For the busy person who wants to stay connected to God throughout the week!

Posts tagged ‘tornado’

A Sabbath Tornado

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

tornadoIt isn’t often that during the opening remarks of a church service, I hear the words “We are under a Tornado watch right now, folks, and we have people watching the news.  They will tell us if we have to move to the basement.”  I can tell you that it was one church announcement I actually listened to and heard!!!

And try as I might to focus on the service, I found myself wondering how all the people would exit the sanctuary, get down the stairs and into the basement in time if a tornado hit.  crowded stariwayYou see I am not from Tornado country.  I come from blizzard country where we either have days of warning and a choice to stay home or it hits fast and we just stay put.  But a tornado is a whole different breed of storm in my book.  They just plain scare me.  (I’m also not used to being in a church service with hundreds of people either). I know they can come out of a thunderstorm at a rapid pace and often there is little time to take cover before the freight train winds blow everything down in their path.  

The distraction of the pastor’s announcement also showed me how quickly fear can interfere with my worship/Sabbath time.  The very God I am worshiping is the God who says over and over (365 times to be exact) “be not afraid”; and yet, I was afraid and I was not worshiping.  I was worrying.  It can also be true when I don’t take Sabbath moments because I am too busy doing other things (which I would worry about if I weren’t doing them) or I let distractions invade my heart, mind and soul instead of giving them over to God and finding the peace that only God can bring.  The connection was not lost on me, tyvm, God.

“Martha, Martha (or Nancy,Nancy)”, Jesus says, “you are worried and distracted by so many things.  Mary has chosen the better course and it will not be taken away from her.”  Sitting in worship, at the feet of Jesus, and being distracted by a potential weather threat put me right in the story with Martha, Mary and Jesus.  And once again I saw myself aligned with Martha rather than Mary.

How many more times will I let my own fears, worries or distractions take the better course be taken from me?

The good news is that the setting of worship won me over and I soon forgot about the weather threat and focused on why I was there.  And it really is true that there is a peace that passes all understanding when my heart, mind and spirit turned toward Jesus.  peaceful-sunset-4527633

This was a good lesson for me not only for the next tornado watch but for the next time I feel too distracted to enter into some Sabbath time with God.

“But there is something that I am looking for: a person plain and simple, reverently responsive to what I say.”  Isaiah 66.2b The Message



Sabbath Moments in the Storm

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Well, last night we had another blinger of a thunderstorm complete with a tornado warning here in Woodstock, GA.  It came on fast and furious.  From the time of the TV warning to the time our sirens went off was about 3 seconds.  There was no time to get to the designated shelter for my apartment complex.  Fortunately, all we had was a wild and wooly thunderstorm and no tornado.  As I considered hunkering down in my inside closet and was looking around for something to put over my head to keep all those books and boxes from clunking me on the noggin, I caught sight of something flapping at the edge of my living room window.

Forgetting my mission to cower in the corner of the closet, I stepped closer to my window.  There clinging to the wooden frame was a huge luna moth.  It was folded up and it swayed back and forth like a door on a hinge.  I was certain that the wind would rip it from its perch and launch it into the stratosphere.

But it hung on.  Back and forth it swung all the while its little legs clung to the frame.  It had to be 7-10 minutes before the winds and rain calmed down; and yet, the luna moth was still there.  This little insect had ridden out the storm and was now fanning its wings out to dry them off.

I marveled at its strength in the storm and at how tenacious it had been in hanging on and not being swept up in the chaos of leaves, debris and falling limbs.  This was no small storm.  There were at least 2 trees that came down on the property and branches were everywhere this morning when I went outside.  And yet that moth wasn’t moved an inch.

Oh, how I wish I could be like that moth when the storms of body, mind or spirit hit.  Hanging on, not being moved, clinging with strength to the frames around me would certainly be my hope and wish.  Too often, however,  I’m like those limbs and maybe even whole trees that come crashing down when a wind blows through my life disrupting my plans. 

This is why I need Sabbath Moments.  They hold me steadier than I could be without them when the storms unexpectedly arise.   When I am grounded in faith, living hope and trusting in God’s grace, I am anchored and well protected when the storm warnings go off. 

What storms have you weathered better because of your time with God?  The luna moth is my new visual for strength in a storm and come to think of it, the way it was positioned on the window frame made it look like it was praying.  Not a bad visual at all, not bad at all. 

“As they sailed, he fell asleep.  A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”  He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided and all was calm.  “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.  In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water,and they obey him.”   Luke 8:23-25

“The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”  Psalm 27.1



Sabbath Moments And Compassion

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Once again we are reeling from a tragedy that tears our hearts open as we think of the children who were in the path of that EF5 tornado on Monday.  The devastation is beyond comprehension as is the power of a storm two miles wide with two hundred mile an hour winds pounding a community for almost 40 minutes.  I cannot wrap my head around it.

From Aurora to Sandy Hook to Boston to Moore and a number of other horrendous events that took innocent lives, we wonder why is this happening?  Discussion and debate has concentrated on everything from gun control to mental health care to climate change to terrorism and immigration.  And although these are all issues that need our attention, I wonder if there isn’t a bigger issue and learning in all these events.

Each of these events has brought about untold stories of heroism and compassion, of sacrifice and sharing, of kindness and doing the next right thing.  We are better people in a crisis.  We respond without asking about income levels, immigration status, color of skin or gender.  We respond to the employed and unemployed the same way.  We act whether the person is on food stamps or not.  We care about the loss of a child despite ethnic background.  In our hearts we care and we act because it is the right thing to do.

I can’t help but wonder how much of our current national crises would be alleviated if we lived out of a sense of compassion, care and concern to do the next right thing for others.  So much of our current divisiveness stems from a “what’s in it for me attitude”, “my rights”, “my money”, “my neighborhood”,”my language”, “my country”.  There are a lot of “my’s” that seem to stir up constant debate and argument and only tend to exacerbate the problem rather than finding solutions.

And, yet, in a crisis like the one in Moore, OK, the “my’s” leave our vocabulary and “we” and “us” and “in this together” replace the “my’s”.  What would happen if we started from the point of we or us or in this together on each issue?  What would happen if we actually took literally the biblical commandments to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to give of ourselves and the extreme biblical statement of to share all things in common so no one goes without?

God never promised us ease or wealth.  God never commanded us to ignore the needs of those around us unless there was a tragedy.  God never suggested we were in this life for ourselves.    And sometimes we act as if these are the only things that really matter

There is a possibility that spending time in Sabbath Moments can lull us into thinking that the focus is on us, our needs and how God responds to us.  However, there is more to Sabbath Moments than just our feeling good that God loves us.  They also have the potential of showing us that God has been trying to teach us for thousands of years how to be in community and what is the next right thing to do for our neighbor.  Every day.  Not just in a crisis. 

As you spend time in Sabbath Moments this week, explore with God and through God’s word what it means to live in community and be partners in this life with those around us.

“Their eyes are blinded, their hearts are hardened, So that they wouldn’t see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts, And turn to me, God, so I could heal them.  John 12.40-41 The Message

All the Lord’s followers often met together, and they shared everything they had.  They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it.  Acts 2.44-45 CEV



The Urgency of Sabbath Moments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I had the distinct privilege of experiencing my first tornado watch this week.  Fortunately, no tornado materialized here but those in Adairsville, Ga were not as fortunate.  My prayers are with those people who lost so much on Wednesday morning. 

As I sat watching the TV, which by the way had non stop weather coverage from 10 am until 7 pm Wednesday, the radar gave a detailed picture of how the storms were moving.  Whenever they detected a wind rotation an immediate tornado watch was issued.  And I must admit it lulled me into a false sense of control.  I didn’t realize how fast those rotations can develop…as you will see.

I was pretty fixated on the TV because they had been forecasting severe weather in our area between 12 and 2.  At 12:30 I was getting ready to go pick Arianna up from Pre-K and there was nothing going on in our area so I felt confident that I was clear to go pick her up.  About one mile from my apartment and still about 8 miles from her, the tornado sirens went off.  I froze for an instant…what should I do?  All morning the weather folks have been saying don’t go out and if you are in your car seek shelter immediately.  Did that apply to me?  (Honest that was exactly my thought at the time). 

So what did I do?  Kept driving.  I called my daughter to get her advice and she was on the road too.  We decided that it was best to get to our destinations if possible and I could always stop at her house on my way to school if it got bad.  She has lived through a few of these and said most of the time no tornado forms and this is just a precaution.  However, she added, you will know if it gets real black and the air feels eerie.  Yeah, right!  But again I was confident and all I wanted to do was be with Arianna. 

As I made the turn to within 1 mile of her the sky turned black, the rain was coming in sheets, the lightening was hitting fast and I imagined my car flying through the air and landing on top of a witch on a bike.   And the other part of my brain was saying loud and clear “If this is a tornado, I have to be with Ari.  I need to be with Ari.” 

Well, I made it and went into the school where the kids had been put into an inside room awaiting what we had been predicted as a 1:16 arrival.  It was 1:10.   I sat on the floor next to Ari, who acted nervous but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the unusual routine or the fact that Bobby, her ‘boy’ friend, was sitting next to her. I began to pray silently that God would protect this group of little children and spare the community while simultaneously praying that all tornadoes would dissipate and no more loss would be incurred that day. 

Suddenly, the lights went out and someone said “it’s here.”  Before I could even react the lights went back on – not because the power had been miraculously restored but because someone had leaned on the light switch!  But it was here and as we waited nothing happened.  Thank you, Jesus.  

A tremendously heavy rainstorm hit but no tornado.  After about another 10 minutes parents began taking their kids home.  Before we left, Ari and I went to the bathroom. 🙂  

All of this is to say that those thoughts of having to be with Ari reminded me of how important she is to me and how powerful the pull was to be in her presence.  It also is a great description of how we can approach our Sabbath Moments. 

Is there a powerful pull to be in God’s presence?  How often do you feel that compulsion to be with God?  Sabbath is a time for us to experience that desire to be with God and only God and to be as close as we possibly can be. 

May that force be with you everyday



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