David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Texas weather”

Volunteer Rain (2014-09-19 Daily)

“Even in the familiar there can be surprise and wonder.”

―Tierney Gearon

 

I’m weather aware. I remember sitting in front of the TV with my dad watching hour after hour of The Weather Channel in its early days, tolerating the “Local on the 8’s” to catch the progress of an arctic cold front or to get the latest update on Tropical Storm Umberto. My fascination with weather may have originated from growing up in one of the most overcast regions in the United States (Binghamton, New York), or from endless hours watching the sky as I cloud danced in a Schweizer 1-26 sailplane. But it wasn’t until I moved to Texas that my weather awareness developed from fascination into fixation.

The wet, cold climate of upstate New York drove me to southern California, where I lived and worked in Santa Monica for eighteen months. It didn’t take long for me to start missing the damp upstate New York weather as I endured day after sunshiny day with temperatures in the 70s. I’m sure many would argue that’s perfect, but I much prefer thunderstorms, the changing seasons and the occasional ice storm to keep things fresh and interesting. So when the opportunity to transfer to Texas came up, I gladly jumped on that plane and rode it east.

I arrived in Texas on January 26th, 1988, and the day I arrived, the temperature climbed to a balmy 76 degrees. The next week, on February 2nd, it snowed, and I developed one of the worst sinus infections I’ve ever experienced. Two years in a row, during the same week in May, tornadoes knocked out power to the building where I worked, forcing us to go home for the day. The area received so much rain from 1989 through 1992 that the “normal” yearly precipitation level had to be adjusted upward. In 1995 hailstones as large as softballs pummeled Fort Worth, causing $2 billion in damage and injuring hundreds of people caught at the Mayfest celebration on Fort Worth’s west side. On March 28th, 2000 a tornado hit downtown Fort Worth dead center, blowing glass out of the high rise buildings and inflicting $500 million in damage to the city. For someone so weather aware, Fort Worth quickly became my Holy Grail. Except in the summer. And especially during this extended drought the entire state of Texas is now experiencing.

As I write this, the latest measurements by the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in the Dallas/Fort Worth area show that 82% of the state is experiencing drought conditions, from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. This summer, while cooler than recent years, has been frustratingly rain-free, especially where I live on the west side of Fort Worth, where we’re experiencing extreme drought conditions. Having a large garden, I’ve pumped my fist in the air more than once this year as storm clouds have built to the north or west and then drifted slowly eastward, either dissipating before they reach us, or skirting around us. If clouds had tongues they’d all be giving us the raspberry as they slide over the parched brown fields and wilted jalapeño pepper plants. Pecan trees that Hannah planted last year are now three inches tall instead of the average six to eighteen inches they should be. The only thing green around here is me as I watch storm after storm drop their cargo of abundant rain 20 miles to the east.

Because I’m weather obsessed, my morning routine starts out with a quick peek at the latest weather forecast before I start the day, and lately I’ve dismissed the rain chance predictions because anything between 0% and 100% really means 0%. The forecasters should do themselves a favor and just type 0% into the published forecast so we rain-hopefuls can just suck it up and accept the reality that it doesn’t rain around here anymore.

A few days ago I rolled out of bed at o’dark thirty to take our two fat dogs for a walk. Before I left the bathroom I checked my phone to see how cool it was outside, and noticed the tiny weather radar icon showed a blanket of green pixels overspreading our area. I tapped the icon to bring up the full-screen radar, and much to my surprise, it showed it was raining! But the weather forecasters hadn’t predicted rain, I thought. Is it really …? Could it be …? Is it actually … raining …?  I finished dressing and stepped out onto the back porch and into a veil of sprinkles. “Thank You, Jesus!” I prayed. The porch was still dry, the warm cement gulping up the light precipitation hungrily, and the smell of rain lay thickly in the air. Humidity draped its comforting arm over my shoulders. I smiled. Big. Leaving the dogs in the house, I opened the front door, stepped into the light shower, and walked two miles in it, praising and thanking God for the volunteer rain.

“Surprising sometimes means unpredictable, but it often means more,” wrote Brother David Steindl-Rast in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer. “Surprising in the full sense means somehow gratuitous. Even the predictable turns into surprise the moment we stop taking it for granted.”[1] I’m convinced God sprinkles our daily paths with little treasures of surprise to find along the way. Why does He do this? For me, these little surprises—volunteer rain, a witty zinger spoken by my six-year-old daughter, or a shooting star lighting up my walk—unburden my heart and brighten my hope. They remind me that God is not only there, He’s also intimately involved in every detail of my life, even if I’m not paying much attention. These surprises—unjustified, uncalled for, unwarranted—inspire thankfulness and shift my attitude from self-centeredness and worry to confidence and trust. Jesus demonstrated time and again that gratitude leads to the miraculous, even if it’s a greater appreciation for the moment and all of its splendor.

Yesterday morning, as I sat in my office with the blinds open and watched a broken layer of cumulous stirred up by Hurricane Odile, I smiled as I recalled the wildly gyrating precipitation chances I’d seen over the past 24 hours. Because, as uncertain as the weather forecast can be, there’s always one thing certain about it: the weather, like God, always surprises and delights those who are open to the possibility of mystery and wonder. As Boris Pasternak, poet and novelist, once said, “Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” Surprise leads to gratitude, and from gratitude comes miracles. Now go run around in the rain if you can find it. And be surprised!

 

Copyright © 2014 by David C. Hughes

[1] Steindl-Rast, Brother David. Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1984. 9.

Unchanging God (2013-12-19 Daily)

I want to take a moment to wish all of you a very blessed Christmas!  I appreciate you with all my heart.  My blog site will go “dark” during Christmas week so I can enjoy my family and mine new material from this year’s Christmas experience; I’m sure Hannah will pull something hilarious over the next week, so stay tuned!  Oh, and I’m considering doing either a biblical or psychological analysis of the Rankin-Bass Claymation classic “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”  We watched it again a few weeks ago and I have lots to say about it. . . . .   Anyway, here’s today’s post.  Please be safe and have fun this week!

 

UNCHANGING GOD

by

David C. Hughes

On Friday, 12/21/2012, the end of the world arrived with a hush as the morning dawned crisp and quiet, putting to rest the fear of universal destruction when the Mayan Long Count came to completion. Christmas morning 2012, on the other hand, rolled in on a strong cold front, an army of heavy rain whipping in from the north, led by companies of winter lightning and rousing thunder. You almost expected Jesus to descend from the clouds with KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS tattooed on his thigh!

By noon Christmas day, the rain had changed over to sleet, then to snow, and by the next morning the sun had skated in again, glinting off the patina of new-fallen fluff and providing the stage for the sashay of 19-degree air. One thing’s for darn sure in Texas: the weather constantly changes, and it can go from one extreme to the next in a matter of hours. What’s that phrase I learned right after I moved here almost 26 years ago? “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute.” The weather is always fluctuating as air masses are pushed in, stirred up, and flung around by the sun’s heat and the earth’s spinning and wobbling.

I love variable weather—the weather is literally one of the reasons I moved from California to Texas in 1988 after living in Santa Monica for only a year and a half. California weather is. . . nice . . . but it can get downright monotonous. I love Texas weather, especially in the springtime when warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico wrestles with cold, dry air from the Great Plains. Springtime in the tornado belt is a testament to nature’s power, changeability, randomness, and destructive capability.

Did you ever notice that life can sometimes be just as variable, just as unpredictable, just as unstable as a mass of warm, moist air punching through a capping inversion and setting up a spectacular storm? Complete with flying objects and hurtling words? Over the past several years my own internal weather has settled down into a more stable, mid-summer pattern, but even in the heat of a summer day, thunderstorms can still pop up and pour down unexpectedly.

As Christmas rolled in on December 25th, 2012, noisy and wild and out of control, I was struck by the contrast between it and the Person who’s birthday we traditionally celebrate around the world this time of year. The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And King David sang in Psalm 62: “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will never be shaken.”(Psalm 62:1-2).

Jesus never changes. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. He is God born into the most humble of circumstances—God poured out for us, God emptied, God purposefully minimized on His own volition from the infinitely-powerful Creator to a crying, naked, helpless baby. God created us in love, stuck with us in love, became incarnate out of love, went joyfully to the cross for love, and calls us now out of love and into Love. He is the Prince of Peace, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the warrior God who fights for us out of love and grace and mercy. But most importantly out of love.

 

“Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King . . . . .”

 

As our daughter, Hannah, reminds Mary and I, “Christmas isn’t all about the presents; it’s about Jesus’ birth.” And, I have to add, to the rebirth of the Savior in my heart at age 13, and again at age 20, and again at age 32, and again at 43 and 45 and 46, and again at age 48. And again this morning and every morning. Hannah’s right, it’s not about the presents, but the Presence.

 

“Oh what a beautiful morning,

Oh what a beautiful day,

I’ve got a wonderful feeling,

Everything’s going my way.”

–Rogers and Hammerstein, “Oklahoma”

 

May the unchanging nature of our most loving God change your hearts this Christmas season, and may you draw near to Him and let Him cradle you in His arms as Mary cradled the newborn Jesus on that amazing day.

God bless you all, and I pray that everything goes your way in the upcoming New Year!

 

Copyright © 2013 David C Hughes

12/19/2013

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