Thursday, July 24, 2008

Call Me Sequoia

I just celebrated my father-in-law's 75th birthday by driving with the whole family (2 van loads) to as many National Parks as we could in a 10 day period. It's one of those experiences that I'm sure will be more precious to me the further away I get from it! That sounds like an insult, but I don't mean it that way. Some experiences are more understood when I am able to stand back and see the bigger picture. As my life moves forward I am able to see their beauty and value in way I couldn't when I was "in the moment".

I thought a lot about that as I observed the vast beauty at so many National Parks: Yellowstone, Zion National Park, The Grand Canyon, Sequoia National Forest, Crater Lake. As I tried to take as much in as I could in these places, by the end of the trip I saw some characteristics that were common to all the these marvelous places:

1. At every place, some event that was big and catastophic had happened sometime in the distant past: A fire, an earthquake, erosion, a volcano, etc. The marks of these events were still evident, and were responsible for part of the beauty that was present.

2. Wherever we went, there were people from all over the world excited to view the beauty in these places. No one needed a translator--their eyes were all they needed.

3. All of these places are natural wonders--man didn't make any of them. They've all been around for a long time. Their beauty endures as time marches on.

Probably my greatest inspiration came from going to see the Giant Sequoias. The valley below this forest is basically a desert. It looks like there could be nothing anywhere near that was big and beautiful. But up above at 8,000-10,000 feet there are huge Sequoias. The largest tree in the world lives there. I found out that Sequoias take root best in a place where there has been complete destruction. They grow really well in ashes from a forest fire. They often grow in small groups because of how the seeds land when trees fall over. They are very resilient to harsh conditions and live for hundreds of years.

I want to be like a Giant Sequoia. When life is dry, I need to seek a higher spiritual place. I need to remember that the soil of destruction can be the perfect place for the seeds of some big, wonderful things to grow. I need to remember that it works best to grow with a group. It makes everyone stronger and more able to withstand the harsh conditons that life sometimes brings.I want the beauty of my life to endure, to remain, to inspire people--often without words--to consider that there is something, Someone bigger than they are who can mold something amazing out of the good, the bad, and the ugly in their life.

Right now, in the moment it doesn't feel like much is happening--it's just another place where I'll have to wait in faith until I get further out and can catch a glimpse of "the bigger picture".

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm Hooked!

I'm basically a shy person who absolutely loves people. Sometimes that works against me--like this weekend. After completing an intensive class on biblically interpreting dreams--which is usually a process that I do in private at my computer--the class was sent out in teams to the mall and different Starbucks locations to ask people if we could practice interpreting their dreams. It wasn't the interpreting that scared me--it was approaching random strangers--it was the potential rejection. The introvert inside of me longed to escape, but the desire to find if this could really reach people with God's love pulled harder.

There waiting on a mall bench was a Hispanic grandmother and her daughter. As my team approached them, the daughter answered her cell phone. That made grandma our target. We told her we had just completed a class in dream interpretation and asked her if we could practice interpreting one of her dreams. "After a certain age, I stopped dreaming," she quipped. After we urged her a bit further, she admitted that she had had a recurring dream for a while after her husband's death from a stroke. The dream in a nutshell was her deceased husband standing healthy and smiling beside a car with the door open as though he was waiting for her to get in.

"I think I know what that means." I said. She looked at me with interest. "This message is from God to show you that your husband is well in the place where he has gone before you. The invitation is open for you to join him in that place when it's the right time. But since you're still here, that means you still have things that God wants to finish in your life. That includes some of those dreams you've let go of. Don't be afraid to keeping dreaming!"

The grandma's eyes were filled with tears. So were ours. "Thank you so much, girls." She said. "Thank YOU!" we all chimed in. She had no idea how much I was grateful for her warm response. Somehow in the process of looking for people I could reel in for a free dream interpretation, I was the one who got hooked! Not one person during the whole day turned us down. Some people admitted they didn't remember any dreams, but for them we gave them a free encouraging word. It was amazing how people just melted when they were given a kind word that pointed them toward their destiny.

Henry Ward Beecher said that you'll never know how accessible men are until you try to reach them. You just have to find the right door. In today's society it seems that dream interpretation is one of those doors. It's made this shy wallflower willing to comb the malls and coffee shops. I'm a believer!