This summer, we've spent a lot of family time at the beach. Addi Grace loves catching fish, sand ‚Äúflees‚Äù, and periwinkles (she seriously can do it for hours) - and Lance decided it was finally time to upgrade his 2001 Acura to a Jeep with 4-Wheel Drive! Needless to say, we've had lots of time to watch the waves and reflect on Gods beautiful creation. It‚Äôs been amazing - and a stark contrast to last summer thanks to some amazing additions to our Cape House team! A few weekends ago, we saw several pools of dolphins swim by (my favorite!) Soon after, Hannah Grace (HG) and I were about waist deep in the ocean cooling off when I noticed a lot of fish jumping around us - more than usual. They seemed to be everywhere! I realized that could only mean one thing... there must be a really BIG fish chasing them. Instead of freaking out and scaring HG, I casually (but cautiously) recommended we head back to the shore to find some more periwinkles. (Inside, I was flipping out!) When I got back to my beach chair, I recalled the situation, God reminded me that warnings are meant to protect us not punish us. We have to be aware enough to recognize them and to pay attention to them. Just like the jumping fish, there are warning signs that something more is brewing under the surface. Sometimes what we see at first glance or in a rush may not be all we need to make the best decision (John 7:24). There is more to the story! But HG didn‚Äôt see the warning signs. When we are distracted or having fun, we can ignore the signs - or maybe we don‚Äôt even know what signs to look for (especially if you are 6). Or if we do, we push them off as unimportant because we would rather stay and enjoy in the moment. We can be the same way - especially when life is going great. We tend to ignore warnings that we need to turn around or change our ways. All throughout history God provided ‚Äúsigns‚Äù to show people the way to live, but they kept going on their own path. In Luke Jesus Himself says ‚ÄúAs Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. ‚ÄîLuke 11:30.‚Äù Even then, the religious leaders and people did not pay much attention to His warnings. Life seemed fine and dandy. They didn‚Äôt want to be told they were wrong (vs 45). We have to pay attention and be alert. There are warning signs all around if we will just take the time to notice them and then make the necessary changes they call for. God wants only what is best for us, but there is a real enemy who is out to steal, kill and destroy us in every way he can. His most common tools: lies and busyness. If he can keep us distracted long enough or fill our head with lies about our self worth and happiness, we will ignore the signs all day long! ‚ÄúStay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.‚Äù 1 Peter‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠5:8‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠NLT‚Ä¨‚Ä¨. I also love the wording in The Message version: ‚ÄúKeep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up."¬†1 Peter‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠5:8-11‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠MSG‚Ä¨‚Ä¨. Whether it‚Äôs simply getting out of the ocean when there‚Äôs a scare, or more seriously, your health is deteriorating because you don‚Äôt take the time for rest and self-care, it‚Äôs time to be set apart! As Christians we need to be people on guard and aware of our surroundings - constantly praying, listening, and asking the Holy Spirit to lead us and help us discern the signs. Willing and ready to make the right move when the fish start jumping!
If you‚Äôre a fan of the 90‚Äôs sitcom Friends you may recall ‚ÄúThe One with the Jellyfish‚Äù (Season 4: Episode 1). The episode includes Monica getting stung by a jellyfish at the beach and the ensuing debate of how they were going to relieve the pain. Apparently, as Joey would explain from what he had seen on the Discovery Channel, ‚Äúpeeing‚Äù on the area helps prevent the stinging sensation. I know - if you haven‚Äôt heard pouring urine on the skin where the jellyfish tentacle touched, stay tuned. Soooooooooo, one school of thought says that when you get stung by a jellyfish, an immediate response to limit the burning is to urinate on the sting (tuck that tidbit of non-medical supported advice away for later). This past Saturday was a perfect day at the beach, until the tide came in. As we began to pack up the Jeep, we heard our daughter belt out the most outrageous scream. She was standing in a tide pool with tears streaming down her face. As we investigated her obvious discomfort, we realized she was the victim of a jellyfish encounter. There was no consoling her, so her mom decided to do what was best - pee in a bucket. We were all confident, after a concise debate, this was the best option we had. Well, despite her ‚Äúmom-of-the-year‚Äù award for peeing on demand, the urine had zero affect on the sting. Through the screaming and hyperventilating, we managed to put enough ice on it to numb the pain until we made it home. And when we did, Addi was still in a state of shock and reluctant to allow us to help. My wife‚Äôs quick search identified that we shouldn‚Äôt have used urine, and we shouldn‚Äôt have used ice. According to The Mayo Clinic, soak the skin in hot water. Use water that's 110 to 113 F (43 to 45 C). If a thermometer isn't available, test the water on an uninjured person's hand or elbow ‚Äî it should feel hot, not scalding. Keep the affected skin immersed or in a hot shower for 20 to 45 minutes. In the interim, I tried everything (chocolate, cookies, bacon), but Addi would not respond. I‚Äôll never forget seeing her face filled with tears, so adamant about not wanting to listen to me, her father. I had her best interest in mind but she couldn‚Äôt get past the pain she was experiencing. Finally, I decided to lead by example. I got down on my knees and placed my forearm in the warm bath water. I invited her to join me, to calm down, and be still. Soon enough, she did, and the pain began to subside, along with her tears. I noticed she was feeling better and was more receptive to what I had to say. We talked through the next steps and took care of the situation. I reflected that evening, how often our heavenly Father prompts us to calm down, be still, to pause from the pains afflicting us, and ‚Äúsoak for 20-45 minutes‚Äù. He‚Äôs the one who has the power to calm the seas, move mountains, bring death to life - and also take care of the jellyfish. We don‚Äôt always understand when we‚Äôre caught in a situation, but it all makes sense to God. We have to remember, in every situation, to listen to him and trust (Proverbs 3:5-6) what he has to say. Maybe now is a good time for you to pause for a few minutes and soak, or maybe you simply need a good laugh. If the latter applies to you, enjoy Monica getting stung by a jellyfish.
So, we just got back from an amazing anniversary trip in Portugal. It was so relaxing and refreshing: good memories with the best of friends - just what the doctor ordered! On the last leg of the trip, we stayed in the most amazing hotel in Porto, complete with an incredible spa (a good thing because the weather ended up being terrible, and we used it quite a bit!) On the last day, Tiffany and I decided to get a spa treatment before the long plane ride home - one last chance to relax before returning to reality. We signed up for the Honey & Wine Wrap; neither of us had ever done a wrap before, but the description sounded just right: a moisturizing immunity booster. ‚ÄúWraps are intensive beauty treatments for the body that eliminate toxins and improve skin tone and contouring. They energize and moisturize the skin whilst providing deep relaxation.‚Äù Well, let‚Äôs just say the description is a little more convincing that the actual experience. They rub you down all over with honey and oil, wrap you up tightly in (what felt like) plastic wrap, then a tighter, heavier warm blanket. You were sucked in tight like a swaddled newborn; it was dark, hot, and you couldn‚Äôt move, like being in a cocoon! Then the therapist leaned over in my ear and whispered, ‚Äúyou will just be still 20 minutes. ‚ÄúWhat?! Anxiously moving around, many thoughts ran through my head: "You are not seriously leaving me here right? Aren‚Äôt you going to rub me some more? No wonder this was the cheapest treatment on the list! Please come back! I think I‚Äôm going to suffocate! Will I be able to get out of here if there is an emergency!? Where‚Äôs Tiffany? She has got to be freaking out!‚Äù... I finally heard in my soul say: be still - it is in the silence and stillness where you will be refreshed and renewed. Perfect silence. This was the only way God could get me to stop moving and thinking even on vacation - it was a literal force of solitude!
Be still, and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10One of the greatest lessons I learned in a women‚Äôs leadership development class at our church a few years ago is the importance of solitude. And although I‚Äôve been a Christian almost all my life, it is a discipline I never really knew until now. It is so hard to learn to do and so easily swept under the rug to busyness! It‚Äôs easy to say it‚Äôs good enough that I read my bible and do my devotion (or if you are type A like me, to check those off the list.) But I‚Äôve found that it‚Äôs in the silence that the real soul changing happens. Only there can God really take control from us - especially for people like me who have such a control issue! My favorite book from this class was ‚ÄúStrengthening the Soul of Your Leadership‚Äù by Ruth Haley Barton. I highly recommend - it‚Äôs literally life-changing!
She describes it so well in the book: ‚ÄúSolitude and silence in particular enable us to experience a place of authenticity within and to invite God to meet us there. In solitude, we are rescued from the relentless human striving to solve the challenges... in silence we give up control and allow God to be God in our life rather than being a thought in our head or an illustration in a sermon.‚ÄùAlthough very difficult, it‚Äôs really simple. You can‚Äôt force it or work harder to make it happen - you just sit quietly in God‚Äôs presence.
‚Äú...most of what is happening is under the surface, and God is doing it ‚Ä¶ Just as the physical law of gravity ensures that sediment swirling in a jar of muddy river water will eventually settle and the water will become clear, so the spiritual law of gravity ensures that the chaos of the human soul will settle if it sits long enough.‚Äù - BartonSuch a beautiful picture and truth: ‚ÄúThe LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.‚Äù Exodus 14:14 Although the wrap was not all I planned or hoped for, it was just what I needed. To be reminded that the stillness and quietness, letting go of my control, is His perfect prescription for refreshment.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‚ÄúIn returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.‚Äù Isaiah 30:15As we landed in Jacksonville at 1:00am (which felt like 6:00am Portugal time), I started to think about all the things that were waiting for me at work, what I needed to catch up on, and the list continued to grow out of control. I rubbed the back of my neck, felt the oily, stickiness of the honey, and had to laugh - it felt like a subtle reminder to be still. I don‚Äôt know how soon I‚Äôll be wrapped back up in honey and wine, but I won‚Äôt soon forget the true sweetness of the time spent in solitude.
Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healing for the body. Proverbs 16:24
Hi friends! This weeks Wednesday Wisdom comes to you from the beautiful Douro Valley in northern Portugal! We are here celebrating the Jones 10th wedding anniversary and the Hinton‚Äôs 12th. The last time we took a trip of this magnitude, Cape House was born. The purpose of this trip was not to dream up another business venture, but to unplug from our daily routines and create some margin. Easier said than done, but being in a beautiful place helps! We‚Äôve spent the last several days touring through Lisbon and Porto, where there is an immense amount of history. We‚Äôve walked through churches built in 1100AD. We‚Äôve seen olive trees that were planted by the Romans 300 years BEFORE Christ was born. (And yes, they still produce olives.) We‚Äôve seen an aqueduct that was built in the 1400‚Äôs that provided water to Lisbon all the way into the 1970‚Äôs. We‚Äôve seen immaculate art, carvings, and architecture. My overwhelming feeling after viewing these things compared to home is, ‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt fake character.‚Äù We can recreate the look of a lot of the things we‚Äôve seen over here, but you can‚Äôt recreate the stories behind them, the burnished edges from 80 years of people gently running there hands across it. You can‚Äôt fake character. The same is true in our own lives. We can‚Äôt fake character. We can try to manage our reputation or other people‚Äôs perception of us, but we can‚Äôt ‚Äúmanage‚Äù our character. It‚Äôs who we are and what we stand on when we find adversity. It doesn‚Äôt happen quickly. Our character forms as God molds us and shapes us. My favorite quote on character comes from Billy Graham: ‚ÄúThe greatest legacy one can pass on to the their children is not money or other material possessions, but rather a legacy of character and faith.‚Äù That‚Äôs my prayer for my family and yours. Hopefully we will find more wisdom while here in Portugal, but in the interim, check out some of these pics!
Alright, let‚Äôs get down to business. Megan and/or Kate... who is your favorite princess? To be honest, I don‚Äôt really stay current on my royal knowledge and hadn‚Äôt put much thought into the royal wedding until last Friday (in contrast to a few fanatic friends... you know who you are). But, I figured with a six-year-old little girl at home, it may be fun to participate in all the pomp and circumstance. I mean, what little girl doesn‚Äôt want to be or know a princess? Saturday morning, Hannah Grace and I cuddled in bed and watched the ceremony and all that followed. She poured us all ‚Äútea‚Äù and served it on a tray. I could see her little mind spinning, and we watched. The idea of royalty was coming to life. A real princess, a real prince, a real castle, and a real horse drawn carriage. She eventually got bored with the coverage, and we went on about our weekend. Sunday night as she was getting ready for bed she had a very important question to ask, ‚ÄúMommy, do you think the princess poops?" At first, I laughed (because who doesn‚Äôt laugh then someone says poop?), then I fumbled through what I feel is such an important lesson and reminder for all of us - one we tend to forget (just watch the news for 15 minutes). I tried to explain even though she and Princess Megan live different lives and live in different countries, they are the same. All people were created the same way by the same God who loves us all equally and calls us to love each other equally. We breathe the same oxygen, our hearts beat the same, and we even all use the loo!
‚ÄúSo God created man in his own likeness. He created him in the likeness of God. He created them as male and female.‚Äù ‚Ä≠‚Ä≠Genesis‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠1:27‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠ ‚ÄúThe rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both.‚Äù ‚Ä≠‚Ä≠Proverbs‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠22:2 ‚ÄúLove each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.‚Äù ‚Ä≠‚Ä≠Romans‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠12:10‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠NLT‚Ä¨‚Ä¨