The Journey is an Adventure

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Have you ever had a moment when you see the pieces begin to fall into place?  I had one this morning.  This time last week, I was at Bastrop State Park.  I love state parks, I love hiking trails and exploring; I hate spiders, but everything else about the journey is an adventure to me, so to spend some much needed time with the Lord, walking the trails at the park is a good place for me. I knew the park had been devastated a few years ago by wild fires and driving through the area the following Spring did not give me a real visual of how truly devastating it really is.

Driving into the park, I was not prepared for what I saw, even after the Ranger told me there is no canopy, I did not expect for all of the trees to be gone.  The ground is green, life is returning, but anything over twelve to fifteen feet high are the remains of century old guardians of the Lost Pines Region of Texas.

Like I said, I love hiking state parks and the lushness of the trees but knowing there was not a canopy and actually seeing it are two extremely different things. This is not hiking the beautiful Texas Hill Country, this is hiking a desert; this strikes me as odd, knowing this area is also recovering from not one but two massive floods in one year.

  • September 2011 – Bastrop County Complex Fire – 34,068 acres and 1645 homes destroyed.  Two people perished.  It totally changed the ecosystem of the state park.
  • May 2015 – Memorial Day Flood – dam on the lake breaks, totally draining the lake and flooding the park, causing Park Road 1C to be closed because parts of the road are washed away.
  • May 2016 – Late May Flood – Again, the lake totally drains, destroying camping areas and washing parts of roads away.

Yet, as I walk through what was once a thick wooded area, what I continue to hear is “beauty for ashes.”  However, in my “pursuit” to hear God’s voice, I don’t think these words apply to me in my current situation and requests to the Lord, so I push them aside.

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What did I see? That afternoon, when I am back in the hotel, I grab a dry erase marker and begin to write all that I had seen on the mirror.  After my extensive list is complete, I sit and write down what I think God is showing me through each thing.

Sometimes old things need to burn away for new things to grow.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new has come.”

Sometimes the ground isn’t solid, it is sandy or rocky.

At one point it required me to walk over logs that were constructed to be a bridge over a small stream that formed during the flood.  I have to pay attention to where I am walking and even though there are fascinating things off the path, it is important that I stay on it; it directs me to my destination. Just because things look interesting off the path does not mean I should entertain them, they are not mine, my path is set.

Jeremiah 29:11 -” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalm 40:2 – “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

It isn’t alway beneficial to look around.

There is one spot on the path when I am standing in a debris line.  For clarification purposes, a debris line is the furthest point the flood waters push the debris that is in the water, before the waters begin to recede. On either side of me were fallen or cut trees that have been washed into the area.  It is obvious when you look around, there had been a flood, yet now, everything is dry and the path is clear.  If I only look at the path, I would not see the damage, but when I start to look around, that is when I see troubles and when the sorrow comes.  When I keep my eyes on Jesus, I have nothing to fear.

Matthew 14:22 – 34 tells about Jesus walking on water.  It also tells that Peter walks on water, but the second he starts paying attention to the wind and what is happening around him, he begins to sink.  He is fine until he takes his eyes off of Jesus.

Scars happen, wounds happen, devastation happens.

They mold us, but they do not define us.  It does not matter that trees fell and those standing are black with char, it does not matter that the lake is dry and roads are washed away.  IT IS STILL BEAUTIFUL. Because God’s design does not change.

My Moment

As I flip through my Bible, I come across a scripture reference I have in the front,

Isaiah 61:3 – “to bestow beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

Um, yeah, there is that verse again.  So, I start at the beginning:

Isaiah 61:1 – 4 – “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

As I sit on my bed, smiling and relishing in the words, I feel the Lord say, “This is you, this is what I’ve called you to do.”

God speaks to my soul in the middle of a beautiful, burnt our forest, He speaks to me of new life, of direction, of faith, and of beauty.  He speaks to me of a rebuilding, of restoration, of proclamation.  He speaks purpose; it requires me to walk out of the woods to hear it.

The Other Side of Me

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One of my favorite Bible studies that I have ever done is by Liz Curtis Higgs called Bad Girls of the Bible.  She is the bomb and I love the way she sets up the study, including a modern fiction piece to explain a Bible story.  I have said that if I ever wrote a Bible study I would format it like that.  That may not happen soon, but what it has spurn me to do is create Fourth Friday Fiction.  One the fourth Friday of the Month, I will post a short story.  I hope these stories inspire you, I hope that sometimes, they make you laugh, and today you will see that your design is not in error.  God writes the perfect story.

A couple of semesters ago, I took a Creative Writing course.  One of the prompts we had was to write a story about the two sides of our personalities; this is mine.

The Other Side of Me

“Let’s everyone give a big ‘thank you’ to Anne and Kelly for all their hard work on this year’s banquet,” the announcer said as he stretched his hand toward the table that we were sitting at, then began to clap. I wanted to crawl under the table and wait out the clapping and cheering, then go back to eating the chocolate soufflé that Kelly had chosen.

While I was sitting there, trying to fade into the taffeta covered chair, Kelly had risen to her feet and begun to wave at everyone. I stifled a giggle, picturing her on top of a float, crown a bit crocked, waving to the crowd in between pushing her sash on her shoulder and blowing kisses.

I turned my attention back to my soufflé as Kelly sat back down.  She laid her arm next to mine and hooked our pinky fingers together, a gesture she had been doing our whole lives. I turned to peer into the gray-blue eyes that looked exactly like the ones I saw in the mirror each morning. The only difference was, when I looked into her eyes, I saw a light, a fire, and a love for life.  When I looked into the mirror, I just saw me.

“We did a great job,” she said as she squeezed my finger before releasing it.  She picked up her fork and started poking at the top of her own soufflé.

“You did most of the work.”

“Annie, that isn’t true and you know it.”

“Sure it is, you booked the venue, hired the caterer,”

We hired the caterer,” she interjected.

I smiled, she was right, we did that together, but it was her confidence that got the company to come down so much on their price.

“You give me too much credit,” I said.

“You don’t give yourself enough.  You need to believe in yourself, take credit for what you do.  You are an awesome planner.”

I wish I had recorded the number of times we’ve had this conversation.  I looked at our hands, again side by side.  Kelly’s nails were painted a bright, glitter pink; they matched her dress. She had a flower ring that resembled something a little girl would wear, but on her it just worked.  My hands were, clean, simple, understated, just like my dress, and just the way I like it.

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Kelly wrapped her flower-adorned hand around the water glass and took a drink. She looked over my shoulder, then back at me, sat her glass back on the table, and dabbed her mouth with her napkin. She turned in her seat, taking both my hands in hers, causing me to turn as well.

“There is a gentleman heading this way that wants to talk to us about planning a banquet for his company.  He has 400 in-house employees that he wants to honor.  His name is Davis Reed.”

“Okay,” I said, “Handling the clients is your job.”

She smiled then stood, pulling me up with her.  She let go of my hands before pulling me into a hug.  As she held me, I relished in the love of my sister. I watched a balloon come loose from the center piece at the table adjacent to ours, it didn’t bother me that it happened like it usually would have, not now, not here, not with Kelly.

She pulled back, keeping hold of my shoulders.

“Annie, you are a great planner.”

“Whatever,” I said as I rolled my eyes.

She smiled then kissed my cheek. “I quit,” she whispered into my ear then walked away.

I stood there, with my mouth open, watching her dance her way to different people. As I watched her laugh and flirt and love life, I couldn’t help but smile.  I turned, pulled a red rose from the centerpiece and placed it in my hair, just as someone step into my line of sight and extend his hand.

“Miss Wells, I’m Davis Reed.”

Wow, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  I look forward to your feedback.