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Long ago a lonely girl lived with her father in a lighthouse. On a scrap of paper the girl wrote, "My name is Esmerelda. I live in the lighthouse on Petri Island. Write to me." She put the paper in a bottle, sealed it with cork and wax, and threw the bottle into the ocean waves. Months later the mail boat brought Esmerelda a letter from the boy who had found her bottle on his beach. Esmerelda and the boy wrote letters for many years. One day the boy arrived in a rowboat and took Esmerelda away to be his wife. They lived happily ever after.

I don't remember when I read that story, but at ten years old, I went with my family on a summer trip to St. Louis. I took along my school picture with my name and address written on the back, put the picture inside an empty cough medicine bottle, and flung the bottle into the Mississippi River.

I remember the gray water slurping at the black mud on the shore and the gray sky stretching above it. The bottle bobbed downstream. I went home and eagerly awaited a letter from my new friend.

I'm still waiting.

I often feel I'm pitching my prayers out to sea and watching them drift away, only to wait and wonder when my rescue will arrive. But I'm developing a few strategies to help me be patient while I anticipate my answer.

Enjoy the view from the beach.

The sun rises over the water each morning. Warm breezes blow. Birds call, circling overhead. The world is bright and beautiful. I rest and appreciate the calm of peaceful skies and the rhythm of turning tides.

Use whatever washes ashore.

Driftwood endures the turbulent waves, abrasive sand, and battering rocks to emerge polished, smooth, and shining. I am grateful and collect all I receive to build shelter from the rains. I have more than enough for fires to warm the dark night.

Answer another's S.O.S.

Sometimes a message from another castaway floats into my harbor and lands at my feet. Then I paddle my little raft through the choppy seas and carry my companion to a new, more comfortable, and safer shore.

I have made many friends since that summer on the Mississippi River bank. We are no longer alone, but huddled together, calling for the Captain who commands the wind and waves, and scanning the distance for signs of his arrival.

I think I see a ship on the horizon.

What are you waiting for today? How can you answer another's call while you are waiting?

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woman-1006100_960_720[1]In an episode of the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing, Mike confronts his daughter Mandy for taking her nephew's ADHD medication to score better grades on her college finals.

At first Mandy becomes indignant and denies taking the drugs. "Other students use ADHD meds to study and take tests, but I wouldn't," she insists.

Mike says nothing, but fixes his daughter in an unwavering gaze and waits, patiently.

"But it would only be fair if I did, because if you don't, you're basically at a huge disadvantage," Mandy reasons.

Mike frowns, but stays silent.

"If I had taken them, how would that be any different than energy drinks or coffee?" Mandy asks.

Mike watches her.

"But I didn't take them."

Mike waits.

"OK. I took them."

Mike knew his daughter, and no amount of denial or evasion from Mandy could conceal the truth from being revealed.

God knows the facts about each of his children, and no amount of denial or evasion from us can hide the truth he already knows.

I've confessed in an earlier post that I battle an anger problem. Beneath my sweater-soft exterior lurks a fury that has been known to hurl profanity and plates with equal abandon. Just ask my husband.

Today I prayed, "God, I am angry, and you are unfair," but embellished with many expletives and exaggerations. And I know my outburst was no surprise to God. He already knows my nature and has been watching my temper tantrums for many, many years.

But I was surprised, because once I named it, my anger felt easier to tame. Once confessed, my feelings seemed easier to control. After pouring out my heart to God, I calmed and did not throw a single plate.

God wants to hear our true feelings in prayer, because feelings revealed are often relieved. He is never surprised or offended by our honesty. When we confess all to him, God is faithful to forgive and set us right again. He watches and waits for us to come clean, because he cares and he knows the truth will always set us free.

What are your honest emotions today? God wants you to share all your feelings with him.

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