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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 8)

 Been quiet around here the last couple of weeks as I've been adjusting to a new job, new classes, and trying to just keep my head on straight. There has been so much "heavy" stuff in our world, and my heart has been struggling. Due to that, I've decided to take a facebook break this week, and when I log back in, I'm only going to get on one day a week. I know it seems presumptuous of me to think that anyone even cares about that, but I do love my facebook friends. I've just got to learn to start loving my mental health more. 

Hurricane Ida has made landfall and we are getting rain, rain, and more rain here in Eastern Kentucky. Last night as I drifted off to sleep to the sound of rain on my tin roof I thought of all those still rebuilding from our flooding in March. I used to find rain peaceful at night, but now, as I empathize with those who spent nightime hours terrified, I can also see the sinister side. It's funny how our perspective can change. 

Speaking of perspectives, this weekend I spend a couple of days wallowing and honestly today I'm not feeling much better, but I know that it's all in perspective. I have decided (tonight, anyway) that I'm not going to get all caught up in what I DO. I'm just going to do my best everyday, minute by minute, hour by hour. I've been listening to The Next Right Thing podcast by Emily P. Freeman, and that's her premise.... what is my next right thing? So, starting tomorrow, that's going to be my focus as I go through the day... what is right in front of me. Not tracking. Not trying to be better than before. Not worrying if I meet a step goal or a writing goal or a reading goal... just doing it for what it is. 

But... I still have to track some things.. so... 

Books I've Read since the last time I wrote

1. Still Life by Louise Penny

A whopping 3 books for the month of August...

but new job. New courses. New classes for me. Reading for advanced pharmacology and advanced health assessment... so... grace. 

Give yourself some grace, too, friend. <3








Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 7)

Drink More Water

I have never been a water drinker, but I'm trying to do better. I've read that dehydration may cause migraines to be worse, and I drink way too much caffeine. I'm also trying to be a little bit more environmentally friendly, so when I helped Kami move I saw a water pitcher with a filter in her fridge and decided that's just what I need... so we purchased a Brita water filter pitcher and I have to say I love it! I fill up my water bottle before I leave, and then refill on campus at a water station. I've increased my water intake from 0 ounces to usually at least 32 a day (I know it's not great, but it's better than none). And I'm not drinking as much pop, either... 

Auto-save is REALLY the enemy- Technology is great, until it isn't. We use one-drive at work, and it has an auto-save feature, which you think would be great... but last week I was working on unit outlines using one as a template and when I came back in the next day they were all blank but one because it had autosaved as the last one that I had been working on. I learned my lesson, though... and turn auto-save off and also copy/paste the document into a new document before I start. 

If you're not talking to yourself, are you even being productive at work? 

I'm convinced the answer to this is a resounding NO! While I was updating the above outlines, correcting my mistake from the day when I erased them all, I had a full-blown conversation with myself... even providing answers. 

This week is the first day of classes for students. I have entered all of my teaching dates in to my calendar, and also all of my assignments for my NP courses. I'm a little overwhelmed, but one day at a time. I'm excited to be learning! 

What I Read This Week

This post is late getting written because I was determined to have something to put here. I just finished (literally ten minutes ago) the only book I've read this week- the second of August. 

1. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

A lot of heavy stuff going on in our world right now. Saying a little prayer for you, my friend. Thanks for reading. <3


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Lessons from Sunday School (Little Heavier Version Volume 1 Edition 5)

 Today I had a roomful for Children's Church. Aged 6 to 18, it's sometimes hard to come up with a lesson that meets all of their developmental levels. My heart is with the middle schoolers and high schoolers, I guess because middle school was such a hard time for me and then for the majority of my adult life I was tagging along behind buses full of high school girls. 

Today I taught from John 16:33, Romans 8, and Genesis 50:20. It's not your usual Sunday School lesson, but I want to share the main points with you today. 

We are living in what many consider to be a unique time, but we're told in Ecclesiastes that "there is nothing new under the heavens", so really we are probably going through the same things that generations before us went through; now we just have the technology and ease of information to take on the weight of the world instead of just our own little pocket. I do honestly believe we are living in "end day", because it seems the labor pains are growing closer and closer. More tragedy. More heartaches. More confusion. 

When I was young, I didn't want to think about living in the "end times". I can remember having a dream when I was in high school and waking up so scared. I had dreamed about the rapture, and saw people going up in the air, and I was left behind... but I also had conflicting feelings. I wasn't "homesick". I had things I wanted to do, and I didn't want to think about those things not coming to fruition because I was in Heaven. Selfish, hmm? Remember that's natural for a teenager... 

I also don't remember feeling overwhelmed like so many of our kids are today. Oh, sure, I was full of teenage angst, and was insecure, but I didn't obsess about worries. 

We are a worrying society. 

Jesus tells in John 16::, "In this world you will have trouble." Not too promising there, when you think about it. 

The heartache you're facing. The sickness you're loved one has just been diagnosed with. Your confusion about your life situation. 

You should have seen them coming.. but even though we KNOW we will have trouble, it doesn't mean we should allow these troubles to overcome us. 

Jesus goes on to say, "Take heart. I have overcome the world."

Before I was born, before any troubles came my way, Jesus overcame the world. And because He overcame the world, He allows me to be victorious in my battles. That doesn't mean that things will always work out as I want them to. It just means that I can have peace when I am troubled because He is my peace. 

I had everyone write down things that made them sad on a piece of paper. We then talked about how God can use those things for good, and how Joseph had many trials but it was for the saving of "many lives". I told them that they may not be able to imagine it now, but that all those things that made them sad can be worked for good if they love Jesus. 

Friend, you may need to hear that, too. Life is hard, and unfair, and we don't understand why bad things happen to good people. I don't understand the tension that is present when I think of God being in control but bad things still happening. Our world is reeling right now and I know it makes Him just as sad as it does me, but He has given us free will. We can't explain it, and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I am trying to trust Him more. 

Romans 8:18, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Your sorrow, your troubles and trials, are temporary. As I type this, I'm reminded of an old spiritual we sang once in chorus, "Soon Ah I will be done with my troubles... going home to live with God. No more weepin' and a wailin'"'

I'm not going to tell you to make lemons out of lemonade or to make the most out of whatever you are facing. I'm not going to offer platitudes, because some of you are going through some heavy stuff. I am just going to tell you that Jesus knows. He loves you. And may you find peace in Him. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Five Minute Friday (A Day Late): Accountability

 This summer, I started writing again. 

I joined a writing group online, then participated in a peer group, and have joined several additional writing groups. I've been listening to podcasts on writing and have been talking myself through the steps needed to write the Great American Novel... or maybe just a non-fiction book centered around my travels around the Bluegrass State.... or then there's that thought that a book discussing primitive healthcare and midwifery in Eastern Kentucky would be fun to research..

While I'm not completely settled on WHAT I plan to write, I've been focusing on the habit of, well, getting in the habit of writing. If you follow me here, on this blog, you know I've been publishing at least on Tuesdays and Sundays. I've been "writing" more on Instagram, journaling my thoughts more intentionally there. I've also been starting my day "journaling" for 10 minutes, and closing it out with getting some words down toward said novel above. In July, I had a goal of 750 words a day, and while I didn't write every day, I did write some. In August, I increased it to 1000 words and joined a couple of accountability groups on Facebook. Knowing I needed to go log on and post my word count, or my progress, did give me some inspiration...

Until this week. Thursday and Friday I slept late, so no morning journaling. Thursday night I was exhausted, and last night I started working on editing some questions for a textbook company that I do as a job on the side (I decided that it did, in fact, count as writing). 

When I saw the Five Minute Friday word was accountability, I thought, "Well this is perfect." I lack self-discipline. It's one reason why it's so much easier for me to sit on the couch than to walk my 2 miles every day, even though I usually enjoy the walk once I get started. 

I don't usually do this kind of thing with my writing and I'm not sure I'll get a response but that's ok. If you enjoy what you read here, could you leave me a comment? Either here on the blog or on my Facebook page, and would you partner with me by asking me about my writing every now and again? It's greatly appreciated! 

What do you need an accountability partner for? How might I help you with that? 

Linking up for Five Minute Friday, a community that writes for five minutes on one topic and shares. I may have cheated this week because a. it's Saturday and b. I wrote for longer than five minutes. 



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1 Edition 6)

 School Times

This week my newsfeed on FB and Instagram is full of going back to school pictures. I have to admit it's one of my favorite times of the year on social media, because even those kids dreading going back force smiling faces for one day of the year. I'm not going to say it, referring instead to it as Harry Potter referred to him who shall  not be named, but there's a lot of trepidation and uncertainty circling this school year. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the debates so I'm not going to deliberate here. Just know that I'm praying for you and yours. Will you join me in praying for our kiddos, their teachers and administrators and coaches and bus drivers and cooks and janitors and everyone else that makes a school system go round? It takes a village, y'all. 

Speaking of individuals in the school system, this is Caleb's first year as an employee of the Breathitt County School System. He'll be helping with intervention strategies at HTS and also is going to be a bus monitor. The "kid" never rode a bus except for ballgames, but he's excited. 

Kindness

Yesterday I heard this quote on a podcast, "We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in light of what they suffer.”― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It really resonated with me. It is far too easy to make assumptions based on a person's action (or inaction), but everything that we do is a direct result of an experience that we have had. Often, the saying 'hurt people hurt people" is so true. I encourage you to reflect on why a person may be behaving the way they are, without making assumptions, of course. Let's learn to err on the side of grace.

Speaking of kindness, in the last book I read by Karen Kingsbury she talked about her "You Were Seen" movement. You can order little cards to leave when you leave a good tip or notice something that a cashier, etc. has done. It gives them a little recognition and also gives them the message of Jesus. I love this. I've read before that Sunday after church are often the worst tip times and also when some of the rudest customers come into restaurants. Let me encourage you to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are all just trying to hang on here.. Again, err on the side of grace.

AM Routine/PM Routine

I am not a morning person, but I've been trying to set some habits to help my days go better. I've been drinking water as soon as I get up, listening to my Bible on audio, noting three things I'm thankful for, journaling for 10 minutes because I'm a writer and writers write, and stretching for 10 minutes.

Because failure to plan is planning to fail, I've started looking ahead to the next day and making out my to do list before I go to bed. I also write, again, for 10 minutes, and make a note of three things I've been grateful for that day.

I'm trying to get back into good habits at work. I've never been the most organized, but I have started taking the last few minutes of the day before I head out to straighten up my desk and make a list of what needs to be done the next day. I think I'll also start organizing any files and emails before I head out the door. 

What I've Read

I was afraid I'd have to record a zero in this category but I stayed up Sunday night until after 1 AM to finish Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. It was worth the late bedtime, but I had to take an hour long nap yesterday after work! 

Be blessed, friends. Do something special for someone this week. It doesn't have to be anything big. Just be a blessing! <3


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Lessons from Sunday School: Samson (Volume 1, Edition 4)

 Today's sermon was about a very abstract concept: Hope. 

My daily Bible reading was the complete opposite- Jeremiah, not the chapter 29 that we all love to think about with the promise of hope, but rather what comes before that... the prophecy that they will be captive and in exile. 

Heavy stuff for a Sunday School story... so I decided to draw some inspiration from my Facebook friends who got me thinking about their favorite Sunday School stories. 

Today, let's talk about Samson. If you'd like to turn to your Bible, which I hope you will... and I hope the sound of those onion-thin pages take you back... 

we'll be in Judges 13-

Samson was born during a period of Israelite history known as the Judges, because God sent a series of judges to help them figure out what they were supposed to do. These weren't judges in black robes with powdered wigs sitting behind large wooden tables with a gavel in their hand. Some of them traveled and one even sat and held court under a tree. The type of court they held isn't really what we are used to, either, although they did offer guidance and help settle disputes. The moral of the story of Judges, though, is just that. There was little morality in Israel. In fact, the very last line of Judges is (my paraphrase, depending on the translation that you use, "And there was no King in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes."

Anyway, this period sets up a cycle in the history of the Israelite. As a child we wouldn't have grasped that, but it's something I can relate to, because even though I love God and do my best to serve Him, I can understand sometimes falling away. The people would do wrong. God would send a judge to help them do better. They would, for a while, and there would be peace, but then they would "do evil again in the sight of the Lord." (But, they weren't really thinking about what was evil in God's sight. They were only concerned about their own vision, remember, doing what was right in their own eyes.)

Samson is born during this time frame. His parents received a visit from an angel with the promise of a son. His mother was barren, a fate nearly worse than death, so the news was astonishing and hopeful, but also scary, as they had never seen an angel before.  The angel came first to Samson's mom, telling her not to drink strong drink and to follow all that he said, that her son would be a Nazarite from birth. She told her husband, who wasn't sure that all she said could be believed, so God again sent an angel, who relayed the same message, and disappeared in the fire as they offered a sacrifice. Did this mean they would die? 

Samson was born and he was blessed and he grew as young men do. Being the only child of a couple who were sure they were barren, and also being a promise of God, I get the feeling he was a little spoiled. When he was of marrying age, he saw a young woman who was not from his tribe, but a Philistine, the dreaded enemy of the Israelite. You remember David and Goliath? Goliath was the great Philistine? This woman was of that people... but Samson had to have her. 

Lesson number one: Listen to your parents. 

They didn't like her, but Samson was young and in lust (which we don't understand in Sunday School) so marry her he did. We are also told that he killed a lion with his bare hands, and then ate honey from the lion's carcass, which meant he was unclean. Samson was a jokester, telling a riddle relating to honey in the carcass, and we've got some drama from the young woman (just read Judges 14 for the full story). Samson makes the Philistines mad as he taunts them over not being able to solve his riddle, and we see the beginning of the unraveling of his glory. I mean, when you call your woman a heifer, it all has to go down from there... (I'm not making it up. He says, "If you had not ploughed with my heifer...")

Lesson number two: Don't call your wife a heifer. 

These events led to a strong dislike for the Philistines. Samson returned to his father's house, and his wife became somebody else's wife. Samson's anger grew, and he destroyed the fields of the Philistines, catching them afire with torches tied to fox tails. A pretty creative way to seek revenge. The Philistines fight back, and seek to fight the tribe of Judah. The leaders come to Samson and ask him what he's done. He says, "I've only done what they did to me."

Lesson number three: Follow the Golden Rule- do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not as they have done to you. 

The leaders tie him up and hand him over to the Philistines, only to have him break free and kill everyone with the jawbone of a donkey. 

Lesson number four: Be resourceful. Use what you have. 

Young, headstrong Samson became the leader of the Israelites. 

One thing we don't learn about Samson in Sunday School is that he sounds like a little bit of a womanizer. The Timmonite woman that he married, a prostitute, and then Delilah... and those are the women we know about. 

Oh, Delilah... Samson fell in love. He was smitten. She had him wrapped around her little finger. You've heard the story.... she asks him where his strength comes from, and he lies, and lies, and lies again... but she finally gets it out of him. The Philistines cut his long locks and Samson loses his power. He lies, sleeping like a baby in her lap... I can't help but wonder if she had given him something to knock him out or what because I sure don't sleep soundly enough to let someone cut my hair off. 

He wakes when they try to subdue him, trying to fight without realizing he has lost his strength, which came from the power of God. 

Lesson number five, that was far too subtle for Sunday School: Sometimes we can think we are in God's presence, with His power, and not realize we have strayed. This is sobering to me... that Samson didn't realize the Spirit had departed from him. It makes me think of times when I maybe have thought I was being led by the Spirit, only to have been following my flesh. 

Samson is captured, blinded, and made to grind grain at a millhouse. He is taken from being a leader to being a servant. 

But this, lesson number six, might be the greatest lesson of them all. Our God is a God of redemption. As Samson was humbled, grinding at the millstone in prison, his hair began to grow back. I know this is a symbol of God's power. I can't help but think that as he blindly went about his day, he was crying out to the One who could save him, who could comfort him. And God was with him. 

Samson's final act is one that is so sad to me. The Philistines brought him forward in their arena to make fun of him. "Let's let Samson entertain him." Here's this great man of God who has been stripped of everything. He asks the person who led him in to put him between two pillars. He felt God's strength one last time as he pushed against those pillars, bringing down the arena and killing everyone inside. 

As a child, I didn't understand this ending, and as an adult I still think it could have been better. Just yesterday Wallace and I watched a movie with a very abrupt ending, and today, as I'm considering Samson, I thought of how the Hollywood of my growing up would have ended with Samson being rescued from the rubble, falling in love with a chaste young woman who would prove to cure him of the heartbreak of Delilah's deception, because we like things to be tied up in fancy bows...

but that doesn't always happen. Samson's story isn't a happy ending, but we see God's redemptive plan. He doesn't give up on us. And that, my friend is a happy ending in and of itself. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 5)

Sorry, friends, I'm short on thoughts this week. There's a meme circling the internet (or it has been for a while) that says, "This week has been exhausting, says me, on a Tuesday" and that's where I am tonight. 

New "old" job- 

Yesterday I started at HCTC, where I went to school and started my teaching career. It's home, but obviously there have been some changes in four years. I'm teaching LPN, which is new, and it's been a tad bit overwhelming trying to figure out what exactly I need to be doing... but I keep telling myself it's fine. 

"It's fine. It will all be fine." or "It's ok. Everything is ok." 

This quote has been the story of my life for the past year and a half, and even though we were stressed out this weekend I couldn't help but get a little tickled when my sister Kami said this a couple of times as we were moving her. Here are my thoughts on moving: 

It stinks. 

I'm sore. 

It stinks even more when the apartment is on the 3rd floor and there is no elevator, and the new apartment in the new city is on the 2nd floor, also with no elevator. 

My calf muscles are still on fire. 

What I Read This Week: 

Zero. Zilch. Nada. See thoughts on new job and on moving Kami. 

What I'm Listening To: 

Thank You Lord by Chris Tomlin. Go listen. There's a couple of surprise guests in there. I was listening to K-Love in my car the other day and thought, "Well that sounds just like Thomas Rhett..." so I looked it up on you-tube and sure enough... 

What I'm Needing: 

Since it's the beginning of the semester, I'd love to hear your most inspirational quote! I love quotes, and love to share them. 

Be like a sunflower- keep your face to the sun. Snapped this pic on my walk earlier this week and just thought you could use some almost mid-week cheering up, too. I love the brightness of sunflowers. May you shine just as brightly. 

Be blessed, friends! Thanks for reading! 





Monday, August 2, 2021

What I Read in July


I had a pretty good summer of reading. I'm recognizing that most likely I won't meet my yearly goal of 150 books by the end of the year, but I'll keep trying. I was happy to attend a book club meeting tonight. It's good to talk books! (Even if we talked about life, too!)

1.  C is For Corpse by Sue Grafton
This is the third of a series featuring detective Kinsie Millhone. I love mindless mysteries, especially in the summertime, and this is one of those that is a quick read, suspenseful, and with enough of a plot to keep the reader interested but not overthinking. Sometimes I like a good summer read that doesn't cause me to think much. This one involves Kinsie investigating the death of Bobby Callahan, a young man she meets at the gym. His is a tragic story, with dysfunctional family drama making life even more complicated. If you enjoy a good mystery, you'll like this series. 

2. Whitethorn Woods  by Maeve Binchy
St. Ann's Well works miracles; at least to those who believe. When a new road threatens the existence of Rossmore, Whitethorn Woods, and specifically the well, Father Flynn finds himself in the middle of the debate against progress and tradition. Through the telling of community member's interwoven stories, Binchy shares the beauty of a community with the complexity of individuals. A great read! 

3. Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury
I have loved every Karen Kingsbury book that I have read. The Baxter family feels like... well... family. This book centers around a family secret, discovering who you are, and an emphasis that family is more than being blood related. Kingsbury takes on the topic of frozen embryos and infertility, and handles the complexity of family with grace. Written in simple prose, it's an easy read that flows well and left me wanting more. Good thing there are other Baxter books!

4. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Danny and Maeve are affluent siblings raised by a dad with rags to riches story. Their world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes, and the subsequent events follow them for the remainder of their lives. While not explicitly discussed by the author, this book made me think of how we define success. It also centers around relationships and feelings of responsibility. This is one of the better books I've read this year. 

5. The Characters of Christmas 
A Christmas book fits in July, right? I actually started this one in December as a devotional and then got sidetracked. Darling provides character analysis of people who were involved in the Christmas story: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, even Simeon awaiting the Messiah. Retellings of the Biblical story show us how ordinary people were important to the Christmas story. Reflection questions help the reader apply the readings to their own life. 

6. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
This is one of my favorite new books. Set in Eastern Kentucky, Moyes tells the story of a pack-horse librarian who came to the mountains from England. The writing was lyrical, descriptions of the mountains made me feel right at home, and there was enough romance and suspense to keep me engrossed. Highly recommend! (I have seen some reviews that compare to the Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which I am reading now. I don't know about the similarities, but I can say that Moyes had to have done her research because I truly felt like she was in my backyard.)

7. The Island House by Nancy Thayer
I have never been to Nantucket but I love reading books set there, especially in the summer. This book centers around the Vickerey family, following them into adulthood. Courtney is a "summer child", one of several kids who calls the island house home during the summer because of a friendship with one of the Vickerey siblings. Courtney tells the family story through flashbacks, and then we are brought back to the present time, when the family must face their own struggles. This book draws the reader into thinking about relationships (sense a theme here?) but is light-hearted enough to be a good beach read. 

8. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Giffin is another author that I enjoy. In this novel, she introduces us to two sisters who have grown up in the shadows of the death of a brother. One sister strives to be the responsible. One is known to be more flighty. Both fall into their roles momentarily, until they are forced to admit that these roles may be a facade. As the anniversary of their brother's death draws closer, and the two sisters find themselves looking inward, family drama surfaces, bringing their relationship to the breaking point. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel. There is some inappropriate language. 

9. The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wigg
Loved this book!!! It chronicles the road trip by a mom and her 18 year old daughter who is heading off to college. The book details a quilt the mom is making from keepsakes fabric from her daughter's childhood. It may have hit a little too close to home, even though Caleb isn't actually going away from school, but it was a delightful read with an ending I didn't suspect. 

10. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This book details the stories of two young men sent to a reform school in Florida at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Describing the lives of those housed in the reform school, it is a difficult read at times. What makes it even more difficult to read is that it is based on a real place, even though the characters are fictional, but I feel like it is an important read, because it made me think. 

11. First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies
I enjoyed this book, which gave inside glances of the women in the White House in modern times. Beginning with Jackie Kennedy and ending with Michelle Obama, with an afterword briefly introducing Melania Trump (it was written as Trump took over the Presidency), it showed the beauty and grace of those women behind our Commander in Chief. It includes quotes from letters and the author also interviewed key members of administrations and a couple of the first ladies themselves. Great read to show another side of American politics. 

What are you reading? I'd love to hear from you! 




Sunday, August 1, 2021

Lessons from Sunday School: A Whopper of a Fishing Story (Volume 1, Edition 3)

 Today my Bible reading was from Nahum 1, which was a warning to Ninevah.

Wait... a prophet preaching to Ninevah? 

We learned about that in Sunday School... but it wasn't a prophet named Nahum!

(Or at least I didn't remember it!)

Picture this: God wants you to do something that you don't want to do... so you run in the complete opposite direction.

Kind of sounds familiar to me... and that's just what Jonah, the prophet we may be more familiar with, does. 

Jonah knows Ninevah is evil, and he wants God's wrath to come on them, so he decided he'll hide from God and ignore his instructions. 

He hops on a boat and heads to Tarshish... which may mean "far away"... and thinks he is good to go. 

This isn't some Carnival Cruise, though, and we all know you can't hide from God, so sooner rather than later there's a storm that brews. 

If you've ever been at the ocean when a storm is brewing off the shorelines, you know the power of the wind and the waves... the angry tide crashing against the shoreline... 

even on a lake, which is normally relatively still, it doesn't take long for the wind to whip up a pretty strong current which can push a boat against the shoreline. 

So the winds are howling, the rain is pouring, and Jonah.... is snoring. 

Yes, that's right. He's sleeping as the boat is tossed to and fro. The captain comes to him and says, "Are you crazy? How can you sleep like that? We are looking at death! Get up and pray to whatever God you believe in!"

So Jonah gets up and goes above deck, where he joins in the casting of lots to determine whose fault it is that the storm has brewed. I'm reminded here about how so much of Biblical life is different. If it storms today, we don't automatically blame each other... we understand weather patterns. In fact, I can sometimes predict storms because the humidity triggers migraines... but in this case... we know it was God. 

And the lots prove that. Jonah explained that he was on the run from his responsibilities. Jonah tells them to throw him overboard, but the sailors value life too much, so they try to take things in their own hands and keep trying to row to shore. 

Does that remind anyone of anything in their own lives? Not us, grasping at the wheel, white-knuckled, just trying to keep it between the lines as all hell breaks lose around us. Nope, we've got it under control...

but the sailors soon become exhausted, so they realize they will have no choice but to throw Jonah overboard. Here's the part I never got from Sunday School. Even though they did not serve God, they prayed to Him that He wouldn't hold them accountable for being the means of death for Jonah. This tells me they respected the Hebrew God. 

So they threw Jonah overboard, and the sea became calm... the end. 

Not. 

God wasn't done yet. He still needed Ninevah to hear a redemptive message, and for whatever reason, He wanted Jonah to be the one to preach it. Hear this, friend. It doesn't matter what you have done. How you have ran. God has a purpose for you. He has a plan for you. And He'll use whatever means it takes to get your attention and get you on the right road to where you are supposed to be. 

In Jonah's case, it was a gigantic fish. (Cue the Sunday School teacher with the flannel board with the gray whale bobbing in the blue sea). Swallowed Jonah right up... I wonder if it was in one gulp. 

And there he stayed for three days and three nights... that sounds familiar, too? Maybe some foreshadowing of death being defeated? 

So Jonah doesn't just lay there in the belly of the fish. He cries out to God. Can you even imagine? I'm pretty sure that, knowing my disposition, I'd be a little angry, even though I asked for it.  We can read  part of Jonah's prayer in Chapter 2, but 3 days is a long time to say just a few words. I'm thinking that there were some things Jonah had to say to God... and God had to say to Jonah... that we just don't need to know. 

At the end of the prayer, Jonah is praising God and recognizing his salvation. The fish spewed him out of his mouth onto dry land... and Jonah went on his merry way. Straight to Ninevah. Where he preached a fire and brimstone message, doom and gloom and destruction, so passionately that he convinced the king, who declared a fast and a time of repentance. God saw the city citizens turn their heart away from evil and decided not to destroy them. 

And then, chapter 4. My favorite part of the story that I never focused on when I was young, probably because my mind was trying to work around the whole logistics of living in the belly of a whale and also because a eight year old only pouts at their parents. 

Jonah gets mad. He sees the good God has done and it displeases him. "See! I knew you'd save them! That's why I didn't want to come here!" 

Not because he was afraid that when he was preaching a negative message that he'd be in danger. 

Nope, but because he KNEW God was good and KNEW Ninevah didn't deserve grace... but that grace is who God is. He was so mad he wished that he would die! 

So he went and sat and pouted, just as I probably would, because our flesh likes the thought of karma and people getting what they deserve until it is us that deserves punishment. God sent a little tree or vine to cover up his head when he got hot, and used it as an illustration of how God cares about all living things, and says, "Shouldn't I have spared Ninevah, and the residents?"

And then it ends, y'all. We don't see Jonah's response. Did he sit and stew or did he realize that we all need grace? 

What I learned in recapping this story

-You can't run from God. 

-God has a plan for each of us. He wants to use us in His story.

-Nobody deserves grace, but God is so very merciful that He longs to give it to all. 

I'd love to hear your takeaways!

"Who did, who did, who did, who did swallow Jonah?" Jonah and the Whale song - YouTube (I don't own rights to this song but I sure did sing it when I was little in the basement of the church, probably wearing a frilly polyester dress with patent leather shoes and itchy tights, dancing along and looking forward to cherry koolaid!) 

And, going back to my reading today... well, Ninevah didn't learn it's lesson, kind of like the people of Israel and also kind of like me, sometimes, so 150 or so years later Nahum is telling them the same message, and this time, the great city does see destruction... 

So let's keep looking for lessons in our lives and not make the same mistake twice (it's not a mistake if you learn something).