Faith for Foggy Days

The winter of 2010 is one for the record books ~ bringing a white Christmas to many places that normally only dream of snow; it's blustery cold continuing to dump snow and ice for weeks. Many schools have been forced to call extra Snow Days and cancel classes.

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Where I live, winter brings the Tule Fog (pronounced too-lee). Tule Fog is a thick ground fog that settles in California's Great Central Valley, named after the tule grass wetlands (tulares) of the Central Valley. When the fog "hits the deck" (as they say in weather talk) the schools call s Foggy Day Schedule, delaying the start of the school day until the fog lifts enough for the buses to safely make their rounds to pick up their precious cargo. There are winters when we do not see the sun for weeks!

I remember when our children were school age, we could almost predict if a Foggy Day Schedule would be called as we could not see the house directly across the street. Yes, Tule Fog is that bad. I have driven at night in Tule Fog and needed my window down just to see at least three yellow dotted lines ahead of me, to keep my car in my lane and on the road!

Today it is very foggy outside once again. As I watched the list of Foggy Day Schedules grow on the morning news, I thought about times in my life when my path seems foggy. Times when I can not see very far ahead because the stuff of life blocks my view. Times when I am not certain I am still on the road.

These are the times when my faith grows. Those days or weeks when I cannot see the purpose, I do not feel the joy, I am unsure if I am where I should be, and life just seems like a fog. At times like this, the words in of Hebrews 11:6, become, in essence, my yellow dotted lines ~

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
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The foggy days of life are when my faith is stretched to not trust in what is seen or felt, but on what is hoped for and what is known to be true. I have walked enough foggy roads in life to know that my faith in God is not a product of His willingness to clear out the fog or to create the life which I desire. No, my faith is rooted in my belief that His will cannot take me where His grace cannot keep me. It is a faith that knows, even in the Foggy Day Schedules of life, He will illuminate for me a path through the fog, to fulfill His purposes.

Birthday Blooms

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Last November, for Scott's thirtieth birthday, we added a new plant to Scott's Memorial Garden in our backyard. When we went to the local nursery to make our selection, one of the things we wanted to be certain of was the hardiness of the plant.  Would it withstand the drop in temperatures as fall and winter settle into our valley?  We chose a Camellia Sasanqua with semi-double white flowers and ever-so-slight pink edges. It made a lovely addition in the corner of the garden.

It is November again. Scott's birthday is just a few days away. And fall has finally arrived over night with a wonderful gift of rain. I walked out into the garden this morning to see how the various plants had survived the downpour.

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There in the corner of the garden was Scott's birthday bush ~ covered with blooms, and many buds waiting to open! Little did I realize that this hardy plant was going to bloom each November (as I am really just a poser when it comes to gardening).

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What a wonderful surprise to know that every year on Scott's birthday we will have a display of flowers to say how very much Scott is loved and missed by us all. What a beautiful image as the chill of winter settles in that we have a blessed hope of a glorious reunion.

A Victim of God's Design

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I have a friend who lives in Democratic Republic of Congo. Luc is a fine young man who was my translator when I taught at his seminary in Kinshasa a few years ago. He has tried on numerous occasions to acquire a visa to come visit my family in America.  But Luc's application has been repeatedly denied.  In the face of this rejection, I love his perspective . . . 

I am a prisoner in my own country ~ 
a victim of God's design.
But oh, what a lovely victimizer,
who has never allowed me 
to walk the streets naked
or go to bed without at least a pinch of a loaf.

With Thanksgiving only days away, many in my country will take time to express their gratitude for the many good things that fill their lives.

And, if they are like my own family, they will sit down to a Thanksgiving feast, with culinary delights prepared to perfection; to consume a couple of day's worth of calories in one sitting.  Incredibly, they will save room for the array of desserts to be enjoyed later in the evening.

But this Thanksgiving, Luc's words seem to echo in my head. I am convicted of my own indifference at times toward those less fortunate. I am challenged to check my assumptions ~ what things in my life I take for granted as rights, when they are, in reality, privileges.

Luc's words bring an renewed awareness this season of how often I forget that I too, am a victim of God's design ~ that He is the one who provides this life filled with so very many comforts and conveniences.  He made me who I am and allowed me to be born in this nation of plenty. This Thanksgiving, I want a heart focused on His design. I want to be fully aware that I am nothing without Him.