Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Near-Death Experience, Take Two

As you may have noticed, me, cars, and nature make for a potentially life threatening combination.  I am not a fan of spiders -- and apparently ducks aren't a fan of me.  But let's start at the beginning...

It was the day before we left on vacation when I was driving my mom out to my grandpa's to drop something off at his house.  You must understand that my grandpa lives in a very rural area.  He lives in, what we call, a swamp.  Not a nasty, smelly swamp -- it's a beautiful swamp with cattails, deer, and plenty of ground that's high enough to be inhabited by people.  Anyway, it's very open, with lot's of wildlife everywhere.

On this particular day, I was driving down a nearly-empty road on the way to my grandpa's, when I happened to notice two cyclists.  They had humongous packs of luggage balancing precariously over their back tires as they pedaled up the oncoming lane toward me.  And there were also ducks.

Now ducks are not a big deal.  Normally.  The Swamp is full of geese, mallards, turtles, and small rodents -- never a big problem.  But on this day, the cyclists were baring down on three mallard ducks that were waddling across the shoulder of the road.  And we were driving on the other side of the road.  Suddenly, things started going in slow motion for me.

For a second, which seemed to last longer than that, I was watching the ducks inches away from the bicycles' wheels.  And I was watching the ducks, panicking, start to fly away.  But they didn't fly back toward the dike to the left.  They decided to fly in front of me.  I slammed on the brakes, wincing just as the birds hit the car.  Neither my mom or I remember seeing them hit the car.  But a split second later I was aware of everything around me and was slowing to the curb (Without my turning signal.  Whoops.)  And my driver's side mirror was gone.

It could have been so much worse.  I could have been going faster, and the birds could have catapulted through my open window and hit me in the head -- making me lose control.  Or I could have been going slower and the birds could have crashed into the windshield, cracking it.  Or it could have been a deer, which would have wrecked the car.  Or another vehicle.

It was scary for me, a new driver.  But God was holding my mom and me in the palm of His hand, as He always does.  And the accident with the mallards reminds me that there are many things that could easily happen to me every single day -- things I couldn't possibly know about or predict.  What about when we forget the cellphone at home and have to turn back home to get it?  Was there an accident that we would have been in up ahead?  Or when we decide to go someplace new instead of going the usual way.  There are hundreds of stories about people missing certain death by making one random decision.  Just ask the survivors of  9/11, or those who lived through the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, or the people who should have been on a plane that crashed, or a train that dove off the tracks, or a bus that never made it to its destination.

My dad once told me a story he'd heard on the radio.  We were in the car, and he paused the music to tell it.  He couldn't remember all of the details, but the gist of the story went about like this:  There was a Olympic diver.  The man didn't believe in the existence of God, even though his friend kept telling him about One who loved him more than anyone ever could.  One night the diver went to the pool by himself to practice his dives.  He didn't stop to turn on the lights, because the pool had skylights overhead, and the moon was shining down into the room.  The man climbed up onto the highest diving board above the pool and turned around to do his dive.  He spread his arms wide -- the starting position for his dive.  Suddenly, he saw his shadow fell across wall.  It was in the shape of the cross.  Immediately overcome with emotion he could not explain, he dropped to his knees on the board and cried out to God.

Then my dad turned the music back on.  The story was mildly interesting.  A story of a man finding God on a diving board, his life changed forever.  I listened to the song playing in the car.  Then my dad paused the song again.

A minute later the janitor came into the pool area and flicked on the lights.  The diver stood up, wiped the tears from his eyes, and turned around.  The pool was completely empty.  Drained.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mail Call Monday

I got my first letter from my Compassion correspondent child Ricky!  Ricky lives in the Dominican Republic and is 15 years old.

His letter says,

Dear Sponsor.  Greetings in the Name of Jesus.  I am very happy to write to you again.  (First letter I've received, so not sure about the "again" part)  I pass all my final exams.  I am very happy because I will go to summer camp and we will have fun and grow in my spiritual life.  I learn a lot about God.  Which is your country?  I like a lot the snack at the center, I have new friends, they are good.  I would like to have a picture of you. (I did send him a picture recently, so they probably crossed in the mail)  Thank you for your support is a great help and for be important for you.  God bless you a lot and give you a great reward in your life.  What is your favorite country?  Please, pray for me, my family.  Bye in the Name of Jesus.  Ricky.

I was so happy to receive this letter from Ricky!  It is such an encouragement when I get letters from my correspondent children.  Not only do I get to touch their lives, they deeply touch mine as well.  Hopefully Ricky will receive the picture I sent him soon!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Holding on to Hope

Being that Hope is my word for the year, I've been on the lookout lately for songs that speak to me about the Hope that God gives us.  The first one the radio that made me stop and listen was "Not for a Moment" by Meredith Andrews.  I saw Meredith at CMS @ the Chapel this spring, and she was such an inspiration to listen to.  This song really struck me as the perfect song of hope.

Never will Jesus forsake me, even when I can't see Him.

Sometimes it seems that Hope is like a vapor.  It appears for a second, but you can't grasp it.  If you reach out your hand to touch it, it vanishes.  Maybe you'll see it again, maybe you won't.  But God isn't a vapor.  And His plans for us are concrete.  It's not that God might help us.  He will be there for us, however He sees that we need help.  We may not see how He can be in a situation, but He will never forsake us.

The other song that speaks to me about God's constant presence in my life is Colton Dixon's song, "Never Gone."

God is always with us.  We never have to be afraid.  Sometimes we go through trials -- sometimes God sends us into trials, fully knowing that we will have difficulty -- so that we will run to Him as our strong tower.  For if our Hope is in the Lord, we don't have to be afraid.  He will not fail us.