Thankful Thursday: A blink!

I’ve said it many times before…I don’t want to let another Thankful Thursday pass by without posting something I’m thankful for, yet somehow I look back and I’ve missed the chance again.  I left the “rules” of my blogging in the dust a while back but I don’t want to leave behind the one where I make sure and post about something I am thankful for at least once a week even if it isn’t something huge.

Last night I watched the benefit concert to raise money for those affected by the recent F5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma.  I watched Miranda Lambert lose control of her emotions as she was giving her performance.  In that moment she wasn’t entertaining the crowd, she was living life.  She became genuine.  I don’t know much about her, so I don’t know if that is usual or out of the ordinary for her, but it was very touching to me.  I also could not help but be moved to tears myself watching the story of the Senior in High School who had to walk the stage without her biggest fan, her mom, who had lost her life to the tornado.  I’ve watched quite a bit of coverage on the tornado.  I was glued to the t.v. for days after it happened.  But then I went on about my life in my little neck of the woods.  Last night the reality of what happened there was transmitted back into my den.

This past weekend I traveled to San Antonio with my oldest daughter, just the two of us.  It was our first ever Mother/Daughter trip and it was wonderful.  It was good for all the reasons that make any trip good…time away from the normal routine…someone else doing the cooking…someone else cleaning the bathroom and making the bed…free time.  It was wonderful because of the many chances to get to “know” Emily.  Yes, I live under the same roof as my daughter.  I’ve known her all her life.  We spend time together but it is usually not real quality time.  There are usually distractions of one kind or another…busyness…technology…people…dogs…homework…the list could go on and on.  This weekend we had very few distractions.  I got a glimpse of what Emily was thinking.  I got a glimpse of a side of her personality I don’t get to see much in the busyness of life.  We had time for spontaneous conversations without interruptions from other people vying for attention.  I am so thankful for each and every one of those moments.  I pray that many of them will stick with her for years to come.  I hope we get many more of these opportunities through the years.

I hope to be able to take my other daughter on a similar trip in a year or two.  I hope life gives us both that opportunity.  Many events over the past few weeks have reminded me just how short and unpredictable life can really be.  I’ve seen it in the faces of those who lost their homes in the blink of an eye.  I’ve seen it in the faces of friends who have had to say goodbye to those they loved way before they ever imagined they would.  Life is uncertain and unpredictable, but it is good.  That is why it is called LIFE, right?  I don’t want to wait until the next trip to get to know my daughters better.  I don’t want to wait until the next “big thing” to make a difference in someone else’s life.  I want to do that today and every day that I have left.  I don’t want to waste the one life I have doing anything that doesn’t have meaning.  There will be dishes to wash and dogs to feed and mundane chores to do…it’s part of life…but I don’t want to miss the ones that really matter…the ones that define LIFE.

Thank you Lord for this life you have given me.  Thank you for the moments you give me with the people I love.  Please show me the moments you have for me that have true meaning and help me to never miss one doing something that didn’t even matter.



The safest place!

Where do you go when the tornado sirens start going off? To be honest with you, I tend to run to the den to turn on the television if it isn’t already on…if I even hear them. I’ve been at a church before when they went off and the first place the adults I was with went was to a nearby computer. When I was in High School I remember them going off and my step-brother climbing on top of the roof to get a better look at what was headed our way. But, after that, where do you go? After you know why they are going off? After you know they aren’t just a monthly test or a false alarm? That is why you go to the television or the computer first, right? To verify their accuracy? Our safe place is a bathroom in the middle of our house. I’ve often wondered if it would really be that safe since the hot water heater is directly above us in the attic. BUT, that is the safest place in our house as far as we know.

Before the tornado hit Oklahoma yesterday I was already pondering where to go in a storm. Not just any storm and not just any safe place. I was pondering where we go in the storms of life….

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

I have heard some preachers refer to the place in this scripture as “the secret place.”  I decided to look up “the secret place” in BibleGateway and found these scriptures…among others.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place. – Psalm 51:6

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. – Psalm 139:15

Hmmm.  A mother’s womb…the place LIFE is created.  The place wisdom is first taught.

Who can hide in secret places
so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 23:24

Even our secret places are not secret to Him…

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the [a]beauty of the Lord
And to [b]meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His [c]tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices [d]with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. – Psalm 27:4-6

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
20 You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a [a]shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has made marvelous His loving kindness to me in a besieged city. – Psalm 31:19-21

And what could be a better secret place than His tent or His presence?

So how do we get there?  How do we go to the secret place and remain there?  We obviously aren’t going back into the secret place of our mother’s womb to look for shelter from the storms.  We can’t go there looking for life.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:6

I’ve seen the stories of the places people turned for shelter from the storm over the past 24 hours.  Some hid out in bathrooms or closets.  Some found shelter under stairways or in basements or storm cellars.  Some hunkered down in classrooms or hallways.  Some found physical safety in all of those places.  Some did not.  Many turned to the “secret place” while in those places.  I am sure all who turned to the “secret place” found peace and comfort in the midst of the storm.  I am sure those who suffered loss will find peace and comfort as they daily return to the “secret place” for safety and security and peace from a different kind of storm.

Thank you Lord for a safe room that no storm can overtake!

He knows…

Tonight just seems like a good night for reflection on truth.  Some things cannot be explained.  Some things in life are hard.  None of it takes God by surprise.

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

While we were celebrating with friends and family this weekend, I learned of the passing of Gracie’s preschool teacher.  She lost her fight with brain cancer at an age that is much to young.  She leaves behind a husband and children and other friends and family who knew and loved her.  Another friend lost her son in the prime of his life on the same day.  Words cannot even begin to make sense of these losses for these families.  As I’ve pondered all the things that go thru my mind to say, I realize how trite and cliché some of them sound at a time like this.  I realize how easy they are to say when I am not the one reeling from these losses.  BUT, I know One who is never trite or cliché who does know exactly how to comfort and heal these broken hearts.  I know One who WILL walk with these friends thru the days and weeks and years that are to follow.  I know One who sees the beginning and the end of each life and knows exactly how those lives and events will mold and shape each of us.  I know One who can make sense of it all.

Tonight I send prayers up for these families and pray they feel HIS arms around them and guiding them thru the days ahead.  I pray we each take the time to hold our friends and family close and never forget how precious time truly is.  I pray we laugh more, love more and make a difference every minute that we are given.  I pray we never take our days for granted.  What I wouldn’t give tonight for one more smile from that teacher as she inquires about Gracie.  One more chance to tell her what a beautiful soul she was.