Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

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The Duke's Refuge book cover

It’s the Final Countdown

The Duke's Refuge book cover
Less than a month until The Duke’s Refuge will be available. Preordering for paperback copies will be available in the next few days.
Christmas Mall Shopping

The count down begins. Two weeks until Christmas. Thirteen shopping days left. Seven or less if you’re ordering online with delivery. We have our who-to-buy-for lists, a pile of Christmas Cards that we still have to run to the post office and buy stamps to mail, and presents to wrap (but the good scissors keep disappearing, and so we get desperate and start using kiddie scissors much too small for our fingers).  Then there’s always that one person for whom you forgot to purchase a gift. The one that springs up at the last minute. With a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you dash down to the nearest store, whether it’s CVS, the grocery store, or the gas station and grab anything that looks like it might be somewhat thoughtful. You try to play it off, “Oh, well I remembered that one time when you had a hankering for Slim Jim’s, so I just wanted to make sure you never again went without.”

Christmas can be crazy and unnerving, but things haven’t changed in a couple thousand years. It was much the same the night Jesus was born.

Bethlehem bustled with people pouring into town. The census drew men, women, and children from far and wide. Relatives laid out blankets on the floors and rooftops to accommodate all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who were forced to visit by a decree of the King. Vendors worked overtime to sell their wares, not wanting to miss out on the opportunities provided by the influx of customers. Innkeepers made up beds in every alcove and crevice to accommodate guests. They were much too busy seeing to the demands of their current patrons to make room for a poor couple. Overwhelmed and understaffed, they didn’t have time to care for the needs of a teenage girl about to go into labor or notice when a messiah was born in a nearby barn.

They didn’t miss it because of their evil acts or because they were bad people.

They missed it because they were too busy.

Stained Glass Manager Scene

Life doesn’t slow down or stop around Christmas, it only gets busier, but I don’t want to miss the miracle and blessing of Christmas. I can get caught up in the demands and the hustle and bustle as much as the next person, so I have to make an extra effort to pause and remember why we celebrate. I have to set aside moments to seek God and soak in the true reason for Christmas.

A savior was born.

God took on human form with all its frailties, infirmities, and weakness, so that we could understand the depths of His love, the extreme measures He would take, and how much he would sacrifice not to be separated from His beloved children.

God stepped down from His royal throne and curled up in a dirty and dank manger, so we may call ourselves His children and know His peace and joy for all eternity

Come, Lord Jesus.
Our Immanuel
God with us.

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Snow angel

Getting Unstuck

Snow angel

I should have called the Guinness Book of World Records.

I had made the longest human snow angel. It wasn’t intentional. I thought I was being efficient looping my arm through the dog leash and carrying the laundry basket inside in one trip. Where I went wrong is that my dog was a 140-pound bull mastiff, and geese often passed through our backyard. One minute I was walking toward the house, the next my clean laundry was flying in the air, and I was being dragged through the snow for at least 15 yards. Fortunately, I didn’t break my arm, but I sported some ugly bruises.

Sea turtles laying in sand

Pastor Leonardo Sales of Brazil spoke about a time he received an underwater camera and headed to the beach to take pictures. He spotted a turtle crawling back to the ocean and decided to wait and take its picture underwater. However, on the turtle’s way, it got stuck in a hole and couldn’t get out. Exhausted and tired, the sea turtle struggled to pull itself out. While the pastor waited for the turtle to become unstuck, he thought, what a dumb turtle, she can’t figure this out, she is so slow and clumsy. After an hour or so, he gave up on the turtle and packed his camera. But before he left, the turtle, thanks to the help of some benevolent beachgoers, made its escape and reached the tide. Pastor Sales barely had enough time to retrieve his camera and take her picture before she swam away into the deep. The pastor realized that the turtle wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t slow. It wasn’t ugly. It had just been stuck in the wrong place. It had been impeded by the sand, but once in the water, it was beautiful, graceful, and surprisingly quick.

Sometimes we too get stuck. We loop our arms into the wrong idea, plan, or person and are dragged through yards of consequences. Or we find ourselves in a pit carrying too much weight to pull ourselves out no matter how hard we struggle. It feels helpless, exasperating, and hopeless, but that is a lie.

Remember who you are.

Sea turtle swimming

As Pastor Sales discovered, once unstuck, once set free, the sea turtle glided through the water in all its glory. We must remember who God says we are. We are His glorious and beautiful creations. We are His children, and He loves us fervently and passionately. Enough to pay the hefty price of His son to set us free. There is no pit deep enough to keep us from his love. Not even the darkest past nor the gloomiest present can keep us trapped and separated from our God. He will meet us where we are and light our way. He will be our shield and our strength.

Remember, we are not victims. We are conquerors.

Romans 8:37-39 says: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Remember, you are loved and you are valued.

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9.

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Man holding up boxer's arm

Who’s Holding Your Arms Up?

Man holding up a boxer's arm
Painting of Blackfoot Native Am. Indian by George Caitlin
Blackfoot – Painting by George Caitlin

The ratio of embattled warriors to men, women, and children stood 2 to 1. As the Indian warriors entered the Pilgrim camp with five deer slung over their shoulders, I can imagine children’s play screeching to a halt and mothers pushing their youngest behind their skirts. Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote that ninety Wampanoag warriors and 53 Pilgrims attended the first harvest feast later to be recognized as the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims had barely survived their first year in the new land. Over half of their members had succumbed to disease, malnutrition, or the harsh elements of a New England winter, and those are the ones who somehow survived the rough sea voyage to America.[i]

drawing of Pilgrims

I’m certain the tension must have been thicker than the gravy that first Thanksgiving. There were cultural differences and a language barrier. However, the Pilgrims, humbled by a rough winter, relied on these new, unexpected friends. They wouldn’t have survived without the Indians’ help. The Indians taught the Pilgrims where to fish, better ways to stay warm, and how to plant corn and other local crops, and what better way to show their gratitude after a bountiful harvest than with a feast. Things must have relaxed a bit after the initial awkwardness wore off, for it’s written, the feast lasted three days with games, events, food, drink, and good cheer.[ii]

We can’t do it in our own power.

It’s hard to ask for help. Pride raises its ugly head, and we think we’ve got this or we can muster through. But why go it alone? Is it because we’re embarrassed to be seen as weak? Needy?

Even Moses, called by God and considered one of the most important religious leaders in history, needed help. The Amalekites had heard of Egypt’s defeat at the Red Sea and decided to take advantage of it’s neighbor’s weakened condition. However, a weary band of homeless Israelite wanderers traveled between the Amalekites and their target. The weakened travelers seemed easy pickings, so the Amalekites attacked the Israelites. God aided the Israelites. As long as Moses held up his hands with the staff, the Israelites assumed the advantage against the Amalekites.[iii]

I don’t know about you, but my shoulders start to ache if I keep my arms raised for an entire worship song, which is only four to five minutes long in length max. Moses had to keep his arms raised for an entire battle. His arms must have quivered, then shook, and succumbed to a full-on tremor. As soon as, he let them ease down a bit, the Amalekites started to win.

Enter Aaron and Hur.

Aaron, Moses’s brother, and Hur, his friend, saw Moses’s arms shaking and how each time they dropped, the Israelites began to lose. They knew their friend needed help, so they brought over a rock for Moses to sit upon, and then they helped hold Moses’s arms in the air and keep them steady until the sun set, and the battle was won.[iv]

I don’t know whether you look back on this past year as one of victory or one of barely surviving, but all of us need to take a moment and count our blessings. If we can pause in search of the best pumpkin pie recipe or turkey baking method, and be grateful for those people who’ve come into our lives. Those who’ve helped to hold us up and keep our arms raised. Those who’ve passed on a word of encouragement when we needed it, or allowed us an opportunity, or helped us to survive in a new situation or even a new land.   

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for our friends and families. It’s a time to turn to the person seated to our right and left and let them know how valuable and precious they are. It’s a celebration of the victories God has given us and a time give Him the praise, and the best way to do that is to show hospitality and generosity for those in need.

Happy Thanksgiving

[i] Gingrich, Newt. Host. “Thanksgiving – Carving an American Tradition.” Newt’s World Podcast. Gingrich 360. 11/24/19. https://www.gingrich360.com/productions/podcast/.
[ii] “The First Thanksgiving, 1621,” EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/thanksgiving.htm (2010). iii Exodus 17:8-13, English Standard Version.

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woman frustrated by tech

Becoming an Overcomer and Not a Casualty

You know you’re under a book deadline when…

  • You’ve moved a pillow and blanket to your office.
  • Your plants are wilted and begging for water.
  • Your kids are eating cereal for breakfast—and supper.
  • Your husband’s putting spray-can whipped cream in his coffee because we ran out of creamer four days ago.

It may be comical, but I’m grateful to my family for their sacrifices so I could hit my deadline. I hit the send button at 8 pm on Friday the day it was due.

Finishing isn’t easy. It takes grit, endurance, and persistence.

There are times when the finish line looks out of reach. It’s when the self-doubts plague us, and everything becomes hard. When things that are supposed to make your life easier, decide to test your endurance.

There is nothing that tests your patience like the labyrinth of phone system prompts. They are meant to direct to the proper department but always end up re-routing you back to the beginning. The poor ladies in my office quickly leave for their lunch breaks when I start screaming into the phone: “Operator… Customer Service… Representative… Help… Let me talk to a human, please!”

Man yelling at phone

I love technology. I wouldn’t be able to be a writer if it weren’t for computers, spellcheck, and grammar check. Sometimes, however, I feel like technology likes to mess with me. It taunts me when things that have always worked suddenly give an error message or decide to no longer show up. It seems to usually happen when I’m in a rush and need something quickly.

As isolated events, these little things aren’t a big deal, but when they compound piling up on top of one another, to the point, you’re so distracted by all the small technical issues you forget what you were trying to do in the first place. Frustration rises until it’s teeming over the brink ready to spill out your eyeballs, or even worse, explode from your lips.

How do we keep from letting our frustrations get the best of us? How do we keep from throwing up our hands and walking away when it feels like everything is conspiring against us? How do we become an overcomer and not a casualty?

“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul understood what it was like to have obstacles stacked against him. He’d been arrested for preaching about Jesus and thrown into jail for several years while the Jewish and Roman leaders decided who had jurisdiction. Eventually, Paul was shipped off to Rome, but on the way there, a huge storm kicked up, and he became shipwrecked near the island of Malta. If all that wasn’t enough, after swimming to shore and lighting a fire to stay warm, a poisonous snake jumps out and bites Paul’s hand.

Coral snake

Paul, however, shook off the snake and eventually continued onto Rome, where in Acts 28 it says, “He [Paul] proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

I can hear the satisfaction in Paul’s words in 2 Timothy when he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness… and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul persevered through trials that make my issues with tech and phone auto attendants seem like eating cake in the park. He’d be the first to tell me to shake off the snake, stay strong in weakness because God has a plan, and to focus on the importance of finishing the race.

We might run out of energy, strength, confidence, but we will never run out of God.

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My fearless middle son on the jungle gym

How to Lose Control and Like It.

My daring middle son on the jungle gym.

Danger doesn’t find my kids. They seem to seek it out.

A knock sounded on the door. My kids were watching a movie upstairs (back when they were ages 7, 6, & 4) while I cooked dinner. I sighed and turned the stove down. It had to be a salesman, peddling insect yard treatments, or a person soliciting votes to run for local office. I planned to shoo them swiftly away, so I didn’t burn supper.

I swung the door open with a tight expression to find a middle-aged man nicely dressed, standing back from the door by a good distance.

“May I help you?” I said in a clipped tone.

He glanced up, then back at me and shifted his weight. “I—ah—just wanted to let you know your son and his two friends are on the roof.”

I blinked while his words registered. I felt my eyes widen, and my stomach rose into my chest. Footsteps and small voices sounded on the landing behind me. I spun around and stared up at two curious little faces peeking through the railing. My voice pitched a couple of octaves higher. “You were on the roof?”

Their smiles evaporated.

The man at the door cleared his throat, bid me farewell, and hustled back to his car. I called out my thanks, my voice, this time, sweet as pie. I should have invited him in for dinner. I should have kissed his feet for taking the time out of his busy commute to stop and tell me my children were in danger. How many other cars had seen the kids and just kept driving?

I mounted the stairs two at a time and entered my room to see the open window and screen that led to the farmer’s porch roof. I popped my head out. The concrete sidewalk below the porch loomed like a gravestone. I searched for my oldest son, but he wasn’t outside. The youngest two pointed to the bathroom.

I yelled through the door. “Were you on the roof?”

“I was in here the whole time.”

My jaw clenched as my initial panic switched over to anger, knowing my oldest was the only one who had the height and dexterity to remove the child locks from the windows. 

My boys climbing the wrong side of the stairs
My older boys climbing the wrong side of the stairs

There is only so much control we have over a situation.

I want to protect my children from harm. I do what I can to keep them safe, give them rules and boundaries, put child-locks on the windows, turn on a movie, so they’re not underfoot while I cook dinner, risking serious burns, but there was and will always be something I don’t think of, something I can’t control.

It’s this lack of control that causes me anxiety. It wakes me up in the middle of the night with my heart racing, wondering what if… why didn’t I… I should have…

The helpless feeling sucks me into a dark place. I want to hold tight to my illusion of control and think of more ways to protect my family and our wellbeing, but the problem is just that—its an illusion. There have been so many days when I’ve kneeled on the bathroom floor crying out to God. I’ve failed them. I’ve messed them up for life. I’m not qualified. I don’t know enough.

It’s those times when God speaks into my heart. My love never fails. I’m in control. I will cover your faults. I will stand in the gaps. Cast your cares on me.

God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. It’s a ridiculous pressure I’ve placed on myself. God says, Trust in me and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

I don’t know what happened to the nice man that stopped. I pray for God to bless him every time I remember this story, and I thank God that he sent him to protect my kids. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night worried, I say a prayer for God’s protection and whisper to myself.

“God’s got this.”

My youngest stuck under the table
My youngest stuck under the kitchen table

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Dancing woman

Get in Rhythm

Fall trees

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. New England is picturesque when the leaves change. The smell of burning wood from fireplaces permeates the air. We go apple picking and drink cider. However, it’s a tense time because New Englanders, like squirrels storing nuts, know we have a limited time to finish projects before we’re blasted with piles of snow.

I’ve helped my husband in the home improvement industry for years, and the most demanding people voice their complaints right when the weather turns. I suspect it has something to do with procrastinating all summer. They’re panicking because they want their home fixed before the first snowfall.

Whatever it is, life gets crazy. Deadlines, school projects, homework, business meetings, budget planning, fall sports, there are a million things that must be done yesterday, and they’re all screaming for attention. We run with our shoulders wrenched up to our earlobes, trying to subdue whichever problem wails the loudest.

Can we find peace in the madness?
 

Woman Dancing - UpSplash photo by Todd Trapani

After picking up one son from football practice, I was rushing to fix dinner so my family could eat together for fifteen minutes before I have to drive my other sons to youth group. An Ed Sheeran song, Barcelona, played in the background, as I chopped veggies. I’m a lyrics person (I tend not to notice the guitar riffs which pains my husband who plays the electric guitar), and a verse stuck out, “Get lost in the rhythm with me.”
I’m certain Ed Sheeran meant to lose yourself in dance to the music, but my heart heard a verse from The Message Bible, get lost in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Matthew 11:28-30 says: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The stress of crazy customers, demanding bosses, and piles of homework may not go away, but that doesn’t mean we need to be stressed. We can relax into God’s rhythm because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It doesn’t mean our workload will disappear, but we’ll find joy in our labor. We’ll catch our stride or find the zone. We can take a breath, knowing God won’t give us anything we can’t handle. He’ll multiply our time or bring others alongside to share the load.

Even if the world around us is screaming, “I’m stressed!” we can let God recover our lives. We can relax, enjoy the opportunity before us, and say, “I’m blessed.”

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Man cringing

Fear – Keeping Your Wits When Your Brain’s not Being Rational

Comic drawing of a man cringing in fear

I have an irrational fear of spiders. Before my brain can rationalize that I’m ten times bigger than the hideous, eight-legged, creepy-crawly, I’m screaming as if I’d seen the boogieman. I can’t run because if I take my eyes off the spider, it could disappear. So I track its jiggly movements, yelling for my husband to get over here and kill it.

Tarantula

Someone thought a great gift would be a remote-control tarantula for my boys. My oldest child camouflaged the spider on my black office chair. I pulled out my seat, and the motion swayed the tarantula’s legs in the eerie pattern spiders move. I belted out a scream that could shatter window panes, and in my haste to run, I tripped over my husband’s office chair. I swear there were claw marks in the carpet as I scrambled to evade the hideous monster about to jump on me and suck my blood. The boys got a good laugh.

Fear wipes out common sense.

It sends us into a panic where we’ll do unreasonable things. It also tricks us into trying to create a safe environment, shutting out people, potential, and opportunities. Our world becomes smaller, and we soon become an inmate in a prison of our making.

Fear consumes a person, keeping us from seeing the truth.

“Fear not” or “do not be afraid” is mentioned in the Bible roughly 365 times. That’s one for every day of the year. Why would God need to tell us not to be afraid so many times? I believe it’s because when we let fear rule us, we lose our ability to reason. It takes a lot more rational to get through to us, but God will go to great lengths, even repeating it 365 times if that’s what it takes.

Fear shouldn’t rule us.

2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.” Fear isn’t a part of us. We’re not stuck with it. We have the ability to live free from its chains.

Hand fear an eviction notice.  

1 John 4:4 says, “the One Who lives in you is stronger than the one who is in the world.” God is greater than any evil in this world. We must renounce fear and hand it over to God. This sounds easy, except for the control element. We’ll often hold onto our distress because we don’t want to relinquish control. We start the litany of what-ifs. What if we hit a recession? What if my son or daughter needs me? What if I make a fool of myself? What if the spider pounces…? We choose to hold tight what little control we have over the situation, instead of giving our fear to God.

Put fear into perspective

Psalm 116:8 “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Are we worried about what people will think or about how people will react? Is people-pleasing more important to us than God’s approval? If we are doing God’s will, then our fears don’t stand a chance, but we must remain calm so we can see clearly. Most of the time, the things we worry about don’t even come to fruition.

Please note: I write all this as a work in progress. Here’s an update on my spider progress – My husband will attest to me being able to see a spider and hold in my scream. I’ve even killed a few on my own.

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Gangster

We Are Dangerous – The Power of One

Gangster - Urban

We are dangerous.

Cue the bad boy music, swagger walk, and pyrotechnics.

I may not be Mad Max in Thunderdome or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in Terminator. I may only be one person, but I’ve got a sword, and I’m ready to wield it.

“We are dangerous because we know the power of a changed life.”- Jane Rubietta, author of Worry Less so We Can Live More.

We sometimes undervalue the power of one. We think I can’t make a large impact. I can’t do for everybody. I’m only one person. We get overwhelmed by the vast number of people in our schools, towns, countries, and world that are in need. But change one life, and you can change a legacy.

A Christian group of entrepreneurs and CEO’s called C12 understands the power of one. C12’s goal is to make an impact for Christ in companies and their companies’ sphere of influence. What started as one friend encouraging another has grown to five chapters across New England, and now more than 1.3 million people have the potential to be impacted when you consider the number of employees, customers, vendors, and subcontractors with whom these businessmen interact. It’s enough to bring about a revival in New England, and it all started with one Christian encouraging another to take a step of faith.

We have power.

Held up note. Never Stop Dreaming.

I have several friends who have a sixth sense to know when I’m down on myself. Somehow, they determine the exact moment my insecurities have gotten the best of me, and send me a text reminding me I’m a good mom, that I’m doing a great work, and that they’re praying for me, always when I need to hear it the most. Because of their transference of God’s love, I can pick up my sword and do battle. My sword might take the form of a computer keyboard, but The Word packs a wallop.

God is all-powerful. His arm is not too short. Yet He chooses to work through us. He understands not only the person in need but the person who needs to be blessed by helping. I don’t believe in accidents. God puts people into our lives and into the paths of others for a reason. Look around you. Who has God pushed into your sphere of influence, a neighbor, a co-worker, an old friend?

You can make an impact. All it takes is reaching out to the one person God has put on your heart. Don’t let the everyday busyness of life stop you from reaching out to one who needs to be encouraged by you. We won’t truly see how great the effect maybe until we get to heaven. Realize every time you favor someone with a smile, send a word of encouragement, show God’s love to another, your touch is creating a ripple that will impact a legacy. You, my friend, are dangerous.

To quote Schindler’s List (taken from the Jewish Talmud): “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

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Pow!

Shazam Your Potential

Supergirl

What do you want to be for the rest of your life? Even typing the question gives me heart palpitations and brings back flashes of college tours, applications, and the dreaded selection of a major. There’s an urgency and finality to the inquiry that applies pressure. There’s an underlying fear we can miss our potential. But is that possible?

Yes and no.

My husband had his twenty-fifth high school reunion this past weekend, and several people mentioned in conversation that they still didn’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up. Did these people dodge the question, what do you want to be for the rest of your life? Did they choose incorrectly and are now looking for a do-over? Or did they outgrow their original answer and are now looking for the next level in the game of life?

It reminded me of the movie Shazam. Without ruining the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it, Shazam is about a boy who suddenly obtains superpowers. He, unfortunately, doesn’t know which superpowers he holds, so his buddy puts him through a series of hysterical tests to discover if he can fly, punch through concrete, shoot lasers with his eyes, or teleport. However, as the hero tries to figure out what he is capable of there is an antihero who is trying to stop him before he reaches his full potential.

Sound familiar?

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 says, Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what and when.

Pow!

We all have giftings given to us by God. We’re each given different ones at different times. I can’t say if I would have made it as a writer twenty years ago. I had to develop some of my other giftings (like knowing who I am in Christ Jesus) before I could take on the next adventure. Also, like the characters in Shazam, we are our strongest when we use our powers together as a team: encouraging each other, praying for one another, and lifting each other up. We need our team around us because there is a bad guy, Satan, who is trying to keep us from utilizing our superpowers. He’ll do nothing short of lying, deceiving, and stealing to keep us from reaching our potential.

Can we miss out on our purpose? Unfortunately, yes. The devil has been around for a long time and is good at his job, but don’t fear. The one who is in us [the Holy Spirit] is greater than the one [the devil] who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We must not be afraid to test our superpowers. We must step out in faith to discover who God has made us to be so that we can fight for truth, justice, and people’s eternal souls.

Superheroes

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staning on the USS Yorkshire. proof we made it and had fun

How the Journey Resolves in the End.

Journey on a sandy beach with mountains in the background.

“The journey always resolves in the end,” Tessa Afshar, author of Pearl in the Sand and Thief of Corinth, announced in her Mediterranean-English accent as I sat in her class absorbing. She stands around five-foot-tall, but don’t be fooled by her small stature. She is a giant woman of God.

Exactly a week ago, I would have doubted her statement.

My husband had left his wallet at home. Usually, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but we were standing in the airport and had ridden in an hour and a half of traffic to get there. Our flight left in forty minutes. We pleaded with the TSA agent and were able to come up with a couple items with my husband’s name on them, my dental insurance card in which he’s the primary cardholder and a magazine with his name and address on the back. John received the pat-down of his life and is now on an intimate basis with Logan airport security, but they allowed him on the plane. We contacted a close friend who then overnighted his wallet to the hotel.

That is where our woes should have ended, but three hours later and almost 1000 miles from home, we arrived at the hotel. We carted our bags to the front desk, ready to crash after our early morning start. I was looking forward to taking a power nap before the first session of the work conference.

The hotel clerk tapped her fingernails on the keyboard. She paused and peered up at us with a hint of concern, “Didn’t Expedia contact you?”

“About what?” my husband’s brows collided in a V.

travel map and photos with glasses and open journal

“There’s been an error.”

We both leaned in. “What sort of error?”

“Your room has been double-booked. Expedia was supposed to contact you and arrange another hotel.”

My husband and I stiffened. This was the first we heard about any of this. We checked our phones and had no messages.

“I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do for you.” Her smile hinted at sympathy. “You’ll have to call and make other hotel arrangements.”

The conference we were attending had brought over 700 entrepreneurs into the small city. There wasn’t going to be a hotel room available. Not only that, but John’s wallet was being overnighted to that specific hotel, and it wouldn’t be accepted if we weren’t guests. We didn’t have a place to sleep, and we didn’t know whether we could return home without his wallet.

Our journey didn’t look like it was going to have a resolution, certainly not a happy ending. I freaked-out. I asked to speak to a manager. I paced in the front lobby while making a few phone calls. I think I even shed a few tears. Meanwhile, my husband sat in their seating area and casually set up a portable office as if he worked there daily.

In stories, we have a character arc, which is usually where the dynamic hero is internally transformed over the course of events in the story. The journey makes them stronger, wiser, or more mature. In some way, they become different than how they started. We are all dynamic characters in the literary sense. God often uses these disasters to refine us into his image. I should have realized, as my husband did, that disasters, like being bumped from your hotel room, often end up as learning experiences (or at least a funny story I can blog about later).

Occasionally there is such a thing as a static character which in literary terms is a hero who doesn’t change (think of James Bond). The circumstances change around them, but they remain unmoved. The reason why my husband knew he didn’t need to panic was that we had a relationship with a static character. The static hero I’m referring to is Jesus. Jesus remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrew 13:8), and so does his love for us.  

My husband (like Tessa Afshar) knew, with Jesus, the journey always resolves in the end. My panic, worry, and frantic calling was all a waste of energy. The circumstances may have changed, but God’s will doesn’t. We ended up getting a room in the same hotel we booked with a significant discount and received our happily-ever-after (not to mention blog material).

The Lord, your God, has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.  – Deuteronomy 2:7

My husband and I on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, SC
Here we are in the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston, SC as proof we survived and had a good time.

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