Perspective, by Linda Neff

My Grade 6 teacher held up three items: a red ball of yarn, a nickel, and a green-leafed bunch of white berries. “Choose one of these, and write about it. The best entry will receive the nickel.” I chose the berries, and described my childhood play on our farm. I once filled a small tin pie plate with mud, and decorated this “dessert” with white berries from our bushes. And this was well before competitive cooking shows on television or the ideas of Martha Stewart! Little did I know that making mud pretty would become a metaphor for a way of living life. My mother demonstrated this positive perspec-tive. She referred to her alcoholic husband as someone who “was a wonderful man when he was sober. He loved his family.” She was the quintessential “glass half full” kind of person. On the other hand, I went through some years of grumbling, whining, and wishing there was some other glass. An invisible but real encounter changed all of that. Early in my teen years, I listened to a speaker on television explain how I could have peace with God. Peace. That’s what I wanted and needed. My prayer went something like this: Dear God, I am starting to believe that You are real. Forgive my sin and unbelief. Thank you for giving Jesus to die for my sins on the cross. Please come into my life and make me your child. I will follow you forever. Thank you for Your love. He gave me deep peace and I have spent a lifetime living as His follower. Along the way, I have found so much joy and wisdom in reading the Bible and journaling. This has helped me to have a bigger, more hopeful viewpoint about life. Last year, I compiled a book called: Perspective: Choosing to See Beauty and Truth. It is a sampling of my journal poems based on seeing the lovely realities of each season in nature and in life. It is divided into Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn, and Any Season. (My son Eric, a photographer, provided the stunning pictures, and my daughter Sarah, also a photographer, arranged the headshot. When I gave birth to them years ago, I never would have imagined this collaboration. Grateful joy now.) Remember my story about the mud pie decorated with the white berries? My teacher awarded me the nickel prize. However, the best prize has been discovering a perspective that puts the best viewpoint on my life’s many mud pies!

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