Flying to Paradise, I Stopped at the Goodwill

For the last couple days I have been thinking about making another visit to the Goodwill Outlet, commonly called The Bins.

If you unfamiliar with the bins–these are the last stop outlet stores operated by Goodwill–where old stuff is fought over, believe it or not! You should see the races at the bins! And the referees!!! And hear the instructions over the PA system.

But that is not what I am writing about today. It’s the serendipitous finds that entice me to The Bins. 

Why? Some of my best-loved soul sisters and brothers have been discovered through the Goodwill.

For example, just before a trip to Hawaii in 2011, I dropped by The Bins in search of a couple books I could read and toss. I waited until the adrenaline rush of grabbing hands ceased and reflectively stepped up to the big blue bins filled to the brim with a cacophony of cast off volumes. Surprise! Surprise! I was not disappointed.

Flying to paradise, I immersed myself in Traveling Light:  A Photographer’s Journey, by Deborah DeWit Marchant. Her photos changed everything about how I see through the lens of my camera. I came home from Hawaii and found an online photography course. I moved my DSLR off auto. I learned to comprehend f/stops. I still  get lost in Marchant’s ethereal photographs. She changed my vision! She helped me see whispering light rather than shouting scenes.

whispering trees


Another time, I discovered Creating with Paper:  Basic Forms and Variations, by Pauline Johnson. Tucked within the pages of this book is a pattern I had been seeking since fourth grade when we had folded red construction paper into many-sided polyhedrons to decorate our classroom Christmas tree. I guess that dates me! This Christmas at our cabin, we sat around the table leisurely making many-sided polyhedrons and hanging them from the beams.


Sometimes I take it up a notch and go to the real Goodwill where I shop the shelves. I discovered The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination, by Esther de Waal. This journey back in time impacted how I viewed our bicycle trip across America in 2012. Read about that at

Sometimes a Goodwill find leads me to more intentional discoveries beyond the resale store. Esther de Waal introduced me to Thomas Merton when she mentioned that he saw the world through “rinsed eyes.” For A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton, By Esther de Waal, I had to shop Amazon. Interestingly, the copy that arrived bore a Goodwill Books sticker as well as a Powell’s Bookstore Sticker. My next Merton book required me to move up the economic ladder and purchase a fresh Kindle copy! Merton has prompted meditative walks with cell phone camera in hand as my “instrument of contemplation” and it all started one day at the Goodwill. Or did it? From where I stand today on my artistic journey, I’m inclined to believe these finds were waiting for me to guide my steps into the way of solitude. More about that later. Actually that is where this is going in future posts.


One of my most recent finds pulled from The Bins is The Voice, the 2011 translation of the NT. I am mesmerized by its artistic and very contemporary screen play format. John 1 caught my attention right off.

“Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

The Voice was and is God. This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator; His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him…”

Why do I share these finds? God is speaking all the time and often He speaks to me from my finds at the local Goodwill Stores. I sense I am on an artistic and contemplative journey.

Books like these help slow me down. I can learn from others who lived in times when solitude was more readily available. Today I know we must intentionally seek the quiet and invite authors from quieter times to speak into our lives the truth that brings transformation.

Marchant has. de Waal has. Merton has. St. John has. I am a better person for being mentored by these thoughtful and contemplative individuals.

Who are the authors who have impacted your life? Consider a trip through your local Goodwill. You may find gold on those shelves or in those bins. You may count these books as some of your dearest confidantes. Listen! God is speaking! Sometimes it doesn’t come in your quiet time, but through your ramble through a bin of discarded books.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

About Your Flourishing Life

As a child, Marlee Huber loved to ramble through gardens sampling juicy berries and delighting in the heady fragrance of roses. As an adult, she thrills at maintaining a country garden in the foothills of the Washington Cascades. Something happened in 2012 that changed everything for Marlee. She followed the love of her life as he bicycled across the continent from their home in the NW to his brother's home in the Virginia. Ninety days later she came home and has never been the same. After photographing the backroads and hamlets across America--all on auto, she came home and took an online photography course, read dozens of books on technique and vision and stepped out into a new career. Her passion is coaching young people to discover their brilliance. She calls it Life-Themes Coaching and during one nearly half-day session, she unpacks what makes you brilliant and one of a kind. Then she matches the discoveries with a photography session where she tells the story of your life with her camera. In her personal life, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother delighting in her flourishing family!
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2 Responses to Flying to Paradise, I Stopped at the Goodwill

  1. Maree Nilson says:

    Good morning from valla NSW Australia Marlee, love your flourishing life, I can feel the Lord’s transforming power as you share your life with us. I know I too need to set up camp by still waters and allow Him to restore my soul. I have been asking my husband to read your thoughts also he use to be a great photographer prior marriage, children. I think you may have encouraged him as he has just begun an on line photography course. Thank you so much for your inspiration some of which I have shared with many. Maree xx

    • Dear Maree,

      I don’t know why I never saw your comment posted from last March. I just found it tonight in September! Thank you for your lovely words. I hope my photos inspired your husband to pick us his camera for the glory of God. So it’s even busy in OZ? I thought perhaps it was easier far away from American shores to quiet the cacophony and find sweet communion. I hope this note finds you setting up camp by still waters and being restored. Be blessed.

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