Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rip Tide

I paced, feeling panicked as I watched from the balcony. About 15 yards out in the Gulf, they were on boogie boards kicking hard...and going nowhere. The waves were relentless as they pounded the shore. They had to know the red flag was up, that they shouldn't be in the water. But there they were, caught in a rip current.

I watched as Mike, my son-in-law, was pulled toward deeper water. My son, CJ, began to kick parallel to the beach. He broke out of the current. Thoughts of losing either of them began to surface. A knot of fear gripped my gut.

"What the heck are they doing out there?!?"

CJ turned and headed out toward Mike, who was now about 20 yards away. I couldn't watch any longer. I went back inside vocalizing my fear - of which I will spare you the detail. In all our trips to Florida, we have never had a situation like this arise. By the time I headed out on the boardwalk, they were back on shore.

Mike isn't ashamed to admit that being at the mercy of the current was, "the most scared I've ever been in my life!" He had no control over the force of the water. Being a Midwesterner, he didn't know what a rip tide is or how to get out of one. When CJ paddled back to Mike, he could see the panic on Mike's face.

"Just relax, Mike. Don't try to fight it. You'll be okay."

It took me a while to get over the panic I felt as I watched them in peril that day. I'm certain I wasn't the only family member who wanted to give them both a square kick in the pants for going out in the first place.

Reflecting back, I see a familiar pattern. From time to time conditions have been such in my life that the seas got rough and I found myself in a rip tide of circumstances over which I had no control. I watched as the safety of shore moved further and further away. I panicked; my resistance leaving me weak without moving me any closer to solid ground. Family and friends watched helplessly from the safety of the shore, loving me, wanting to help, but ultimately couldn't. I had to work through the current myself.

Rip tides of trials come in many forms; mental or physical illness, loss of relationship, a spouse, a child. They come in the form of addiction, unfairness, and offense. They are the "negative" things in this life over which we have no control.

But, peace can be found in the midst of trials. It is found when I stop resisting the force of the circumstance; when I cease kicking against the tide and allow it's force to work a deeper degree of faith in my soul. Eventually, I will be released.

Oh, and yeah. CJ went back into the water, got caught a.gain, then made it back to shore just before the lifeguard came by to tell everyone the beach was closed. The double red flag was raised.

I'm getting too old for this.

*More info about rip tides can be found here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Death - The Mother of Beauty

I am not the writer
the author

The death of me
is the beginning
of inspiration.

At rest
I am led
into deeper truth.

the filter

through which
I now

In death
I find

my own.

the beauty.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28

Monday, April 13, 2009

Soul Mate

"This is Alan."

His distinctive voice reaches over the miles as he answers my calls with his familiar greeting. He's busy; still running a construction crew at age 75. But he always makes time for conversation when he can.

When we met at a local church in 1973, his kind and unassuming manner made an immediate impression. There was a sense of recognition, of kinship, like meeting a brother after a long separation; also a sense of relief, like finally meeting someone who had answers for my questions.

The 70's were a time in my life when I was seeking more than the immediate. I wanted answers about God, about the reason for our existence. What is the purpose of life and who is God really? The traditional faith in which I was raised, made me feel boxed in and guilty for seeking God in a personal way. I began to feel that religion was more about tradition than personal relationship. I wanted something more than ritual because I couldn't connect to an act. Alan became for me a touchpoint to God's love.

After 36 years of friendship, I still seek his counsel through the ups and downs of my life and in moments of inspiration. He is always there, always making time for me. No questions are off limits, rebuffed, scrutinized, or judged. He always encourages me to speak what is on my mind. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." I always feel that Jesus is with Alan and me whenever we speak because something greater than either of us often comes to light as we explore the impressions each of us experience in various situations. The sharing is good for the soul and blesses us beyond words.

Last Friday, April 3rd, my family and I arrived at Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for spring break. It felt good to be back on the gulf shores with all the family in tow; our six kids, 4 spouses, and 7 grandchildren. It was going to be a wonderful week.

On Sunday morning I had just stepped out of the shower when my cell phone rang.


"Is this Lori? In Illinois?"


"Hi Lori, it's Darlene."

"Hi, Darlene! How are you?"

"I'm okay."

I paused. It began to sink in that Darlene, Alan's wife, doesn't normally call.

"Is Alan okay?"

"Alan had a heart attack on Friday." Darlene went on to explain the details of his condition. We talked for a while then she asked me to contact the group of people, with whom Alan and I had been e-mailing the past 7 years, to ask for prayers for Alan and to let them know what was happening with him.

On Tuesday evening, as I had each night, I took my laptop and headed for Miss Lucille's Cafe` to access the internet and see if there was word of Alan's condition. Feeling apprehensive, I parked on the street in front of the cafe` and got on-line. There was a note from Jennifer, a mutual friend, which said in part, "It is with many tears and much sadness that I give you this update. Alan has passed." I sat alone in the dark letting the tears flow as I felt the depth of loss sink into my heart. I will never hear his voice again. Everything has been said.

As the days pass, I try to grasp the reality of Alan's death. In recent conversations, we came to the mutual agreement that being able to express our faith and discoveries about God so freely made all the difference in each of our lives. Our conversations helped us to grow spiritually throughout the years. We often talked about how God uses every person and thing in our lives to teach us more about Him, about His love for us. We came to realize that nothing is wasted - that all things have purpose in moving us closer to Him.

Though words are inadequate to fully relate what his friendship meant to me, how his counsel helped me through the chapters of my life, I carry with me the memory of his kind words and wisdom that never fail to assure me that God's love is all-encompassing and His mercy and grace have no limit.

This is merely one person's tribute to Alan to say that his friendship blessed my life more than words can say. I miss him deeply. But I also believe he would encourage those who love him to celebrate with joy for him, knowing that he is where he longed to be, back with his Heavenly Father.

Good-bye, dear brother...for now.

I love you,