Storm Surge

As I sit on my air matress, snuggled in my warm blanket, the rain steadily falls on my tent. This rain is the end of the big storm that is currently blowing through out campsite. It began as a dark, creeping cloud – with the wind pushing it towards us and the distant thunder warning of its inevitable arrival. . . 

Most people would say this rain ruined the trip, or ruined the day, or just put a damper on things. . . Me? I am thankful for it. Sure, we had to come in off of the water. We scrambled as the wind tore through our sites and our tents and tarps were at its mercy. We laughed as we all pulled together to make sure everyone was safe and dry. Then …….. we moved on. Some went to their tents, some hung out with the food, others played in the rain….. but we were all safe. 

So here I am, listening – with my soul …..

Water is my favorite. It calms me – in an unexplainable way. Even as a child, I was fascinated by it. I was mesmerized by the way it curved up around our boat as we cruised through it. I studied the way it careened around rocks while we played in the creek. I watched many storms come through as we sat on our porch – each rain drop bringing life to so many things. . . 

Water transforms and each transformation is a revelation. 

As I get older, and listen with my soul, I see – and hear – the lessons of water. Today’s lesson?

The storm brings rain, and rain brings life. 

I have been in a life storm, as of late. I was hurried in from my relaxed state into a mind set of preparation by the thunderous voice of negativity and the terrifying winds of self doubt. As I reached for strong lines to tie down my protective coverings, I was practically blown away as the storm progressed closer in to my inner being. I yelled for help, which fell as whispers, due to the overwhelming noise of failure swirling around. When I took a moment to evaluate my surroundings, the desire to leave camp and run was overpowering. 


Then, it came……clarity. 

I called for help again, this time the wind carried it. Even as a whisper, it fell on loving ears. Soon I was surrounded by those who were willing to stand the storm with me. We stood, against the raging negativity and the pouring sadness. Together, we waited it out. When I was weak, they were strong. 

Now, as this present day weather storm is tapering off, I feel this nasty “life storm” tapering off as well. I am surrounded in both storms by family and friends who have fought the winds and stinging rain with me – and loved me through it all. 

Now, comes the life. 

This rain that fell today will carry seeds, will water seedlings, will nourish growning crops, and will replenish dry wells. 

And my storm water? My rain?

It will do the very same – 


John 4:‭l3-14

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 A Pretty Coffin

I have seen many of my loved ones “laid to rest”. Some were old, some were young. 

Today the pastor spoke of death, and how it is part of life. It is the only part of life we all will experience, yet few of us have actually witnessed the transition.

I have not been so lucky. I have been present, bedside, of two very dear persons as they have passed. I have also held the lifeless body of an infant. These are all moments that stick in my mind like honey in a honeycomb. 

As an aesthetic person sights, smells, and sounds permeate my memory bank. I am a creature drawn to beauty, in every aspect that it may inhabit. You may be thinking I am crazy right now…….how can death be beautiful?

I stood, crying, as my 40 year old uncle died in the hospital of organ failure. I have used his story often as I speak of sin and addiction. An alcoholic druggie, his life was not easy. Yet, we loved him. We prayed for him numerous times as he stared death in the face. He was actually clean when he passed. Yet, the damage he had induced on his organs was irrevocable…….My grandmother stood, as the matriarch of our family, believing Gods will would be done. As he took his last breath, I looked out of the window of the hospital room. It was a warm day, with no winds. Yet at that moment, the wind blew – trees bowed – and I knew. I knew that the peace that passes all understanding was there, and my uncle – with all his fears and all his failures – was standing in the presence of the most forgiving God…..

Years later, I was standing with my husband in a Hospice center, loving on our Mamaw. I say OUR because what is mine is his and what is his is mine. She loved me like I was her own. I adored her. I quote her often when I am making gravy …… “It is easier to add than to take away…..add the flour slowly, mixing constantly, don’t give up on it. You will know when it’s ready.” It was her time though. She was ready……had been for years. She was saved, loved her family, and had lived a long life. As she passed, and we cried, once again there was a wind. . . This time though, there were singing birds. She loved nature – it was a fitting welcoming………

My saddest death experience, however, was the infant I held in my arms. As a mom of three, I still struggle with this. My best friend since second grade – she was practically my sister. . . A late term death by cord strangulation……I prayed, my family prayed – even my addict uncles, for a miracle. No one should ever have to go through this kind of loss. Yet, there we sat in the waiting room. There were many families there as well, awaiting the arrival of a new family member. We sat, praying it was a mistake. Praying that as soon as she was examined, all would be well, the baby would be fine. One by one, we were called back. The baby had been delivered, and we had the opportunity to visit with the new parents…….The new parents who would, days later, bury the tiny baby that I would soon be holding. He was perfect. He had his daddy’s nose and his momma’s lips. But the longer we had him with us, the more he decomposed. I burned the shirt that I had worn that night. It is a smell I will never forget…….

At the funeral of this tiny babe, a friend broke down and asked the mourning mother how she could be so calm, so at peace. Her answer is one I will never forget….

[This child} is the greatest gift I could ever give to Christ. In his short lifespan, he caused so many to fall to their knees and cry out to God. How awesome is that? For a child who never breathed air to cause that? He served a purpose, and now he is with God, and I am okay with that.”

SHOULDN’T ALL OF OUR LIVES SHOUT THAT?

Our LIVES should be beautiful coffins. Only containing a shell that brought joy, beauty, and Jesus to the world. Just like sea shellls, what we leave behind should make people smile, and search for more ……. more joy, more peace, more GOD………..

So today as you celebrate Easter………..

REMEBER ——

LIVE YOUR LIFE AS IF IT IS THE LAST THING THOSE WHO ENCOUTER YOU WILL SEE YOU IN.


The empty tomb

24 Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. 5 The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Human One[a] must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.

 

Nostalia

I recently turned 38, I find my memory is not as fabulous as it used to be. It seems that, at times, my brain doesn’t have room for the old stuff, because there is so much new stuff being added.  It’s as if my memory bank has run out of room.

Names escape me, faces are familiar – yet distant, dates get mixed up ………..

Then, there is a moment where it seems as if every wonderful memory comes flooding back. Usually, the flow begins with something familiar. Something nostalgic.

Tonight ……… it was the air.

As I was trying to meet my daily step goal (much harder now that I feel old), my earbuds were in, the music was cranked, and I was determined. Working in a busy medical office, my walking is my relief – my diffuser. I put on my music and suddenly – I am a character in Footloose! (It really does take an insane amount of self control for me to not bust out in a dance!) I am sweating away the craziness of the day, taking in nature, and  not thinking about one. single. serious. issue.

Then …… without warning…….. a breeze. It was warm, and steady. Suddenly, I was transported back to the beach. I closed my eyes and just relished the feeling. It was as if my soul was being washed, the same way I feel when I walk the beach at night. Every care, very concern, every negative feeling sloughed off by air and whirled off into oblivion. I am not going to lie. It was fabulous.

Once I regained myself, the push was on – once again. I came down into “the dip” of our drive and – BAM! Dense, cold air permeated me. I giggled. Seriously. It was that night time mountain air. The air, that as I child, I ran through until my cheeks burned with cold. There was the faint scent of grass and water and soil. Giggles again. Oh! How I ADORE that feeling! My childhood was amazing. I WISH my kiddos knew those scents, and had memories that entangled themselves in them. Hayfields, gardens, the woods, fresh mowed grass sticking to your legs, freezing creek water, Kool Aid, and naps on hand made quilts…… like roots of a tree, these memories snake through my brain and pulse in my heart with that crisp, cool, damp air. 

Then, without prompting, music.

“This is the air I breathe

This is the air I breathe

Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread

Your very word spoken to me
And I, I’m desperate for you

And I, I’m lost without you……”

Truthfully, truthfully, I know what those words mean. God is all we need. Air. Bread. Life.

Yet today, there was new meaning.

He is our warm breeze, our cold air……. washing over us, swirling away our depression, calming our fears, envigorating our soul, wrapping around our hearts, envoking life. He is our aesthetic. He is our dreams. Our memories. Our visions. And HE IS GOOD.

HE is our nostalgia. Our past. 

Even better – He is our eternity.

 

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””

‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Roses, Fairies, and Papa

It’s the rose bush that the gardner has pruned, that blooms the fullest…….

Or, so I think. 

This summer I began walking at lunch. It became my therapy time – it was 20-30 minutes to escape and breathe. The day I noticed the rose garden, it was not due to the sheer abundance of roses, but the aroma that was wafting through the air. As I hustled over to the small (yet massive) garden, my spirits lifted. Oh! How I adore roses. The garden had been planted by the adjoining church for the Hope Chest – a center for cancer patients. (Which, on a side note, is an amazing center that does tremendous acts of kindness for those affected by cancer. Look it up!) 

So began my obsession. I believe I took pictures of the roses everyday. Each one was different, reminding me of little things (like fairies) or bigger things (like Papa’s love for me). If it was not raining, I was taking pictures. 


One day I finally met the gardner. It just so happens that he was my pediatrician, as well as my children’s! I spoke to him about how beautiful they were, and how each type of rose was amazing in it’s own way. He and another gardner teased me about the pictures, but this soon paid off. At the end of the season, when the concern of frost was just too great, the gardner  began to prune. My luck (providence) was that I was walking just at that moment! I was given my own beautiful bouquet of ornate roses. . . 


I still walk when it is not too cold or nasty out. Today was gorgeous, so I slipped out at lunch to soak up some sun. As I came down the small hill, I saw the garden – bare – just long prickly sticks jutting from the earth. I could not help but walk to it. I was drawn by a need to remember. To remember the joy the blooms brought to me, the way the scent warmed me, the way my mind and eyes converted tangible beauty into soul satisfying truth……


Then, I saw it. Not just a little green, but an overwhelming amount of strong, green stems coming to life. I pulled out my phone and began to snap pictures. That is when it happened. It was as if He was standing right beside me, as I heard Papa say ” The gardner pruned these lovelies, now look at the new growth. Remind you of anything?” I sighed. I knew what life lesson I was learning. . .

It has been rough these past few weeks. Truthfully, the last few years have been horrid. Recently, however, I have felt the sting of disappointment more so than usual. Everyday I say “I just want something good to happen today”. People and items have been removed mentally and physically from me and from my family. I struggle with the war that rages in my mind. I struggle with insecurity, unrest, health issues, and above all else – people. People who I trusted, people who I cared for, people I thought I needed. Today though, I saw why I have endured some pain. The pruning that is being done is to allow for a regrowth. A …… revitalization of sorts. 


I still cried tonight. I still ache with anticipation for good news, good days, and happy nights. Yet…… When I laid in the bathtub – sobbing as the worship music played – Papa reminded me of those precious rose bushes. He reminded me that He is the Gardner of my life. He has planted me, fed me, watered me, admired me….and pruned me. Each step, each season, each calculated snip is His plan, His desire, and ultimately HIS gain. Because, my Papa? He loves to see me grow and bloom!

Vision

It is unnervingly quiet in my home this morning.  The kids spent the night at other homes last night, and my mister is out working hard. Currently, the only sounds are the dogs wrestling, and my sausage patty cooking.

I woke up in the middle of the night, which is not uncommon, however this time I did not have my audio book playing. See, I do not do well with silence. Silence allows my mind to think. About everything. In my life, at this moment, there is an abundance of “everything”. So, it took a while for me to fall back to sleep. In that amount of time, as my thoughts were running amuck, I started to pray. 

Now, let me just say, I am honest with God. He already knows my thoughts, so why hold back? If that offends you, I am not sorry. He’s my poppa. If I can’t be real with him, I do not have a true relationship. So, I told Him I was mad. I am facing a HUGE Goliath in my life right now – HUGE. Why do I ALWAYS have to be a David? Why can I not be a pretty princess – just this once – and have Him sweep in, cut the head off of the giant, while I sit and clap – shouting “That’s my Poppa!”? In my soul I heard “you are a warrior”. NO. No – I do not WANT to be a warrior. I am TIRED. My mind is tired, my heart is tired, my body is tired. I feel like a walk in a state of exhaustion. Then I heard “David did not wear armor when he faced Goliath. Take off the armor of others that you have put on.” You gotta be kidding me! (Okay, so I did get a little irritated here.) I had not put on ANY “armor”. I was just doing my best to follow wisdom from others, I had researched, emailed, and spoken to so many people –  oh………

My heart stilled. I understood. I was convinced that I was depending on God for wisdom on how to slay my Goliath. But in truth, all I needed was one stone, one slingshot, and David’s eyes.  David’s vision. 

David KNEW what Goliath was. He knew how many others had tried to defeat him. He knew that Saul’s armor would get in his way. He did not see Goliath as everyone else did. He saw Goliath the way God did. Defeated.  

I know David’s story so well. I envision him standing there, looking at Goliath, almost smirking. Goliath is spitting out insults, and the crowd is scoffing at David. Now though, after last night, I can see David’s eyes. I can imagine this look of victory (you  know that look that as a kid, you would give your sibling when you knew they were getting ready to get in trouble for hurting you). I think he probably looked Goliath right in the eyes, with this piercing stare. Maybe Goliath already knew he was defeated when the stone came out of the slingshot……..

I ended my prayer last night asking for David’s vision. He set his sights on the Lord, and the Lord’s victory. He was honest with God – even at times praying that his enemy would be murdered! He was imperfect, but he never quit. He was driven. As a warrior, as a musician, as a king – his vision was set. I want that. I need that. 

Fellow travelers, I hope that you will see my heart in this. I covet your prayers – as I am still facing my Goliath. I pray that when your Goliath comes, that you will find your eyes set – like Davids!

Just Me and Him

I love music. Period. I can hear a song and it sets off memories of years long gone. There are songs that mark specific times in my life. I literally feel like I could make a soundtrack for my life as it has been so far.
My daddy was certainly instrumental in my love for music. My momma loved music too, however, it was daddy who played it loud. We had multiple genres at our house. Daddy liked them all. I remember dancing with daddy as we listened to Alabama and Bob Seger. As I got older, he and I would listen to the music on the radio. Some of it he liked. Some of it he didn’t. When I went through my phases of pop, rap, country and rock he listened with me. Shaking his head sometimes and other times just smiling. He introduced me to Bruce Springsteen and Prince. Along with Huey Lewis and Def Leopard. Thinking about it makes me laugh. So many different styles, yet it was something we both loved. Now a days, he is Internet savvy. It never fails that he has a song for me to hear when I come over. Lately, it has been older Christian artists. “Think you could sing this?” he asks. “Listen to this next part. Are you listening? . . . You should hear the story behind this song.”
I am grown, raising children of my own, but each day I ask myself if my daddy would be proud of me. When we listen to music and connect, I know that’s when he most certainly is. He and momma always encouraged us to sing. Though I’m not exclusively his little girl anymore, when we are enjoying a song together it just seems that way. That’s our time. Our moment. Our connection.
Recently I have been in a whirlwind of change. I started school for the first time ever. We moved. I have a new job. We started attending a new church. This last move was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. We new God was in it. We knew we were being called. So that sealed the deal.
After six months of simply being fed and filled, I reached out to be part of the worship team. This was not a new process for me, just a new place and new people. Sunday was the first time I participated on stage with the team. Oh, how God showed up!!! As we were singing “It’s just you and me here now. It’s only you and me here now . . .” I felt the arms of my Poppa wrap around me. It was our time. I was lost but found all at the same time. I was lost to reality but found in the glory if his presence. At that moment he whispered “Thank you for dancing with me.” My heart soared! Just like my earthly daddy yearns for that connection, my heavenly Poppa yearns for a connection. A connection where nothing else matters. Just me and him.
Life never slows down. Ever. Three kids, a husband, school, work, church, family . . . I’m not sure if I will be able to catch a break anytime soon. But, I know this to be certain: no matter how busy my life is, just like my daddy waits to share a song with me, my Poppa has time to dance with me. And he is waiting, smiling, ready to sweep me (and you!) off our feet!!

You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my Lord and my God. (Psalms 30:11, 12 CEV)

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The End Result

Journey : An act of traveling from one place to another.

Currently, the opportunity for me to attend college for the first time has arisen. Yes, I am 30 something and I have never been to college, save some certification classes. This will be be a journey for me. A journey from insecure to empowered. A journey from lack to provision. A journey to prove myself. A journey to prove The Lord.

I have always been honest in my posts and this one will be no different. I am scared. Scared and excited. This is a HUGE step for me. This is a HUGE step for my family as well. The hubby is a constant cheerleader, reminding me every day that we are in this together.
As I have sat praying, asking for confirmation and peace, The Lord reminded me of another couple who were in it together.

Mary heard from the angel first. How excited she must have been. Being a woman, I can imagine the thoughts and emotions that surged through her. On top of her personal emotions, she would have to face others emotions and opinions. She was willing, however, knowing this was God sent.

Joseph,I’m sure, was just as overwhelmed. Which is why God sent an angel to him. After that, however, he could have still walked away. But he didn’t. Maybe his attitude was simply a hell or high water attitude. He loved Mary. This was an angel talking to him. It must be God, and everything would be fine simply because if the last statement. I wonder if he was a determined man? If he was a “I don’t care what everyone else thinks” kind of guy? What if, oh my! What IF Mary was chosen – not only because of her willing heart – but because of her betrothed’s attitude? (I have never thought of that before!) We all know the implications Mary would have faced if Joseph had not married her. God knew. He knew this couple could and would face this journey.

You may be facing a journey that seems . . . scary or uncertain. I challenge you to look at others in the bible who took journeys. Noah built a boat in the desert. Moses had grumbling people on his journey with him! Then there’s Jonah, who took the long way. The bible shows us so many who were on journeys. Mary and Joseph were the beginning of a new kind of traveler. Their journeys were separate but whole. When the savior was born, the entourage became whole. The purpose was set, the map laid out. Much like The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit – while they each had their own entity – the end result was, and still is – a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Journeys take us from one place to another. When our journey is God determined and led, we will always travel to somewhere (or something) better.
“For no word from God will ever fail” Mark 1:37

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