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Ebb and Flow-Every Summer Has a Story

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The more the seasons change, the more I’m noticing how our feelings naturally ebb and flow.

It seems to be the story of this summer.

This is the season of holding on and letting go.

The season of remembering my mom.

The season of life of my love living with/fighting brain cancer 

The season of preparing to launch college kids.

The season of planning another year of homeschooling for an 8th and 10th grader. 

The season of summer is winding down while a calendar and schedules ramping up. 

The season of discerning next steps.

The season of holding tight to precious memories.

This is sure in a season of transitions, of grieving, of mourning, of lamenting, and planning.

There is a dance of finding joy among the grief, finding your place in the never-ending seasons of letting go.

Letting go of loved ones, things out of our control, and those matters (simple or not so much) that weigh us down and push us to shout, “Anchors Aweigh.”

We have changes coming to the rhythm of our little domestic church—preparing to launch a young adult, maybe two.

We are in a season of understandable grief and lament.

Yet, our minds shift to the excitement, anticipation, and magic of watching those we were entrusted with raising to learn to spread their wings.

I’m fighting hard to find joy among the sorrow, like balancing weight on a longboard to ride the waves.

July 2021

Balance and shifting. 

There is something quite exhilarating as we wait—get “Amped Up”— to catch that awesome tube that thrusts us forward into the great unknown with a risk of falling into the oceans deep. 

Feelings come and go like white caps crashing at the surf, then slowly seep back into the sand. 

Ebb and flow 

Wax and wane.

Lap and churn.

Rush and crash.

A maverick wave attempts to unsteady my feet while standing on the shore.

My toes dig into the sinking sand where the sun dances over the water; flashing sparkles and glitter in the sea mesmerize me as the sun beats on my face and sweat (maybe tears) beads fall down my face.

It’s my favorite place to be—immersed in the water among the foam while riding the waves.

My favorite place to just BE—getting lost in the rhythms of the waves and sunrises and sunsets. 

August 2020

Basking in the sun with His eyes set upon me, I am transformed. 

Emotions ebb and flow.

Only seven days earlier, we crossed a bridge that marks with enthusiasm a trip to put our feet in the sand and breathe in the salt air, and force time to stand still.  

But alas, we have no such power. Time passes far too quickly, “when you are having fun” and coincidentally when you are building a life and raising a gaggle of kids.  

The sun rises again on a new day and a new week that leads us toward home with a car full of sand and a heart full of memories. I am overcome with that ebb and flow of emotion, yet one more sacred moment at the seashore came to an end.

On our early morning journey home, the color of our hearts—blue—matches that of the clear sky. With the crisp cool air, a descent across the span of the bridge, thoughts on flipping the calendar to a new month, we are reminded summer will soon come to an end.

The familiar cityscape calls out to me like an urban beacon rising in the sky. The distant skyline steers me back to the reality of the year gone by and another summer nearing its end. 

My eyes land on the bright sun reflecting on the buildings in the distance. I long to be watching the sunrise where the sky meets the sea.

I think of my feet in the sinking sand and the sun reflecting dazzling lights across the glassy water like tiny ballerinas basking in the warm attention of the spotlight of the sun and the cheers of the squawking gulls aflight.

My eyes dart quickly to a building that I have become all too familiar with far in the distance that brings me back to reality. It reminds me of the deep waters of last summer.

Wax and wane, ache and hope.

Though I wish I didn’t have to be, I am grateful for that building and those inside who have cared for us.

I am also grateful to those who continue stick by us and care for our tender hearts in this season.

I am grateful for a Father who reveals Himself so when the waves, storms and seasons change, I can rest in Him, learning to be attentive how He reveals Himself in the the simplest of things.

“You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:18

A trip to stand beside the waters is exactly what we needed.

It was an unexpected adventure to the edge of the water where the sun rises, the waves lap, and the hot sand stings our feet.

It was a time to retreat, restore, and rest—a gift given to us by the love, kindness of some generous and loving souls who knew it was what we desperately needed.

Cancer takes more than it gives. I wish that weren’t so. If we don’t recharge, it just keeps on taking in so many ways we did not expect. I often wonder if I can ever truly put all of that into words—maybe in time.

This trip by the sea afforded us rest.

We stretched our legs, biked for miles, laughed out loud.

We splashed and became numb in the cold sea for hours on end while our chairs sank in the sand until a storm chased us off by the warm teeming rain. As we ran toward home with arms full of wet beach gear, sheer laughter became medicine that dulled the pain. 

We lived without a schedule or a single care in the world. Well maybe, a few as we know we are preparing for some big transitions.

Every Summer Has a Story.

Each day on our trek across the splintering boards before we step onto the scorching hot sand, I notice a sign in a window: “Every Summer Has a Story.”

For sure, every summer has written a story.

I know this is true for us—a unique story to call its own.

Last year our summer was filled with cataclysmic changes, the absolute unknown. I know we were not the only ones who lived a summer like this.

Oh, Summer of 2020, I wonder what stories have yet to be told.

Something we could never have predicted in our wildest dreams.

Standing by the sea after surgery and a diagnosis, we did not know what summer 2021 would look like for our family.

We learned to surrender and trust without borders.

Oh, the stories that have unfolded this summer. In some ways, they been gentle compared to the stories of many other summers.

We’ve had a summer where we were grounded because of the trauma and surgery of a severely broken jaw for one of my kiddos.

We were forced to stay home until we could finally take time away to heal and rest.

To the beach we go, to find rest.

“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Saviour.”

We’ve had a summer where my dad’s declining health and letting him go crossed off the days of that summer far too quickly. 

It left us lingering by the sea, Oceans Deep, attempting to keep our eyes above those crashing waves.

There was the summer when a few of us were LITERALLY adrift at sea and learning to trust and wait patiently to be rescued. I am convinced we will never forget that summer.

Oh so many stories I could tell.

2019

I wanted to buy that sign, Every Summer Has a Story, to remind me of these stories and the summers by the sea.

Maybe, I’ll make a sign of my own. Makers going to make.

Though I’m confident, I won’t forget many of these stories.

The story of this summer feels like grace abounds while new chapters are being written on blank pages as abundant as the grains of sand. 

Our story is only beginning. This new chapter is, at the very least.

Change is coming.

The tide is shifting.

Like waves, the feelings come and go.

Ebb and flow 

Wax and wane.

Lap and churn.

Rush in and crash—a force fierce enough that tries to unsteady my feet.

I dig my toes in the sand to allow water to wash over me because I am stronger than those crashing waves simply because I learned to try not to fight it alone. I learned my lesson many times—when in deep waters.

On my way home last week, coming over the bridge caused a flood of memories to rush in like waves crashing over us as we wait for the perfect break while holding onto our boards. 

A glance in the rear view mirror takes my breath away. I love raising these teens and having two young adults. But for a moment, I long to be strapping them into their carseats and strollers one more time.

Feelings of excitement for the good things to come, an ache for the way that grief and letting go floods in and can knock us over. But we hold onto the memories.

Making Memories

“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.” -AA Milne.

Memories from a lifetime of trips to the edge of many cities by the sea. 

Memories with my mom and dad from our day trips, summer rentals, and the house on the beach block they worked so hard to call their own. My dad teaching me to respect the ocean and learn to ride the waves, while my mom would rather be riding her bike.

Memories with my first beach friends (siblings) crammed in the back of a panelled station wagon or little red chevette for a daylong road trip to put our feet in the sand.

Memories with the guy, my fierce warrior, my protector whose hand I have held these the last 31 summers. Jon was the answer to a prayer on the beach that one summer where brokenness lived not visible to the world. He became my favorite sea glunking partner as we strolled the lengths of sand to gather those shattered pieces. Together we made beauty from brokenness with many rare finds.

Memories with our furry friends. our Gracie girl (our first baby and rescued Standard Poodle) running free in the empty sand. Bonnie and Clyde greeting the beach for the first time wind howling through their fur with and smile on their faces.

Memories with my babies, toddler, kids, tweens, teens—and now young adults—who have formed incredible bonds while building castles of sand and riding the waves of the ocean and life.

Memories with friends upon friends, young and old, plopped in chairs, chatting, toasting, journeying in life together all while the sea crash around us. We may have even felt an east coast earthquake shake beneath our beach chairs.

Oh, so many memories made.

I thought we were just having fun and searching for joy.

Last summer just two weeks after surgery, I stood on the beach looking out to the churning sea that resembled my churning heart. A large scar from a row of staples, a treatment plan filling a calendar, managing messages from doctors and work calls for Jon and so many unknowns weighed on me.

Physical healing began quickly after a life-altering and life-saving surgery took place. Inhaling the salt air and vitamin sea and sun was just what the doctor ordered both then and now. Healing of the heart, can take a bit more time.

Last year, I wondered if we would get back to the beach again with what was on our horizon with endless appointments and managing a new medical calendar. 

Some questions still linger in our minds.

It has gotten more challenging and more unpredictable, so we are throwing caution to the wind, surrending all things to Him.

And in God’s providence a few prayers were answered to give us this sacred time by the sea.

The emotions still ebb and flow, wax and wane, lap and churn, rush and crash.

Unlike physical healing after surgery, emotional healing after surgery/diagnosis/trauma/loss requires a whole lot more grace and mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness, kindness, and compassion.

It’s unseen. It’s just not always visible. Like the broken shards of sea glass, you must dig and work hard to find it-the healing.

Remember the boat in the post, So Climb Aboard where I asked you to climb aboard to help us paddle and pray? 

August 2020

I stood at the edge of the water with a friend who happened to be vacationing in the same city by the sea with her family that week. She was unaware of our story, but she took the time to open her heart to listen.

I shared our story about Jon’s diagnosis with her and was assured of her prayers and privacy. She continues to be a faithful prayer warrior for me. 

It was a wildly stormy afternoon sky on the beach that day—the dark clouds rolled in to meet an angry sea.

But there was a beauty, a peace. A knowledge that there is something bigger than me.

After she walked away to gather her belongings before the sky opened to rain down on us. 

My eyes follow a small vessel rocking its way across the vast horizon. It was fighting the rough sea. I know how it felt.

Then I remembered Peter.

He started to fall into the water because he took his eyes off Jesus. 

“Take heart is it I, do not be afraid.”

But when he (Peter) noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and began to sink. He cried out, “Lord save me.” 

Jesus said, “Ye of little faith.” And then, once inside the boat, the wind died down.

“Jesus made the disciples get into a boat

and precede him to the other side of the sea,

while he dismissed the crowds.

After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.

When it was evening, he was there alone.

Meanwhile, the boat, already a few miles offshore,

was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night,

he came toward them, walking on the sea.

When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified.

“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.

At once, Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter said to him in reply,

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come.”

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on water toward Jesus.

But when he saw how strong the wind was, he became frightened;

and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,

and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

After they got into the boat, the wind died down.

Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,

“Truly, you are the Son of God.”-Matthew 14:22-36

Walk on water.

We may not be able to walk on water, but we KNOW who can, He is the same one who can calm the storms. And the truth is, for us, we will always run to water when we need to restore and rest, reconcile and recharge and remind ourselves who can truly rescue us.

Meeting Him while basking in His light is where our hearts can be most transformed even when we ebb and flow, wax, and wane through the storms and calm, and joy and sorrows of life.

Slowly inhaling and exhaling the humid, salt air cannot stop or slow time, BUT it can help us fix our eyes, heal our hurts and bring us rest and joy as we allow the sun rays to warm our face.

A beach is a place where I always feel closest to Him the one who created all things.

May we always do our best to keep our eyes fixed on Him. 

May we rest in the courage of His embrace when the surf churns and winds stir.

May we trust Him when we are standing in deep waters.

May we remember we are not alone in the rocking boat.

May we notice the gift in the story our summers have written for us.

May we be gentle and kind (to ourselves and others) as new stories unfold.

May we be attentive to where the Lord is revealing Himself to us.

Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.

Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water.

Wednesday after I finished writing this post, Jon and I stopped at adoration for a bit of time as we often do within a few days of any doc visits or appoinments.

The cover of the readings for the Adoration and Night Prayer Service was a picture ofa boat on The Sea of Galilee where Peter and Jesus spoke.

The song sung during the prayer service was Titled Lord, “You Have Come to the Seashore.” 

And unbeknownst to me, the Gospel reading for mass the day before was the story of Peter and Jesus on the water.

God is always good to me like this affirming the words placed on my heart to share—they are His not mine, all Glory to Him.

When I stare out to the water and the wind starts to stir, I have no doubt He takes care of everything.

“Lord, you have come to the seashore, neither searching for the rich nor the wise, desiring only that I should follow. O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me, gently smiling, you have spoken my name; all I longed for I have found by the water, at your side, I will seek other shores…”

Adoration and Night Prayer Cover
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