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When It Rains, It Pours

RainI live in Florida, so the saying “when it rains, it pours” makes a lot of sense. Seldom do we ever get just a gentle sprinkling for more than just a couple of minutes. Usually it becomes a gushing downpour that doesn’t usually last long. But in that time, it’s torrential.

In the heat of summer, those respites of rain are welcome, but the aftermath of flooding can cause major problems.

What’s necessary to avoid that is a good drainage system.

Kind of like with the showers of blessings in our lives.

If all we’re doing is letting the flood of good things come down on us without having any outlet, our lives will look like the swelled streams and overflowing banks. All that water really should go somewhere it can do some good.

When we are in our rainy season, and places like California are in a drought or experiencing devastating fires, we wish that we could take some of that rain and send it their way. But with weather, that’s not possible.

But it’s possible with the wealth of resources or time or emotion that we can give to someone in need.

Certainly let it rain on you, but then share the wealth with those around you.Rain3

Find yourself with time on your hands? Volunteer to help where it’s needed.

Get an unexpected bonus at work? Give a portion to a worthy cause.

Finding yourself overflowing with joy? Share that emotional energy with someone who could use a friend.

When it rains on you, pour out on others.

 

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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Your Story Matters

Today’s 10-minute Tuesday prompt is “story.”

I have a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on my Discover Card, so I get to see it often.I’m typing this on my iPad today because my daughter is using my laptop for schoolwork while her computer is being upgraded. In the mobile version of the WordPress site, there is a space for a blog post title, and then under that the words “start your story here.”

Made me think for a minute. Where did my story start?

Several years ago, the staff of Cru was challenged at a staff conference to write out an essay that was called “I am from.” It’s a look back into your personal history to learn what it is that has made you what you are today. It’s not to give an excuse for our shortcomings because “that’s just the way I was raised,” but instead to give insight so that we know where to go from here.

fullsizeoutput_6badTherapist Adam Young talks about giving our parents too much of an out when we say that they did the best they could. I know I’ve done that. But if that were true, then my dad would have stayed with AA and found a way to curtail his drinking. My mom would have tried to learn how to be open hearted and really tried to know her kids. And their parents before them would have read and practiced and learned how to do better.

I have copied my “I am from” poem here, just to share a piece of my story. Consider writing one yourself, because your story really does matter, more than you think it does. I would also encourage you to listen to Dr. Young’s podcast, “The place we find ourselves.

I am From

I am from the Golden State
I am from the winding, hilly roads overlooking the San Francisco Bay
I am from mountains & beaches, rocky shores & tide pools waiting to be explored
I am from sunshine & foggy mornings with the tips of the Golden Gate Bridge just peaking through.
I am from the country, the smell of alfalfa & the lowing of cattle
I am from searing heat & shimmering highways
I am from the Old Country, where garlic & olive oil permeate the air
I am from family, from privilege, a name & a reputation to maintain
I am from the land of bagpipes & brave hearts
I am from clan Grant, an unknown entity in my life
I am from a popular mother & a father who wasn’t sure who he was
I am from the affects of alcohol & disappointment & dying dreams
I am from generosity & volunteering & friendships that lasted through decades
I am from a love not sure about how to be expressed
I am from acceptance & forgiveness & new life
I am from purpose, from words knocking at the door, waiting to be let out
I am from unconditional love
I am from the heart of God, written on His timeline before it began

More Than Enough

Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday prompt is “enough.”

IMG_0090We have an old black Lab, Berkeley, who is a big barker. He will go on and on for no apparent reason. Our house is on a cul de sac and we have a yard that goes all the way around the corner, so he can see every activity on the streets surrounding us.

And every movement is a threat, apparently.

We have tried many things to get him to stop, to no avail. Our latest effort is for everyone to use the same language all the time when he starts barking. We say, “That’s enough.”

It doesn’t do much good; he just keeps barking. What we seem to be saying when we’re saying “that’s enough” is “stop your incessant barking!”

Moms will say to their kids, “I’ve had enough of your constant fighting!” What she’sIMG_4195 actually saying is “I was done with it way before this.”

A bartender will say, “I think you’ve had enough, buddy.” What that means is, again, too much. I gotta cut you off.

But when we say that Jesus is enough, it turns the whole thing around to mean more than we’ll ever need. More than we would even think to ask for. Able in every way to meet our greatest needs.

CIMG5454And then there’s us. We are enough. We don’t need to add to who we are. We don’t need to be something we’re not. We need to think of ourselves as being everything that we are supposed to be. We have value because we are image bearers of God. We amount to something.

It’s important to see the context of the word. We are never less than enough; Jesus is always more than enough.

And my dog still barks way more than I want him to.

What Have You Done Today?

fullsizeoutput_97ccMany years ago when my husband and I went through counseling to try to firm up some sagging places in our marriage, our counselor told him that when he came home from work, my husband was not allowed to ask me what I had done that day.

We had small children at that point, and I was volunteering at our eldest’s parent-involved school 2 days a week. I was lucky to get dinner on the table each day.

I am not a high-energy person when it comes to physical labor. I can’t work in the hot Florida sun for more than about an hour before I’m just done. My husband can go on for hours at a time.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being inside in the air conditioning. Maybe I’m reading a book. Maybe I’m playing a mindless game. Or maybe I’m working on my computer, actually accomplishing something.

Wait, what was that I just said?

That’s exactly the problem. If I’m just resting or reading or playing, I have the mindset that I’m not ACCOMPLISHING anything.fullsizeoutput_97cd

And that needs to change.

There’s a saying: God made us human BEings, not human DOings.

Yes, there are chores that need to be done. But sometimes just BEing takes precedence.

 

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun! Today’s prompt is “done.”

Waiting For Rescue

thai diver

TimesofIsrael.com/AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU

All eyes are on Thailand as rescue attempts continue for 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped deep in a cave. Monsoon season is upon that land and there are warning signs up to not explore the caves during the rainy season.

We could be saying they got what they deserved. Why did they make such a dumb decision?

But we don’t say that. We pray. And we watch. We follow the reports and we hope for the best possible outcome. We feel the parents’ anguish as they wait for news. We applaud the bravery of the rescuers.

Thai parents

Las Vegas Review Journal (reviewjournal.com)/AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

And we have hope. So far, 8 have been brought out of their cavernous confines. 1 rescuer has died. 5 still wait and hope.

Remember in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were rescued from their collapsed mine where they had been trapped for 69 days? 69 days.

People around the world cheered when the first miner was taken out. We were so grateful they were all safe and well.

And most of us didn’t even know them.

Even before that, in October of 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from a well in her aunt’s backyard after 58 consecutive hours of efforts by rescuers. “I had God on my side that day,” Jessica says in a 2017 issue of PEOPLE. “My life is a miracle.”

Both the miners’ story and that of baby Jessica were made into movies.

And now, the world is focused on Thailand and 13 human beings who had to have wondered if they were going to survive. 8 are out. 5 more to go.

thai shoes

trtworld.com/Thai News Pix via AP /AP

When a British diver finally found them, they were so happy and asked if they were going to be taken out that day. Unfortunately, their deliverance is going to take time. Food and medical care were delivered to them.

And hope. Hope was brought in that day.

In the early days after they were located, some were predicting they may have to stay in that cave until monsoon season is over. You know how long that is?

4 months.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Darkness. Fear. Depleting air supply. Little food. All these things have confronted these boys and young men. But they have had each other to encourage and talk to and hold onto hope with.

As one by one their teammates and companions have been taken to the surface, how must those who are still waiting feel? Is excitement building or is anxiety riding right behind?

Will they make it out alive? Will they come back for me?  Who will be the last one left?

And so we pray.

You are seen. You are loved. You are not alone.

thai rescuers

kare11.com

We hope for your rescue because we ourselves are in need of rescuing from the kingdom of darkness.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).

 

 

What If?

What if I wasn’t afraid of what other people would think?

What if I wasn’t afraid?

IMG_0668What if I was more daring, more adventurous?

What if I wasn’t afraid of failing?

What if I truly trusted what I was hearing God say?

What if I took that trip? Talked to that person? Sent that email? Wrote that book?

What if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would be there whatever I tried?

Even if I did fail.

Even if I got lost along the way.

Even if nobody cared what I had to say.fullsizeoutput_7d98

What if I said something kind to that person who looks so sad?

What if I gave up everything and followed Jesus wherever He led me?

What if I never had any regrets?

Made any mistakes.

Loved and lost.

Sometimes clouds create the most beautiful sunsets.

FullSizeRenderSee that stunning rainbow?

Yep, it had to rain.

There is no growth where there is no trial.

No lessons learned where there have been no failed attempts.

 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up “If.” Join the fun!

Rainbow photo courtesy of KehauClassicsPhotography.

To “Infinity War” and Beyond

infinity warMy family and I are big fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (hereafter referred to simply as the MCU). We’ve seen every one of the movies and now own them all as well. We laughed the most during Thor’s flicks, cheered the most during “Black Panther” and watched in expectation for what would happen to our heroes in the most recent “Infinity War.”

If you haven’t seen the latest movie and plan to, you might want to save this post for later, although I won’t give any major spoilers.

I think there is something in the heart of every man that wants evil to be vanquishable. We want to know that the good guys will win. When that doesn’t happen (apparently, as in the case of “Infinity War”), we’re disappointed, some even to the point of despair.

In the MCU, we know that the heroes are fallible. At least most of them are. I’d like to think Captain America is about as perfect as they come. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, along with Dr. Stephen Strange and Quill, who prefers to be called Star Lord, battle a fierce pride that makes them think they are better than everyone else. Therefore working together as a team is difficult for them.

Natalie (Black Widow) has major skeletons in her closet that have only been hinted at so far. Dr. Bruce Banner, well, his issues are hulking.

Yet we know that they have the good of others at the heart of everything they do. When the Avengers team seemed to be split in the aptly named “Civil War,” the big question was whether the good of the few outweighed the good of the many. Throughout their time together, the Avengers have battled with whether their saving a society while losing individual members has been worth it.

Tony made his decision in wake of the disaster that Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) instigated that took many innocent lives. Though completely unintended, Wanda’s actions caused the deaths of many even though it also prevented worldwide annihilation.

Collateral damage. It happens when you’re trying to save the world.

So that’s what makes Thanos such a disturbing villain.thanos

He is seemingly unbeatable. While his backstory may try to make us believe that he is a sympathetic character simply trying to find a way to save civilizations around the universe, his super-sized ego is completely out of control.

And that makes him very dangerous.

Wiping out half the populations of every civilization isn’t really murder, it’s actually compassion. People are starving and suffering because of over population. Cutting the number of citizens in half will allow everyone to prosper and live better lives.

Thanos believes it without pause. When his minions walk through towns after the purge has happened, they declare how blessed everyone is to be “saved” by such a gracious lord as Thanos. What great mercy has been shown to them. Nevermind that they’ve just lost half their civilization. It’s out of great love that this has been done for them.

The movie doesn’t seem to show that anyone is actually believing this nonsense, but they are incapable of doing anything about it. Thanos cannot be stopped.

And that’s what makes this movie so hard to handle. If I didn’t know a part 2 was coming, this would be one of the only Marvel movies I didn’t want to own.
avengers-infinity-war-ht-jpo-171128_16x9_992
We can feel that way about evil in the real world sometimes. Why do the wicked seem to prosper?

In Psalm 73:3, the worship leader Asaph laments that very point. “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (English Standard Version). He goes on to describe how good things continually happen to them. They are fat and happy. 

And he despaired.

But then he went into the sanctuary of God. He spent time with Him. And there he learned the truth. “Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin” (Ps. 73:18, ESV). He discerns that the end is coming for those who are wicked. He knows God is good and that in the end, God wins. Good will triumph.

Hold on to hope. In the midst of an evil and perverse generation, when it seems evil cannot be vanquished, Jesus is there.

And Thanos doesn’t stand a chance.

Can’t wait for part 2.

images from: imdb.com (The Avengers poster); digitalspy.com (Thanos); abcnews.go.com (The Avengers group)