Sunshine in the Valley

humor and encouragement from my heart to yours

Lesson in an airplane…

Recently I took a plane flight to visit a friend. I had a layover in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and as we landed I noted the dreary, drizzly weather that blanketed the area with a general sense of gloom.

Flights were delayed due to the cloud and fog and rain, and spirits seemed generally down in the airport. I sipped a hot chai tea latte while I waited…. there are very few days that cannot be made better by a Starbuck’s chai, after all. ;)

My connecting flight finally took off after a series of delays, and once again I noticed how depressing it was outside with the damp grayness everywhere. How bleak. As the jet gained altitude, however, there was suddenly a collective gasp. As we finally broke through that seemingly insurmountable cloud bank, there lay before us the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. Brilliant hues of pink and gold shimmered from the tops of majestic thunderheads, creating a radiant landscape all around us. The source of depression below had created the backdrop for a breathtaking scene above. We stared in wonder as the rainy day was forgotten and the beauty of that sunset was absorbed instead.

And then it hit me.

This is how God sees our trials.

We see the darkness. The clouds. The rain. The trouble. We’re looking at those times of heartache and pain from the underside, and it seems like the sun is gone. The gloom, we think, is going to last forever.

God sees from a different perspective. He sees the darkness as a platform from which His glory can shine. He wants to use those fleeting thunderheads to reflect the glory of His majesty and create something beautiful.

Because the sun never left. It was there, still shining, we just couldn’t see it because of the storm. It was the circumstances that changed. Beyond the clouds, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets continue as always… and if we just wait a little while, they always appear again, chasing away the darkness and reminding us that trials always “come to pass”.

They never “come to stay”.

And when the dark nights come….when I cannot catch the faintest light for all those clouds of sadness or confusion or loss…I hope I can always remember…

…the Son is still there.

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Remembering

Has it really been 8 years since “the day the world stopped turning”?  The events of that day are still so vivid in my mind, and I know I’m not the only one.

I’ll never forget the sight of those towers falling…. the people leaping from windows to escape the flames… the crying relatives desperately holding up pictures of missing loved ones.  There were so many heartrending, unforgettable scenes that day. Weird how certain ones stick with me more than others. One of the most poignant scenes–and one that I will probably never forget– was the sight of dozens of firefighters marching towards the first tower of the Trade Center. The second tower had just collapsed, and we all knew that the collapse of WTC One could be imminent. People were fleeing for their lives. A lone reporter covered in dust stood watching those brave men file past, and as he spoke into the camera, he got choked up as he pointed out that while everyone else was running away from the danger, that group of firemen were walking directly towards it. The raw emotion on his face, and the reality of what those men were about to face, was unforgettable.

Minutes later, the second tower collapsed.

The horror was unspeakable.

I have often wondered how many of those courageous men died in that moment. The very men I had seen only moments before… how many of their lives were snuffed out  just a short while later? The scene still haunts me, 8 years later. I cannot imagine what this day must be like for the thousands of families directly affected by the events of that day.

I still remember the unity we all felt for a short time. The common grief we all shared, and the kindness that was consequently shown among perfect strangers. I remember the heroism of that day, as well as many days following… the people who gave everything to save the lives of people they had never met. I remember how folks turned to God, however short-lived. It was no longer considered “politically incorrect” for Congress to gather on the Capitol steps and sing “God Bless America”. Suddenly, He was welcome back into public life. His name was mentioned, and not just as a curse word.

Unfortunately, while ordinary life was changed forever, hearts were not. People cried in outrage, “where was GOD on September 11th? How could HE let this happen?”

Ah. So suddenly the God that is considered virtually non-existent by the media on normal days, is first beseeched to bless us, and then is suddenly the one who showed up to destroy the day, eh? What a convenient scapegoat. :P

What a sad reality.

We know the facts. American society has removed Him from the classroom, from the government, from public life as much as possible, and labeled those who love Him as “hatemongers” and freaks…. why, He’s not even welcome in some churches. :P Why would it be such a shocker if He didn’t show up to save the day for people who care nothing for Him or His laws?

But the truth of the matter is, God did show up that day. He was there with the passengers aboard those airliners. He was there in the towers, with the people trapped at the top surrounded by flames… with those desperately cramming down stairwells… with the people who fought the hijackers to bring the flight down in a Pennsylvania field. Yes, He was even in the Pentagon. He was there with the rescuers at each tragic site, and who can tell how many lives were saved by His intervention?

I cannot pretend to understand all of His ways. I do not know why some people were miraculously spared while others were tragically taken. But this I do know: God was not the author of the evil events that day. God is good and loving, and on one of the darkest days in American history, His comfort was there for all who would receive it. His grace was there in spite of widespread rejection and blame unrighteously placed on Him. And I love Him for it. :)

Yet as longsuffering and kind as He is, God is no teddy bear. He does not tolerate sin. He has uniquely blessed and protected us as a nation in the past, but as the years have gone by, we seem to have not only forgotten, but taken active measures to eradicate the very One who made us great. I wonder if He is lifting that special hedge from around us. I think the events of 9/11 were a “warning”.

What will it take for us to wake up?

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A Certain Person is now employed!

After months of searching and praying, Isaac had his first job interview yesterday. I had heard from a coworker that an animal caretaker position was open at the very vet clinic where Erica used to work before she married and moved Far Away. *sniffle* Ahem. Anyway, Isaac went in for an interview and it went well. The boss was thrilled at the prospect of having Erica’s brother work for her; she informed Isaac that the only way he would not get the job would be if Erica did not call her! :lol: Yep. Erica was quite adored there. ;)

Anyway, we found out today that sure enough, Isaac got the job!! (the boss was quick to ask him if he had told Erica that she was to call her, and made it clear that she is waiting…. see? I told you she is loved there!) He goes for orientation tomorrow, and we are so thrilled!! I am quite sure that they will soon value him for his own wonderful traits, rather than just the fact that he is Erica’s brother. As long as he doesn’t get into mischief. Hmmm. Isaac? Never! :mrgreen:

It got me to thinking, too. After so many months of praying and searching and waiting on God, we appreciate His answer SO very much. So much more than we probably would’ve had He just answered right away and plopped a job in Isaac’s lap. I wonder if that is why He has us wait so long sometimes, before He gives us an answer. He knows we’ll learn a lot during the whole process, and that when He does choose to grant our petition, we’ll sure be thankful for it. :) He seems to get a lot more glory that way….and we do a lot more growing. Even if it is not always the funnest lesson. ;)

His timing’s always right too. This is the perfect job opportunity, but didn’t open up until just now. Imagine that. ;)

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Strange hilarity

So today was not exactly an ordinary day in the life of Lydia, bone density tech. Today was my turn to scan folks, and am I glad I didn’t miss out on the interesting bunch that came through today! :lol:

First off was the forensic photographer. I was amazed to note her occupation, because how many of those are even around? :shock:  As surprising as it was to meet a woman in that particular field, she was a very nice lady. She’s been doing it for many years. We enjoyed chatting, and she told me that after a while you learn to adapt to the gruesomeness of her work.

I don’t think I ever would.

Next came a vivacious lady in her 50’s sporting an M&M tattoo on her ankle.  When I asked her about it, she told me that she has loved M&Ms her entire life. That is all she ever wants for her birthday and Christmas, just bags of M&Ms and all related paraphernalia. “My house is covered in M&Ms!” she laughed. Wow. If that’s all she ever gets as gifts… I can imagine. :D I remarked that it must make it easy for her family since she had one particular thing she liked so much.

“Oh, that’s not all!” she laughed. “I love cats.” She then confided that she is the owner of not one…not three… not even five…. nope, 25 cats! Twenty-five. In her house. Yes. I am serious.

Not normal little house cats, either. Nope. Most of them are those huge ones with several toes in each paw…. can’t remember the name. Anyway, the gi-normous kind.

I asked with great curiosity what her husband thought of this. “Oh he knew what he was getting into from the beginning!” she exclaimed. “Cats were in our vows in the ‘death do us part’ part!” I was quite positive she was joking until her next words. “I even have a cat engraved on my wedding band!” she added merrily.

Wow. :shock: And she looked so normal! :lol: But hey, they’ve been married 30 years, so who am I to argue with that? And he did know what he was getting into! :lol:

Next arrived a sweet elderly nun. She’d taken two hours to fill out her paperwork in the lobby, so I had long since given up on her coming. If she had been some young thing, I would have told her to hit the road and reschedule –sweetly of course :P.  But since she was older, and I had a free slot, I took pity on her and brought her on back. When she noticed my nametag, she exclaimed, “LYDIA! You’re name is Lydia?” I assented, and she said, “Oh you look just like a Lydia! You look exactly how I always imagined the Lydia in the gospels looking!” Aww. :) I knew I should have mercy on her lateness and scan her. ;) She told me about her work with pregnant teens, and obviously cared a lot about people. She added ruefully that she never started “running out of steam” and having to slow down until she turned 76. How many people can say that?? :D So she has to take it easy now, but does what she can. We had ourselves a lovely little chat.

Every day…. who can guess what people you will meet or stories you will hear? Today was one of those comical kinds of days that is good for the soul, laughter being the best medicine and all.

:lol:

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