I sit on my resort porch, on my final day in Negril….breathing in the fragrance of the salt air and the ocean. It truly has been an amazing short four days at the Rockhouse hotel, but four days I won’t soon forget.
Dave and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary here. Low key. Quiet. Relaxing. We have been in the water with our masks and fins until our fingers became wrinkled and our appetites ravished. We spent four days without a television. But we did have wifi. The food has been incredible. The staff, amazing. The view, oh my.
We are off now to spend the next seven days in a ninth floor condo in Montego Bay. We will still spend our days floating in the blue waters of Jamaica. We will still be eating some incredible food. And we will still be relaxing. God has been very good to us and we are very thankful.
A little over 5 years ago, my husband’s parents moved in with us, mainly due to health issues on their part. The process leading up to that move had to be well thought out and well planned as we did not have enough room in our home for them and for us to be comfortable and to maintain the privacy that we all wanted and needed.
So, we added on almost 1000 sf of living space for them, making their area handicap accessible. The door frames are wider. The bathroom is all one level, including the shower, cabinets are lower, electrical outlets are higher. They have their own entrance to their “house” and we have a connecting door between their bedroom and a large middle room that serves as our family dinner area and craft area.
Our original thoughts were that they would live as independently as possible and we would be able to help them with any needs that came up over the years. We all would gather together for an evening meal and watch some tv. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy…every night. I have to say that I used to be very intimated by Jeopardy, but no more.
Dave’s mom passed away 2 years ago, and dad is still with us. He still drives. He wobbles when he gets up and is a bit unsteady on his feet. And he laughs. He has never met a stranger. He loves to eat breakfast with his buddies at a local place called Peach Valley. He will always ask his servers about their education, what they are majoring in. What they want to be when they grow up. (he used to be a math teacher). And he laughs. And he is loud.
I can honestly say, that I never thought I would be living this way in my mid to late 50’s. I thought Dave and I would be empty nesters at some point. We would be able to pick up and go whenever we wanted to. We could eat any time and eat what we wanted. We could even walk around in our undies if we wanted to. But for this season, our focus is keeping his dad safe. Making sure he takes his meds. Making sure he eats well. Making sure he continues to laugh…loudly.
Ephesians 6:2 reminds us to “Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment….” and my prayer would be that we would be faithful. That our home would always be a safe place and would be filled with joy…and that we would continue to be obedient to the season we are in right now. We have seen first hand how quickly things can change and life is so very precious. We still have dinner together as a family each night. We still watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy each night. And dad still laughs and is loud and I am so honored to be a part of his life.
Walking the beach this weekend, I continue to be drawn to the broken shells. The smooth shells. The ones who have been roughed up. Imperfect. Shattered. They are spit out of the ocean to rest on the shoreline…and to be found. To be noticed. To be picked up and cherished. Who isn’t like these shells? Who hasn’t been broken…to pieces? Roughed up? Shattered? Abandoned?
You see, shells come in all shapes and sizes and colors. I am sure they have a purpose, other than giving me and multiple other people something to find when walking along the beach. They provide shelter and bring beauty. But at some point along their little shell journey, something happens. They get crushed. Broken. The strength of the churning ocean waters not only breaks them, but also smooths some of them, to the point that there are no visible ridges or points. They are almost glass like. Not see thru glass like, but solid and strong glass like. Like something that has been refined by fire. How long is this process? Years? Decades? Longer? Who really knows. But I see these shells as survivors.
They have survived the process of destruction. They didn’t break into a billion tiny little pieces to be left on the ocean floor. Part of the original shell still survived. And I think it is stronger because of what it has gone thru. I think the piece that was spit out by the ocean and left on the shore, was meant to be found.
I think you may figure out where I am going with all this shell stuff. God has created us. We are created in His image. We are sons and daughters of the King. Yet we are not perfect. As we live out our lives, at some point, we too become broken. Some more than others. We react in different ways to stress and trauma, and we survive at different levels too.
You see, there is beauty in that brokenness if we allow it. We cannot put the pieces back together on our own, but we can allow Him to put us back together until we are this perfect little vessel that is stronger than ever before, just waiting to be discovered.
So many people live their lives based on past experiences. Whether it is an event or trauma from childhood, or something that occurred in adulthood, it has had such an impact on them…that letting go is not easy.
God has a clear plan for that. Philippians 3:12 states “….but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Paul begins this passage with the words, “one thing I do”. It is something we have to do for ourselves. We have to step out. We have to walk away. We have to set that goal. We have to practice those words day after day after day. It is a regular habit that has to be built and continued. It’s not easy. It never will be. But once we establish what our goals are and knowing that He is who we strive to be like, He is our prize…then these steps will get easier day after day after day.
God has a specific plan for each one of us. He has a call for our lives. But we cannot reach that goal, that call, until we fully and totally surrender our lives to Him, let go of our past, and allow Him to do His good works in us.
Don’t let your baggage steal your joy. Don’t pass down bad habits or abuse to the next generation. Don’t miss out on all He has to offer you because you have chosen to carry a load that was not meant to be carried by you. There is victory. Surrender. Allow Him to move. Allow Him to break those chains. Don’t do this alone.
“freedom in surrender….lay it down and let it go”
I have been listening to the words in this song by Casting Crowns for a while now and it has been just what my ears and my soul have needed. But this morning, God made something very clear to me, “let it go sherry…let it go”. I have allowed my eyes to remain on a storm and because of that, have allowed the words that come out of my mouth do the same. I have professed my trust and faith in Him…but I still continue to dwell on a situation, rather than on Him and what He offers me. My eyes have been on the situation, not on Him.
“stop holding on and just be held”
He loves me. He gave it all…for me. He wants the best for me. And I know that. I always have. But I also have allowed the enemy to use me. I have allowed him to point out things in my life and have held onto them.
So today….I am truly “letting go”. It’s over. It’s done. But He isn’t. So this morning, I crawled up in His lap and allowed Him to wrap His arms around me and tell me “its ok…let go…let Me”. He called me by my name. He is my safe place. My life is in His hands.
So today, whatever anyone may be walking thru…please don’t hold on to that pain. Or that rejection. Or that disappointment. God is stronger than all of that and because He is…you can too.
In Matthew 4, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. He fasted. He was hungry. For 40 days and 40 nights. Hunger, thirst, headaches, vertigo, stomach aches and more….including the devil being present and attempting to tempt Him. He was flesh incarnate. Physically, he felt the same things we feel.
But in all of His replies, Jesus answers “It is written….” Every time the devil tries to tempt Him with food, with testing, with allegiance….Jesus replies “for it is written”.
I was challenged by these 4 words this past week during a sermon. How can I face daily challenges and storms and disappointments if I don’t know what His Word says? How do I know how to respond verbally or physically if I don’t have His Word hidden in my heart? How do I go thru life without Him and His promises? I can’t… I can’t do it well or in a healthy way or in a way that still bears good fruit or in a way that is honoring to Him.
So my desire is to know Him. To know Him well. To hide HIs words in my heart. To find comfort in Him. And to praise Him with every thing I am. And to delight in Him.
Psalm 27:4 “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple”
Father…you know me. You know the desires of my heart. You know my failures, my victories, my tiny steps, my big steps. I pray that when temptation and storms come, that I will be ready. I will be equipped. Surround me. Go before me. Hem me in.
It’s a new year. New goals. New resolutions. New failures. But one thing is a sure thing. He delights in me, no matter what.
Psalm 1 is full of rich words. Rich promises. Rich teachings. Truth.
I have a choice to become “like a tree…planted by streams…deeply rooted…” or to be like the “chaff” which is blown away by the wind. What will I do? What choices will I make this year? Next year? The year after that?
My desire of course, is to be like that deeply rooted tree. To be nourished by His living water. To be strong and yield good fruit. To have substance. To be shelter. To offer shade. And to do this….to grow…I have to be in His Word and take delight in Him. I need to breathe Him in and plant His words deep in my soul. I need to meditate on His promises and walk in faith and trust. I need to allow Him to stir my heart and soul for a love of His Word that is like no other. I need to hunger for His truth and His love and His grace.
So, Lord. Take me. Just as I am. Renew me. Restore me. Use me. Take delight in me and feed me. Feed my soul. Plant me firm in You. In your promises. In Your truth. My joy is in You. I delight in You. And I thirst for You.