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"Look! See Mommy way up there?" I lifted the baby higher and swung his chubby arm in a clumsy wave. I don't know if his mother saw us from her perch high above our heads. She was focused on tiptoeing across a tightrope toward the platform 30 feet in the air.

Every summer YoungLives moms bring their children to Timberwolf Lake for a week of camp. Learning to navigate the high ropes obstacle course is one of the group activities the teen moms can tackle. Last year I stayed planted firmly on the ground and held a baby while his mother balanced precariously over our heads.

The ropes creaked and the trees rustled in the slight breeze. The metal hooks of the harnesses clinked as the women moved slowly through the course.

Some ladies clung to the upright supports and cried, but the mom I watched made the journey look easy. She practically danced across the swinging rope bridge and the single rope trail. At the end she faced a sheer drop to the ground. She gave one hysterical shriek as she slipped off the platform and rode the ropes gently back to earth.

Though I watched last year from the relative safety of the forest floor, I recognize we all perform a similar balancing act of grace and endurance. Whether we hold back and cry, or leap forward with joy, all our lives are a high ropes course of stamina and strength.

We walk a narrow, wobbly way of instability and uncertainty. The ground beneath our feet seems constantly shifting. Circumstances change. Dreams sometimes disappoint. Expectations can explode. We have only two choices: freeze in place and hold on tight, or keep moving slowly forward.

We have to trust we are clipped in correctly. No harness or helmet will protect us from the pains of daily life. No safety net will catch us if we fall. Money, resources, and relationships are never guaranteed. God is our only security. His Spirit holds us close, and his support system of guidelines leads us safely to the end of our adventure.

We have to keep trying. We have to take one tentative step, then another, then a few more.

"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

Eleanor Roosevelt

When we face our fears, we build courage. When we accept new challenges, we learn new skills. As we realize each success, we grow in confidence and discover the depths of our abilities.

We all face the final leap of faith. We have no choice but to let go, plunge forward, and believe that God will catch us in the end.

Last year I stayed on the ground with the babies. This summer I plan to walk the ropes and learn what is waiting for me beyond the final drop. The best part of freefall is the freedom.

What ropes are you walking today? Who is holding you as you make your way?

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Long ago a lonely girl lived with her father in a lighthouse. On a scrap of paper the girl wrote, "My name is Esmerelda. I live in the lighthouse on Petri Island. Write to me." She put the paper in a bottle, sealed it with cork and wax, and threw the bottle into the ocean waves. Months later the mail boat brought Esmerelda a letter from the boy who had found her bottle on his beach. Esmerelda and the boy wrote letters for many years. One day the boy arrived in a rowboat and took Esmerelda away to be his wife. They lived happily ever after.

I don't remember when I read that story, but at ten years old, I went with my family on a summer trip to St. Louis. I took along my school picture with my name and address written on the back, put the picture inside an empty cough medicine bottle, and flung the bottle into the Mississippi River.

I remember the gray water slurping at the black mud on the shore and the gray sky stretching above it. The bottle bobbed downstream. I went home and eagerly awaited a letter from my new friend.

I'm still waiting.

I often feel I'm pitching my prayers out to sea and watching them drift away, only to wait and wonder when my rescue will arrive. But I'm developing a few strategies to help me be patient while I anticipate my answer.

Enjoy the view from the beach.

The sun rises over the water each morning. Warm breezes blow. Birds call, circling overhead. The world is bright and beautiful. I rest and appreciate the calm of peaceful skies and the rhythm of turning tides.

Use whatever washes ashore.

Driftwood endures the turbulent waves, abrasive sand, and battering rocks to emerge polished, smooth, and shining. I am grateful and collect all I receive to build shelter from the rains. I have more than enough for fires to warm the dark night.

Answer another's S.O.S.

Sometimes a message from another castaway floats into my harbor and lands at my feet. Then I paddle my little raft through the choppy seas and carry my companion to a new, more comfortable, and safer shore.

I have made many friends since that summer on the Mississippi River bank. We are no longer alone, but huddled together, calling for the Captain who commands the wind and waves, and scanning the distance for signs of his arrival.

I think I see a ship on the horizon.

What are you waiting for today? How can you answer another's call while you are waiting?

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"You just loosen this bolt and take off the cover. See how dirty the air filter is?" Greg held the dusty filter up toward the light. He dropped a clean air filter into the tray, replaced the lid, tightened the bolt.

My classmates leaned forward to watch Greg's callused hands work quickly under the car's open hood.

When I got my first car, I learned how to fill a gas tank and turn a key. No one told me to check the oil, the coolant fluid, the brake pads. For too many years I bought old, cheap cars and drove them until they croaked. Too many times I had been stranded outside the laundromat or the grocery store. My small hometown did not have a bus system. I needed a running car to get me to work and school.

I enrolled in Greg's "Do-it-yourself Car Maintenance" class. Greg showed his students how to check oil levels, change the oil and filter, gap spark plugs, change tires, and replace a battery. He lectured us about the importance of brake fluid, antifreeze, and new wiper blades.

I learned something significant from the guy with the callused hands and greasy shirt.

We have to work to take care of what is important to us.

When I take care of my car, it lasts longer and gets me where I need to go. When I nurture my friendships, I build strong relationships with people who support and encourage me. When I honor my goals and priorities, I grow and move forward toward my destination.

With regular maintenance our lives move more smoothly. Cars run better. Relationships flourish. Goals become reachable.

Neglect only leads to more problems. Cars break down. Relationships crumble. Progress stalls. When we neglect to maintain the important things long enough, we get stuck and abandoned on the side of the road.

God never leaves us alone on the roadside. When we work to maintain our faith in him, he will pick us up and drive us wherever we need to be.

What is important to you today? How do you maintain it to keep it running well?

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