Tag Archives: Sand

Beach Therapy

19 Sep

Be at rest, once more, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
Psalm 116:7

With great excitement, she leaned across the dinner table and asked me if I had ever been parasailing.  I giggled as I quickly responded with a ‘no, but I would love to!’

For you see, on August 9, I stood in the surf on Fenwick Island Beach, Delaware watching a boat pull a pair of parasailers.  I allowed my mind and heart to daydream about how fun it would be to someday parasail in Florida with my best bud.  That day, just 8 days after her husband’s death, Becky and her family were part of my every breath and thought as they were celebrating Joe’s life in Crowley, Louisiana … some 1300 miles away.

Back to the dinner table in Florida on the evening of September 11th … with great animation, I told my story to Becky, exclaiming over the fact that her invitation to me to join her for some beach therapy was not presented for nearly another 2 weeks later after my Fenwick Beach moment.  In fact, it was the same day I finally took a small zip lock bag of sand that I had gathered from that weekend on the beach and mailed it to her, the sand representing her hope of getting to Florida soon for some much needed rest.  I placed that sand-laden card in the mail … and later that morning I chuckled out loud as I read Becky’s email invitation to me to join her and her momma in Florida in September.

God does things like this in my life quite often.  I guess He knows He must keep it somewhat simple, but yet for me they are Red Sea moments.  Sand in a zip lock bag, just picked up by the mailman, followed by an immediate invitation to Florida.  Thoughts and hopes of parasailing with my dear friend on the same day as her husband’s memorial service  …  to be parasailing with her a month and 3 days later!!  Also, my airfare was provided by a frequent flier charge card that had accumulated enough points to send me to Florida for a minimal fee.  I do not believe in coincidences … my steps are ordered by the God Who loves me in every way possible.

A man’s mind plans his way,
but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.
Proverbs 16:9 amp

I flew on September 11th.  I arrived in Tampa without incident and was warmly welcomed by the hug of a lifetime … one that expressed deep sorrow and disbelief, but a gratefulness and excitement for the few days we had together.  Two friends reunited after tragedy and loss … together for some beach therapy.

Therapy comes in different forms – for Becky, the beach has always been a place of relaxation and respite.  Her parents retired several years ago in Florida, giving her the perfect setting for fun vacations with her family.  Now just one month since Joe’s death, Becky and her momma planned a short time to get away for some much needed quiet time and rest.  Becky and her family have been extremely busy in the past few weeks while they sort, toss, organize, box, and donate items that have accumulated over the past 22 years of living in the church parsonage.  A much smaller place just down the road is where Becky and Pauline will call home … anticipating a move-in date of early October.

Our days together in Florida were full – leisure morning time with coffee and a simple breakfast followed by a couple hours of beach time.  Most early evenings were spent with Becky’s extended family who also live in the area, giving me a chance to see people I had not seen in many, many years, and to meet others who are newer additions.  Hallmark movies were the choice of late evening entertainment, sending us to bed with hearts full of gratefulness for another blessed day.

Enjoying the surf and sun

Enjoying the surf and sun

The highlight of those days together was the beach therapy.  The white sandy shore of the Gulf of Mexico welcomed us as we slathered on protective lotions and creams and enjoyed the late morning sunshine and the silly antics of the birds.  The original email invitation requested my presence and a listening ear … so every time I heard the name Joe, my heart smiled, knowing that she needed to say his name.  I needed to say his name … and we both needed to hear it.  We talked about their family, their kids and grandkids.  We talked about our past … mentioning people of years gone by and laughing about those days in our shared childhood and teen years.  She shared moments of heartache as she recalled Joe’s last days, things said and events that took place, painting a mental picture for me of those personal and intimate moments in her life.  Tears mingled with our sunscreen and sweat as we laid there on the beach for those brief hours each day, tears that were soon to be washed away by the salty waves of the gulf waters.  How refreshing it was as we enjoyed just being in the water, rolling with the tide and swimming … all the while we continued to share hearts, thoughts, and chatter.

Parasailing fun!!

Parasailing fun!!

Did we go parasailing?  You betcha!  A bright yellow smiley face chute carried two best buds high into the sky where we chatted some, but also found ourselves quiet, lost in the moment.  I’m sure we were both thinking about Joe and why we were together, doing what we were doing.  Just like a camera captures moments in time, I wish there was a way we could’ve captured the emotion of those minutes together … the exhilaration and blessing of flying so effortlessly through the salty air of the Gulf, high above all of the noise and commotion of life … up near the heart of God and the one we just lost.  It was a special time that ended all too soon.

I don’t remember a specific moment or at what age Becky and I first met, but sometime in the mid 1960’s, two little girls found themselves next to one another and must’ve felt a kindred spirit. A spirit that grew deeper as the years clicked by …  Barbie dolls and board games, her house or mine, Bible quizzing and memory verses, nail polish and curlers, alto and soprano, piano, reading, sewing, sleep-overs, boys, … all the way to Joe and Tim.  The two boys that stole our hearts … along with our own love and devotion to the God Who set the course for the rest of our lives.  Many miles have separated us through much of our adult lives, focusing on family, ministries, and the busyness of life.  Often I am finding that it takes crises to pull hearts back together ~ hearts that sometimes do not fully realize the distance that had crept in.

People all around us are hurting.  Some are grieving the loss of a loved one.  Others are in financial trouble while others are terminally ill with no hope of recovery.  Unresolved matters have been left to fester, leaving pain and disconnect in families.  Marriage relationships are dissolving or an accident has turned someone’s world upside down.  In the midst of our everyday, someone you know and someone I know needs therapy.  Therapy comes in different forms … on purpose, be creative and offer some much needed attention to someone today.  Be a listening ear, a warm body to hug, a heart full of compassion that will laugh and cry, and just be there.  Pray. Be there for whatever it takes for healing of their soul to begin.  Won’t you join me?

Until next time,
Debbie

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“Please excuse the mess … site under construction.”  In the midst of our recent move, our domain name expired causing us to unexpectedly and immediately change email addresses … causing a crash to my morselsofmercy site and its format of family pictures.  There is a fix to all things, but I simply have not felt like I could justify the time needed to put everything in its proper place again.  So, please excuse the mess.  At least there is new verbage and an update to my crazy but blessed life. The pictures on the sidebar will be a pleasant surprise for another day.
 
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** If you are interested in viewing all of the pictures from my trip to Florida
that I posted on Facebook,
feel free to click this link … whether you have Facebook or not … enjoy!!
 
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Sun, Surf and Sand

2 Aug

  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
T
hey would outnumber the
grains of sand.
Psalm 139:17-18

 

Momma with the little people

Momma with the little people

The after-hours beach crowd was small as the cool of the evening settled upon the sandy shore. The excited anticipation of us big people was at its height after our late afternoon drive through the Pennsylvania countryside to the coastline of New   Jersey.  After parking along the brand new boardwalk, we took two little people to the water’s edge for the first time this season. Not knowing how young feet and tiny toes would take to the gritty sand, we all took off our shoes and walked into the incoming tide.  As the sun was setting in the west, it didn’t take long at all for a little boy to begin running back and forth in the surf, thrilled to finally be at the beach, even if for just a short time.  His sister was not as big of a fan of the sand, but was fascinated by the splash of the salty sea and the spray that made her lips taste most interesting.   There’s truly nothing like watching the sparkle and joy in the eyes of your own little people.  The next two days were going to be a lot of fun!

Dad and kiddos running in the surf

Dad and kiddos running in the surf

Having started when Cole Michael was 2 years old, an annual summer trip to the beach has become tradition. Whether the stay is 4-5 days or just a simple overnight weekend, it has been enjoyable to be part of his experiences and memories.  Of course, the gazillion pictures that I take … from every angle possible to capture every expression given … helps to keep those memories alive.  This year was no exception as we once again set up the beach tent and then accessorized our spot in the sand with chairs, sand castle molds, buckets and shovels, diggers, and dump trucks.  Adding to the fun this year was a very mobile Lillianne.  Wearing the smallest sand shoes I’ve ever seen, Little Miss strutted around with a confidence all of her own.  Her eyes were bright with the excitement of her independence, very limited as it truly was, but nonetheless, she walked through the sand and down into the water … yes, with assistance … and loved every splash, every spray, and every moment in the salty sea.

Daddy and Lillianne

Daddy and Lillianne

Family fun!!

Family fun!!

Cole with this sand castles

Cole with this sand castles

The demolition digger

The demolition digger

Sand castles were constructed by Arndt and Son, then quickly destroyed by Cole Demolitions.  A very contented Lillie Lou sat nearby in her yellow tutu swimsuit, shovel in hand and slinging sand in every direction.  As the noonday sun started its downward descent, a very gritty little girl began to get sleepy.  A quick naked douse in the ocean waves made for a make-shift bathtub, followed by a silky layer of baby powder, a bottle of her favorite beverage (milk) and a warm towel around her tired body … and we soon had a napping 15 month old.  We all took turns as the guardian on duty, while the others continued to play in the sun, sand, and surf with Cole.  By day’s end, happy hearts and tired bodies quickly fell asleep … no doubt dreaming of another fun day at the shore.

Flying kites

Flying kites

Morning brew from a local coffee shop jump started our new day … and within moments, kites were flying overhead and the little people were squealing with excitement.  It wasn’t long, however, before an overcast sky blocked the brilliance of the sun, but a little rain shower couldn’t dampen the activities of the day.  Of course the sun began to shine again as we were picking up sand toys and packing away our beach abode.  After dinner, there was a 3 hour journey back to Mimi and Papaw’s house where baths were taken and snacks were given out freely … and the final leg of the return trip rocked the little ones to sleep.

Silly Lillie Lou!

Silly Lillie Lou!

Lillie LOVES the ocean!

Lillie LOVES the ocean!

As we all sat around the lunch table late Friday afternoon, moments before heading to the shore for our weekend getaway, Cole asked the blessing for our food.  At the end of his usual prayer, he added a spontaneous tag of his own, “and thank You for the beach!”   This little person’s heart-felt prayer was a reminder to us all that God cares about all the details in our lives.

We are blessed to live near this young family … to share in the fun times of traditions, memories, and life experiences.  Won’t you join me in doing the same with those around you?  Whether it be family, friends, or even co-workers, let’s make the most of every moment, realizing that God is the Giver of all good things.

Until next time,
Debbie

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for He is our God
and we are the people of His pasture,
the flock under His care.
Psalm 95:1-7

 

A Snowy New Jersey Valentine

15 Feb

Greater Love has no one than this,
that He lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

When making plans a week before our scheduled trip, the extended travel forecast trumpeted sunny skies and 50 degree temperatures.  With excitement, I called to confirm our on-line reservations, making sure all was in place for our mid-winter excursion to the east coast.  Wanting to do something different this year to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we both agreed to drive the familiar trek to our favorite summer-time destinations along the New Jersey shoreline.  A Groupon for the Bed and Breakfast, great food, a visit with friends, quiet surroundings, and the nagging curiosity of the damage from Hurricane Sandy pulled our hearts to make the final decision to go.  And at the last minute, despite the fact that the weather forecast dramatically changed in that week from unusually warm to being on the edge of a record-breaking blizzard, last Saturday morning we set out for our pre-holiday adventure.

Blowing snow along the road to New Jersey

Blowing snow along the road to New Jersey

Knowing the alarm clock would wake us before daylight, we went to bed early the night before, anticipating a few inches of snow to fall through the wee hours of the morning.  To our great relief, the local roads were clear with little accumulation.  As we headed into the direction of the gorgeous sunrise, the amount of snow that had fallen on the ground began to increase as we traveled, the strong winds blowing it all around, creating a beautiful sight against the back drop of the brilliant blue sky.

We made our way to Toms River to meet our breakfast companions, where we then drove to a tiny hole-in-the wall for tasty eats and great fellowship.  Hearing stories of Hurricane Sandy survival, clean-up, and ministry warmed our hearts as we ate, grateful for God’s watchful care over our friends.

Lamp posts still standing on the destroyed boardwalk of Ocean Grove, NJ ... at sunset

Lamp posts still standing on the destroyed boardwalk of Ocean Grove, NJ … at sunset

A few more miles up the coastline brought us to our familiar little seaside towns where even more snow had fallen.  We drove from one community to another, noticing the number of trash dumpsters dotting the driveways, big loaders and earth moving equipment parked nearby, and signs of ‘do not enter’ posted throughout the region.  A few homes were still boarded up in hurricane-type style, one was a total loss of charred remains, while others were under new construction.  For the most part, however, the towns seemed in tact – businesses up and running … life as usual.  Everything except the beach area itself.  Entire boardwalks washed away, including restroom buildings and ticket huts, with nothing left but the pilings.  Most communities had some sort of organization to their on-going repair … stacks of lumber and boards waiting for the weather to break.  But most shocking was the beach town of Ocean Grove, where the boardwalk street lights still stood on disheveled planks like skeletons in whatever direction the hurricane gales had blown them in.  Nails remain in the wood, dangerously protruding their points.  And no stacks of fresh lumber waiting.

Swirling snow creating crunchy ice on sand

At sunset, swirling snow creating crunchy ice on sand

Beyond the graveyards of seaside boardwalks, however, we found the one thing that is a constant.  The Atlantic Ocean.  The landscape of the beach has changed somewhat as much of the sand washed up into the towns, later to have been brought back and piled high, making a large ridge between the boardwalk pilings and the ocean.  But the ocean continues on.  Waves cresting quite high and crashing against the rocks and sand, sending spray into the air as blizzard-forced winds blew.  Tim and I walked along the ocean’s edge both days, bundled up from head to toe, enjoying the silly antics of the birds who call the beach their home, and the visiting canines and their owners who were out for exercise.  I was most amazed at how 5 inches of snow had fallen the night before, but the sand on the beach was just that, sand.  What very little snow was on the sand was back by the boardwalk area, and the wind would catch it from time to time and swirl it across the beach, in some places forming layers of snowy ice on the wet sand.  It is a very fascinating winter environment.

The Bed and Breakfast was ok – certainly nothing to write home about, or a blog, for that matter, other than to say it was disappointing.  We ate at our favorite BBQ place in Belmar, where I quizzed the waiter about the restaurant and how it fared during Hurricane Sandy.  Having only lost electricity, they still had the ability to cook with gas and a smoker, so they opened their establishment up as a free soup kitchen for several days … during day-light hours.  They fed rescue workers, FEMA, and those whose homes had been destroyed or severely damaged.  As we ate our brisket and ribs, we listened intently to the story and were very glad to support Jersey Shore BBQ with our business.

Our favorite beach ... Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

Our favorite beach … Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

We hope to go back again to the shore before the summer season gets into full swing … while it’s still affordable to stay within walking distance to the ocean.  Much work is left to be done, and it will be exciting to see the progress made since our trip there now.  Two full days went by very quickly, but we are grateful for the chance to get away for a new adventure.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Love.  Appreciation.  Family.  Friendships.  Gifts.  Won’t you join me today as we continue to think about Love?  The roses will wilt, the chocolates will soon all be eaten, and the trip to the New Jersey shore will be nothing more than a mere memory.   But just like the great ocean, there is one Gift that is Constant and never changes.  Not just on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Easter, but this Gift is always available to each one of us.  My prayer is that you will accept Him with your whole heart, for He was given to you with the greatest Love there ever was.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Greater Love has no one than this,
that He lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Happy Day-After Valentine’s Day …

Until next time,
Debbie

And Then The Floods Came …

9 Sep

I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures
of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember
the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures
of every kind on the earth.
Genesis 9:15 -16

 

Taking advantage of the final 3 day weekend of the summer, my hubby and I took off for the New Jersey shore early Saturday morning.  With the impending forecast of rain threatening our mini-vacation, we spent as much time on the sand and in the sea as possible.  Having just returned from our big family vacation with our kids and my mother only four short weeks ago, we anticipated a bit different time of relaxation.  Mingled with the usual noises of the beach and crashing surf was the distinct sound of an occasional snore coming from my husband’s resting body.  I sat comfortably in my sand chair, reading, sunning, laughing at the birds, and people watching.  The little ones were the most intriguing … so much so that Papaw initiated a spontaneous invitation for Cole to bring his parents up for the last day of this holiday weekend.  Prior plans, along with a wet and rainy weather outlook helped make their decision to stay in Baltimore.  Much to our surprise and delight, the sunshine remained bright and clear for most of the day on Monday for those of us who decided to take our chances.  After driving through and admiring the old Victorian and spiritually established beach town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, we headed home.  It was there that we found the rain.

 

Weather forecasts are unpredictable.  I guess they are that way by nature, because weather itself is unpredictable.  To a certain extent, we can be warned about incoming weather, but there always needs to be room for error, change, and adjustment.   This time was no different.  We heard that it was going to rain … the remnant from Tropical Storm Lee was coming up from the gulf coast.  Little did we know that it was going to rain and not stop raining for nearly 60 hours straight, with very small pockets of eerie silence as the rains would momentarily calm down to a sprinkle.  But without fail, the torrential downpours would begin once again, adding to the puddles and gathering ponds and lakes of water everywhere.  Now one of the things so special about south central PA are the many creeks and small streams that literally finger their way through the country side and valleys.  Branching from the stately Susquehanna River that flows through the heart of this picturesque area, they quickly began to overflow their banks and flood everything in their paths. 

Pizza Hut in Hershey, PA

In our former life back in the ‘90s when we used to live out here, a large percentage of our time was spent in the Sweetest Place on Earth.  Our beloved Hershey is one of the worst flooded areas in our local vicinity.  The Swatara Creek flows through the west end of town, where its excessive waters have gathered in great depths in roadways and parking lots, destroying restaurants, businesses, homes, and the zoo.  All up and down the Susquehanna River, from Maryland to New York, widespread damage and destruction is taking place as crest levels are rising to their fullest.

We have been blessed by living where we do … our home is located on the side of a ‘big hill’, as our grandson Cole calls it.  It certainly is not monumental, but from the perspective of this 2 year old, he huffs and puffs and grunts a bit as he carries his kick ball “up the big hill, Mimi!”  He then turns around and kicks the ball and chases it as it naturally races down the hill to the back of the yard.  It is the perfect slant and incline for snow sledding in the winter and slippy slide in the summer!   It is this slope of fun that has protected our home from water damage caused by the heavy rains and flooding. 

In a few days, the rains will cease.  The waters will recede.  The damaged will be rebuilt.  The destroyed will be cleared away and replaced.  Somehow, people will find the hope, the desire, and the motivation to do what is necessary to carry on with life. 

Life does go on … and in its course through the years, it will once again send the heavy rains causing the flood waters to rise.   Much like the circumstances in our lives, the heavy rains come, heartache and sorrow flood our lives and causes damage and destruction.  In the midst of these storms, won’t you join me in asking Jesus Himself to shower on us?  Shower His love, His faithfulness, and His mercy.  click here to listen to the song  Heavy Rain by Adam’s Voice.

Until next time,
Debbie

 

For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 
and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood
came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the
coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be
taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding
with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day
your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known
at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch
and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready,
because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matthew 24:38-44

 

 

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**  Blog photo of sea gull taken at Belmar Beach, New Jersey on September 3, 2011.