He’s Coming!

We lived through Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. It was 2004, one of the worst hurricane seasons in Florida history. Saturated and blown beyond what was comfortable.

We’re set again to have a massive, unwelcome guest headed our way. We’ve no idea when or how he will show up, but we’ll know when he’s here.

The Weather Channel has talked of nothing but Dorian for days. This happened two years ago with Hurricane Irma–we were set up for fear and trepidation for two weeks before she hit. Every newscast painted a more dire picture of what she could do, where she would go.

She didn’t show up where they thought she would.

There are models from all over the world about where Hurricane Dorian will hit our eastern coast. The predictions have morphed in the last several days, making it seem that we here in Florida won’t get the devastation previously expected.

One of the funniest things is the map on the Weather Channel, with arrows and cones and directions all over the place. And in big white letters in a red box is “Exact Track Still Uncertain”.

No one knows where Dorian will hit. They can make educated guesses with the instruments, understanding, and knowledge they have about hurricane activity. But they can’t tell where he’ll hit and with what degree of devastation.

Meteorologists live for this season, where they have the chance to share their incredible knowledge of a truly difficult situation. They are our Paul Revere’s, warning us of what is to come. It gives us the chance to be prepared, to make adjustments to our every day lives so we can deal with what is unusual.

No one can control or precisely predict what Dorian will do.

I’ll confess I’ve gotten a little cavalier about hurricanes of late. We always make preparations, buying water, peanut butter, crackers that won’t mold. We clear off our yard so nothing is free to fly in case huge winds hit us. A lesson we learned in Charley when the winds picked up our trampoline in our yard and moved it, thankfully not into anyone’s home.

I’m not panicking. I don’t feel fear or a sense of dread. Having been through several of these–thankfully without a huge amount of damage–I’m well aware that I can’t stop them from happening.

Preparation can only go so far.

So we wait. Knowing it could be worse than expected but understanding I have no control over what happens.

This is life. Being wise to prepare for what choices we do have, but being aware that each day has its own issues we can’t control.

My confidence is in God, who knows my days, my story, the details of my life. Choosing to know Him is the one thing I can do that will guarantee me an eternal future. Heaven is promised to those who know Him personally.

I don’t know what today holds or what tomorrow will bring. I can prepare, being wise to do what needs to be done, work hard, love well, choose kindness and courage, living a life that reflects who I really am.

And putting confidence in an all-knowing God.

Way better than the Weather Channel.

 

 

Would You Like Me If You Really Knew Me?

John and I did a good deed.

This past weekend, not only did we have our kickoff retreat, but our oldest daughter and her family were involved in a soccer tournament.

Nine-year-old Isley would have preferred being anywhere other than a soccer field. Her skill set is more in the area of theater, dancing, and singing. We included her in our weekend retreat–and invited her best friend in the world to come with us as well.

Talia and Isley are both friendly, enthusiastic, energetic, people-focused little gals with incredible conversational skills. They can talk to anyone about anything, asking questions and making credible statements that cause one to think they’re talking to someone older.

They talk a lot.

The first night, after all the excitement of seeing each other, laughing all the way to the venue, hanging out with new friends, I fully expected them to fall into bed. Early. Exhausted.

It didn’t help that John bought them ice cream before we headed to our room. Or watching a movie in the concourse. Pizza for dinner and a lot of soda didn’t help either.

They were singing at the top of their lungs till after midnight.

It was fun to listen to. For a while.

We didn’t sleep much, but we received no knocks at our door nor pounding on the wall to indicate they were serenading anyone else.

Sleeping in would have been a sweet reprieve, but that didn’t happen either. They wanted to go into the water before the first meeting.

I sound rather whiney, but I didn’t mind. It was such a treat to see two friends genuinely enjoying themselves and each other. No friction, no pettiness, no quibbling.

On the way home, we had one minor disagreement. We stopped to buy each girl a bouquet of flowers for their moms. There was one in particular that they both really loved and wanted. An array of vibrantly colored daisies; a handheld rainbow.

There was only one.

I’d found it, knowing Isley loves rainbows, thinking she’d want it for her mom. Talia, however, asked first. It would have been easy to just give them to Isley–she is my grand. I handed them to Talia, whose eyes became huge.

Isley’s lip quivered a tiny bit.

Talia noticed. And she handed the flowers to her friend and picked another bouquet.

No animosity. No anger. Just sharing.

These two met years ago and have been best friends since then. Even though they don’t get to see each other often. They get each other’s quirks, differences, stressors. They have what it takes for a lifelong relationship.

This is how God intended us to relate to others. With honesty and authenticity that allows others to see our stuff and doesn’t hold back from being real. There’s no fear of rejection because a commitment has been made; trust is mutual.

It’s the way Jesus views each of us, wanting to relate to us with that genuineness and intimacy.

He wants to immerse us in His love for and celebration of us.

The kind of relationship that stands the test of forever.

 

 

 

 

What Will You Choose To Believe?

 

Bring a hundred people together for a weekend retreat and there will be differences. Stories, influences, countries that have been traveled, experiences along the way.

This crowd of adults and children represented a variety of countries, opportunities, and what the cost had been for them to be present with us.

I’m not talking about money.

Recognizing differences is easy. Often it takes a brief conversation to understand that the person across from me isn’t seeing life through my grid. A disparity in language, gender, marital status, having children or not being able to have them, create a broad spectrum of possibilities for us to experience how we are unique from one another.

There will also be commonalities. Those are often harder to determine.

The easy ones are connected with our humanity. We usually have language, the general physicality of our appearances, and needs that include shelter, food, and clothing.

Our speaker pointed out a particular commonality we don’t typically discuss.

We all have lies we buy into, that we allow to loop in our brains to convince us of things that aren’t true about us. Those lies will differ from person to person, but we all choose to believe untruths that became part of our DNA as we’ve grown. They could be the result of an embarrassment growing up, a parent being critical, believing we let someone down we respect–any number of things causes us to believe lies.

I didn’t take long to come up with a list of things that feel shaming to me, often the result of some comment made years ago that stuck in my mind. One was the idea that if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. It goes hand-in-hand with another looping lie that tells me that appearance is everything, and if I don’t show up the way people expect, I won’t be accepted.

Saying those things out loud was humbling. We gathered in small groups to share the soul-searing deceits that so easily drain us of joy and hope with their insidiousness. It wasn’t a surprise we had things we were hiding, thoughts that poked hard at our identities and dreams, causing doubt and dismay.

It saddens me that we don’t share these honestly with those we feel safe with. Friends and family who know and love us. There’s anticipated fear in being fully known.

But there’s freedom in being fully known. Having our stuff exposed is often the best way to deal with fears.

Our speaker, Marc, spoke of how these lies distort the music of the gospel, the truth of Jesus loving us enough to die for our mistakes. Once forgiven, we can’t run out of God’s love for us. We become new people in Him, with new identities and futures.

Lies can’t remove that truth. But they can keep us from living in the legitimacy of God’s promises.

We’re all in the same boat. The lies we listen to may differ, but the effect is the same. Despair, which leads us to hide who we are, holding secrets that can destroy us.

Believing the truth of what God says about us frees us up from being crippled by lies from the enemy of our souls.

That is sweet music indeed.

 

 

It Could Drive Me Crazy

photo courtesy of Liam Poss on unsplash

Road trips are fun. Seeing the countryside from the highway, admiring the landscape, listening to a book on tape are all things I enjoy. Not my husband so much. He’d rather get on a plane and get to wherever he’s going.

He does all the driving.

As much as I enjoy road trips, I despise driving. I’m directionally challenged; even GPS confuses me. I can’t drive and talk at the same time. Focus is a good thing. I just happen to focus on whoever is riding with me.

I managed to avoid driving all summer. Being in Colorado, we were walking distance from campus, hiking was enjoyable, and if I did need to get somewhere, someone else was always going. I could hitch a ride easily.

In three months I managed to drive twice. To the grocery store.

Now that we’re back home, I need to get myself back and forth to work. Which isn’t horrible–I tend to take the scenic route with less traffic. A little longer, but the lack of congestion is more soothing to my entire demeanor.

Unless I’m going somewhere other than the office. Someplace new and different where I’ve never driven.

I can feel my jaw clenching even thinking about it.

I was doing a team assessment with a group that was meeting outside of the office. Close to fifty miles from where I live. A place I’ve not been to before. My GPS was supposed to be my best friend.

I left early to cover any lostness that could occur. I anticipated the sweet voice of my Google maps to tell me when and where to turn.

She wouldn’t speak to me.

I don’t have one of those fancy connector things that allow me to hang my phone on my dashboard. I’ve thought about it but have never actually gotten around to getting one. My silent friend sat in my lap as I glanced down to make sure I was going in the right direction. I had a few words for her even though she refused to talk to me.

None of which were kind.

I only got lost once. It was supposedly a beautiful drive toward the end of the route–I missed that completely because my head was bobbing up and down, checking directions.

When I arrived at my destination, I had the beginnings of a headache. I’d clenched my jaw and ground my teeth most of the drive.

How often do I miss the beauty around me because I’m so worried about the next part of the journey? Anticipating a possible problem becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy too much of the time. I miss the moment for fear of not being ready for what might be.

Walking with God puts a different perspective on my journey. I’m free to be present and attentive, not worrying about tomorrow, because when that day comes it will have enough problems of its own. He offers so much to enjoy and appreciate in the now. He brings quiet to my heart and mind.

He cares for my soul.

Now if I could only get my GPS lady to talk to me, I’d have it made.

 

The Second Coming Of Noah

photo courtesy of Eutah Mizushima on unsplash

Our Sunshine State is sodden.

Since returning from Colorado–where the sun shines typically more than it does in Florida–we’ve seen little of our golden globe of a friend.

It’s rained every day. Often in torrents. Puddles are no longer problematic–they’re permanent. Soggy is our new norm. Humidity that is always high has become a living sauna. Not that I’m crabbing. This kind of humidity is great for the skin.

With our daughter’s family living with us, the littles love the puddles and mud and all things wet. Actually, it’s really just Mason who does–Brooklyn is a fastidious little gal who doesn’t like dirt.

That’s another issue.

Every single day there has been a forecast of rain.

We’re trying to do some work in our yard, extending the slab on our back porch to make it large enough to put a table that will accommodate our growing clan. The footers have been placed, but we need three days of NO rain before any concrete can be poured.

That may happen in November.

I’m not necessarily in a hurry for this to happen. I’m learning–slowly–that I can’t obsess over things I can’t control. Like the rain. I’m limiting my expectations, managing my anticipation.

I’m learning to wait well.

We’ve joked about the second coming of Noah with all the moisture we’ve had. Definitely not enough to float a boat, but enough to cause me to consider what it was like for Noah to have had a conversation with God and being told he would build an ark. A really big boat capable of holding a colossal number of animals and eight people, plus all the food and necessities for them to live on a boat for an unspecified number of days.

Noah’s wait was made more challenging by building something he’d never attempted to construct before. Which took decades. And being the brunt of jokes during that time because others had no idea what he was doing. He was a man who trusted God in an age where corruption was the norm and wickedness was the lifestyle. People did what was right in their own eyes, not caring how others were hurt by their arrogance and entitlement.

God was grieved that He’d made man, so he determined He’d wipe out everything and everyone and start all over with Noah.

What’s interesting is every culture in the world has a flood story that’s part of their heritage.

God won’t destroy the earth with floods anymore–He promised that. No matter what it feels like in different places of the world where floods and tsunamis happen frequently.

God waits now, for more people to understand who He is and the gift He’s offering of forgiveness and love through His Son. He waits for more people to see His Light and choose His payment for them, rather than requiring that payment from them. Which is death, eternal separation from God.

This rain we’re experiencing now? I can wait this out. The porch will be finished. The sun will shine again.

Some things, though, require action now.

Waiting could be hazardous for health.