"" Writer's Wanderings: June 2005

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Presence of His Spirit

(This story took place in 1983.)

Bob and I sat in a small conference room at a formica topped table next to green metal filing cabinets. The room was cheery in color but institutional. The social worker had stepped out for a moment to find the video tape that would introduce us to a brother and sister who were available for adoption.

We were a little nervous and very excited. Could these be the children God wanted us to have to finish our family?

Before we were married, we often talked of our dreams of a family. We both expressed a desire to adopt children who needed a loving home. So, when God blessed us with twin boys and then another boy three years later, we elected to adopt a girl to round out our family.

For two years we searched for an adoption agency who would accept us. Often we were turned away because we already had three children. We also wanted an agency with whom we could feel comfortable and confident.

Eventually, we found what we were looking for right around the corner from where we lived. They were an agency for hard to place children--children with siblings, disabilities, or older than three. We attended their orientation sessions and finished a home study. A social worker was assigned to us, and now we were about to meet two children that the agency felt would fit into our established family.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Shark Encounter 4

Everyone was still except for the bubbles escaping from their regulators as they exhaled. I looked toward the divemaster. He pointed two fingers at his eyes (the signal for "look"), then put his hand to the top of his head, fingers extended straight up ("shark"), and pointed to my right.

In the blue murkiness, between two large coral heads that rose like ghosts from the ocean bottom, a large shark was poised--watching. She looked us over carefully and when she was convinced there was no food, she turned and glided away into the blue gray shadows.

I watched in wonder. No panic. No racing pulse. Just awesome fascination and appreciation of a creature I'd never seen outside of glass walls.

Back on the dive boat after we surfaced, the shark jokes were replaced with fish stories. The divemaster proudly estimated the female shark at 8 feet. Of course, underwater everything appears about 25% larger than it really is.

Exaggerated fish stories aside, it was an encounter to remember.

Shark Encounter
Shark Encounter 2
Shark Encounter 3

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Shark Encounter 3

"This dive site is near the area where we do our shark dive. We have a chance of seeing a shark or two in the area," the divemaster began as we motored to our destination. My heart thumped harder in my chest.

"Now...understand that we would not be taking you somewhere we didn't feel was safe. If you see a shark, you'll be fortunate." Fortunate was not the word I would have chosen.

"The sharks are Caribbean reef sharks and they are curious critters by nature," the divemaster continued. "They will not let you get any closer to them than they want you to be. They usually take a look and then swim away."

As soon as he finished all the shark jokes started. "Remember," one fellow diver said to another, "you only have to swim faster than the slowest swimmer."

In the water, we gathered at the base of the guide rope hanging from the boat. The divemaster signaled, "Follow me." We began weaving our way through the coral heads. Colors were muted without bright sunlight to filter through the water and the water seemed thicker--dense.

I began to relax and enjoy the marine life that scurries past my dive mask. My head bumped into Bob. I looked around and realized everyone had frozen in place...

Shark Encounter
Shark Encounter 2
Shark Encounter 4

Monday, June 20, 2005

Shark Encounter 2

Our first day of diving in Freeport was exciting. The crew was helpful as we struggled with unfamiliar buckles on rented BCVs (bouyancy control vests) and worked our way to the diving platform on the boat. The challenge of diving is getting into the water without toppling over from the cumbersome air tank and weight belt hung on your back and around your waist while you shuffle across the deck with webbed feet.

Our first dive ignited the excitement of discovery as we explored coral heads teeming with small marine life and alive with color. The second dive of the day featured a small boat wreck that had been overgrown with corals and small marine vegetation. We leisurely explored all the nooks and crannies. I was very relaxed by the time we returned to shore. The anxiety of a close encounter with Jaws forgotten in the wonderful exploration of the sea life that had presented itself.

The next day, thick clouds dotted the sky making it look a bit foreboding. Still, the April temperatures were in the 80s and there were patches of blue sky between the clouds. We donned wet suits. The water would be a little cooler 40 feet down with cloudy skies...it would also be murkier...

Shark Encounter
Shark Encounter 3
Shark Encounter 4

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Shark Encounter

You always remember your first one.

"There's a shark dive available. Want to feed the sharks?" Bob asked as he perused the website of UNEXSO trying to decide which dive package we wanted for our trip to the Bahamas.

"Feed the sharks? I don't even want to see a shark." I'm not afraid of too many things, but visions of Jaws sent shivers up my spine.

"They put you in a chainmail suit and teach you how to use the shark feeding equipment. And...they'll tape the whole thing."

He was really pushing it, but only because he knew I'd refuse.

"Or, we could just go and be observers...watch someone else have all the fun." He grinned and I shot him one of my wifely looks.

"O.K., O.K. I'll be sure to tell them we don't want to be diving near the sharks." He turned back to his computer to reserve our four day stay in Port Lucaya that included four dives.

Two months earlier, we had finished our certification as open water divers. After being introduced to a beautiful underwater world in the Carribean, we were eager to explore it now at our leisure. UNEXSO (Underwater Explorers Society) offered a variety of dive sites and the special shark dive.

Diving with the sharks was for those of stout heart and steady nerves who liked to live on the edge. A group of divers kneel in the sand and watch as one diver feeds the 10-20 reef sharks that gather around.

Not long before our decision to go to the Bahamas, my son had assisted a professor from the University of Miami at Bimini, in a week long seminar course on sharks. He told us of being in the water, snorkeling with sharks around him, and suddenly realizing the professor was feeding the sharks to attract them for study. Just the stuff a mother wants to hear. He kept assuring me it was all right. They were only reef sharks.

To my understanding, they still had teeth. I was not comforted. I still wanted no part of diving with sharks.

I was in for a surprise...

Shark Encounter 2
Shark Encounter 3
Shark Encounter 4

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Laugher

Everyone has some kind of laugh. There are those whose laughter rings out deep and bellowing and those whose laughter is tight and restrained. But somewhere inbetween are those laughs that are warm, delightful, and often contagious.

It's the contagious part I like. It spreads joy. It says, "Join me and celebrate life." It's the laugh that the sit-coms welcome into their audience.

We have a laugher in our congregation. Her laugh is distinctive. At the very least, it makes you want to smile. What a lift it is to a weary spirit. I can't help thinking that it lightens God's day as well. I heard her this Sunday. While our speaker encouraged us with his words, her laughter encouraged us with the joy of a heart set free.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Of Mice and Men--Part 3

It was a busy Sunday afternoon. I was getting ready for a writers conference and Bob was getting ready for his annual trade show. The temperature climbed into the upper 80s and I wondered if the peanut butter had melted off of the mousetrap.

Being the great white hunter that he is, Bob waited patiently until about eight o'clock that evening. I heard the door to the garage open and close but didn't think much of it until a little while later, he came into the den. He was grinning.

"I got the little bugger." He said with pride. "I knew he couldn't get that peanut butter off the trap."

The way he said it though made me wonder if Bob hadn't struggled with just a little edge of doubt--a slight suspicion that his small opponent might be a little too clever for an old fashioned mousetrap. After all, this is the era of electronical everything--who would guess something as old fashioned as a piece of wood, a spring, and a metal bar would still work so efficiently.

So, to the electronics wizards of the world--those great white hunters--Do we really need a better mousetrap or is it the bait that counts?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Of Mice and Men--Part 2

Have you ever played Operation? It's the game where a body is pictured on a cardboard base and little body parts are in small cavities wired with an alarm. The object is to pick out the body parts with tweezers and not set off the alarm. It's a delicate operation.

I suspected our little freeloader in the trunk of the Miata had lots of practice with that game. The traps were picked clean and neither was set off until Bob picked them up. He, obviously, did not have a lot of practice with the game.

Undaunted and slightly amused, Bob headed for the peanut butter jar.

"Let's see him get this off the trap." Was that a maniacal chuckle I heard?

The traps were baited and reset. To be honest, I wasn't sure who I was rooting for in this contest. I much prefer D-Con. After eating it the mice usually just crawl away somewhere and I don't have to worry about desposing of the remains. I didn't want to actually see this clever little guy's demise.

Bob replaced the traps in the trunk of the car and returned with all his fingers intact and healthy. We waited...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Of Mice and Men

The weather had warmed considerably. The cover came off the Miata. To his dismay, the little critter inside the trunk was encouraged to find a new home. I say "encouraged," because Bob cleaned out the trunk and tossed his fluffy nest into the trash figuring that would be the end of the rent-free intruder.

The little guy (the mouse, not Bob) had more stamina than he was given credit for. He rebuilt his nest--fluffy and warm, nestled against the spare tire. Bob discovered the little guy's handiwork this weekend.

"Don't we have a mousetrap around here somewhere?" Bob asked.

"I haven't seen it lately," I said with a smile. The Miata is Bob's "baby"--don't mess with the baby.

Bob tracked down two mousetraps, baited them with some swiss cheese, and set them in the trunk of the car. A smile on his face, he drove the Miata all day Saturday, confident that his freeloader would be taken care of shortly.

Sunday morning, Bob decided to check the trunk before we left for church. Like a great white hunter, stalking his prey, he opened the trunk...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Coke or Pepsi?

Today, like most days, I had a diet Coke with lunch--classic, decaffeinated (caffeine does strange things to meopausal women). Coke is the prefered drink in this house. The only time Pepsi gets in our home is if my brother-in-law sneaks it in.

Coke is the prefered drink outside of our home as well. My husband always orders diet Coke then asks, "That is Coke--not Pepsi, right?" If the answer comes back "Pepsi," then his response is, "I'll have an ice tea."

Making choices in life is so much simpler when you truly follow your heart--or in this case, your tastebuds. Where your heart is concerned, the choices of life are made easier when your heart belongs to Christ.
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