you giggled and ran to make more prints? It was fun to make your mark on the smooth sand of a damp beach. The prints said you had been there. You were important. You had left your mark on something big!
We need to finalize our days on earth with that same feeling of accomplishment. We need to make our own footprints, but not just spend time gazing back at them. We need to look ahead, avoid dangerous forks in the path, but let ourselves feel good about the footprints we can leave on the straight path toward God and Heaven.
WHAT WERE HIS PLANS?
Yes, I’m using the poor gator in advertising for my book. I promise he wasn’t hurt in the process! He was just in the right spot, at the right time, and he decided to yawn … or smile at me. Actually, the “yawn” was bigger than this picture shows! But before I could fumble the camera into position, he started shutting his mouth.
In my book, With This Peace, one gator takes something very important from the main character, Ella Dessa. But with the initial loss, another thing is lost. And if a person studies the situation, it can be a forerunner to things to come. Life can be snatched away, when we least expect it.
There is the possibility the gator loses his life. The results of what happens might not be totally clear. I do not stress that point. He was doing what comes natural for an alligator his size. But it is one tense event at the beginning of my book.
I wonder what were God’s plans when he gave me the desire to write stories and books? I hope that through the stories I present, someone will receive courage to go on with life, even when faced with trials that seems to be blocking happiness. My stories are fiction. Events in my books are produced from imagination and bits of life’s situations, which I collected down through the years. Please, have fun reading my books. Thank you!
~Karen Campbell Prough
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.
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!
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
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
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Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2016
Copyright © Karen Campbell Prough 2015
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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