David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Going Nowhere Slowly: A Day on the Guadalupe River

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul.

                   —Psalm 23:2b-3a (NKJV)

 

The first morning of our family vacation, I presented my wife and daughter with a challenge: think like a writer and collect experiences.  Yes, I know, my writing mode is on all the time, and for me, vacation is a great time to refill the well with life outside the box of daily routine, and I was curious to see what both Mary and Hannah would observe, absorb, and notice.  Shoot, I was curious to see if I could actually slip out of the go-go-go and put on the unhurried for a week.  As soon as my bottom hit the 72 degree Guadalupe River water filling the floor of my inner tube, I knew the answer to that worry was a resolute “yes.”

We rented four stout inner tubes from Abbott’s 306 River Outfitters in Canyon Lake, Texas, on an overcast morning and slid them into the light teal river slowly drifting by.  Hannah plopped into hers and immediately began to fuss as the cool water poured into her tube—the plastic panels strapped to the underside of each inner tube are to protect our undersides from the rock-strewn river bottom rather than to keep the river from touching our bottoms.  Tubing is definitely an interactive experience!

 

Tubing, Guadalupe River, Texas Hill Country, Abbott's

 

I set the cooler filled with water and other water-based beverages into the fourth tube, and Mary said a prayer of thanks for the river, the vacation, and the fermentation process God gave us for our enjoyment.  Then we pushed off.  As I soaked in the quiet slowness of the Guadalupe, the sentient majesty of the bald cypress and sycamores clinging to the banks, and the gift of the unspoken moment, my soul relinquished its cares as the Lord began to restore us.

Then came my daughter’s voice dripping with attitude: “Are we even going anywhere?”

“Yes, Hannah,” Mary said.  Firmly.  “We’re going nowhere slowly.”

“But when are we going to get there?”

“When we get there,” I said.  Firmly.  “The point of this whole thing is to just enjoy it.”

 

IMG_5887

 

After Hannah calmed down and accepted her fate of being tethered to two adults with no agenda other than to sit and go with the flow, I noticed another family on the other side of the river, both adults leaning back on their tubes, looking up … and playing on their cell phones.  Their daughter, in the meantime, frolicked in her tube in the shadow of the overhanging bald cypress trees.  I sighed—I’d left my cell phone in the hotel room (where it belonged).  Mary’s phone was locked in the car along with our wallets and keys.  We literally carried nothing, not even our wedding rings.

“Why do you like the river so much?” I asked Mary, who spent part of her childhood in Kerrville, Texas, in the heart of the Texas hill country.  She’d grown up with the Guadalupe practically in her back yard.

“Because you can’t be in a hurry on it,” she reflected.  “And because it’s beautiful, and because you can meet a lot of really neat people on it.”  This after we ran into a young lady standing in the middle of the river, her back turned to us.  Mary introduced herself as the giggling woman literally fell into Mary’s lap and drifted with us for several yards before she managed to roll out of it.  When tubing you have very little control over direction, speed, and when you get there, and if someone’s standing in the river in front of you, you have no choice but to meet them.

Ducks and geese floated along with us, and at one point Hannah began to quack.  A Muscovy duck with its black and white feathers, mottled white neck, and naked red face began following us.  Hannah quacked, the duck paddled, and soon the Muscovy pulled alongside her and observed her with its golden eyes.  It floated with us for a few minutes, and then swam further downstream where several tubers had bunched up at the head of a stretch of gently gurgling rapids.

 

Guadalupe River, Texas Hill Country, Tubing, Abbott's

 

After that, the river moved at a more sporty pace that kept Hannah more interested, kept Mary woo hooing, and kept me getting out and dragging the tubes through the limestone rocks poking out of the water.  I only fell twice as I slogged over the uneven bottom, sometimes stepping off hidden ledges up to my waist.  Soon dozens of people caught up to us, providing an opportunity to observe human nature and humans in nature, letting go and enjoying life in the slow current.

After three hours we’d drifted around the horseshoe bend and disembarked only several hundred yards downriver from where we’d put in.  We took the shuttle back to Abbott’s, collected our car keys, and headed back to the resort and the swimming pool, where we spent the rest of the afternoon in the 100 degree heat and blazing Texas hill country sun.

Later that evening I asked Hannah to describe her favorite experience on the river.  “When the duck came to me when I called,” she declared.  Then I asked Mary.

“You know what my favorite thing was?” Mary replied.  “Just watching Hannah enjoy her first time on the river, just seeing her experience it and enjoy it.”  Watching a kid be a kid in a river being a river under trees being trees and God being God.  Going nowhere slowly, restoring our souls.

 

Guadalupe River, Texas Hill Country, Tubing, Abbott's

 

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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My Blog at One Year (2014-08-14 Daily)

On Thursday, August 15, 2013, I debuted my blog site, David C. Hughes, Writer.  I was ecstatic!  Two months of design, layout, and content development culminated in the launch of what’s turned out to be more than a labor of love—it’s the fruit of faith!

I remember June 11, 2013 well.  With my digital recorder in my pocket and my Mead Five Star notebook in the other, I traveled to Southlake to meet with Bob Hamp, author of Think Differently Live Differently: Keys to a Life of Freedom, and the Freedom Minister for Gateway Church at the time.  I originally had plans to meet Bob at the church to interview him for The Epiphany of Joy, but his admin called and asked if I could meet him at a restaurant for lunch instead.  “Sure!” I replied, wondering immediately how well the voice recorder would pick up our conversation over the background noise.   But I was elated nonetheless.

You see, Gateway Church’s Foundations of Freedom video series, featuring Bob Hamp (http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/freedom-kairos/media1), had inspired me several months earlier to finally quit messing around in the mud of apathy and fear and swan dive into the clear lagoon of full time writing.  I’d absorbed every word Bob had spoken in the video series, and I just knew I had to interview him for the book because, as I saw it, he not only lived his passion, he shared it.  I wanted to get his take on joy and living joyfully.  What I got instead was something much more valuable: a lesson in social media!

Yep, here I was sitting across from one of my heroes, eating grilled fish and sautéed green beans, and he’d deftly charged forward discussing how to use social media to market my brand.  I listened as intently to Bob in real life as I’d listened to him speak on the Foundations of Freedom videos.  He showed me his Twitter feed and explained the potentially exponential spread of a message as other folks picked up the tweet and re-tweeted it.  I nodded in appreciation as I listened to Bob excitedly explain the logic of using Facebook and the common sense of developing and maintaining a blog page.  Until that moment I’d been using email to broadcast my “Dailies,” and I’d been transmitting them to thirty people each time I clicked “send.”  As we wrapped up lunch, he asked me what I wanted to talk about regarding joy.  I conducted a short interview, scribbled a handful of quotes, and left the restaurant knowing what I had to do next.  I was suddenly overjoyed at (and scared of) the prospect of building a blog.

Two months after that interview I opened the curtain on David C. Hughes, Writer, and I’ve been having a ball ever since.  Don’t get me wrong—as my newborn has grown into a toddler, it hasn’t been easy but it’s been worth it.  Having a blog page—an active blog page—sets before me the challenge of regularly sitting down to write.  Imagine that!  Instead of merely hanging out on the sidelines dreaming of writing, when I committed to posting a meaningful essay at least once a week, it forced me to grab that dream by the collar and drag it into reality.  Writing’s hard work, but with practice and passion it becomes doable.  And with time, it can become viable.

Having a blog site gave me the drive to turn the crank on The Epiphany of Joy.  Blogging the book was an amazing experience, and having a vehicle to “test drive” the initial manuscript in a public forum kicked butt.  It’s hard to write a book, even harder to finish it, but publishing the book serially on the blog page kept me motivated and conscientious.  After all, I knew I just couldn’t post an unpolished first draft out there—someone might say something negative and hurt my feelings!  Just kidding . . . . sort of.

Speaking of which, when I jumped into this undertaking, I thought I had thick skin.  I’d been a member of read-and-critique groups off and on for the past twenty years, and I thought I’d developed a tolerance for criticism.  But launching my work into such a public forum pulled the covers off that myth!  The first time I received a less-than-favorable comment on one of my posts, I allowed the remark to toss me into a two-day funk.  Now that I’ve experienced that, I’m coming to realize that, as a writer, not everyone’s going to agree with my opinion all the time.  And as a Christian writer, it will be even more challenging as I face people who have dissenting opinions backed up with zeal.  But I welcome the challenge and look forward to the dialog—just keep your comments short and to the point, please, so they don’t take up three pages of my blog!

But this endeavor is only worth pursuing if it not only inspires me to keep chasing after my passion, but also if it affects the lives of those who take the time to read it.  My job, my obligation as a writer is to write.  My job, my obligation as a Christian writer is to write to glorify God.  God’s job is to bring the readers to my writing, and if one blog post, essay, or book that I’ve written touches a one person’s life and changes it profoundly for the good, then I’ve done my job, I’ve fulfilled my obligation.

So as we celebrate my blog site’s first birthday, I look forward to seeing what happens as my toddler starts developing an attitude!   Thank you all for keeping me motivated to continue turning the crank, and thank you all for your support, prayers, and interest as we travel on this incredible journey together.  Without you my life’s calling would be meaningless.  With you the world is truly blessed.

David

P.S.  I’ve now taken the plunge and set up a Twitter account: @TheJoyGuy.  What else?!

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