Monday, January 14, 2019

The Road Taken...Uh-Oh

Lost as a goose in a snowstorm...

It was not exactly our finest hour.

Friend Judy and I were returning from our pre-Christmas day at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  We make it a point to go there sometime during the holiday season to enjoy the exquisite decorations and soak up the yuletide atmosphere.  Since it's just over an hour away from home, it's a most enjoyable day trip.

Until...

Until our return trip when we were hung up on I-95 by an accident that blocked all northbound lanes of traffic.  As we approached the dead stop, we lost our brains.  Suddenly, we were discussing in quick sentence bursts whether to endure the no-telling-how-long delay or opt for another route.  We were right at an exit.  Judy was driving.

"Do we get off?" 

"Yes!" I said with great authority.  It was my next sentence that did us in.  "All these roads going east will take us to US 1 and we will be home soon."  I just want to say in my defense that she has to share the blame for our ensuing misery.  She knows darn well that my credibility for knowing where I'm going is suspect.  "Right over there..." is not a valid direction.  

To cut to the chase, we wandered for almost an hour on roads we had never seen before and will likely never see again.  None of those roads was US 1.   After great frustration and cross words spoken as we both stared clueless at our I-Phones, we eventually did find I-95 again and realized to our chagrin we were a mile south of where we exited originally.  We had to laugh...eventually.  You can't make this stuff up.  Well you could, but why would you? 

In retrospect, I have some takeaways from the experience that I should already know by this stage of life but I hope I remember them for future use.
1 - There is a reason why we need maps.  
2 - If you're going to use that phone, take the time to learn the GPS app.
3 - Roads don't go where you think they should.
4 - (And here is the biggie!)  As soon as you leave the main road (I-95), stop the car, consult the app or the map, and determine where you are in relation to your destination.  By the time we started looking at the app on the phone, we were so off in the weeds it was irrelevant.  It's amazing we stumbled back to 95.

As I see so often, this is another life lesson.  We have so many chances to get off our path.  Sometimes we realize it quickly, sometimes we have to wander a bit before it sinks in that we are lost.  Just plain lost.  My pastor Rev. Jeremy Rebman spoke to this just yesterday.  If I am following the Lord, He has a path and a purpose for me.   The only one who can take me off the path away from my purpose is me.  As soon as I realize I'm off the path, that's the time to stop and check the map...my Bible, my Christian mentor, my Christian friend.  Get back on track as quickly as possible.  

Even if I'm a mile behind where I made the wrong turn.  

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.  "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future."   
                                                                           - Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Things From Old Things



See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.  
-Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

January 1 always puts me in a reflective mood.  How about you?  

2018 in many ways was no different from any other year for us.  We rode the ups and downs of life.  We dealt with hard things and we were uplifted by joyous things.  Those pesky things called "health issues" just kept popping up their irritating heads...some bigger than others but we're still standing!  In the Spring, we said goodbye to Ed's mother and just a few weeks ago we welcomed my niece's new son.  We capped off the year by spending Christmas week with our children in Tennessee and I don't mind telling you it was a whole lot colder than we like!  But it was one of our best family gatherings ever.

Sometimes events are defined by the smallest things.  That explains the pictures of the orchid.  Some years ago, a friend gave me this orchid plant for my birthday.  It was in full bloom and was simply stunning.  "Just hang it in your oak tree," she said, "and leave it alone and it will take care of itself."  

Well, that's certainly the kind of plant for me.  I did not inherit the green thumb that both my parents had. So we hung it in the tree and it bloomed and rested and bloomed and rested for a long time.  And then...we realized it had stopped blooming.  In fact, the poor thing looked simply pitiful.  And then it looked dead.  No more blooms.  My pragmatic husband took it down from the tree.

"Looks like your orchid has lived its life," he said.  "Time to throw it away."  Honestly, it was dead sticks.  But I have a friend who knows her way around an orchid plant.  She has dozens - all varieties, shapes and colors.  "No, I think I'll see if Thea can do something with it."  It was like putting a comatose person into ICU.  Thea looked at that mess of black nothing and saw possibilities.  I heard nothing more about it and our conversations over the next few months were about anything but orchids.

Until one day in November.  The familiar voice on the other end of the phone said "You need to come see your orchid."  Really?  I couldn't wait to see it and I honestly wasn't expecting much.  You see from the pictures how wrong I was.  Thea proudly pointed out all the other buds in addition to the blooms.  After our photo session, I decided to leave that orchid plant right there in her care.  It was obviously happy.

And to me, it is a symbol of hope.  What looked so bleak when I took it to Thea is now a blooming, vibrant, viable plant.  Who knows how long it will live.  

This 43rd chapter of Isaiah is a favorite of mine.  It begins with that wonderful promise from the Lord that we are not to fear for he has redeemed us: when we pass through the waters or walk through the fire he will be with us.  And then he leads into the above verse by saying "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past."  

As we turn the calendar to a new year, we seem to think we can hit some great re-set button and all will be new and different.  But it won't.  Whatever situations we were dealing with on December 31 are still there on January 1.  But here is the promise: God continues to go before, doing new things constantly in our lives...standing by our side as we press on through the deep waters...holding onto us as we walk through the fire.  Simply put, we can look forward with hope.

I hope you know this assurance today.  I can't imagine stepping into a new year without it.  If I can help you, leave me a comment.  This could be the best year of your life! 

See, he is doing a new thing...making a way in your wilderness and streams in your wasteland.




 


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

HATE


I hate the word HATE.

In fact, in recent months the climate of anger and dissension in our country has brought this word to the fore more than ever before in my lifetime.  Its use has become almost cavalier among certain segments of our culture who seek to throw the worst stigma possible at those with whom they disagree.  Disagreeing with someone does not - should not - translate into hate.

I do not seek to be political here.  If that is your takeaway and if it is your mission to ride in on the horse called HATE, then please read no further and go to another blog.  What I saw today as I watched the funeral service for President George H. W. Bush was five living presidents of our country sitting in close quarters honoring a leader whose life was filled with service to our country.  

It's called civility, and civility overcomes hate.

The statement from the eulogies that most captured my attention was this, spoken by Senator Alan Simpson:

"Hatred corrodes the container it's carried in."

My pastor, Rev. Jeremy Rebman, in a recent sermon focusing on the current climate of anger in our culture, said "If I disagree with you, it doesn't mean I hate you."

My position to stand on the truth I find in the Scriptures does not translate into hate.  We need to do away with that word as it is so frequently overused in common discourse. It should be saved for only the most terrible of terrible things.  The word, and its deep connotations, needs to be rooted out of our thoughts.  It simply corrodes us from the inside out.

Today's service at the National Cathedral was a beautiful send-up to love for God, family and country.  These values never become obsolete.  I'm glad I was able to feel that I was part of this historic moment that is relevant to my lifetime.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Friends



Make new friends but keep the old...
One is silver and the other gold.


If I put a title on my activities of last week, it would be simply Friends.  This little song from my Girl Scout days kept running through my head over the weekend as I looked back over the past few days. 

It was a mixture of friends.  First of all, joined-at-the-hip friend Judy and I enjoyed taking in Smokey Joe's CafĂ© at our local theater.  Good old music from our growing up days.  Second, I sat for over an hour connecting with a new friend who is new to our church and came to Ladies Lunch on Thursday.  It's always fun to meet someone new and find out you have many of the same interests.  On another day, I shared lunch with a gal who grew up here just a bit ahead of me and has a very similar background to mine.  We became better friends as we talked of local stuff and kids and church...you name it.  

The friend that capped the week is the sweet girl chasing the bouquet I'm tossing in the picture.  She's another of my Judy friends (I have so many Judys in my life and each one is special!)  She, along with the girl standing next to her in the other picture, are two of the rocks-of-my-life friendships that have carried through the years from early school years to today.  And yes, even though I am guilty of putting those roses on their heads.  Lynette, the dark-haired bridesmaid, now lives in Cincinnati and we make it a point to get together whenever she comes to Vero.  She was here earlier this year when I gave the eulogy at her mother's funeral.

Judy, as you can see in the picture, was ready to catch that bouquet.  She did catch it and she and Glenn were married about a year later.  Same church, same social hall.  

Judy and Glenn now live in the Panhandle of Florida and have just experienced that horrible Hurricane Michael.  After several weeks of living in what they described as a war zone, they came to Vero to visit their son and have a change of scene.  I got the call Friday morning..."Hey, headed your way.  Can we get a cup of coffee and catch up?"  Absolutely.  We caught up for three hours.  And could have sat there for three more.  

Judy gave me a little nudge during the conversation.  "I'm missing my Faith Breezes," she said.  I realized then that it's been a long time since I sat down and put thoughts in writing.  To say this has been a stressful Summer and Fall would be putting it mildly.  I needed that good visit with friends who are like old shoes more than Judy could ever know.  And I crack up when I envision her opening this one up and seeing herself chase that bouquet.  That was 51 years ago.  And we haven't aged a bit!  Well, maybe a little...

These are the friendships that are golden.  I hope you have some in your life, too.  They're our Faith Breezes - those gifts from God that waft through our days like the warm ocean breezes. 

Thanks be to God for his amazing gifts.