Though there is much to be learned when we travel through a valley, sometimes it is also good for our hearts to look back from the top of the rise and see how far we’ve come and how greatly we have been blessed. I was reminded of this twice this weekend.

On Saturday morning, I had some time to myself and I took advantage of the cool morning to walk to the top of the hillside behind our house. Although it is not far from the house, I don’t often wander through the pasture in that direction, but every time I do, I am awestruck by how picturesque the view is from up there. Native grass, which is beginning to green after recent rains, rolls off towards the horizon in all directions and I am surprised at the growth of new elms that has sprung up in the pasture despite the severe drought we have suffered.

When I look back at my beautiful home nestled on the side of a gentle rise in this magnificent land that I love, I am reminded that my house does sit just a little lower than the countryside that rises gently around it and I am surprised at how pretty it all looks. I know most people think the Texas Panhandle is completely flat and in many places it is, but we do have a few little ripples in the landscape that make it interesting, and the view of my home from the top of the rise fills me with thanksgiving. From this distance I see few of the imperfections that often mar my daily outlook, and I am reminded how blessed I am to own my home. Thoroughly enjoying the view of the land and the blue/gray sky, my walk, and a moment of solitude, my heart overflows with joy and peaceful serenity. I have been blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself.

Then again I was reminded on Sunday how good it is for us to pause and look back and see where the Lord has brought us when I attended a graduation ceremony for the son of a dear friend. They had put together a slide show presentation of their son growing up, and the presentation was a beautiful picture collage of a beloved little boy growing into the young man he had become. I loved it! But it was even more precious when my friend confided that it had turned out far better than she expected, and looking back, she was amazed at how the pictures had captured the joy and happiness of a childhood that was fraught with the struggles of Asperger’s syndrome. The graduation was a celebration of a major accomplishment in the life of a young man whose struggles brought his parents through a valley watered with God’s goodness, grace, and mercy and contributed to their growth in the Lord. Now as they look back, I think they are awed at the view from the top of the rise – a tribute and a testimony to the workings of God’s grace in their family.

I thank the Lord for the valleys in my life, but I am also very thankful for the days when the rain stops, the skies clear, and I pause, look back, and am awed by the view from the top of the rise.