Tag Archive | Florida

Home, Sweet Home

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for 10 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “cross country.”

I have a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on my Discover Card, so I get to see it often.In 1991, my husband, David, and I moved from California to Florida. We were working as missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ (known as Cru in the U.S.) and the leadership had decided to move our headquarters.

I wasn’t in favor of the idea.

IMG_8307I’m a Californian born and raised. All of my family lived no further east than Colorado. I was leaving everything familiar to relocate across the country. Even my husband wasn’t yet all that familiar. We’d only been married for 6 months.

But move cross country we did. The organization provided a moving company that packed up what we wouldn’t need in the immediate, we had both our cars loaded on to transports, and we headed to the airport in Los Angeles with my kitty in a carrier, drugs at the ready to keep her calm.

Only, we missed our flight, so the drugs wore off halfway through the trip. The stress finally got to me, and I cried there at the gate of the airport.

IMG_5453But, we made it to Orlando and found our way to our new apartment sometime in the wee hours of the night. We were starving, but this was in the days before there were so many restaurants on the road from the airport, so we couldn’t find anywhere to eat.

When we got to our apartment, we noticed that it was not the one the complex had promised us. The teal carpet gave it away the minute we walked in the door. So, we somehow camped out on the floor (the details are fuzzy after 27 years), my cat hiding behind the washer and dryer, and tried to get some sleep.

The next morning, we visited the office and notified them that they had given us the wrong apartment. After asking whether we could live with the teal carpet (no, it would clash with every piece of furniture we owned), we were relocated to a slightly bigger apartment with a lake view at the same price because it was their error.

Everything worked out and we lived that first year plus a few months in that apartment with the grey carpet and the lake view. And we have now been in Orlando for 27+ years. My parents have passed away, my brother is my only family left in California, and our 3 kids call themselves Floridians, though each one of them seems to think they were born for a colder clime.

Go figure.

I love my house, I love my church, I love my friends. I still long for California.

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If I could pick up everything that I have here (minus the humidity) and move it back to the hills of Oakland, I would do it in a minute. But that’s not where I’m supposed to be. Everything that matters is here in hot, humid, flat Orlando. I can allow myself to be discontent, or I can embrace my space and trust that I am exactly where God wants me.

After 27 years, I’ve lived in Florida almost as long as I lived in California. My heart would be very cold and hard if I allowed my yearning for a state to overshadow my joy at being “home.”

I can always pretend the cloud formation in the distance are mountains if I squint long enough.

 

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Faith in an Ocean

I’ve been in the fiction writing mode for the month of October, so I set aside my regular Tuesday and Friday posts for the month, but I’m back! Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday post prompt is “Ocean.”

IMG_1856I grew up in Oakland, Calif. The Pacific Ocean was always a part of my life. Our house had a view of the San Francisco Bay, but just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, on a clear day, we could just see the ocean.

Some of my favorite sites are the craggy shores of Northern California. I loved the tide pools and the jagged rocks. The ocean was a peaceful, powerful place to see.

Then I moved to Florida. Bleh. The beaches just didn’t have the same appeal. The waves still ebbed and flowed, but the water was way warmer and the landscape was much less dramatic.

I used to say that I was more a beach person than a mountain person, but I came to realize that it wasn’t the beach itself that drew me—here in Florida I get way too hot and sunburned and sandy—but it was the power and the peace of the waves. I like watching them and hearing them. I know of their danger, and I am fascinated by the creatures the oceans hold.102_1116

I don’t get to spend much time at the beach. We live about 45 minutes away from the nearest shore, but we just don’t make the trip out there very often. I miss it. I miss being able to look out my window and see the vastness in the distance.

There is a popular Christian song called “Oceans” by Hillsong United that I like, even if it is overplayed. The idea is that we can rely on God even if the oceans rise. These words soothe me:

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

Through every trial and hard season, God is there. My soul can rest in His embrace. He is my anchor. He won’t let go.

Rest in Him as you listen.

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.”

Hurricane Irma and the Storms of Life

IrmaIt’s Atlantic hurricane season, in case you didn’t know. We all watched the devastation in Houston. We read the reports, we saw the pictures. What a tragedy!

What I didn’t know until the other day was that this disastrous flooding had been predicted in the Houston area for a very long time. (See this article in the Dallas News about a report that was basically filed away and forgotten about this issue.) But because of politics or ecological concerns or the astronomical cost of fixing things, the harbingers of danger were ignored by the local government.

And now the cost of clean up and rebuilding is likely to exceed that cost by billions of dollars.

Today, we wait for Hurricane Irma to come across our area of Florida. Irma has us in her sights and we are being warned to not ignore the advice of our county and state officials. We’ve known this massive storm has been coming for days. We’ve known we are in the “cone of uncertainty.” We watch, we prepare, we wait. When the storm hits, hopefully we’ll be ready.

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Watching Hurricane Charley in 2004

2017 has been a very stormy year for our family, and they have been storms that we had no idea were coming. We didn’t have emotional doppler radar scanning out weeks and months in advance, warning us that we’re going to be hit. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe then we could be ready.

But the fact is, life doesn’t work that way, so we need to be prepared for life’s storms even when things are going well.

Am I anchored on the Word of God? Do I know who God is? Do I trust Him to be good and loving and merciful?

“Through every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” These words were penned by Edward Mote back in the early 1800s. That means we have to have an anchor, number 1, and we have to keep it deployed, number 2. Sometimes I see kids riding bicycles with their helmets hanging from the handlebars. Dude, that helmet won’t do you any good there. An anchor held by a person or a job or money will not save us in a storm.

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Bent but not broken. A pine tree in a nearby neighborhood after Hurricane Charley came through in 2004

If our anchor is not held by our strong and mighty God, we will be tossed by those stormy gales.

In preparation for Hurricane Irma, we are taking down loose fence panels, trimming dead wood from nearby trees, picking up everything that is not tied down in our yard. What’s not anchored becomes a potential projectile.

It’s easy to find those fly-away objects in a yard; it’s not so easy in a life. What might look stable could end up being the very thing that overwhelms you.

We are also filling containers with water and eating any perishable foods that might not survive an extended power outage. These are all normal preparations when you know a storm is coming.

Feeding from God’s Word, drinking from the Living Water on a daily basis helps prepare our hearts for whatever storms might come.

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Morgan and Sunny stand by the only loss our home suffered from Hurricane Charley in 2004.

So, do we just live in constant fear of future upheaval? No, that doesn’t show faith. But being prepared for the inevitable helps.

Ground yourself in God’s Word.

Listen to wise counsel.

Ask for help when you need it.

Ride out the storm in community. In other words, make sure you have good friends praying for you.

When Irma rushes by us in all her fury this weekend, we will rest in the assurance that we have done all we can to prepare. And then we trust in Jesus, that beautiful, solid Rock, for the results.

Enjoy this old Benny Hester version of the hymn containing the words mentioned above.