How come it is that the places closest to us are so often the places that we don't take the time to experience?! You may not be guilty of this, but I totally am. We recently visited Utah Lake State Park, which is a whole 20 minutes away from the place I called home for over 10 years. I could not ever remember having been there. So, our little family was excited to say YES when we were invited by extended family to go on a sailboating expedition on Utah Lake.
Five fun facts about Utah Lake State Park:
Much of Utah was covered by Lake Bonneville 750,000 to 8,000 years ago. Utah Lake is part of what is left from that time.
The Native Americans who originally lived by Utah Lake were called Come Pescados or "Fish Eaters" because of the abundance of the fish they would eat.
The first European person to discover Utah Lake was Escalante, and he named it "Lake Timpanogos."
Utah Lake is the only natural habitat of the June Sucker Fish, which is critically endangered. Utah Lake has many invasive species in it, but there is work in progress to reverse this.
There are natural hot springs at the south end of the Lake, as well as in the Saratoga Springs area. Makes for a fun family trip!
Our Adventures in the Park:
If you have ever been sailboating, you know that the wind makes a big difference in making or breaking the experience. Experienced sailors know how to use whatever wind is around them to maneuver their boat in the direction they want to go. We, on the other hand, as very inexperienced sailors, used the little bit of training we received to go out and do a whole lot of experiential learning. Our instructor, Jim Daniels, had a little wooden boat with a sail that was velcroed on that he used to show us how to pull the ropes and position the sail based on the direction of the wind. It all seemed very straightforward.
Once we got on the boat, though, just finding the direction of the wind was difficult. It turns out, there was actually very little wind during our first 20 minutes on the boat, so we spent a lot of time paddling ourselves to try to catch a gust of wind. Although it wasn't what we were expecting, we still had a great time racing the other sailboats and laughing about our super slow progress. Eventually, the wind picked up, and we were amazed at how well the boat moved with the wind. We had fun learning how to better guide our boat while using the wind as a propeller.
In retrospect, it was a great real-life example of our personal progress. While we are in the middle of learning a new skill, strengthening a relationship, or any other worthwhile endeavor, it often doesn't play out as we expect, and may feel super slow. My typical response is then to "take matters into my own hands" and use the paddle to speed up the progress. This often results in intentional learning and growth, and it feels good to be moving at a good pace in an obvious direction. The real thrill for me comes, though, as external guidance pushes me in new directions, and I choose to work within that guidance to move in new ways and sometimes new directions.
I truly believe that the Lord honors our desires and wants us to be agents in choosing the direction our lives go. I believe that He is excited with us when we set out to become something more than we were yesterday. I also believe that He will help guide our lives with His "wind." When we align our sail with His wind, our hopes and dreams can become a reality so much more speedily and smoothly. We may not go the exact path we were originally anticipating, but as we harness that wind by letting out our sail and positioning our rudder, the Lord can work with our desires to make them happen in ways we never would have anticipated.
I have seen this over and over as Colter and I have pursued our dream of full-time adventuring and creating art. We are committed to putting in whatever personal work it takes to succeed and often find ourselves "paddling" without the wind. When we stop and take a minute to do meaningful introspection about where we are at, and ask for help in our decisions, though, a whole different sense of purpose, direction, and action plans come into play, and we are pushed in ways we never would have guessed.
One of these recent experiences for us has been moving toward full financial sustainability through art sales. This is a scary jump for any artist to make because it means leaving behind a safety net of income generated by non-art means. Up until recently, Colter has been working as a graphic designer for BYU-Idaho, a job we were super grateful to have, both for the steady income and the skills he developed. The downside was that he was only working on commissioned projects once or twice a week rather than on a daily basis. Rather than focusing his time on painting, he was spending it doing graphic design. (He was paddling really hard, but not in the direction we wanted to go in the long run!) So, after weeks of feeling that we might need to make a change and after a great discussion with James Corwin, a professional wildlife artist we have learned from, we decided to take the leap.
We are just at the beginning of this part of our journey, but we are confident that as we align our sail with this new wind that we will continue to move forward and progress toward a bright future. And this principle doesn't just apply to us. You may be somewhere along this same journey-sitting with no wind, madly paddling, trying to gauge a new wind, or sailing comfortably with a wind you are accustomed to- and you too can find fulfillment and purpose as you find the wind and let out your sail to move more smoothly to the places you are working toward.
Our adventure at Utah Lake State Park was so memorable! We got to visit a new place, learn how to sail, and spend time with some of our favorite people. If you're in the area, we highly recommend taking a visit. We know that it can feel impossible to get out and have fun for so many reasons- kids, health, work, you name it- but the experience of being in nature with the people you love will be well worth it, and won't just happen on its own. Paddle your boat a little bit today, and tomorrow the wind will kick in and give you an afternoon of smooth sailing!