Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An Angel Saved My Seat!

On the way to the airport I was thinking of calling my mentor and spiritual director, Jodie Howell. I really needed my mom and she was as close as I could get in Orlando. Sadly she had not had time to see my while I was visiting and for some reason I didn't make that phone call even though my heart ached for the hug of some comforting words.

I made it to the airport just in time. Boarding had commenced when I arrived at the gate but there was no reason to stress further as it was a very full flight and would take a while to get everyone seated. I was already about as stressed as someone can be. I had experienced some trauma and had lost some sleep, weight and my short term memory in the process. I was sort of in a state of shock and happy to be going home to Chattanooga. Allegiant Air has 'open seating' and I happened to have z64, so I was the last person on the plane to choose from the few remaining seats. What happened next is nothing less than a miracle.

Walking toward the back of the plane I saw one overhead locker still open with room for my laptop. As I got closer I saw an empty middle seat and pointed to it and said with excited authority 'that must be my seat' and as I looked at the person next to the window I said incredulously, 'next to Jodie! Jodie?' I was in shock with a huge smile on my face.

As I sat down in that seat I felt like I was the victim of a loving set up - like a surprise birthday party with all your family and friends invited. I thought all the angels were standing around proudly laughing at their great efforts to pull off the surprise blessing of a lifetime. I actually felt as I sat in the chair, a sense that an angel had been sitting there holding the seat open just for me. A warm sensation of peace enveloped me. This was now a sacred space, a sacred meeting, divinely appointed. If Jodie had sat anywhere else in the plane I would not have known she was even there.

We embraced each other and talked non stop for the entire flight about her finishing theology school and me starting my masters and moving to Seattle where some of her family lives, our ministries, our purpose and what the next season was going to be like, we talked of family, heartaches and shared the goodness of God.

My friend Ame dropped her off at her destination and she gave me a blessing which was very encouraging. Of all the people in the world I needed to spend time with right then, it was my mother. And Jodie is more than a mother. She is a mentor and spiritual director. She is wise and she knows me. She believes in me and see's my worth and value. Most of all she believes what God is doing through me. She loves me and I love her. I thank God so much for giving me this treasured gift. It is one of the sweetest, most miraculous and restorative gifts I have ever been given in my whole life.

God knows me better than anyone.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Floods, Hurricanes and Earthquakes. When tragedy strikes. How do we cope?

Tragedy is going to happen to us, sooner or later. So when it does, what will we do? This blog describes briefly the floods and category 5 hurricane recently hitting my family in Australia and the catastrophic Christchurch earthquake (with some links for pictures)...and my first experience with a Tornado last week. The second half of the blog helps us question if we are actually ready for these 'times of trouble', it encourages us to see how God will help us embrace the tragedy in our lives and to expect even greater challenges ahead. It also asks the question... "When people pray for the soon return of Jesus, do they really know what they are praying for?"

South Bank Beach in the
city center of Brisbane by
the river. It all flooded!
In January I watched my beautiful city, flood. It was devastating. A city so perfect, so clean, so fun, with bike paths, gardens and even a beach overlooking the city skyscrapers next to the winding Brisbane river. In the U.S. I struggled to find news or information. To be so far away from my homeland and feel so helpless is a feeling we have all felt at some time. Memories of 911 flashed through my mind. 
Queensland had been drowned with rain for the last month or two - the wettest season in 100 years. La Nina they said, causing drastic changes to the weather patterns. Last year had been a drought (the last ten years on and off) bringing with it, water restrictions of four minute showers. Everyone just lived with that. But now the dams were at 160% capacity and climbing. The rains had flooded the large towns at the top of Queensland and it seemed to be slowly coming down the coast. Three quarters of the state, an area the size of France and Germany, was under water. Then the flash flooding started, water gushing with such enormous force a whole town was swept away without warning. People were trapped and missing. Terrifying beyond words.