Roll the clouds away

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The evening weather forecast was promising the next day would be full of showers and thunderstorms. A cold front was marching through the area, slowly bringing waves of wind and rain smothered with clouds. It seemed there was absolutely no chance of sunshine in the near future, so as I left the house to spend the day at a festival in a nearby town, I planned accordingly. I lugged my lawn chair and trusty umbrella, giving no thought to sunscreen or sunglasses. Why should I? The weather forecasters were adamant that our area was destined to be cloudy with rain.

Does this sound a lot like our attitude sometimes? The circumstances we find ourselves in or the news we may hear about someone we care about can create an outlook that seems cloudy, promising rain and thunderstorms in our lives. Just this week I heard sad news about a man, 46 years of age, who passed away while mowing his yard, leaving a family without a father or husband. The same day a friend of ours found out he had cancer and began the process of determining the best medical approach with his doctors. This type of news can really be difficult to digest and keep a positive attitude. The amount of negative news we process daily can be depressing and overwhelming and can drag a person down,  obliterating any hope of sunshine. If all we hear about or dwell on is the gloomy forecast, it can seem that expecting the clouds, rain and thunderstorms is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The other day when I believed the forecasters and expected bad weather, never thinking that sunshine was even a remote possibility, I was pleasantly surprised at the clear skies even though I was not prepared. I sat in my chair visiting with friends, and the clouds rolled away, giving way to a bright, beautiful sun, while there I was, completely ill prepared. I asked myself, for example, why didn’t I bring my sunglasses. As I spent several hours squinting, the thought of sunshine and needing glasses never entered my mind. Isn’t that the way of our thought processes and attitude sometimes? We are so bogged down with the forecast of clouds and rain that we don’t even consider any chance of sunshine.

I have good news: the Bible gives us hope of days full of sunshine regardless of the cloud thickness or size of those life thunderstorms! There is one Bible verse I would like to focus on, and it’s found in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

With the forecast of clouds and rain that day, I had heard, expected and anticipated what was coming,  so naturally I accepted what I thought the day would be and to my surprise the clouds rolled away. If you have clouds and storms in your day or life, the above scripture says ask, seek and knock—for those clouds to roll away or for the storms to be controlled or dismantled, and believe God will answer those requests. Expect and anticipate sunshiny days and watch the clouds vanish from your life. Don’t accept the cloudy forecast, but be prepared for the sunshine God is going to deliver as you ask, seek and knock. It’s amazing to watch the clouds during a thunderstorm start to break up and give way to clear, sunny skies. It’s no different when God breaks up the thunderstorms of life and fills us with his peace and rest.    

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a special day set aside every year to acknowledge the men and women who gave their lives serving in the U.S. military.  To the best of my knowledge, my family has never felt the loss or experienced the tragedy of a family member losing their life while serving. Personally, I never served in the U.S. military; however, my oldest brother had a successful career of twenty-two years in the U.S. Marines, of which I’m very proud. Several times while he was in the Marines I was fortunate enough to visit him and the base where he was stationed, and it was always exhilarating. The respect and discipline displayed between the soldiers and officers, the neatness of the base and the condition of the equipment I saw made me feel safe and in good hands. Proud to be an American!

To take a moment and consider all the sacrifices the men and women in our military have made and continue to make is heartwarming and rewarding.  Granted, these men and women  are getting paid, but not enough as far as I’m concerned. They often put their lives on the line, they suffer physical and emotional scars, they deprive their families and themselves and they are sometimes criticized just for doing their jobs. They are shot at, bombed, live in conditions we would never consider, miss holidays, birthdays and anniversaries with family, suffer from higher than normal divorce rates and spend months away from those they love.

On Memorial Day we acknowledge those who lost their lives while serving. I say thank you to all the military men and women. I enjoy the safe feeling that no bombs will be dropped on my home or in my community because of their dedication and sacrifice. I slept last night in calmness and tranquility, I woke up to peace, I made my coffee and I watched the news in my cool and comfortable home because of them. They have successfully kept the terrorist out of my neighborhood, city, county and state. Today I can drive down the street, buy gas and groceries, shop at any mall, visit any park, enjoy a baseball game or spend the day with my family and friends and never worry about an explosion taking out those dear to me. Thank you!

I feel for the men and women who suffer from physical and emotional scars related to their time while in the military. I pray they get the necessary help and encourage you to vote for the representatives who hold our military in high esteem and who vote for bills to financially support them and their families. I pray for the men and women who suffer with depression and thoughts of suicide due to their experience while in the military. They’re burdened with this heaviness and desperately need relief. If this relates to you, I encourage you to seek professional help. Seek out and read the many excellent articles and self-help books written about thoughts of suicide and the spiritual guides on depression and how to overcome it.

The USA has always stepped up to the challenge, whether military, economic or other, and it’s time we step up and care for the men and women who’ve given so much. Thank God for the men and women who take their jobs seriously while serving in the U.S. military and giving 100 percent. Now it’s time for our representatives in Washington, D.C., to take their jobs seriously and make the necessary changes to improve the Veterans Administration so our veterans can have and get the best healthcare available. It’s time for you and me to stand up for our men and women in the military and demand our representatives make their wellbeing a priority.

We live in an awesome country with awesome men and women serving in our military, for which I’m grateful. Thank you for your dedication and service! May God protect and bless you and your families every day as you perform your duties safeguarding our great country.