Well, I haven’t heard anything from the doctors yet. For someone who is known by her lack of patience, this silence has actually settled in quite nicely. It allows me to drift into the world of possibility without the inconvenient confrontation of what may not be good news. It allows me to remember who God is, and to revel in this moment a little while longer. I am at peace.
Right now, I am sitting on the couch while Todd goes to the airport to pick up his best friend, Dan. Todd has all of the girls with him (including Kate, who is wearing her pink Target flower boots, pajama pants, and a padded infant swimsuit. People, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried…). Audrey and I are just chatting about life (pretty one sided at this moment, but she makes herself known when she wants to contribute:)) and enjoying the gift of a quiet house. We are starting to prepare for our trip to Disney, which has reminded me of a prayer request…
I hate flying.
I mean, I really hate flying. I am somewhat of a preacher, not because I try to evangelize my seat-mates, but rather, because I scream out the name of Jesus. Loudly, and without much care for people staring at me. I have also been known to grab the hand of the person next to me with little regard to the fact that he is a) sleeping b) a stranger or c) trying to pry my sweaty hands off of his hands while his wife visually annihilates me. Honest to goodness, this is not a lie. The irony is that I have married a singer, who travels for a living and wants to pursue his pilot’s license. Good times.
About a year ago, we were able to travel to Northern Ireland for the third time. Todd’s group was invited to sing, and on paper that sounded really exciting. I love Northern Ireland and I couldn’t wait to reconnect with the people we had met and to photograph the country again. If you haven’t ever been, I hope you get the chance. It is truly God’s country.
As it turns out, you have to fly to get there. This was a kink in my perfect vacation plan, but the end seemed to justify the means, so I agreed. A few days before we were planning to leave, my stomach started hurting and my mind started to wander. I began to think that this whole adventure thing was not such a hot idea.
The day of the flight, I was a wreck. On the car ride to the airport, I was talking to my daughter Abby and I said, ”So honey, has God told you anything about today?”
“Yeah.” Thumb back in mouth. Casual, like she hadn’t just dropped a bomb.
My heart stopped. He talks to them in ways He doesn’t always talk to me, and I had a feeling this was one of them.
“What did He say, Abby?” I stared at her eyes, desperate to know if it involved fire or falling planes.
“He said He’s going to show you a rainbow, mommy.”
That didn’t really answer my question, but okay. I turned back to the road and noticed that storm clouds were forming. Remember when I told you about my reaction to flying? Well, that’s on a clear day. On a day like this one, all bets are off.
There was no way around it, people were going to get squeezed.
I almost didn’t get on the plane. There are so many details that make this story more interesting, but I am a pretty slow typist and I’m sure you have somewhere other than this webpage to be, so let me summarize. Stick with me, I promise there is a point to all this:)
There was an announcement made about “inclement” weather in Newark. Somewhere between 6B and the ladies room, I decided to hate the word “inclement.”
Fast forward about 45 minutes. I am crying so hysterically that the pilot personally comes out to talk to me (no, I’m not kidding). He pulls out his little charty-thing and starts explaining why we might do loops in midair and crash in a cornfield (I am paraphrasing), and then tells me that he has a family at home and that it is his intention to get home to them.
Well, that’s helpful. As long as you aren’t planning to be on the cover of the New York Times tomorrow….and as long as I’m not in the last row. It’s creepy back there and the backs of people’s heads don’t help reassure me when that glaring seat belt light comes on, accompanied by the ding of death.
He also told me that this was the last flight to Newark that night. Last chance to Northern Ireland for 2 days. I boarded the plane (in my head, every passenger applauded my sheer fearlessness at this point, but I don’t actually recall anything but people staring at me like an arm was growing out of my head). I made my way to the (you guessed it!) VERY last row on the entire plane. PEERRRFEEEECCCTTTTT……
This flight was followed by another that was just as lovely. As we descended into Belfast , the plane jumped around enough to spill drinks and rattle trays, and I shot a dirty look in the direction a five year old with the audacity to laugh like we were on a kiddy roller coaster and not a hurling, bucking air-bronco. In the midst of my panic, I was mesmerized by how green it was. I had forgotten the way Ireland looks from the air…just like a postcard.
When we landed, I was actually tempted to kiss the tarmac.
Norman picked us up at the airport and we began our trip through the countryside. This is a sidebar, but MAN are their cars small. As we navigated the windy roads, up and down, left and right, the jet-lag started to catch up with me. As I drifted off to sleep, I heard Norman telling stories about the political uprising in Northern Ireland.
“Many people have lost their lives…such horrible warfare…”
I struggled to see the green hillside through my heavy eyelids as he continued.
“It is just such a struggle…such devastation…”
I met his eyes in the rear-view mirror and suddenly, a question I hadn’t really even composed in my mind escaped my mouth.
“Norman, how is the grass so green here?” It came out sounding like a I was a third grader in science class, but God used it to teach me a life-long lesson.
“Oh, that’s easy, love. We get a lot of rain here!” Everyone smiled and I finally closed my eyes.
The following day, our children got so sick that we had to call a doctor to the hotel room. He was about 70 years old, and came complete with a black leather bag full of medical gear from the middle ages, bifocals, and the thickest, most gorgeous accent you have ever heard. He gave us some “tablets” for what were now near 105 degree fevers, and he left while we discussed the fact that we had fallen into a lost episode of “Little House on the Prairie.” We all thanked God as their fevers broke a few hours later, and we settled into sleep, all huddled in the same bed, looped around each other like threads in a quilt.
In the middle of the night, I heard the voice of God.
It was one of the very few times that I felt like He was audibly speaking to me. I sat up straight in my bed.
Thoughts rushed through my mind like a slideshow at a speed I could not control. I was reminded of the pilot’s voice, the thermometer that read in celsius, the storm clouds, the political wars…all of it, like a movie, and then just a few words.
“It takes a lot of rain to make grass this green.”
I started crying like a child. In a foreign country, in the middle of the night, in the midst of facing my greatest fears, God taught me a lesson about life that has (I promised to tell you!) inspired the name of this blog.
In the span of a few minutes, I committed to God that I would stop praying for sunshine and start welcoming whatever made the soil rich.
And so, a year later, here I sit. Many of you have asked how I am so strong. The answer is that I am not strong, but my God is, and He is in battle for me. My end of the deal is held up by praising the One who has chosen me to walk this. And I do.
As for my little Prophetess, Abby? Her words drifted back to me as I cried that night, and they bring tears to me now.
He will show you a rainbow.
It occurred to me that He had chosen this metaphor before, long ago, with a man named Noah, and He has, for generations, made good on that promise.
As I recall, Noah wasn’t afraid of a little rain either…
Please praise Him with me in this moment. Praise Him for being the same God who inspired Noah to hope and to build. Praise Him for loving us enough to grow a garden with our lives, no matter how much it hurts.
All my love and gratitude,