Tag Archives: Iraq


The forecast in our region was for cooler temperatures – yeay! That’s due to scattered thunderstorms. Forgive the pun, but it put a damper on some of my plans.

Undaunted, I took my hourly walks around the neighborhood despite the forecast. Between cloudbursts I had a revelation: The preeminent times of my life occurred between cloudbursts.

Storms are a mixed blessing. They not only nourish and cleanse the earth, freshening the air, but they can also cause some astounding damage. That pretty well describes my family’s history. Metaphorically, tempests formed our lives – together and individually. Winds brought limbs down, lightning started fires that consumed everything familiar, burnt us and tore our family apart at times.

And yet we lived. Can I hear a hallelujah?!

Most of my family members enjoy above-average lifestyles now, despite having experienced several very close strikes and some direct hits. You’ve probably never felt like you needed to throw or hit something lest you explode. We feel that way sometimes. I’m not especially proud of my 78 m.p.h. pitches. We still freeze at the sight of some old photos or some familiar-looking strangers. Then there are those moments when we go from serene to raging tempests in a heartbeat. Or mention certain names and my mind goes blank as if it had just been erased. I came through all that while trying to understand letters and words that rarely looked or sounded right. Still, I learned.

“But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress.  You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat…” Isaiah 25:4

Twisted as it sounds, I like to remember the moments after my son returned from Iraq in four-plus pieces – after the surgeon told me to prepare myself for the worst. I wondered if they actually rehearse those insipid lines. I recall unintentionally staring the man down for what he later described as “an uncomfortably long pause.” I remember thinking through what he’d told me, wondering who on earth does his hair, and recalling everything God promised me. All I said to the doctor was, “You obviously don’t know Who you’re dealing with.”

And I love to remember Nathan’s second first steps weeks later.

Around and in between all that I:

  • danced alone in the rain along the Mogollon Rim,
  • loved with abandon,
  • surfed,
  • sang to the Blue Mountains at sunset,
  • looked into the eye of a whale off the starboard deck,
  • coasted down Jerome, Arizona’s roads at midnight by moon light only,
  • ran with wolves, wolf-dogs and mustangs,
  • watched my sons learn to dive, hit home runs, graduate, be inducted into the military and fire houses, drive cars, trucks and tanks (God spared us all), fall in love, weep as they became fathers and paced the floors with their babies,
  • and a hummingbird rested on my knee as I rested during my yard work.

Though Seagh actually went on ahead without the rest of us, he’s safe and at peace now. We’re all still standing. Some days we’re stronger than others, but we dance in the rain and breathe easy between cloudbursts.

What brings it all into perspective is my family is only one minute particle of humanity, and yet, God cares for us as if each one is His only child.

“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:2 (NLT)


Filed under Notes from the Apex

Rough Seas

One of my uncles recently sent a slide show to me entitled, Rough Seas. This uncle and I share a passion for photography and especially appreciate the unusual. Yet my first inclination was to delete the file unseen. Instead I left it sit in my inbox for a few days before viewing.

Now, that may seem strange considering I lived my pre-teen, teen and early adult years in coastal Southern California. As a kid and as a single working mother, I spent more than the average time at the beach or the marinas and lived on a sailboat one entire summer. Stroking a whale off the port side of a sailboat is still my most thrilling memory. It was cheap recreation when the cost of gasoline didn’t consume a third of our paychecks. It’s safe to assume I would love anything about the ocean as I did when I was young.

The truth is I was an idiot back then. Although I wasn’t fond of snagging seaweed and kelp with my feet, even getting caught in powerful undertows did not hinder my love of surfing and especially body surfing with my young boys. Yet, with maturity (in truth, sobriety) and Hollywood’s high tech, graphic movies, I developed a distinctive respect for the ocean and the Great Lakes. Images from Jaws, White Squall, The Guardian and my personal favorite, Joe Versus the Volcano initially gave me a healthy respect for the waters and it has aged into fear. So, even amazing photos of giant ocean vessels plunging into monumental, sunlit waves give me the willies.

And yet, from my youth my life has been one series of rough seas and horrific storms after another. Early on, my heart had been broken so often I aimed my rage at the God I loved as a child. For several years I denied His existence. Years later I still marvel at how He understood me, forgave me and walked with me through all my turbulence.

Most recently, when the doctors told me they were air evacuating our ten-minute-old grandson to the pediatric hospital/medical school, I indeed felt the sea rise and the winds blow. But I quickly remembered another day when other doctors told me to prepare myself to lose another of my sons after he was wounded in Iraq. I knew then too I was in Good Hands. I knew so by my initial recoil, to set those so-called experts straight – it’s a healthy reaction under the circumstances. Like the scene in Forrest Gump where Lt. Dan shouted into the hurricane, initiating his square-off with God – I am a natural redhead. In both of my instances, with deepest conviction I told the doctors very confidently, “you only say that because don’t know Who you’re dealing with.”

Both times doctors feebly tried to prepare me for the worst, I warned them to prepare for a miracle. Both times, they smiled condescendingly, and both times they wound up amazed that I knew Whom I was talking about. My confidence is not in human ability; not even that of great physicians and the amazing people that have come through my lineage. Both times the medical professionals had to deal with the Peace Speaker, the one that calms storms and makes the worst scenarios turn out gloriously.

his stills storm

Not everyone gets to see the marvels I have experienced – in some cases that’s a blessing indeed. Today I wonder if that’s all so far beneath my surface it’s hard to see now. It would still take a direct order from the Heavenly Father Himself to get me on an ocean liner – with a confirmation from an impossible source that it was indeed His order! But when I sit on dry ground marveling over photographs from hurricanes or simply read the internet news sites, I thank God for the storms I have survived – and that they were all on land.

“When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834

Source: Original publication on Roo’s Ruse, 12 March 2009 http://roosruse.blogspot.com/2009/03/rough-seas-one-of-my-uncles-recently.html
He Stilled The Storm Image courtesy, Pinterest.


Filed under Notes from the Apex