Shifting Sand

20180610_071257Last year, hurricane season was particularly ugly to the Southeastern coast. For the first time in her 20 years of living on the beach of St. Simon’s Island, our beloved Gammy begrudgingly relocated to my in-laws to wait out the worst of the storm. It was a long week. While she was extremely comfortable, she worried about the state of her home, and her island.

When the waters of Irma receded there was no damage that was beyond repair. Soggy for a while, her condo development slowly returned to normal. However, East Beach had changed.

They kept warning me… “The beach is so, different…”

In the past ten years St. Simon’s has become a special place for me, a place for peace and renewal. The biggest change I had seen was the number of people (too many). I was not prepared.

When we walked the waves on our first day there, I noticed that the walkway from the boardwalk to the water was completely filled with sand… sand to the railings. And I could not run the full mile toward the pier. The water met me at the rocks and I could go no further. However, when we walked at the water, it did not feel that different.

Later, when we returned in the afternoon I was struck. We stood where the water had been and it felt like a miles sand stretched before us… keeping us from the waves. As I peered even further out into the water,  you could see that people were standing in waist deep water. Not what we were accustomed to.

This was not my beach.

I cannot lie, I was more than disappointed. For a little while, I was distraught. It seems so silly now, but when a place becomes familiar, and you spend most of your life avoiding “new,” I was not happy to be in “new” place.

But I rallied. In the din of dinner conversations, kids, and evening television I thought more about the fact that the tide was merely out. So I adapted. I looked up the tide schedule.

High tide would be at 7:00 AM.

So by 6:45 AM we were trekking across the sand to stake our claim on the closest sandbar.

And magic happened. 20180611_092112

I found my sea. I rediscovered the place I spend the rest of the year waiting to find. The sun still glistens on the water and the waves speak to me. A physical metamorphosis occurs with each  moment my feet and hands dig in the sand.  We explored; the shifting margins between land and abyss, longer is some areas, dwarfed in others. We discovered that these shifts brought about new residents; wildlife that we spent hours chasing and observing.

And I heard whispers…. prompts of a metaphor that I long to understand.

How easily I found joy in adapting to the subtle shifting landscape of a beach that has slowly become mine in our 11 year relationship.

20180612_133245And yet when I think of the relationship that brought me here, that afforded me this space I never knew I needed, those shifts in the landscape arise like seemingly  unmovable mountains and waves meant to drown me, not bring me bliss. I greet our shifting margins with defenses of anxiety and fear.

How different might my life be if I allowed myself to greet a different landscape with expectation, curiosity, and hope? What magic would happen if I believed that my Creator could be found in the new and unexpected instead of forcing my body, my beliefs, my schedule, hopes and dreams into a geography of 10 years ago? 

“Any landscape is a condition of the spirit.” Henri Frederic Amiel

20180611_201421I long for this place, physically and emotionally. The place where I truly am the best version of myself. This place where I look around aand live what I believe– that our lives are in constant motion– and each moment gives us glimpses of and brings us closer to our eternal home.

May we relish changing margins and look for the face of our Savior in whatever shifting sands we meet.

We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”  2 Corinthians 5: 5 The Message

 

Save a Wretch like Me….

Yesterday morning, while doing devotions with my children we talked what Maundy Thursday was, about how Jesus humbled himself and washed the feet of Judas; the man who would betray him. We talked about serving, and counting ourselves lower than others. I felt proud that my children seemed to understand why Jesus’ example was so important.

Fast forward to much later in the day and I …. forgot. I found myself frustrated by a situation and reacted in a way I should not have. I talked through the situation with my sweet Nathan, and he looked at me and said, “Look at me. You did nothing wrong.”  And friends, if I shared the whole story you would probably agree. I did not publicly share air my frustration and annoyance, instead I quietly commiserated with a peer and moved on.  I harbored my annoyance and….judgement in my heart.

The heart is a tricky thing. And I am writing about this now because I shared with my husband out of feeling defensive…. and shame.

What seems like a lifetime ago, reading Martin Luther on the regular, I stumbled across a quote (and this is paraphrased mind you) where he lamented that the closer he got to God, the “more wretched,” he realized he was…

This is where I rest. good friday verse

The more I try to take a posture of grace, the more I realize how frequently I fail to offer it.

When I was in high school, I brazenly told a righteous adult, “Your judgmental spirit, will send you to Hell as well….”

How frequently those words have come back to haunt me.  The Spirit prompts me frequently to notice the said and unsaid judgment made on the world around me. With this comes waves of guilt, and a proneness to allow shame to be my “go to” — the emotion I allow to control and interrupt every facet of my life.

With time, I allow myself to come back to arms of grace. Oh, how grateful I am for grace. The grace of the cross, that radically changes lives and Spirit that moves so violently that I can even be convicted of heart change that is still happening in me. He is still working, moving, and by the GRACE OF GOD, someday, I will find grace and humility will be my natural breath.

It is Good Friday friends. The day that our Lord, suffered the most gruesome of deaths, to save our wretched souls. My soul. Yours. I am contemplating today, how often I trivialize His grace by throwing it back in his face with my sin of thoughtlessness, and am undone in the beautiful reality that this is exactly why He did what he did. His grace, and love covers a multitude of sins…. even mine.

Come to the cross today. Wherever you heart is– whatever burdens or shames you– He covered it, for you.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.  ~Is. 53:5

 

Year of Harvest

In every single “year end review” that has been posted I have seen a common thread: this year was … Not a good one. The word that I actually want to use can be abbreviated to two letters : C. F. 

The world hurt. Our country hurt. Alienation and angst prevailed. And so many face-palm moments. Nathan and my prevailing current events conversations went like this:

“Hey, did you see….” 

Yes or no depending on the appropriate answer.

“Are you serious?” 

And then we would sigh. Together. And just look at each other, because what was there to say?

My confession is that I did not hate this year. Despite all the uncomfortable, we were blessed beyond measure and the hard stuff has brought about movement in a better direction. This has been a year of personal reflection and acknowledgement of things holding me back. Small break throughs put me on a path of continuous change. And, 10 years in, I have a strong hand holding my hand and joining me on that path. I have seen so many prayers answered this year that my faith feels just a little stronger.

And I saw mermaids this year. My little sister got married. We went to Disney. 

I am grateful. 

I have struggled with what word to choose for 2018. Ready? Move? Malleable? 

Grow. 

I see 2018 full of opportunity and potential:

To grow.

Spiritually

Relationally

Professionally. 

Physically.

Creatively. 

I have always been drawn to the agricultural imagery in Scripture. Probably, because farming on a small scale has been such an important part of my upbringing; the back-breaking work of weeding and pruning, watering and care. I have watched apple trees die for no apparent reason.

 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. “

 We all cried over a tree full of peaches lost to a lightening stike.

” Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”

 I have seen vegetables rot because I did not time their harvest right.

 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. “

I also remember a summer snapping beans after dark and helping my mother can 128 quarts of green beans. And this year, while my Father’s apple trees failed to pollinate, Granny’s rose to the occassion and brought more apples than we could eat. 

 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

I see myself in these memories. Years where I sputtered for no apparent reason. The years where hard work and planning still ended in disaster. The year I felt like I was struck by lightening, and I was surprised we survived. 

I am hopeful that this year I will grow. I imagine I will need some pruning, and the right mix of the Son and rain and nutrients. 

And maybe, this year we might return a harvest.