by Pam Gross

It was a vaguely familiar feeling—a feeling of freedom experienced a lifetime ago. Motion. Speed. Wind. Excitement. Small but present danger. Oh, yes! That same exhilaration that comes with competence. I was doing it! I was rollerblading on the boardwalk at Seaside, Oregon, on a glorious late summer afternoon. Two miles of flat, smooth pavement, sunshine, ocean air. I couldn’t help my smile; it was as ridiculously relentless as a yellow happy face. My body moved with relative ease and a modicum of grace. Push, glide, push, glide—don’t lift the feet so high. Swing the hips. Oops! Too much push means too much glide. Let’s get more control here. Up and down! Up and down! Miles and miles—every once in a while picking up the scent of a cigar as I once again whizzed past my husband reading Tom Clancy on a bench.

Getting tired, I informed my husband that on the next pass I wanted to stop.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”

Stopping was not a skill I had mastered at that point. As I approached him, I slowed to a more manageable speed. He stood up, swung his arms wide, and enfolded me in a great hug.

“I am your stopping post,” he whispered.

I thought, Yes. What a wonderful metaphor. You are my safe stopping place.

I sat for a while on the bench enjoying the moment. Some teenagers sauntered past, talking quietly among themselves. The last, a young man of about thirteen, looked admiringly at my skates, bent down, and murmured just so we could hear, “Cool blades.” Then he picked up his pace to catch his friends. My husband and I said in unison, “Cool blades?” And we laughed.

Then the sunset zealots began converging like football fans on Super Bowl Sunday. I hoisted myself off the bench to make the most of the fading light. Up and down, push and glide. Lost in the exquisite rhythm and the elegant air, I almost missed them. But out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a bicycle surrey pulled up close to the boardwalk. Four women nested there comfortably in that distinctly female way of companionable silence. I thought they were completely absorbed by the inch‐by‐inch disappearance of the day, but as I moved past, almost out of earshot, I heard the soft call of support: “You go, girl!” To acknowledge, I signaled a “thumbs up” and continued on.

Now, whenever I put on my skates, I hear the young voice saying, “Cool blades,” and I smile. When I think of my husband as a safe stopping place, I smile. When I recall the soft call of support, I smile. I’m sure glad I didn’t take seriously those people who predicted, “Rollerblade? You’re nearly sixty! You’ll kill yourself!”

Kill myself? I’d say I was perfectly alive that day on the boardwalk.

Looking ahead…

The routine of what might be called the safe, predictable life has a way of wearing down wives and husbands. Too many years spent in that same office with the broken air conditioner, mowing that same lawn with the crabgrass that never goes away, scraping the ketchup off those same dishes, and making the same lunches for seemingly ungrateful children can leave married couples bored and restless. What’s the solution?

One answer is to open your mind to the possibilities around you. Learn a new skill… study a new subject… take on a new hobby… pursue a new adventure. Think about what you’ve always wanted to try, then do it. You may even find yourself rollerblading down the boardwalk—and loving it.

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “Cool Blades” by Pam Gross. © 1997. Used by permission of the author. Pam Gross is president of CareerMakers, a life planning and career management firm in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of Want a New, Better, Fantastic Job? and can be reached at either (503) 297‐6689 or


2. Good Works and Broken Keys

An Incident at Niagara

Faith is necessary to salvation, because we are told in Scripture that works cannot save. To tell a very familiar story, and even the poorest may not misunderstand what I say: a minister was one day going to preach. He climbed a hill on his road. Beneath him lay the villages, sleeping in their beauty, with the corn-fields motionless in the sunshine; but he did not look at them, for his attention was arrested by a woman standing at her door, and who, upon seeing him, came up with the greatest anxiety, and said, “O sir, have you any keys about you? I have broken the key of my drawers, and there are some things that I must get directly.” Said he, “I have no keys.” She was disappointed, expecting that everyone would have some keys. “But suppose,” he said, “I had some keys, they might not fit your lock, and therefore you could not get the articles you want. But do not distress yourself, wait till some one else comes up. But,” said he wishing to improve the occasion, “have you ever heard of the key of heaven?” “Ah, yes!” she said, “I have lived long enough, and I have gone to church long enough, to know that if we work hard, and get our bread by the sweat of our brow, and act well towards our neighbours, and behave, as the Catechism says, lowly and reverently to all our betters, and if we do our duty in that station of life in which it has pleased God to place us, and say our prayers regularly, we shall be saved.” “Ah!” said he, “my good woman, that is a broken key, for you have broken the commandments, you have not fulfilled all your duties. It is a good key, but you have broken it.” “Pray, sir,” said she, believing that he understood the matter, and looking frightened, “what have I left out?” “Why,” said he, “the all-important thing, the blood of Jesus Christ. Don’t you know it is said, the key of heaven is at his girdle; he openeth, and no man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man openeth? “And explaining it more fully to her, he said, “It is Christ, and Christ alone, that can open heaven to you, and not your good works.” “What, minister!” said she, “are our good works useless, then?” “No,” said he, “not after faith. If you believe first, you may have as many good works as you please; but if you believe, you will never trust in them, for if you trust in them you have spoilt them, and they are not good works any longer. Have as many good works as you please, still put your trust wholly in the Lord Jesus Christ, for if you do not, your key will never unlock heaven’s gate.”

So then we must have true faith, because the old key of works is so broken by us all, that we never shall enter Paradise by it. If you pretend that you have no sins, to be very plain with you, you deceive yourselves, and the truth is not in you. If you conceive that by your good works you shall enter heaven, never was there a more fell delusion, and you shall find, at the last great day, that your hopes were worthless, and that, like sere leaves from the autumn trees, your noblest doings shall be blown away, or kindled into a flame in which you yourselves must suffer for ever. Take heed of your good works; get them after faith, but remember, the way to be saved is simply to believe in Jesus Christ.

Without faith it is impossible to be saved, and to please God, because without faith there is no union to Christ. Now, union to Christ is indispensable to our salvation. If I come before God’s throne with my prayers, I shall never get them answered, unless I bring Christ with me. The Molossians of old, when they could not get a favour from their king, adopted a singular expedient; they took the king’s only son in their arms, and falling on their knees, cried, “O king, for thy son’s sake, grant our request.” He smiled and said, “I deny nothing to those who plead in my son’s name.” It is so with God. He will deny nothing to the man who comes, having Christ at his elbow; but if he comes alone he must be cast away. Union to Christ is, after all, the great point in salvation.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate this: the stupendous falls of Niagara have been spoken of in every part of the world; but while they are marvellous to hear of, and wonderful as a spectacle, they have been very destructive to human life, when by accident any have been carried down the cataract. Some years ago, two men, a bargeman and a collier, were in a boat, and found themselves unable to manage it, it being carried so swiftly down the current that they must both inevitably be borne down and dashed to pieces. Persons on the shore saw them, but were unable to do much for their rescue. At last, however, one man was saved by floating a rope to him, which he grasped. The same instant that the rope came into his hand a log floated by the other man. The thoughtless and confused bargeman, instead of seizing the rope, laid hold on the log. It was a fatal mistake: they were both in imminent peril, but the one was drawn to shore because he had a connection with the people on the land, whilst the other, clinging to the log, was borne irresistibly along, and never heard of afterwards. Do you not see that here is a practical illustration? Faith is a connection with Christ. Christ is on the shore, so to speak, holding the rope of faith, and if we lay hold of it with the hand of our confidence, he pulls us to shore; but our good works having no connection with Christ, are drifted along down the gulf of fell despair. Grapple them as tightly as we may, even with hooks of steel, they cannot avail us in the least degree.

Database Copyright 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

Taste His Goodness

Big Sky Buckeye

David praises the greatness of God through Scripture found in Psalm 145, and these verses inspire this poem.

Photo by Reafon Gates on

Each day life seems too normal

Monotonous and mundane

Beautiful bundle arrives

Hallmarks of our Lord’s domain


Blessing us each precious day

Spontaneous surprises

Praising our Father’s great name

Goodness comes in all sizes


Reaching depths of every sea

Loving each generation

Eclipsing highest heavens

Honoring God’s creation


Awesome and vast deeds come forth

Witnessing God’s mighty acts

Glorious splendor singing

Filling what life truly lacks


God’s everlasting kingdom

Harvesting abundant gifts

Faithful words stir greatest feats

Balancing life’s slips and shifts


Singing of God’s righteousness

Showering with compassion

Tasting His Holy goodness

Remembering His passion


Blessing His name forever


Photo by Rodolfo Clix on

From Psalm 145:8:  “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to…

View original post 6 more words