an early spring

So last week temperatures hit record-breaking levels here. People are actually playing in the ocean even though the water is much colder than the air, and the gulf stream has not returned to the coastline yet. Trees have bloomed, some even sprouting early leaves. Pine pollen is coating everything with a filmy yellow-green. The daffodils are in full splendor and tulips are right behind them. Even a few azaleas are starting to open buds.

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The Azalea Festival is a big deal here. It’s kind of an arts festival but there is a queen of the festival and she has a court. They look like antebellum debutantes! Yes, hoop skirts, parasols, and escort cadets from The Citadel in Charleston. Apparently the original mission of this Gala began with the restoration of an unattractive marshy area and it became so beautiful the city decided to celebrate it. Thus began the festival in 1948.

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I have never been.

The azaleas, camellias and bulbs all bloomed last year long before the festival, and it looks as if this might happen again this year. There’s a garden tour which makes for a difficult time if you have no flowers to show in the garden. But each year they persist by holding the festival in April.

At that point tourists have begun returning for the summer, dogs are not allowed on beaches, parking meters have been reinstalled for the busy season, storefronts have been restored and repainted, streets resurfaced, everything has a polish and hums with anticipation of a successful summer.

But I digress.

It’s still February.

Normal spring doesn’t usually start here for at least 2 or 3 more weeks.  And even then it’s been known to snow after the dogwoods have bloomed. So here we are looking at burgeoning life and the skimmers and terns aren’t even back yet to their favorite nesting areas.

I can’t get caught up in all of this. I have to keep my brain focused on the day, not what it feels like.

When does Daylight Savings Time start?

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“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” –1 Corinthians 1:27

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change

Rescue dogs Lulu and Lily and I drove to our favorite beach last week only to find  very large, old and rusted pipe blocking our access to the water.

Picture0217181432_1.jpgSo we clambered over (I carried Lulu, Lily jumped)

There’s been a lot of pushback along the eastern seaboard lately. Nobody wants to have any fracking or exploratory blasting or drilling here. At all. Apparently Florida has gotten a pass, maybe because the sitting president has a large chunk of real estate on the east coast. But we do not want any of our sparkling shoreline damaged, nor any sea life either. This section of the east coast is called the crystal coast for a very good reason. And we don’t want brown sludge or dead fish and other sea life washing on shore.

So a few days later we walked out to the same part of the island and saw this

Picture0217181429_1.jpga dredge sitting just off the shallows of the inlet

The pipe clearly was too narrow to be a conveyance for oil or gas but with all that’s being discussed and protested it was enough to frighten. Moving a little sand to scoop out the channel or replenish the beaches makes sense.

Drilling does not.

I have few issues with the person who was elected president. He has a clear agenda and for the most part wants to protect America and our people. I realize I am not taking a popular side. However, as with the last several presidents I know it is important to respect and pray for the president and all leaders–

“I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayer, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all goodness and holiness.” 1Timothy 2:1-2

God is our only true authority, forever. I am not so naive as to want everyone to get along, though that would be great. It isn’t possible. We believe different things. We want different things. But in the end we are each of us responsible for ourselves. What and how we think, act, say. So I know I am grateful for a little dredging of my own thoughts, clearing out some things and working through them. When I look at them alone the effort seems hopeless. When I look through the filter of God’s love for me I see clearer. With compassion, truth, hope. Alone I become frustrated, angry. With His help I have more patience, understanding.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” –Romans 15:4-5

Picture0217181745_1.jpgHope

 

 

 

broken Love

So I was driving somewhere this week and the radio station I happened to be listening to was asking what people were planning to do with their loved one for Valentine’s Day. One woman said she and her husband never planned anything for Valentine’s Day. Their marriage was one in which their love is such they do not need a special day to show it.

I’d never heard that one before. Impressive.

So much hype comes with days like this– birthdays, anniversaries, remembrances. It doesn’t have to be like this.

After my divorce I was a complete mess. There was a comic strip I used to read, “Beetle Bailey”, this scrawny private in the military constantly being beaten to a pulp by his superior, Sarge. The comic would show this with a flattened remnant of an individual, feet and hands sticking out oddly, a few teeth gone.

That’s what I felt like.

So with whatever was left I decided to self-destruct. I became involved with some unsavory characters. I drank too much. Even though I had a child and managed to look respectable I also struggled hard to dig further into the hole I found myself in. Not sure how bleak I hoped to make it but one morning I woke to see my son standing in the doorway to my bedroom. At that point I realized what I had been doing. Ignoring that which was important. Living in a black pool of anger and resentment regardless of any cost.

So  as I walked into each new day I functioned. I cooked, I cleaned, I took care of my son as far as my brokenness would allow. Hoping no matter what I said or did he could know that the brokenness was not his fault. Hoping he could know love despite the personal chaos I had created. I kept an orderly home, worked, paid bills on time, for all intents and purposes things looked fine. Normal, whatever that is. But inside I was a wreck. No order about my thoughts, just survival. Life. Later in the year my son was visiting his father. I found myself reading a little religious magazine I’d subscribed to but never read. I kept the issues I received bound in rubber bands. No idea why. And one day I came across them.

It was a sunny, fresh day. I took them outside to my condo’s little patio and unwrapped the rubber band. I sat in the warm sun, taking them one at a time I read through each one. Each telling me no matter what God loves me. That His Son died an undeserved, humiliating and unimaginably painful death because my pitiable human life is such that I cannot come before my Creator on my own.  Because of His incredible love His sinless Life died for my sinful one. No matter how bleak, how dark, how distant, how bad. Before I was halfway through reading these little booklets I was in tears. A complete mess, but a good mess. It was the old me, the stubborn, angry, bitter me melting before Him Who came to save me. It was me realizing, understanding maybe for the first time ever that there was nothing I could do or be to make myself good, acceptable, clean. It was me seeing this One, this Perfect One who came to this planet to save all people from self and sin, and He was holding His arms out to me, His heart open as it probably always had been but I never saw it. And in Him I saw true hope.

I walked into those arms. I have never felt lost again. I have been alone but seldom lonely, wrong but He is always quick to forgive when I come to Him honestly and tell Him everything. I have been sad from rejection, from hurt but He has always comforted me. I have been afraid, maybe of something I imagined but afraid just the same and He has given me courage. He strengthens me, nourishes me, refreshes me, guides and instructs me, sustains me.

His love has been since before this world and will be, forever. And He won’t ever let me go.

So even though today or any day I find myself at a place of fogginess where I can’t see the road clearly in front of me I know He is here. I know whatever direction I take, wherever I go He will be with me.

I won’t be perfect. But life will be ok. And it will be right. And true. And real.

Picture0210181032_1.jpgThank You God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

 

 

home

There is a small sea animal called an auger (we always called them drills because that is what the little animal did– drill a hole in the hinge of a small clam to open it, then eat it).

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Either this little animal then dies or something else eats it. Either way the abandoned shell is often found on beaches.

Picture0204181202_1.jpgAuger shells rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I found recently

Nothing in the ocean goes to waste evidently (except human trash– plastic bags, cans, fruit peels, cigarette butts) because often a small crab, hermit crab, finds the shell and makes it its home until it is outgrown and moves on to a larger discarded shell.

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Even in the dark, cold ocean these little creatures are at home. Out of the water, bright artificial lights and dry air they will die in a matter of hours.

When I find myself in the dark time stops. It gets scary. Answers don’t come. I feel out of my shell. I wait, wrack my brain, pose theories, test them to logical conclusions, attempting to factor in components that may affect outcomes. I talk to my rescue dogs, they listen intently turning their heads interpreting intonation, verbal sounds, scents of my feelings. But they don’t offer advice. Not always, anyway.

This is anxiety. And I remember a favorite Bible verse: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-6)

I still may not have any answers but I have something more important. I have peace. I am no longer giving myself headaches trying to worry out a solution or response or reason or answer.

This peace is not a new shell to grow into but I have let go in order to find understanding.

A sunny day, still very cold, we picked a few of these shells.  Later I took the shells out of the container we’d collected them in to see a little crab in its shell clambering around. I had checked each one very carefully to see they were empty when I picked them up. This little one was cold-stunned and drawn far into the shell. Being inside the warmth revived it. So we put it back into the container and took it back to the water.

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