Shelter in the Storm

StormsGrowing up in the South I learned three things to be true: Jesus loves me, chicken is best served fried, and thunderstorms are a multi-media event. This week’s event began last week when I was at the grocery store and the bagger warned me of the storm coming in three days. It’s a culture. We talk about the weather before it happens, TV shows are canceled so we can all stay glued to the radar, and for days after we all survive we talk about where we were. Sometimes it truly is a frightening experience.

Most recently I was caught in a storm that seemed to come from nowhere. I should not have been taken by surprise. After all, the bagger boy said it would be like this. But I was driving home from music lessons with my youngest daughter when the bottom of heaven opened up. And let me tell you, heaven is a powerful place! My car felt like it would be picked up and slammed against the mountain that I just drove over and I couldn’t see to drive because the rain was coming down in torrents. I was panicked because my eldest daughter was still at home alone and the phone had cut out when she called to tell me she was scared. I had no shelter to pull over into safety and I truly was frightened. I lost my focus of who my protector is and I’m pretty sure I even said a curse word. Not my finest moment.

The next day I was talking with a friend of mine and we were comparing storm stories. Because, that’s what you do in the South. She said she was leaving work when it hit and was in her car. Fortunately for her, she had the luxury of waiting part of it out under the building’s awning. She said, “It didn’t seem that bad from under there, so I decided to try to drive home.” Famous last words.

But they struck me. Because so many times I have been under the protective awning of Jesus and thought, “Hmm, things don’t look so bad from under here. I think I will wander off on my own for a while. I can handle this alone.” But that’s when I am most vulnerable, when the most damage can be done. That’s when Jesus shakes His head at me as I walk away waving at Him over my shoulder lost in my own oblivion. Again. And I can’t ever hear him begging me not to leave over the crashing thunder. So I wander. It’s not until I find myself unable to stand against the wind that I turn around and start heading for that awning again.

Oh, that I would never leave! I could save myself so much heartache if I would never leave from under the shelter of my Savior. But He never leaves me. And he never will. He’s still under that awning waiting for me to return. He’s still there ready to heal my storm damaged heart and ask me again to stay close to Him. What a beautiful truth!
I had to ask forgiveness from my daughter for cursing that day. I regained my focus on my protector and we both prayed us safely home. I’m not proud of how I handled myself outside of the awning. But I am thankful for the reminder that I have that choice and thankful for his promise never to leave me even in the middle of my strongest storms.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” Psalm 73:28

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Can’t all days be like today?

Tate FarmsI don’t usually plan my days. Especially my days off. I like to go with the flow of things, let my heart wander. I guess I’m a bit adventurous that way. Things get frustrating when I plan my days and then something happens it throws me off. Flexibility. It’s a skill.

So today, the last official day of my girl’s Fall Break from school I wanted to do something fun. Just us girls. They had already been camping with their grandparents. They had already been to friend’s houses. It was time for me to just enjoy my girls. But they don’t ever agree on anything so finding just the right outing was going to take a miracle. Good thing I believe in miracles! After a small debate we decided that we would head to a local farm to go pumpkin picking and hay-riding and drink cider and stuff. We’d pay way too much to take silly photos of ourselves to make our friends jealous on Facebook that we got to play in some corn. It was going to be a great day.

So we drove. We turned the music up in the car and we drove. And the whole time I am looking at the darkening sky and praying that the one day we decide to go and breathe some fresh air it doesn’t rain on us. And my girls are in an unusually good mood. It’s a little strange, the whole thing really. Too good to be true. Surely the rain will run us off.

When we arrive I am so excited it’s a little ridiculous. I  mean my children are getting along. The weather is warm. And my hair looks good! I take a moment to snap a picture of my photo reluctant girls at the entrance before we even buy our tickets. This was going to be awesome! Memories in the making!

So, we walk up to the ticket booth so we can pay to pet a goat and a very sweet woman eating from a brown bag of popcorn approaches us and asks if we are with the school group.

“Nope, it’s just us!” Just cool, we’re doing something fun, us!

“Well, we don’t open to the public until later.”

“Uh, what? Really?” But did you see how well my girls are behaving? Have you seen my hair? I can’t waste this!

“Looks like we’re going to be getting some rain anyway. I’m sorry. You can come back later.”

So we turned around and slinked back to the car. Deflated.  We didn’t even get to pick some cotton.

And all the while I am apologizing to my girls. Here is another example of why I don’t plan things, but sometimes I really should.  Had I checked the hours ahead of time we could have avoided this whole scenario. And my girls wouldn’t be disappointed and I could have shared my good hair day with someone who really wanted it!

Plan B. But you know what? I think it’s really good to have a plan B. Or not.

Sometimes, I think we all need a little disappointment in our lives. Sometimes it’s better to learn to be content without the pumpkin you picked fresh from the farm and happy with the one you buy from the corner grocery store.

Life is filled with disappointments. I’m just so glad today all I had to worry about was pumpkins. Tomorrow it might be a person who disappoints my little girl.  One day it might be that she doesn’t get the job she really wanted. If my children learn how life works now, when it’s not so overwhelming and they still have my arms to fall into they will be able to handle the hard knocks more easily when they come. And they will come.

But not today. Today we celebrate our lack of pumpkins over cheeseburgers and laughter. Tomorrow we worry about life.



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True Wonder

IdahoDo you ever wonder why God chose to make you? I do! I mean I look around this great big beautiful world and wonder why I was even a twinkling in His eye. I took this picture several years ago, but it remains one of my favorites. It reminds me of how creative God is. How vast He is. How beautiful He is. And how very small I am. But it also reminds me of what a loving God we serve. Because even though He can make the heavens, the mountains, the streams and the fish that swim in them, He still wanted me. Me! Wayward, stubborn, disobedient me. Just for the sake of loving me. Sometimes I think He must have a great sense of humor!


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