Swimming against the tide…

The year was 2002.  It was a beautiful beach day at the beginning of our vacation.  We were with two other beach-chairsfamilies that we vacationed with each year.  Each family had two children and they were all close in age to each other which made it convenient. We rented an awesome beach house together.  Having six kids running around at the beach was a little hard to keep track of at times.  We were constantly scanning to make sure all kids were accounted for…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Usually they were in different configurations…two looking for sand crabs by the water’s edge, two building sand castles, two sun bathing, etc. but it was always the same scan…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

At one point during that morning, my son was out in the ocean getting ready to ride in some waves with my friend’s daughter. At the time, they were in water about knee-deep.  As the waves came towards them, they would rise with it doing the doggie paddle with their little cheeks puffed up as if to help them float.  I happened wavesto notice, however, that at the end of one of the rises it seemed they were unable to touch.  I watched as I saw panic enter their eyes as indeed they were in water over their heads.  I alerted my husband that they were in trouble. He and one of the other dads immediately ran into the water. Unfortunately they didn’t take floating devices with them and it wasn’t long before I could tell that the guys were also in trouble.  They were caught in a riptide, my husband and son being out the furthest.

Because it was the end of August, and the college kids were back at school, our section of the beach did not have a life guard.  They were spread out since they were short-staffed and the closest one was about 3 blocks away.  My friend starting running up the beach towards the life guard frantically waving her arms to get his attention.  It was her daughter that was in the water with my son.  Luckily she did not get pulled out as far and she and the dad who went out to help her got to shore pretty quickly.  That was not the case for my husband and son.

I couldn’t believe what was happening.  Every fiber in my body wanted to run into the water to help them, but I downloadknew it was useIess…they were out too far. There was nothing I could do…but pray.  I swear it was like I had laser beams coming from my eyes as I focused my prayers on them.  I could not take my eyes off of them and I just got the sense to NOT STOP PRAYING.

I could tell that my son was panicking.  His instinct was to swim toward shore to known safety.  However, that is the worst thing you can do if you are caught in a riptide.  My husband knew that they had to swim parallel to the shoreline to get out.  It didn’t take them long to get tired and at one point my husband tried to get my son to float on his chest so that he could paddle them both to safety.  It just wasn’t working.  Then it happened.  My son went under and he didn’t come back up.  I saw my husband go under after him and he lifted him up and tried pushing him sideways to get out of the current.  This continued for a bit.  And as my husband went under, my son came up, and as my husband came up, my son went under. I kept praying for their heads return to the surface.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my husband shared with me that as my son came out of the water coughing and spitting he would call out, “God please help us!  God save us!”  He was 10 years old and still believed in the miracles of God. He still believed that God loved him and would save him.  And as he was calling out to God from the ocean, I was calling out to God from the shore.  It was as if time had stood still, and I could tell that they were running out of energy.

I learned later that my husband reached a point where he had nothing left in him.  He just knew he was going to drown.  He just wanted to try to save his son.  So with the last bit of strength he had left, he went under one last time and pushed our son sideways.  And it worked!  The next wave that came brought him in to shore towards me…he was out of the current.  My husband says he blacked out after that and doesn’t remember anything.  He just remembers coming to with people telling him he was in shallow water and could touch.  He has no idea how he got there. We believe it was a miracle.  The life guard got to him just as he was in knee-deep water and helped him the rest of the way out.  When he got to the shoreline, he collapsed onto the sand from sheer exhaustion.

Have you ever felt like you’re swimming against the tide?  Does it seem like you know where you are supposed to go or what you are supposed to do, but you just can’t seem to get there?  Do you question God during these times? It’s ok to question.  Maybe you are right about where God is taking you…you just need to take a different path.  Stop swimming so hard against the tide.  Look at your situation with a different view.  Maybe God needs to teach you something before you reach your destination, or maybe there is someone you are supposed to take along with you and they aren’t ready yet.  Luckily God sees the big picture.  We can lean into Him and trust this journey that He has us on.  Take some time to hear His voice.  Ride the swell of the wave and enjoy the view.

pathWhen I first learned that my son was gay, my prayer life was fighting against the tide.  I thought the final destination that God wanted was for him to change.  So, that is what I prayed for…it’s what my son prayed for too.  But we couldn’t get to the shore.  I started to listen for God’s voice and began asking Him to help me to accept this new journey.  I did the opposite of the obvious with His guidance and started swimming parallel to the shore.  And along that process I learned that it’s really all about love.

Because love matters…

 

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It’s a jungle out there…

house on Letitia AveI grew up in the city.  It wasn’t the concrete jungle part of the city though.  I lived in a single family house with a decent sized yard with an above ground pool.  This was my house…not sure why it had two-tone siding…it was like that when my parents bought it and we just kept it that way (smile).

I can’t speak about neighborhoods outside of the city, but the guys in our little neighborhood were very territorial.  There were several little neighborhoods around ours, and they all seemed to be rivals of each other. Think of your sport team’s nemesis and that is what it was like. Unfortunately, this lead to some neighborhood fights.  There was one in particular that was really bad.  I’m not sure why this fight started, but I can tell you I’m sure it was over something trivial.  The guys were preparing for the fight by gathering chains and other items that could be used as weapons. It was like something out of The Outsiders movie (or book).  When I outsidersrealized how bad it was going to be, I started to head home.  I guess the police got wind of the fight because as I was making my way home I almost got hit by a police car…and I was on the sidewalk!  Things were chaotic and crazy!

That’s pretty much how I feel about all the bickering that goes on fueled by the media.  Crazy!  The latest being the coverage of Michael Sam and his being the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft.  Immediately I saw posts complaining about the acceptance of Sam, and the negative comments that Tim Tebow received previously for being Christian. People get so tied up in knots about this stuff, and they spew words that can hurt as much as fists and chains.

Some people will say they are just expressing their opinion…it doesn’t mean that they hate any specific group of people.  They wonder why people get so defensive or angry about it.  Well lets pick on smokers for a moment.  If someone told you every time you smoked a cigarette, that you were killing the precious body that God gave to you, I have a feeling that it would get really old eventually. How about every time you lit up, someone quoted the verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.  You may get a little defensive about it over time.  And smoking is something that you do…it’s not who you are…you can become a non-smoker.

Gay people are bullied, discriminated against, sometimes beat up, and are told over and over again that they are an abomination to God and are going to hell.  Daily.  Of course eventually they can’t take it and they get angry or defensive…or both.  So when people post articles like the ones out there now about Michael Sam, it feels like a personal attack.  Being gay is who they are not something that they do.

I’ve read some things recently that Christians feel that circumstances such as the differences in how the public reacted to Sam and Tebow mean that Christians are being persecuted.  I think it is crazy to feel that way from “some” people’s opinions.  I think things get blown so out of proportion.  Like the guys in my neighborhood that would fight over trivial things.  I’m a Christian.  I don’t feel like I’m being persecuted.  Do some speak out against my beliefs?  Of course.  But I’m not going to whine about that.  Just ask Meriam Ibrahim what it’s like to be persecuted for faith.  She is pregnant, sitting in a jail, and sentenced to death because she won’t renounce her faith.  That is persecution.

We are told that being Christian at times will not be easy.  It is our choice to be a Christian.  I can tell you that being gay is not easy.  People do not choose to be gay.  They can choose to be celibate, but they are still gay.  And I can tell you that they face persecution almost daily because of it.

Jesus’ words remind me that life on this earth won’t always be easy:

John 16:33 (NLT)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

MacLaren’s Expositions has this to say about the above verse:

So end these wonderful discourses, and so ends our Lord’s teaching before His passion. He gathers up in one mighty word the total intention of these sweet and deep sayings which we have so long been pondering together. He sketches in broad outline the continual characteristics of the disciples’ life, and closes all with the strangest shout of victory, even at the moment when He seems most utterly defeated.

We shall, I think, best lay on our hearts and minds the spirit and purpose of these words if we simply follow their course, and look at the three things which Christ emphasizes here: the inward peace which is His purpose for us; the outward tribulation which is our certain fate; and the courageous confidence which Christ’s victory for us gives.

I like the statement, “closes all with the strangest shout of victory, even at the moment when He seems most utterly defeated.”  I get frustrated too by comments that people make about Christians, as well as, comments that people make about gay people.  I just remind myself that Jesus has this.  He is victorious.  I don’t need to argue. I’m not saying that we should all stick our head in the sand, but I will say that we need to educate ourselves fully before we become a squeaky wheel about any topic.

I found these this week.  I think they speak into this issue and I love what they all have to say:

Remember to love each other…because love matters.

Love never fails…

Well…I am feeling quite under the weather this week.  Good ole’ spring time cold.  My prayer time has also been focused on other things lately so I haven’t really talked to God about a post for this week.  I did, however, come across this gem during one of my devotionals…and well…you know how I feel about love:

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

New Living Translation (NLT)

Love Is the Greatest

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

 

No matter how discouraged I get with the negative comments that I see day in and day out.  No matter how much I question if I am doing the right thing…I know that love never fails.  love never fails

Without love, I am a noisy gong, I am nothing, I gain nothing.  So I choose to love…no matter what…because love matters.

 

 

 

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Driving through the storm…

The year was 2004.  Hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest hurricane during the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season was heading right for Florida…and so was I. The trip had been planned for a couple of weeks.  I had taken the time off work, gotten my mother-in-law set up to come stay with my husband and kids so she could get them to school, and my sister made arrangements to join me so I didn’t have to make the drive alone. It was a 950 mile trip.

At the time, I had been dealing with an illness for 10 years.  I had seen many doctors, but wasn’t getting any answers.  My father was living in Florida and found a really good doctor there.  During a visit with my dad in 2000, I made arrangements to see this doctor and he was very helpful.  The trip in 2004 was to see that doctor again.  He had some ideas to help with some of my latest symptoms.  One of which was a fever.  I woke up one day with a 103 temperature for no apparent reason.  I went to the doctor and had lots of tests, but nothing showed up.  At the time of this trip, I had that fever every day for a year at various degrees.  When you have a fever, you feel pretty lousy.  And this particular fever did not respond to medication.  I was desperate.  So driving to Florida was really not a big deal for me.  Everything was in place.  At first it seemed like hurricane Jeanne was going to cooperate and miss Florida, but in the final moments before the trip, the storm changed course and headed towards Florida again.  jeanne

I didn’t care.  I wanted to feel better and was willing to do whatever it took. My sister was on board as well.  Our plan was to call my dad as we entered each state (there were 5 in all), and he would check on the storm and tell us whether we should continue on our journey.  Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and dad said to keep going.  When we hit state number four, Georgia, we could feel the wind picking up, but Dad said we could make it.  We made it through Georgia and as we entered Florida it was clear that things were getting rough.  As we entered the state, the first thing we were greeted with was one of the big road signs torn out of the ground, twisted up on the side of the road.  There was also a row of trees that were completely missing their tops.  Did I mention that my sister is afraid of storms??  From the passenger seat, the words, “Oh my!” were repeated over and over again…each time with more enthusiasm and fear than the last.  We called dad and he said he thought we could still make it to his house.  He was 3 hours away.

Midwest StormsAt this point, the sky was very ominous.  It looked like it was split in two…the top was black and the bottom section was white.  My sister was fidgeting in her seat looking back and forth at the sky.  The question she would ask over and over again was, “Is that a funnel cloud?!”  Over and over my answer was “Nope.”  I have to admit…I was watching that sky like a hawk.  Little tufts of black kept dipping down into the white section of the sky.  I didn’t tell her what I was thinking, but it was basically, “No that’s not a funnel cloud, but it’s the beginnings of one.” And then it happened…I looked over to my left and I watched as one of those little tufts turned into a tornado.  It was just a few feet away from us.  We were just a few exits away from my dad’s so I floored it.  When we took the exit, we saw more damage from the wind. Traffic lights were down in the road and I had to weave around the debris.  We made it safe and sound to my dads. The storm hadn’t hit land yet, but when it did I remember thinking, “What in the world did I get myself into??” The winds were incredible.  They made the glass patio doors bow almost like curtains blowing in the wind.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  We could hear transformers blowing up all around us.  It was a long night, but we survived.

Driving through any storms in your life lately?  Are you letting your heavenly Father guide your path?  He can see the big picture.  He knows what path the storm is going to take.  He will wave you on, or block your path.  But how will you know what He wants you to do?  It takes knowing Him.  It takes having a personal relationship with Him. He knows you intimately and loves you.  He wants you to take the time to know Him.  If you do, you will hear His voice guide you through the storm.  My dad told me to keep coming because he knew what I could handle.  God knows what you can handle to…if you have Him with you in the storm.

I found this on FB this week and it reminded me of this adventure.  I think there is a lot of truth in it.  I like it You-are-a-strong-person-who-has-weathered-the-stormbecause it is a great reminder to me.  That fever I mentioned. I had it everyday for 5 years.  It left as mysteriously as it came.  It comes back occasionally, but it doesn’t last as long…thank goodness.  But honestly when it does come back…I don’t know whether it will last another 5 years or more.  I have to trust God to give me the strength I need to deal with it.  No matter what the duration.  I have weathered some storms, but I still love to dance in the rain…I do a little singing too (smile).  I hope you trust God to get you through your storms.

He wants to be there for you because He loves you…and love matters.

 

 

 

 

 

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