Wandering Out of the Wilderness

desert-175462_1280Do you ever have those days or weeks when the stresses and problems of everyday life leave you feeling a bit lost? At times, the world is just so hectic and fast paced that I find myself at a loss to keep up. The chaos leaves me feeling overwhelmed, unfocused and lacking direction. If only for a moment or two, I feel lost.

When I feel this way, I try to make my world slow down. I search out somewhere quiet and peaceful. I shut out the noise and stresses of the world for a time and remind myself of where I am going and what is important. Then I make sure I am on the right path to get there.

Recently, during one of these times, I thought about the Israelites who were lost in the wilderness for forty years. I was grateful that the times in my life when I have felt lost have been very brief by comparison. As I thought about these Israelites, I remembered that even though they were lost because of their own unbelief and lack of faith, God watched over and took care of them.

While they wandered in the wilderness, God gave them water from a rock to drink and manna from Heaven to eat. He led them by a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a light at night. He protected them from their enemies and from poisonous serpents. He did not leave them alone in the wilderness.

At some time or other, we all feel lost like we are wandering in the wilderness. The pressures of this world can be overwhelming. It is easy to become discouraged and feel there is no end in sight or no way out. But the wildernesses of this life are temporary.

When we are lost, God will always be there to watch over us and help us find our way. He will feed us, strengthen us and illuminate our way. He will make a way out of the wilderness.

He will guide us safely and surely to the promised land.

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Choosing the Right Way Home

wrong-way-167535_1280Driving down the road recently, I came upon a big yellow sign with a bold black arrow warning me that the road ahead was about to take a sharp turn to the right. Shortly after, the road joined a larger, busier road and there was a red and white yield sign warning me to watch for and yield to the heavier flow of traffic. This road and these signs were familiar to me. I pass by them almost daily, but for some reason, on this particular day, they stood out.

As I continued my drive, I watched for and noticed the multitude of signs that dotted the landscape and lined the roads I travel every day. I saw stop signs, yield signs and speed limit signs. I saw signs warning of railroad crossings, pedestrian crossings and dead end roads. I saw signs that told me not to enter, not to pass and to keep right. I even saw massive, illuminated electronic signs that warned of lane closures and accidents ahead.

As I thought about these signs and others like them, it occurred to me that I am free to choose whether I obey or heed their warnings. I can choose not to stop, yield or drive at safe speeds. I can choose to ignore the warnings about closed roads, sharp turns, railroad crossings and one-way traffic. I can choose to ignore these signs and warnings, but if I do, I am voluntarily placing myself in the very dangers they are attempting to prevent.

Just like the roads and highways we travel, our lives are a continuous series of choices. Each day we are forced to make choices from the moment we open our eyes until the moment we close them again when the day is over. We make choices about everything from what to wear and what to eat to where to live and who to marry. We are free to make unwise, foolish and even dangerous choices but we must also face the difficulty, hardship and peril these choices may create in our lives.

Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is there to help us. As we more closely align our lives and our choices with His will, He will protect us and keep us safe. He will help us avoid the dangers and pitfalls of this life.

He will guide us to the one-way road that leads us back to His presence.

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One Ticket For the Ark, Please

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May is always a stormy, rainy month in Oklahoma and this year has been no exception. In fact, this month it has rained so much and so often that we have had massive, widespread flooding throughout the state.

All of this rain and flooding have left people feeling a little weary, a little distressed and a little damp. So it is not surprising that jokes about Noah building another Ark have been running rampant.

Driving to work this week required that I continually readjust my route to avoid flooded or damaged roads. I frequently had to maneuver through minor flooding even on the interstate. It seemed like the roads often went from dry to flooded within seconds.

Friday morning was one of the worst. Just as I was leaving the skies opened up and began dropping their contents in bucket fulls. The ground was much too saturated to hold another drop and the roads quickly began to fill with water. As I slowly and cautiously made my way to work I began to wonder if maybe I would see an ark being built around the next bend…

As I thought about Noah and his ark, I was reminded that in times of trouble our Heavenly Father is there for us. Our troubles may not be as large and dramatic as the flooding of the entire earth, even though they may seem so to us at the time. The dangers we face may not require the building of an ark, but He will send who or what we need to help us through.

I would like to believe that if I had lived in the days of Noah, I would have had the faith to be with him on the ark when the rains began to fall. I cannot know for certain, but what I do know for certain, is that when the rains begin to fall in my life, He will be there. He will always be there to rescue me.

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Memories of Last Mother’s Day

momThis time last year, I spent a wonderful day with my mother. She got to meet and hold her newest great-grandson for the first time and we took some great pictures including one with all four generations. I would have taken many, many more pictures and spent much longer at her side if I had realized that one week later she would be gone.

Exactly one week after Mother’s Day, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, my mother peacefully left this world. I know that she left behind all of the pain and suffering that she faced much of her life. I know that she is with her cherished mother and many more generations of loved ones that preceded her. I know that she is happy and that I will be with her again and I know that she would want me to be happy. I know all of these things and yet, it is still difficult. I miss her so very, very much.

As this Mother’s Day has approached, I have tried to remind myself that it is just another day on the calendar and that I should not miss her any more or less than I would on any other day. But this has been a very, long, difficult and trying week. I have had to contend with sickness, hail, tornadoes, floods and power outages. It has been the kind of week that you just really want and need the comfort and love of your mom.

Fortunately, my Heavenly Father has blessed me with the love, support and encouragement of many special people in my life. During difficult times, like this week, when I am low and missing my mother, they have been there to buoy me up and help me through. They have made my way a little lighter, a little brighter.

So, this Mother’s Day, I am still a bit sad and I am still missing my mother. But I am grateful for my knowledge of a kind, loving Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the people He sends into my life to lift me up and comfort me when I am down. I am grateful that I know I will return to Him one day and that my mother will be there waiting for me..

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X Marks the Spot

FullSizeRender_1On the little, two-lane, rural road near my home, just beyond the bend, there is a big white X painted on the pavement. I pass by this X almost daily and for some time I have wondered why it was there and who painted it there.

I have considered doing some research to find out why it is there and how it got there, but I haven’t. I think the main reason is that I don’t really want to know. I don’t really want to know the reason it is there because I enjoy imagining why it is there.

As I drive past this X each day, I like to imagine that deep beneath the asphalt is a huge treasure chest buried there long ago. I imagine a pirate ship anchored in the nearby river and pirates dragging their treasure ashore. I see them burying it and marking its location with this big white X.

Recently as I drove past the X, my head filled with visions of pirates and buried treasure, I thought about my childhood. I thought of all the hours I spent daydreaming and playing make-believe. I thought about my childhood dreams and remembered feeling that anything was possible. I believed I could do or be anything that I wanted.

As I reflected on these dreams, I thought of all the dreams that came true and all those that had not. As I grew and matured, my dreams changed. Some dreams became more important and others became less. As time passed, I dreamed new dreams and shared the dreams of my husband and children.

My dreams have not always come true, but that doesn’t mean I have given up on dreaming. We may have to change our dreams, or dream new dreams, but we need to keep dreaming. This life can be difficult and demanding much of the time. Dreams help us believe in miracles. They help us believe that anything and everything are possible. They help us have faith that things will get better. They inspire us to have hope for the future, for our future.

I know that there probably isn’t any buried treasure under that big, white X on my little road, but I choose to keep dreaming that there could be….

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Remembering Blue Skies on a Cloudy Day

fog-1795_640On a clear day, if I sit at the end of my driveway, I can see for miles. Looking to the East I can see the upper tiers of the football stadium and taller buildings of the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman. If I look to the North, I can see even farther to the Devin Tower and other buildings of downtown Oklahoma City.

It has been cloudy, dreary and rainy much of the last week. One morning, as I sat at the end of my driveway looking to the North and to the East, all I could see was gray. The buildings and structures I would normally see were covered by a thick dense blanket of clouds and fog.

As I continued my journey, much of my normal view was obscured. I could not see the morning sunrise. I could not see the usual buildings, signs and landmarks. I could not see them, but I knew they were still there. I knew when the clouds dispersed and the skies cleared they would all still be there.

I thought how this is much like our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Sometimes the gray clouds and darkness of trial and adversity in our lives can make it difficult for us to see Him or to know that He is there. But just because we cannot see Him or see His plan for us at the moment does not mean He is not there or that He is not working in our lives.

During times of doubt and despair, when we have trouble knowing that He is there we need only to remember the times that we have felt His presence and have seen His hand in our lives. We need only to remind ourselves that just like gray clouds these dark and difficult times will pass too.

I know that these gray clouds will pass, the sun will shine and once again the view from the end of my driveway will be clear. I know that the buildings and structures in the distance are there even when I cannot see them.

As surely as I know this, I know that my Heavenly Father is there even though I cannot see Him. I know this because I see His miracles and His creations. I know this because I see His hand and His influence in my life.

I know that He loves us and watches over us. No matter how dark, no matter how difficult this world, I know that He is always there.

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Finding Beauty Right Under My Nose

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I like to think of myself as being a fairly attentive and observant person. I make a conscious effort to look for and take time to appreciate the beauty of this world. Even so, I often find myself either too distracted or too focused to notice the things that are right under my nose.

One morning this week, I decided to stop at a local restaurant to get something to drink. As I sat in a line at the drive-thru that seemed to barely move, I spent my time complaining and growing more frustrated by the minute. My thoughts bounced around between work, traffic, the weather and a dozen other things and I passed the time mindlessly staring at the screen on my phone.

Just as I was about to start another round of complaining to myself, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. As I turned to look, I saw a huge, flowering bush just outside my window. The bush was covered with magnificent, fragrant blooms. The bush was so close to my open window that when I turned to look the flowers were literally in my face.

I was able to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the flowers for only a few brief seconds before the line moved forward and summoned me to move also. As I pulled slowly ahead, I regretted that I hadn’t noticed the bush and it’s flowers sooner. I was disappointed that I had wasted the minutes I spent stopped there being annoyed instead of edified.

As I drove away, I wondered how many other things I had missed. How many things have I been oblivious to because I was too preoccupied with something either not present or not important?

I made a renewed commitment that day to try even harder to live in the here and now and enjoy the beauty that can be found everywhere even right under my nose.

 

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