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This morning Karch and I put up the Christmas lights. I went to post the picture at the bottom of this, and then realized that it represented much more than what I could say in a quick post. So I saved it for tonight, when I could spend some real time with it.

As we climbed up on the roof this morning, and could see the whole neighborhood, it hit me that it may be the last time we put lights up on this roof.

We’ve been here a little over nine years, and have been so blessed by renting my dad’s home. As we put up the lights with ease today, I remembered back to our first Christmas here, being fearful of climbing on the roof and putting up lights. I remember that I called my brother Tyler and he came to help me…which means he put them up.

After his year of “help”, I got braver the next year. Eventually allowing Gunner up there to help me a few years later.

And then a year after that, letting Karch help me.

It’s the roof where both my boys saw the chimney as they helped me put up lights and subsequently realized there was no Santa.

This morning though as I thought about that roof, I was taken back by the blessing it’s been.

This roof that taught me bravery, as I stood on top of it to adorn it with lights.

But also as I stood under it and He rebuilt my family.

I thought about all that happened inside it.

The goose egg Karch got when he went flying down the hallway because he was afraid to be in the house by himself, running smack into the doorframe. Gunner and I hearing it as we sat in the car, with the doors shut, waiting.

The time I had to carry a small, crying child out to the car because he refused to leave for his dad’s. And after he left, crying my own tears for having to be strong and not wanting to be.

The time I threatened to kick in a bathroom door when my child was too afraid to go back to football practice, and had locked himself inside.

The spanking Karch got one morning in kindergarten, because I was tired and frustrated, and he didn’t have his shoes. But mostly because I was tired and frustrated.

The spaces that became ours over the past nine years.

The two dollar bills hidden so the tooth fairy was always supplied.

The LEGO bins we spent countless hours spreading out on the rugs to build with.

The homework projects we worked on!! Giant paper fish, paper mache planets, Washington state salt maps, reports, and math sheets.

The Halloween parties.

The Christmas cookies we’ve baked.

The birthday parties and sleepovers.

It’s where the boys learned to mow lawns. To vacuum, empty the dishwasher, rake leaves, put away their clothes, and pull their own weight.

It’s where my little boys turned into young men.

All under this roof.

Oh man, how imperfect it’s been. I’ve been.

And yet, how perfect at the same time.

It didn’t matter that light fixtures and faucets, cabinets and fireplace were outdated. It didn’t matter that the trees shed a gazillion leaves in fall, or that the appliances don’t match.

It only mattered that my broken family had a home. And each other.

That we had a roof to stand on year after year and become braver.

That we have had a roof to cover our heads and bring us together.

It has been affordable as we have tried to make ends meet. And allowed us a few trips we will forever hold dear. It’s seen wonderful people come into our lives. And watched a few go.

As I stood atop the roof this morning putting up Christmas lights, I realized that this roof has held us safely within it.

It’s a little scary not knowing where we are going next or when.

It’s a little overwhelming knowing what we can afford and what’s out there.

And yet. I hold onto this.

That as this earthly roof has held us safely within it.

There is a bigger Roof over us. A bigger Roof I stand on.

One that I can hold onto no matter where life takes me. But better than that, One that holds onto me.

I cried when my dad told me he was ready to sell this home. Tears is how I deal with big things.

It’s been six months now, and I’ve had time to process. To work towards saving for closing costs. To have a friend show me some homes. To talk to my parents about borrowing a down payment. To talk with the boys and start thinking about the reality of downsizing.

To talk to the Roof over it all. To wait for Him to do His thing. As we do what we can to prepare.

When I start to get overwhelmed or just want to buy something in a rush, I look back on His faithfulness to us, and know, I’ll know when He shows us our next step.

It’s amazing how when you stand on the roof you can see so clearly.

And likewise, it’s amazing how when you stand on THE ROOF, you can trust that He sees things clearly, even when you can’t.

I look forward to this Christmas season in our home. Whether it’s our last here or not.

I look forward to putting up our tree, and sleeping in front of it on Christmas Eve. I look forward to Christmas movies on the couch. And Christmas cookies in the oven. I look forward to hearing the boys read the Christmas story on Christmas morning. And watching them open their gifts, with that sparkle of wonder in their eyes.

I look forward to the gift this roof will be to us this Christmas season. And I am extremely thankful for the gift it has been the past nine years.

But I also look forward to the roof He has for us next. To the memories we will make within its roof. To continued growth and tomorrows.

This Christmas season, as in every day for the last ten years, I go back to the only safe place I know. To Him. To the One who has never failed me. Despite all my failings.

To the Roof who sees things clearly, even when I can’t.

Who has taken care of my family.

And tonight I want to assure you, will also take care of your family.

How do I know?

Because He is the Roof that has carried me the last ten years. Who allowed me to be strong and understood when I was weak. Who held me, pushed me, and had patience with me. Who taught me and forgave me. Over. And over. Who loves me. And has done the most beautiful thing, and helped me redefine family.

And as much as He loves me, and my monkeys.

He loves you too~

So. So. Much.

May the goodness of God, and His love, pass before your eyes this Christmas season sweet friends.

May He be your Roof. Your Rock. Your Everything.

As much as He loves me, and my monkeys.

He loves you too~

So. So. Much.

He told me so, on the rooftop this morning.

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The boys just headed out on a three-hour ATV ride with the men. It’s my first few moments alone this trip. I thought I’d come upstairs and take a rest since the constant daylight makes sleeping at night in Alaska fitful.

I lie here thinking…our time went fast. So fast. I had a list of things I wanted to do. Catching fish was at the top. Hiking. Seeing bear and moose. Getting to Denali. Eating different foods. Seeing the beauty the state offers. And mostly, making memories with my boys.

We accomplished a lot of it. Not everything. And we did some cool activities not on the list.

Tomorrow we head back home, and I’m wondering if the trip accomplished all I hoped it would.

I know the answer can’t be found in a conversation with the boys here and now. The real answers will come years down the road when they look back at these few days we had together in Alaska.

Will they remember the puppies they held? The bear in Denali? The jet skis? Or salmon? The lack of night? The Kenai River? What moments will stick out to them?

I’m thankful for this trip. I know these are moments I don’t get back. Part of their fleeting childhood. And that as fast as this nine days have gone, their growing up, their growing into men…is going just as quickly.

As they set out on the ATV’s, they asked if I wanted to go with them. I told them it looked like it was kind of man thing. And I reminded them to be safe.

They are out there on a three-hour mud loop. Returning in a few hours muddy. With memories the two of them get to share for a lifetime.

As a mom, it’s hard to let them go sometimes. Not to be there to protect or oversee. And yet, I know there are things they should experience and do without me.

Sometimes I look at them. And think where did the time go? How do I have a 13 and 15-year-old?

There’s a six-week-old baby here at the lake with us. Teensy tiny toes and fingers. Diaper bottom. Totally dependent. That was my boys yesterday. Or maybe the day before that.

And tomorrow, they will be men. They will be the grown-ups taking out the teenagers on a three-hour ATV loop, in just a few heartbeats.

I look at these trips we take together, the ones that go so fast, and think, thank you. Thank you for these few moments I get to catch, in this all too fast childhood with them. Thank you for their laughter. Their hopes and dreams. Their thoughts and questions. The glimpses into their hearts.

Thank you for the teensy tiny beings they were yesterday. Or the day before that.

And the men they will be tomorrow. Or the day after that.

Raising children in general is a lot like this trip.

We look at our children, and think, thank you. Thank you for these few moments we get to catch, in this all too fast childhood with them. Thank you for their laughter. Their hopes and dreams. Their thoughts and questions. The glimpses into their hearts.

Thank you for the teensy tiny beings they were yesterday. Or the day before that.

And the men and women they will be tomorrow. Or the day after that.

Soon, so soon, their childhood will be over, and we wonder if we’ve accomplished all we hoped we would.

We know the answer can’t be found in a conversation with them here and now. The real answers will come years down the road when they look back at these few days we had together in their growing up years.

But for today we’re just thankful.

Thankful for the teensy tiny beings they were yesterday. Or the day before that.

Thankful for the men and women they will be tomorrow. Or the day after that.

Tomorrow is coming.

The trip will end.  The child will grow up.

But for now, there is today.

And we are thankful we get to be a part of it all~

 

I am thankful, I get to be a part of it all.

Love. Unimpeded.

Yesterday I told the boys we’d be going hiking today after church. We weren’t positive the location, but before we left this morning we put our changes of clothes, shoes, hats and gloves in the car. 

After we were done at church, we got in the car and decided on heading up to Multnomah Falls. I love driving up the gorge any time of year, and seeing the ice that forms around the falls during winter is pretty amazing.

I enjoy getting just far enough out of town that my usual radio stations start to get fuzzy, and I have to search for new ones. But not too far out, that I couldn’t reach someone if I blew a tire or had car trouble.

The wind was blowing pretty good on the way up there. I checked the outside temp, glad that I thought to throw in hats and gloves.

We passed a waterfall that was being redirected by the wind. The water blowing left and then right, droplets freezing in midair, the trail of water never reaching the ground.

As soon as we got out of the car at Multnomah Falls, we felt the wind whipping. We left our jeans from church on, rather than change, figuring they were the best protection we had against the wind.

As we approached the base area at the falls, we noticed that no one was on the bridge. And slowly came to the realization that the trail was closed. I’m not so sure the boys were all that disappointed, but I was.

We soaked in the falls for a few minutes, and then returned to the car to drive further up the gorge for lunch. As we sat overlooking the river, we talked. I asked them what the other’s strongest strength was. We talked about Karch’s athleticism, his soft heart and persistence. We talked about Gunner’s creativity, his thankfulness, and intelligence. When it got to me, they said it was my patience, imaginition(for my crafts), and my faith that were strongest.

We talked about this morning’s sermon. About the new church we tried. About an upcoming trip. And about the fact that I was still determined to find a place to hike on the way home. They weren’t all that overjoyed by the last one;)

They ate warm marionberry pie and ice cream, and raved about how good it was before we left. 

As we stood up to go, I noticed Gunner glanced over his shoulder at the girls who’d recently sat down behind us. I had noticed the girls earlier, only because every other word coming from behind me was a curse word. I asked him why he’d looked. He said he was curious what they looked like. I asked him if he was bothered by how they talked.

He said, “Cursing doesn’t really bother me, it just impedes the message they’re trying to get across.” 

As we walked to the car, I smiled at the young men I get to raise. And thought, impedes? Who says that?!

As we drove back, I took the Bonneville exit, with one last hope for a hike. However we found the parking lot full, and the hikers we saw told us the trail was icy and they’d turned back.

We’re home now. Back to our cozy spaces. Clear reception. Chores to be done. Internet to be had. Week ahead to conquer.

And I can’t stop thinking about Gunner’s comment. About how things impede the message we are trying to get across.

I realize that my day-to-day my life impedes my message. The ‘laundry doing, knock that offing, dinner making, floor cleaning, garbage outing, homework done asking, don’t talk to your brother like thating, meeting making, picker upping, teaching, grading, grocery shopping, I need sleeping’ me sometimes gets so task oriented and kinda good at it, that my true message gets lost. 
Like the waterfall blown left and right, redirected by the wind, droplets freezing before they hit earth. My message gets impeded. Not by the weather. But by my tasks.

I mistakingly think the love I communicate by caring for my family should say I love you. I mean, I say I love you a lot. But “I love you” words love is different than “what did you think, why did you do that, did it bother you, you’re so good at that” words love.

And so for me, I have to get out of town.

I didn’t get my hike. 

But I got what I was really after. A few moments where my boys know I’m all theirs. Where I get to kiss the tops of their heads (without them cringing). Or hear their thoughts. Their real thoughts. 

Where the usual stations; on the radio, of routine, and of distractions become fuzzy. And we have to search for new ones. 

We didn’t get a hike. 

But we did get out of dodge. 

Away from the things that impede the message I want to get across. The relationships I want to have. The love I want these boys to know. 

It’s not that I think they don’t know that here. In our home. 

I just think like my radio stations, we hear love more clearly, when everything else we focus on day-to-day starts becomes fuzzy. 

I don’t know if we speak differently when things get fuzzy. Or if we listen more closely. I just know as parents this is what we’re all trying to do in our own ways. Get our message across. Our love across. And His love across. To our children. Unimpeded. 
To get our message across.

Our love across. 

And His love across. 

Unimpeded.

1.Him. and 2. Hope

If you take the time to read this, let me first say that before I write, I always pray that what you find in my words are two things.  1.  Him.  and 2.  Hope.

I have a corner in my house that I do my devotions in each morning.  There is a lamp in the corner, and the light is always on.  Day and night.  Inviting me.  The chair in my corner is actually my rocker from when the boys were babies.  Next to the rocker sits a small table.  On top are my Bible, Dust’s Bible (Karch uses it for his weekly Bible reading for school), my devotion books, and a couple of other books.

In the early morning, I usually get my cup of steaming hot coffee, add my peppermint mocha creamer and head to this corner.  I wrap a cozy blanket around my legs and spend time silently with God.  It’s divine!  What I do depends on the day.  But I treasure this time, to be poured into and just to think.  Some days it’s hard to leave that quiet place and enter the busyness of the day.

Just so you know, I haven’t always embraced quiet time.  Trust me.

It was in this quiet corner, one morning recently, that I realized that it is 2017.  Not just that it’s 2017, but that this year marks ten years.  Of a lot of events.  Ten years.  Since I resigned from teaching public school.  Since I moved away from Vancouver.  And then moved back home shortly thereafter.  Ten years since I got my job at King’s Way. And began this new chapter of my life.

Thank goodness we don’t need to title that chapter!   It’s not nearly as tidy as it sounds.

Ten years.

And while all of those are big things, in and of themselves.  The one thing I kept coming back to the other morning is this…we survived!  It’s a miracle.  At least, that is how I feel.

But in the midst of that survival. There.  Was.  So.  Much.  More.  We learned how to become a family again.  Or more aptly, I learned to embrace my little family.  I’m embarrassed to say that it was a struggle.  A big one.

It’s not that we ever weren’t one.  But, in the beginning of all the big changes, it didn’t feel like it. I felt like something was missing.  I don’t know if the boys felt that way.  It never felt like something I should ask them.  I just knew for me, in the beginning, it felt like there was a hole.  It felt ugly.  And yucky.  And being proactive, I tried to fix it.

Let me say, I always loved being a mom.  and always adored my boys.  I just didn’t love the new look of  my “family”.  Or even feel like the word fit.

Survival is a funny place to live.  In the midst of it, you don’t do a lot of thinking, you just keep at it.  You get out of bed in the morning.  You pay your bills.  You get groceries.  You take care of the big messes.  And hope that the rising tides don’t overwhelm you.

You are not sure you have the strength to do tomorrow.  In fact, you’re pretty sure you don’t.

But somehow, you make it through.  You kiss the sleeping little faces goodnight, grateful they are (for the most part) sheltered from the tangled mess of redefining life.  You have a good cry, and wonder if anyone else has ever felt this lonely.  Even while knowing they have…it doesn’t make it any less lonely.  Some nights you crawl into bed with a child, just to try to ward off the feeling of being alone.

In the beginning, you board a few trains that end in miserable wrecks.  Or at least, I did.  A few too many trains.  Thinking something other than being still and navigating those new waters would make it better.  Only making it worse.

Eventually.  You get it.  1.  Get away from the trains.  And if you don’t the first time, maybe you will the second.  2.  Get away from the trains!!!  I’ll pretend there were only two trains…feel free to pretend with me.

Eventually.  I did get it though.  And so I did what I should have done to begin with.  Nothing.  I took what I had, and sat in it.  Staring life in the face is not easy.  When everything is quiet.    When you miss what isn’t there.  It takes a really long time in this place.  Longer than you estimate.  Or hope.  It’s painful.  And grotesque.  And boring.  And so, so, so needed.

And it does take a long time.  At least for me.  Maybe because of the added trains.  And maybe because it just takes awhile to grieve.  Longer than I wanted.  Or hoped.

I went through some serious periods of discontentment.  I saw all I didn’t have, rather than all I did.  A whole family, finances, time, someone to wake up to, energy, joy.  I just didn’t understand why I was where I was.  I’m not sure I really wanted to understand it.  I just wanted it fixed.

I had to desperately focus on my blessings.  I had to focus on my support-emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  On a lot of you.  On the rides provided for my boys to and from activities, when I could only be in one place.  On the tuition that got paid.  The vacation rentals offered.  On the friendships.  On the laughter.  On my children.  On a house to rent and call home.  A car to drive.  Gas money.  On a coffee.  Or a hug.  And definitely on the prayers (I am fully away that your prayers carried us through and protected us from so much).

And then, after a lot of counting, bit by bit,  I found myself more and more content. Provided for.  And if not hourly, then daily, I became able to see His hand on our lives.  Aware that my life might not be People Magazine news.  But it was totally and utterly Good news.

I didn’t have more.  I just saw more.

My life is still a balancing act.  I’ve learned to master not looking too far in the future.  Financially it can be overwhelming, what with drivers licenses, cars and insurance, college, and the hope of retirement before 80.

I’ve learned to be aware of all that.  And yet not to let it consume me.  Because I see how He has taken care of us so far.

I’ve learned to go to my quiet corner, where the light is always on, and give Him those worries.  Just like I gave him my family. My loneliness. My discontentment.

Ten years has taught me to do the best I can with what I have.  And that the rest usually falls into place.

2017 means ten years just passed.  The boys just went from being three and five to turning 13 and 15, all too soon.  I went from 33 to 43.  Karch tells me I’m on the fringe of old;)

Whew!  Soon we’ll be talking dating.  And college.  Which makes me want to head for my quiet corner and never come out!

And those events make me wonder what life will look like when it’s just me.  So I reign in my thoughts to now.  Aware of tomorrow.  And that it is coming quickly.  But not allowing it to consume me.

Where will I be when those changes take place? The ones I can’t control.  And probably won’t like.

I have a feeling you’ll find me in my corner.  Where the light is always on.  Counting my blessings.  Praying for peace.  Keeping my eyes open for trains.  And trusting that no matter how this little family of mine changes, it will survive.

Yes, you’ll find me in my quiet, cozy corner.  Aware that the only thing I want to be consumed by are the same things I hope you found in these words.  1.  Him. and 2. Hope.

Ten Years.

We survived.

And So.  Much.  More.

He helped me fall in love with this little family.

 

 

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Earlier this month, Karch had a project in which he had to build a boat. We weren’t sure how he was going to build it. We talked about a few different options.

At one point, I remembered that my neighbor had a box of wood strips in his garage sale last summer for free. I had picked them up, thinking I’d use them for my crafting. 

I pulled the box out and asked him if he thought they’d work. He was excited to get started. So I gave him a little lesson and we talked about how he should make it.

I left to go run some errands. Him, with jigsaw and glue gun in hand.

When I got home, a couple hours later, he had it complete. And even better, he still had all his fingers! He told me about how he learned that to cut the angles on the ends of them, he had to do that first, while the piece was still long. And then cut the other end short to fit in place. 

As he showed it to me, he asked if we could get some clay to fill in the gaps.

We picked up the clay a few days later. He sat down to apply it between all the seams. I came in to find him in the dark, with a flashlight and his boat. 

I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I’m making sure it’s all sealed. If I can see the light, it needs more work.”

I am always amazed at the way he sees things. So differently than me. 
So. differently. than. me.

A few days later, I met with a friend. A beautiful lady that came into my life in the last few months. One who dreams, creates, inspires, and I always walk away from…thinking.

During our time together, she said something. That made me think of Karch and his boat. She said, I don’t want to leave this earth who I am now. I want Him to keep filling in my gaps, and making me more of His.

I pictured Karch with his flashlight and boat. Trying to find the seams that needed sealing. 

It’s not so hard in my life to find those areas that need more of Him. You probably don’t really need a flashlight to see them. Spend a little time with me, and you can probably tell God where you’d like to see Him work on me;)

But I still like the illustration. Of Him continually shining His light on me. Lovingly looking for the places I need sealed. Healed. And worked on. 

So that I don’t leave this earth exactly who I am now. But more of His.

I think it’s pretty amazing that with all my short comings. Sins. Track record. And failures. He still holds me. And shines His beautiful light on me. That He still loves me so much. That He draws me close enough. To see me. For who He created me to be. And desires to continue to make me the one thing He made me to be.

His.

I am always amazed at the way He sees things. So differently than me.
So. differently. than. me.

Today, may you know His beautiful light shines on you. And despite you. Your short comings. Sins. Track record. Failures. He desires to seal. Heal. And do the work. 
He sees you as the one thing He created you to be. His~

Have your way~

Yesterday, on my jog, I passed a plant growing in the bark dust. It was directly next to the sidewalk, by a busy road. 

On the other side of the bark dust he was living in, was a cinder block wall. The kind that separates established neighborhoods from hearing a lot of traffic. 

In these spaces, I often see weeds growing. They seem to do okay on little water. No attention. 

But this was different. It was a sunflower. Already a couple feet tall. 

I wouldn’t use the word flourishing to describe him.

Maybe fighting.

To grow.

I’ve been at my grandparents before when the birds have been ravenously pecking at the seeds in sunflower plants. 

And that’s how I imagine this guy got here. Dropped. Alone. To fend for himself.

And that’s how I imagine a lot of us find ourselves at some point in life. Dropped in crap. Feeling alone. To fend for ourselves.
Dropped into a divorce. A financial issue. A death. A job loss. Facing depression. Fighting addiction.

Sitting alone, in the dirt, like this sunflower seed is. He looks on one side and sees a busy road, cars whirring past, unaware of his existence. He looks the other direction and sees a cinder block wall. Cold. And high. Offering no retreat.

And if the seed is anything like me, in all honesty, he starts by asking, “What the hell happened?”

He spends awhile there. A day. A month. A year. Processing his loss. His plight. His new surroundings.

Wondering how to do life from that spot.
That’s what I thought about this sunflower plant when I first saw him. 

He amazed me. That he was even growing at all.

I jogged on wondering where his water came from. How he survived in direct sunlight. In bark dust, rather than nutrient rich dirt.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about life. And again honestly, I’ve been pretty sincere with God. In that… this life is not one I would have chosen. And I’m often in a pretty weary place. I get tired of taking steps that seem to be getting me nowhere new. Tired of financial strain. Of being strong. Of waking up knowing that the strength within me is probably only enough for today. And wondering how I’ll get up and do tomorrow. Where will that strength come from…

I focus on being thankful. On my blessings. On the person Ive become from my trials. I see the good. But it doesn’t take away from the tired.

I think the sunflower probably feels the same. 
I continued jogging beyond him. Self-talking all of this as I did. 

I got to the corner. Had to stop for a light, so I looked around. And saw my answer. Heard God talking to me, as he often does. 

There, on that corner, sat a church. It wasn’t the church itself that spoke to me. But the tall white steeple that rose into the air, with a small white cross on the top.

I looked back at my sunflower. Barely visible in the distance. He looked teeny, tiny from where I now stood. But I knew that if he wanted, he could see this cross, high in the sky, that was before me.

I knew if he chose to, he could fix his eyes on it. The cross. Yes. But beyond that. On Jesus.

And as I thought about this life of mine. My weariness. I knew that in that moment, God was wanting to pour over me His strength. His breath. His life.

He was reminding me that this place I’m in. This place that feels like it keeps going on and on and on. Is temporary.

He was reminding me to fix my eyes on Him. 
I saw that sunflower’s choice to see the cars whirring by. Or the wall next to him. To look down and see where he was planted, in less than ideal circumstances. Or the choice to strain his eyes, upward. And see the One who gives life. Who pours out strength. Who provides for his needs.

And I see mine. My choice.

My choice. To see my circumstances. My struggles. My battles…and be overcome. Or my choice to fix my eyes on my Author. Who is at work within me. 

To change my response from, “What the hell?” To, “Have your way within me Lord.”

And so I rest here. 

And whisper. In these circumstances. In this place. In honesty. And weariness.

Have your way within me Lord.

And in the quiet of my backyard, on this pretty summer day, I pray it for you too. That our eyes would be drawn to Something bigger. Stronger. Sweeter. Than our current circumstances. Than our weariness. Our humanness. 

That our life song would sing as our eyes are fixed on Him.

~Have your way within us Lord.

Have Your way within us Lord~❤️

As we were in Rockaway this last week, I took some walks on the beach. I did it as a form of exercise. But also to look for shells and to appreciate the oceans’ majesty.

I took pictures of jelly fish and star fish. Of sand dollars. And the people I love. I took pictures of the ocean. And the sun shining down on the beach. I tried to capture all the beauty around me for those three nights.

As I walked along the beach, I began to notice the tops of all the sand dollars had holes or they were completely cracked in half. Originally I thought it must be the crashing waves that damaged the sand dollars’ fragile shells. 

One day as I was walking, I found a starfish that had been left in the sand as the tide went out. I took a couple pictures of him. Always fascinated by their hard exterior and their five legs. I look at the creatures of the sea and think of what a radical plan God must have had when He created all that is in the ocean. He astounds me.

After having this thought, I couldn’t just leave the star fish there to die on the shore. So I picked him up and hurled him as far as I could into the ocean. 

I stood there briefly, having done what I thought was the right thing. Until a seagull swooped down, picked him up out of the ocean, and carried him off in his beak. At which point I just stood there. Realizing I did more harm than good.

It was here I had an aha moment, where I realized that it wasn’t just the waves crashing that were damaging the sand dollars. But the greedy sea gulls pecking into them in search of food.

One day we got to go out crabbing. The seagulls were there too. Waiting for our discarded bait to swallow up. At one point a seagull was flying overhead. My niece was sitting next to me. I watched as the seagull pooped and the poop began falling. It wasn’t enough time to warn her, but only to watch as the wind projected it directly onto her.

Over the course of the three days I began to like the seagulls less and less. I understand they fill a specific need in the ecosystem. But they just didn’t draw affection from me on this trip.

In my quiet time walking on the beach I began to equate the seagulls as those things that peck at us in life. That destroy beauty. Cause disruption. Alter our hoped for path. Damage. Poop on us. Attempt to destroy us. Rarely drawing affection from us.

And yet, like the seagull, I know those things serve a purpose. They open my eyes to my weaknesses. Or show me how much more I need Him. They remind me of my imperfections. Or reveal my sinful tendencies. And as much as I don’t like the pecking. The disruptions. The unplanned detours. They shape me. Constantly. 

On the last day of our trip, I walked down to the beach early. I had found several sand dollars. But realized that even though I’d sang praise songs and walked for a couple miles, alone, next to an ocean that screams God, my soul was not quiet. I alone was directing my walk.

I found a big rock to sit on. And I thought about the trip. About my sand dollars and starfish. And about the seagull. And I thought, “What’s the constant? ”

My first thought was the wretched seagulls. But as I sat silently, I heard Him,  whisper to me. He simply said,”No. Not the seagulls.”
 
And As the waves were progressively getting closer, so was He. To faithfully assure me, He alone is the constant. He, who tells the waters where to stay, and does not allow them to cross the sands. He, Who gave the seagulls their purpose. And the trials in my life theirs. 
He is the constant.

As I sat there quietly, reminded that there will be trials. He reminded me that He is already there. Constant. 

As I got up to leave that quiet space, I realized I didn’t notice one seagull as I sat alone in His presence. Nor did any trial I am facing overwhelm me. Quiet, in His presence, It was just Him. Reminding me of His strength. His love. And His presence. Constant. Constantly.

May He remind you today, that He is constant. Constantly near. Constantly loving. Constantly strong. And hoping you’ll sit quietly and let Him overwhelm you with his radical plans. Not just for the ocean. But for your life. 

May He astound you. 

As He reminds you.

He is constant.