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Try looking up

By Ann Mann

Have you seen the tulip trees blooming around town? They are simply stunning. One sunny afternoon last week, I noticed one of these beautiful trees in my side yard for the first time since moving in several months ago. Maybe it’s because the trees are unremarkable unless they are blooming. Maybe it’s because I am existing in kind of a fog since my husband’s death.

On this particular day, something made me look up, and there it was. Unexpected beauty. I was drawn to God’s beautiful creation blossoming all around me. Keeping my eyes on the blooms, I walked closer, trying to get the perfect picture. I zoomed in, and then walked around to get the blooms with only blue sky behind them. Then I slipped, which prompted me to look down. I was standing in mud and muck.

Isn’t this the way life is sometimes? There’s mud and muck all around us. But above us, there is so much beauty to behold. To see it, all we have to do is look up. And to enjoy it, we must learn to navigate the slippery slope.

Next month, I am planning to welcome my first grandchild. A great reason to look up, and give praise to God. Even so, I am so sad that my husband will not be able to hold that sweet baby. There I am, slipping in the mud and muck again. And so, I find ways to cope.

I am meeting new people and making new friends. I am enjoying going to church and spending time with Jesus. My faith in Christ, and the love and support of the church help me see the beauty all around me.

It would be so easy to slip into the mud (to pull the covers up over my head and just continue in that post-loss fog.) But I have a choice. We all have a choice. We can focus on the mud and the muck, or we can look up, and see the beauty that is waiting for us to live again.

In Joshua, God’s people have slipped on the mud and the muck. They have forgotten why they were created. That is when Joshua reminds the people of their covenant to love the Lord their God with all of their heart. He challenges them (and us) to choose well. He reminds them (and us) that everything we have comes from God. Then he says, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

We all have a choice. We can keep our eyes on the things that make life hard. The things that cause us to slip. Or we can look up, keeping our focus on the God of all creation. The God who makes the tulip trees. Trees that grow out of the mud and muck.  

(Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is

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