Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

Wide Open Spaces

Even storm clouds look beautiful from a distance.

I grew up surrounded by trees. I wouldn't be surprised if Daddy cursed them under his breath as he condemned another bag of grass seed to shady oblivion, but Mama wouldn't hear of cutting one down. Only the threats of neighbors---and to this day I don't know what the threats were, whether legal action or old-fashioned Southern shunning---convinced to her to allow the removal of an especially messy tulip poplar on the property line.

It wasn't until Mr. Pettit and I moved to Lubbock, Texas, that I saw how big the sky could be. It scared me a little: Too much open space with no green to hide in. I still remember our trips to visit South Carolina, how I'd start to relax when the trees of Abilene came into view.

I'm not sure when my feelings about trees began to shift, but it might have been during an Air Force assignment outside Omaha, Nebraska. Nebraska gave us our first real taste of winter, and with no trees to block the view you could see countless stars sparkle in the icy air. Since then I've stared at the full moon hanging over Cheyenne, Wyoming, looking for all the world as if it were about to land there. I've watched endless waves of corn billowing in Iowa and a blanket of royal blue settling over the green of Montana's mountains.

I still love trees. My favorite season in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley is autumn, when a quick drive to the grocery store can become a leaf-peeping adventure. But I don't want to live in an arboretum anymore. I love the way the full moon shines in my bedroom window like a celestial spotlight. And I especially love seeing what weather is coming our way as the clouds roll over the Blue Ridge. Just this morning Mr. Pettit and I studied the layers of light and dark clouds on the horizon and wondered if our newly planted hydrangeas would be getting any rain this afternoon. The skies gradually cleared and the rain didn't come. But that trifle of clouds has been on my mind all day.

Several friends are caught in thunderstorms as I write this. Some saw the gale coming from a distance but they couldn't stop it, although they tried mightily to do so. Others had no idea foul weather was approaching before the downpour started. All I can do is pray for them until the skies clear.

Satellite pictures of hurricanes always leave me dumbstruck by their immensity and power, even as I fear for the people in their path. Such images provide the tiniest of glimpses into God's perspective on our Earth. He sees all the inclement weather headed our way, whether a string of tornadoes or a series of events triggered by human frailty, and is in control of all of it. That's the hard thing: Reconciling the fact that He's in control with the suffering experienced by His children. Why does God spare some people and not others? I don't know---I've finally accepted that I may never know until I get a Heaven's eye view of things myself.

I also don't know how long our friends will be battered by the different storms raging in their lives: Disappointment. Illness. Grief. Frustration. Fear. Their only hope, and mine, rests in Jesus of Nazareth.        

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (Romans 5:1-2, The Message)

"The wide open spaces of God's grace and glory"---What a glorious phrase! Not hemmed in, restricted or confined, but free to take everything in. Clouds. Stars. Sunrises. Sunsets. And sometimes rainbows.

The Writing's on the Wall

Bitter. Sweet. Repeat.