Tag Archive | Orlando

Longing For Lake Tahoe

FullSizeRender-1I have been battling with discontentment this summer. Last summer I got to spend several weeks driving to and from Colorado and hanging out in the mountains. This summer, with sweltering temperatures and cloying humidity, I sit at home, not wanting to venture out past 9 in the morning.

Maybe some people like living in Florida in the summer; I would not be one of them.

And yet that’s where I’ve been for the past 24 summers, with small breaks here and there to be elsewhere.

I long for elsewhere. I long for Lake Tahoe.

When I was younger, my family and I spent many a joyous vacation at Lake Tahoe. Whenever I smell pine trees I fly back in time to that log cabin nestled in the woods that we shared for oh-too-brief vacations with my grandparents. Version 4

The beauty of the mountains, the coolness of the water, the serenity of the lake.

It was idyllic. But I was a child and didn’t have the responsibility of cooking or packing or planning. I just got to enjoy the scenery.

Why, Lord? Why Orlando?

I guess it’s not all about me.

But I long for the beauty, the outdoorsyness, the cool nights sitting on the porch. How did I get to be this person who doesn’t even want to venture outside?

Version 3Would it have felt better if I didn’t have Facebook shoving it in my face that so many other friends get to be elsewhere?

Pennsylvania. Paris. Milan. Minnesota. Washington. Wales.

I see the photos. They draw me.

But here I sit watching another afternoon thunderstorm. Remembering that God’s grace reaches Orlando, too. Maybe my city needed me this summer as it bent under a terrorist attack.

Maybe my daughter needed me as she took another step closer to maturity. As she finally got her braces off. As she struggled with the wherewithal to follow through on her desires of the spring.

Maybe my middle child needed me as he toured college campuses and tried to figure out what he wants to do after graduation. Maybe he needed me to listen to his fussing about his online class, his summer reading, his hatred of math.

Maybe my eldest needed me here as he navigated a breakup with his first girlfriend. As he applied for and started another job. As he took his first online summer class for college.

I am here for a reason. I can whine about my circumstances or I can embrace the plan Version 2God has for me. In Philippians chapter 4, the Apostle Paul says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

The plenty of beautiful surroundings and the days of my youth. Being brought low to where I don’t even want to step foot outdoors through the long days of summer. I know this isn’t exactly what Paul was referring to, but it’s how I feel.

IMG_5602I can do this. I can live in Orlando for another summer. Or 2. Or 30. If this is where the Lord has me, then He will strengthen me to live in it.

And at just the right angle, the retention pond could actually look like a lake.

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When Terror Came To My Town

I live in Orlando and have for the past nearly 25 years. I can distinctly remember where I was when the attack on September 11, 2001 occurred in New York. I was shocked and appalled because this was the first terrorist attack on American soil and I watched it play out. I remember reading about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but I live far from there. I used to live in San Bernardino, so I paidP1030009 a little closer attention to that attack.

Sunday was a whole different story.

I don’t frequent the downtown area. I live about a half hour away. I had heard of The Pulse nightclub, but had never seen it before. I don’t know anyone who was killed or injured in Sunday’s massacre. But I have friends who were directly affected. And every time I open any social media app, I’m bombarded with images or words. This time, terror came to MY town.

But something hit me last night as I watched “How to Train Your Dragon 2” with my husband and daughter. If you haven’t seen the movie, the following is a spoiler, so you may want to skip a few paragraphs. In the story, Toothless, a Night Fury dragon, is held captive to a “spell” by the alpha dragon of an evil tyrant bent on destroying pretty much everyone. Toothless’ best friend, Hiccup, tries to reach him, but the hold is strong. While under this “spell,” Toothless attacks and kills Hiccup’s father, Stoic.

Understandably, the attack devastates Hiccup and he lashes out at Toothless, angry and grieved. But Hiccup’s mother tells him that she knows Toothless didn’t mean to. He was just under the control of the alpha and couldn’t do anything about it. The draw was too strong.

In the end, with love, gentleness and patience, Hiccup reminds Toothless of their love for each other: “I’m right here, Buddy. You’re my best friend.” Toothless is released from his spell and is able to help vanquish the evil one.

What does this have to do with a terrorist attack? Or a lunatic killing an innocent singer, or anyone who hates and kills and destroys?

Because, believe it or not, those who do such things are not our enemies. Omar Mateen is not our enemy. Radical Islamists are not our enemy.

Satan is our enemy. Satan has taken control of some. And Satan is in our city.

Have you heard hatred and blame spewed on blogs and Twitter in the past 4 days? That’s not Jesus speaking. That’s Satan.

In the Bible, Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples writes, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).

Omar Mateen was devoured by Satan. Like Toothless, he had no choice but to do what he did because he had allowed hate to fill his heart. Those who have hate filling their hearts can do nothing but evil. Make no mistake, I believe Mateen is responsible for his choices, and he has lost all hope of redemption because he is dead.

But for all who still have breath in their bodies, there is hope. Hope that good will overcome evil, but only if they put off all evil in their hearts. Do not, I beg you, give Satan a foothold by listening to his lies and perpetuating them.

Do Christians hate gays? No. But Satan does. Satan hates everyone.

The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy. Sound familiar? But Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Choose life. Tell Satan he can’t have your city. How do you do that? By living like Jesus. Serving, loving, valuing life.

Oh, and I’ve read the last chapter of the Book.

Satan loses. Jesus wins.