(Welcome to guest Carol Cox, a historical author with an insightful devotion inspired by one of our nation's true gems - the Grand Canyon)
I braced myself against one of the guardrails along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and snapped one photo after another. Even though I was born and raised in Arizona, and now live less than two hours from the Canyon, seeing it from different angles under the ever-changing light conditions never fails to inspire a sense of awe.
Patterns of light and shadow shifted as clouds scudded across the sky, throwing the multicolored rock striations into sharp relief. From time to time, patches of blue sky became visible through gaps in the dark storm clouds. Ravens soared overhead, borne aloft by the updrafts along the canyon walls. After the storm passed, I took more photos from the same spot, sure the backdrop of freshly-washed blue sky would show the scene to its best advantage.
Back at home, I downloaded the dozens of pictures I had taken that day and scrolled through them on my laptop. When I reached the final shots taken after the storm, I was surprised to find that instead of the stunning panorama I expected to see, those photos appeared flat . . . almost lifeless. But those I’d taken earlier showed a sense of vibrancy, depth, and texture, even though the landscape had been overshadowed by the storm.
Sometimes I see the same thing when I look at my life. I’d love to think that the easy times, the ones I can sail through with a smile, are the ones that show a triumphant life in Christ. But it’s often the darker moments, when those storm clouds gather overhead, that throw the Lord’s presence in my life into sharp relief and speak most clearly to those about me.
To be honest, I’d rather it didn’t work out that way. I don’t go out looking for trouble or seeking ways to invite it into my life. Far from it! I’d much prefer that all my days were serene and filled with joy. But as followers of Christ, we aren’t guaranteed that our lives will be problem-free. In fact, Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world.
When those storms come along—as they inevitably do—I don’t expect to enjoy them, but I can take comfort in knowing He’s bringing His work into sharper focus in the picture of my life.
Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity?
Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it’s the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.
Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can’t figure out who’s stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow . . . or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.
Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn’t safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he’s falling in love with doesn’t really exist?