Growing up, from age 8-18, on Lake Powell and the Colorado River shaped me in ways I have only recently come to realize and appreciate. I crave wide open spaces, grand vistas, high contrast, and room to breathe. I believe in dreaming big. I live in awe of the creativity of a God who can make trees grow out of cracks in solid rock and cause raging rivers to flow through desert places. Being surrounded by red dirt and clear water and sandstone in myriad formations somehow causes my body to release tension and my mind to stop racing. The beauty of the landscape that I was immersed in while I came of age became a part of me somehow, viscerally. I cannot return to that area as a casual observer. It is also the place in the world where I have lived the longest string of uninterrupted days. When I left for college, my life became measured in shorter durations - 4 years here, 1 year there, 3 years here, 6 years there - but not 10 years in the same place with my feet in the same dirt and my toes in the same water since then, so far. It was a gift of time and place and duration and I am so grateful for it and how it shaped me and the way I view the world. Optimism comes more naturally when you come of age in the desert, and see life sprout in unlikely places, and grow faith that believes it can be true for you too, no matter where you are planted.