“Relax and Renew”

Lord, help me to remain childlike in my appreciation for life. Please slow me down…that I may always see the extraordinary in the ordinary. That I may always wonder at the shell in the sand…

Four relaxing days at the beach…they were much needed days of anxiety-free living. Being near the ocean renews the mind and spirit. How can it not? There is something mesmerizing about watching the waves roll in and cleanse everything leaving nothing but a few shells and smooth sand in its wake.

While we were there, I walked into a little shop and as I wandered around my eyes fell on a book sitting on a shelf. It was called “My Beautiful Broken Shell” by  Carol Hambler Adams. I started reading it as I stood in the store but I started to tear up because it reminded me so much of myself. Instead of puddling up right there, I decided to purchase it and read it later. It is beautifully written and I wanted to share some of it in this blog. Here is an excerpt from the book.

“Dawn has broken on a beautiful day here at the ocean. I’ve come to refresh my weary spirit and to refuel my tired soul. I’m so grateful for the peace and the calm of the seashore, where time stands still and unrushed…

I walk by a broken seashell…and leave it to search for more perfect ones. But then I stop…go back..and pick up the broken shell. I realize that this shell is me with my broken heart.

This shell is people who are hurting…lost loved ones…people who are frightened or alone…people with unfufulled dreams. This shell has had to fight so hard to keep from being totally crushed by the pounding surf…just like I have had to.

Yet this shell is still out on the beautiful sandy shore…just as I am. Thank You Lord that I haven’t been completely crushed by the heaviness in my heart..by the pounding of the surf.

If our world were only filled with perfect shells, we would miss some of life’s most important lessons along the way . We would never learn from adversity, from pain, from sorrow. Thank You Lord, for all that I learn from my brokenness…for the courage it takes to live with my pain..and for the strength it takes to remain on the shore.

Broken shells mean lots of tears…lots of pain…lots of struggle…but they are also valuable for teaching faith, courage and strength. Broken shells inspire others and demonstrate the will to go on in a way that no perfect shell could do. Thank You Lord, for the great strength it takes to simply be…even when I hurt so deeply that there seems to be nothing left of me.

As I walk along the beach picking up shells, I see that each one has its own special beauty…its own unique pattern. Lord help me to see my own beautiful pattern…and to remember that each line and each color on my shell was put there by You.

I watch the rolling surf toss new shells onto the shore, and I am reminded of the many times that I, too, have been tossed by the storms of life and worn down by the sands of time.

Thank You, Lord, for being with me to share my life…to help me carry my burdens. Thank You for the precious gift of faith that keeps me strong when I am weak…that keeps me going when it would be easier to quit.

As I look at my beautiful broken shell, I see that it has nothing to hide. It doesn’t pretend to be perfect or whole…its brokenness is clear for everyone to see. Lord, may I be strong enough to show my pain and brokenness…May I have the courage to risk sharing my feelings with others so that I may receive support and encouragment along the way. Lord, help me to reach out to others…especially to the broken and discouraged…Lord help me to realize that I am not the only one hurting…that we all have pain in our lives. Help me to remember that in my brokenness I am still whole and complete in Your sight.

Somehow, here at the ocean, I recieve so many gifts. I am grateful for the inner peace that fills my soul.”

“Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth”

I decided to participate in the Weekly Photo Challenge on the Daily Post on WordPress. This week’s theme is growth. I chose a different idea to represent my interpretation of growth. I thought of using flowers, trees, etc. but when I considered the last nine months of my life, I realize that the things shown in the picture above are the areas I have truly grown (and continue to grow) in.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” – 1 Corinthians 3:7

“Changing the 66%”

There’s this kid. (young man I should say). He’s pretty cool. He likes to goof off and hang out with friends and do the stuff that fourteen year olds do. However, he’s not your average teenager. Statistics show he represents only a third of teenagers in a particular group. This group I’m speaking of is those who believe in God. That means roughly 66% of our teens do not believe God is real, do not pray, do not go to church and do not read the bible. 66%. That’s quite a number.

This young man, Drew, is trying to change that. He wants to make a difference in that percentage. God has laid it on his heart to reach out to those who may not know the written word and he has accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion. I admire him. He is doing something that has and most likely will continue to bring him ridicule and negativity. Does it bother him? I’m sure at times it may. Does it stop him? Absolutely not. No doubt he knows his goal and his reason for doing it and that is a greater reward than any words could ever change.

Drew started a prayer group on Facebook. This was huge for someone his age. His mother shared the story of his group in church and the following day, I joined. As I read through it, I was touched by all that he was doing. It was inspiring to see the praise and encouragement he was giving to his fellow teens (and adults too). As I continued reading though, I was shocked (sort of…honestly a lot of it didn’t surprise me) at the negativity aimed at Drew. There, on his prayer group page, was part of the 66% representing themselves in the cruelest of ways. Foul language and jokes about his faith and beliefs. Being the person he is Drew replied with prayer and scripture suggestions. I can only hope that somehow his words were heard.

His mother also recounted how he called her one day last week from the pool. He wasn’t asking for extra money or a ride home. He wanted her to come to the pool and bring….bibles. Yes, bibles. She admitted she was shocked. When she arrived (stack of bibles in tow), he called his friends over to a table under an umbrella in the corner and right there, at the pool, Drew led an impromptu bible study. He only had five bibles. There weren’t enough to go around so he helped the others download a bible app on their phones. That’s pretty awesome. His mother admits she was still in shock at what was happening, but no doubt was proud. Teenagers (and a couple moms I think) soaking wet, covered in towels sitting there reading the bible and learning a scripture lesson from a fourteen year old.

Could I have done this? Probably not. I’m not sure I would have had the courage. Most of us are afraid of what people will think. Shame on us. We could learn a lot from Drew. He is a true man of God. A warrior for God. Keep it up, Drew. You’re gonna change the world!