Strawberries and Sandcastles

As promised, I am going to share how strawberries and sandcastles are connected.

New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker is the author of 49 books. The newest, A.D. 30, will be released in October 2014. I look forward to reading it. (In fact, I would like to start with Heaven’s Wager, his first book, and read them in order, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Who knows? It might.)

Ted was one of the keynote speakers at Write Canada 2014. He also led a continuing class. I am so very glad I attended both sessions. Being the live-from-the-heart person I am, I was impressed by his openness and vulnerability. This was no sales pitch or 12 Easy Steps to Achieve Success presentation. This was Ted being Ted. (Actually, it was Ted being Theo [Tay-o], his given name.)

On Friday night he told the story of a woman being pursued by a tiger. She came to a cliff and had no option but to jump and grab hold of a sturdy vine. When she got the courage to look down, she realized another tiger paced below, waiting for her to fall. To make matters worse, two mice – one black and one white – began to chew on the vine.


It looked like it, but the woman decided to close her eyes, take a deep breath, and refocus. What did she see when she opened her eyes again? Though the tigers and the mice were still there, for the first time, she noticed three beautiful strawberries right in front of her. She reached out and plucked the strawberries. They were sweet and juicy and gave her joy despite her situation.

As you can imagine the tigers are the challenges, hurts, and fears of life. The two mice . . . day and night. But those strawberries – those beautiful, wonderful, sweet strawberries – are the opportunities and joys God brings our way. It is so easy to miss them when we are focused elsewhere.

And sandcastles . . .

I’m glad – very, very glad – I attended Ted’s continuing class on Saturday morning. I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate honesty, openness, and vulnerability. Well, instead of sharing how-to’s on becoming a bestselling author, he simply shared his personal journey – a journey we can all relate to.

He reminded us how truly fleeting this life is. Everything we do, everything we achieve . . . it’s all temporary – like a sandcastle. The tides will come and wash it away or we will choose to kick it down in order to build another.


Not at all.

It reminded me not to take my life – or achievements – too seriously. To relax and just build the castle I’m currently working on. However, if that doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, I can move on to the next project, the next sandcastle.

Ted’s talk reminded me of artist and author SARK, Susan Arielle Rainbow Kennedy. Though I don’t share much of her worldview, she was the first person in a long time who gave me permission to be truly who I am. Her artwork is remarkable in that it is non-conformist and childlike. It is not “perfect” by some people’s standards and that in itself spoke volumes.

Ted’s vulnerability gave me (us) permission to be vulnerable. (I have found that is true in my own life as well. If I seek to set aside the masks and the costumes, it gives others permission to do the same.)

So, are we willing to pluck those strawberries, those good gifts God has for us, and build those sandcastles, knowing the tides will eventually wash them away or we will choose, at some point, to kick them down ourselves?

May you discover the beauty around you today – even in the midst of life’s challenges and heartbreaks.

Please note that I also learned much from other faculty members, staff, and conference attendees, some of which I will share in the days ahead.


14 thoughts on “Strawberries and Sandcastles

  1. Steph, once I found out that Mark Buchanan’s sessions weren’t being recorded but Ted Dekker’s were, I went to Mark’s and got the cds for Ted’s. It won’t be quite the same, I know, but I needed to hear what they both said. And as you pointed out, they were saying a lot of the same concepts but from different angles. This will help me understand better. Now to carve out time to listen and to go over my notes again. Thanks for this summary!

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