One of those nights

Before I went to bed last night I was working on the series that will start July 6 based on Nehemiah, and I got really excited about it. So much so that when Tricia and I turned out the lights, ideas were still popping into my head. It took only a few minutes in bed to realize that any attempt to sleep at that moment would be futile.

So I got up and let the ideas flow until they were exhausted. It was quite late when I finally went back to bed, but just after I had fallen asleep the thunderstorm passed through Lincoln. And if the rumble of the thunder wasn't enough, there's a rain gutter and downspout just outside our bedroom window, and when trash from our cotton wood tree plugs it up, the water backs up, spills over and pours down on top of the piece of aluminum tubing meant to carry the water out into the yard. And it is loud!

And it made me mad! I had just recently cleaned out that gutter and downspout! It shouldn't be plugged up. The water should be flowing freely. And I should be sleeping, but I'm not--which made me more upset. I could tell that I wasn't going to sleep for a while now.

I ended up moving down to the couch in the family room to spend what little of the night was left and eventually fell asleep.

It's funny being human, isn't it? A mixture of inspiration and frustration, insomnia and sleep. May God bless and keep us through it all.


The squirrel and the bird

Yesterday, I saw a squirrel scurry up a tree in our backyard, and then I noticed a blackbird land on the same tree. The squirrel quickly made its way back down the trunk and froze a couple feet from the ground. I didn’t know why the squirrel stopped, but it seemed to be alert to danger.

After a minute the squirrel darted through the yard, and the blackbird flew after it, repeatedly swooping down upon it like a dive bomber. The squirrel turned and dashed toward the back fence, and as it climbed to the top, the blackbird made another flying lunge. Then the two disappeared over the fence.

It surprised me to see these two species relating to each other for any reason. I wondered, Had the squirrel disrupted the blackbird’s nest? Did this blackbird get its kicks from bullying bushytailed rodents? Were they playing a game of tag? Or was there some simple misunderstanding between them? I had no idea.

But it made me think of something else that happened earlier that day as I was leaving a lunch appointment. I got “flipped off” by another driver. I hadn’t gotten “the finger” in a long time. Here’s what happened. (Really, officer.)

The light was green, and I was pulling into the intersection to make a left turn. A car coming from the opposite direction was in the right lane with its right turn signal on. I figured the other car was in a position to turn before I could, and I would follow, each of us turning into our respective lanes.

I started to make my turn, but the other driver didn’t turn. Instead, she sped straight ahead through the intersection. I was never close to hitting her, but I did stop short, and she reacted with a slight swerve. That’s when she looked directly at me and gave me the not-so-subtle gesture. I read the same message from her lips. I felt like the squirrel, hit by the bird.

Apparently she had been signaling a lane change instead of a turn. And then she accelerated to beat the yellow light. When she offered me the sign, I have to say it kinda made me laugh. Then I thought, How sad that this is her immediate response. Of course, in her mind I was a total jerk and deserved it.

I could have returned the gesture, or laid on my horn. I could have been steamed about it the rest of the day, but I refuse to give her that kind of power in my life.

How much better to laugh about it and follow this advice: “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it” (1 Peter 3:9, New Living Translation).

I’m not sure how I could have returned a blessing to her. Maybe we need a “bless you” finger.