The Bayou Boat

bayouboat

It wasn’t an impressive boat when it was purchased in 1971.

All these decades later, it bore the scars of the hurricanes it survived and fishing trips it endured and children spotting alligators from its bow.

DSC_0567

The battered metal leaked a bit and the beams that ran the short distance between starboard and port displayed stains and dents and faded stickers.  The stern housed a small engine that had been replaced over the years with a bit more power but the cracked oars had survived.

We all piled into the aging hull as we do most weekends at the farm.  Littles in life jackets, men with fishing nets and poles, and women with bug spray and juice boxes.

As we eased out of Long Mary Marsh, the little boat picked up speed and the bow tipped up out of the water.  The chatter stopped and our breaths caught.  The wind blew our hair wildly and the water splattered up the sides.

I closed my eyes.  The wind rushed and water bounced.  I could have been on a yacht.  Except, I decided, this was better.

The blowing breezes cut the heat of the summer air and washed over us without any barrier.  The littles dipped their fingers into the bayou waters as the men warned of ‘gators nipping near.  We could explore small inlets and outlets and bayou fingers in a way impossible with a polished giant boat.  As the motor cut to enter no wake zones, we could hear every sound from the sparrows to the cicadas to the splash of the mullet.

DSC_0568

DSC_0492

The tall marsh grasses swayed on either side as the water seeping into the grasses seeping into the sky made a seamless picture.  A landscape only a Heavenly Artist could have drawn.  A vision so spectacular that it stilled even the children.  Everyone exhaled.  The power of the bayou and untouched artistry surrounding us released the tension and hurry that normally arrest our city days.

DSC_0509

DSC_0682

DSC_0586

DSC_0591

The bayou boat moved on.  The rows of lost cypress trees transformed into lush green richness dipping into the waters as we ventured out past the bridge.  The family patriarch steered on and shouted out to the son, our young family’s patriarch, where to boy?  He answered back, anywhere, because that was what we all felt.  Steer us anywhere.  Every turn brought more of the same – sounds and beauty and peace and an intimate connection to nature.

We went on that way for some time until we began to burn and the gas began to drain and the boat’s passengers reluctantly turned their faces toward the farm dock.

It is often the most battered and smallest boat that provides the rider the closest view of God.  No such spiritual experience could have been had wrapped in a fancy yacht, insulated by lacquered surroundings high above the water.

The age and scars of the boat only proved its worth.  It held long tenure in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast and survived to bring another generation of eyes out to the glory and greatness of the marsh grasses and pelicans and alligators and redfish and dead Cypress trees and crab traps.

Your vantage point may feel small or scarred or aged or inadequate, but it is through that lens that God can reveal His unfiltered beauty.

The Beauty of Bugs

photo 2

photo 1

Bzzzzzz.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The concerto grew into a cacophony above my head.

From this tree to the next, six feet apart, they visited back and forth reveling in the pink blossoms.

The children played underneath unaffected by the panic that afflicted their mother.  They skipped rocks and raced bicycles and chased June bugs as the buzzing of the bees circled their heads.

I’ve never been a bug lover.

As a city dweller, my experience was comprised primarily of ants, roaches, and mosquitoes.  Ack. I am the cartoonish figure that goes running for help.

As my time in the country grows, I discover new things with each visit.

These days were particularly sweet as we celebrated Father’s Day and found some much-needed rest from the frenzy that had become our life back home.

During this long weekend, I found the beauty of bugs.

Garden bugs

I watched as my daughter’s voice filled with wonder and excitement over finding a fuzzy green caterpillar, “THIS LONG, MOMMY!!! COME SEE!”

I saw my sons trap any number of bugs – roly polys, lightning bugs, June bugs, and a few others I couldn’t name.  They found seashells and would cover the bugs up only to lift it and let them travel a little longer.  Those persistent bugs.  They just kept plodding to their destination regardless of the fact that five seconds later another seashell came clapping over their head.  The ladybugs climbed up their arms and were greeted with squeals of delight.  I watched those hard-working bees, which had been such a source of panic that I would be stung (despite my husband’s remonstrations that they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them), work all day flying between those blossoms living out their calling until night fell and they disappeared and an entirely new set of bugs arrived.

I saw the handiwork of God in the small wings and long ones.  In the polka dots and stripes.  In the steadfastness and creativity.

I will never clap my hands with delight when a roach comes scurrying across our Houston living room, but I can sit on the porch and watch the bugs work with more wonder and less worry.  And I’m grateful for the quiet when all you can hear is the bzzzzz broken only by the laughter of a child.

The Rainstorm That Turned Into A Tornado

lesson

“Hi hon, um if you get this message could you tell me what your radar is saying it’s doing in Ganado?  I’m driving into what looks to be a wall of black and I can’t really pull up a radar to figure out if I should be worried.”

I should have been.

Seven miles south of Ganado, with Little Bit in the back seat watching 101 Dalmatians, the black disappeared and everything went white.  As in white sheets of rain so hard I couldn’t see the two lane county road.

So we stopped the movie and I began to pray out loud.

Dear God, we know you watch over us.  Would you help us here?  Would you help mommy be able to see the roads? Would you help our car?  Would you give us wisdom and calm?  We know you work all things together for good, would you keep us in the palm of Your hand right now?  Would you give us little spaces in between the sheets of rain to help mommy see the road? 

In between those sheets of rain, I found a bit of a shoulder to pull over on with my hazards on.  I turned around and little bit had fallen fast asleep.  Gift number one.  The boys wouldn’t follow on their journey from the ranch to Houston this Memorial Day for hours.  I had to decide what to do.  I looked around and all the roads and parking lots were flooded.  If I stayed, my car would flood too.  Just then, the last car in the line of six that passed me was a Jeep Cherokee with his hazards on.  I pulled out and followed him the entire way from Ganado to El Campo.

Bray called.  We were in the eye.  It would go the distance to Houston.  Roads were flooded everywhere and cars that gave up dotted the gas stations and shoulders of the road.  At the intersection approaching Highway 59, I pulled off to gather my thoughts and keep praying.  As the rain let up, I eased onto the terribly congested freeway.  Bray called again.  He didn’t spot a break.  He asked me to be careful.  I continued my 20 mile an hour pace up the road with the line of others in the same predicament.  Nowhere really to hide other than in the cover of a faithful Father who hears our prayers.

As I passed through Wharton the alarms began sounding on my iPhone.  Very dangerous.  Tornadoes.  I was still in the eye.  Up ahead, blue green gray sky with finger clouds coming down in rotation.  I called Bray yet again to find out which way was more dangerous.  Do I turn around?  Press on?

As I waited for him to check, I turned around.  I took the first exit and made a fun picnic/bathroom break for little bit and me.  He said I had just been right in the middle of it all.  Sit tight for 20 minutes and then press on.

So we did.  We had a picnic in the front seat with apple juice and gummies and peanut butter cookies, it was 3 pm by now and we’d left just after 11 am.  Our two and a half hour trip.  She was a trooper.  When the clocked ticked 20 minutes off, she climbed in back and played music on my phone and I voyaged on.  We turned on the radio and great songs about Jesus protecting us be-boped on the radio as we sang His name and kept up our prayers.  My tribe of God-sized dreamers had been voxed around noon with a group message for prayer and those prayers rained in on us.  Peace filled the car.

I made it to Houston at 4:15 pm.  Five hours after I left the ranch.  I saw the storm and survived it.  Just as my iPhone alarmed again with flash warnings all around me for my town, so I prayed for all those Memorial Day travel warriors who were still enduring the eye of the storm.  Including my men who were only just now on their journey.

This is what I learned:

1.  Sometimes you are in the eye of the storm.  You just are.  There is flooding and lightning and tornadoes, and you just have to find the safest place to sit still.

2.  Sometimes you are in the storm, but by showing your own warning signals, or by following someone else’s warning signals, you can make it out.

3.  We are in this together.  We all are, forward and backward, two steps ahead and three steps behind, and we keep each other out of the ditches.  I stood in that little convenience store and we gathered in a line at the bathroom and we swapped stories.  One just having come out of the storm armed with advice, one headed into it armed with an alternative route.  That is community.  Standing there, helping each other survive the worst of it.

When It’s Really Just About Gratitude

picUntitledI wrote three posts for today.  About this crazy thing that I let my emotions do this weekend.

And I trashed them.

Because I decided I only wanted to talk about how grateful I am for the small things.

A little arm slung over my neck and teeny kisses in the early dawn hours.

Blue skies and yellow sun.

Six growing feet stepping into the cold blue pool.

An upcoming wedding anniversary.  Eight years.

Sleep.

Little bit helping daddy lace his belt through the loops.

Music.

A homecoming.

Belly laughs.

 

Power Out

Due to a power outage at my home because of the great MARCH winter storm in HOUSTON, this regularly scheduled blog post will return to you tomorrow.