Have I knot commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord Your God will be with you wherever you go.
The future is here. Were you expecting it?
I know I wasn’t. One day, many years ago, (30 to be exact) in a theater near everyone, a movie came out that predicted a little bit about what life might look like today. We can now watch it at home on VHS, I mean DVD, wait no, Blue Ray, or simply just live stream it over the internet. However we view our media, it is always fun to take a look at what we thought the future might look like, and maybe think to ourselves about what our future might hold. Auto lace sneakers, and REAL hover-boards are just a few fun fantasies that might one day become a reality.
It is fun to see where we came from, and where we are going. Personally, as exciting as flying cars might sound, I think it would be disastrous… people can barely drive on roads…oh well. Maybe we can set that up on Mars. You see, the world is always changing, and the future is here before you know it, so make it awesome, because it can be!
Oh and remember, no matter what we think the future holds, we have a God who holds our future. He said so.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Are you Scared? You should be.
That is the question that has been presented many times throughout literary writings, thematic plays and movies.
You should be scared, there is plenty to be scared of. Everywhere you look there is danger. Cars are dangerous. People die in horrific accidents everyday. Guns… don’t get me started on guns. Some people are so scared of them that they would have us believe even catching a look at a gun is dangerous. Almost as if the inanimate object would just start firing by itself. Health. Eat this and you will die… never-mind that your parents ate it and they outlived their parents. Don’t even get me started on kids… don’t let them leave your site. There is a creepy guy who wants to grab them waiting just around the corner. Then there is the other one who wants to sell them drugs, and their pears, at school, that will bully them into a massive heap of emotional turmoil. Their teachers are all horrible people who want to teach them some insane common standard that turns them all into mindless government zombies…Zombies that can’t do simple math…because it’s not simple anymore. Common Core Zombie Apocalypse. AHHHAaha!!! Ok, that last one is a little overkill, but nevertheless, it is something to be afraid of.
Speaking of the apocalypse, did you know that the end of the world is coming? It is! We are reminded of that every single day it seems. Something bad is going to happen that will end it all, make everything worse. It could be anything, the economy, the terrorist, the environment, some massive super volcano is getting ready to blow its top any day now and all of us are doomed.
There is so much to be afraid of. With the coming of age of social platforms fear seems even more prevalent. I used to not know every time someone got hurt halfway around the world. I never saw the everyday messes that so many people find themselves in. I would never know about lions getting shot, or stupid teens driving drunk around my town, then posting it to social media, but now, it’s in our faces, every day, day in, day out. We can turn it off, but someone in our circle is right there to turn it back on, to tell us, to let us in on the fear that they fear. So much fear, surrounding us, inviting us to dive into it, even drown in it.
STOP. Breath in, Breath out. Breath in again. Take a moment and pause.
My understanding of the world makes me afraid, but there is a better way.
While doing a little research for this article I found out that phrase “fear not” Or it’s equivalent in “non” King James translations, appears in the bible 365 times. Wow! That’s incredible! It shows up one time, for each and every day of the year. Coincidence do to translation?…Maybe, but if it is a coincidence, what an amazing one. That means that God, the Great I AM was constantly telling us not to be afraid. He doesn’t want us to live in fear, to worry or fret. He wants us to be free, to live, to love, to share. After all, what do we have to loose.
A great man once told me that fear was never a good reason to do, or not do something important. I thought that he was pretty smart, and that was a wise point, so I married him.
God has a great message for us too. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be so scared of everything that you don’t do anything. Know that He is God. Live well, live free, and Fear Not!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
The Gator And Me –
The Gator and Me,
We are not friends you see,
Because when the Gator Sees me,
He thinks of how tasty I would be.
I don’t know why He thinks that way,
I don’t know why He thinks me a filet,
All that being said I dare to say,
He will not be tasting me today.
I usually don’t write about anything that might be too controversial, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be, it is just that there are different sides to every story, and this one has a very human side, and very real consequences for everyone involved.
It is not my place to pretend that I can even come close to understanding the amount of desperation it would take for a person to attempt to risk their life in a frightful way, in attempts to find freedom from an oppressive government system. I will however try and share a story, that invites all to see the struggles of real people who cast all of their hopes and dreams on the ocean, in attempts to find freedom.
Like any good story it has a beginning. It was a warm sunny day at sea. My family and I were on the last day of our cruse through the western Caribbean. We decided to catch a mid morning show so that we could enjoy the day on the ocean with all of the amenities that the boat had to offer. The show was in full swing, the final song was playing, all of the actors were in the very last note when “BAM”, all the mics were instantly cut off. How very strange, and unprofessional, I thought. Then, as if the first part were not strange enough, an all over ship announcement was heard. Pardon my paraphrase “This is the captain speaking, the ship has stopped on its course toward Miami, there is an unknown vessel in our path.” OK, unknown vessel? My sometimes overactive creative mind goes straight to all the crazy movies about the ocean I had seen, and I imagined that some massive enemy submarine had emerged in front of the ship, ready to take over all of the sea faring innocents that were aboard…I admit, that is a bit far fetched, but never the less that is the first thing that popped into my head. The second thing was more realistic. Having an understanding of where we were in the ocean, I leaned over to my husband and said, I bet it is a Cuban raft. It was just a secondary thought, I didn’t really have any clue as to what it really was.
Curiosity got the best of me, and like most of the people that were aboard the ship, we wanted to see what was going on. I went to the top of the upper deck and squeezed my way through the pile of onlookers to see, not an enemy sub, or a boat of any kind, but rather what looked like a small piece of drifting styrofoam, floating on the expanse of the ocean before us. This is what stopped a cruise ship, I thought, wow. As the minutes passed, and the object in question began to drift closer to the ship, I began to realize this was more then just a piece of styrofoam floating in the Caribbean sea, this was in fact a raft, and there were people on board.
Growing up in Miami I had seen many times, on the nightly news, the US Coast guard would pick up some people on rafts attempting to reach Florida. As a child it didn’t really sink in to my mind what an incredibly desperate venture this was. The only boats I had ever been on were well working, had motors, and traveled reasonably fast. I remember the the stories about how they would be picked up taken to the Krome Detention Center, given shelter and medical care, only to be shipped back to the place they tried so hard to leave. As a young child I could not comprehend how dangerous an act this was, and how disheartening it must have been for them to finally make it to the United States, a place that seamed to represent hope in their minds, only to be deported back to their home country.
Here I was, for the first time, looking at the reality of what it meant to get onto a raft and attempt to get to America. The ocean is not a friendly place. It can be an endless expanse of water that seams to have no end in site, and 90 miles might has well be 1000 when you can’t see where you are going. The people aboard were from Cuba. There were many people aboard our cruse ship that spoke Spanish, even some that they themselves were Cuban immigrants. As the raft got ever closer to the ship, many of the cruisers began to yell questions down the the people huddled in the floating styrofoam contraption. Some dropped bottles of fresh water. One of the passengers standing next to me, as I snapped photos, was himself a Cuban immigrant. He said, if had to come this way, he would have never made it to America. Wow, what a profound statement.
The raft had finally drifted right next to the ship, and it could be easily seen, what at first was thought to be six or seven individuals, turned out to be 16 people, 15 men, and 1 woman, with barley room to sit. They had, what I can only imagine, was a make shift sail. Two sticks tied together with a single white sheet. A couple of home made oars were all they had to steer with. Answering one of the cruse ship passengers questions, the rafters said they had been on the water for 5 days in that condition.
At the point I could see their faces, my heart broke, and I began to pray for them, thinking about how hard it must have been to even attempt this journey. I thought, “How bad do you have to have it to do something this extreme?” “How good do we have it, that people would risk their lives to get to our country?”
Once their raft was right next to the ship, they were allowed on board. I wonder if any of them thought it was strange, being rescued by a Cruse ship with a Mickey Mouse on it. The event being over, I went inside and took one last photo. It was of the map that is displayed on the TV’s located throughout the ship. This was so I could see where we were when all of this happened, how far they had already come, and how far they had yet to go.
I am not taking a political stance on what is wrong or right, and I will not make a moral judgment on what should be done with them or others that take the insane amount of risk. I will say, to look at the people, to see there faces, to imagine yourself in their seemingly desperate position, makes it a whole lot more real. To be so desperate for freedom, to risk it all, throw your life upon the waves, to be so far from land, not even seagulls could be seen. That is desperation, but it is also courage, and hope. Hope for a better future or even a future at all.
Wooo Hooo, It’s finally hear! The day we have been expecting, It has finally arrived! With excitement in our hearts and anticipation creating a buzz all around we dress to the 9n’s. Jewelry, suits, ties, makeup (for the ladies) and let’s not forget those sharp, but ever slightly uncomfortable shoes that complete any stellar wardrobe ensemble. One this special occasion, this rarest of days, we cannot forget the most important part. Our elephant. It is, in fact, “Bring Your Elephant to Church Day”
On this day of days, this ginormous occasion, of enormous significance, we absolutely can not forget to pack our profusely over sized, ponderous, pachyderm. Sounds quite preposterous, doesn’t it? Sorry, I just had to throw in a another big “P” word, for effect.
What does this day entail, besides making room for the oversize mammals in the pew or aisle next to us? Well, it’s real impact would be found when everyone could see everyone else’s massive, smelly, beast of burden, and know, they are not the only ones that lug these things around. Yes! that’s what I am getting at. We all have them. The thing we carry around that know one seas but wears so heavily on our hearts, or perhaps the sin that other people might know about, but no one dare say a word, because they don’t want to be seen as mean or judgmental. Inside we could be crying out in desperation, but if no one wants to share their elephants, then no one wants to share their elephant.
Church should be the place where all our elephants are welcome. We should have a special section filled to the top with peanuts and hay so they are comfortable while we worship God, and then we can show them off. Tell people that this burden or hidden sin is too much to keep in our house any more. It eats too much, it poops too much, and it’s too darn big. Heck every time it moves around in our house there goes another one of our porcelain collection of “Precious Moments” left to us by our grandma. We have got to take them somewhere! Why not church? Why not go to the House of God and say “Here, I can’t deal with this thing any more. It is just too much animal for me”. We don’t though, we can’t right, because if everyone saw our elephant, then we would not be welcome. The fake smiles, and half hearted handshakes would not be enough to cover up the stench of real sin, and the hearts in real pain.
Most of the people that have left the body of Christ, did so because one day their elephant came to church with them, and they were turned away. More often then we would like to admit, they didn’t even make it past the door, because it wasn’t big enough to let the massive mammals they had with them, in. The ones that do managed to slip past the front door are scurried into a room that know one knows about, or perfumed and adorned to look like something more then they are. Ether way, an elephant, is an elephant.
Jesus, lived, and loved the people who had the biggest, meanest, smelliest elephants. The sins that could not ever be hidden. The pain that seemingly could never be fixed. He loved them, held them in his hands and heart, and then he did something only God could do. He looked at the person with love, and then the beast, well, he sent that beast packing, trunk and all! He freed them! No more elephant!
Lets do it! lets have a day were we can change, be truthful, be real, stop trying to cover our burdens with giant blankets that clearly are in the shape of an elephant. Bring your pachyderm to church. You want to know what the absolute best thing about “Bring Your Elephant to Church Day” is, you get to leave him there! And that my friends is AWESOME!
Flowers are beautiful. If I had a dollar for every photo I have of flowers I might actually have some money…. Seriously, is there anybody who wants to give me a dollar per photo? All Kidding aside, we tend to look at flowers from one direction, the top. Sometimes I think that is how people tend to view most things in life. By getting used to seeing things from one point of view or perspective we forget that there are other ways to see the wonders of creation around us, both physical and spiritual.
In this picture my niece pointed out that it looked like an image from Bugs Life the movie. She was right. The photo has the perspective that a bug might have. It was taken from underneath the flowers. Not an easy task. I basically have to lie on the ground, my face almost buried in the dirt, and then arch my neck up in a very unnatural position, all while making sure the camera doesn’t get dirt on it. So, I look a little silly lying in the dirt. No big deal. The perspective I shot of the flower was incredible. It was just as beautiful as any of the shots I have gotten from the top of flowers. Shot’s like this one have given me the idea that looking at things from perspective of a bug, something small and insignificant can be quite rewarding.
Sometimes we walk around thinking that we are the most important thing around, that our perspective is the only one that matters, but, as silly as it may be, there are usually other ways to look at things. Bugs, after all, may seem small and somewhat insignificant at times, but God gave them a view too.
Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
It’s not! It just isn’t. One moment you are sitting on a flower, soaking up the sun, enjoying a lovely spring day, and in the next moment a windshield is careening at you at 60 miles per hour… or at least it would be if you were a monarch butterfly who happened to venture over one of the many highways right next to that lovely park. It’s not fare! Something so beautiful shouldn’t have to die, and yet, it does. Just like us. We get sick, we get wounded, we fall, we fail, we die.
I do not wish to sound depressing or morbid. On the contrary. My goal is simple. It is to say that though this life is not fair there is hope. There is life beyond this one. That is what I hold on to when I hear about something tragic in my life or the lives of others.
The average monarch butterfly lifespan is only eight months. It is rather short, but it can do a lot in that time. It can fly thousands of miles, pollinate thousands of flowers, and even take a moment to reproduce themselves, continuing the God’s grand circle of life.
With the power of Christ love we have hope that this isn’t it. Even if it’s not fair, even if things fall or fail, we have hope. Jesus is our hope. I write this with tears in my eyes, knowing that a dear friend of mine has lost her father to cancer, but one thing I know, from knowing his daughter, to hearing the testimony of his life, He HAD HOPE, and now he is with the LORD Jesus Christ. Praise God.
O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Psalm 71:5
The last thing I expected to see, on the side of a mountain, on the highest altitude highway in North America, was a fire hydrant. Needless to say there it was. I stared at it and wondered if it had any pressure, and if it did, how did they put the pipes in through solid mountain rock? To say it looked odd would be an understatement. It was out of place.
Ever felt that way? I have for sure. Quite often in fact. It is a very uncomfortable feeling to have. When one is surrounded by people they don’t know, in unfamiliar terrain, or circumstances. Personally, I tend to react, like many, by becoming reserved, quiet, and seemingly shy.
No matter who a person is, there will probably be a time in their life when they will feel out of place, like they don’t belong. They might feel like they are sticking out like a sore thumb, or like a red fire hydrant on the side of a mountain. As followers of Christ, we should embrace those who feel out of place. Let them know that they are welcome, that they belong, that God loves them. It might make a massive impact, not just on their day, but their life.
Thanks, to all those who welcomed me when I felt out of place. You know who you are, my friends. 🙂