Friday, August 29, 2014

Wrong Turns

Isaiah 65:1-2 - "I've made myself available to those who haven't bothered to ask. I'm here, ready to be found by those who haven't bothered to look. I kept saying, 'I'm here, I'm right here' to a nation that ignored me. I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me, People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way."

I can just see Him. 
God as  Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter. 
Waving His hand frantically, jumping up & down in His chair, and shouting, "Oh! Oh! Oh!"  

Trying to get my attention.

Of course, ole Mr. Kotter ... (that would be me ... or maybe you) ... knows that Horshack is there. Mr. Kotter just ignores Him as long as possible. Eventually His need to be heard is recognized.

"People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way..." - that's the part that really hits home with me.

I know He's talking about lost people ... people who are resistant to God ... people who have not come to know Him ... not one of His own who simply find themselves lost.

Yet the truth is ... He's talking about ME!

Sometimes I get so excited about where I am going....and all of the possibilities along the way.....that I run ahead.....of myself....and of God. 

Adventuresome as I am, there is often no one in front of me who knows where it is that I am supposed to go... so guess what ... I make wrong turns!

I have enjoyed some of those scenic routes. I've found unexpected joys in hidden places. 

... the road that leads to nowhere ...
It must be awfully amusing to God ... to see me running willy-nilly ... when He knows that where the road really leads ... is exactly where I want to go ... if I would simply stay the course.

Stubbornly ... I tend to take off on my own ... sure that I know the way.  Impatience clouding my vision.  At some point I realize that I made a wrong turn ... that I am sort of off track ... 
a little lost.

What was I thinking?!?  I have no sense of direction.

And there I am ... impatiently waiting patiently ... on God ... to show up & rescue me from the out-of-the-way places I find myself.

All the while, He's waving His hand ... trying to get my attention.
You see, God, He is patiently waiting on ME ...

Juan Epstein: [Late at night in the dark classroom] Hey, Horshack. Tell me somethin'. 
Do you ever think about what God is like?
Arnold Horshack: Oh, yeah. I think he's short. And he has a marvelous sense of humor. 

And a great laugh.  

Horshack. And God.
They snort ... when they laugh.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

Do you want to build a snowman?

For days & days now ... I have been desperately seeking a bit of inspiration ... motivation ... just the tiniest spark ... of something,

I have accepted the challenge ... and started down the path of something new.  It's something that I believe in ... and am passionate about ... except that I can't seem to find the rhythm.  

Without the rhythm ... it's more like going through the motions ... and I've never been completely sold on the the "fake-it-til-you-make-it" philosophy even though I did manage to completely transform myself at 19 by doing something like that.

It's something I really want to do.  Everyone seems to think that it should come naturally to me.  This time, though, it doesn't  ... and I am not sure why.  I feel like I am on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Do you want to build a snowman? 

This morning I found myself aimlessly searching through bits and pieces of things that were intended as blog triggers ... yet somehow I never put the words together. 
Some of them made me smile.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

A man called me "MARY" four times after I told him 3 times that my name was "MARYJANE" ... another man dressed in camo offered to share his fudge striped cookies with me ... and a very young man reminded me that I WAS great.

I can hold back the tides. - God

"What a wonderful place and life I have been blessed with... You sent me the angel and I met an older couple from hot springs in the lobby... If you have time to talk I would love to tell you about it!" ~ a Facebook message from a friend

God is close.  God is not as far away as the farthest star.  He is as near as the next heartbeat.
“The Lord is near to all who call on him.” (Psalm 145:18)
God is waiting for you to ask. 

strawberries - last ones of the season ... new beginnings
squirrel came into the house ... look up squirrel symbolism ... the one with synchronicity
shake the dust off my shoes
get off the fence

“Desire is the interface between you and that which is greater than you. It is there to pull you into the next thing.” Mama Gena = founder of the School of Womanly Arts in NYC

Because your life is happening right now. The days are passing by like leaves
slowly falling off a tree in autumn. 

! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

So here I am ... with my nose pressed to the window ... observing the party that I was personally invited to ... yet not welcomed inside because somehow I don't fit in.

I've never really fit in.

Do you want to build a snowman"

Sometimes the encourager needs to be encouraged ... the motivator needs to be motivated ... 
the believer needs to be believed in...

Everyone needs ... a little hope.  Even me.

All I need is a spark. Or maybe my wick needs to be trimmed. 

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single flame.  

So many candles ... so little time.
(c) August 2014



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

As angels fly ...

It was just an ordinary day.

 I was driving ... on a two lane highway ... a back road.  It was dusk when one of those summer thunderstorms blew through dropping a whole bunch of rain in a very few minutes.
As quick as it came it was gone.

I approached a T in the road.  Main highway curved to the left and a secondary highway fed into it from the right.  There was no stop sign as the road curved but I slowed down anyway
to get my bearings.

Up ahead ... at the dead end ... there were a bunch of trees.  Really tall trees towering over the pavement. I was definitely in the middle of nowhere.

There was water standing on the road from the pop-up shower. As my tires connected with the first puddle, the hydroplaning started.

It's a helpless, out-of-control feeling ... hydroplaning.

I was sliding towards the trees at the top of the T.  Hitting the trees head on didn't seem like a such a good idea to me. I resisted the urge to put on the brakes and pulled hard to make the right turn ... thinking if successful, I would avoid any oncoming traffic on the secondary road.

Good thinking.  But not really a success.  I was now sliding rapidly towards the trees with an anticipated broadside impact to the driver's door.

I was sure that I was a goner.

I really didn't feel any panic.  It was more of a sense of peace that came over me as I let go of the steering wheel and leaned back into my seat. This wasn't exactly what I had planned for the day.

"If this is it, Lord, I guess I am ready.  But let's make it fast, ok?"

I am pretty sure that I spoke the words out loud.  That's what I do when I am talking with
my best friend, God, Creator of the Universe.

It had only been a week or so since the whisper had come while I was driving on a different back road ... "It's really wonderful here, MJ.  I can't wait for you to be here, too."

That encounter didn't cause me any great distress either.  More of an acceptance than a concern.

Much of my drive time on this particular day had been spent reflecting on that thought ... pondering what the reactions of various people who love me would be if something were to
happen to me.

It all happened so quickly. 

Have you ever had that stomach-in-your-throat sensation ... like when you are riding a roller coaster and that suddenly begins to dive?

That's what came next ... in place of the collision with the trees.

What couldn't be seen from the road was the ravine that was waiting on the other side of the shoulder.  Just a foot or two past the pavement ... there was nothing but air. All those really tall trees were ... REALLY TALL trees ... growing a good 12 feet up to the road ... and then enough more height added to appear as a highway-level forest.

The car was falling. Falling.

All around me was crackling ... rustling ... vibrations.  It was very loud!
Lasting for seconds that seemed to linger on and on.

Then I hit bottom.  Not once. Twice. A big bounce and then everything was still and silent.

I opened my eyes to find myself ... in the car ... wedged in the midst of the trees ...
and the road, well, it was way above me.

It took a bit of effort to get the door open and to get out. Adrenalin was pumping.  I was sure that there was going to be an explosion or something.

I remember thinking ... what if I can't get the window to roll down so that I can reach out and open the door?  Funny what you think at such times ... and what you remember.

Once out of the car, I was able to look around ... to try to figure out what to do next.  It was overwhelming.  The trees were really thick ... and the embankment was steep.  There was a man standing at the edge of the shoulder calling down to offer his help.

Without giving any thought to my actions, I began working my way back up to the road.  It was about a 12 foot drop ... pretty much straight down. There was really no easy way out.

The man that met me at the top was an off-duty EMT.  He said he saw me go over the edge.  He couldn't believe that I was able to climb out of there on my own.

Starting with my head, he began checking for injuries.

"Where did you hit your head?" he asked.  "I didn't hit my head" was my response.

"You had to hit your head on something," he continued.  "Did your head go forward or back on impact?"  "I am pretty sure I didn't hit my head" I said.

Frantically he continued to query me about my head.  He said it was important to find where I hit my head to determine if I had a concussion or other serious injury.  Even after a careful once over with his hands, he was unable to find any evidence that I had hit my head.

Except for a little blood on the tip of my nose. 

"It's impossible that you dropped over the edge like that ... hitting the bottom with such impact ... and didn't hit your head," he said.

"Did the air bag deploy?" he asked as he dabbed my nose with antiseptic.  I told him that both airbags had deployed.  He said that must have been what hit my nose.

Amazed he was to discover that my nose wasn't really injured.  It was just a minor scrape that took the skin off the tip. Shaking his head he said ... "That's impossible."

Impossible that I didn't hit my head on anything ... not forward or back.
Impossible that I took the full impact of the airbag AND the crash on my face ... with nothing
to show for it but a skinned nose. No black eye ... no bruising ... no cuts ... no broken nose.

"Do you hurt anywhere?" he asked next as his concern moved to the rest of my body.  Before I could answer, he said that it was obvious that I hadn't broken a leg because I had climbed up the ravine all on my own.

I didn't really hurt anywhere ...except for a bit of pain in my left thigh.  Rolling up my pants leg we discovered that I had a skinned knee but no real injury.  He determined that my thigh had most likely slammed up against the bottom of the steering column on impact.  There would be some bruising over the next few days ... that's what he said.

But there wasn't.  In the days following the accident ... and the weeks since then ... there has been no bruising ... anywhere ... and no pain once the soreness left my thigh.

Other people had begun to arrive by now.  All wanted to know if I wanted to be transported to a hospital.  "No, I'm not hurt." That's what I said each time I was asked throughout the evening.

"You're in shock," I was told.  "Look down there ... you dropped 12 feet and hit the bottom hard."  "You have to be injured ... somewhere." "It's impossible that you don't have anything broken ... at the very least you should have a cracked rib." "Are you sure you don't hurt anywhere?"

Each time I was asked "How do you feel?" ... my reply was the same ...

"Blessed.  I feel very blessed."

The only thing I climbed out with was my cell phone.  Calls were immediately made to my brother to come get me ... and to my insurance agent ... even though it was after hours.  My insurance agent ... rocks.  His response and the impact it had on all of the people gathered around me was significant.  He is a great friend and there is no doubt that he is also a personal gift from God ...
to me.

The deputy sheriff arrived and began asking his questions.  An accident report had to be made.  His first concern was ... my injuries.  Same song, second verse on the questions concerning head injury, air bags, broken anything, pain anywhere.  After giving him all of the same answers, he scratched his head and said ... "It's just not possible that you walked out of there with no injury."

"How do you feel?" he asked.  "Blessed", I replied.

Obviously baffled by the whole thing, he began to tell me about other accidents that had taken place at that spot.  Seems he has been serving the county for 17 years or so.
He's seen a lot of things.

About 1 car a month goes over the edge somewhere along that stretch of road according to the deputy sheriff.  On average, 90 percent of them are traveling too fast and simply miss the curve.  When the front wheels run out of pavement, the car drops suddenly forward and the aerodynamics cause it to flip end-over-end before hitting bottom.

The other 10 percent come across in a sideways manner ... similar to my approach.  Thing is no one ever goes over the edge completely even when they are sliding sideways.  Either the back end or the front actually runs out of pavement before the other causing an off balance situation that sends the car rolling horizontally down the embankment.

"Never pulled a car out of here that didn't flip or roll," he said. "Least not that I can remember."

I was ready for the punchline by this time.  So I smiled and waited.

"It's impossible that your car didn't flip or roll," he observed. "It's as if someone carried your car  across the edge and then dropped it straight down ... and it landed on all four feet ...
just like a cat."

Hours passed quickly.  All of the appropriate emergency crews came and went as we hung out in the dark with a light rain falling ... waiting on the wrecker ... and my ride home.

Around midnight, the wrecker arrived to pull my car out.  The driver was a little stunned when he saw the situation.  "The dispatcher told me I was going to be pulling a car out of a ... ditch," he said.  "This is something more than a ditch."

After getting his bearings, he said he was sure he could do it with the equipment he had and headed down the side of the ravine.  From above, we watched with interest as he did whatever he was doing down there that we couldn't really see from up top ... it was very dark.

When he came back up to begin the process of pulling the car out, the deputy sheriff shook his head again saying, "I can't understand how she didn't flip or roll."

The wrecker driver looked at us incredulously.  "I can tell you why she didn't flip or roll," he began. "But before I do ... let me just say that what I found down there is ... impossible.  There's no way that what happened with her car could have happened ... there is no logical explanation."

When the car went over the edge, it was going sideways and with some momentum.  Apparently it cleared the top perfectly even.  There was no forward or backward motion.  When the car began to drop it fell evenly through the trees.  The trees were taller than the car.  Somehow ... a tall tree managed to implant itself ... dead center ... in the front hood.  It wedged itself about half way to the windshield.  That was his story.

"The car rode that tree all the way down," he said in amazement. "When it hit the bottom it bounced and rode the tree back up ... and on the second trip down, the tree snapped."

The tree stabilized the car during its descent ... providing the balance needed to keep it from flipping or rolling ... which should have been the result of the dynamics of the incident.

"It's impossible for that tree to have done that," he said.  "But I'm telling you that's what happened.  I saw the evidence for myself while I was down there."

The people in the community where my accident took place were the nicest people ever.  They were kind and concerned about me.  As it began to rain harder, we tried to get everything out of my car before it was towed away for good.

A few things were overlooked and were sent to me in a box later in the week.

After sorting through it all, I discovered that there were three things that didn't make it out of the wreck.  One was a crystal ... that Abbi had found years ago ... and left in a baggy with some plain ole rocks when she moved into her grown-up home.

It seemed out of place and special so I showed it to a friend who knows about crystals ... along with the other rocks in the bag ...

"It's a very nice crystal, MaryJane," she said. "You should keep it with you because you don't find crystals ... they find you ... when you need them."

So I put it in my car and it had been riding around with me ever since.

My little ladybug that rode on my dashboard ... as a spiritual GPS didn't come home either.

The last lost thing ... was a sweet visor clip that Abbi gave me for my birthday last year.  It was a ceramic angel ... with the message ...  
Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.

Hindsight is 20/20.  After taking the inventory ... it was crystal clear to me ... what happened.

All that noise ... on the way down ... wasn't coming from the trees.  It was the thunderous sound of angel wings ... feathers ruffling furiously ... fully protecting me ... in ways that seem ... impossible.

A miracle is an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God. There is no doubt that a miracle took place on that day in June.

It was witnessed by many. Lives were touched in ways that I can't even imagine.  The blessing ... wasn't just for me ...
I was simply the vehicle.

It was just an ordinary day, you see ... as angels fly.
(C) August 2014