Tag Archives: Relationships

7 Life Lessons from Bugs of Fire and Light

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A few years ago, Robby and I had the pleasure of joining our friends Paul and Mary in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was during the month of May, and I was thrilled to experience something that had been on my bucket list for years: to see the fireflies. Since I’m from the South, I’m quite familiar with fireflies (aka lightning bugs), but I had read that these amazing insects would gather by the thousands in certain areas in the mountains. Not only would they signal to one another by flashing on and off, but they would actually blink in unison. I could only imagine what a field looked like with thousands of lightning bugs blinking on and off throughout the night.

So when Paul and Mary asked us if we wanted to share their cabin for a few days and join them in watching the lightning bugs, we jumped at the opportunity!

Now, the park in which the fireflies congregate has worked out quite a system. You have to park a couple miles away, take a shuttle to a designated area, and then walk about half a mile to the clearing where the fireflies perform their nightly ritual. The tours were well-organized…and advertised. By the time we tried to purchase our tickets, all of the tours were booked. And since the lightning bugs only perform their dance for a few weeks out of the year, it looked like we were going to miss them entirely.

We were so close and yet so far from those illusive fireflies.

Not to be outdone, though, Paul and Mary asked around. The locals told them about a different, lesser-known spot, on the other side of the mountain where the official tours took place. We just had to drive there and walk up the mountain a bit. No big deal.

I should mention that Paul and Mary were in their 70s, and Paul had hurt his knee earlier that week. I was a bit concerned for them when I heard we had to do some walking, but they assured me they’d be fine.

With restrained excitement, we drove to the park’s back entrance right before sunset. As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw something else on my bucket list: a big black bear. I’d wanted to see one in the wild since I was a kid, and this one was lumbering through the picnic area only a couple hundred yards away. I was thrilled to see him so close, but it reminded me that bears called this mountainside home. And we were about to walk right through that home…in the dark. Sure, we had flashlights, but we couldn’t see the fireflies with our lights on, so we’d be feeling our way up the mountain road.

I was slightly disconcerted, but we were not to be dissuaded. So up we went. Fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes. And still we walked. Paul and Mary did fine, but my knees were starting to feel the strain. And it was dark…really dark…on the side of that mountain. My imagination ran wild as I wondered if every sound was a bear poking its nose through the trees to get a better look at us. Although the locals supposedly knew about this place, no one else was around save for a handful of intrepid climbers. I began to wonder if someone had played a trick on us…or sent us into a trap. And yet we continued to hike—for now it felt like a full-on hike.

The humble lightning bug by day.

To make matters worse, we only saw a few lightning bugs here and there. They were nice, but there was hardly enough to create the blinking-in-unison effect I was looking for. There had been rumors that more fireflies were higher up the mountain, though, so we continued to climb, and I prayed that our adventure wouldn’t end in disappointment.

Finally, at the site of an old abandoned cemetery, we saw what appeared to be lightning bugs, but they behaved differently than the ones I was used to. Instead of flying around in the air, blinking on and off, they stayed “lit” for a long time and hovered just a couple inches above the ground. Their light was a soft glow, slightly green in color. As they circled around the brush and crumbling tomb stones, I imagined so many miniature creatures, going about their evening tasks holding tiny lanterns to illumine the way. Although this wasn’t what I had longed to see, the site was surreal and lovely, and I was glad we had made the trip.

Finally, we started the long trek down the mountain. As we turned a bend, suddenly the sky lit up with hundreds of little white fireworks, each a cluster of dozens of fireflies. They danced above us in the trees. They floated down the side of the mountain, which dropped precipitously into a creek below us, once invisible but now seen in the crackling light of the lightning bugs. They even flew up to us, curious about the visitors who dared the night to join them in their dance.

I looked down at my feet and saw the same greenish lights I had seen in the cemetery. They crawled along the grass and played along a short wooden bridge that connected the path.

Solid green lights below us and brilliant flashes all around us. It was if we were floating in the darkness of night, surrounded by living stars that danced to a song only they could hear. This was more than “blinking-in-unison.” This was better than seeing fireflies from a distance. This was more than we could have hoped for or imagined.

We were speechless as we stood in awe of the magic of it all.

Since then, I’ve thought about researching the types of fireflies to learn more about the ones we saw that night. But it seems that knowledge would only detract from the mystery of the experience. So now, I like to think of the ones with the greenish light as fireflies and the ones that blinked with such enthusiasm as lightning bugs. I feel honored to be able to make such a distinction.

Not only did I have a memorable adventure, and I crossed off an item on my bucket list, but I also learned a lot that night.

  1. Make sure you have friends who are older and more stubborn and adventurous than you. They’ll encourage you to shoot for your dreams when you would otherwise give up.
  2. Life is still beautiful and breath-taking, but sometimes you have to seek it out.
  3. The most amazing experiences are often just around the bend, but you have to make the effort to get there.
  4. When life is the darkest, a single light is all the more brilliant and inspiring.
  5. If a little bug can light up the world, then so can we.
  6. The difficult, little-known path—where fewer people dare to tread—is where all the amazing things really happen. So forget the bus and take the hike.
  7. Yes, there are bears in the woods. Say your prayers, keep your distance, and keep on trekking.

Perhaps the ultimate lesson is that God is not afraid to give us more than we can imagine. He’s not a stingy God. Instead, He’s an over-the-top, wild, fully-alive, fun-loving, merriment-making kind of God who created little bugs that flash in the dark. And this is the same God who rejoices over us. Make sure your heart aligns with Him, then pray for your heart’s desire. You’ll be surprised what He can come up with!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NAS).

No Halfs or Steps About It

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Sister Meets Sister

I met my younger sister Janet when I was 17.

I remember being nervous as I got out of the car and looked up at this beautiful, vivacious 15 year old. What do you say in such an auspicious meeting? Would there be tears or resentment? Would we even like each other?

Janet and me in our first meeting.

I think I said “Hi.”

She didn’t skip a beat. “Hi! Ooh, I like your nail color!”

I looked down at my purple frosted toe nails. Then I noticed her nail color in a similar hue. “I like yours, too.”

We both smiled. We hugged. We visited for hours.

I don’t remember everything we talked about that day, but we agreed we wanted to be in each other’s lives. I was happy to have another sister, and—as it turns out—Janet had always wanted an older sister. (Go figure!)

Thankfully, someone took photos of our visit that day. It’s amazing to see us standing the same way, sitting the same way, and laughing the same way. There was simply no denying that we were sisters.

 

Mom Meets Sister

Janet and I share the same father but have different mothers. And though my mother is full of grace, accepting your ex’s daughter into your family is a bit of a stretch for anyone. Would Mom be okay with me hanging out with Janet? Would it be best to not talk about Janet in front of Mom? I was in uncharted territory, and there didn’t seem to be any good answers.

Not long after I met Janet, we were all together at some sort of family function. I can’t even remember what the occasion was, but I do remember the outcome: Mom turned to me and, with some emotion in her voice, said of Janet, “How could I not love her? She reminds me so much of you.”

My mother’s compassion and love for me is not limited to me alone; it extends to those I love. From the day Mom opened her arms to Janet, our entire family has embraced her, and now we welcome her husband and children (which makes me an aunt!). We also welcome other relatives who aren’t really related to us at all, from the families of in-laws and step-parents to just great friends. That’s because Mom has set a standard that the rest of our family follows. We don’t say “half-sister” or “step-father;” we’re just family, no halfs or steps about it.

 

Redeemed Meets Redeemer

Acceptance—true acceptance, filled with love and genuine affection—is a hard thing to find. It makes me think of the time I rededicated my life to the Lord.

I imagine the day my spirit stood before God, the darkness of my sins and rebellion replaced with the brightness of the Holy Spirit in me and the robe of righteousness covering me. I imagine the Father turning to the Son and saying, with great emotion, “How could I not love her? She reminds me so much of You.”

That’s how salvation works. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, we are made alive. And as we live for God, His brightness in us testifies to others that we are His. There’s simply no denying our relationship with Him.

As if that weren’t enough, God then welcomes us into His family, not as interlopers—not as “the girl who doesn’t belong” or “the guy who doesn’t deserve to be here”—but as full-fledged members of God’s eternal, holy family.

We are more than redeemed; we are accepted, and we are loved!

Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? Then rejoice that you belong in God’s eternal family…no halfs or steps about it!

 

[Click to Tweet: You’re in God’s eternal family…no halfs or steps about it!]

To Romance Your Wife, Consider Her Love Language

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The following post was first published on OneChristianVoice.com. Check out their site for news, entertainment, events, and inspiration.


I don’t like roses. I never read romance books. And under no uncertain terms do I want anyone reading poetry to me!

According to the media and most romance movies, I am not a “romantic person.” But that’s not really true at all.

You see, my primary Love Language is Quality Time. A romantic evening to me involves hanging out with my hubby on a Friday night. I don’t need gifts or flowery speeches, just the sacrifice of his time.

In other words, my Romance Language coincides with my Love Language—and I bet the same holds true for your wife!

According to Gary Chapman, author of the hugely successful series The 5 Love Languages, all of us have a primary Love Language. When our spouses and families speak to us in this language, we hear them loud and clear, and we feel truly loved.

So if you want to introduce a little romance this Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter), stop and consider your wife’s Love Language. Here are some suggestions.

 

Words of Affirmation –

  • Tell her you love her. If you miss this one, you’ll miss the boat entirely.
  • Tell her why you love her—and be specific.
  • Write a love letter. It doesn’t have to be long or filled with quotes or poetry. She’ll love the fact that you made the effort, no matter what you write.
  • Write a bunch of little notes (e.g. “Be Mine” and “I’m lucky to have you,”) and scatter them throughout the house. This is a great option if you’re uncomfortable writing an actual letter.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Receiving Gifts, then memorialize your love by giving her a necklace, bracelet, or wall art that tells her what she means to you. (You can find homemade, personalized gifts on Etsy.com.)

 

Acts of Service –

  • You know that honey-do list? She wrote it down for a reason. Start there.
  • Write her a coupon that entitles her to a “day off.” When she redeems it, let her put her feet up while you do all the things she would have done, from cooking dinner to doing the dishes. (Make sure you put in the same amount of work she would have. Avoid Chinese takeout and paper plates.)
  • If her secondary language is Physical Touch, then incorporate it by giving her a foot rub or a back rub…after you do the dishes.

 

Receiving Gifts –

  • Has she been dropping hints about something she wants? If it’s within reason, get it for her.
  • See if she has a “Wish List” on Amazon. You can find what she wants and order it as a surprise. She’ll think you read her mind!
  • If she mentions items she wants, write them down. She’s telling you for a reason.
  • Give her something that fits her secondary Love Language. If it’s Physical Touch, get her a spa certificate. For Quality Time, buy tickets for the two of you to see a play, watch a special movie, or see her favorite band.

 

Quality Time –

  • Dedicate a day to spend time with her. Let her pick the activity or destination. If she likes surprises, plan the whole day and let each event be a little surprise.
  • Don’t assume your time together has to be fancy to be considered “quality time.” If she’s more of a home body, or you can’t find a babysitter, order takeout from her favorite restaurant and enjoy it together while watching her favorite movie.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Physical Touch, hold her hand while you’re spending time together. If it’s Acts of Service, then spend the day helping her with whatever activity is on her to-do list, from cleaning out the garage to shopping for groceries.

 

Physical Touch –

  • Be physically affectionate. Even something as small as holding her hand can go a long way to filling her love cup.
  • Think outside the box. Consider activities that involve touching, such as going dancing. She may also appreciate different physical sensations, such as a late-night swim in the pool.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Receiving Gifts, then give her a gift certificate for a couple’s massage. If it’s Acts of Service, give her a foot rub and then paint her nails (which you’ll both find hilarious).

Being romantic with your wife is easy when you know her Love Language and you’re willing to make the effort to make her feel loved.

If you don’t know your wife’s primary Love Language, then have her take the quiz at www.5lovelanguages.com. She’ll appreciate that you want to know more about her, and you can take the quiz, as well. You can also research the latest books in the 5 Love Languages series.

You only have one wife; make sure you’re speaking her Love Language!

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Does it fit her Love Language? I’d love to hear from you!

[Click to Tweet: This Valentine’s Day, I’m considering my wife’s love language!]

[Click to Tweet: My romance language is my love language.]