Summer thunderstorm deconstructed: The beauty & power of the storm that came and went

Lightning over housesI love a summer thunderstorm. I love the humidity that fills the air, the roll of thunder in the distance, the flashes of lightening that streak across the sky and the sound of crickets chirping invisibly in the twilight. As I sit at my desk tonight, those sounds float in my window filling me with nostalgia and peace. Who would think that something as ominous sounding as a thunderstorm would make me feel peaceful?

Before I sat down to write, I stood at my keyboard and played a worship song that we sing in our church called Your Great Name. The chords from the chorus make a great worship chord progression and as I stopped singing the lines written on the page and started singing my own worship chorus, the thunder started. And so did a worship chorus from my heart that rejoiced in the fact that I serve a God who is far above all created things and Who has carried me through many storms.

There have been many songs written about God being enthroned above the clouds and His voice sounding like rolling thunder. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard the voice of God audibly, but when he speaks to my heart, sometimes the power and authority of His voice over my circumstances feels like rolling thunder. The thunder is never fearful but comforting in that I know the God Who possesses this power and greatness loves me and is for me.

Tonight, even though the thunder is building in the distance, the sky is cotton candy pink and blue as the sun has just set.  A flash of lightning illuminates my street like a split-second rock concert. A crack of thunder, closer now, fills the air above my open window. There is no rain yet, but I know it’s coming. The air is starting to move into action from its languid state as fronts above my house start crashing into each other. The thunder is not a distant rolling sound now but the crack of a whip followed by a crashing like large rocks falling down cliffs.

The rain comes. It is gentle for a moment and then it unleashes. So does the thunder – it’s no longer a rolling of boulders down a mountainside, but a bomb exploding overhead. The crack and crash of that explosive sound demand all attention as the storm passes over.

A cool, sweet breeze comes in my window. This smell is one from my childhood. From summers that were long and carefree. Maybe that’s why I like a summer thunderstorm. Nothing captures a young child’s attention and sears itself into a memory like the sight, the sound and the smell of this magnificent work of nature. The power, the beauty, and majesty of a thunderstorm create a sense of awe and wonder that captivates a young mind free from worry and fear.

A few raindrops are blowing in through my screen now. The intensity of the rain and wind have picked up, the lightning is frequent and the thunder is deafening. My neighbor’s lamppost across the street looks like a birthday candle in comparison to the brightness of the bolts of electricity racing down from the sky. The power of this summer storm has become impressive in its scope and volume.

And yet…all of this has been designed and created by a God Who is above it all. Far above it all.

Now the storm has passed. As quickly as it moved over my house, it has moved on. And that is like our lives, isn’t it? No matter how deafening the peals of thunder are that want to make us terrified, every storm will pass. There is no storm that has stayed forever. No matter what we’re facing in this moment, it can’t stay forever. No matter how brightly the night is lit up right now by either the brilliance of your success or the fear of the future, it can’t stay either. Take every day as it comes – take it with gratitude and the attitude that whatever comes, with God on your side, you are more than able to weather it and overcome.

I heard a story recently told by an international speaker about a man who was one of the most generous and successful men this speaker had ever met. He gave away more money, contributed to more schools and water wells in impoverished nations, and provided more housing for the homeless all while maintaining a very successful business than this speaker had ever witnessed. He asked this man the secret to his success to which the man replied, “I wake up every day, lift my hands to the sky and say, ‘This is going to be the BEST day of my life!’”

To think that this man never hit an obstacle or had a challenge would be foolish to believe. But obviously those storms in his life were invalidated by the greatness and the power of his thundering positive attitude. He knew that God had given him breath and ability for a reason and he was going to live every day using his life to glorify God with every ounce of his mental and physical ability.

But unfortunately many of us are derailed by the sound and fury of the storms that are passing over. And rather than take comfort in the fact that this storm has come to pass and that the God Who is over the storm is on our side, we let the deafening sound of invisible boulders make us cower in fear.

Today, let’s take the attitude that this IS going to be the best day of our lives and that whatever storm we’re facing is on its way out. Let’s look at the beauty of each storm, seeing God’s hand in how it is changing us and shaping us. Let’s delight in the sweet fragrance of refreshing that always comes on the heels of a powerful storm. Be of good cheer. Your God will not forsake you and a day of refreshing is coming.

The crickets are chirping again and the summer night has reverted to its quiet peace.

What about you:

  • Does the sound of thunder bring you fear? Do you remember being afraid of thunder and lightning as a child?
  • Maybe physical storms don’t make you tremble anymore, but the storms in your life certainly do.
  • Do you believe that God wants to help you through your storm? Maybe you blame God for the fact that you’re in a storm right now so you don’t have faith to believe He’ll pull you out.

If that describes you, I understand. I’ve been there. It’s a hard place to be when the One you need is the One you blame. Scripture teaches us that anything that is going on our lives that is not good is not of God. Because we live in a fallen world, bad things will happen to good people. Until we live in Heaven, we will sometimes be the victims of the sinful natures of others and ourselves. But that doesn’t stop God from protecting us in the storm, creating a depth of faith and character in us through the storm and carrying us to victory over the storm. We may walk through a hard time, but when we connect with God in the midst of it, we come out like gold refined in the fire – better not bitter.

Your storm has come to pass but the faithful love of your God changes not!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

I don’t just wish you rain, Beloved – I wish you the beauty of storms. – John Geddes

Storms don’t come to teach us painful lessons, rather they were meant to wash us clean. – Shannon L. Alder

Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 2)

Two hands touchingContinued from “Open Wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)”

Let’s review and expand on my Takeaways from my husband’s hand injury:

  1. Men – listen to your wives! I try not to be the “I told you so” wife, but for some reason, when it comes to the care of my family, my gut has never steered us wrong.
  2. Every part is needful. One injured digit can hinder your entire life.
  3. Fake news isn’t good news; so don’t be afraid of the truth.
  4. Serious wounds should not be left covered.

I will resist the temptation to expound on Takeaway #1. (wink-wink!)

Takeaway #2: Every part is needful – one injured digit can hinder your entire life.

My husband has told me often since this accident how much of a hassle it is that he can’t fully use his dominant hand and how challenging it is to execute the most mundane tasks, like writing and shaving. My poor husband. He has seriously struggled to keep a level of normalcy in his life all the while being in pain, enduring swelling and pressure within the bandage, and having trouble sleeping and executing his everyday tasks. I have become a lot more conscious of what he cannot do in order to help him. I’m oftentimes in my own little world, so I’ve really had to concentrate on being aware of what he’s doing so I can step in to assist when he needs me.  Every part of his life has been affected by this temporary handicap which has really driven home the message that every part of the body is needful and that we take it all for granted until we can’t.

The same is true in the body of Christ, and I would even expand to say, any community that requires people to interact in an interdependent way. Let me ask us all this: Are we noticing the wounded? Are we on the lookout for those in our community who are missing, silent or seem to have slunk back into the shadows? And if we’re the one who’s wounded, are we seeking healing in a purposeful way? It’s so easy to remain wounded and, as a result, remove ourselves from being an integral part of our community. But the Lord is the Great Physician and He came to bring healing for our woundedness. He sets the lonely into families because the community needs us and we need them.

Psalm 68:5-6a (NLT) – Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

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Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)

“Cecily, we have to go to the hospital right NOW!”

My husband, John, was standing in the doorway between the mudroom and the garage clutching his hand in a towel. He was still wearing his snow blowing gear and furry hat.

It took me a few seconds to process what was happening. I had been upstairs, still in my pajamas with crazy morning hair, when I heard him shouting my name from downstairs. The tone of his voice was unlike anything I had ever heard so I came running. That’s when I saw him in the doorway.

“I cut my finger off. We have to go NOW.”

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This isn’t happening. I ran upstairs to change into clothing and then oddly stood there paralyzed. What should I wear? Really? Can I really not find clothing – ANYTHING – to put on? I grabbed jeans out of the closet, a sweat shirt and a baseball hat to cover my bedhead.

Earlier that morning, John had gone out to snow blow our driveway and also the bottom of our neighbors’ driveways when the accident happened. I had taken the day off as a vacation day because we were scheduled to leave for a trip to New York City with my parents once the roads were clear enough to drive on. This is why I was still sitting in my pajamas in no hurry to get ready. But now I was in a hurry that made my thoughts blur.

When I finally got downstairs, John was already sitting in the car. I could hear moans that made my knees buckle.  Oh my God, oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening.

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Faith in the fire: When you love an addict (Part 2)

alone-with-his-thoughts_free_stock_photos_picjumbo_HNCK9089-1570x1047Continued from Part 1

The next thing I knew, Gordon wasn’t the focus in the room – I was. They were quickly and efficiently hoisting me up onto a gurney and wheeling me out into the hallway where they left me to come to my senses. I lay there in a stupor of sadness and madness. I was devastated that this was my drunk and bloody son in the other room. And I was mad at myself for being too weak to stay the course with him. Even if I got up off the bed, they weren’t going to let me back in there. Now I just had to sit and listen to howling and not be able to hold my son’s hand. I had to be alone with the feelings of embarrassment that I was the mother who couldn’t save her son from addiction, let alone stay on her feet in the presence of his wreckage. I didn’t know much at that time about being the parent of an addict, so I lay there in a pool of my own guilt while my son was being stitched up in the next room.

After we checked out, I brought Gordon home. He had not been living with us when this accident occurred. A few months after his 18th birthday in the middle of his senior year of high school, Gordon moved out of our house to live with friends – who I assumed were doing and selling drugs. But we could no longer corral or control him. His behavior in our home had become intolerable and we had to think of the welfare of the four children who still lived with us and needed a semi-normal life. Gordon was breaking out every night, and had reached the age of emancipation, so we had no choice but to let him move out.

But on this night after the accident, I brought Gordon back to our house and planned to put him to bed and deal with him in the morning. After we arrived home, Gordon turned to me in the car and flatly told me that he hated me. He told me that he would never want to become a Christian because I was the worst person he knew and if I was a Christian then the whole thing was a joke.

Again, I didn’t have any training in dealing with addicts at that time, and I hadn’t been to any support group meetings or read any literature. So hearing those words that night, after all that I had gone through because of his addiction, cut me like a knife. I didn’t know whether to hit him in his stitched up eye or burst into tears.

So I did nothing. I got out of the car, opened his door, and helped him into the house and up the stairs into his old room. I put him to bed and shut the door. I didn’t say a word.

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Faith in the fire: When you love an addict (Part 1)

alone-with-his-thoughts_free_stock_photos_picjumbo_HNCK9089-1570x1047

This post is a departure from my regular posts due to the content. But I have always found that sharing real life struggles helps someone somewhere. If you’re the one it touches, please know that you’re not alone.

I jumped up in bed so quickly that my head was spinning. I had been pulled out of deep sleep so harshly that I was disoriented and dizzy. It took a couple more seconds to realize that the phone was ringing. Why is the phone ringing? What time is it?

The clock said 2:15AM. This isn’t going to be good.

When the phone rings at these hours, it’s always a call that pulls the breath out of my body and leaves me without strength under the weight of whatever horrible news is coming at me from the other end of the phone. These calls are every parent’s worst nightmare and I’ve had too many of them.

The voice on the other end of the phone was my 19 year old son. He was drunk, crying and scared. He said he was in the emergency room, that he thought he was going to lose his eye and that the cops were there. He begged me to come to him. He kept saying how scared he was and how much pain he was in. Somehow, I managed to discern that he had been in a car accident and had put his face through the windshield. There was either glass in his eye or near his eye causing him a lot of pain. I’ll be right there.

I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes and put my hair back in a baseball cap. The hospital was an eight minute drive from home in which time my mind came to its fully alert mode and started trying to process the pieces of crazed information that had come from my manic son. I tried the best I could to brace myself for whatever I was going to see when I walked into the emergency room since I had no way of knowing just how bad the injuries were.

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Falling: How we fall and how we get up (Part 2)

Falling_ashley-bean

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23, 24 

Now let’s look at the fall. When I fell three years ago in my house, I fell so hard that my children who were in the basement came running up to see what happened. They said it sounded like something blew up in the house! The pain was immediate and the injuries were long lasting. The cost and time involved to remedy the injuries was extensive.

I have heard many Christians who have fallen in sin say that they couldn’t believe that they were capable of doing what they did. They say that their fall seemed to sneak up on them from behind and blew up everything in their lives.

Many years ago, I found myself in that situation. I became involved in an ungodly relationship. Two weeks after the sinful relationship began, I woke up from my trance. I looked at what I was doing and realized that I was at risk of losing everything! I felt as though a hex had been cast over me that caused me to act and think in a way that was totally contrary to all of the pursuits of my life to that point. Who was this person in the mirror that could be so vile and selfish and blind?

I had to face the sin, come clean, and go through a season of deep cleansing with the help of my Pastor. The cost was extensive. The enemy had set a trap for me and because my eyes were not fixed on Jesus as my All-in-All, I fell right into it. I felt as though one day I was walking well with the Lord and the next day I was lying face down in my sin.

But the reality is that for a season of time I had not been guarding my heart and dealing honestly with my thoughts. The ground was beginning to freeze all around me and I wasn’t paying attention to the chill…until I slipped and fell. I was not taking sin seriously. I felt that I could handle it. Until it handled me.

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Falling: How we fall and how we get up (Part 1)

Falling_ashley-bean

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23, 24 

I caught myself just in time. My foot started to slip out from under me as I walked to my car on our snowy driveway, but I managed to catch my balance before the slip turned ugly.

I live in New England and winter here can often mean slipping and falling on ice and snow. Therefore, after driveways and walkways have been shoveled, we bring out the salt and sand to ensure that people can keep their footing and not take a header due to slick conditions.

I have been fortunate this winter in that I haven’t slipped or fallen even though we’ve had record amounts of snow and a layer of ice underneath that snow. I’m so grateful for the fact that I haven’t fallen and here’s why: I fell three years ago – in my own home, of all places!  It took six months, hundreds of dollars and countless hours of office visits to recover my strength and the fitness level I was at when the accident happened.

So why am I blogging about NOT falling? How is that interesting at all? Well, this morning, I was meditating on the Scripture in Jude 1:24, 25: To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Underline mine)

God keeps us from falling. That’s really good news! Obviously, the writer of that scripture is talking about spiritually falling, so that makes this even better news! But we have a part to play in cooperating with the Lord as He works to keep us from falling.

Let’s look at the results of falls first and then make the correlation to what happens to us spiritually when we fall.

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