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Friday Update for Storm Preparations

First, the good news. I have all the windows and doors of my home covered with ¾” plywood. I am grateful I was able to buy plywood Tuesday. The heat index is 104 degrees, so I split up the project over yesterday and today. I finished hanging the last panel a few moments ago. I believe I am ready. The house is pitch black inside. I took off the panels to the glass door that goes out to my patio to let a little light in. I will screw those panels on tomorrow evening before I head to bed.

Now for the bad news. If you are following the track of the storm, you know the track has shifted to the west. This means the projected path of the storm will now come closer to us. We will likely have winds around 100 mph on Sunday. We are expecting the first bands of wind and rain Saturday afternoon. There is also a possibility of a storm surge. We will monitor all of this as the storm progresses.

The house should withstand the projected winds. The new roof was put on in 2010 to withstand winds up to 160 mph. The house is a concrete block structure, and now all the windows and glass door openings are fitted with ¾” plywood. I do have a pool screen enclosure. Here in Florida we call them pool cages. This is the only question mark to me. Most likely I will lose the screen panels. Hopefully we will not lose the structure itself.

At this point, I am planning to ride it out here. I have a friend who will be staying here as well. There are several families on my street who are staying. We will all look after one another.

My home is in evacuation Zone C. At this time evacuations have been issued for folks living in Zone A. These are homes on the barrier islands and in low lying areas. My home is only one mile to salt water as a crow flies. But my property is on one of the highest points in this area. That is good news!

We continue to carefully monitor the track of this storm. I will try to update as possible. I appreciate your prayers and concern.

If you are interested in our local broadcast, check out http://www.nbc-2.com/.

I enjoy reading your comments. Feel free to write your thoughts below.

Storm Preparation Update

I know many of you wonder what are my plans for the approaching hurricane. Here is the update for you.

As of this morning, the models take the eye of the storm further east. This can change. It is still possible the storm could move back in my direction. I will continue to carefully monitor the track. My home is in Southwest Florida.  At this time, we will likely have tropical storm force winds in our area, but not hurricane force winds.

For now, I am planning to stay home. Thankfully, I made preparations early in the week and avoided the chaos we are currently experiencing with gas stations running out of fuel and stores shelves cleared out of hurricane supplies.

I have already made plans to evacuate if needed. I have 2 different options ready, one in Orlando, and one in Atlanta. I have a full tank of gas.

If I stay home, I have a complete hurricane kit ready. The kit has everything I need if a hurricane hits my area and all public utilities are knocked out. I have about a week’s worth of canned food and water, LED lighting, batteries, medical supplies, etc. ready.

I have ¾” plywood ready to cover the windows if needed. Yesterday I cut all the coconuts out of the Coconut Palms in my yard. So no coconut missiles!

The sailboat is stored at Indiantown Marina in dry storage with hurricane straps bolting it to the ground. The marina is far enough inland so it should still be safe even if the storm moves up the east coast.

For now it is a wait and see event. Thank you for thinking of me and for keeping me covered with your prayers. I appreciate it.

If you are interested in our local broadcast, check out http://www.nbc-2.com/.

I enjoy reading your comments. Feel free to write your thoughts below.

That Sinking Feeling

A few weeks ago I shared my experience when I grounded my sailboat while navigating Lake Okeechobee. It is currently in long-term storage at a marina while I wait for God to provide the resources needed to repair the rudder. It excites me to see God at work in my life and relationship with him through this experience. I shared on social media the work God has done in my life in my understanding of stewardship versus ownership. It is truly a place of rest when I keep my focus where it should stay.

If you read only those blogs, you might think I always respond the way I should. Nothing is further from the truth. In the following days I found myself struggling to keep my focus on God and not on my circumstances. Most of the time I kept my focus on him. But there were quiet moments when I was alone, far from the spotlight of ministry, and I wrestled with my lack of faith.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 103:14, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” This deeply ministers to me in the moments when I feel all too human. God created me from dust, and to dust someday I will return. In the moments between, I am dusty. I am of this world. I am human. My heart does not always respond the way my head knows it should. It is okay. God knows how he made me. He remembers I am dust.

Throughout Scripture we meet many interesting characters who carried the dust of the world on their journey. Peter is one of my favorites. He is bold, outspoken, quick to action, and undeniably human.

Following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, Jesus sent the disciples on ahead of him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stayed behind to dismiss the crowds, and when all had departed, he found a place where he could pray in solitude. In the coolness of the evening he was alone. By this time the disciples were far from shore. A storm had risen, and they labored against the wind and the waves.

After many hours, the disciples had only managed to traverse two-thirds of the way across the lake. Darkness consumed the vessel. The tempest beat upon them. They were weary. Their arms ached from rowing. In the waning darkness, the disciples saw the figure of a man walking on the sea. Terror gripped their hearts. “It is a ghost!” they cried.

But it was Jesus! He came to them in the midst of their trial, walking on the water. “Take heart,” he shouted above the wind, “it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Here is where my brash friend Peter makes me smile. He blurted out, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Be careful what you ask!  For Jesus says to him, “Come.” And, in one of the most understated moments in Scripture, it says, “So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus” (Matthew 14:28, ESV).

Now we could stop our story right here, and Peter’s actions would impress all of us. Just as you might think more highly of me than you ought after reading the blog of my response to the grounding of the vessel. But let us continue our tale, for this is where it gets interesting.

Peter leapt from the vessel and strutted across the water. He was almost to Jesus. For a second, a flash of lighting illuminated the boiling sea. He glanced to his left and saw the frothy waves kicked up by the fierce wind. In a terrifying moment, he realized he was in the middle of the lake, and the boat was far behind. Fear pierced his heart. He was no longer walking on water. His feet sank beneath the surface, and he felt the cold water engulfing his legs. In a panic he cried, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus reached for him, lifting him above the waves, and with compassion said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Peter and Jesus walked back to the boat and joined the other disciples. The wind and waves ceased their roiling. The trial was ended. (Read Matthew 14:22-33 for the full account of this story.)

I relate to Peter. I want to step out of the boat in the midst of the storm to walk closer to Jesus. I want to focus on him so deeply that logic dissolves, and I find the water firm beneath my feet as I step toward him. But I also know what it means to take my eyes off of Jesus and to focus instead on the wind and the waves. I know that sinking feeling. I know the sensation of cold water engulfing my feet. I know the moments of fear in the midst of trying to trust him fully. I know how the hands of Jesus feel when he reaches down to lift me up. I know his voice when he says to me, “Tim, oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Yet his voice is not condemning. In my mind, I see his eyes looking down at my dusty clothes. Then he looks back to my eyes, smiles and with a wink says, “Yep, you’re dusty. You’re still human. And I’m still God.”

My friend, we are all human. We are dusty. We do not always respond the way we know we should. Sometimes the wind and waves overwhelm us. In those moments, even though we fail to trust him fully, God understands. He still rescues. He still leads us to a place of rest. He still loves.

When Peter and Jesus return to the other disciples in the boat, the seas stopped churning. The wind died down. Rest settled upon the weary. And everyone in the boat, including Peter, worshiped Jesus saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Their focus returned to Jesus. They worshiped. They understood a little more who he was. Our trials illuminate our need of Jesus. In the process we find he truly is the Son of God.

Our God is a God of grace. May we use each trial to trust him more fully. May God increase our faith. May we grow in our relationship with him. May the moments of doubt and confusion decrease, and our moments of trust increase.

Sometimes we walk on water. Sometimes we sink beneath it. May each moment draw us closer to him.

I enjoy reading your thoughts. Please write your comments below.