Storms of life

Here in the southeast area of the country, we received two unusually harsh winter storms in the last couple of weeks.  When I remember back to my earlier days of skiing in Colorado, snow was always a beautiful and welcoming site, but here in the south, I wouldn’t even own a coat now if it had not been for the skiing part.  As with most storms in life, there are lessons that can be learned.

When the first storm rushed in unexpectedly, most of us were caught off-guard, stranded for hours or even days on the interstate, having to walk home for miles in the snow while abandoning our nice cars and 2-wheel drives.  Although it was scary at times, I saw some comical scenes too – the business traveler dragging his laptop case behind him in the snow, a woman carefully walking along in high heels as she continued down the snow-covered street, and a teenager passing by in short sleeves and no coat carrying his backpack home from school in the twenty degree weather.  No doubt his mom had probably told him to wear a coat that morning!  We were definitely caught off guard.  We quickly criticized our government and schools for their lack of preparedness, and we became the focus of many jokes for comedians and late-night talk-shows.  I too joined in on the complaining.  Yes, we had a right to complain, I thought.  We were inconvenienced.

Then the next winter storm came a week later.  This one was an ice-storm and was even more dangerous.  Ice brings down power lines and many people could potentially be without power and heat for days, especially if a storm were to hit a large-metropolitan area with millions of people.  This time the city and government were prepared.  The lessons learned from the first storm possibly saved many more lives.

Sometimes in life, the smaller storms are there to teach us and help prepare us for when the bigger storms come.  Our skills learned during these times may even avert the bigger storms all-together, and we may not even be aware of what could have been coming around the corner.  It is the same with God.  We can learn from each storm in our life if we stop and listen, and we must have faith in those things not seen.  For it is those things that God takes care of without us even knowing.  I know that I will look at the storms in my life differently now, and know that it is God helping me to prepare.

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You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3

Sea Glass

I wouldn’t have seen it this morning if I had not ventured out for a run.  I would have missed a lot of things.  The sun was shining bright and warm, calling me outside, but I had lots to do today.  I need to do some cleaning and catch up on emails, I thought.  Sounds silly now.  Life can pass us by while we’re busy doing stuff, and not just in a big way but in the small simple ways.  Following my new year’s promise to myself, I had decided that I will try to enjoy and experience life with every possible minute this year, and to do the most good with all those “lost opportunities” that come across my way.

What if….

What if we each took this one year and tried to make the very best of it, no matter what.  One year of our lives, given to the very best we can do.  To resolve to smile and laugh more, even during those stiff business meetings or tough times; to resolve not to spread hate no matter what the principal may be; and to resolve to help our fellow human beings more.  It really wouldn’t take that much effort.  It might even make things easier.  And it would change the world.

So I stopped what I was doing this morning, none of which will matter for very long anyway, and I went down to the beach for a run.  The tide was high after the storm and the only part of the sand not covered by water was still too soft for running, so I settled into a walk instead.  As I slowed down my pace, I began to look at the sea shells beneath my feet and caught the glimpse of something glistening, sticking out above the sand.  I reached down to pick it up and could not believe what I held in my hand.  It was a piece of milky white frosted glass, perfectly polished and smoothed around its edges from the friction and waves of the sea.  My first sea glass find!  I have always enjoyed reading about these elusive treasures from the sea, studying their colors and origins, and following the stories of those who collect them.  But as much as I have searched, I have never found any genuine shards of my own.  I wondered what far-off shore or boat this had come from.  It was a small treasure indeed!  And I would have missed it if I had not taken the chance to venture out on this day. 

(Today is Day 16 out of 365 God-given opportunities this year)

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“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

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Half a year

Half a year has already passed by.  Do you ever think back to January around this time of year and wonder at how much has changed or transpired in just half a year?  I do, and I am always amazed at the things I discover that I didn’t know then but I know now.

I began my running journey this January, conspiring to run and think my way through the last 20 years of my CD song collection that I loaded on my mp3 player.  I have temporarily laid aside my mp3 player for this particular part of my running journey.  Like running, life can sometimes take us down different paths.  Two of my fellow running comrades have recently passed away since the beginning of this year, both too young and too sudden.  And I have lost others too, in the sense that after more than a decade of seeing them almost every day at my job, running with them, taking coffee breaks and talks, they will be leaving as part of unexpected job layoffs.  So I have traded my mp3 runs at the moment for a few remaining running and work conversations, and precious talks that are of the most urgent and non-committed kind.

I have also just returned from a week of traveling in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, where my morning runs took on a more silent, spiritual ritual all of their own, as I reflected on this half of a year.  I began to look forward to this time alone, and to take in the beauty and “sounds of silence” that only God’s nature can speak to.  We all need these times where we put down the mp3, forget, and just listen.  So today, here are pictures, and not so many words, from my morning runs in Yellowstone.

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Running at the top of the world.

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No grizzlies on today’s run, but I did run across this guy.

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Do I walk past him at the end of the trail or turn around and go back?

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My favorite ~ blue dragon flies.  In the simplest and smallest of things, life is amazing!

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The Grand Finale of morning runs – WOW!

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And of course, Old Faithful

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What a unique creature! Wonder what he is thinking?

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If one ever doubts the existence of a magnificent God, then a trip to Yellowstone is a must-see for a lifetime!  It will make you believe, or nothing will.

And a magnificent God will lead us through the second half of the year too, no matter what may come.  Life is precious.  I sit here now, waiting in a hospital for a family surgery, the same hospital where many things began for me so many years ago… lest I ever forget what God has done in my life.  I am in His Hands, which is the best and only place to be.

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