Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Stones to Face the Giants

Stones at Anau, Turkmenistan            June 2007

1 Samuel 17:40 NIV
"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine."

The first lines of Robert Frost's poem, "Birches" are:

"When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.”

This passage is enough to teach students about Blank Verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter.

My problem is I can't count. I try to place the unstressed and stressed marks over syllables, but each successive class period challenges my brain to count to five. 

The last class of the day is always tough not only for me, but also for the students as our energy levels are low. It’s no wonder the worst display of my mathematical skills was during this class as I helped three girls explicate "Mending Wall." 

I decided I would link the word "pentameter" to "pentagon," so they could remember it meant "five."

I began to draw a pentagon on a piece of paper. Three heads leaned over me as I drew. I explained the concept and counted the sides of the shape as I numbered them, "One, two, three, four, five...six?"

The girls howled in laughter. One explained, "You need to make it like a triangle with an extra side."

I tried again. I drew a triangle, added another side, and saw them rolling backwards in their desks laughing at my twisted square.

Finally, one of the girls rescued me by drawing a five-sided shape and numbering it for me. By now, I was snorting, laughing, and leaning onto the side of one of the girls as I tried to regain my composure.

One of my students exclaimed on her way out the door today, "Yay! I finally understood a poem!" 

I hope today I gave them at least five stones to throw at the state test they will face in two weeks.
Dear Lord, thank you for laughter and learning.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thoughts

Crossing the Railroad Tracks onto East Main Street         
Farmersburg, Indiana    April 2010

1 Thessalonians 3:6
"But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you."

As a child, I looked forward to trips from my home in Cincinnati to visit my dad’s parents in Farmersburg, Indiana.

My grandparents lived in a small, white, clapboard house next to the church, which was situated on a corner lot on Main Street.

My Aunt Thelma, Uncle Charles, and their children, who lived in Terre Haute, would visit us. Sometimes the rest of my aunts, uncles and cousins from around the country would join us for reunions.

The house is long burned down now, and only a faint outline of a driveway indicates a house once stood there, but my memories of that time period are strong.

In the churchyard next to our grandparents’ house, my brother, sister, cousins, and I played hide and seek, tag, and any other games we invented.

A favorite game was racing to the train when it headed south through town from Terre Haute toward Sullivan County.

As soon as the train whistle bellowed, we'd drop whatever we were doing, run two blocks from the house to the railroad tracks as fast as we could trying to be the first one to wave to the engineer.

We'd holler at each other all the way:  No fair! You're cutting me off. Hey! You tried to trip me--watch out, I was ahead of you.  Ha, ha!  I'm winning! 

Eventually we’d all arrive at the tracks to wave at the engineer and wait out the cars to wave at the man in the caboose.

I have happy memories of waving to the mysterious men who rode the trains. Although they were fleeting strangers, they looked as happy to see us children as we were to see them.
Dear Lord, thank you for all the people in our lives who bring us pleasant memories.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Wallet, A Phone, A Gun, and GOD

Heron Flying over a Savannah, Georgia, Pond

Isaiah 40:31
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

"Just got mugged. Wallet and phone stolen. I'm perfectly fine, just upset at the amount of work I'm going to have to do to get it all fixed." 

I grew faint as I read my son’s post on Facebook. Panic flowed over me, and I began to shake with nerves about Russell’s condition.

Even though I knew his phone was stolen I wrote, "Call us cause I don't know how to contact you!"

I wrote again: "CALL ASAP."

As I calmed down and realized he couldn't call, I waited for a text from him.

Then it dawned on me he could be hurt: "Are you hurt?"  

I waited impatiently for a reply.

Finally the lines of communication opened, and we chatted online. The thief took $30, a money card with $6 on it, his driver's license and his social security card.

When Russell's roommate, Caleb, arrived home from work, he called home.

His father bragged about how well he had conducted himself under the stress of the situation then handed the phone to me, where I asked the question.

"Did he have a gun?"

"He sure did. He said this wasn't a joke and to give him everything I had."

"Russell, you had angels around you tonight! God watched over you, you realize that, don't you?"


He and Caleb are laughing now at the situation and putting emotional distance between it and themselves. They’ve had other problems in their apartment complex, and this incident signals one more reason to relocate.

On an ironic note, the mugger left Russell the dinner he had just bought after getting off from work.  Caleb and I tease Russell that he could have offered him some dinner. I’m beginning to laugh again. What a surprise and relief.
Dear Lord, my hope and strength is in you each day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barbie Roller Skates

Atlantic Ocean        April 2010

James 1:6 NIV
"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

My husband, John, and I drove home with our four-year-old daughter, Allison, after a day trip. The clear autumn night sparkled with stars. To entertain her on the trip, I taught her "Star Light, Star Bright".

As soon as we arrived home, Allison stood outside our house, looked up at the first star she saw, closed her eyes, and spoke with unwavering faith:

Star Light, Star Bright
First Star I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.

She spoke it perfectly. I was proud of her. However, I stopped dead in my tracks when she immediately plopped down on the walk still looking up at the heavens. 

"Allie, what’re you doing? Let's go inside where it's warm." I urged.

"Not until I get my wish," she answered with innocent eyes.

John doubled over in laughter.

Oh no! She believed with the heart of a child. What was I going to do?

"Uh--Allison, what did you wish for?"

"Barbie roller skates."

Good grief! Of course it can't be play dough! It's ten o'clock and Wal-Mart is my only option. She can't stay outside for an hour while I try to fix this.

I explain the "addendum to the star wish."  She'd have to wait until tomorrow--like getting money from the tooth fairy. She accepted that condition and went inside to bed.

I prayed for guidance as I drove to the store, but when I got there, I couldn’t find Barbie roller skates.

However, in the morning, Allison woke up delighted to discover a new Barbie doll beside her in bed with a skateboard as an accessory.
Lord, help me pray with the faith of a child, who sincerely believes her prayers are heard and will be answered.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Marinating a Relationship

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup     November 26, 2010

1 Kings 6:38 NIV
"In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it."

Solomon took seven years to build the temple just the way he wanted it, but I don't have seven years to build a relationship with my exchange student, Teona. She returns to the Republic of Georgia in June. I only have seven months to get to know her.

We have had difficulty building a relationship due to our schedules. She is a full time student in one school system, and I teach in another. However, Thanksgiving break has given us the perfect opportunity to collaborate together on a joint project. Today, she and I made vegetable beef soup.

First, we had to prepare the marinade for the beef.

"Teona, take those bottles of barbeque sauce and pour them into the pan while I chop up the garlic and onion."

"How much sauce?"

"All of it"

She worked on her side of the kitchen, coming for help as needed.  Then I showed her how to slice the beef into smaller portions to add to the marinade.

As the beef mixture reduced, we sampled it. Teona's face lit up in joy. "Oh, I didn't know this would taste so awesome!"

"You didn't think I was a good cook?" I laugh.

I keep an eye on the beef as it simmers with mushrooms, onions, garlic, sauces, and local honey for sweetening, while Teona tackles the job I hate: peeling and chopping the turnips and potatoes. We add additional fresh and frozen vegetables to the soup.

As we work, she tells me about her mother, her home, her friends, and a boy from her exchange organization. We get closer to each other today.

Building our relationship has been like making this soup. It has taken effort, but if we work together, we can create something we will be proud of by June.
Dear Lord, help me make the most of my time with those around me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Traditions

Rye, New York             October 2010

1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV
"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name."

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year, is a time for family and friends to gather round our table to thank God for the blessings of the year.

As a child, I remember the house overflowing with family and friends. Mom and dad prepared two tables: the adults' and kids’. As the eldest child, I never felt like I belonged at the kids' table, yet there I sat.

Once everyone was stuffed on turkey dinner, the spotlight turned on my dad.  He was the consummate storyteller. His most famous story grew like a "fish tale" each year and originated from an event from his childhood when he lived on a farm south of Terre Haute, Indiana.

He would begin, "Kids, thirty-five years ago today, your grandfather found a dead man in the woods."

"A dead man, dad?"

"Yes.  He’d been hunting across from the old farm next to Second Prairie Creek church and found a dead man."

"Who was it, dad?" we'd ask on cue.

"Well, rumor is, he was a member of Al Capone's gang in Chicago, who fell out of favor with Capone. Capone had him murdered, and his body was dumped in the woods by us."

By now the story has reached mythic levels. While this part of the story is possible, it’s highly unlikely; however, it makes for an interesting family story around the dinner table every Thanksgiving. We look forward to hearing dad tell it as much as he enjoys telling it to us.

Since dad died in 1992, we’ve all tried to repeat this story and have failed to capture the subtle nuances of it. Dad told it with a flair we lack. It's not the same story.

In my house, Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks, sharing family stories, and loving each other. Past times and family members who have passed away are remembered, while new memories are created with our children.
Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Climbing the Dune

Dungeness Ruins    Cumberland Island, Georgia 2005

Psalms 56:3 NIV
"When I am afraid, I will trust in you."

In July 2005, my daughter, Allison, and I accompanied my brother, Rob, his wife, Jeannie, and their two daughters to Cumberland Island, Georgia. The remote national park is limited to 300 visitors a day.  A ferry transports passengers to and from the island.

The trail from Dungeness meanders over a glistening white sand dune held in place by vegetation such as palmettos, saw grass, live oaks, bulrushes and reeds. Through the years, the incline over the dune has eased its pitch, but when I first climbed it in the 1990s, it was difficult to surmount.

The other side of the dune reveals the pristine beach of the Atlantic Ocean. As three hundred people spread out over the vast expanse of Sea Camp beach, I feel like I own this vista.

However, I can't relax around the water. My brother’s family and Allison are racing into the ocean, but I hold back in fear. I’m terrified.

It’s been seven months since the December 2004 tsunami in Thailand where 150,000 people were killed, and not quite three months since my family was involved in a near-fatal car accident.

I watch the girls rolling and bouncing in the waves. I silently scream, No! Come back! Stay here with me where you won’t be swept away.  Don't you want to make sand castles instead?

My fears are irrational. Since the wreck, I’ve suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I've talked to two psychologists and my doctor. Nothing helps. I’ll rely on my family, friends, and faith to see this through.

I watch everyone else enjoy the ocean, reach into the cooler, pull out a cold bottle of water, take a drink, and breathe deeply.

We head north toward Sea Camp Dock to catch the ferry home. I walk on the edge of the water. It’s cold. Waves crash over my ankles; I feel the tide pull as it rushes back to sea. I gulp air. Only God notices my victory.
Dear Lord, thank you for helping me wade through my fears.

I'm Sorry

Yellow Rose in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Psalms 19:12 NIV
"Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults."

I have taught American literature for years to my high school students. Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose ancestor served as a judge on the Salem Witchcraft Trials, was obsessed by the psychological effects of hidden sin on a person's life. "The Minister's Black Veil" is an example of a short story we read as a class that examines this concept.

My family helps me find my hidden faults. My thirteen year-old daughter, Allison, lets me know when I am not paying attention to her.

"What did I just say?" she challenges me.

"Uh--" I'm at a loss as I look up from my writing. I’ve been caught. Exposed for the fake I am. I was half-listening to her, and she knows it. I wasn't giving her my full attention.

I'm not much better with my husband, John, when I'm answering email.

"Lori, I'm going to the store, do you know what we need?"

"What?"  The look on his face says it all. 

I resolve to be better. I know I've let them down. I kick myself for putting the writing and the emails or the grades or the parent phone calls before them. It's wrong, and my priorities are out of whack. I fool myself into thinking I can multi-task, but I fall on my face instead.

Fortunately, my family loves me. They forgive my failings. I have to say "I'm sorry" too many times to them, it seems.   However, we balance each other out. They have to say, "I'm sorry" as well. We all have moments in the family when we fail.

Family is about forgiveness and love. I'm thankful mine forgive me.
Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving my hidden faults.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teach Them Well

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky
                                    October 2003                                   

Job 27:11 NIV
"I will teach you about the power of God; the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal."

The first teachers in children’s lives are parents. They begin teaching as soon as their children are born.

Years ago, Crosby, Stills and Nash admonished parents to "Teach Your Children Well". 

There are two possibilities.

First, are parents who feed their children their own broken dreams and offer them to their young for their future.

What a terrible testament to parenthood; however, every day I witness young people who have tasted the bitter dreams of their parents' lives and are wading in the aftermath of their destructive paths. I know firsthand the sad legacy of that possibility.

Then, there’s the opposite. I've observed students whose parents take an active role in teaching them and being a part of their lives. They're the parents working the booths at football games to raise money for the soccer team, or taking the tennis team on a moment's notice to a tournament just so they can watch their child play in the match.

These kids have warm spirits and radiate when I talk to them. They’re not bitter as I work with them in the classroom because their needs are met at home.

Parents are the most important teachers in the lives of their children, yet too many parents don't realize their significant role. Their children watch them constantly and strive to be just like them.  

Of course children will feed off the dreams of their parents; it's only natural.

I wonder how well the parents are teaching their children?
Dear Lord, bless parents raising children. Let them teach their children well. Let them teach their children about your love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

His Loving Hand to Guide Us

                       Butterfly at Calloway Gardens, Georgia

Psalms 139:9-10 NIV
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

As a child, I loved holding my parents’ hands. I felt safe and secure.

I also loved to run off on my own. Once, when I was 4 or 5 years old, out of boredom, I spun in wild circles at S.S. Kresge's while my parents checked out at the register.

When I stopped spinning, I couldn't find them. I was lost!

The overwhelming sense of separation from my family filled me with terror.  I wondered how I would ever find them. Needless to say, my dad located me, and the reunion made a strong impression on me.  I learned right then to hold hands and pay better attention.

I like the image of God holding our hands, guiding us, watching over us through our ups and downs.

There’s an intimacy that comes from touch; warmth that passes from hand to hand; a knowing, understanding squeeze of the hand can communicate an understanding beyond words.

Close friends don't need to talk to each other; they can tell everything they need to know by touch.

When we pray by holding hands around a circle, celebrate the flow of love radiating from life to life building and growing among us. This is God.

When I'm sick, depressed, or in need of a friend, the one who reaches out to me and touches me is the one who has reached my heart. 

God lives in our hearts as He walks with us, holding our hands, guiding us on our ways.
Dear Lord, lead us and hold our hands tight, especially through the tough times.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Meaningful Life

Weather vane over the garage looking out from my childhood bedroom in Ohio

Genesis 28:14 NIV
"Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring."

Jacob woke from his dream and thought:  "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it" (Genesis 28:16 NIV).

However, there are moments when we know with certainty the spirit of the Lord is with us. Such a moment appeared last night as we celebrated a friend's 40th birthday party.

We gathered at her parents’ house situated on the edge of the salt water marsh with a distant view of the northern end of St. Simons Island along the horizon. The full moon slowly rose as evening blue skies changed to darker tones until blackness enveloped the night sky, while the marsh was illuminated by the fullness of the blue moon.

Tiki Torches and candles brightened our faces.  Our merriment glowed in the cool night breeze.

As my friend's father blessed the meal, he thanked God for what her life meant to each one of us--her parents, her husband, and her friends.

John Donne wrote in the 17th Century, “No man is an island, entire of itself”. The impact Godly individuals, like my friend, have on the world illustrates this premise.

Tidal ripples that roll through the marshes and sea may go unnoticed in the dark night, even under a bright moon; however, the ripple effect of God's love is felt by all who are touched by loving, spiritual people.

Others will recognize when the spirit of the Lord resides in our life.
Dear Lord, fill us with your spirit, so we can reach out to those around us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Unkindest Cut of All

Geogia Aquarium 2007

Proverbs 14:8 NIV
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."

One perk of living in a tourist area is we can go to the beach for summer day trips.

Many years ago, a friend and I took our young sons to Jekyll Island for the day. The boys played in the ocean while we relaxed. However, we had barely settled into conversation when my child came to me in tears rubbing his arm. He had been stung by a jelly fish.

Thankfully, my friend knew what to do. She took us to the fire department, where they treated him with petroleum jelly laced with Adolph's Meat Tenderizer. In no time at all, he was fine.

Jelly fish are beautiful, but even dead on the beach, their poison poses a danger if stepped on.

In life, we have to protect ourselves from deceptive people who appear harmless and beautiful but are hiding their true natures. These people can sting us when given the chance.

When people we trust betray us, it is a devastating blow.   Shakespeare referred to it as the "most unkindest cut of all" when Brutus stabbed Caesar.

The deception of a trusted friend or spouse sets us back and knocks us off our feet. Adolph's Meat Tenderizer won't help those hurts of the heart. Only God can help us with serious life issues like these.

Foolish people cause hurt to those around them, and no one is immune to the pain they cause. God will help ease our heartaches, but it takes time to heal from the pain.

We have to be realistic with ourselves.
Dear Lord, thank you for healing the brokenhearted.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where Do You Meditate?

Camels in Jebel, Turkmenistan

Genesis 24:63 NIV
"He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching."

I have difficulty finding quiet places for alone time with God. I wake up in the mornings and rush in a mad panic to get to school. The rest of the day is no better, and by the end of it, I am exhausted and ready to keel over.

This aspect of my life needs work. It should be my priority.

In a household with two teenage girls, though, it seems we are always busy juggling schedules and hormones. If one girl isn’t moody, the other is.  

Sometimes, I want to get in the car and drive off to the pier on St. Simons Island to watch the tide rise and fall while my husband picks up the pieces at home and repairs them.

I feel close to God when cool sea breezes caress my face. The rhythms of the tide lapping against breakers on the shore comfort me as if I were a child being lulled to sleep by the rocking of a chair.

Nature is my refuge.

In Turkmenistan, I love visiting the outer regions, where camels roam freely across the desert, and the best meditation time I have is under the stars of the Milky Way next to the bee hives.

I imagine ancient times when men and women traveled by camels and had time to meditate and talk to God without rushing their prayers on drives through traffic on the way to work, or in the shower, or as they were dressing.

I want time to socialize with God. We’d drink tea, eat cake, and talk. That’s my fantasy meditation time.
Dearest Lord, I’m sorry I fall short giving You the time You deserve.

Camel outside Abadan, Turkemenistan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Path Before Us

Nisa, Turkmenistan 

Proverbs 23:19 NIV
"Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path."

At dinner tonight lines from Robert Frost’s poem, "The Road Not Taken" wafted through my mind:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My choices in life have made all the difference. (sigh)

I left Cincinnati to study English in Kentucky, where I also learned about tobacco and dairy farming, coal mining, and the rich story-telling and musical traditions of the culture.

I moved to Coastal Georgia, where I learned about commercial shrimping, the fragile co-existence between development and the ecosystem of this area, and early American history not covered in my school textbooks.

I taught students who were direct descendants of slaves. They lived on a barrier island off the coast and took a 45 minute ferry boat ride to the coast and then a 30 minute school bus ride to school. They repeated this process to get home.
My path has veered off in directions I never would have anticipated as a child planning my future.

A divorce, a domestic kidnapping, a near fatal car accident, health issues—these are some obstacles I have faced with God’s help.

Usually there is no advanced warning for the next detour approaching on the road ahead of us. However, God can provide us with wisdom to discern how to proceed on our paths.  We need to find our paths and get on them.

Pray for wisdom and listen to your hearts, where God speaks to us and leads us to a deeper relationship with Him
Dear Lord, help us hear your voice as it leads us, so we stay on the path you want us on.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Word Choice

Seagull and dolphins off the coast of Jekyll Island, Georgia 2007

Genesis 1:20 NIV
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky

As a student of words, I love to help my own students find better ways to express themselves when they write.

One of the first lessons the young scholars learn when they enter my classroom is certain words are not to be used. The “blah” words of their childhood are now banned (such as “very” and “stuff”) and I now expect them to use high school vocabulary.

"Genesis" is a perfect example of a precise word used at the absolutely perfect time. The word means "beginning" and signifies the beginning of creation as well as the beginning of the books of the Bible.

"Genesis" is the word to also describe our lives as we enter new phases of growth.

It’s the spark of an idea, the start of a relationship in life, or the courage found deep within us as we face an overwhelming hardship.

Genesis is the beginning of understanding our relationship with God. As we survive trials in our lives or celebrate our achievements and hopes for our futures, we experience moments of new beginnings. These events can bring us closer to God because we have placed our faith in God to sustain us in all situations.

Like creatures of the sea and birds soaring free in the sky, we too can experience the same sense of weightlessness as we free ourselves from our burdens and give them to God.

However, the catch is, we can’t take the burdens back.

Leave them in God’s care and rest.   
Thank you, Lord, for “genesis”: A chance to grow in our relationship with you and to discover what miracles you have planned for our lives. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Do You Ask the Question?



Sunrise 16 November 2010  Brunswick, Georgia

Job 37:15 NIV
"Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?"

God dramatically appeared to Job in a whirlwind and asked him a string of questions he couldn't possibly answer.

However, like Job, I have a foolish list of questions I'd like to ask God, too. I call my list, "The List." I know—it’s not very original.

I used to have a top 10 list of questions, and then it grew as I aged and I lost count of the questions. Finally, I had so many questions on the list, I lost track of them all, and I just gave up and have mostly forgotten them all, including my original top 10.

It is rather presumptuous to think of the creation wanting to ask the Creator about the events of her life, but then, I suppose it's only natural that curious and intellectual beings have questions about the state of our existence and want to know why difficult things happen to us.

However, as I explained to my students today as they researched for sources for their papers and kept running into dead ends on their Google searches, it's how we ask the question that matters.

“Why?” is not the right question to ask our Creator. 

“What do we make of our lives now that these things have happened to us?” is a better question to ask.

In this lifetime, we will never know the answer to why most events of our lives occur, but we can control what we do once they happen. We can keep positive attitudes and pray for the situation and all those involved.
Dear Lord, thank you for helping us redeem the
circumstances of our lives.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Face in the Crowd

Rye, New York   October 2010

Proverbs 27:19 NIV
"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

As one of my students entered my classroom today, I stopped her and asked her to look me in the eyes. I’ve promised her mother to keep an eye on her, and today, I had some cause for concern.

We are observing her for migraines due to a concussion she suffered this past year. Today was a tough day for her. I told her to do the best she could in class. She has a friend who works with her, so I knew she would be fine.

I have learned as a teacher their faces and eyes tell me all I need to know. They would be surprised to hear how easy it is to observe their problems on their faces.

The same holds true about the character of a person’s life. It’s not hard to distinguish a bully from a person being bullied. The hardness in a person’s eyes, the lack of emotion at another person’s anguish and pain, these traits are also evident in a person’s life.

The wisdom of the ancient prophets holds true today. Look into people’s eyes and deep into the lines of their faces, and you can clearly perceive the character of their hearts.

Spiritual people stand out in a crowd. They have a presence about them. Their faces seem less careworn. They have troubles, but they are more likely to give their worries to God.

Reading faces is not so difficult. Our lives are open books to those who are perceptive enough to study them.
Dear Lord, help us work on the character of our hearts, so our appearances will reflect your spirit that lives inside us.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Light in the Darkness

Atrium Chandelier,  Disney Wonder Cruise Ship
2 Samuel 22:29 NIV
"You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light."

In South Georgia, we have occasional tropical storms and hurricanes blow through. They disrupt the normal ebb and flow of life and can knock out our electricity in the process. Flashlights are not luxury items here.

One of the more memorable tropical storms I recall blew through during school hours and knocked out our power. The bosses decided to allow students access to the cafeteria to eat lunch. There are no exterior windows in the cafeteria, so it was pitch black in there. I recall one administrator using the little pen-sized flashlight she kept on her keychain to light the darkness. She might as well have been spitting into the wind to put out a fire. Her keychain flashlight did not cut through the darkness at all.

Last night the fire alarm went off in our house. We were all awake and lights were on, but it was still a frightening experience. Had we been asleep, and the lights out, I know we would have been even more terrified.  I’m glad the lights were on so we could see what we were facing.

Darkness represents a time of fear and uncertainty in life. However, God's faithfulness radiates as a beacon of hope through our deep despair.  His light will guide our path when darkness envelops us. He turns despair into hope and new beginnings if we have faith in Him. He wants to help us.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus," encourages the familiar hymn.

When you need light in the middle of the storms in your life, His radiant source of strength can help you endure your troubles.
Thank you, Lord, for lighting our way through the dark places of our lives.