Kayla’s Story, An Allegory: Chapter 4 Which Way?

Kayla took a hesitant step toward the light. It seemed crazy to go that way. She could not see how it would lead her to the park, or how the light could remove the mountain of dirt so she could get home. In her mind, all she could imagine was ending back at the pile of deceptively sturdy dirt. Light or no light, that dirt existed and she had no way to get past it. As for the park, maybe she should turn around and go to the park regardless of the shadows. At least she knew her way in that direction. Besides, important people were waiting on her. Well, maybe not waiting anymore since she was already late. But they might still be counting on her to show up and do something.

Kayla turned and headed toward the shadows. She had only taken a few steps when she felt the pull of the sun on her back. She wanted to turn around. Her heart cried out to face the sun. But her mind was demanding to make it to where she thought she should be. Determined, she forced her feet to keep moving. The limping made for slow progress, so she had only gone about 50 yards when she stopped again. A new thought had popped into her mind. What if someone had reported the dirt and the city had sent a work crew to remove it? What if her way home was open now? With her injuries, she wouldn’t be able to do anything at the park, and she’d only end up inconveniencing someone. Better to go on home now.

Turning once again, Kayla’s heart soared as she limped toward the light. The amazing brilliance was almost tangible, and she wanted to dance in its presence. Instead, she had to settle to soaking in the warmth of the life-giving light as she slowly limped home. When she reached the bus stop, she sat down to rest. She thought about the old man and wondered where he was, hoping that he would be on the next bus to stop. She’d love to thank him for his words of wisdom. He had been so right. Facing the sunrise of new beginnings was so much better than the sunset of dark endings.

A bus pulled up, complete with all its pfssssting and hissing and diesel fumes. The door opened to let a man off, but it wasn’t the man she hoped for. She smiled anyway as he looked in her direction. His eyes seemed to see past her as if she wasn’t there, then he walked away. Kayla frowned, ready to call out something unkind, but she felt a sense of “don’t do it” rise up in her heart. That was weird. She had never felt anything like that before. It had to have something to do with the light. The light was so good, maybe she was supposed to be good, too.

Rest time over, Kayla carefully got to her feet. Although she could kind of walk on her right foot, her ankle still throbbed. Maybe going back home wasn’t the best idea after all. The park was closer, and she could get a ride home. That way she wouldn’t have to walk as far, and she wouldn’t have to deal with the dirt, should it still be there. She hated the thought of walking away from the light, but felt she had little choice. The less she walked on her ankle, the better.  Besides, walking away would just be temporary. Once she got home, she would be able to face the sun again. Mind made up, she headed west.

However with each step, the call of the sun got stronger. She could feel it pulling at her heart as if it were alive – as if it were a good friend begging her not to go away. She tried to ignore it, but it found its way past every mental block she put up. Tears began to fall, unbidden, as she fought to keep going. She was doing the right thing. She was doing what she needed to take care of herself. She was not really rejecting the light, just not facing it for a little while. But try as she might to convince herself, she knew these excuses fell flat.

Giving up, she turned back around and headed toward the light that was still calling her. Maybe she should trust that if the light was calling her that way, then it would take care of her. As she waited to cross the street, she determined not to change her mind again. With the unspoken promise of the light, she would make it home. Or at least to the dirt pile, if it was still there, in which case maybe the light would reveal a way around it she had not seen before. It was worth a shot.


And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Heb 10:23)

Devastation or Beauty:  Where Does Your Mind Dwell?

As some of you know, my town was hit by Michael, a strong category 4 hurricane, (wind speed just 2 mph less than a category 5) in October. It’s been just over 2 months and devastation is still seen everywhere. Many businesses are still not reopened, and many of those will never reopen leaving many people jobless. Long lines and completely filled parking lots plague the few department and grocery stores that have opened. Contractors and their workers’ vehicles flood the streets so making a quick trip anywhere is no longer possible. Blue tarped roofs are seen everywhere as well as downed and broken trees, debris piles taller than the cars driving past them, and a multitude of damaged buildings. Some areas of town are still without electricity and internet. Many people who lost their homes either had to move away or are living in tents because there is no housing left. Schools have to share facilities since many schools were completely destroyed. There is not one building, one lot, or one person in our town untouched. Instead of concentrating on Christmas, many are exhausted from navigating insurance and contractor paperwork while trying to avoid the many scams that pop up in situations like this, jumping through FEMA hoops, or trying to find a job they can walk to since their cars were damaged along with their homes. Very few Christmas lights can be seen, and parents are desperately trying to seek ways to get some presents to their children. The more fortunate ones compete for the toys still available at Walmart, but many more don’t have the finances and have to stand in lines for many hours to get a chance to pick out some donated toys. Even worse, a good number of people have had to resort to begging strangers for help because they don’t have the transportation or health to even get to the toy distribution sites.

On the other hand…

After most volunteers and relief agencies have left, we are still being surprised with truck loads of toys, blankets, jackets, and other supplies arriving from people living in other towns near and far. More than a few Facebook groups have been created solely for the purpose of providing help to those who need it from insurance and contractor concerns to housing and shopping question. Quite a few people both local and distant have formed networks to ensure every legitimate need is taken care of to the best of their ability. Some people have opened their yards/land to house displaced people living in tents providing them safety, meals and hot showers. Many new friendships have been created and neighbors are watching out for each other now that fences no longer separate them. And the beauty of God’s creation can still be seen from the dazzling night sky (much clearer now since we have fewer street and commercial lights) and the breathtaking sunrises/sunsets (less trees = more view of the sky) to the delicate blooming flowers and the gorgeous beaches.

As I think about the people I’ve met and the people whose Facebook posts I’ve read, I wonder why so many are depressed and angry while many others are hopeful and encouraging. I don’t think in this case the answer can be found solely in their relationship or lack of relationship with God. It’s true that for many Christians, their faith is giving them the strength to keep moving forward. Yet I know just as many strong Christians who are depressed and hurting as non-Christians who are positive and optimistic. No, I think in this situation the answer might lie more in their heads than in their hearts. Where do their minds dwell? The devastation all around that is real and not going away any time soon? Or the beauty that is also real and not going away? Each is just as valid as the other. Yet for some reason it’s way easier to dwell in the devastation than to see past it to the beauty.

Maybe when we pray for people in devastated areas – not just here in Panama City but throughout the world – we could add a short sentence before our amen. It may not seem like much, but it might just make all the difference.

“Father, open their eyes to the beauty that is still around them.”

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Devastated pavilion surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation at St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach, FL, taken on 12/24/18 by Linda Schnepel

 

 

 

Hurricane Michael

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Once again life gets in the way of my blogging. This time, by Hurricane Michael. I live in Panama City, FL. Our town now looks like a war zone. Trees down everywhere. Most buildings have varying degrees of damage from minor to total destruction. Power lines down everywhere. Many areas were flooded. We have no power, water, or phone service. My area of town is not expected to get power until at least Oct 24. No telling when we’ll get phone service.

BUT

God is good!

My house is still standing with only moderate damage. My husband and I will have a lot of clean up to do but we are not homeless.

People are coming from EVERYWHERE to help out – from clearing roads and restoring power lines to providing food and water and even housing. Neighbors are being more neighborly. And life goes on even without hospitals and vets and fast food.

Our town may be devastated, but we will survive and rebuild!

In the meantime, I will be returning to Panama City tomorrow morning and will be once again without communication. If you don’t hear from me, don’t worry. I’m fine. And I will be back! Again!

 

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day One

I was nominated for this challenge by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God  Thanks so much for the nomination, Shae.

As you may have guessed, this challenge takes place over three days. Each day, I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day.

My first quote is this…

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“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” by Jack Canfield

I can’t think back far enough to know a time that I wasn’t full of fear. From my earliest days, I was terrified of the unknown. That included people, places, and events. If one of my few friends suggested a new game, fear would immediately fill me. If my family visited a new place, I would be nervous until the trip ended. Joining girl scouts was too scary to stay for long. Making new friends? Impossible. Fear kept me from so many things for so long that it became a intricate part of me. I couldn’t imagine not being afraid. Even after I met Jesus and He had time to work in me, fear remained. It’s been over 40 years now, and I’ve been set free in so many areas. Yet fear still rises its ugly head when I’m faced with something new. Like writing a blog. And publishing my first book. And meeting with a local writing group.

Sounds hopeless?

No way! Fear may still rise up at times, but it no longer incapacitates me.  Quotes like the one by Jack Canfield help me remember I’m not the only one who has to deal with fear, and that fear doesn’t have to hold me back. And best of all, Jesus is slowly teaching me to replace fear with faith.  He doesn’t want me – or you – or anyone – to live in fear.

And that’s the greatest hope of all because what Jesus wants Jesus eventually gets!

 

And now for my nominee… I choose William Pierce aka wordcoaster8550 at Walk With God. I love his artwork and poetry!