Big Sky

Sometimes when the weather feels so nice you just have to soak it in.

I have terms for days like today…. Titanic weather.  You may wonder, “Whatever could she mean by that?”  Don’t worry.  We haven’t had a freak iceberg show up or anything.

Actually, here in North Carolina, the high was a sultry 82°F with winds of 10mph from the south this afternoon.   When the breeze hits me just right, no matter what I’m doing – even if in mid stride – I stop and lean into the wind, spread my arms open, and breathe in the fresh air.   Yes, it’s Titanic weather.  Winds that make me feel like I’m standing on the railing of a ship and that bubble up this urge inside of me to yell, “I’m king of the world!”

It’s moments like these that I look to the sky and it feels so big, so vast, so far and wide, and yet so close as if it’s embracing me.  What a wonderful thought to be embraced by this big sky.  It completely envelopes me and yet my arms are powerless in trying to even hold on to a portion of it.  Assuming the Titanic pose and leaning into the wind with arms open is the closest I ever feel to that beautiful sky.  And I hope to never depart from that feeling.


Sky references in scripture:  Psalm 19:1;   Job 26:7;    Acts 2:19;    Psalm 36:5

 

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Rain Drop Races

Do you remember being a little kid sitting in the backseat of a car when the rain was pouring down outside your window?  Can’t you just still imagine tracing those little trails that the rain drops raced down as if they were in a mad dash to reach some finish line?

Rainy days as a kid used to be so exciting.  Well, at least in my family it was exciting.  Rain meant that daddy got to stay home.  That was always what I liked about rainy days.  It also meant that maybe – just maybe – we might get the chance to go to town once our rooms were clean and if we were nice to our mama.

My dad was a farmer so his whole livelihood depended on the weather.  In many cases, rain meant nourishment for the fields.  Sometimes though the rain was bad news during an already wet season.  Still in all cases, whether in times of drought or monsoons, the weather was out of our hands.  I was always surprised that my dad got more upset over NC State making a mistake on the football field or basketball court than he did over the weather not going according to his plans.  I suppose he knew what most of us have a hard time accepting.  Some things you just can’t change.  As my mother has reminded me many times:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain! -Vivian Greene

Since when did we start dreading these rainy days?  Rain brings life.  Rain helps us appreciate the sunshine.  Rain even washes the pollen away – much to the delight of all the allergy sufferers.

As all good farmers know, it takes a proper balance of rain and sun and good soil and a keen eye to bear the proper fruits of a harvest.  And throughout it all, without patience, we might not ever see a seed grow to become a tall tree.  Remember that God always has one of three answers:  •  No  •  Not yet  •  I have something better in mind

Embrace the rain people!  Let your hair get wet every once in a while.  Who cares if your gorgeous locks get frizzy?  As one sweet four year old once told me, “Ms. Amber your hair is fluffy like a puppy!”  Thanks for those sweet reminders, little ones.

Rain related scripture:  Isaiah 45:8;    Matthew 7:24-27;    Jeremiah 51:16;    Job 28:20-28

Ever run a marathon?

As of today by 12pm in Raleigh, NC about 8,500 people crossed the finish line in the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and half-marathon.  I imagine for many of the participants, this was a an item that they can now cross off their bucket list.  I personally have never aspired to run in a marathon.  I think my legs and lungs would give out well before I reached the 26.2 mile mark.  However, I was fortunate enough this morning to be stopped in traffic due to the race course.  As I was sitting somewhere along Gorman Street, I couldn’t help but notice the expressions of those passing by.  Before I realized it, I was drawn in.  Some were wearing crazy outfits.  Some traveled in pairs.  Some were by themselves.  Some ran, some walked, others shuffled along at a pace that fell somewhere in between.  Some wore smiles.  Some had a mixture of sweat and tears rolling down their face.

Rocknroll marathon

Photo courtesy of Chris Baird / WRAL Contributor

As I observed these ordinary people, I noticed that very soon I was the one with tears in my eyes.  These were not professional athletes like I had imagined would be the only type of person willing to succumb their body to that level of stress.  No, these were mothers, fathers, community members, your average Joes.  And it would seem all of them, no matter what walk of life they came from – they all had a reason they were running.

Once traffic started moving again and I had dried my tears, I began to notice other players in this marathon.  Standing and sitting on the side of the road were volunteers and neighbors passing out water and constantly cheering the participants on.  For all the hate that exists in the world, I could see none in that moment.  The tears came back just as easily.  And all this I observed from behind the steering wheel, sitting in the middle of the road on my way to church.  It was as if God reached out and said, “Look at my creation.  Aren’t they amazing?”

I once asked a friend if he admired man-made art or nature more.  His response was that he admired God’s creation most.  Yes, I think that sums up how I felt this morning.  I’m sure God is also proud of us from time to time.

Congratulations to all the runners who dared take on the triple H threat that is Raleigh: heat, humidity, and hills. (Plus there’s the pollen which can do a number on your sinuses!)  You obviously fought the good fight and finished the race strong.  May we all be inspired by the purpose behind your endeavors.


Racing themes in scripture:  2 Timothy 4:7;    1 Corinthians 9:24;     Philippians 3:14;     Isaiah 40:31

Life is Always Interesting

Life is always interesting, especially for those of us who make sure to keep it that way.  Apparently I have one of those faces that people are instantly attracted to… Maybe it’s the innocence in my heart or my welcoming countenance or even the eagerness in my eyes – but whatever it is, quite often I find myself making friends and finding admirers in the unlikeliest of places.  In fact, last weekend was filled with such experiences.  (If you’d like to know more of the specifics, you can fill out a contact form here. I’ll do my best to answer any of your questions.)

A little personal insight into my life:  Not long ago, I was involved in a serious relationship that everyone (including me) thought was leading to marriage.  As it turns out, our two souls were not being knit together in quite the way I had imagined, and the relationship, as we had known it, ended.    The thought of losing a friend distressed me more than knowing I had lost a lover.  Of course, there was a healing process involved.  Most people will experience these feelings of love and loss, and it’s not an unfortunate happening at all.  We can actually learn a lot from these events.  However, I have come to find that having hope and a close friend and the prospect of new love certainly helps us view the situation in a more positive light.

Budding relationships certainly give us hope in many cases.  As it turns out, it doesn’t take much for me to feel like I’m falling in love with someone.  If you combine genuine compliments with good conversation and laughing and then throw in some elegant dancing, chances are I will fall pretty hard for you.  Of course, it’s not altogether unreasonable for me to feel twitterpated by these actions since my primary love languages are words of affirmation and quality time.  Still, feeling everything so deeply can lead to hurt feelings when reality isn’t quite as you imagined it.

A friend recently remind me of the old adage, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”  I find this statement to be true in romance and many other regards as well.  If we can accept that some things are just the way they are, then why does it hurt so much to want something or someone that you cannot have – that society deems unacceptable?

Scripture says, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young; instead, be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).  Of course, we could just as easily substitute the word “young” with other labels… Do not let anyone look down on you because you are old, male, female, black, white, gay, straight, rich, poor…  Why must such labels hold us back?  Why are there barriers?  Why can’t we love whom we wish without fear of rejection?  I can’t solve all the world’s problems but I can make a difference one life at a time.   We’re all different – all unique individuals with special gifts.  Imagine how that line of thinking would change our daily interactions: viewing every life as a precious thing and cherishing the moments we have with all kinds of people.  I’m going to try to live like that.

All Things Happen for a Reason

And another Throwback Thursday post.


This I believe.  All things happen for a reason.  The bad and the good are all part of God’s plan.  While I’d like to believe this is solely a Christian concept, I know that many religions have this philosophy.  I have never experienced as much pain and heartache as some in this world.  Nonetheless, I still have bad days.  And on these bad days, I lean on my faith and my God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ICB) says, “God certainly does everything at just the right time.”  There are moments when I wish I knew why.  “Why?” always seems to be the hardest question to answer.  Many times I try to console myself with the answer I already know.  “How, when, and what” are all attempts to fill the void that was once in my heart.  It is human nature to want to know all the answers.  However, there comes a point when faith – being certain of what we cannot see – is necessary.  My whole life I have been taught that negative experiences will make me stronger in the end.  I have treasured this in my heart.  This is a truth I can stand by and hope for.

As I have matured I have discovered many gifts that God gave me.  One of these gifts is the gift of belief.  Many would see this as a pitfall, but I do not.  Because I believe, I trust what I have been taught.  I know that God is always taking care of me, no matter what happens.  This is why I will always believe that all things happen for a reason.

Goal: Selfish to Selfless

One night recently I realized that I am a very selfish person.  Especially as of late I have been so absorbed with my own thoughts, activities, and feelings that I have overlooked the wishes and needs of my family, friends, and unfortunately my Lord.  Here I am sticking my nose into God’s business  – trying to plan out my own future.  Rushing to get a degree, get married, get a job, get pregnant, get a house, get a car, get an adult life!  Notice a trend?  I have been planning out all of the things in life that I feel like I should get.  Lately I’ve had a selfish attitude.  Not once in the past several months have I planned out and executed a plan that involved giving back to others.

Luckily, this week, I’ve been able to reverse that to a certain extent.  I have spent valuable time caring for and lifting up others.  I am convinced that the Lord created me to serve others.  I am never truly happy unless I can be of help to someone else.

Thank you Lord for fulfilling your purpose in me.  Help me to continually walk more closely to you.  Guide my steps each day.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight. 

~Psalm 138:8

~Psalm 19:14

A New Literary Venture

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die…

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance…

a time to search and a time to give up…

a time to be silent and a time to speak…

a time for war and a time for peace…

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

DSCI0178

The above is an excerpt from Ecclesiastes 3, an oft-quoted scripture at both tearful and happy occasions.  From these words many people, including myself, draw special meaning.  Whether you are a Christian who believes these musings are God-breathed or a scholar who views them as a poetic piece of literature, there seems to be something thought-provoking, maybe even inspiring, about this passage.  My commentary on this once centered around how it proved that there was a reason for everything.  We just needed to trust God that He had it all figured out.  Reading it now, I see that there is much more to it.

The beauty of well-written literature I have found is that there is room for personal interpretation.  Just as there are seasons for every activity under heaven, so are there seasons in my life that impact the meaning I pull from scripture.  I often like to skip over the bad promises and emphasize the pleasant.  Don’t we all?  Particularly if we are trying to be the image of positivity.  We seek out the good and minimize the bad.  But as it turns out, there is also value in those “bad” experiences, as we label them.  I’m working on changing the label-maker in my mind.  Sure there are plenty of situations that aren’t ideal, but what can I really do about it?  I may not be able to change the situation, but I can certainly change my view of it and my reaction to it.  And that is empowering.

The problem, though, lies in the fact that our perspective – no matter how informed, considerate, cultured, or multi-faceted – can never give us a crystal clear understanding of everything at work in a situation.  In 1st Corinthians 13:12, scripture says “All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”  What a wonderful promise that is.

All my life I have striven to understand the hows, the whys, and the whats; I pride myself in being able to provide thoughtful insights to others and extend bridges of communication and understanding.  In short, I strive for perspicacity.  The frustrating part is that I can’t always know; I can’t always understand; I can’t always see things clearly.  I pray for clarity and discernment constantly.  I certainly think that I move towards greater understanding each day of my life, but I also recognize that my perspective still falls short.  And with this thought, I must have the serenity to accept it.  Far different from settling, having serenity about a situation entails being at peace with it.  While I live out perspicacity to the best of my ability throughout life, and even when I come to enjoy complete understanding as from God’s perspective, I now pray that I will always be serene with what knowledge I am given.  Vast knowledge is a high responsibility and can be a very unsettling thing…

Lord, may every season and activity in this life and in this world rest well with my soul – especially the moments of death, mourning, weeping, and failure.  Help me to always respond with Serene Perspicacity.