Magnificent Desolution – Guest Writer Rebecca Qualls

Today I welcome guest writer Rebecca Qualls to my blog.  I first met Rebecca when she was my ‘buddy’ at my first Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference three years ago.  She took me under her wing and helped me navigate the conference, offering encouragement along the way  We remained friends on Facebook, sharing the ups and downs of life and writing.I asked her to share her writing talent with you, as I  take a break from writing.  Enjoy her post!

“Beautiful!  Beautiful! Magnificent desolation.”-Buzz Aldrin, American astronaut

It’s been eighteen months. Eighteen months since we left suburban California life and bought a home on six acres in the high desert of northern Nevada.
We live in a beautiful agricultural valley surrounded by several mountain ranges and tumble weeds. You never forget the first time the strong winds pick up a tumble weed and send it into your backside. It’s like a right of passage.
In fact, there seem to be a lot of those–rights of passage. Butchering chickens. Collecting eggs everyday. Getting up early even on the weekends to feed the animals. Rural life is, well, sort of like leaving Oz to live in Kansas.
But living in the desert takes pastoral to a whole new level. It’s stark, with mind boggling weather shifts, intensely dry, arid and windy. (And not coastal breeze windy. I’m talking dust storm windy. See note about tumbleweeds above.)
When we first got here, I couldn’t help but think of the Israelites. They lived in a beautiful and fertile place. Until Moses. He led them smack dab into the desert. You know the story, right? The parting of the Red Sea, the water gushing out of the rock, manna, not to mention, the roaming for forty years. Hours of Sunday School Bible class watching as the stories were told using cut outs and a large flannel board. I had heard the stories so many times, I thought I had a handle on what living in the desert must have been like. Boy, was I wrong.
Granted, I’m not wandering around like a nomad or gathering our only food source out of the yard every morning. I haven’t marched on a walled city recently; but even now, eighteen months later, I ponder the similarities.
Stark, dry, windy, desolate. And yet, beautiful.
As I began to make the comparison, I contemplated the reasons for God transplanting the Israelites into the desert.
“Why?” I asked many times in the barrenness. Why here? Nearly every time I did, I would encounter a photo op as resplendent as this one.
Why here? I thought I had a budding ministry back in California.
If a picture says a thousand words, God was answering my question in tomes. I didn’t understand it at first. We live here simply because it’s beautiful?
It’s been eighteen months and although I still don’t understand completely what God is doing, that’s no longer the issue. “Why” in the desert has a way of getting lost. It disappears behind each breathtaking sunset and indescribable cloud formation.
God’s response to my persistent question has been gentle and consistent.
Repeatedly He simply shows Himself. His glory and His simplicity. His majesty and His mystery. Creator God. Orchestrator of the Heavens.
The why is swallowed by Who.
In the manner God so often works, it goes even deeper. There are the people around us and the animals we have taken charge over. Here in the desert, our neighbors aren’t the people we simply wave to when we are mowing the lawn. They are the one’s who drop what they are doing to help you catch the sheep that just got loose. They are the one’s who know your kiddos are going to be walking home in the rain from bus stop so they  meet them at the road and give them a lift home. Neighbors in the desert are the one’s who laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry.
“Beautiful! Beautiful! Magnificent desolation!”
Sometimes it takes the desolation to see the magnificence. Sometimes it takes the contrast of grandeur in the middle of stark to demonstrate truth profoundly.
There are so many things that happen in our lives that take shape beyond the scope of understanding. We strive to understand, to make sense of the chaos. I don’t know that I will ever fully understand why, but I see who. I see Who made the grandeur, and I see who I get to share it with. And maybe that was part of God’s plan for the Israelites, too. It was time they saw and experienced a lot more who.
In your own desolation, can you see the beautiful Who?
Rebecca Qualls currently resides in beautiful and quite rural, Smith Valley, Nevada, with her husband and three children. Her debut novel, “Distressed,” is available on Amazon.

Distressed
Driscoll, a law enforcement officer and his wife Alex, have worked hard to build a life for themselves, but when Driscoll heroically rescues a man from a burning car, and their young son is rushed to the hospital for an unexplainable seizure, the two discover they have taken different roads. They must find a way back to each other or lose everything. This suspenseful and emotional story will show you the burdens a hero bears and the strength required to love.

To see Miriam’s Scripture art and greeting cards go to ‘my art’ above or www.giftsofhisglory.com

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My Magical time in Victoria, Canada

Inner Harbor, Victoria

It started with an unexpected check in the mail.  I had been praying for money for a vacation and with delight, here it was from the Lord’s hand to mine.  Paris? No, not enough money. Hawaii?  No, it would buy me maybe three days.

Then it came to me:  Victoria, British Columbia.  I had been as a teenager and remembered its beauty.  I wanted a place to have a honeymoon of sorts with Jesus, to relax and spend more time together, and grow in my intimacy with Him.

July 7th came quickly, and I was off for the two hour flight to the island.  My seatmate was a local man, who gave me all the ins and outs to do.  I planned on biking the island and exploring all the nooks and crannies.  I lived in England for five months during a break from the mission field and looked forward to fish-n-chips and English high tea. with thick cream on my scones.

Castle

Upon arrival, I was met with the perpetual hanging flower pots that are all over the island.  I arrived at my quaint inn, built in 1900 as a dormitory for coal miners.  My room overlooked the Craigdarroch Castle, which I quickly

Tower of Castle

went to see.  The Lord had promised me a surprise there, and I found it in the tower, with 360 degree views of Victoria.  Breathtaking.  I won’t share my surprise as it is a secret!

For four days I biked.  Along the shore, taking in the beauty of the Olympic Mountains and large timber like driftwood that scattered the beaches. To Oak Bay, where I had my delicious tea and visited the local art galleries, admiring the local artists. I explored the beautiful inner harbor, basking in the glow of the famous Empress Inn and its Rose Gardens.  I stopped and waited in line for halibut fish-n-chips at Red Fish-Blue fish, the local favorite.  I biked to Fisherman’s Warf and

Floating home

saw the floating houses and ate more fish-n-chips!

Every night, I was exhausted, and spent the evening watching the sun set not until 10:00pm, as it is close to Alaska and stays light until then.

porch where I watched sun set

The Canadian people are so friendly and helpful. Every place I went, if I was lost, they helped me.They were fun to talk to and had delightful stories to share.  I fell in love with Victoria, with its beauty, its European flair, and its laid back lifestyle.

Sunken Garden at Brutchart

Trip highlight was to famous Brutchart Gardens, where the color and expanse of flowers took my breath away. Of course, my phone and camera batteries died half way through, but I found a postcard of the spot I wanted to paint, as a souvenir of my trip.

I will be taking a break from painting my regular Scripture art and painting the beauty of Victoria from my heart.  It is good for an artist to switch things up every

Me at Totem Pole of Native Canadians

once in awhile!

The Lord blessed me with a closer intimacy with Him, healed my heart from some painful things in my life, and just had fun with me.  He loves to dance and sit and watch His masterpiece, the sunset, together.  I will always remember Victoria as my special love place with Him, and I am grateful for the beautiful, relaxing time I had.  Enjoy the pictures!

Stained glass of Dogwood, Canadians state flower, in castle

 

Rose trellis at Brutchart Gardens

 

 

The Empress Hotel

 

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