The Warmth of the Sun

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It’s one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. Like “In My Room”, it’s haunting melodies underscore the quintessential feeling and mood one feels while drinking in the congenial rays of a friendly sun. As autumn dawns, the warmth of the sun, when it does shine on the Northern California coast, especially in Indian Summer, is a truly invigorating, kind and soothing phenomenon. Unlike the brutal summer sun, as welcoming as it is after a cruel winter, it becomes unyielding and unbearable when it beats down into triple digits.

Today is the beginning of fall. Like my fellow fall-a-philes, we look forward to the shorter days which are bordered by crispy mornings and brisk evenings while filled with a warmth of the sun that beguiles the season. Autumn is “the season between summer and winter comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of September, October, and November or as reckoned astronomically extending from the September equinox to the December solstice,” or as we “poets” muse,  “a period of maturity or incipient decline”. While the days shorten, the year faces its end, and the leaves fall and die, this season, and the warmth of its days, for some reason invigorates the soul and all its creative impulses.

The colors associated with this season construe earth, nature, home, if you will, at least to me. Browns beckon us to the dust from which we were formed. Burnt yellows and oranges warm our hearts like a small fire. Deep forest evergreens envy their deciduous cousins whose deaths make such a spectacular display.

It’s been a tough couple years, years fraught with demanding work, family discord, parental decline, loved ones’ depression and, sadly, death.  So much so I haven’t been able to appreciate the little rays of warmth that have shone through the storm clouds. But as I get older, I am learning to appreciate those very rays, those rays which are, indeed like photosynthesis, life giving.

My office is away from the main hub of activity where I work. I have to walk over to that office a couple times a day. Despite the cool summer we had on the Peninsula, many mornings the sun would shine in such a gentle fashion that I’d just look up and let the warmth of the sun wash over me.  Like the plant converts the sun’s energy into life, so the rays from the sun convert my sadness into joy,  my darkness into light and my pandemonium into peace. It’s amazing that this free resource of peace surround us daily.

I took a little trip up north for just a day. I needed to get away and stop – just stop – no activities but sitting on the pier, lounging in the river and soaking up the trees, the birds, the smells of by-gone days and, of course, the gentle end-of-summer sun. I told my niece I was enjoying the ministry of nature. The difficulty of the past few years reminds me of a story from Mrs. Cowman’s devotional, Springs in the Valley.

In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Coolies had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.

This whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those poor jungle tribesmen. The difference: THEY KNEW what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often, WE DO NOT.   –July 11

One of the reasons why I like photography is that I can capture some of these free resources that surround me whether it is a spectacular Pacifica sunset, a cool morning by some “still waters”, a plucky stellar jay, Erin’s sunflowers or the last blackberries of the summer, to name a few. All these little things, like the warmth of the sun and the colors of autumn, help me sustain my life and perspective in a big way, and allow my soul to catch up with my body.

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Teen Times, Vol. II – Fortnite

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Fortnite, or correctly spelled: Fortnight. That deliciously English word which means a unit of time of two weeks; ergo, fourteen nights. No doubt my first acquaintance with this word was in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice: “I  honour your circumspection. A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight.” I’d add to Jane’s observation, and wager to say that one cannot know what a man really is even by the end of a score or two.

Other English writers have toyed with this verbal antiquity.

“Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Dr. Johnson

And…

“I can’t see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she’d thought it out with both hands for a fortnight.” Dorothy Sayers

And even our friendly American humorist, Mark Twain, dropped an f-bomb…

We have been housekeeping a fortnight, now long enough to have learned how to pronounce the servants’ names, but not how to spell them.  We shan’t ever learn to spell them; they were invented in Hungary and Poland, and on paper they look like the alphabet out on a drunk.” 

I think my kids feel pretty smart now that they know the meaning of this interesting word, but they didn’t stumble upon this word from reading the classics or from their vocabulary lists or even chatting with their English buddies. No….they know what the real fortnight means because of the current bane of my existence: Fortnite, the Video Game.

The first indiction of the Fentanes Video Game Experience began harmlessly with Duck Hunt, but before I could even reload, we were running the hallowed hills of Halo,  partnering with the precious Pikachu in Pokemon, dodging desperadoes in Call of Duty, meticulously making maps in Minecraft, learning harmony and happiness in Harvest Moon, seriously slugging siblings while playing Super Smash Brothers,  liberating the princess as Link in The Legend of Zelda, and the winner of them all, spending hundreds of dollars for air time for the World of Warcraft. WOW, really? Video Games 1; Mom 0. Game over, Mom, acquiesces to video game reality.

Before the second indiction began not too long ago, video game playing had subsided to a few hours of Pokemon and Harvest Moon. But, recently, a new phenomenon took over my household: Fortnite. The only good thing about Fortnite is that it doesn’t cost any money, at least not my money. That’s all.

My son and I watched Psycho last weekend. Still don’t really like that movie, but you’ve got to hand it to Janet Leigh and her ability to produce blood-curdling screams. The selfsame screams are uttered by my daughter during Fortnite. You’d think she was being stabbed in the shower. I’ve watched them play, all they are doing is running and shooting up some people every once in awhile. I leave the room and then the blood-curdling screams begin, the frantic orders to comrades to “Watch out, watch out!!!” “He’s behind you.” Followed by more blood-curdling screams. To add to this mayhem, unnamed female offspring wears a headset, which causes her to amplify her responses to the game. Hence, mother stomping into the living room at 10:30 p.m., and yelling “quit screaming” which, of course, she does not hear because of said headset. I don’t know why the expression on my face doesn’t cause her to scream.

Fortnite is the latest craze of video games. I’ve about had it. About a fortnight ago, I ran into my upstairs neighbor. I’ve been meaning to apologize for the Psycho-like screaming, and wanted to reassure them that I was not harming anyone in anyway. The neighbor kindly responded, “No, I don’t hear anything. Do you hear us when we play Fortnite?” “No…, I don’t, the insulation must be good,” I bemused. “Thanks.”

In the three decades of my child-rearing experience, I have come to appreciate video games and the entertainment they provide my children. I remember fondly the years of Halo and Super Smash Brothers because those are the years all my kids were together as well as many of their friends. Video games were one of many things they had in common with their friends, friends they still have, one who has become a family member. Now that the aforementioned unnamed female offspring has been working for about a fortnight, we’ll see if she continues to give her time to this game.

I admit I have no halo as a mom, but my call of duty is to raise kids, and part of that responsibility is to pick the battles in this battlefield, a battle royale. I am happy to report that none has yet been arrested for grand theft auto or any other felony that I know of, and though the fallout has been minimal in permitting extensive video game playing, I am grateful they don’t overwatch them. I consider my kids to be in a league of legends, and hope someday, they will triumph in the trenches of life.

 

 

Teen Times Vol. 1

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I have found communicating with one’s offspring to be daunting at times. When they’re small children, conversation can be simple: “Gotta go pee-pee?”, “Time for nap” and “No, don’t put the fork in the socket, honey.” Simple supervisory skills.

As the they get older, and if they’re still not as smart as you, you can figure out how things are. But it does require knowing your children and what their proclivities are. But then they hit pre-teen, and with technology the way it is, you’re gonna fall behind. I did Twitter, but just got depressed; I am on Instagram, but the kids aren’t really there anymore. It’s all about Snapchat…and I’m not going there. So they have this Snapchat world that you kinda have to watch from a distance.

Then there are the full-blown teenagers, the attitude has come, the manners have gone, and any motivation or inclination to do minor work has vanished. Communication becomes very difficult. I have one teen with whom I can have normal conversations, hopefully that will not change, I have one who must have mentally muted my voice, and I have one with whom I can start WWIII with that hate-filled word, “Hello”. Texting is the go-to form of communication for my teens. However, how my texts are perceived by them is a mystery to me, even after 30 years of child rearing. For example:

Sample Mom Text: What time will you be home?

In the English language, this kind of sentence is called an interrogative sentence, a question, if you will. Typically, these kinds of sentences elicit a response, and furthermore, in our sample text, a response dealing with time. This text, in its basic and unfettered form, would seem innocuous; however, in the mind of a teen, our sample text can create benign annoyance to outright hostility. Also, this sample text has elicited declarations of independence from said teens who are over 18. You know where I’m going.

Lately, I’ve been spending two nights a week at my mom’s “mom-sitting” while my dad’s been in rehab…no, not that kind of rehab. One of those nights is a Sunday night, and consequently, my two school-aged daughters must get up, get ready and be prepared for pick up around 7:30 without my gentle nudging, aka “get your butt outta bed, it’s almost time to go” encouragement. 🙂

This particular Monday morning, I sent out some preemptive texts at 6:55.  I sent this harmless text: “Awake?” Interrogative, yes, so I get one response, not good, both should be awake by now. Ten minutes later, I send this declarative text: “Be ready in 20 minutes.” Same respondee, text one, “Whooooa?”, text two, “We’re not ready.”

As I wait for mom’s caregiver, I send another text, testing the waters of readiness, 7:27 am – “Ready?” Faithful respondee, “No, E in shower” My calm response: “Whaaaaat!!!” E must think that “Be ready in 20 minutes” means “I have ten more minutes before my shower.” I have to drop off two teens at two different locations in two separate cities, and get to work by 8. The Plight of the Hare. Ain’t gonna happen this morning. Que sera, sera! We’ll all be late today.

I finally get over to pick them up, I futilely text, “here” and wait. We get on our way at 7:49, faithful respondee needs to be at school by 8:05 and her silent (mentally mute) sister needs to be there by 8:12. I’ve been using my son’s manual transmission Toyota, so today necessitated me to fall into Mario Andretti mode. I bobbed and weaved, shifted and downshifted through residential streets to deposit Thing 2 by 8:00 and managed to fly up Sharp Park, make the lights on Westborough and get Thing 1 dropped off a little late. Meanwhile, I get to work late, there goes my break.

Since I have an advanced degree in teen times, I didn’t stress out. I chocked it up to experience, and determined the next Monday morning to send out preemptive texts earlier. I tell my older daughters who have young children to enjoy the baby years since time flies by so fast. Folks, these teen times too will pass, so my advice is to fasten your seat belt and enjoy the bumpy ride.

 

 

Seventh Grade

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A few years ago, I wrote a blog about Sixth Grade and how much I loved that little class in Santa Rosa. However, shortly before the end of that memorable school year, my parents announced we were moving and before we knew it, we were in Daly City, a place nothing like Santa Rosa and her cherry orchards. From our little quaint block, we moved to a house on a street with miles of similar houses. Concrete replaced contentment. My only consolation was an unobstructed view of the ocean, and the sound of its waves to soothe my sadness.

I did my last months of sixth grade at FDR, and moved on to Fernando Rivera for 7th and 8th grades. As wonderful and enriching sixth grade was at Brook Hill, seventh grade at Fernando was its complete opposite. I was still sulking about our move, and totally unprepared for junior high school. I didn’t have many friends. The neighborhood kids would gather at FDR to ride a doubledecker Greyhound to Westlake. High anxiety.

To make matters worse, one of the boys who took the same bus began to threaten and terrorize me. He wanted to go steady, but I said no; so the rest of the year he’d threaten to beat me up, he’d bully me in the classes we had together, he and his friend would frighten me on the bus, and, by March, I ended up with an ulcer. I wasn’t yet 13 years old.  I never told anyone until Ms. Donovan, my Spanish teacher, caught him knocking a desk over on me, and then the feces hit the fan. Principal office visits, parental concern, attention that only made me more anxious. The bullying stopped and, ironically, in 8th grade, this kid was as nice as he could be. Go figure.

So, seventh grade didn’t hold too many good memories….not until this morning. A couple months ago while at work, a waft of a unique pizza aroma was drifting down the main office corridor. What was remarkable is I hadn’t smelled that particular aroma in over 50 years, not since my early years at Holy Name. Remember in “Ratatouille”, when Igo, the critic, tasted the eponymous dish and was transported to his mother’s little country kitchen. That’s what that pizza smell did to me that day. I was a little girl in a big school with memories of menacing nuns and magical fall festivals.

Well, today, as I was walking over to the main office, I caught a whiff of a wood burning aroma. Again, it was a very specific smell. It was the smell of wood burning from a wood burning tool. And this smell, like the pizza smell, transported me back to the past, this time to Mr. Santa Maria’s workshop class. That year, seventh grade, the home economics class would switch out with the wood shop class for a couple weeks. In wood shop, I remember making a wooden box with hinges. We used the band saw, the lath and a wood burning tool to write whatever we wanted on our boxes. That was the smell I smelled this morning. While I enjoyed the aroma, chuckling like a tween, I wanted to soak up what other memories I could conjure from that tough year at Fernando.

I remembered my little stint in wood shop and my two years with Ms. Chaney in her various home ec classes, where I remarkably sewed the pant legs wrong to the class’s amusement. I remember, my hero, Ms. Donovan, who saw what was going on and did something, I also remember a few other “usual suspects” like Mr. Downey who called me Donna Moore or Less which made me smile, and Mr. Follett’s Health Class where I learned the terrifying consequences of smoking and begged my mom to quit. These folks  reminded me of the good times I did have at Fernando. Even Ms. Walters, who called me an “exhibitionist” after I showed her my aerial cartwheel, wasn’t so bad. I didn’t even know what an exhibitionist was, but I don’t think it was a compliment.

I remember those green, I’m pretty sure they were green, gym suits that were hard to put on. I remember doing gymnastics with Audrey on the bars and the grass, palling around with some 6th graders like Robbin and Cynthia, and Katy, yes, I remember Katy and her bright smile. Back in the neighborhood, I was sulking less as I hung out with Felicia and her sister, sleeping over there on weekends watching “Creature Features” until the middle of the night. Long ago, but not so far away.

I guess Seventh Grade wasn’t a complete disaster. I toughed the bullying out for a long time. Funny, I ran into Nina Grimes at Dollar Tree a few years ago, and told her about the kid, whom she knew, and the bullying. She said, “Ya should’ve told me, Donna, I would’ve kicked his ass.” Yes, I should’ve….anyway, it’s still nice to know Nina had my back.

 

 

He Restores My Soul

Shepherd Returns Jean Francois Millet

Thru the Bible radio has begun the book of Psalms. The Bible Bus’s extended excursion through this wonderful book weaves in all the Messianic references so a clear picture of Jesus Christ emerges. Perhaps the most pronounced foreshadowing occurs in David’s famous psalm: Psalm 23. Today’s Thru the Bible Sunday Sermon is titled, “The Psalm of an Old Shepherd.”  It is a wonderful sermon, you can listen to it here.

I was born in San Francisco, and pretty much lived, and continue to live,  near this metropolis so I don’t know much about country living, although I’d like to learn. I needed to do my homework to understand not only the significance to this “shepherd” theme, but the many other pastoral themes in the New Testament like sowing and reaping. Jesus speaks to fishermen, farmers, blue-collar folks like shepherds whose trades are far from my accounting/secretarial office experiences.

According to Wikipedia, “A shepherd or sheepherder is a person who tends, herds, feeds, or guards herds of sheep.” Also, “shepherding is among the oldest occupations, beginning some 5,000 years ago in Asia Minor.” Like David, Isaiah likens the Lord to a shepherd: He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” It was to the night watch shepherds that the glorious announcement came 2,000 years ago:

“8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2

The connection between David’s shepherd and Jesus Christ is uncanny. John quotes Jesus in chapter 10 of his gospel: I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. The writer of Hebrews adds: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep..” And finally, Peter, the fisherman, encourages us that, “…when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

There is something of a longing in the human soul for someone like a shepherd, one who protects, provides and guides. Even Ira Gershwin tapped into this yearning with his immortal lyrics from the classic “Someone To Watch Over Me.

I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood, I know I could always be good to one who’ll watch over me.

In Psalm 23, the Shepherd not only provides peaceful green pastures and still waters, but also He protects while we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. A stroll all of us will take one day. And, finally, He wondrously promises an eternity – a forever – in His dwelling, foreshadowing that great verse in John: In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” 

In Psalm 23, David says the Lord, his Shepherd, restores his soul. Many believe David wrote this as an old man, after his great sin, and after he wrote Psalm 51 where he expressed his repentance when he cried out, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” God answered his prayer.

One night, years ago, I couldn’t sleep. What weighed down on my shoulders, I don’t remember, but I do remember it was during a time of real wrestling with my circumstances. Circumstances that I foolishly thought I had control of. Not long after this night, I learned, AGAIN, the meaning of Proverbs 3:5 and 6. This night, however, all I wanted to do was sleep, and I could not. I struggled to pray, and I could not. I tried to recite scripture and all verses fled from my memory except the “sublimely simple and simply sublime” psalm of the shepherd-king. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Well, those words raced right past me, but “He restores my soul” was the brick wall I ran into. I stopped there and pondered, and let the balm of these four words make its way into my troubled soul. It wasn’t long before the wrestling subsided, the peace restored and the slumber came. Four words. The Bible is a wonderful book.

This whole psalm restores not only our souls, but also our lives.  Our souls are restored through the redemptive work of the Shepherd, Who, two thousand years ago, laid down His life for His sheep. Our emotional well-being is restored with peace, protection, provision and spiritual promises. And our bodies – sinless – will be restored on the Last Day.  All the hope of Eden will be restored on that Great Day.

Jesus is The Shepherd of Psalm 23, He is David’s Shepherd; He is the Good Shepherd of John 10, the Great Shepherd of Hebrews 13, and finally, the returning and living Chief Shepherd of 1 Peter 5. He is our Shepherd, and He restores our souls, our lives, and, one day, our physical bodies.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

Come Harvest Time

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Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

Last year, I bought this old Plymouth Voyager mini-van. What attracted me to this vehicle was not only the low price and the low mileage, but the fact it had a cassette tape player. Yay for me, I could play my favorite Cat Stevens cassette. But, alas, the tape deck doesn’t work, and the radio only gets one decent signal – KEAR, Family Radio’s SF Bay Area station. I don’t mind KEAR, so I’ve been listening to the Bible readings, the Bible contests (which are hard), Alistar Begg sermons and various types of Christian music.

Two wonderful songs have come my way through KEAR: “I Take Refuge in You” and “Come Harvest Time”. I absolutely love when new things come my way that resonate deep down, and these two songs do so. Another beautiful providence. Glen Campbell sings “Come Harvest Time”, and I knew I had heard it before, but never listened. Funny, the difference between hearing and listening! That I love autumn and harvest time is no secret to anyone, and this song poignantly tells the story of human sowing and reaping.

As we get older, we begin to reap that which we’ve sown. My weight doesn’t budge because I’ve sown poor eating habits. My pocketbook is “holey” because I’ve sown poor financial management habits. However, I’m seeing some glints of golden grain in some of my parenting endeavors. My kids, who have been through a lot, are always surprising me with acts of kindness towards others, smart financial choices, varying degrees of compassion and good common sense.

One son is just completing his first journey to Europe and North Africa. He kindly kept me abreast of his and his girlfriend’s activities with pictures of churches in Barcelona, of  a sultan’s lunch spread in Fez and of the first Catholic Church in Lisbon. Despite the horrendous heatwave the Iberian Peninsula experienced this past week, he was able to hold up, and I’m sure he’s relishing the thought of San Francisco’s chilly fog as he makes his way home. I showed my Portuguese mother the pics from Lisbon. She was so excited about his trip.

This kind son asked me, “do you want me to get you anything?” I answered, “No, that’s ok, maybe something churchy for Grandma.” He immediately sent me a pic, a pic of a simple, silver Portuguese rosary from that first Catholic Church in Lisbon, with the text, “I got her that, don’t tell her.” This text conversation was going on with “Come Harvest Time” playing in the background. And what came over me quite strongly, was that….this is my gift. That my son already thought of his 90 year old grandma and purchased a gift for her that will be close to her heart…literally. A glint of golden grain, “Come Harvest Time”.

I know I’ve made many mistakes in my life, especially as a mom. But I am determined to make up for them by praying for these ten souls (actually they’re many more now with grandkids, girlfriends and a great son-in-law) and imploring God to bless them much like Jacob did when he wrestled with the Angel. By God’s grace, I will not grow weary in this endeavor.

 

Come Harvest Time

 

 

Positively Providential

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In Kevin Sullivan’s wonderful production of “Anne of Green Gables”, there was a scene when Marilla attempted to bring Anne back to Mrs. Spencer, the woman who arranged Anne’s adoption. Remember, Marilla wanted a boy and as she was dropping off Anne, Mrs. Spencer explained that the multiparous Mrs. Blewett was in need of a caregiver for her many children, at which point, Mrs. Blewett entered the scene. Mrs. Spencer exclaimed in delight that this was “positively providential”. Positively providential for Mrs. Blewett, but painfully providential for Anne had not Marilla, in her good and kind foresight, withdrawn her decision to return Anne.

Many times in my life, I’ve had “positively providential “ moments.  One of my favorite “positively providential” moments was at Simpson College in San Francisco, California.  I took two of Dr. Wallmark’s classes, “Literature of the New Testament” and “Life & Teachings of Christ”. Dr. Wallmark was such a great teacher, often, he would get choked up on the great truths of the life of Christ or a passage of Paul’s. It was like church every class. I think it was in the latter class that I wrote a final paper titled “Elijah During New Testament Times”. I had a lot of fun researching for this paper. I went to the Jewish Library in San Francisco often looking for primary source materials. I asked Dr. Wallmark what books may shed light on the understanding of who Elijah was and his role in Messianic literature during the New Testament times, he replied that Raphael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts” was the book to get.

I was a library nerd back then too. I scoured various library book indices looking for Patai’s book. Could not find it. No Amazon back in the ’80’s. One day, at Simpson’s library, one of my favorite hangouts, I was at the counter checking out other books. There, near the checkout, was Raphael Patai’s “The Messiah Texts”. Whaaaat!!!

You’ve had those moments, chills run through your body. I trembled when I asked the librarian, if that book was free to check out. She was puzzled, she said it was not even a library book. Really? Perhaps someone lost it. She said she didn’t know who’s it was, there was no name in it, and I could have it if I want it. No way!! I said sure. (I still have it.)

Was Dr. Wallmark around the corner chuckling? I’ll ask him when I get to heaven. I went on to get an A- (reduced to B+ because it was late) on the paper, with a great comment from Dr. Wallmark, “this would make a great masters topic”.

Not all providences are positive when they first appear. Many times in my life, I’ve had “positively providential” moments even in the midst of some painful and difficult circumstances. Dr. McGee just finished the book of Esther. Providentially, Esther is raised up to be Queen in the nick of time to save her people, much like Joseph did in Egypt. Even what seems to be a painfully providential situation, it can become positive. My buddy, John Forbes, just posted this Oswald Chambers quote on Facebook:

Behold, He is coming with clouds… Rev. 1:7

In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith.

The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3).

One of those cloudy times, a very lean and tough time when the income had stopped for a while, we were blessed with one of our favorite providences. During that time, one of the kids kept the radio on KFRC. She will remain nameless since she doesn’t like to be ID’ed in my blogs. During that time, KFRC had a radio contest where you had to identify five songs from like three notes. Each attempt to win only made the pot larger until it was well over $5,000.00. My nameless child listened diligently, and learned the names of all the songs. Then one day, it was time to call in. You had to be the 20th caller. She was under age, so I did the calling. I got through, and was the 20th caller. I recited the five song titles. Pause. And the excited deejay exclaimed, “You won”. Everyone was screaming. Over $5,000.00. At a time when we desperately needed money. I gave the nameless child more than $300.00 and used the rest to catch up on the mortgage and pay the bills. Positively providential even in the midst a difficult time. I will pay her the full five someday

Another time, ten years ago, we moved from the East Bay to the Peninsula. After problems with my ex-husband and other dangerous situations, it was unanimous to leave the area out of safety for my kids.  So I moved to my parents’ house with 8 of my kids. From the frying pan to the fire, I’ve always said.

How did this painful providence become positive? Well, some elements stayed painful, the close quarters, the disagreements with my father, the financial straits, etc. However, as I look back, it was a positively providential move. Before we moved, my father offered to pay all my living expenses in the East Bay until I got on my feet. That was the plan before things got bad.

Did I know, did my dad know, did anyone know that the bottom of the economy was going to drop out in three short months in September 2008? God knew. So despite all the painful elements of this circumstance, God put me and my kids in a place where we were safe and taken care of. He also provided a nice Christian school and a generous family member to situate my kids in a warm, nurturing school environment. I’d say that was “positively providential”.

Julian of Norwich said,  “but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”  Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  In spite the tough times I’ve lived through, I have witnessed many wonderful and positively providential occurrences.  I’ve learned to trust in the Lord, even when times are dark and cloudy, and to give Him the opportunity “to work all things together for good“.