Jekyll Island

The last few years our family has enjoyed traveling to new places. That’s how we discovered Georgia’s Gold Coast and the little gem that is Jekyll Island. Florida is a wonderful vacation destination, but when you’re traveling from here to the St. Pete area of Florida’s coast you can do with a layover. Some friends of ours strongly recommended the Brunswick area as a good spot to stay the night, so we found a convenient (to our wallet and the interstate) hotel. This worked out perfectly since it is about midway in our trip. As a result, we arrived  early in the afternoon with plenty of time to explore the area.

Being a little on the adventurous side we opted to just drive around, then find our way back courtesy of the good ole GPS. As we rounded the curve the first thing that greeted us was beautiful suspension bridge crossing the waterway. This was followed quickly by a well-manicured entrance to Jekyll Island State Park. Once the entrance fee was paid we were on our way.

We haphazardly chose which directions to turn and serendipitously  ended up at something called “Driftwood Beach” on Jekyll Island. The beauty of it is hard to describe. At first glance, it looks as though the beach is just covered with dead trees. Upon a closer look, though, you discover an area teeming with all kinds of life.

 

A comfort in troubled times…

In times of tragedy, fear, and uncertainty I am so thankful our Father in Heaven is here for us. May we all be able to say, “It is well…” Trusting in the one who knows the ending.

Another heartbreaking night in our country…

Tonight as I sit here, there are riots going on in several major cities. Police officers have been shot and three have been killed in one city. Two men, one in the south, one in the north, both black, were killed by police officers a few days earlier.

So much hurt. So much anger. So much fear.

I cannot fathom what it means to live as a black male. I cannot comprehend what it is like to put on a uniform each day, never knowing if today may be the last, but choosing to serve anyway.

#BlackLivesMatter #BlueLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter #PeopleMatter

…and they are scared, confused, and hurting.

We need to pray, but we also need to do something. We need to listen to one another. We need to be the light of Jesus to this hurting world. Even as we are wounded, we need to lead by example.

Let us not lash out in anger, or sound bites. This isn’t the time for memes. It’s the time for heartfelt conversations. Praying for God to guide us all in these uncertain days. May His wisdom, love and grace be evident to all.

Words…

A few years ago as I was having some quiet time with God one word kept coming up in my thoughts as I studied over a few weeks. As it continually seemed to pop up I decided to write it on a sticky note and leave it on my refrigerator as a reminder. It kind of became my word for the year. Interestingly, as time has gone on I have added one word to the list at different times each year.

The first year the word was compassion.

As I studied, prayed, and reflected on things I realized through the years I had lost my compassion for others. I had become so judgemental. As time went on, God showed me more and more as I offered compassion to others how much I needed it myself. 

The next year He showed me faith.

You see little by little, just like that frog in the frying pan I had lost my faith bit by bit. A little-lost faith in some spiritual leaders, then friends, then people in general. Slowly, though, as I searched for it I have been finding it piece by piece, a little at a time.

Last year God reminded me of my need for balance.

In my early years I had a ton of compassion for others, and largely lived on faith, but I had no balance, and that caused a great deal of hurt and bitterness. Now it felt like God was reminding me, “See where you have been. Learn from it. You do not have to be all one or the other. I work best when things are in balance in your life.”

This year He is giving me the lesson of humility.

My children are no longer children. They are young adults now, and as such, I have to relinquish control over more and more things. I have to humble myself. I have to realize my choices are not always best, and God is in control. I’m also being reminded of how much I don’t know, and that’s okay.

As I look back over these past few years I am very thankful for a God that cares enough about me to steer me back even when I don’t realize how far off track I have gotten. I’m thankful for my loving Father who guides me gently closer to Him.

Life right now…

I’ve been silent for a long time because life has been busy, and when I had time to write I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. But the last couple of days I’ve been mulling over something, and I guess this is my mea culpa. I have blown it big time, and in one of the most important ways that count.

Let me start out by saying I like to think I am a nice person, but truthfully I have been anything but that lately. I guess what they say is true, when the hard times come you find out what kind of person you really are.

My mother-in-law is dying.

We have never had the best relationship, but we have managed okay. The last several years have been much better than the previous ones were. Still I wouldn’t describe it as good, just better. I thought it was good…until she got her diagnosis, and it hit around the same time as the tenth anniversary of my grandmother’s death.

See how I did that?

I started out dropping a bombshell about my mother-in-law and still managed to turn it around to being about me?

That’s what I have been struggling with the last few months. Everything is about me, and what I think, and how I feel. Am I the only one who does this?

That’s why something I read in my Bible really kicked me in the pants yesterday, and has me thinking hard about it today.

… do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others… So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; … Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,..   -Philippians 2:4, 12,14-16

I realized I have had myopic vision in this situation, only looking at how it effects my husband, myself, and my immediate family. That’s not what God wants. It’s what I want, and it has done nothing but cause tension. I have to do better. So here I sit thinking and praying as I type. Thankful God knows better than me, and trusting Him not just because I don’t know what to do to make things better, but also because I do trust Him. I know He has this. I just have to quit getting in the way.

In the meantime, please pray for my mother-in-law that these last months she has however long they may be would be the most peaceful and comforting she has ever experienced.

Looking forward…

The honeymoon is over. We’re on our third week of school, and I think we are beginning to settle into things ever so slowly. Mondays are definitely the hardest. Pretty much every Monday morning at some point one of the kids gets in a really bad mood because they are frustrated with something, and one of us inevitably ends up in tears.

There you have it. The ugly truth about homeschooling. It’s not all smiles, politeness, and field trips. At least that’s what it is like at our house. Sometimes I feel like a failure because we’re like this, but other times I recognize it for what it is…reality.

The truth is kids get frustrated. Mine definitely do. I have one who doesn’t like science, math, english, history, or anything else I offer up. So yeah, it’s tough.

Then why is it I think this year has the potential to be our best year yet?

I look at the material, and it’s tough. I look at the assignments, and I see where they are going to struggle. I see how much teaching time is involved, and I see where I am going to struggle.

But I also see the opportunity for growth in all of us. I see us all being exposed to new ideas and experiments. I see the chance to visit familiar destinations and view them in new ways. I see the chance to discover new places, and find out what fascinating morsels of information they offer. I see future opportunities for my kids. That’s what makes me excited. That’s what makes this worth it.

So on those days I want to throw in the towel and go hide, I hope I can remember these bright moments of hope and joy of unseen possibilities, and I hope you can as well.

Always…

Some Mondays are better than others. This is one of them (as of now anyway).

It’s overcast while the off and on mist keeps the air slightly cool. The birds are singing in the distance as I sip my morning coffee. It’s the wonderful stillness before the hectic activities of the day get started.

As I was getting ready this morning I checked Facebook (like just about every other person on the planet), and I saw this post.

28 years ago today I drove to … (our) first date. Little did I know that was the beginning of a wonderful life together. …I love you more now than ever and can’t wait to see what the next 28 years has for us.

 

My sweet husband posted this as he was getting ready for work.

I am blessed.

We are a rarity in this day and age. Actual high school sweethearts who are still together.I know hard days are still ahead, but so are some amazingly wonderful ones.

This song was popular the summer we started dating. We used to sing along with it as we drove around town. We used to say we hoped it would be true for us. Thankfully, through a lot of love, laughter, tears, and prayers so far it has been. Praying it always will be…

always….

The day after….

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

Throughout the week leading up to it, the news has been about Fifty Shades of Grey, how celebrities are keeping their marriages strong, and what a guy can get his girl for the big day. My sweet husband has been worried the whole time because he didn’t know what to get me. All the while, I am looking forward to the day because he’s already, unknowingly, told me I was going to get the one present I wanted the most…his time.

I’ve read articles, well headlines mostly, about how relationships need something to keep pushing them. Trying new things, and getting some excitement back into relationships. Everyone wants to push the boundaries. It’s almost like we have to be adrenalin junkies in everything including our relationships.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I don’t want the roller coaster ride of lust, and let’s face it that’s what everyone is pushing because it sure isn’t real love.  I want real old-fashioned love. The kind that feels like a warm blanket wrapping around you on a cold night.

The older I get the more I see the value in the less exciting kind of love. It may not be flashy, but I can always count on it.

When I was growing up I watched my grandparents a lot. They loved each other and you could tell it in the little things they did for each other everyday. I always wanted a love like theirs. To have someone I could count on no matter what. My grandmother told me it didn’t just happen. It was work. She was right. It hasn’t always been pretty. At times it’s been down right ugly, and it’s only by the grace of God and His power that we are still together.  We had to sacrifice things, some big, some little, but we both had to decide we were willing to give up things for the other.

The news wants to focus on pushing the boundaries of sex, but wouldn’t it be nice if instead we pushed the boundaries of sacrifice? What if we made the choice to love even when it wasn’t easy? What if we chose to trust and others chose to trust us in return?

I always watched my grandparents, and tried to learn as much as I could from them because I knew they were the real deal. Real love that lasted, and I wanted that for my life.

And as this Valentine’s came and went, I look back over it and know…that’s exactly what I got….

Some comforting words from Ezekiel:

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

– Ezekiel 34: 12-16

Growing up…

This weekend has been fun, but weird. Our two oldest boys went on a youth retreat with the church we have been visiting the last couple of months. The two youngest hung out at home with us. It feels so different not having the boys with us. I know they are growing up, and I’m glad they went, it’s just… they’re growing up.

I’m so proud, but it feels like everyday I’m getting slapped with the knowledge our days as a family of 6 are numbered.

Which is exactly what I have always known, but now it feels more…real.

In the last month, the oldest has voted, gotten his permit, as well as going on this retreat. I know it’s been a long time coming, but man, it’s an adjustment. They are stretching their wings, and I want them to. In the meantime I will hold onto a saying I’ve heard almost all my life:

“If you love something,
set it free.

If it comes back to you,
it’s yours.

If it doesn’t,
it never was.”