Faith Amidst Euroclydon

Swirling thoughts of uselessness, hopelessness, and despair encircle me to the point of near devastation and yet somehow I keep my head up or rather, I keep moving forward.

Recently, a friend of mine with a very similar personality to my own, texted something to me that made sense of my swirling thoughts and my seeming inability to formulate them in to words.  I usually keep those kinds of words/texts and dwell on them for days, weeks, months, sometimes even years.  However, I also occasionally tend to “clean out closets” in an attempt to not be a hoarder (even of words).  And, unfortunately, this apparently is one of those times.  Otherwise, I’d share with you the exact words this friend used.

As so many of my fellow Christians say, “I went to church on Sunday.”  I’m trying to change my vocabulary and say, “I went to a worship service on Sunday.”  I realize I’m being a bit “nit picky” and yet words and descriptions really do have an impact on how things are viewed.  The discussion regarding how to define the word “church” is better saved for another time.  My point to all of this is to tell of something I heard while at said aforementioned service that relates to my swirling thoughts and to what my friend said about me.

The pastor of this particular group of believers has been working through the book of Acts.  This past Sunday, he indicated that he’s never heard chapter 27 preached quite like he had at the Calvary Chapel 2017 International Senior Pastors & Wives Conference.  He shared the video of Damian Kyle teaching/preaching.  The following is part of what struck me as significant.

Acts 27:20 says this in the second part of the verse,

…all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

This comes after they faced Euroclydon in verse 14.  Euroclydon is described as:

  • a tempestuous head wind
  • a wind of hurricane force
  • a violent wind
  • a wind of typhoon strength
  • a gale-force wind

It was seen as an infamous northeastern storm, not unlike the winter storm that recently hit the northeastern part of the United States.  Damian Kyle explained that he feels this particular story of a shipwreck was included to show us that even when all hope is lost, God is still there.  He went on to share the famous Footprints in the Sand poem.  I remember truly loving that poem as a child/adolescent and yet now I somehow feel as though it is over-used.  But, my mind is wandering again.  Back to what I considered ‘significant.’

I suppose one must realize that part of the significance comes from what the pastor did/said after the video of Damian Kyle was finished.  The pastor asked for people around the room/auditorium/sanctuary to stand if they’d been through a Euroclydon-type storm and come out “victorious” on the other side.  I remember feeling like I could perhaps half-way stand, and yet… I still so much feel like I’m in the middle of a Euroclydon because of my swirling thoughts that I’ve already mentioned… (numerous times, if you follow my blog at all).  After he had people stand as a “testimony to God’s faithfulness,” he then asked for people to stand who felt as though they were in the midst of a Euroclydon.  I stood, but then I immediately started crying and could not stay on my feet.  My younger daughter was with me, and she held out her hand to mine.  A man I’ve never seen before or since came and placed his hand on my shoulder or arm and asked if I was okay.  I nodded my head amidst my sobs.  (What else could I do or say?)

Why am I sharing this with any of you? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know except to say that somehow, not by my own choosing, God has given me a faith in Him that cannot be explained.  It is this faith that keeps my head above the waters, or as I stated earlier, keeps me moving forward.

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Indescribable

I started looking at pictures that I have saved on my laptop from past years for the month of January: 2017, 2016, 2015; and then when I got to 2014, the pictures were there but were shown in the wrong month and year.  I may not ever be able to determine the exact dates of some of them, but I know when I was in American Samoa.  This one, among many others stuck out to me:

CIMG4394.JPG

I remember exactly where I was on the island and what happened around the same time that I took this picture.  It was one of two days that we visited this area.  A few others and I ventured out into the ocean, carefully walking on the sharp coral.  Most of the coral in this area was rather drab-looking — mainly gray, dull, and boring.  Additionally, the water was not very deep when the tide was out.  One could walk 50 feet or more from the shore and still be in water only up to one’s calf.  However, I managed to find the edge of the coral, where the ocean floor dropped (or disappeared) like the edge of a canyon.  To this day, I shake my head in amazement.  There is absolutely no way for me to describe in words the discovery I felt I had made.  I literally lied down on the coral (sharp as it was), put my goggles and snorkeling gear on, and peered down into a canyon.  (Some might call it a “drop off” similar to the one depicted in Finding Nemo even though the one I saw probably was not as deep.)  As I sit here 6,000 miles away from that tiny little island in the South Pacific and consider the vastness of the ocean and its unfathomable depth and color, I’m speechless.  (Even Pixar‘s talent of creating believable animation cannot capture the awe-inspiring sight.  It’s almost a joke for me to even mention that.)  I remember wishing I had an underwater camera; and yet even if I had had one, it would be the same as trying to capture the beauty of a sunset through a single lens.  And yet, the feelings I felt far exceed any feelings I’ve ever felt about the most beautiful of sunsets.

Popcorn Quotes to Seize the Day

In an attempt to be a better ‘me’ this year, I’ve taken to tweeting with the hashtag, #SeizeTheDay.  (Obviously, tweeting is not going to make me a better me, in and of itself.)  My best friend of all time is celebrating her birthday today.  We’ve not seen each other in nearly 18 years, and yet our friendship is as strong as ever.  For my birthday, she gave me a daily calendar with quotes (and the words “Seize the Day”) for each day of the year (except only one on weekends).  Today’s quote, after a brief search online, appears to be a bit of a misquote.

I’ve not read this blogpost word for word, but Sue Brewton points out that rewording quotes changes the meaning.  Here’s the quote as printed by Sellers Publishing, Inc.:

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.  

— John D. Rockerfeller, Sr.

According to Wikiquote, Zig Ziglar used this in Steps to the Top in 1985.   However, according to Working in America by Catherine Reef and The Fra: For Philistines and Roycrofters edited by Elbert Hubbard and Felix Shay and Sue Brewton’s blog as already mentioned, the quote should be:

It requires a better type of mind to seek out and to support or to create the new than to follow the worn paths of accepted success.

John D. Rockerfeller, Sr. in Random Reminiscences of Men and Events

For me, the quote exudes even more when one reads the whole paragraph (or better yet, the whole book); but in our society of instantaneous everything, we’ve come to expect ideas to come to us in 140 characters or less.  Even Twitter realized that life can not be crammed into such a small box, as they recently doubled the allotted number of characters to 280.

So, let’s #SeizeTheDay and start seeking out more than the microwaved package of proverbial popcorn.  Dig out the old air popper or pour some kernels in a small amount of hot oil.  (Just be sure to have a lid nearby.)  In other words, read a full paragraph, chapter, or book!

By the way, “Seize the Day” is a quote from approximately 2,041 years ago… long before the microwave, cellphone, Google, or even the printing press was invented.

Thankfulness

In no particular order, here are 100 things I am grateful for:

  1. sunny sky with a few puffy clouds
  2. aroma of a turkey baking in the oven IMG_20171123_113056_635
  3. chimes of a church bell
  4. Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive
  5. the internet (to include WiFi, Google, instant messaging, etc.)
  6. Jesus’ love
  7. my parents
  8. my children
  9. extended family
  10. friends from all over
  11. not having to work on Thanksgiving this year
  12. hot coffee
  13. hot and cold running water
  14. ears to hear
  15. eyes to see
  16. a free country
  17. all of the United States military men and women and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for that freedom
  18. cell phones (it’s a love/hate relationship, actually. ha!)
  19. the ability to write
  20. freedom to write
  21. my journal
  22. The Four Agreements
  23. my Bible
  24. sweet potatoes
  25. YouTube
  26. my best friend (yes, this is different than #10 above)
  27. church families
  28. those who’ve gone before (this list is too numerous to count)
  29. a vest from my current employer, signifying a brief yet new chapter in my life
  30. a car that runs well
  31. money to put gas in that car
  32. my driver’s license
  33. the state of Georgia
  34. for the fact that I’ve been off of Facebook since August 2016
  35. children
  36. laughter
  37. tears/crying
  38. roses (big, small, buds, any color … but especially red)
  39. eggs
  40. smell of bacon cooking
  41. passionate teachers
  42. doctors who take time to listen to the whole issue
  43. Germany
  44. the Swiss Alps
  45. simple beauty of a dandelion
  46. autumn leaves
  47. spring flowers
  48. time
  49. togetherness
  50. Simply Mac authorized Mac dealer in this area
  51. my laptop
  52. singing
  53. parades
  54. marching bands
  55. free music
  56. clean water
  57. a refrigerator
  58. a stove with working oven
  59. miniblinds
  60. a ticking clock
  61. my DVD player
  62. all my fingers and toes, arms and legs
  63. communication
  64. books
  65. warm, fuzzy socks
  66. cute, frilly panties
  67. intimacy
  68. the house where my mom grew up
  69. time alone
  70. the sound of birds chirping, singing, twittering
  71. love
  72. a starry night
  73. sunsets
  74. sunrises
  75. new days
  76. new friends
  77. texting
  78. warm covers on a comfy bed
  79. hardwood floors
  80. the smell of a freshly mown lawn
  81. dew on a single blade of grass
  82. countryside
  83. cattle bellowing
  84. rodeos
  85. cowboys
  86. country music (well, mostly)
  87. semi-smart phones
  88. jigsaw puzzles
  89. jumping in leaves
  90. Fatu ma Futi in American Samoa
  91. the vast Pacific Ocean
  92. majestic, snow-capped mountains (in addition to #44 above)
  93. turtles
  94. butterflies
  95. puppies and kittens
  96. new fallen snow
  97. snowflakes
  98. Schnitzel
  99. gloves
  100. soap

 

Additionally, my thanks to Jennifer for inspiring me to compose this list.

Satirical Saturday or my poor attempt at inaccurate alliteration

I’ve not blogged in a while… not because I’ve not wanted or needed to, but because I’m afraid of what people will think. Within recent months, I’ve told people (who I actually know) about my blog. And, that’s what has me frightened. I’m afraid I’ll divulge something that heretofore has been somewhat private. I’m afraid of being judged. (I know how people are… myself included. Why are we that way?)

Life is a complicated thing. Daily, all of us are learning how to maneuver and manage in this world… whether we realize it or not. Our world is changing fast. We don’t see it because of the intense speed with which it is changing.

I no longer feel like I’m able to accurately articulate my true feelings and thoughts about things. It’s like my own little corner of the world is spinning around and around and around with no end in sight, and I’m scrambling to try and figure out how to hold on or jump off. With my propensity to over-think things (EVERYthing), this spinning wheel may eventually crash. That being said, I truly am glad that I have a personal relationship with the One who holds it all together. Knowing that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. As James says, I’m verrrry slowly learning to “count it all joy when [I] fall into various trials.”

This song is not really related… or is it?

p.s. I have a different place to live. See my previous post if you don’t understand.

Praying for Open Hands

I am hesitant to ask for prayer mainly because my problems seem relatively minor compared to most.  However, I am extremely stressed and overwhelmed.  Things at work have changed supposedly for the better, and yet things are different.  (And even though, in this case, different and better are good; they are still stressful.)  The place where I live is being placed on the market to be sold.  Searching for another place is difficult at best (especially considering my very limited income).  The wonderful people who are a part of my local church and small group are so loving and kind, and yet I still so very often feel alone.  Considering the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (and how God provides for them) is great until my feet have to hit the pavement.  Trusting the Lord, completely, has been and continues to be one of the most difficult things. I am not even sure what to ask you to pray for, but thank you to whomever does pray.

This song by Laura Story featuring Mac Powell from Third Day is one of many that comes to mind:

“Mrs. Positive” vs. the Ex-Wife

So, my ex is married to “Ms. Positive of the Universe,” and I find myself wallowing in self-pity.  Obviously, something is not right.  Even to admit this publicly could bring shame upon myself.  However, I need to get over it.  (I’m sure “Ms. Positive” would agree with me.  Oh wait… I should label her properly.  It’s not “Ms.” but “Mrs.”  Only those of us who are divorced and not remarried have the honour and privilege of the “Ms.” title. 🙂 )

Do I have a point to this?  Probably not… except to say that I’m attempting to let off some steam.  I struggle with seeing how she claims to be the number one fan of her daughters and includes my two daughters in the (literal) picture (along with her three daughters).  I know I need to probably ‘address’ this issue with her, but I really do not know how to breach the subject.  Will I be banned from WordPress for writing about it here?  I highly doubt it.  Will she ever see this?  Probably not… unless someone who knows her (and me) points it out to her. Will I be upset if she sees it?  Probably.  Will she be?  I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But, will we all get over it?  Will it one day “pass,” like many people keep telling me, “This too shall pass”?  I sure hope so!  Maybe by me writing about it I’ll somehow feel better.  I don’t know.

The longer I live, I’m finding that there are many things that I do not know. And, there are many things for which I have no answers.  To simply say that Jesus is THE answer sounds great!  I’ve been waiting a long time (and reading a lot of Scripture and excerpts from books written by dead theologians) to try and figure out how that applies to real life.