How do we know the best route to take?

Heading across a snowy meadow and into the trees on the return loop, there were two trail options. But no signage.

I knew all routes led back to Mt. Bachelor, but I wasn’t sure which one was the shortest. And the shortest seemed the most important at the moment … because there was a thick cloud bank rolling in from the west.


Mt. Bachelor across a snowy meadow

It was one of those blue-sky days, and the snow had fallen powdery soft, and even with a writing deadline, the mountains were calling: Let’s do this!

I loaded up the gear, pointed my rig toward the mountains, and trekked from the base of Bachelor out to a frozen Todd Lake where fun was had by all (that would be me).


Part of the art show: crystals frozen on bare limbs
The picnic tables were out of commission
… but the powder room was still in working order

And now, heading back to Mt. Bachelor, which trail to take? And there was that pesky cloud bank.

So I chose one of the paths. And after a bit of trekking, it angled east.

But I wanted to go south. To Mt. Bachelor. And every time I caught a glimpse of the mountain through the trees, it kept scooting further away.

At one point I stopped. With the fog approaching, I wondered—just for a second—if I should turn around and take the other trail. Which obviously would have been the shorter distance.

Life is like that. Sometimes there are too many possibilities. And some with far-reaching consequences—which school to attend, what career to pursue, who to marry, what job to accept, to move or not to move.

Too many choices. When really, all we want is one option: the most expedient way.

Here’s the thing: God is faithful to direct the paths of His kids. Sometimes it happens through amazing opportunities that come about because of open doors or miraculous provision. 

And then there are the slammed-shut doors. Which is also God’s leading. God’s faithfulness. God’s kindness. Even if it produces momentary disappointment, heartbreak, pain – still, God’s kindness.

What if we’re on a life’s path and a decision needs to be made, but there are no obvious open doors and no slammed-shut doors? Then what?

How I see it, there are three options:

1. Stay put.

Sometimes staying put—as we’re waiting for the next obvious step—isn’t a bad thing.

But if we camp out in that staying-put place because of our uncertainty, it can become a deadly thing. If I’d frozen in indecision on the trail, I’d have eventually … well, frozen.

2. Turn around.

Do a one-eighty and head back to the sure, the safe, the comfortable. Because we’ve been there, we’re familiar with that place.

But familiarity isn’t always for our best. Because so many worthwhile things in life will require taking a risk.

3. Move forward.

Moving forward without being able to see around the bend in the trail ahead — this is risky stuff.

Move forward anyway. Courage required.

What do we know to do today as we’re heading to our future? For starters, get out of bed. Show up for the people in our lives. Complete the scholarship application. Take the pilot test. Sign up for the sign language class. Deliver a meal to a bereaved neighbor. Submit the business plan, the homework assignment, the book proposal.

Which may involve rejection, humiliation, even failure.

But there is something far worse than rejection or humiliation or failure.

And that is, not realizing our purpose for being placed on this planet. Not pursuing adventure. Not opening our hearts to people. Not making a difference in our corner of the world. 

Take the next step we know to take, no matter that fear and anxiety may be trying to bully us.

What if?

As it turned out, I made it back to my vehicle—otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this—and yes, I inadvertently chose the longer way around.

But it was also a gorgeous, exhilarating, life-affirming trek as I carried gratitude for my good health and mobility, for getting to live in this central Oregon with these majestic Cascades in my backyard.

This thought from Nick Frederickson resonates with me:

So, I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings.

What if we kept our hearts open to the next step, to new beginnings and new adventure? To the uncomfortable, the longer, more exhilarating, more challenging trail home?

I’m thinking we won’t regret it. At all.


Can a shower truck really make a difference?


Go make stuff this year … the world needs makers


  1. Allison McCormick


    What a beautiful way to end 2019! Such a good reminder that God provides, directs, instructs us in every life circumstance. We have to be brave enough to trust Him.

    Thank you for your inspiring writing and I pray that God abundantly blesses you in 2020.

    • Well said, Allison: “We have to be brave enough to trust Him.” But I want to see what’s around the bend in the road first … which of course isn’t trust.

  2. Wonderful piece, Marlys. Raising a New Year’s toast to our brave new meanderings!

  3. Dan

    Thanks Marlys, a good reminder of how life’s paths can be taken, hopefully we choose our personal trail guide, Jesus , who only has our best interest in mind, let him direct our paths.

  4. Fran

    Such a good article, Marlys. Things going on I’m my life this past year and still searching for the Lords will and direction, I’m finding that taking a step and seeing conformation (or not) keeps me moving. Your article is another confirmation!
    (On a side note, I cant believe you ventured out on your own in these conditions!). Love you my friend ??

  5. Irene Kain

    Your photos are beautiful and your message is inspiring! Thank you!

  6. Fawn Pratt

    Good morning and a blessed 2020. Thank you for reminding to look out for a adventure in the Lord!

    • “… look out for an adventure in the Lord!” I like how you said that, Fawn. Here’s to many adventures in 2020 – no matter how wild or crazy or uncertain they may get!

  7. Kris

    So, so good auntie!!! Love every last word of this… and all so so true… love and miss you so much… I love my scarf by the way… thank you so much for thinking of me ?

  8. So glad to have connected with you via FB. I love this post about decisions in the snow so to speak. I miss the snow! I do not miss the gray days however. We lived in KS for 4 winters, and I’m so glad to say we have been back in FL for 8 winters. I much prefer the Sunshine State! I do miss winter adventures of sledding, snow ball throwing, and walking in the snow on a sunny day. I hope that you have a blessed winter wherever you travel to!

  9. Carla Christensen

    You are such an encouraging mentor, Marlys. After a new diagnosis over Christmas, not knowing what’s around the next turn is so real. Learning trust God is a lifelong lesson.

    • “Learning to trust God is a lifelong lesson.” You’re absolutely right, Carla. Love and prayers to you. Please keep me in the loop.

  10. Peter

    Hadn’t intended being so late in getting involved with this wonderful message, however, my Barbara’s had a knee replacement, so busy busy in caring for her. What you did for us Marlys, was to cause us to recall the time we returned to cycle in Oregon. Un be known to us, friends had decided that we aught to stay at The Inn of the Seventh Mountain so this was a wonderful gift and surprise. As for Mt Batchelor, I recall the long climb for my Barbara, we took 3 hours to get to the cable car at the base and it took Barbara just 45 minutes to cycle back down and on our way to The Inn of the Seventh Mountain… it was our wedding anniversary and we ate at Josiah’s Restaurant, on site, such a memorable occasion. So, you jogged our memories about our detours and journeys and we thank you for doing so. God Bless, Bx P & family. PS: Must get to this weeks message/blog and catch up.

    • You and Barbara have had so many adventures, Peter … and I’m glad some of them were in central Oregon!

      • Peter

        Yes, we certainly found a wonderful place when I first found Oregon in ’92, but the return trips with Barbara made it even more special. God certainly had His hand on us for we have been blessed. Our love, Bx P & family.

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