To My Child, With Love

Christmas Letter

Dear Child,

I want to apologize to you. You see I am guilty of something I thought I would never do. I am a bit ashamed of what I have become and I hope you can look passed my faults and forgive me. I never meant to do it, and I never meant to hurt you.

I’m sorry I grew up and lost most of my wonder and excitement for the season. I’m sorry I let my lack of time, money and nostalgia allow me to become bitter, hassled and overwhelmed. I’m sorry I started looking at Christmas as a chore instead of what it really is- an entire season to celebrate!

And that is what I see when I look at you! To you it’s not about stressing over the presents, getting frustrated hanging the lights, and trying to find time for all the parties. To you it’s not about the rush and the noise. I can honestly see in you that Christmas is a feeling in your heart. I can read it on your face. I can see it in your smile and the twinkle in your eye. You glow with the love of the Christmas season and it’s because you take such delight in the little things. You remember the real reason we’re celebrating.

Won’t you share some of that with me? Won’t you teach me how to enjoy the season again?

Teach me how you treasure each ornament, even the broken ones. Teach me how you enjoy the lights, even the misplaced ones. Teach me how to dream again, even for the impossible. Won’t you, sweet child of mine?

I want what you have! I want that glow. The fire in your eyes. I want to get excited over Santa and all the traditions that go with him. I want to embrace the cold weather with overflowing cups of hot chocolate. I want to take more time for snuggling on the couch and dreaming with you than I take to shop for things that don’t matter. I want to show the world how much Christmas means to me! I’m tired of just going through the motions. I want to experience the season with the utmost joy and true peace.

Thank you, sweet, beautiful, Lucy for lighting the spark that I hope will fuel the fire for the best Christmas we’ve ever had!

 

 

 

And That Has Made All The Difference

Inside is one of Alabama's best cheeseburgers. In the middle of Nowhere, Alabama.
Inside is one of Alabama’s best cheeseburgers. In the middle of Nowhere, Alabama.

I love my dad. I know that’s a pretty generic statement. Most people love their dad’s. But mine has a really subtle way of continually teaching me, even though I’m not a school girl anymore. He often catches me by surprise with his wisdom and the things he says.

My dad is a self-proclaimed purist. He loves keeping things simple and appreciates even the smallest gestures. Yet, he is brilliant. He is constantly thinking. In fact, that is one of his favorite hobbies. He will spend hours in his study working out a math problem in his head or contemplating theories of physics. I didn’t get that gene but I love being with my dad. We love to make each other laugh and he makes me feel happy to be me.

When he invited me on a little road trip with my mom and my girls today I knew I was in for a treat.

In fact when I climbed into the car he said, “Bem, you’re in for a treat!” He still uses an abbreviated version of my childhood nickname.

“How’s that?” I asked with the least bit of apprehension. I wouldn’t expect anything else from this man.

“You get the scenic route today!”

Of course I got the scenic route. My father loves back roads America. He’s always taking the road less travelled. I have so many fond  memories of gravel road adventures and the places we ended up because we took them. Gorgeous roaring rivers. Breathtaking mountaintop views. Deep secluded valleys.

Today our quest was to find what has been nominated by the Huntsville Times as Alabama’s Best Cheeseburger.  Now, one might not expect to find the state’s best cheeseburger at the end of a windy road, but I was up for the challenge. Besides, it’s more about the journey than the destination.

“We need to get there early to beat the lunch crowd.” Never one to like a busy restaurant, my dad kept contemplating the time and the best strategy to attack this joint. But we were in the middle of nowhere and so I said,

“Um, dad. I have a really hard time believing that because we are having to take this road to get to the place that we should really expect a crowd.”

He actually belly laughed at that statement. So I went back to trusting him.

We rounded the last curve and he exclaimed “Ah! Good! It’s not so crowded today!”

And I seriously asked him where the building was that he was referring. All I could see was a shack on the side of the road.

“Right there! In front of us.”

The building we had travelled nearly 45 minutes for was no bigger than a gas station. In fact it was a gas station!

Alabama’s best cheeseburger? Ok.

The place, though not crowded, had a line of people waiting to place their orders. I love my burgers with everything on them. My dad, the purist, hates onions and pickles and only wants a simple burger. We placed our orders and found a table near the back. When our food arrived the first bite really did explain its prestigious nomination. We were busy with our elbows deep in french fries and licking grease from our fingers when I teased my dad that he needed onions and pickles to make his burger truly the best.

And that’s where my lesson of the day came.

“No thanks! I do not do as the world does.”

No, Daddy. You don’t. And I am so thankful for that.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

 

 

 

 

When You Love Someone

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There were so many times when I was a kid that I messed up. I was defiant, disobedient and untrustworthy. I wanted to do things my own way. Really, I was just trying to see what I could get away with. Pushing those boundaries.

I can remember times when I had really done wrong and my mom would want to ‘talk’ to me. Oh, how I dreaded that! I absolutely hated it. I wanted to do anything but ‘talk’ about anything. Especially to my mom. I would have much rather sulked in my room by myself and drowned my sorrows in my music.

But she was pretty relentless about it. And looking back I realize that there really wasn’t that much ‘talking’ going on at all. She would just sit on my bed while I cried into my pillow and willed her away. The longer she sat there, the angrier I would become. I can remember screaming in my head for her to just leave me alone!

She never did. Because she loves me.

Well, it’s funny how life tends to catch up to you when you least expect it. Recently my tween-age daughter got into trouble for lying to myself and my husband. We punished her and sent her to bed. Of course, because she’s a good kid, she was crying and remorseful. It hurt me to see her that way, and well,  I just couldn’t resist the urge to go and “talk” to her. So I went into her darkened bedroom and sat on the bed.

“Go away!” She said through her tears.  That stung a little because all I wanted to do was hold her and tell her that I forgave her. I just wanted to take away her sorrow and make it alright.

I reached my hand out to her and placed it on her back and she pulled away from me. I expected that, but I still left my hand there. And like my mother, so many years before had done, I just sat there with her and wished she would forgive herself. I wished that she could see that I was there for her, always loving her even in her faults. That’s just what you do when you love someone so deeply.

Reflecting on the incident and the ones I had been through with my own mother I realized that my relationship with Jesus is much the same way. How many times have I messed up? I’ve let Him down. I’ve lied too. And I have found myself crying over what I had done. Instead of allowing him to “talk” to me, I’ve told Him to go away. I’ve ignored Him, and I have pulled away when He has reached out to touch me.

And just like a loving parent He has waited patiently for me to come back to His open arms. He already forgave me before I even asked Him for forgiveness. Because that is what you do when you love someone so deeply.

The Comfort Movement

ComfortWithin the last few months I left a job that I loved. I was a Preschool Teacher for 6 years and I loved (almost) every minute of it. It was very rewarding and fulfilling. I used to joke that I went to work to play. I was very comfortable on the floor with the children, dancing and singing silly songs. But that really was my problem.

I was comfortable. And comfortable is a dangerous place.

When you’re comfortable it’s easy to forget the rest of the world around you. The uncomfortable ones.  When you’re comfortable you can’t be growing and producing fruit. Fruit that is meant for you to give to others and inspire them to also grow. When you are comfortable it is easy to become lazy, even tired. Nothing gets done when you’re comfortable. Change can’t happen. Lives aren’t touched and you aren’t challenged.

My problem was that I didn’t know I was comfortable. It’s a challenge to teach a room full of active children. I was exhausted at the end of every day. I was teaching kids about Jesus and planting the seeds of the Gospel. I was doing God’s work.  And I was good at it. I had no plans to leave. I was content with the circumstances I was in. I was happy. I had friends at work. I really felt like I was making a difference.

But if you aren’t doing the work that God has planned for you to do, you aren’t in His will no matter how ‘good’ it seems.

It should not have confused me then, when God pricked my heart for a change and asked me to leave the classroom. I didn’t understand  the difference between content and comfortable. Content is embracing  the circumstances God hands you and trusting Him to provide for you and your journey.  Comfort means you’re perfectly happy doing nothing more tomorrow than what you did today.  God never asks us to be comfortable. And I was perfectly happy with my tomorrow being just like my today, so I began to feel restless because I was not being obedient to what God wanted me to do.

I started feeling really lost. I really began to drift from God because I loved my job. I honestly did not want to be in His will if it meant I had to leave my comfortable classroom. I was hurt that He would ask me to even consider a change. Didn’t He know how much I loved what I did? Didn’t He know how much of a difference I was making? Didn’t He understand me at all? Quitting my job meant the loss of an income. It meant giving up the stuff that I loved. It meant not seeing the people that I loved or getting the hugs from the children that I crave.

I am such an arrogant, prideful child.

So much of my time was wasted clinging to what was comfortable to me that I really became miserable. I cried. I lost sleep. I made up so many excuses. I was scared to let go and trust that God really did know what he was doing. He slammed so many doors and yet I still, in my childlike ways, tried to pry them back open.

vecchia porta di legno

I am the child that causes Him to shake His head, roll His eyes and cross His arms waiting for me to finally give up my tantrum and take His hand. I am the child that needs to know before I leave the comfort of what I am doing that I will again be comfortable with what He is asking me to do.

It wasn’t until I was finally obedient and gave my notice to quit my job that I finally found true comfort. Peace. I knew that I was doing what God wanted me to do, even though I was grieving the loss of something I loved. What I didn’t know was that God did indeed have something else for me. He gave me another job working in Preschool Ministries that challenges me and some days really stretches me to the borders of my comfort zone. But the whole journey has taught me that God isn’t just inside my comfort zone. He’s wherever I am. Wherever you are. Now I just have to learn to always trust that truth…

 

 

 

When A Child Speaks You Should Listen

Abby Faith happily freezing her tail off.
Abby Faith happily freezing her tail off.

Last week I wrote about the 10 reasons why I hate Halloween. Not much has changed. I still hate it. Those issues run deep, y’all. But I wanted to share a little story of the love I found that day. And it came from an unlikely source.

I have two daughters. Both of them are beautiful and both of them are stubborn in their own ways.  Lucy is 9 and loves shoes, clothes, jewelry and can’t wait to be old enough to wear make-up. Her sister, Abby Faith, is 12 and is most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt and couldn’t care less to even wear lip-gloss. So it surprised me how anxious she was to wear make-up on Halloween. She was actually planning to wear her Greek Goddess costume from last year which was such a relief to this costume-challenged soul. However, it was sleeveless.  And the forecast called for a freeze-warning. I seem to remember this being one of the reasons why I hate Halloween, but I digress.

She started getting her make-up on 4 hours before our church’s Fall Festival. She put the recycled dress on and was getting very excited about the night. Like every good mother I warned her over and over again about the weather. I pleaded with her to find a jacket to wear with it, or find a shirt to wear underneath it. But like every stubborn child, she swore she would be warm enough.

There comes a time when mothering with words doesn’t work any more. You have to just let them learn through consequence. So I let her be. I let her make the choice to go sleeveless in winter weather for the sake of her vanity. But since I am her mom I told her that the coat was optional. Complaining was not. If she complained once she would have to find an empty room and sit there for the rest of the festival.

We arrived and it felt like Elsa had a firm grip on the place. It was freezing! I thought to myself that my child wasn’t going to even make it three minutes without fussing about her circumstances. I was already getting angry with the anticipation of having to punish her. I already hated the holiday why did she have to make it worse? Couldn’t she just do what I asked her to do? Then we could make the best of the situation, just get some candy and go home.

I left her at her trunk-or-treat post outside and went into the building with my youngest and I mumbled to myself the whole way.  We did a few of the indoor activities and then decided to head back out to check on Abby Faith. By that time it had started to rain and the wind was really picking up. I shook my head and rolled my eyes to see my daughter standing out in the cold without any sleeves. My defenses were up as I approached her and asked if she was ok. And that is when she pierced my heart.

“Yeah,” she said with a smile. “I’m not doing this for me.”

I pulled her into my arms and wrapped her up as tight as I could.

Oh, child! How do you do that? How do you teach me so much in one little sentence?

What a humbling experience!  Here I thought I was teaching her that she should listen to me and wear the dad-gum coat. Really, the whole experience was for me. This life is not about me and what makes me comfortable. It’s not about how much I hate to carve pumpkins and shop for over-priced costumes. It’s about loving and doing for others regardless of the circumstances and finding joy within it all.

Should she have listened to me and worn the coat? Sure! But how many times have we all done something against what we really should have done and then grumbled when the outcome wasn’t in our favor? How many times have we allowed our circumstances dictate our joy?

I have done that more times than I am willing to admit.

Thank you, sweet daughter, for being an example of Love to me.

 

 

Life Is Good

BrittanyLife and death. If you are reading this you get to experience both. It’s inevitable and pretty much the only thing that we as humans all have in common. We live. We die. Hopefully somewhere in the living part we all get to experience joy, triumphs, love and acceptance. It’s that dyeing part that seems to trip us up sometimes. We all know how to live because we’re doing it. None of us alive have ever died. It’s strange. It’s mysterious. And most of us aren’t really that anxious to do it.

I hope that if you know me it is obvious that I am a Christian. As a Christian I try to live my life in the present while still fixing my eyes on my eternal destination of Heaven. That is extremely hard to do even in the best of circumstances. And it’s only by the constant seeking of my Savior’s face that I get through the tough times.

The story about Brittany Maynard was extremely troubling for me. It bothered me so much I could actually feel it in my gut. I think that must have been sorrow. Sorrow for her disregard for the sanctity of her own life and sorrow for her lack of hope for what God could do with it. I am sure that her decision was not made lightly. I am sure she considered her loved ones and gathered information to make her decision. But how sad that she didn’t trust God enough to deliver her in His perfect timing. To take matters into her own hands simply means she didn’t believe that it was possible for God to work a miracle through her.

I have lost loved ones. We all have. I’ve seen those who are the most precious to me lose their health, their independence and in some cases their mind. It’s never pretty. It’s not what God designed for us. He doesn’t want us to have to go through the sickness and pain because He loves us. It was our free will in the Garden of Eden that brought the sickness and pain upon ourselves. It was us, humans, that decided we knew better than God. It was us that got arrogant and changed the course of history. It was us that thought we had a better plan

That hasn’t worked out so well for us.

I make no secret that I am Pro-life. It is probably the one topic that I am the most passionate about. And it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized that Pro-life to me didn’t mean just my support for the unborn. It seemed awfully hypocritical for me to be so passionate about a baby’s life, but not the lives of others. Therefore, I changed my stance and I no longer support the death penalty.  I am not the sustainer and giver of life. All life is precious. Who am I that I should be allowed to judge who should live and who should die? And that goes for my own life as well. If I have truly given my life to Christ, that means I should trust Him with my every breath. Healthy or sick. Living or dying.

I pray for Brittany’s family.  I sympathize with her circumstances and I can’t imagine the emotions and the hardship. I have never been faced with a terminal diagnosis and I pray I never will. But if God  chooses that path for me, I hope I have the courage to live until He calls me home.

 

10 Reasons Why I Hate Halloween

 

Happy Halloween

Ok. So maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I really don’t like Halloween. It has nothing to do with my personal spiritual beliefs. Afterall, Christmas and Easter originated as pagan holidays too. It has more to do with well, everything about it. I’ve tried really hard to like it. My children beg for decorations of any sort around the house that might resemble Halloween. But all I can muster is a few scarecrows and natural looking pumpkins, which of course to my children don’t count. But before you discount me as a Halloween Humbug allow me to share with you my reasons I just don’t like Halloween.

 

 

 

1.Sewing Costumes

I can’t do it. Not only that, but I can’t stand the thought of doing it. I avoid Pinterest this time of year. It’s murder to my self-esteem. My mother is an amazing seamstress and she begged to teach me how to sew. But I have no patience for it and no desire ever to learn.  I am also cheap and hate to shell out mega-bucks for a cheaply made outfit my child will wear once. So I have to pray I get lucky enough to score a costume at a thrift store that is actually worth wearing. I have rules: Nothing scary, gory, or having anything to do with witches. And now that my kids are getting older; nothing too sexy. This really limits our choices.

2. Party stores or anything resembling a costume shop

These are the last resort when I strike out at the thrift store. I also sometimes think these are punishment since I never let my mom teach me how to sew. I can’t stand a crowd. They make me anxious. To throw me in a crowd of people among stacks and stacks of scary faced masks while I try to find a costume with my child that is both inexpensive and meets my criteria is a nightmare.  Of course I didn’t plan ahead and get a costume from last year’s clearance section. That would have been too easy. And heaven forbid you wear the same thing you wore last year. The only good thing that comes from shopping at one of these stores is realizing that I am not alone in my quest for a single costume that fits.

 

3. Costumes

I know. This would seem to go with reasons 1 and 2 but I really have issues with it. Why do we have to have a holiday designated to wearing masks and pretending to be something we’re not? Don’t we do that every day already?  I’m not even sure what my natural hair color is.

4.  Halloween’s success is totally reliant on the weather

Who wants to trick-or-treat in the rain? And lord help us if it’s too cold! What fairy costume has long sleeves? So then we have to go with plan ‘B’ of layering  the over-priced costume with a white turtleneck or <gasp> a jacket! And if the costume has wings you may as well just stay home and play board games.

Candy-Corn

5. Candy

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a self-proclaimed choc-o-holic but what’s the point to gathering more than we can eat? Sure, as a kid it’s fun. As a mom it’s silly. I’m sure I am sounding very much like the Scrooge of Halloween past, but all that candy causes me so much guilt. Guilt if we let it go to waste. Guilt if we eat it all. Yes, I am aware of programs where you can give it away to those in need. Ok, really? Who NEEDS candy?  Maybe we should all go around and ask our neighbors for canned goods instead.

 

6. Bad memories

One year when I was a child I went out trick-or-treating with my older brother. We went to the same house, but I got there before he did. Now, it may have been because I was so much cuter than he was, but I somehow managed to get a Butterfinger. He got an apple. He was so disappointed and I felt bad for getting something better than he did. Obviously, I have deeper issues than just a candy bar. Sorry, Brian.

 

7. Bad memories

Oh, wait. I just said that. But seriously, why would you take a child to a haunted house where they hand her a peeled grape and tell her it’s an eye-ball?!

 

8. Time Change

Halloween signals that it’s almost time to ‘fall back’ and Winter is swiftly approaching. That is all I have to say about that.

pumpkins

9.Pumpkin Carving

It’s gross. And I don’t do crafty things. So unless my children don’t mind that their pumpkins look like something a blind goat created, I have to turn this event over to their daddy.  And pumpkin carving for a person who is extremely particular about symmetry is just not an enjoyable experience. It’s just a pumpkin for Pete’s sake! Carve it and move on! Perhaps the children should just do it themselves and save us all the headache.

 

10. It’s scary

The man who stands too close behind me while I pick out my movie at the Red Box is creepy enough for me. There’s a reason why I don’t watch the news. This world is a terrifying place. Why would I want to invite it up to my porch and give it candy? I see no reason to embrace horror let alone expose it to my children. Sending them to public school is enough.

But I’ll do it all. I’ll buy the costumes and I’ll carve the pumpkins. You’ll even see me on Halloween night with a smile on my face enjoying the festivities at my church’s Fall Festival. Because, even though it’s not something I enjoy, my kids love it. I love them and sacrifice is a part of love.

Red Letter Day

RED

I love days when I don’t feel alone in this great big beautiful world. Because a lot of days, I do. I feel alone in my beliefs. I feel alone in my struggles. I feel alone as a mom, wife, daughter. It’s hard for me to grasp the big picture. And maybe I’m not really supposed to. But I want to. I want to be able to know how all the stitches come together in the quilt of life. I tend to try and get ahead of myself and ahead of what God is trying to do through me. Sometimes I get so anxious to see the masterpiece that I forget to sit and watch the Master.  It’s at these times that I begin to feel lost, frustrated and confused. Isolated. Isolation is a desperate place and that is not what was planned for us. We are designed socially, for fellowship and friendship. We are designed to love and be loved. We need to be needed. We want to be wanted.

Sometimes I just don’t feel wanted. There have been times in my life where I felt like I was so scarred and ugly that no one would want me. I’ve felt like no one could look at me and truly want to be with me. My soul would ache for true acceptance and a connection with anything that made me feel worthy of breathing.  And I’ve heard it before, “Jesus loves you! No matter what!”

But until He tells you Himself, you have a hard time believing it.

I was reading in my Bible this morning and a common passage came alive. I love it when that happens! I love how the Word comes alive sometimes for me right before my eyes!

John 17:24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began.

Jesus is asking to be with me! He wants me! I am wanted.

You are wanted.

My close friends know that it would be torture for me to go a day without music. It’s often on at work, always at home, and I have no problems singing in the car. If music isn’t turned on from the radio, it’s on in my head. It just reaches my soul like nothing else can. So today when I got a new CD to add to my already extensive library I immediately opened it up and popped it in the player. (No comments about how this is already old-fashioned). I was in the car with my girls listening when again the Spirit whispered to me through the lyrics;

“He calls me ‘chosen,’ ‘free,’ ‘forgiven,’ …’wanted.’”

Those words settled on my heart and nestled their way inside. I didn’t even know I needed to hear it today. And that is what I love about my heavenly Daddy. He knew. He knows everything about me. Every single screw up. Every single thought. Every single urge to wander. And He still wants me.

This truth leaves me with nothing more I can say.  When I can’t speak, I can sing. So check out this song that spoke directly to me today!

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Generation Gap?

MomWhen I was a girl I never wanted to be like my mom. I had dreams of becoming a news anchor or a journalist. I had high-powered ambitions and no time to think about the simple things in life. I wanted to go to college in New York City and leave the South to it’s own devices. No time for mint julep on the front porch for this girl. No way! I wanted modern. I wanted sophisticated. I wanted freedom.

Then I had my first child and it was like God changed not only my life, but the whole world. Suddenly the world was too busy, too strange, and too scary. Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to head home to my Mama’s house and have her share all her wisdom with me. Suddenly I was desperate for the simplicity that seemed to set my mother apart.

The modern mother is often frazzled, worn out and overwhelmed with doubt. She is constantly worried that she is screwing up her child, scarring them for life with inorganic food, and setting them up for utter failure in the real world.

I am a modern mother.

The world is saturated with innovation and technology to make our lives simple. Yet we complicate things with the doubt that rattles through our brains and the guilt that bombards our hearts.

Yesterday I woke up feeling more tired than I did when I had gone to bed the night before. There was no explanation for my lack of energy, except that I am a mom. So I gave myself the morning off. I didn’t make my girls their typical made-with-love lunch. I made them buy a lunch at school. And I felt bad that I had been a little selfish. I’m sure they will need years of counseling because I chose not to spread two pieces of bread with peanut butter one morning.

That seems ridiculous because it is.

I celebrated my mom’s birthday with her this week. It is such a privilege to live close enough to her that I can do that. But it got me thinking about who she was when I was growing up and who she is now. And the truth is she’s still the same woman she’s always been, she just doesn’t have to deal with me on a daily basis. Surely she felt the same guilt and doubt. She’s a mom, after all.

But, I don’t remember a single day when I had to have a hot lunch because she was too tired to make one for me. I don’t remember not getting what I really wanted for my birthday ever, although I am sure I did. And I don’t remember her ever taking just 5 more minutes by herself one afternoon to try to regain her sanity.

I remember the times she packed me notes in my lunch (I still have a few of them). And I remember the time I wanted a 3D lamb cake for my birthday and the stupid thing’s head kept falling off. She tried everything in her super-mom power to make that thing stick. It was a disaster. But I remember how she loved me enough to try to make it work. I remember the way she would wrap our gifts for Christmas with such care and that she was always at my bedside when I was sick. I remember her taking me to church every Sunday and teaching me the Lord’s prayer.

It’s those most important things that I remember.                                           Cake

So, when I called her the morning of her birthday and asked, “Are you old now?” I could feel her smile through the phone when she answered youthfully, “Nope!” I smiled back and made myself a mental note that I need to more like my mom.

Shelter in the Storm

StormsGrowing up in the South I learned three things to be true: Jesus loves me, chicken is best served fried, and thunderstorms are a multi-media event. This week’s event began last week when I was at the grocery store and the bagger warned me of the storm coming in three days. It’s a culture. We talk about the weather before it happens, TV shows are canceled so we can all stay glued to the radar, and for days after we all survive we talk about where we were. Sometimes it truly is a frightening experience.

Most recently I was caught in a storm that seemed to come from nowhere. I should not have been taken by surprise. After all, the bagger boy said it would be like this. But I was driving home from music lessons with my youngest daughter when the bottom of heaven opened up. And let me tell you, heaven is a powerful place! My car felt like it would be picked up and slammed against the mountain that I just drove over and I couldn’t see to drive because the rain was coming down in torrents. I was panicked because my eldest daughter was still at home alone and the phone had cut out when she called to tell me she was scared. I had no shelter to pull over into safety and I truly was frightened. I lost my focus of who my protector is and I’m pretty sure I even said a curse word. Not my finest moment.

The next day I was talking with a friend of mine and we were comparing storm stories. Because, that’s what you do in the South. She said she was leaving work when it hit and was in her car. Fortunately for her, she had the luxury of waiting part of it out under the building’s awning. She said, “It didn’t seem that bad from under there, so I decided to try to drive home.” Famous last words.

But they struck me. Because so many times I have been under the protective awning of Jesus and thought, “Hmm, things don’t look so bad from under here. I think I will wander off on my own for a while. I can handle this alone.” But that’s when I am most vulnerable, when the most damage can be done. That’s when Jesus shakes His head at me as I walk away waving at Him over my shoulder lost in my own oblivion. Again. And I can’t ever hear him begging me not to leave over the crashing thunder. So I wander. It’s not until I find myself unable to stand against the wind that I turn around and start heading for that awning again.

Oh, that I would never leave! I could save myself so much heartache if I would never leave from under the shelter of my Savior. But He never leaves me. And he never will. He’s still under that awning waiting for me to return. He’s still there ready to heal my storm damaged heart and ask me again to stay close to Him. What a beautiful truth!
I had to ask forgiveness from my daughter for cursing that day. I regained my focus on my protector and we both prayed us safely home. I’m not proud of how I handled myself outside of the awning. But I am thankful for the reminder that I have that choice and thankful for his promise never to leave me even in the middle of my strongest storms.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” Psalm 73:28