The ups and downs of life

My day began with driving rain and intense fog as I traveled to a meeting out of town. Actually, I was thankful for the rain because it made having to spend my day indoors a little less deadly.

We listened to people tell about their faith journey, then talk on a bible passage that they selected. All of that was very pleasant. I enjoy listening to scriptural interpretation as well as hearing about a person’s call to ministry.

We were told this committee depends on discernment. It is our job to determine what constitutes a real call. That is not always easy to do. Sometimes we say “no”, sometimes we say “not yet”, sometimes we “yes”.

I had parked in a lot that was a distance away because of construction. As I returned to my car after the meeting I negotiated the moss-covered stairs carefully. Since my arms were filled I walked gingerly down the steps ever mindful of the perilous moss under my feet.

All of a sudden my feet went out from under me and I was on the ground in the wet mushy stuff. This was definitely the down side of things. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and climbed into my car with a wet behind. I was thankful there was no one around to see my clumsy fall. Let me say here that the Lord has gifted me with an uncanny ability to just let myself go when I begin to fall so that I usually do not get hurt. That ability is truly a gift that I have thanked Him for many times.

The whole day ended up to be an emotional spiritual roller coaster. The roller coaster effect continued as I tuned in to a dance show that focused on important formative experiences as the “stars” recalled important events in their lives.

I listened to stories that had emotions at an all-time high. In many cases tears were shed after the dances were completed. In some cases family members were present and that certainly brought tears. When we think about the “stars” we do not really think about what their real lives are like.

When I used to talk to the stars who visited the Warren County Fair I always focused on what made that person the person they were. I wanted to know what made them tick if you will. Things are not always what they seem. Many of these famous people have had extraordinary experiences that shaped their lives. The ordinary person does not see this.

That night I heard about a young lady who was given up for dead. She was in a vegetative state following an event in her life. As she began to improve she was told she would never walk again. She fooled everyone. Here she was as a dancer on one of the most prestigious programs on television.

A young man told of his adoption by his grandparents. He recalled walking into a courtroom and hearing the tap of the judge’s gavel that gave him a loving family.

Another man told of the life and death struggle of his daughter who had a rare form of cancer. When she needed surgery, which could have taken her eye, he gave up a multi-million dollar career to be with her and her mother.

One girl talked about the loss of her father to cancer and the emotional roller coaster she was on traveling back and forth to be near him and her family.

I am not able to relate all of the emotional tales that were shared. I think the important lesson here is that all of these people struggled with unbelievable odds. Yes, they are now “famous” but that fame came with a price.

Many of these people exhibited amazing faith. Over and over they gave thanks to their Lord and Savior for His amazing grace.

When you experience loss or hardship you must dig really deep into your faith. I recall a procedure that I went through where I had to remain immobile while my body slid in and out of a diagnostic machine. During that procedure I sang hymns that I had memorized through the years to keep my mind off what was happening to me.

The hymns gave me a sense of peace unlike any other that I had ever experienced. I was able to relax, to let go.

Everyone has their own way of coping with adversity. Repeating the words of these familiar songs was my own way of coping. I was thankful that I could remember so many different songs. I even went back to some of the songs that I had learned as a child. “This Little Light of Mine” took on a different connotation. It was the Light of Jesus that kept me centered.

For those of you facing the unimaginable, my advice is to dig deep. Give your burdens to God. He will always be there to help you through whatever you are going through. Remember that.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at