Friday, April 24, 2009

Lightning Storm

During a time of prayer on Wednesday, I had a strong sense from God that I needed to rearrange my schedule to include a visit with my parents on Thursday. It wasn't difficult to do so. The unique thing was that God seemed to be speaking very clearly. So, I did so yesterday.

Last night, as we sat in the living room - watching TV, talking and me catching up on e-mail - a storm rolled in. Actually, it had been all around us for an hour, but after checking the NOAA weather radar, I commented that it looked like a big cell was heading our way. A few minutes later, the rain intensified, and it sounded like hail was bouncing around.

Now, I like a good storm. The raw power of nature is awesome ( in the truest sense of the word) to me. I love watching lightning, feeling the rain and wind, and just listening to the sounds. After growing frustrated wth my wireless connection dropping in and out, Dad and I walked out to the carport. to watch.

The storm was close. Popcorn-sized (not golf-ball) hail was bouncing around. I was standing on the doorstep and dad was just inside the door. FLASH/POW! The hair on my arm stood up. I grabbed Dad's arm. I'm not a jumpy guy, but that startled me. We were now standing in the darkness as several lights were out. Wow.

We went inside and reset several breakers in the electrical panel. Noticed several lights were still out as the strike had caused them to burn out. Then I noticed a smoky haze. As a former firefighter, I began searching for the source. First stop, the attic. All clear. The haze was very light, had an electrical smell and was getting marginally thicker.

Mom had not moved from the recliner. She just kept saying "that whole corner lit up." So, I walked over to the corner and saw little bits of plastic in the floor. And two ends of what used to be one wire. And smoke marks. Apparently the lightning struck of flashed the TV antenna on top of the house and basically exploded at a connector joint. Mystery solved.

Now the inventory. Everything attached to that antenna was damaged: 2 TVs, 2 VCRs, and a satellite receiver. (Insurance has already told them to go shopping today. They have "good neighbors.")

I sat down to blog this last night, but found that I had no internet connection. Troubleshooting that led to fried wires in the phone junction box as well. Not sure about the DSL modem after checking it again this morning.

Storms still amaze me. I still like them. And nothing was damaged that can't be replaced. But there is a larger point. The extraordinary from the ordinary. Here it is.

I was there.

Because I was listening and willing to change my plans, I was there. While Mom and Dad could have handled everything without me, I'd like to think I made it a little easier for them. Because I was there. And, I experienced a really big storm from dead center, right in the middle of the chaos, make your hair stand on end ground zero.

Are you listening today? Is He calling you to make some adjustments to you plans? Can you hear Him? Are you willing?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Being Present in the Present

Until now, it's something only my Men's Fraternity small group knew. Something that I've been striving for. Something that has been challenging, but in the fleeting moments of success, something that has paid great dividends in my relationship with my family. My goal has been to increasingly "be present in the present."

Say what? Well, it means that when I'm with my family, I try to put what has happened up until that moment out of my mind. And, I try not to let my mind wander into the demands of the future. Finally, and this is the most difficult, I have to set aside the gadgets, quit trying to multi-task (which, by the way, I've come to believe is not possible) and focus on the immediate needs of the relationship.

Wow. That has been challenging for me. But, I think I'm making incremental progress. And now, the biggest test of all is upon me. And I'm going cold turkey.

Spring break is upon us. We have not had a family vacation that did not involve a visit to our extended family in years. So, we have been saving our time and money for this vacation. On Monday, we snagged a last minute deal to stretch our vacation dollars. Tomorrow we will leave for six days of "just the four of us and a couple of thousand other people" fun in the sun, sand, and water.

The test? When we leave home tomorrow, I'll leave without my computer. GASP! And, on Sunday, when we leave the car in the parking lot, my cell phone will be in it. ARRGH! Unplugged. No Twitter. No Facebook. No blog (not that that is a big stretch these days...). No Drudgereport. No e-mail (I'm sure I'll pay for that when I return).

It's my choice. It's an investment in the relationships that are most important to me. I want to be present in the present. No distractions. No intrusions. Just un-interrupted time with my family.

I'll let you know how it goes when I plug in again next week.

New Computer

My absence from this space is, in part, a result of changing computers. The system I was using had to be reassigned, so I took the opportunity to move into the ultra-portable, tablet PC world. After a warranty claim, a reshipment that was held up in customs, and a climb up the learning curve, I finally got Scribe Fire configured again.

I know, I could have posted directly w/o this platform, however, old habits die hard. I've been reminded of that point in the last week as I grew accustomed to Vista, MS Office '07 and several other new twists related to the new system.

Each of us are continuously creating new habits. Would it not be in our best interest to make sure that the habits we are forming are helpful and not harmful? Old habits die hard. Let's make it easy on ourselves.

How happy are those who uphold justice, who practice righteousness at all times. Psalms 106:3 (HCSB)