Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strangely Different

Allison and Teo after a Muddy Canoe Ride
27 June 2011

Acts 18:20-21 KJV
"When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus."

One bright Sunday morning last August, my cell phone vibrated as I worked in the Sunday School office. In my rush to hand out Sunday School classroom materials before classes started, I'd forgotten to leave the phone in my car.

I never carry the phone with me into church, but this day was strangely different.

When the call arrived, I was tallying classroom attendance and contributions. It was unusual for anyone to call during church hours, and I was equally surprised to see it was from my friend, Joan, who I knew was at her church.

"Lori?  I have something important to talk to you about. We're praying right now for an exchange student who needs a host family or else she'll be sent back to the Republic of Georgia in two days.  I thought of you and John right away. Sunday School just let out, and I wanted to try to reach you."

My friend, Joan, and I go way back. She knows I'm active in international education projects and that we had previously hosted an exchange student.  She called the right person because I have a soft spot in my heart for exchange programs and teens.

"Joan," I replied, "I'll have to talk to John about this... I don't know...Where is she now... How do you get me into these things?"

My mind raced as I realized we needed to rescue this girl, but I didn't know how to break the news to John.

Joan's laughter danced through the receiver, "I knew I had the right person!"

"Wait," I protested, "I need to ask John--" 

However, I knew as soon as he heard a female exchange student was in danger of being sent home his heart would melt. 

True to form, John took the news in stride as I broke it to him in my office a few minutes after Joan's call. He lowered his head and shook it in disbelief. 

He measured his words carefully as he spoke in his serious voice, "I'm not saying 'yes,' Lori.  I want to pray about this."

He walked to the most peaceful room he could find at the time--the bathroom. As he studied his reflection in the mirror and absentmindedly washed his hands, he thought about the news I had delivered. At that moment, he heard a distinct voice say:

She's going home with you.

John is not accustomed to hearing voices and is one of the most logically-driven people I know, which his work with computers underscores. However, he clearly heard The Voice, which he immediately recognized as the voice of God.

He hadn't yet uttered a prayer, so he bowed his head in prayer. Before his words were formed,The Voice interrupted him.

I already told you what to do!

John got the message, immediately dried his hands, and
returned to my office.  He had been gone for less than five minutes.

"Lori, we have to get the girl now. She's going home with us today!"

Confused, I looked up from my paperwork to see moisture in his eyes. This was uncharacteristic. I'm the one who cries, and he usually took days to arrive at a decision.

"John, are you sure?"

He told me his story, and I could tell he was anxious to get the girl into our home as soon as possible. 

Joan's phone call came a little before 11:00 a.m.  By 3:00 p.m., Teo was in our home and settling into the back room we had quickly cleared for her. 

Teo spent nearly a year with us. Throughout this time, God kept His protective arm around her while we provided her a loving home. God worked on her emotional and spiritual growth, and during her stay, she became an integral part of our lives.

Today we sent her back to her parents. We had a tearful departure from Savannah this morning, but we reminded her how good she would feel once she sees her family on July 2nd, her seventeenth birthday.

We added another daughter to our family this year, and right now, we are looking around corners of the house for her.

Today is strangely different. 
Lord, keep Teo and the other exchange students returning home this weekend in the palm of your hand. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Return Home

A Road Home

John 14:2 KJV
"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy proclaims: "There's no place like home!" Tomorrow, our exchange student, Teo, returns home to her family in the Republic of Georgia.

While her return is a joyous occasion for her parents, she is torn between two worlds. The past couple weeks she has tearfully said goodbye to many friends she made here in Brunswick, but she is also excited to return to her family.

I currently have a friend in the care of hospice. He's in a similar position as Teo. He's torn between two worlds. Although he is with his family and surrounded by their love, his heavenly home awaits him.  As painful as it is to watch him slip away from us, it's comforting to know where he's going.

Homecomings are bittersweet. The ones greeting the individual are joyous and celebrate the return of the traveler. The ones left behind, mourn the loss of their friend's presence in their lives.

This past week has been filled with a flurry of activities as we have helped Teo pack and prepare for her trip home. Time flew by us, and now today is her last day in our household.  It seems like only yesterday when she arrived; however, it has been nine months since she entered our lives.

Tomorrow, after we check her luggage at the airport, there will be a moment when we will wish her well and send her on her way home.  We will all fight back tears.  But like my friend in hospice, she is returning to the love of family and friends who have anticipated this moment since they first sent her on her great adventure.

Both Teo and my friend will soon arrive in their native countries. When they see the loving arms of those who greet them, they might be tempted to voice the famous line, "There's no place like home!"
Dear Lord, give safe passage to Teo and to my dear friend who will soon be with you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seasoned by the Master Chef

Seasoned over Fire
21 June 2011

Zechariah 13:9
"This third I will put into the fire;  I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

As I write, I smell a pot of beans simmering on the stove. The aroma of pork necks, onions, potatoes and green beans soaking in the juices of chicken stock is overpowering me.  I seasoned the mixture with a spice designed to draw out the flavor from the neck bones as well as a couple cloves of garlic and black pepper.

One of my friends sent me devotions this past week focused on the refining process God uses to help us grow spiritually. At times in my life, I have felt Him put me in the pot and fire it up. However, rather than breaking me, He has seasoned my life, just like this pot of beans I'm cooking.

The longer I simmer over the fire, the better I become as a person. I learn compassion for others after I have walked through the refining process.  While I may suffer through the hard times, God always sends helpers to care for me, to watch over me, and to encourage me.

I have often thought one of my purposes in life was to help others as they walk through the fires they face. The idea of being seasoned over fire appeals to me because my own struggles have given me a rich background in which to help others. 

My beans are soaking up the richness of flavors as I type just as God helps me daily as I absorb difficult news and strive to carry on through it.

If I trust my Heavenly Chef, then I know He will make sure I am seasoned properly and not burnt by the fires of life.
Thank you, Lord, for refining and seasoning me. Help me share with others the lessons I have learned through this process.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rocks, Stories, Music, and B Movies

Dad and I Take a Break from Throwing Rocks
Circa 1962

Ephesians 6: 2-3 NIV
"Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

My dad passed away in 1992, so I have been without him for nineteen years. For some reason, I miss him more this Father's Day than I have in a long time.

The lessons dad taught me when he was alive have given me much to smile about as I've plodded through life.

He showed me how to enjoy life, and he demonstrated his love of God by giving his talents to the Lord when called upon.

Some of my earliest memories of dad are our walks together when I was young.  We lived in a developing neighborhood, so there were always loose rocks around as the builders constructed homes. Dad and I threw the rocks at aimless targets as soon as I was old enough to take a pebble and toss it. 

This was a fine pastime until a young Lori threw a rock one day from her front yard at a passing car. The rock entered the car through the open passenger's window. The driver screeched to a halt, got out of his car, and raced toward me with steam emitting from his ears. I hollered for help, and dad sprinted out of the house to keep me safe from the man.

Maybe a better example of a lesson I learned from dad was his ability to tell stories.  He wove bedtime stories together for my brother, sister and me.  We were his best audience. Today, when I write my stories, I imagine he is with me, encouraging me.

Throwing rocks and storytelling are two of many lessons I learned from dad.

He also gave me an appreciation of music and scared me silly as we watched B movies together like Vincent Price's The House of Wax.

And he loved me. He took me to the movies, he taught me how to play the piano, he cooked delicious Sunday dinners, and he helped me get employment when I was older.  He took his time and energy to support me in many of my activities as I grew up.

He was human, so he had his flaws, but there was no doubt he loved his family.

At times I think he is still here with me. I don't know what the rules are for guardian angels, but I feel his presence near by.

I expect, when I see him again, he'll meet me with a rock at the Pearly Gates and tell me to throw it as hard as I can. I wonder if there are glass houses in heaven?
Lord, thank you for the memories I have of my dad.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Splintered Art

Sage Brush and Juniper Trees
God's Blue Ribbon Handiwork
Flying T Ranch
Sprague River, Oregon
June 2011

Deuteronomy 9:23 NIV
And when the LORD sent you out from Kadesh Barnea, he said, "Go up and take possession of the land I have given you." But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You did not trust him or obey him.

My art teacher didn't like me.

When she conviscated the library book I was reading at the end of class, I knew she had it in for me. Being a mature 13 year old, I decided I wouldn't like her, either.

I adopted a passive aggressive attitude designed to irritate her. I had enough sense not to cross the line with her because trouble at school equated trouble at home, but at the first opportunity, I set forth to irritate her.

She assigned toothpick art for our project.  Everyone in class made an object on a piece of wood that was recognizable: a house, a table, a car, and so on.

I, however, had other plans.  Since my attitude was sour, I didn't care what I designed. 

I dipped toothpicks into glue and let them drop where they wanted onto the baseboard. 

As my random creation grew, it reminded me of a giant triangle on the back of a pirate ship. I continued to dip and drop. 

I laughed, I was gleeful, and I had a great time as I worked on my project. This would certainly elicit a negative comment from my teacher, and then I would have more proof she didn't like me.

My friends wanted to join the fun. They unloaded their excess toothpicks onto my mess until the monstrosity was about a foot tall.  As they added toothpicks, it began to build girth and dimension around the middle. I witnessed a three-dimensional object taking on a pattern all its own.

When our projects were due, mine towered over my peers' offerings and assumed no recognizable shape. 

Surprise!  The teacher didn't fail my project. Instead, she completely confused me by placing it in the middle school art show, which was the only time I've had an entry in such an event.

I didn't expect that kind of attention from her. Maybe she liked me after all.

Even as a youth, God tried to teach me not to jump to conclusions.

I would like to say--"Yeah! Learned and mastered that concept!" but the truth is I still fall into the old habits of jumping to wrong conclusions. 

Now I understand the reason the library book was taken from me had nothing to do with whether or not she liked me, but it had everything to do with my obeying her in class when she told us to put our books away. I got caught with my book out, so I lost it.

I have had to accept there are times in life I don't understand the "Big Picture," so I need to trust and obey God. 

Thankfully, He can take a mess like me and turn my life into a beautiful piece of art ready to be put on display. 
Thank you, Lord, for the beauty you have created out of my splintered life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Amtrak Angel

Oregon Spring
View out an Amtrak Window
June 2011

Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV
"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands."

The frail, elderly woman sat beside me on the Amtrak car as we headed north to Portland, Oregon.  Her hands gingerly held the cell phone she used to read text messages from her family who checked on her throughout her journey.

I wanted to mind my own business and not get pulled into a discussion with her as I had a long trip ahead of me and miles to go before I could sleep, to borrow a line from Robert Frost.

I had hopes of napping on the train; I didn't want to be someone's caretaker.

Before long, she turned to me, opened her phone, and showed me a photo of a drawing her grand-daughter had sketched of the Sacred Heart and texted to her. She also beamed as she told me about her grandson's high school graduation, which was where she was headed.

"My husband and I had both planned to attend his graduation," she told me softly. Her eyes dimmed as she continued, "But he had a stroke and is unable to make the trip. One of us should be there for our grandson."

I felt guilty for trying to remove myself from conversation with her. Eventually, I understood she had been on the train since California, and she walked with a cane.
She was on the upper level of the train and was scared to go down the stairs to the bathroom. I offered to help her down the stairs, but she refused.

"Call for help if I don't come back," she quipped.

She made it back to her seat and then disembarked a few stops later to the waiting arms of her family.

It has been almost a week now, yet I find myself wondering how she's doing. Ironically, someone I wanted to avoid is now in my mind. 

While I will never meet her grandchildren, I know how proud she is of them.  Her trip on the train was fraught with difficulties, yet she faced those out of love for her family.

God is love and fills our hearts with love. I can always tell where God is because that is the person whose heart brims over with love for others and for Him. 

I'm thankful He seated me next to this woman, so I could be reminded to keep my heart open to meeting and helping strangers no matter how tired or self-centered I feel at the moment.
Thank you, Lord, for reminding me there are angels among us, no matter where we are.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

With a Cheerful Heart

Barn Cats Share with Each Other
Flying T Ranch
Sprague River, Oregon
June 2011

Hebrews 13:16
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

The four-year old girl looked up with big eyes as she sat in her chair during my Vacation Bible School lesson and told me if she had an old horse and her neighbor needed it, she would be glad to share it with them.  I'm not sure where she's hiding a horse to give away, but she understood the message of my lesson.

I talked to the preschoolers about making sacrifices and sharing with others with a glad heart. Tonight, I followed up on last night's lesson and asked the kids which of them had made a sacrifice or who had shared with others.

Their answers were precious:

"I walked the dog with my mom and dad."

"When my sister fell down, I picked her up."

"I made my bed."

"I shared my crayons with my friend."

The little ones grasped the simple concept of the lesson: Share with a glad heart even if it means you must sacrifice something you love. 

The concept is easy to understand, but the older people get, the more complicated we make it. We want to put conditions on our giving and limitations to our sacrifices.

God calls us all, young and old, to give with cheerful hearts even if it means giving up something we cherish.

Children are learning this lesson in Brunswick, Georgia. I wonder how many grown-ups practice this?
Lord, let me share what I have with others with a happy heart.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Simple, Simpler, Simplified

A Simple Day with the Sea Gulls and Dolphins
Off the Coast of Jekyll Island, GA

Psalm 46:1 NIV
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

Many years ago, a friend of mine, an English teacher, retired and presented me with a special bookmark I keep in my bedroom where I can see it every day.

Inscribed on the bookmark are three words we teach our high school juniors when we reach the Transcendentalist Movement:  “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.”

She gave me those words because she knew all too well that's the only way I can last my full thirty years in teaching before I retire.

Since I received her gift, I've tried to simplify my life. Henry David Thoreau defined simplifying by “Let your accounts be written on your thumbnail.” 

I've not reached that level of mastery. In fact, I’m not even certain how much my life has been simplified since I received the bookmark.

A few years ago I made a career change, which I hoped would simplify my life; instead, it's merely complicated and stressed it.

The older Allison gets, the more she has to consider. Already, the school counselors want her to select a career path, and she's so conscientious, she thinks she has to do this. John and I tell her we still aren’t sure what we want to do for a living, and we’re in our fifties. For some reason, this thought doesn’t soothe her.

After all those years of looking forward to having Russell move out of the house, now we can’t stand it when we don’t see him in weeks. He’s only an hour away from us, but he works long hard hours. We’re glad he has a job, and we're happy he lives on his own, but we miss him!

So growing into my fifties has presented me with some challenges. I know with God’s help I can continue to try to simplify my life, but maybe it’s more of a matter of readjusting priorities: putting God and family first and not getting so upset by issues I can't control.

God continues to strengthen me. I have to be wise enough to know when to set aside worries.
Thank you, Lord, for helping me readjust priorities so I can
focus on you and my family better.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Water to Soothe the Soul

Sidney Lanier Bridge as Viewed from I-95 North
April 2011

John 4:13-14 NIV
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

“Girls, go down to the spring and bring us some water. We could use a drink of cold water right now.”

We were near Corbin, Kentucky, at a time when “Take me Home, Country Roads,” by John Denver, played on every radio station.  We’d left the blistering summer sidewalks of the city for the cool breezes of the country.

Our friends, the Eatons, were building their A-frame cabin in the woods with the help of friends and family. We children had been running errands for the men all morning collecting tools and carrying wood, and now we were sent in search of the fresh-water spring just a short walk down a beaten trail through the thicket.

I loved the trek to the spring. I know there were critters in the woods I probably didn’t want to see, but after working hard in the sun, ducking into the underbrush and cooling off five degrees felt wonderful.

We hopped down the path until we ended up at a shale slab. The stone was flat and angled down and up into a shallow bowl, creating a natural basin in the earth. We had to carefully clear away the top level of leaves from the spring so we didn’t disturb the silt that settled on the bottom. If we stirred too hard, then we had to wait several minutes for the tempest we had created to clear away before we could dip water.

The water was light, sweet and cool. I know it seems hard to believe that water had a texture and flavor, but it felt like drinking sunshine. It was the loveliest water I have ever sipped.

It not only refreshed but it also energized us.

When I read about women pulling water out of wells in the Bible, I often wonder what the water tasted like. Was it energizing as well as refreshing?  Was it like drinking sunshine?

Imagine the water in the Garden of Eden. I bet the natural springs there were de-light-ful. (No pun intended!) :)

As an English major, I’ve been taught water is symbolic of rebirth and new life, for example as it is used in baptism. The sweet water in Kentucky brought energy to all of us who had the joy of tasting it.

When I think of some of the ways water is referred to in the Bible, I recall some significant images: the flood, the parting of the Red Sea, the baptism of Jesus, the changing water to wine, and the discussion Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well.

Water is an important part of our physical lives, and it also plays a symbolic role spiritually. 

In other words:  Water is not only good for the body, but it’s also good for the soul.
Thank you, Lord, for your spiritual waters.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feed My Sheep

Portland, Oregon
3 June 2011

Mt. Hood
3 June 2011

John 21:17 NIV
The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

The homeless man I trailed behind on a main street in Portland, Oregon, dragged his tattered sleeping bag behind him. Gray and dingy with the stuffing falling out, it looked as downtrodden as he.

His face was speckled with salt and pepper stubble. He limped as he walked. He wore a dark ski cap on his head and an open flannel shirt over a t-shirt.

He stopped, turned, and demanded, "Give me a dollar, so I can get somethin' to eat."

John doesn't approve when I talk to people who live on the streets, but it was lunch time and crowds of people were enjoying the rare sunshine, so I wasn't afraid.

Besides, since I have adopted my attitude of expecting miracles this week, I thought I'd see how far this would pan out.

"No, I won't give you a dollar, but I'll buy you a meal instead." I looked him straight in his foggy eyes.

He turned from my gaze confused. He didn't expect this response. I glanced down and noticed thick grimy city dirt caked on his wrists and along his forearms. Obviously it had been awhile since he had bathed.

Fortunately, my sinuses have clogged up my sense of smell, or else he might have been too odoriferous to try a miracle on.

He considered my counter proposal and grumbled, "Okay."  He asked where I wanted to take him. I replied it was his choice; I wasn't from here.

He seemed even more frustrated by me.

We stood outside a sushi restaurant. "You want sushi?" he quizzed me. Before I could reply he cut me off. "I don't like sushi."

"Fine, then what about a sandwich? There's a deli over---" Before I could point to the deli across the street he turned to me and said, "I tell you what, why don't you buy me a meal another time?" Then he sprinted down the street in the opposite direction from where I was headed. I was one block away from a local dive that fixed hot meals.

My miracle? I don't know. I expected it, but it didn't seem to arrive.  All I tried to do was feed a man and not his addictions.

Jesus commanded, "Feed my sheep." I tried real hard today. I'll expect a miracle tomorrow and see how that works out.
Lord, thank you for helping me be brave enough to try to help the homeless man. He is one of your lost sheep. I pray someone will be able to bring him and others like him back into the fold.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Expect Miracles

I Think it's a Miracle Mushrooms Grow on Trees
Wilderness Conservancy, Rye N.Y October 2010

Mark 11:22 NIV
"Have faith in God," Jesus answered.

"Expect Miracles!"

These words appeared in June's Guideposts magazine, which I read at my doctor's office this past Tuesday. 

The article was about a couple who reclaimed their mint farm from foreclosure. Every shipment to their customers is stamped with the phrase "Expect Miracles" before it leaves the farm.

I decided to adopt that phrase for a week to see how it impacted my life. I received an answer later that same day.

The first chance I had to use it was at my hairdresser's. At first glance, I could tell she was upset. 

She asked about my trip to Oregon this week and about John and Allison, but she was clearly not herself.

Finally she confided, "Please pray for me. I have taken on a major task at church with the youth, and I don't feel like I have the energy for it. It's such a big job. I need others to help me, but they are in their own world right now. I have important decisions to make right now concerning youth camp, and I don't know what to do."

As she let the color in my hair set, I had private time to pray. I've known her for several years, and she has been quite active with the children and youth program. However, now she was tired and needed support.

I prayed for her and the youth program. I prayed for a helper to assist her.

As an afterthought, I asked God for a message to tell her. Immediately, I saw hands appear before me. I was confused, so I asked again. I wanted a voice to talk to me. I needed a concrete and tangible message. Once more, I saw hands pressed together as if in prayer.

When my friend returned, I told her I'd talked to God on her behalf. She thanked me for the prayer. However, when I told her I had a message from God for her, she looked at me expectantly but confused.

"I think I'm supposed to tell you you're the Hands and Feet of Christ. God knows the work you're doing, and He is with you. Expect miracles."

She teared up. She told me she needed to hear those words.

I didn't understand the message when I saw it because it was designed for her.

God gives us what we need at exactly the appropriate time, and He never leaves us without Hope.

Since Tuesday, I have experienced more miraculous moments. I like this philosophy and plan to expect miracles all the time now.
Thank you, Lord, for the power of prayer and for answering prayer in such a personal way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sometimes My Cake Melts in the Rain

April 2011

Psalm 31:9 NIV
"Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief."

Leigh and I stretched out on the living room floor side by side in our sleeping bags. It was well past midnight. My transistor radio whined the latest hit melancholy tune. I could just make out the words. 

“MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark. All the sweet, green icing flowing down. Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it. 'Cause it took so long to bake it. And I'll never have that recipe again. Oh no.”

I stayed awake trying to figure out why she couldn’t bake the cake anymore. I also thought she should come in out of the rain. I wondered why I didn’t understand the song. Maybe eighth graders don't know everything.

Of course, there was plenty I didn’t understand that night, but I related to the sad song. It matched my mood.

Leigh and I had spent most of the evening talking about issues that confused us.

Today I had "hosted" a party. I had sent invitations to many people and Leigh and I baked brownies, cookies and a cake for everyone. We bought soda pop and arranged the living room to accommodate our friends.

But an hour before the party, one after another called me. They couldn’t come. Some didn’t call at all. By the hour the party arrived, Leigh and I had two tables' worth of sweets to eat by ourselves.

I was sad. I faced disappointment, confusion and a few tears, but if you are going to have a bad day, it’s nice to have your best friend with you.

She lifted me up and took my thoughts away from the pity party I decided to have in place of the other party.

Disappointment is a part of life. Until a few years ago, I never really considered how much the Lord can relate to our personal pain in life.

Jesus was disappointed with his disciples when he asked them to stay awake while he prayed in the garden. He must have felt heartsick and alone and needed his core group of friends, yet they fell asleep—and not just once!

How sad.  They of all people should have understood how important it was to be with Jesus at that hour of night.

People disappoint each other. That's just how life is. None of us gets through life unscathed from hurt.

So Jesus understands our sorrows and our hurts. He experienced the same pain.  He is always with us and never deserts us in our time of need.  
Thank you, Lord, for understanding my pain and easing it. Thank you for lifting me up when I am down.

Lost and Found in Florida

Azaleas Blooming
 April 2011

Isaiah 41:10
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

“Lori, there’s 429.  Over the bridge.  Turn right.  Just like the directions said!”

John and I confidently left Fort Wilderness tonight certain we would find the grocery store he had located online. 

We had packed our car full with suitcases when we left Georgia for Disney this morning, so we had no room to carry food and drinks. Once we arrived at our cabin, we searched online for directions to the nearest store and headed out in search of supplies.

I turned right, crossed the bridge and followed the road signs directing us to 429. After a few minutes John looked at me confused and asked, “Didn’t we just pass by here? I think we’re going in circles!”

I shrugged my shoulders and glanced at the directions he held. By now we were completely off script. We were on our own.

“I don’t know, dear,” I sighed. “I’m just reading signs. Isn’t this the road you told me to be on?”

John crumbled up the directions and threw them on the floor. He groaned. “I have no idea. I haven’t a clue where we are.”  We had been up a long time and were exhausted. We could barely think of our names let alone figure out how we had become lost.

We should have turned around at this point, but the car was running on empty. I needed gasoline in the worst way. I hoped if I continued forward I would discover a gas station.

Hope was all we possessed because the longer we drove, the deeper we became lost in orange groves in central Florida.

Finally, we encountered cross roads. We faced a choice of entering onto a toll road or passing underneath it. We chose to skip the toll and drove on. However, we only progressed about a half mile until we came upon a ghost town. The road ended. We had run out of choices.

We turned around, maneuvered onto the toll road, and with the car seeming to suck only gas fumes for energy, we forged onward looking for civilization. We eventually found it. 

Not only did we find a gas station, but we also located a store to buy groceries.

As we headed back toward Disney, John had the atlas in his lap trying to figure out how to return. To our surprise, we were north of Disney. We thought all along we were south of it! We were completely turned around.

Thankfully, God keeps a close eye on our spiritual lives. He sends road signs to help us on our spiritual paths as we journey through life.

He provides us with an accurate soul map for our spiritual journey. He keeps us from being lost or running on empty. He wants us to be energized so we can spread His word to others.

So He sends timely signs along our paths to help us. For example, many times I’ve opened the Bible to a particularly appropriate verse for what I’m facing that day. That’s God.

There’s no reason I should be spiritually spinning in circles, ending up in an orange grove in Florida, if I don’t plan on being there.

God daily reveals my spiritual path to me if I am open to His road signs. I just need to carefully read them.

Thank you, Lord for helping me remain on the path to you.