Climbing Trees, Child-Like Wonder, and Going Out West

My name is Samantha, and I have never climbed a tree. Judging from the appalled reactions I get whenever I tell this to people, I have to assume that tree-climbing is just a fundamental part of any normal childhood. Perhaps there is something about the challenge of climbing, of finding secure holds for your hands and feet. Or maybe there is something about the sheer thrill of towering over anything and everything else, of the satisfaction in realizing your new position is the product of your own strength. I never have climbed a tree, so I don’t know if that is even remotely correct. Nevertheless, surely tree-climbing must foster the innate qualities of adventure, discovery, and curiosity held in every child. Surely it establishes and strengthens the connection between humanity and nature.

My never having climbed a tree is the product of two things: one, I never really liked getting my hands dirty, and I honestly could never bring myself to do it because I was scared. Being raised in a household where being safe, tidy, and reserved was superior to being daring, messy, and outspoken, I often found myself shying away from opportunities and activities which required any speck of boldness. But as I have gotten older, have moved away for college, and have been exposed to a plethora of world views and attitudes towards life, I’ve come to adopt a renewed appreciation for adventure and child-like wonder. There is nothing quite like living life at least somewhat close to the edge. I have learned that being timid is a hindrance to learning from experience, and that sometimes falling down and failing is exponentially more valuable than staying safe and never knowing what waits around the corner.

All this to say, exploration is important! Stay fascinated. Be curious. Take chances. Discover more. Worry less. Go climb a tree.

And now enjoy some photos from our family’s trip out West, in which my desire for adventure was overwhelmingly satiated and some child-like wonder was coaxed out of all of us:

Day 1: Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Day 2: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Day 3: Arches National Park, Utah

Day 4: Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Day 5: Antelope Island State Park, Utah

Day 6: Chinatown, Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California

Day 7: Fisherman’s Wharf, Santa Cruz, Seventeen-Mile Drive, Big Sur, California

Day 8: Yosemite National Park, California

Day 9: Point Reyes Lighthouse, California

 

About 2016: Faithfulness

Happy New Year’s Eve! Once again, it’s that time where we all get to pause and reflect on the year that has passed. For me, it seems like time itself is only accelerating and leaving me scrambling behind in the dust, but while this year feels like the quickest year yet, I nevertheless gained infinite amounts of valuable insight and knowledge about myself, others, and the world.

I’ll get right to it: above all, 2016 was the year I learned all about God’s faithfulness. And let me just say, there is nothing more constant, tangible, beautiful, or true. While this year was filled with highs and lows, the one thing that remained unquestionably steadfast was my Jesus.

I learned that God is a faithful Provider. He has provided me with another wonderful year at Belmont University where I’ve gotten to dive deeper into my studies of science and music. He has blessed me with a new church family in The Move Church along with the countless opportunities I’ve received to serve there. He’s kindled a passion inside of me for hand lettering. He’s provided for me financially through work in Belmont’s Admissions office as well as hand lettering commissions on the side. And of course, God has continued to provide me with uplifting and life-giving friends that I get to surround myself with and whom I can count on whenever I need them.

I learned that God is a faithful Friend even in my darkest circumstances. God was consistently present in life’s overwhelming situations. From me floundering in my coursework, even to when I was panic-ridden because of the time my car went mysteriously missing, He was there. God was equally present in the small everyday battles I waged as a college student, whether they were against loneliness, sadness, or anxiety.

Perhaps most importantly, I learned that God is faithful in His promises. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says He knows the plans He has for me. They are good plans that will give me a hope and a future. I continue to find comfort in this truth and and realize that although they are programmed into my nature, I need to let go of my worry and uncertainty. Though I am in a weird stage of life saturated heavily with ambiguity, I can have peace in my confidence that this stage of my life is only but a stepping stone to a greater plan known solely to God.

I was never truly able to say I had directly experienced God’s faithfulness in a way that shook me to my core, but after this year I can gratefully say that I have. It’s an attribute of God that has become so dear to my heart, and I anxiously await the year to come where I will find God’s faithfulness all the more evident.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year and that your 2017 is filled with friends, fun, laughter, and above all, amazement at God’s unwavering faithfulness!


Year