God’s Majesty in the Everyday

“What’s that?!” “Is that a fire?! It has to be a fire!”

My husband and I were walking home from the grocery store, RedBox DVD in hand. The biggest moon I had ever seen was rising above the treetops and peeking above the shadowy houses of our neighborhood.

“We need to put this food in the freezer” my husband said as he beckoned me to follow him back to our house. I had skipped past our street hoping to get a better view of the biggest, most orange moon I had ever seen in my life. Frantically, I texted my sister, “go outside right now and look at the moon! It’s insane!”

I quickly put away the food. “Can we try to get a better picture of the moon? My camera isn’t very good. Could we try your camera please?” We took off down the street but it was too late – the moon had risen high above the houses, perched in a milky yellow haze.

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The poor shot of this awesome moon, from my phone. March 5, 2018
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Better shot of the moon, with my husband’s phone, but not at all doing any justice to the moon I saw with my naked eye. March 5, 2018.

Fresh off a trip from St. George, I was extra sensitive to noticing the natural beauty of God’s creation. This moon was awesome!

Delivering blood to the hospital in St. George, Utah was my favorite part of my last job. It was so unexpected, and the best part was that no matter the time of day, I felt so excited to spend quite time with God. No longer under the oppression of the humming refrigerators that assaulted my ears, and the sickly fluorescent lights that made me feel nauseous, I was free to take in all the beauty of God’s creation, the best being the most expensive stretch of rural interstate in the US  – the Virgin River Gorge.

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Passenger side view of the Virgin River Gorge while driving home.  Taken from a moving vehicle, with the same phone that poorly shot the moon. March 4, 2018

If an emergency order came in too late at night I was in for a real treat. While I’d have to be extra cautious in the gorge, I knew that the long stretches of I-15 would allow me a quiet show of the most spectacular stars I never get to see under the bright lights of Vegas. I always felt a connection to King David writing his Psalms about God’s beautiful handiwork written in the sky. He saw the same constellations that danced across the night sky surrounding the car I so cautiously drove as I gawked out the windows.

God’s creation is so beautiful, so awe inspiring, but with our artificial light-filled night skies, our air conditioned rooms and our solitary commutes, we overlook the beauty around us – the sound of birds, the changing phases of the moon and God’s provision with every new flower that blooms.

With that said, I’d like to share an old Yelp.com review that I wrote in 2010 for an event I went to for both the Titanic and Bodies exhibits. The same feeling I felt seeing the moon, marveling at the jurassic-like peaks of the gorge, and picking out Orion’s belt – I felt as I viewed the intricacies of the human body on display at the Bodies exhibit. I am also including a video of a smaller Bodies exhibit that I attended with Yelp.com in 2017, in case you’ve never had the chance to see what these exhibits are all about.

I started, like everyone else, I’m sure, at the Titanic exhibit. I love to read everything, from the back of shampoo bottles to merriam-webster.com; naturally, I’m going to be the slowest one in the group, because I wanted to read every placard. Any that I didn’t have time to read, I photographed – many I read and photographed.

Upon entry to the exhibit, everyone was given a boarding pass with a ticket of a real person aboard the ship, detailing the information about where they are going, with whom and what class they were aboard, etc. At the end, I was frantically rooting for Mrs. Stephen Hold (Annie Margaret Hill) and her husband Stephen Hold to make the 2nd class survivor list.

Going throughout the experience, and trying to put things into a human perspective; trying to imagine how scared they must have been made it truly heartbreaking to see that although Mrs. Hold survived, Mr. Hold did not. I can’t imagine how utterly crushing her experience was and I was actually holding back some tears. These are real people, who lived lives just like we all do – they felt sadness and fear, love and happiness.

It’s so difficult to imagine the sadness and loss felt by those who lost friends and family in that tragedy. Thankfully, a tour guide at the end, told me that unlike the movie, the 3rd class passengers were not locked down below deck, they were just down there too long to have any chance to be rescued.  Not to give away any of the stuff learned, but wow, the fact that the Captain had to be convinced after retiring to make this his last voyage just sucks. Life just kicks you in the face some times.

After going through the gift shop and getting my double sided squished penny (they charge a DOLLAR rather than $.50 for a squished penny!) I saw the toothpaste jar! When I saw the cherry toothpaste jar during the exhibit, I noted in my head to look out for one the next time I went to an antiques store, and Voila! They had $10 replicas in the gift shop. I passed on it and Bill and I headed over to the Bodies exhibit.

—DISCLAIMER—
If you dislike references to God in the Judeo-Christian religion or anything pro-life, skip on to the next review.
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Body scandal aside (because nobody agrees that China, killing people off, for no good reason, is a positive thing.)

Absolutely stunning exhibit. Every time I learn more about the world and people through science, the more I fall in love with God. In Psalm 19:1, King David (from the story of David and Goliath) wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Basically, it means that when you look outside, we can see what God has created – it’s all around us. Going through the exhibit, all that was going off in my mind was how amazing God’s handiwork is. The intricacy of the human body is beautiful – He is a top notch engineer. Church groups should definitely come to this exhibit – it’s extremely moving to feel and see God through His design in places such as… well, the middle of a casino exhibit in Las Vegas, of all places. By far, the most breathtaking room was the cardiovascular room – we’re so complex and I can’t even put into words how I feel when I see this. Just, I’m in awe of our design and execution.

I went to see the baby room and it was sad. I wondered about how the parents felt losing their babies – all the excitement and hopes for these little people just… Woosh! Snuffed out before their time.

If anybody has any qualms as to whether a baby is a person in utero, they should come see this exhibit. At 35 days gestation – barely even a month, when most women are just figuring out they’ve missed their period, these little babies, who are recognizably human, are already breathing and their tiny hearts pumping. This isn’t some pro-life rhetoric, this is what I saw and read in this exhibit. Like it is written on the wall in the gift shop, “Seeing is believing;” and seeing this exhibit, you realize that despite all the claims Americans hear of “just being a clump of cells” they’re anything but. I would guess that’s the reason a lot of people have a problem with this room, even if these babies weren’t necessarily birthed, it’s sad to see tiny little people in jars. This exhibit is something I would suggest to anybody who wanted to debate the “when does life begin” argument.

Absolutely fantastic exhibits. Not just a bunch of facts, but history and science come alive. I smiled, I held back tears, I had my breath taken away. Both tragic, yet brimming with information. – Yelp.com  Originally posted 12/19/2010

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On Faith: Reaching Heaven

I’ve never considered myself to be a religious person, but I’ve always considered myself a staunch believer in Christ Jesus as God. The pomp & circumstance of church never appealed to me but I still consider myself a Christian.

As it so happens, when people know that I’m a Christian but they themselves are not believers, the conversation tends to go like this: “I believe in something, but I don’t know what.  I’m not an atheist but I’m a good person.”

What is this good person stuff about? It never made any sense to me why non-believers, 100% of the time, use this as a clarifier when describing their own religious inclinations to me.

I had a conversation in which a friend said, “I don’t believe Jesus is the only way to get into Heaven because I really can’t believe that a serial killer can get into Heaven just because he believes that Jesus is God and that all the Jews are going to Hell, even the ones that do good things.”

Like I said, I consider myself to be a Christian, so the idea that being a good person has anything to do with salvation is foreign to me, but I can explain why I believe the way that I do.

Imagine you’re on the shore of Massachusetts. You look east across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. You want to make your way across the Atlantic Ocean to France. Lucky for you, you’ve trained as a swimmer your entire life. To up the ante, let’s just say you’re Michael Phelps and you’re wanting to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

No matter how much you’ve trained, you’re not going to make it across the Atlantic Ocean by yourself. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, no matter how much you’ve trained or how dedicated and focused you are on accomplishing your goal, you will die in the ocean.

Unless you have a boat to save you, you will die. You will miss your mark and you will never make it to France.

You (as Michael Phelps) say, “This isn’t fair. I’m a great swimmer. I’m better than everybody else. In fact I have more gold medals in swimming so I’m the best in the world. I will make it to France because I’m a good swimmer.”

Never mind the fact that you’d die of fatigue, the elements, animal attack or hunger, and generally couldn’t accurately map a course while swimming across the ocean, you dive in and start swimming. Eventually, you succumb to one of the many obstacles and die in the ocean.

On the flip side, Benoît Lecomte jumps in and starts swimming. He has the same goal, to swim across the Atlantic. He wants to make it to the other side, but he knows that no matter how good of a swimmer he is, he can’t do it on his own. Lecomte decides that he’s bringing a boat. This boat is where he rests between swims, has food aboard and protects him from elements and animals. In 1998 Lecomte did just that – he swam across the Atlantic in 73 days and made it to the other side. He could never have accomplished his goal without the aid of a boat.

Now some may argue, “Hey, that’s not fair. Anybody could charter a boat and swim a couple hours a day until they ultimately reach the other side. Heck, they could do zero swimming and still reach the other side of the Atlantic with a boat. That’s not fair! You should have to be a good swimmer to be able to reach the other side. People who have trained all their life to swim and really care about this goal should be able to reach the other side, not just anybody who gets on a boat.”

When it comes down to it, your ability to swim or how hard and dedicated you were to swimming is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you will accomplish your goal. The only deciding factor is – Do You Have A Boat?

Just like in swimming, in life, how good you are according to your own personal, arbitrary standard is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you’re getting into Heaven. If Jesus is the only way to God, which I believe it is, He is your boat. If you want to make it to the other side, you have to get on the boat.

Photo: Thomas Ashlock