A Tale of Two Creeks

CLADACH Publishing

The two creeks I have in mind don’t surge or course or produce whitewater. In fact, much of the year, they trickle…through prairie and grassland, over rises and around bends…ever moving, ever adjusting, fed by waters originating in the heights of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, bringing life and sustenance to more remote, insignificant places.

Neither of these creeks flows through prime real estate attracting big-name land speculators and developers. Yet each has a story to tell of life and death, and of refuge seekers. Each has reflected the faces of generations as they laughed and cried, worked and prayed. And each of these creeks has received the blood, sweat, and tears shed there.

What stories these creeks could—and do—tell:  of community…of clashing and contrasting worldviews, lifestyles, and civilizations…of promises and lies, of seeking and finding, of celebrating and mourning.

Big Sandy Creek is noted for being the location of the…

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The Sound of Silence

CLADACH Publishing

I took this photo of a sign erected at a viewpoint in Rocky Mountain National Park. I have visited the park during all seasons. In spring and summer the melodies of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. rise and fall on the air. In late summer and early fall, elk calls bugle through the park. Then, on many winter days a soft, white, silent layer of snow breathlessly quiets the scene. Would you think of this “utter, complete silence” as a sound, as Andre Kostelantez did—even “one of the greatest sounds of them all”?

This brings questions to my mind:

Should we seek/embrace silence?

Where/how do we find silence?

Why is silence important/needed?

What can we learn in silence?

Do we tend to avoid—maybe even fear—silence?

My curiosity piqued, I looked up Andre Kostelantez and learned that he was a Jewish/Russian immigrant to America who became one of the most successful…

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Another Not-So-New Year Ignites My Quest for Zest

 By E. M. Gregory


“In bad times and good, I have never lost my sense of Zest for life”

~Walt Disney

Christmas 2017 has come and gone. It’s January 4, 2018—four days into the New Year.  After reviewing my list of goals for this year, I am feeling apathetic. My goals look like the everyday to-do list. Sure, there are things on the list that are enjoyable—like take a craft class and schedule two long weekend trips, but even these enjoyable things, are not making my heart thump any faster.

As a child, I was jump-out-of-my skin excited for the first day of school. There were so many new things to look forward to:  New Rainbow Bright inspired clothes and saddle shoes; New My Little Pony backpack and lunch bag; New friends; New enthusiastic teachers; New sides of the playground. I always looked forward to the first days of school—even throughout my college years.

stockingThe only days more thrilling than the first days of school were the holidays. Memories of parading around my neighborhood in a princess posse with my pumpkin bucket for Halloween treats, hunting high and low for my Easter basket, as well as losing the war with my eyelids in hopes of seeing Santa every Christmas Eve, are still etched in my heart.


New should evoke a sense of excitement, right? Maybe the excitement won’t be that of a child waiting for Santa, but am I naïve to believe that there should still be some enthusiasm for a New Year? Or, is 36 years old about the time when the thrill really is gone?

I have checked myself…I don’t believe I am depressed. I don’t dread the New Year. I don’t feel sad or angry. No extreme highs. No extreme lows.

Rather, I am experiencing days, weeks, months, and years rolling into the next. It is all happening too fast! I am even losing track of my age! When the kids at the tutoring center ask me how old I am, I often find myself doing the math.

No. I am not going senile! But, I would like to feel a sense of wonder again. I don’t want to live solely to complete my daily to-do lists. My type A personality will ensure the lists get done. Rather, I want to feel excitement for at least some of the days ahead.

I am on a quest for zest this year.

First, I wanted to make sure this was a godly desire, so I asked the Lord.

A scripture came to my heart, “If you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth” (Revelations 3:16).

Yikes! I hadn’t thought about how my lack of enthusiasm for life could be connected to my possible lack of enthusiasm for the Lord. I know deep in my heart that I love the Lord; I just don’t feel joyous excitement about him. I took this scripture as a sign that the Lord wants me to have zest for him.

A few moments later, another scripture came. “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

Alright. I might be doing a good job completing my to-do lists; but apparently, it matters with what state of mind and heart I do them. Zeal and fervor are both words that are synonymous with the words passion, excitement, and enthusiasm. Zest is having GREAT passion, excitement, and enthusiasm.

Oh boy! Maybe I am setting the bar too high with wanting to have zest? Perhaps, I should settle on a healthy goal of simply achieving some enthusiasm in this new year.

I prayed, “Lord what should I do?”

I heard in my heart, “Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as something done for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

Oh, what a relief. I was wondering if God wanted me to make some earth shattering changes. Nope. I was sent a reminder: whatever I chose to do each day—whether that’s clean my house, wash and fold clothes, mail out cards, help students raise their ACT scores, or even visit with a friend over a hot cup of tea—it’s about my heart attitude.

These scriptures confirmed that I have a lukewarm heart; I am unenthusiastic about God, my relationships, and my daily life activities. My word for the year was right on point. I need zest!

In hopes to begin my quest for zest, I did more research. I discovered zest is also about approaching life as an adventure and remaining motivated even in challenging situations or tasks. This understanding helped me enhance my goals. 2018 Vision BoardI created a vision board, so I can picture how I want life to feel—colorful, vibrant, and energizing. Instead of a to-DO list; I created a to-BE picture. I want to be filled with purpose and joy, so I can dance like King David!

Of course, real and lasting zest can’t be achieved with only a vision board. I know I need God to work in my heart. Knowing zest is biblical is enough motivation for me.

I invite you to join me in my quest for zest. Wouldn’t we rather be jump-out-of-our skin excited for God and life, than to be lukewarm and spewed out of God’s mouth?

when i am unsettled

everyday derring-do

charming 1

when i am unsettled
everything is in lower caps.

the locusts’ song that normally brings joy
grates on my last ping-y nerve

shame follows me around
you shoulda done this
you shoulda been more grateful
you’re a dork.

and I must ask myself
What is real? What is true?

today the unsettling came.
weather and fire
human frailties masked by cavalier bravado on a global scale
that un-jiminey cricket
which sat on my shoulder and pointed out all the ways I am not enough

apparently, he is making the rounds.
i learned this while on my tiny couch
in my tiny apartment
thinking my tiny thoughts
and skipping yoga
because i needed to be still…to be tiny.

i learned un-jiminey cricket was making his rounds
when friend after friend
either connected with me directly
or sent out into the world
their own sense of dis-ease
and not enough.


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Importance of Readers/Reviews/Endorsements

CLADACH Publishing

Book reviewers and advance readers are one important element in the publishing process. It’s hard for the author and the editors to be objective about the book they’ve been immersed in for months, maybe years. Enter readers and reviewers who usually have little or no personal stake or emotional involvement in the book. We hope they are people who appreciate good literature, who want to share God-glorifying stories with their friends, who recognize authenticity in narrative that “rings true” and offers help and hope.

We are thankful for the advance readers who, in the midst of their busy schedules, have read a pre-publication copy of On Kitten Creek: Searching for the Sacred by Nancy Swihart and have sent us these endorsement/ reviews:

Ken Canfield PhD., Founder National Center for Fathering; President, National Association for Grandparenting says:

“Nancy Swihart’s On Kitten Creek is an uplifting and thoughtful read. It’s a fresh…

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To every man th…

To every man there openeth A way, and ways, and a way. And the high soul climbs the high way, And the low soul gropes the low: And in between, on the misty flats, The rest drift to and fro. But to every man there openeth A high way and a low, And every man decideth. The way his soul shall go.”
3 quote fans • Oxenham, John

Thinking about the “misty flats” and fighting to stay on “the high road.”