The truck veered off the busy county road.
My eyes widened. Really? I've been wanting to take a picture of this for forever. A warm smile spread over my face on this beautiful autumn day.
"Watch where you put your foot."
"I will." I opened the door, stepped one foot out. Just tall grass. And honestly, I don't care. You know that car pulled over, someone taking a picture on the road-side? Yes, that's probably me. I've suffered swarms of fire-ant bites to feed baby calves. It's irrelevant.
There she stood. Tall, broad, but rusty and weary. Falling to pieces. Watching her, I could imagine the groans on the inside. But she's still standing. The most beautiful barn I've ever seen. Well, not quite. I guess that position will always belong to the barn on my grandparent's property. But each barn is so beautiful to me.
The timing, the setting=perfection. The tall grass wavy in the breeze. A perfect pond set in front of the masterpiece. A clump of old logs sat piled off to the side.
I rested my arms over the gate, steadying myself for the perfect photo. Something to capture what only my eyes can fully embrace.
Got it. Well, maybe.
Only then did my eyes shift past the beauty to the busy interstate beyond. Cars, trucks zooming by. Businesses, billboards, and clutter lining the background.
I released my held breath.
Lord, give me persistence to endure this life, this writing life, this family life, this walk of faith, this daughter life, this mother life, this sister life.
Keep my eyes focused on you, on the beauty, for forever.
I thought over my first published article, 2007, like the moment was yesterday. I pressed the answering machine to hear the recording. "Congratulations, Shelli. Your persistence paid off." Tears streamed. Joy filled my heart. A characteristic some would loathe took me one step further down the road I so love.
I snapped picture after picture.
Rested my arms again.
Father, you know my inward pains and groans. You know my heart. Give me what it takes to persist. Use me. Gift me. To gift others. Let my resolve be strong.
Let my foot keep stepping out in spite of the surrounding fears, in peace. This little girl from Texas, the one who sweat bullets to stand in front of others. The one whose greatest fear in life was an oral book report. The one who ducked down low in her seat to keep from reading aloud, praying the teacher's sight would pass me by.
Father, how you can take our greatest fears and turn them into our greatest dreams is beautiful. Breath-taking.
Keep me standing. Keep my resolve tall and broad through the rusty and weary moments. Because the rusty and weary add character and beauty to my life's picture. The clump of old logs that seems a hindrance to the photo adds beauty. Vintage beauty to a life.
Help me to embrace, utilize, and see with your eyes all that is before me—the encouraging friends lining the view whose support and nourishment seems miles deep, those continually waving me on.
Allow my persistence to be beautiful to someone. Let my resolve persist like an old Texas barn, still standing after all these years. Because Father, your timing, your filter, your setting equal perfection.
Do you have a heart request? How may I pray for you?
And I have an article in October's issue of WMU's Mission Mosaic magazine and a cover story in November's on missions in Philly.