Destination

It’s windy. So windy. And has been for days. Sustained winds of 20mph and gusts of 35 or more. 24/7. Literally. I love to sleep with the windows open, but the noise of the wind and the blowing of the drapes defies my desires.

On many an evening recently, from our vantage point on the lake, we’ve watched novice kayakers struggle against the waves, their lack of experience clear as the wind pushes them further and further west. “Go west, young man,” they used to say. Only these guys’ destination was east.

This past weekend was supposed to have been the Windsurfing Regatta, held here annually on Lake Okabena. The second weekend in June was chosen as the ideal date to hold the event, when the winds and the weather averaged perfectly to present sailors and spectators both with idyllic sailing and viewing conditions. This year would have challenged the heartiest of participants, I think, but, like so many other events in this weird COVID world, the event had to be cancelled. “Postponed”, they said actually, for a year, with all the participants rescheduling for 2021. But “cancelled” is what it amounts to in the short-term. Another destination missed.

Sometimes we aim for something – an event, a location – and we hit it smack-dab. Front and center. Bulls eye. Other times we take aim but end up – whether by our own fault or by things beyond our control – missing the mark entirely.

My mom flew into Edinburgh, Scotland, many years ago, intending to meet up with her sister for a long weekend. Their parents grew up in Scotland, so this was going to be fun. A reunion not just with each other but with their roots.

Mom’s flight was delayed out of Germany. She missed her connection, arrived hours late. Her sister was nowhere to be found. Mom, having left all of the planning to her, had no idea where to meet her. In a series of near misses that would have been funny in a movie but weren’t at all in real life, Mom spent the entire weekend alone. There were no cell phones. Phone messages left back home went unheard as no one was there to receive them. Her destination was reached…but it wasn’t the destination she’d hoped for at all.

Point of fact: sometimes the wind blows us off course.

Point of mind: sometimes we get where we’re going but it’s not at all what we wanted it to be.

So what do we do then? What do we do when, despite our best efforts, we wind up at the wrong end of the lake? What do we do when, despite our success, we find that our reached goals aren’t all that we expected them to be?

What do we do, in short, when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would? When we planned, and maybe even prayed, yet still we beat against the wind? Do we panic? Do we pray all the more? Do we give up, throw in the towel, hop on the next flight home?

I suppose the answers to those questions are innumerable. But here’s what I witnessed out on the lake:

Those poor people – I don’t know their age or their gender or anything about them – when they found themselves out in the middle of the lake, being shoved by the wind in the opposite direction that they wanted to go, tried, ineffectually, to paddle. They waved their paddles about in a frantic “X” motion for a while until they realized that nothing they were doing was working. Then, finally, they sat back, reevaluated the direction of their boat in relation to the waves, rethought their paddling methods, worked out the kinks, and got back on course despite the wind working against them. They came safely into harbor, sorer and wiser than they were before they got themselves into that boat. Were they scared out there in the middle of the lake? Probably. Were they off schedule and out of sorts? Possibly. But they got themselves to safety.

Or, you can be like my mom in Scotland, all alone, all those years ago. She explored. She did a little shopping. She bought herself a kilt in the Fraser family tartan. She made the most of it. She did not want to be there by herself and she did not enjoy her trip as she thought she would, but she did not waste her time sitting alone in a hotel room, feeling sorry for herself. She got back on the plane at the end of the weekend wiser than she was three days before. Was she scared being there alone? Probably. (I can guarantee you that she did a lot of praying.) Was she disappointed and out of sorts? Possibly. But she chose to go out and see the city and it remains the only time she’s ever been able to visit the land of her ancestors.


Our family Fraser tartan.

Life leads us on a merry chase sometimes. We can panic when it leads us into danger. We can throw a fit when it leads us into disappointment. Or we can sit back. Evaluate. Experiment. Explore.

And, in all of that, in all our decisions and promotions and set-backs, we keep on praying.

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:1-6 NIV

Even a twisted path can lead us straight to God.

Taken for granted

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You might not think that getting one’s Wisdom Teeth pulled would be a terribly significant moment in one’s life but, like learning to ride a bike and high school graduation ceremonies, it’s kind of one of those things that everyone has done.

Or at least they did, pre-COVID19. Now many things that we took for granted have become giant hassles; but judging from the photo at the top of this post, we’ve proven that graduation ceremonies can be flexible!

Just as with commencement, it’s even possible to get Wisdom Teeth removed in this new era, though it is a bit more of an adventure including having temperatures taken and waiting out in the parking lot in 95 degrees instead of in the nicely air-conditioned waiting room.

Our middle child, Katie, had her Wisdom Teeth removed last week. Yep, a week after the rite of passage of graduation, she experienced the rite of passage of Wisdom Tooth removal. Four others of her friends, as it turns out, either got theirs pulled last week or will this week or next.

It’s the thing all the cool kids are doing right now.

Katie’s recovery has gone well and all of the ice cream, pudding, Jello and applesauce that she bought (note to self: give your kid a budget next time you send them out ((the day before their surgery)) for post-Wisdom-Tooth grocery shopping) has proven itself useful. In fact, I think that all of us have partaken of at least a pudding or two.

The last time that Katie had any sort of tooth situation, she’d fallen off of her bike, age 9, and chipped not just one but both of her permanent front teeth. The drama of this current dental situation was much lower – though also much more expensive – than that one. This drama was limited to the drive home afterwards and the wait in the pharmacy parking lot, when she asked us, “Why did they put a cardboard box in my mouth?” and then asked, “Isn’t it over? Why can’t I take it out now?”

She also was quite concerned about her spit.

“When do I get my spit back?” she asked. “My spit’s playing hide and seek. Did they replace it with glue? That’s super mean. I want my old spit back, please. Did they charge you extra for the glue spit?”

There was no break in this conversation. Just one thought after the next. And then, when I told her I wasn’t sure about the charge for the glue spit, she replied, “Let’s ask Dad. Oh, here he comes,” she said then, seeing him outside the car window as he approached from the pharmacy. “Maybe he has my spit injections.”

Her spit injections came in the form of a bottle of water – yay, Dad the hero! She dutifully took her medicine, tipped back in the passenger seat, and fell asleep for the hour-long drive home.

“Cardboard-box-mouth” notwithstanding, she came through the surgery well, and it was a relief to get home, relinquish the couch to Katie, and know that we’ll only have to go through this one more time with her little sister.

I remember when I had my Wisdom Teeth removed, in tenth grade. My doctor’s name was Dr. Shock. That’s a hard name to forget, for a doctor. My husband had his out a couple of years after we got married. Our son had his out three years ago. Like I said, it’s just a thing you do. A thing you take for granted.

But in this COVID19 world, nothing can be taken for granted any longer and that brings me to my point. Our church is opening this week. After three months, we can go to church! We’ll socially distance ourselves, we’ll bring masks, we won’t being singing, but we’ll be there. Together.

It is true that the church is not a building. It is God’s people. And I will be happy, indeed, to see those people again.

I pray that I won’t, in six months, or six years, take the opportunity to attend church for granted. I probably will. But I hope that I won’t. I hope that I will appreciate all that going to church gives me. And that, when I walk in its doors this Sunday morning, I will thank God, as never before, for the gift of my church family.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21 NIV