Rest Stops

I’ve been on vacation for exactly one week. For those of you who don’t know, I work in 1st grade as a one-on-one special education technician in an elementary school. Next year we’ll be moving up to 2nd grade.

My family began their vacation a month ago.

I waited for this vacation for so long.

So. Long.

When last Tuesday finally rolled around I was just dizzy with the prospect of having my long-awaited break.

I’ve accomplished so much in only one week!

I’ve watched several [thousand] world cup soccer games. I’ve eaten several [hundred] avocadoes. I’ve watched several [dozen] episodes of tv shows. I played the piano [at least twice]. I walked downtown [thrice]. I bought new sandals and liquid eyeliner.

[Let me take this time to inform you, dear reader, that liquid eyeliner is a lot harder than it looks and, invariably, one eye will look like a super-model and the other will look like a giant squid set loose on you with its ink.]

Cough-cough.

Other things I’ve done on vacation. I made popovers and pancakes with strawberries and chocolate swirl. I started reading “The Book Thief” and went running 3 times. I took my brother to the ER. I ordered an exercise ball at my physical therapist’s recommendation. I got stung on the nose by a bee. I downloaded Snapchat. I dipped strawberries in nutella.

So far, it’s been awesome. Not even one bit boring. I don’t miss going to work every day even a little. I don’t think that everything was a tad more comfortable when it was about 30 degrees cooler. I don’t think that hearty stews and chillies are more delicious than summery salads. I don’t think brown boots with knee socks and jeans are more adorable than shorts and flip-flops. I’m not even one single bit running out of things to do. I didn’t rejoice when it rained tonight.

Tomorrow I might water the flowers and make sandwiches for lunch. Maybe I’ll put bacon in the sandwiches.

And it’ll be glorious.

The Unlucky Day

This week ended with Friday the 13th. Ironically, however, my unlucky day fell on Thursday the 12th.

My unlucky day started out just like any other – my alarm went off at 6am and I rolled out of bed in a bit of a daze. There’d been a bit of a thunderstorm the night before, but I hadn’t paid much attention to it as it had mostly happened after I went to sleep. On school nights I have to go to bed at 9:30. If I try to stay up later I won’t be able to wake up in time to make our school lunches and then I’d have to get school lunch [always a risk].

I dropped Tim off at work and continued the further half hour to my school. It was about 7:55 when I pulled into the parking lot and waved at the secretary as she pulled out. As I got out of my car and was picking up my stuff from the back seat the janitor came over to me.

“No school today,” he said.

“Haha – funny joke,” I said, completely unconvinced.

“No, really,” he said, “there was an awful thunderstorm and terrible winds, a tornado touched down here. No power. No school.”

The fact that I’d just waved to the secretary leaving school suddenly struck home. So I went to spend the rest of the school day at my parents’ house until it was time to meet my husband and brothers at their soccer game [playing and coaching].

An hour before the game they decided to postpone due to pouring rain at the away site. My once-busy day was now completely empty. I decided to invite my parents and brothers over for a pizza dinner at our place, since everyone was so depressed about the game being postponed.

At about 3pm it started raining in earnest again. Then there was thunder. And lightening.

The family was expected to arrive at our house at about 5pm. At about 4:45 I got a phone call. Their car had broken down on the side of the road. I had to go and pick them up. I drove through the torrential rain. Then I drove to several gas stations with them to find a gas-canister to try to refill the car’s tank in case that was the problem. It wasn’t. I squished 6 people in my 5-seat car and drove them back home. By this time everyone was starving.

I arrived back home at about 6:30 and Tim and I ordered pizza.

The pizza was the only plan I made on Thursday the 12th that actually worked.

It was pretty good pizza.

Thoughts on Mud

In the Springtime Maine gets a rather unfortunate texture – sort of an all over molasses effect that is caused by a combination of melting snow and defrosting ground. The end result of the melt-down: deep mud ruts in our driveway and, when I pull out (especially on a warm afternoon,) I am never quite sure if I will make it through the sludge. This feeling of uncertainty is joined with an unusual (and exhilarating) sensation that I am driving on some sort of bouncy castle. Sometimes when I pull out I try to drive over the tallest mound of mud – an attempt which typically fails dismally, makes matters worse, and probably infuriates my father who will (eventually, I am sure) have to dig one of our cars out from a mud pile. But, for a few seconds, I get a wonderful flying feeling and it is totally worth the messy after-effects [at least, it has been so far].

As I have been writing (and you have been reading, perhaps) I have been wondering what the moral of the muddy driveway should be, I mean, there has to be some sort of moral, right? Maybe the mud could be the fears by which we get bogged-down. Or maybe it could be an analogy about how sometimes things have to get worse before they get better (and thus the cold winter warms into summer with sloshing and heaving). Or I could discuss the regularity of the seasons and how one things follows the last in its due course and order. I could observe how new life (grass) can spring from unlikely places (tire-dug muddy ditches). But, actually, I’m not going to do any of these things.

Today, oh reader, the mud is just mud – sticky, oozy, grimy mud with tire-tracks through it. I’m not going to ask you to imagine the mud as any special sort of symbol or concept. Today the mud is only mud and that’s ok.  It’s supposed to be mud. In fact, I rather like it that way.

So. Go get yourself a pair of boots, preferably waterproof and tall, find yourself a convenient puddle or bog and go and squelch around in it. You may just find that the squooshy noises you make when your boots get stuck in the mire is just as much food for your soul as any fancy analogy I could invent here.

Because I haven’t talked about the weather recently . . .

Waiting for the first snow of the season is very difficult — it’s talked about in the news for days in advance — people that come into work say things like, “have you got your snow boots out?” and children start praying for snow days (heck — I start praying for snow days!). Then (as we saw this past week) the long-awaited day arrives with blue skies — not really the Nor’ Easter they were all shouting about, huh? We resign ourselves to the chilly wind and sharp cold with no soft, frosting-like sheen to take the edge off. We hunker down, roll our eyes, and get on with our work. It’s cold.

Sometimes this happens and the snow never arrives — it turns into rain or falls farther out to sea. Those are the sad days, when all waiting seems futile and hopes are dashed. And somedays the snow comes, and falls, and it is glorious.

I think that waiting for snow is like waiting on God. It’s not an inactive “finger-drumming” wait, it’s a time of preparation for what He will do. Just as we put on the storm door and split the wood, so too do we put on love and good deeds as we wait on the Lord for His next work, or for guidance. Sometimes we prepare for a long time — its seems that God will never reveal His will or give His gifts. But the Lord, unlike the snow, is always coming. He is always working out His plan of redemption in the hearts and minds of His children. He is always working to bring His grace to bear in their lives — practically and wholly. he is always working to bring His peace and joy in the lives of those who are in pain. Sometimes, as when the sky is clear, we can’t see God’s creative hands at work — but we trust that He is there, and that he is active.

And, when the snow falls, it is both beautiful and treacherous. Beautiful in its design — its perfection, its prevalence, its purity. Treacherous in its blinding-light, its hidden-bumps, and its uncontrollable-swirling.

Let us then wait on the Lord who will prepare for us a destination of soft landings and warm fires, and let us trust that He will hold our hands as we walk through the blinding storm of this life.

The first snow came on Saturday night. And it was glorious in its power. In His power.

Weather I like

I love weather. I love sunny days and snowy days and days with hurricanes and days with storms and days with wind and days with rain and days with big fluffy clouds. I especially love days with big fluffy clouds. Today was one of those days. It was hard to drive along the road without looking at the clouds – I think I swerved a time or two when a cloud looked a little too much like a bunny-rabbit, or a sheep, or a dog chasing a dragon (I swear there was one that looked exactly like a dog chasing a dragon). Yesterday it got bright and dark in turns and then started pouring with rain – I had to make a poncho out of a big bag to protect my purse and my book on the way to the car. There was thunder and flashes of lightening on my way home over the mountain. There were almost no cars on the road at all, which was lucky because one of my headlights doesn’t work and I can’t see anything at all if I shut of the high-beams. Anyhow. I’m getting a little off topic. I love weather. I love watching the trees bending in a strong wind, and snow piling up on the eaves of the barn, and the maple leaves turning red as they do at the beginning of each September. And, finally, I like days when I can put my feet up and feel the sun warming up my toes and see the sun coming through the trees, glistening on the water.

The Morning After Rain

A few days ago, while I was at camp, it rained all day and all night. Heavily. That night I climbed out of bed and pulled sweat pants and socks and a sweater over my pajamas. I put my hood up and snuggled down in my blanket. It was freezing. It took me hours to go to sleep and when I eventually did fall asleep it was in a weird curled-up position. I had creepy dreams and kept jerking awake every time the wind blew against the building.

I woke up early and in a bad mood.

I forced myself to get up, get dressed, and dragged myself to the nearest cup of coffee. After about an hour of seeing only the bottom of my coffee cup and letting the voices of the campers swirl around me I finally woke up. I looked out the window.

It was a beautiful morning.

The sun through the clouds was magnificent, the light was almost blinding, and the dew on the grass glistened. I had walked through this brilliance to breakfast without even seeing it – in fact all I could see was my lack of sleep, my wet flip-flops, and my humidity-induced poufy hair – I hadn’t even lifted up my head to look at the sky.

Every night is like that rainy night, and every day is like that morning afterwards for the Christian. We are still sinners, and so we still have those cold nights of temptation, sin, and confusion, and we have many mornings when we are stuck looking at our guilt, fear, and the results of what we’ve done. Yet all the while the light of God’s grace and redemption shines through the clouds – we need only look up and see it. Sometimes the sun of grace shines on our faces for hours, days even, before we realize that it is there. Thanks be to God that He will not leave us looking at our wet feet and poufy hair, but that He raises our faces to see the beauty of His creation and the redemption He brings with each new morning.

“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” – Isaiah 58:8