It’s August in South Texas. After one of the wettest summers on record, with more than 12 inches of rain falling in the month of July alone, the scenery is a bit different this year than it usually is at this time of the year. It’s really green, the trees have that lush, light green appearance that they usually get in springtime, not the darker green of mid-summer, when the heat is on. The grass has to be mowed twice a week. The backyard is a jungle that needs a good clean-up. The heat is now on, with triple digit temperatures in the late afternoon. Yeah, it’s August, and with it comes a mixed bag of memories for me.
Three years ago this August, my Dad passed away. Even though I was in my late forties, I still wasn’t ready for it. I got the news, on a Friday morning, that he was going into hospice care. When I heard that, I decided to fly out to Arizona and spend a few days with him. I’d just seen him in June, and we’d had a great, week-long visit, even though he wasn’t well. We spent an afternoon watching the Arizona Wildcats play in a CWS semi-final game. We went and got a haircut together. We went to church together. I had another opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me. So when I heard that his time was short, I thought it would be well worth it to have a few more days. I was planning to fly out on Friday of the following week. On Monday evening, he passed away peacefully. It was a loss that I’m just now beginning to live with, but one that I don’t think I’ll ever get over. He was a believer, a faithful servant of the Lord, and I know where he is, but I still miss him.
Thinking of him reminds me of a couple of other significant August memories. It was in August of 1964 that my parents bought their first, and as it turned out, only home. We moved seven miles, from the rural community of St. David, Arizona, to the larger town of Benson. I was seven, and getting ready to go to the second grade. My first grade class had 12 kids in it, and I moved to a school with four second grades and almost 100 students. I was afraid I wouldn’t even be able to find the bathroom. It was August of 2002, 38 years later, that my Dad sold that home, to move into a retirement apartment complex in Tucson.
In August of 2005, I made a major career change, moving from a job as assistant principal of a Christian school to a faculty position in an alternative high school. I learned an awful lot about God’s provision during that major change in my life. There were some bad days during that school year, some extremely frustrating experiences, and some frightening moments as well. It was not a job I enjoyed, and I never really could quite get comfortable in that environment. On the other hand, had I not taken that job, I would not have been in a position to hear God’s call to the position I have now.
It was in August of 2005 that Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, just a few hours east of Houston. The feelings and emotions that came about as a result of that disaster were new. Shortly upon that, my wife and I found ourselves in bumper to bumper gridlock trying to escape Houston as Hurricane Rita approached. With memories of images from Katrina fresh in my mind, and with feelings of anxiety related to my career change in the back of my mind, I had to contemplate the possible loss or damage of my home, and plan an exit from the target zone of the hurricane. I can’t think of a lower point in my life, and I can’t explain the feelings that I was experiencing as I packed pictures and other mementos in boxes and placed them high in the closets, packed other things into suitcases we would take with us, and put barricades over the doors and plywood over the windows to minimize the damage. We put our furniture up on blocks, moved it away from windows, and loaded our cat and dog into the car to depart. Three hours later, we were a mere 18 miles from home. It was blazing hot, traffic was at a complete stop and we’d been sitting in the same spot for 40 minutes when my wife and I both felt that God wanted us to go back home. I can’t describe the feeling of relief at that moment. In 20 minutes we were in our home again. The storm hit 90 miles east of us.
August of 2006 was a time of celebration. My middle niece married her high school sweetheart, and the trip back home came at just the right time. I hadn’t been home since my father passed away two years earlier, I was homesick, and I needed some time to recover from the experiences of the previous year. It was a time of celebrating both a beautiful wedding, and a new marriage, as well as God’s blessings. It was a time of healing. The previous year was over, and being able to go back home, both physically and spiritually was a wonderful experience. I can’t describe what it feels like to rest in God’s spirit, but that’s what I did that week. So August is a time for me to be reminded that God is there, is taking care of me, and I don’t need to worry about tomorrow, because I am in his hands.
It’s a good month.