Collect moments, not things.

The editorial deadline of this issue fell on Christmas Day, midnight. As usual I was compiling my thoughts and organizing them at the last minute. Writing doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to others (i.e., the writers who contribute to this magazine). For me, not a single word makes it onto the page until I’ve “seen” it in my head.

It all started with four words: Collect moments, not things.

My dad and his four kiddos (although we’re all adults, two of us with families of our own) met in the place with the greatest snow on earth for a white Christmas like the one he’d long been dreaming of. We collected lots of moments and a few things.

One moment that gave us all a good laugh occurred after my two-year-old nephew William opened a gift from his Uncle Leif. He was told to go thank him and then ran into the arms of the wrong “uncle”—a man he’d met five days before—and thanked him. He hugged Uncle Nathan so tightly.

Uncle Nathan is the man I ran into a year and eight months ago, and swore off. Today, he is my Valentine and the one I am collecting moments with. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

A few people seemed to have known God’s plan for us long before we did. “I knew it! I could tell y’all loved each other,” our friend Amanda later told me.

When I realized that plan, I tried to resist it. It did not give me peace. It was futile, for God had placed Nathan on my heart, and now I run as quickly as I can into his arms. To a peace, to a future, and to a hope.

On the Cover

Author James Lee Burke gets snuggled by two of his four houses on his ranch in Lolo. Photography Kristine Paulsen