Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home in Arizona

I was a little worried about my decision to drive to Phoenix when, after leaving Reserve, we stopped after only six miles, in the town of Mt. Airy. My Mom wanted to be certain she had packed her medicine. She did, and we were back on the road.
We were headed to visit my Mom’s sister, Elma. Aunt Elma’s health prevents her from traveling and my Mom doesn’t fly. Coy, my very kind and patient cousin, offered to drive her. I went along for the ride, and to distribute the snacks.
A lot can be learned while traveling in a car for three days. I decided to use the time to study my family’s history. Under the tutelage of Coy, the family historian, and my Mom, I gained not only knowledge, but immense appreciation for my ancestors.
On the second day of our journey, Coy produced a recording of my Mom and five of her siblings. Another brother and sister died before the project began, and three of the ones on the tape have since died. The recording was often stopped for Coy and my Mom to elaborate the stories. I can’t imagine riding a skiff across the river to visit my grandparents, learning English to be able to attend school, or living without electricity and plumbing.
If we had turned around after driving for three days, I can honestly say it would have been worth the trip. But we didn’t turn around. It had been six years since my Mom and Aunt Elma had seen each other, and the reunion was worth every mile. I was content to simply sit back and watch the two sisters interact.
Our first day in Arizona ended with a delicious meal at the home of my cousin, Phil, and his wife, Lori, who have warmly and graciously opened their home to us. Sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by family members I’ve known all of my life, and ones I had just met, I truly felt as though I was at home. There’s just something about family. I would have traveled twice the distance for half the pleasure.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Living Water

“Don’t forget to water my flowers,” were the last words I uttered to Lauren and Elise before leaving for only two days. I asked my two daughters (both in college, both of average to above average intelligence, both employed, and both highly capable of watering flowers) to do nothing else while I was away. No laundry, cooking, cleaning, home repairs, not even pick up the mail. I only asked them to water my flowers.
Upon my return, my eyes were drawn to the wilted impatiens desperately clinging to life. “Why didn’t you water my flowers?” I asked the two girls who greeted me.
“We watered the ones in the backyard,” Elise proudly answered.
“How can you tell that we didn’t water the ones in the front?” Lauren asked, sincerely puzzled.
“Look at them!” I said, with much less patience than I am capable of expressing.
Pausing only to put down my suitcase, I gathered the family and said, “Let’s go to dinner.” (Remember, I never asked them to cook while I was away.) On the way to the car, I stopped to water the flowers
“I don’t think that will help,” said my son, Geoffrey.
“It’s not too late. They’re not dead yet,” I replied. The flowers were in good soil, the right location, properly fertilized, but in desperate need of water. There’s just no substitute for water.
Neither is there a substitute for Living Water. I believe that we all share a longing for God, as expressed by the psalmist who, in Psalm 42:2 wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” No job, vacation, family, or friends can quench my thirst for God. That need was met in my life many years ago, when I surrendered my life to Jesus, the Savior of my soul. Through Him, the Fountain of Living Water, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are filled.
I have put my trust in the words Jesus told another thirsty woman, “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14.
When we returned home, Geoffrey was surprised to see that my flowers had perked up, and looked as though they would make it. “That’s amazing,” he said.
What’s really amazing is that on a much, much grander scale, Jesus can save, refresh, revive, and cause you to thrive when you trust in Him. It’s not too late.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fighting for Freedom

I ate a snail. Walked through Versailles. Viewed Napoleon’s tomb. Window shopped down the Champs-Elysees. Strolled through the gardens of Luxembourg. And viewed the city of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The week spent in France provided memories for a lifetime.
Traveling is not always easy, and things don’t always go as planned, but traveling with my fun-loving, easygoing, always optimistic sister-in-law, Vicki, made the trip a breeze. Also along on the adventure were Vicki’s son, Jai, and his two daughters, Destiny and Sydney. Jeremy, Vicki’s other son, and his wife, Deborah completed our travel group of seven excited tourists.
Jai’s love for his girls was demonstrated daily through his patient attentiveness to their needs, and constant desire for them to maximize their experiences. Jeremy’s calm demeanor and appreciation of history reminded me so much of my own son, Geoffrey, and getting to know Deborah, the newest member of the Michel clan, was a highlight of my trip. Jai and Jeremy are excellent navigational guides, and I realized just how good they were when Vicki and I tried to use the city’s transportation system to return to our apartment. After many failed attempts, we hesitated only momentarily before hopping into a taxi.
Although we experienced many wonderful moments while in France, I have to agree with eleven-year-old Destiny that my favorite part of the trip was the day we spent in Normandy. Sixty-six years after the Allied forces invaded this territory held by Germany, we had the incredible opportunity to roam freely through the area still marked by craters caused by the assaults and concrete bunkers built by the enemy.
As I walked along the cliff on a sunny day, cooled by the gentle breeze from the Channel, only the occasional chirping bird interrupted the silence. But this serenity could not mask the images filling my mind as I imagined that day not so long ago. The enemy’s best attempts to invade and destroy freedom were swept away by young men who dared to scale the steep cliffs and take back the land. With every step I took, I thought of the ones who breathed their last breaths and left their last drops of blood on this foreign soil so that one day, I might stand in freedom. Their futures were sacrificed for mine. About that time, I met six-year-old Sydney, who had stooped to pick one of three small yellow flowers daring to bloom on the edge of one of the craters. And I smiled. And I thanked God for the blessing of freedom, and for the men and women who continue to unselfishly serve to defend it.
Suddenly, as I stood on the shores of Normandy, 4,000 miles away from my children, years away from my grandchildren, and future generations I may never see, I was filled with an indescribable yearning to continue the spiritual fight for their futures. The battle rages as satan, the enemy of our souls, fights to steal, kill, and destroy our families. I desperately want my family, and yours, to always walk in the freedom and the abundant life available through Jesus. And I am determined to continue in prayer.