Why vigilance?

The neutral colors of the sky and sea and sand blend with ease. Massive boulders stand at attention as the waves take center stage, blue-green and frothy-white before trundling back into the gray.

Seals sunning on the small rock — Harris Beach, southern Oregon

As I write this, Dan and I are at Harris Beach on the south coast of Oregon.

I can’t be anywhere at the Oregon coast without thinking of my young friend, Charity, who watched helplessly, hysterically as a sneaker wave snatched her husband and 3-year-old son out to sea.

A documentary of Charity’s life, titled Space, Hope and Charity, is being released in 2023. It includes her early childhood poverty and family dysfunction, and how far she’s come despite this horrific tragedy.

The official film poster

Last week, we watched the first cut of the film, produced and directed by Sandy Cummings, with videographer Tom Tanquary and editor Diana Jenkins (all Emmy Award winners in their fields of expertise).

The story is told so beautifully that we were drawn into it, as if we were present right alongside Charity.

When approached about documenting her life on film, Charity was interested only if it would encourage and offer hope to others dealing with tragedy and if it would convey the importance of gathering a support team.

This is exactly what the film does. And more.

This morning while Dan and I walked the beach, I was watchful of the waves and how far they stretched onto the sand. I will never be able to visit a Pacific Northwest beach ever again without being on my guard.

Dan and I talked about the sneaker wave phenomenon as we strolled. He compared sneaker waves to life and how important it is to stay vigilant. Especially against complacency.

I think complacency happens when we quit caring—when we’re no longer passionate about the job, the marriage, the path our life has taken. When we have no interest in getting better at what we do.

This thought from Robin Sharma:

Complacency is the primary enemy of victory.

Dan and I also recalled how easily we slipped into this second marriage. “It’s because you’re easy to be married to,” I told him.

“It feels as if it’s not work,” he responded.

Me: “I think that coming to California with me for the speaking engagement and tacking on days afterward to spend time here at the coast—that’s work. But it’s fun work.”

The making of Space, Hope and Charity has involved considerable time and effort and work and frustrating slowdowns caused by COVID constraints. But I suspect it’s been fun work as Charity and the crew under Sandy’s direction have built a strong love and respect for each other.

And the outcome is a beautiful tale of redemption, of pushing forward against all odds, of the importance of being surrounded by a strong support system, especially when those who should naturally be on your support team … aren’t.

There are dangers to relationships, to establishing a non-profit, to living a story worth telling—complacency being one of those dangers.

I think what defeats complacency is when we put whole-hearted effort into continually refining and enhancing the most important things in our lives: our marriages, our family relationships, our health, a career and what we believe to be our purpose for this season. The energy and effort signify that we’re all in.

These few extra days tacked onto a speaking engagement have been lovely and life-giving as Dan and I vigilantly walked the beaches, and vigilantly put time into our marriage—working (playing) at keeping the good things in our lives the good things in our lives.


How to furnish hope, one house at a time


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  1. Diana

    Dear Marlys, we have not met, but feel i know you.
    I am in the Charity fan and friendship for good now.
    Thank you for the kind words about our film
    Diana Jenkins

    • The film is truly beautiful, Diana. Thank you for your part in the professional editing of it. Can’t wait to see what awards it wins!

  2. Dan

    Well said!

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