Award-winning Publishers Weekly Best-selling Author

Strawberries and Sandcastles – guest blog by Stephanie Nickel

by | Jun 23, 2014 | , , , | Guest Blogs | 7 comments

Its been another crazy week with no time for writing, so I wanted to share an awesome blog my friend Stephanie Nickel wrote called Strawberries and Sandcastles. This was a great story Ted told on the Friday night of our conference. It has something in it for all of us. I’ve also shared a few more pictures of the conference at the end. Enjoy!

Take it away, Steph! 😀

steph and dar

Stephanie and I at Write Canada

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.

Stephanie Nickel, Lisa Hall-Wilson, Ruth Waring, Darlene L. Turner

Stephanie Nickel, Lisa Hall-Wilson, Ruth Waring, Darlene L. Turner – Our 10 Year Anniversary! (original WWC reunion!)

Ruth and I

Ruth and I

"Really Ted, $230 for two of your books is just way too much!" True story! I was charged that by mistake and I told him. Not sure if this was when, but by the looks on our faces, I'm thinking it was! ha!

“Really Ted, $230 for two of your books is just way too much!” True story! I was charged that by mistake and I told him. Not sure if this was when, but by the looks on our faces, I’m thinking it was! ha!


  1. ruthwaring

    Thanks for sharing Steph’s post. She did a great job of re-telling the challenging stories of the strawberries and sandcastles. I was serving at a church BBQ yesterday and carried a fresh unblemished bowl of strawberries to the table. Guess what I thought about? Yup…Ted’s story. Don’t think I will look at a strawberry again without feeing challenged. I’m seriously thinking of asking our son to listen to the Friday night session and the story and then do a painting. Nothing like a visual reminder…I appreciate all you write and all you share. Take care. Ruth. P.S. Nice pictures…we’ve all come a very long way since that February night 10 years ago!

    • Darlene L. Turner

      I loved the stories of strawberries and sandcastles. Ted is an awesome storyteller! We have come a long way in 10 years, haven’t we? Thanks for getting us started!! Miss you. xo

    • stephseclecticinterests

      Maybe I should get my resident artist to draw me a picture too, Ruth. Sounds like a great idea.

  2. stephseclecticinterests

    One of my favourite things: when a fellow blogger – and good friend – asks to repost one of my pieces. Thanks so much, Dar. The pictures are a fun addition. May we all spend our days picking strawberries and building sandcastles – and kicking them down when appropriate. Blessings, all!

    • Darlene L. Turner

      Loved this post, Steph. You explained Ted’s stories so nicely I couldn’t help but ask you if I could re-post. Thanks again! 🙂

  3. Diane Spearng

    Awesome story thanks Dar. Nice pics.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog Archives

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This