God Skies, Triggers, and Santa.

I was driving west on I-90 to pick up Maya at school today and noticed the amazing “God Sky.” Some time ago I heard someone call those gorgeous, fiery, orange and red skies this time of year “God Skies.” I guess they’re ALL God Skies, but sometimes they stand out more than others.

Today’s God Sky was huge and light orange, but different than usual was that it looked like the clouds had been stirred. Sort of like how a hurricane looks when you see it from space. I considered that for a moment and thought, “Wow, God just really has his hand in everything.” I thought of two days prior when I had picked up Maya from school and the sky was SO vibrant, with infinite pink and orange ripples. It was so stunning that I pulled over into a driveway near the school to take a picture of it with my cell phone. Maya joined in the enthusiasm and opened the sun roof and stood up to get a better view. We were pretty low though, and there were buildings in the way. “Let’s head up the hill and see if we can get a better view!” We raced up the hill but every time I looked over at the sky, there were trees or buildings obstructing the view. Plus, with every passing minute, the colors were fading with the setting sun. We did get a picture or two, but so tiny on our little phone screens. So unimpressive compared to the vision we had seen.

Anyway, back to today. The God-stirred sky was beautiful and reminded me of trying to capture a picture of it a few days earlier. God has His hand in everything. I thanked God then. Just a few “Thank You Gods.” Nothing elaborate. You see, a few hours earlier, a wonderful woman, S, had told me at the end of a prayer group that when I didn’t know what to say, or how to pray, that “Thank you God” was just really OK, and in fact, what He wants to hear. I tried it out on my way to the car, thinking about S and the others I had spent time praying with today. I thanked God for guiding me to the church that day, for surrounding me with Prayer Warriors, Godly people, praying like crazy. I thanked Him for the special connection I had with S today. I thanked Him for allowing me to experience different people praying different ways.

It was my second time to the weekly prayer group. I felt a little nervous going without knowing for sure if R would be there. Would they expect me to pray? Would they wonder what I had to contribute? No, God is telling me to go, so I know it will be fine, good, what He wants. I told the group at the beginning that I didn’t know if I would say anything for awhile, but since I was a “Prayer Baby,” I thought that it would be a good thing to surround myself with “Prayer Warriors.” They of course were loving and accepting and said they could use all the “Amens” they could get.

As we prayed, different people taking turns as God spoke to them, I felt like I wanted to participate. As different prayers were said for individuals who were sick, for our church, for our city and community, etc. I kept thinking about cars zooming by me on Highway 95 on my way to the mall last Saturday. It was on a section of Highway that I travel almost daily, and I was surprised at how FAST cars were going by me. Now, I am typically the person who drives AT or a *little* over the speed limit. (I know, I shouldn’t). So, when people were flying by me going at least 5-10 miles per hour faster it was notable. I thought, “Wow, it’s the Christmas season hysteria. The compulsion to get to the store to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have. THIS is NOT what Christmas is all about.” It stuck in my mind for some reason and has remained there since. Well, during prayer group someone talked about addictions, and asked God to help those people with drug and alcohol addictions during the holidays. As I listened and prayed I felt more compelled to pray for those who are drowning in the season instead of rejoicing. So I went for it. I asked God to touch those people who were caught up in the flurry of shopping, and greed, and envy, and pride, who were buying things they couldn’t afford out of obligation. That maybe they would be in a store and hear a song and stop right where they were and REMEMBER. And THINK about the spirit of the season, and think about helping those less fortunate. I don’t think I said everything I wanted to. I don’t think I was very good at it. But my voice was shaking. And I meant it.

I spent some time with S after the group, sharing a little bit and letting her know the connection I felt with her. A few weeks prior I had met her for the first time and she had given me a hug. When she hugged me, I don’t know what it was, but I felt such a flood of warmth and compassion that, well, duh, it was God working through her. I told her today that when she hugged me, it was like she knew exactly where my spirit needed to be touched. We didn’t talk a whole lot, but we had a very deep connection and I felt very full of love and God when I left the church.

So, back to walking down the street and repeating my “Thank You Gods.” I got in the car and started heading up 4th street. I HATE driving north in 4th street because people drive too slow. Just north of Harrison I started getting agitated and the word “Trigger” popped into my head. At the prayer group the week before, I had been given a piece of paper about “Triggers” that was written by someone in the group. She described Triggers as those things that cause us to react negatively to people and situations. Like when traffic goes too slow and I get agitated. She reminded us that Triggers are an OPPORTUNITY. An opportunity to be more like Jesus. To do what He would do. OK, so the word pops into my head when I’m getting ticked about slow cars. OK, God, I hear You. Slow down, be at peace. I thanked Him some more that I received this word from Him at that moment. Freeway. God Sky. God-STIRRED Sky. God has His hand in everything. Thank Him some more.

I started thinking about how magnificent the skies have been, how much I wanted to capture the glory and awesomeness of it all. Looking at the tiny screen on my phone, it was an incredible and stark contrast between the beauty of God’s creation that I witnessed with my eyes, and what I could possibly do to capture it. Nothing compares. God has His hand in everything. I couldn’t wait to start writing this. I was scratching notes on a receipt while I was waiting for Maya to come out of the school. As we headed towards home, I asked her how her day was. She said good, and then went on to say “Mrs. L is evil.” I looked at her with confusion and asked what she meant. She said, “Mrs. L said in front of the whole class that Santa wasn’t real.” She went on to tell me that “Julian and I were both on the same page about it, that we knew that Santa wasn’t really real, but we still liked to believe it.” She also said that Mrs. L had told the class that she felt really bad, because she had said the same thing last year and there was one kid who still believed in Santa. Maya goes on to say, “so, WHY DOES SHE SAY IT?” I said I didn’t know. I asked her how she felt about it and she said OK. We talked about the tradition of Santa and that it was a fun part of the season, but not the most important.

As we continued towards home, I realized a TREMENDOUS weight had been lifted from my heart. We had always let our kids believe in Santa until they, well, didn’t. As they got older, I always felt torn between telling them the truth or not. I didn’t want them to find out at school and then feel silly for believing, but I also wasn’t ready to just blurt it out and burst the illusion. We consulted Jaeger for insight as to whether his sister still believed in Santa. He thought probably not, but it wasn’t conclusive. It had been on my mind. Sure, we can talk to the kids about Christmas and expectations, etc., but then there’s that whole “but at least Santa will bring us something” card.

In a sentence or two that burden was lifted. She knew. She was OK.

The rest of the drive home, I had tears in my eyes and I felt very peaceful. The God-stirred sky, prayer group, thanking God when I didn’t know what else to say, the tiny camera image of the sunset compared to the real thing, being willing to listen, opening my heart to what He has to tell me, burdens lifted in ways I hadn’t considered. God has His Hand in everything.

Thanks, God. It was a good day.