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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Those Who've Gone Before Us

Last week Bruce and I hiked up to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain Nation Park.
The sign at the trailhead said the hike was only 1.7 miles. "That's a snap," I said. "We can be up and down in an hour."
The trail began horizontally, winding through ponderosas, weird rock formations and aspen whose leaves held just the merest trace of gold. But I swear the trees tittered and giggled in the slight breeze as we hiked underneath their foliage. "Hee-hee-hee! They don't know what's around the bend. Tee-hee."
Sure enough, once around a sharp bend, the trail, which had baited us with its deceptively innocuous beginning, abruptly switched to long stretches of stair-climbing.
I hadn't brought my hiking poles because we'd planning on hiking an easy trail. As we climbed, I began to sorely regret that decision.
Bruce, of course, climbed blythely upward, hardly breathing. (I don't think his heart rate has ever exceeded 60 beats a minute.)
As I stopped every so often to catch my breath, I half imagined my husband breaking into a rousing rendition of "Valdaree, valdara, valdaree, valdara-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha."
We hadn't brought enough water for this type of hike, so we had to ration what little we had.
We took it slow. Even so, we passed several groups of hikers, young and old, who had to stop to let their own fleshly motors cool down.
Occasionally, breaks in the trees gave us breath-taking views of Estes Park, way down below, and the surrounding Rockies.
About half a miles from the top I asked a group coming down the trail how much farther we still had to go. The man gave us a thumbs up and said, "It's not far now. Just beyond the outhouse, you'll have one more push and then you get to the lake."
"Thanks," I wheezed.
More groups passed us, coming down, and gave us encouraging reports: "You're almost there." It's just around the corner."
Their encouragement gave me the strength to keep on going inspite of the heat, almost no water, and my aching joints. I'm not sure if I could have continued without the hope that I'd soon reach my destination.

When we finally reached the top, and Gem Lake, we encountered many groups of hikers sitting and enjoying the view. It felt so good to sit and cool off under the shade of trees.

I thought about the groups of people who made it to the lake well before Bruce and I. How grateful I was that they noticed our tired expressions and had the compassion to offer us encouragement.
Isn't that what our older and wiser friends in the Christian faith do, as well? They've walked many of the same paths, encountered some of the same trials, perplexities, and discouragements. But they've made it to the "lake." They can confidently say, "It's not much farther. You're almost there; don't give up."

I've been blessed to have had mature friends who've encouraged me and given me guidance when I felt like giving up.
How about you?

"There, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Heb. 12:1)


  1. Through the years my first husband's Aunt Sally has been an encourager and role model. A godly, wise woman. She had survived the passing of two husbands by the time my Jim died. After his memorial service, I literally sat at her feet and poured out my heart. She understood my pain and had just the right words to say. But more than her words, it was her tender touch and gentle strength that ministered to me and gave me hope. Thank you, Dena, for bringing Aunt Sally to mind this morning. Love you.

  2. This is another way we know God loves us: He sends people into our lives to be His mouth, His hands, His feet!