My husband surprised me by suggesting that we get away for our anniversary weekend and go back to the Bed & Breakfast where we were married twelve years ago. I adored the idea and so off we went to Wells, ME the place where we use to play hooky, where we got engaged and then eventually were married. An Inn for the win! Originally we had wanted to be married on the jetty at Wells, as for me it’s possibly the most wonderful place in the world. Torrential rains on that day changed our plans and we wound up exchanging our vows in front of the fireplace at the B &B. The Innkeepers at that time told us to use the Inn as if it were our home. Here are some pictures of the sweet place where we were married to include our wedding picture from 2005. When we arrived in our room, Happy Anniversary wishes greeted us along with strawberries dipped in chocolate. Yum!
The first morning of our anniversary weekend we were greeted at breakfast time by Brian, one of the owners. He served us juice and coffee and explained that each of the owners took turns with the various kitchen responsibilities. Our breakfast had been prepared by Lynn, his mother-in-law. I instantly liked her as she served us her amazing quiche. She was warm and welcoming and a great cook too! Next we met her husband who was named Bob. I handed him my camera and asked him to take our picture in front of the fireplace for posterity. I asked him about the t-shirt that he was wearing as it stated a funny expression. He explained that his t-shirt was from a previous business owned by Brian, his son-in-law,. I decided that I should have a picture of it. If you are from Boston you will understand, as it’s all about dropping the Rs in our dialect. My husband and I met some other guests during breakfast including some Canadian friends who were heading off to a Red Sox game. I believe they came to the Inn for a Win!
( Red Sox won…. 10-2 over the Astros).
Bob with his quirky t-shirt
Our weekend was filled with some amazing scenery and a few important Godwinks too. After visiting Kennebunkport and taking some pictures oceanside near the Bush compound, we headed back to our car. As we walked my husband noticed something and he told me to look down. There it was! My daughter’s calling card. Number 10 lives on as she goes where I go. I love you Kenzie.
So I wanted to share in this post, part of a story that is included in my book, “Wish You A Goode Journey”. It’s about my friend Hallie who suffered great loss from the death of her son, CJ Twomey. Hallie and I met in 2014 at the Transplant Games of America in Houston. The Transplant Games were created to be like the Olympics but for organ recipients who participate in a variety of events. As volunteers for Donate Life, Hallie and I were invited to carry the Donate Life banner for Team New England as the team paraded around the stadium in the opening games. As Hallie and I waited in the tunnel with the team for our turn to march out, we introduced ourselves to one another and made conversation. As she shared about her son and I about my daughter, it was evident that she was not a “believer” and was having a tough time accepting CJ’s death. It seems to me that God gave me those thirty minutes perhaps to share with her my belief in heaven and of a loving God who is available to help us. I certainly can understand her line of questioning wanting to know where was that loving God when CJ took his own life? My answer was and will always remain that I believe that God was right there in the midst of it with outstretched arms ready to help her. My faith has carried me in the most troubling times including the accident of my own sweet daughter. But Hallie has come a long way from our first meeting in that football stadium tunnel. Like me she has figured out a way to propel herself forward by finding endeavors to stay focused on anything and everything positive. I am glad to call her my friend and I believe that she is Inn for the Win! Good for you, Hallie , and we will get through this and God willing we will see our children again! One very meaningful endeavor was that Hallie and her husband invited people to spread a tiny amount of her son CJ’s ashes to places near and far in honor of CJ’s adventurous spirit. I was also allowed the chance to partake in this journey by taking CJ to a very sacred place. ( You will have to read my book to learn of the amazing Godwink that I received during this beautiful experience).
Here I am Scattering CJ’s Ashes on My Daughter Kenzie’s Angel Rock-
As my husband and I began day two of our stay at the B & B, we had more time to get to know Brian the owner. As we talked and I mentioned my volunteer work with New England Donor Services he asked if I knew a person by the name of Hallie. He mentioned that he knew that she had donated CJ’s organs. He explained that he and Hallie had graduated from high school together. It was an amazing Godwink for me as Brian shared with me his story of hiking up Mt. Washington to scatter CJ’s ashes. He told of his passion for hiking up to the top of Mt.Washington many times when he was younger. Following a car accident Brian could no longer do it as he had tried a time or two and always fell short of reaching the summit due to his pain and physical limitations. But he decided to ask Hallie if he could scatter some of CJ’s ashes and he attempted the climb. Brian got very emotional as he shared with us how the pain in his legs was debilitating as he climbed and that he felt at one point that he was not going to make it to the top. He felt it essential that he press through the pain to honor Hallie’s son’s memory. Brian made it to the summit and it was apparent that the experience was so meaningful to him. Wow! What a Godwink! This amazes me,my re-connection with Hallie through a chance meeting with Brian, considering the fact that Brian is a different owner of the Inn from when my Bob and I were married twelve years ago. It makes me entertain the idea that my Kenzie and Hallie’s CJ have somehow met in Heaven and through God’s miraculous hand, God orchestrated our initial meeting at the Transplant Games in Houston and then most recently through a chance encounter at a B & B in Maine. God isnt finished with us yet, Hallie. God is great!
As my husband and I continued to visit with Brian, he also shared with us that his father-in-law Bob ( pictured above) , was diagnosed with stage four cancer . We were told by Lynn (Bob’s wife) to be sure and ask him about his t-shirt that he was wearing on that second day.
Our host and owner of the Beach Farm Inn, Brian, made it to the summit to honor the memory of CJ Twomey.
And so we asked Bob about his t-shirt of the day. The back said “WHAT’S YOMO”?
Abbreviated for “what’s your moment”. And the front had Bob’s significant date:
06-12-17. Bob explained that 06-12-17 was his moment that was driving him as he battled cancer because that was the date of his grandson’s graduation. He was so grateful that he lived to see his grandson graduate! Beautiful! I encouraged this very nice man to never give up and I feel quite confident that he is Inn For the Win! May God continue to bless you and your family, Bob.
As we packed up to leave the B & B, I decided to share my Godwink from the other day with these sweet folks. We left the dime as a sign (of the power of hope and love). I am so grateful for the Godwinks.
Pictured: Bob, Lynn, Janine and Brian of Beach Farm Inn
As I headed out of town on that crisp autumn morning I breathed deep as I approached Kenzie’s accident site. I pass by it perhaps a minimum of four times daily as it’s on the way and back from most every place that I travel. For some reason as I passed by it the other morning, the beauty that surrounded the area transfixed me and even caused me to actually turn around and go back to take pictures. Who takes pictures of a place that has caused them so much sadness? The mom of a beautiful daughter, who searches for hope and understanding in the circle of life; me!
A field of Milkweed provided new inspiration as I started to think about milkweed and its purpose in the circle of life. How intriguing to me the knowledge that Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. As most of you know if you have been following my posts, what a positive Godwink the monarch butterfly has been for myself and others in honoring the memory of our amazing girl. So it seems fitting that there is an abundance of milkweed here at the place where Kenzie took her last true breath.
When I write I try to find the common thread or theme if you will and then pick a title for my piece. The title Circle of Life kept coming back to me. I thought of the song and a wonderful trip that I took with Makenzie to attend the Lion King performance in 2009. It was her first and only Broadway musical that she attended. We were both awestruck by the performance with the fantastic costumes and deep rich music accompanied by the live orchestra. Kenzie asked me several times later on if we could go again. How blessed I am to have had that beautiful experience with her.
In the circle of life It’s the wheel of fortune It’s the leap of faith It’s the band of hope Till we find our place On the path unwinding In the circle, the circle of life Some of us fall by the wayside And some of us soar to the stars And some of us sail through our troubles And some have to live with the scars There’s far too much to take in here More to find than can ever be found But the Sun rolling high through the sapphire sky Keeps great and small on the endless round – “Circle of Life”, Elton John
Today I was surprised with a visit from my sweet friend Pam. She came by to ask permission to plant daffodil bulbs at Makenzie’s accident site. Pam and Kenzie’s teacher Clare decided it was time. It brings to me again the thought of The Circle of Life and how the spot will be given new life after death by being transformed with God’s handiwork which will offer joy and hope to those who remember as they pass by.
As Pam and I visited, we looked at my scrapbooks together and we came upon one of Kenzie’s graded papers which I had saved. It was a sonnet that was her assignment in her English Lit class. The date that Kenzie turned her assignment in was January 28, 2010, the day before her fatal accident. Here is the sonnet:
Remember me when I am gone away. Gone Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned: Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for awhile
And afterwards remember,do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile
Then that you remember and be sad. Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
I think of this as a gift or a Godwink as I once again consider the notion of the circle of life and how Godly perspective can change so much for a believer.
This, one of my favorite verses from Phillipians 4:8
Leaving you with this courtesy of YouTube, a link to Broadway’s amazing Lion King and its performance of Circle of Life .
When you hear this song, I hope you will remember the lyrics:
In the circle of life It’s the wheel of fortune It’s the leap of faith It’s the band of hope Till we find our place On the path unwinding,
Remembering as far back as a young girl, I always loved solo walks in the woods. It was a time of reflection and maybe even at a young age the beginning of some soul searching as I began private conversations with God. On my walks in the woods near my childhood home there was a babbling brook, and in the middle of the brook, a large flat rock that my sister named Mermaid Rock. Navigating over smaller rocks to get there, I would sit, sometimes write, even nap a little in this special place which gave me a sense of peace and belonging.
What are conversations with God ? Some would say prayer, others contemplation and reflection and for me I would simply say the dialogue of my heart connecting with His. I think of the delight that our God of the universe must have when His children take time out of their lives to give thanks, to make heart-felt pleas, and to simply be quiet and listen to His voice. I am forever grateful for these moments spent.
We have beautiful meadows and fields next to our home and my children and I would hike through the fields and woods with our English Springer Sam, on late autumn afternoons after school. So, I decided to take a bike ride and hike today through the deep fields and meadows to a favorite spot that we use to go. There was a little bridge crossing over a babbling brook with a tiny waterfall. This place gives me peace of mind, solitude and an amazing natural spiritual connection to God. I decided to spend some time, have a conversation with God, and write my blog. I am forever grateful for this spot.
IMG_1337 click on this link to have a moment at the tiny waterfall at the bridge.
There is another place where I connect with God. Sitting, standing, and even kneeling in front of a beautiful picture that I have of Christ which hangs on our bedroom wall. I have found myself in front of it while having tear-filled heart-felt dialogue with my creator. The creator who blessed me with two beautiful children, with love to last a life-time but, who also allowed me gigantic parenting struggles and deepest wounds as I suffered through some of the toughest days of my life. I believe that God desires for us to need Him. I would gaze at the picture of Christ and contemplate what it must have been like for God, our Father to see His own son suffer in the manner in which he did. And following Kenzie’s death I could imagine her sitting in heaven with God looking down pained as they watched me suffer as I tried to make sense of it all. I do believe that it’s why I’ve been gifted with Godwinks. Kenzie inspired and as God provided small tokens to keep me focused on healing and in finding joy even in the unfathomable. I am forever grateful.
I wanted to share my Godwink from this past week. I had finally after seven years emptied and remodeled our daughter’s room. A very big and long process. I sensed my daughter was inspiring me to get the job done. She liked the color yellow and I felt drawn to a bright happy shade for my new office space and yet still and always will be Kenzie’s room. It is now painted a sun/fun filled shade of yellow and decorated with art that has been a part of this journey. Makenzie’s senior portrait with her car hangs on the wall. Anyway, last week I found a couple of straggler paper bags filled with Kenzie’s schoolwork that I had labeled ” BURN ” . My thought was that I could not have any of my daughter’s things ending up in the landfill. I remember talking with God and imploring Him of what to do? I simply could not keep everything. So, I decided to take one last look over her academic work, her silly doodles and such and ended up with her English composition book in my hands. As I thumbed through it I stopped at a page with a title ” The Queen of Warwick”. This made me laugh as it was the title that I gave myself when my children were small. There was a time when my son would only answer to the name Sonic for a cartoon character “Sonic Hedgehog” and a time when Makenzie would not respond to anything except “Pocahontas”! You can imagine being a mom at a park or in a store calling out these unusual names to get the attention of my children. The only rule was that I too would be called something different and would only answer to the name “Queen of Warwick”. So there in that English composition book I found an essay that my daughter had written about me, her mom. As I read it I got that oh so familar lump in my throat and the tears, happy tears flooded my eyes. I am forever grateful for happy tears.
Here is her handwritten essay: (also typed below)… I love finding her hand writing!
The Queen of Warwick” by: Makenzie Goode – English/History-
People in history have done things to change and impact other people’s lives. Bono for example raises millions of dollars to help fight AIDS in Africa. If we go back a couple of years, other famous people have impacted lives such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. They wanted peace and equality for all races, religions, and people. Although these people inspire me to change, there are people everywhere making changes that don’t get enough recognition for it. One of these people is my mother.
My mom has done so much for me and my brother, and loves us more than anything. She wants us to be the best we can. My mom teaches us right from wrong and raised us in the church. What my mother does that I think is so special is how she donates so much of her paycheck to the church. She will spend about $1,000 dollars a summer, for me to go to a Christian summer camp, to become an amazing person. We also sponsor a young girl from Kenya. Her name is Naeku and she lives in an HIV/AIDS infected area. My mom donates money to an organization called “Compassion” and the money goes to Naeku’s family. Naeku is five years old and has five brothers and sisters so I imagine things are hard for her family. I’m proud of my mom for going out of her way to help this family in need.
My mom is the most patient and easy-going woman that I know. I would like to be like her when I grow up because she is so close to God and has faith in Him. I feel happy knowing that we’re doing something to help even one person.
I too, have helped students in Africa with my sixth grade class. We created hand-made greeting card packages and sold them raising $1,050.00. After that a lady from my town (Pat Lemon) doubled it, helping us to donate about $2,000.00. This money went to buying school supplies and was used to build a well for good healthy drinking water. I feel like my mom in that sense, because we chose to help by donating.
I hope that when I’m older, greed doesn’t overcome me, and I can give back to the world just as much as she does. My mother is quite an amazing person and she inspires me to change every time I see Naeku’s picture on the refrigerator.
Wow! What an amazing discovery for me! This sweet Godwink gifted just before I randomly tossed her school papers out. I was led to read that paper that Kenzie wrote as she honored me, her mom. I never knew she had those thoughts, and relieved to know she truly understood how much I loved her and her brother. Thank you Kenzie, and thank you my father in heaven, for always knowing exactly what I need; in helping me to find the joy in the journey.
How blessed I am to have conversations with God the creator of the universe who knows me simply as his own.
But the water that I give to them becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life.
As we waited in line for one of our favorite restaurants to open, I glanced back at a man standing in line alone behind us. My eyes were drawn to a colorful bracelet that the man was wearing but immediately he saw me and commented “yes that is a back brace that I am wearing” ( he had a back brace which could be seen secured to his waistline), so I hesitated at first but then decided to just trust and go as I explained to him that I was actually looking at his bracelet and inquired about it. The man, I learned was also a veteran soldier and introduced himself as Phil as he shook my hand. As we talked he showed me his bracelet and allowed me to take pictures. Square charms made up the bracelet, each of which he received while attending therapy support group meetings. He commented that he attended the meetings for his post traumatic stress stemming from his service in the U..S. Coastguard. He explained that the support group is compiled of other military service men and women from all five branches who suffer from similar disorders. They relate to one another having an understanding of what each may have been subjected to in their line of military service.
Pictured is the military bracelet with the charms.
I asked Phil about where he had served and he told me about his three years of active service in the Middle East working in various security positions including the guarding of seaports. His work took him to distant places to thwart off the advancement of pirates. He expressed that what he saw and experienced was very disturbing. So I thanked him for his service; my husband thanked him too! His response was that it was his honor and privilege to serve. After sensing a nudge, I decided to trust and go! I gave to Phil my Godwink business card thinking that perhaps something that is shared here on my blog, might strike a chord in his heart if he stops by to read a little. Sharing my faith in Christ who strengthens me, who gives me joy and new life is my privilege.
That exchange got me to thinking about the fact that we all have a story. If he and I had not struck up conversation with one another, I never would have learned a bit of his story nor been able to thank him for his service. So, I thought I would pose this question: how are you personally engaging with others in the world? Do you ever sense an urge to do something to help someone or simply reach out, but then pass if off as too out of the ordinary or just decide not to make the effort for fear of how your action or words might be received?
Stepping out of our comfort zone is good for us as it develops our character,while building self confidence. As we get more comfortable in speaking to others,it becomes easier to share ourselves, and our gifts, as we reflect Christ’s image from within us. He’s there in you and in me just waiting to be given a bigger role in our lives. When we invite God to present us with opportunities to serve, we better not be surprised at what He may have up His God sleeve. Oh, but what a complete blessing it can be if we just trust and go as we serve.
So, just thought that I would close this post with an idea. Given the many sad circumstances that surround us whether it’s in our families, communities and world at large, why not make it a goal to step out and bless one person or situation daily by offering up yourself. And, when you sense a nudge, don’t hesitate, don’t stop just trust and go!
So I heard a song on the radio just now and felt the nudge to share a few of the lines here.
THESE ARE ESPECIALLY FOR YOU, PHIL ! My U.S. Coastguard friend…
“Eye Of The Storm” by: Ryan Stevanson
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
When the solid ground is falling out from underneath my feet
Between the black skies, and my red eyes, I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been sold out by my friends and my family
I can feel the rain reminding me
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
Mmm, when my hopes and dreams are far from me, and I’m runnin’ out of faith
I see the future I picture slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Last week I wandered into an art gallery to look around. I saw inspiration in the watercolors, charcoal paintings, and photography. In viewing the art one could sense an array of sentiments, including bittersweet emotion; that one emotion my heart knows too well.
The curator of the gallery greeted me and we started up conversation as it was just he and I in the gallery. I asked the man if his art was displayed and would he share it with me and he immediately walked over to his published books of his stunning photography. In one of his books he aligned his photography with poetry that had been written by his grandmother years earlier. Such a treasure. I commented that I enjoyed writing myself and had also published a book of my own and explained a little of its content. Recognition and sadness could be found in the eyes of the man as my words left my lips. The pain painted across his face was obvious as he shared that he had lost his son to a drug overdose. That dad was hurting and as we chatted I could sense the anger frustration and resentment in his dialogue. There was absolutely no joy nor bittersweet emotion to.be noted in that dad. It came to me that my happenstance into this gallery had been divinely orchestrated.
Of late I’ve been introduced to several people who are suffering from the same circumstance. They’ve lost their children to addiction and drug overdose. It brings such hurt to my heart. It brings me back to the day I lost my roommate who died from her own drug overdose on New Years Day back in the 80’s. It was at that time, the most painful death that I had encountered in my young life and I don’t believe I’ve ever truly processed it. To learn now of so many young lives being robbed due to addiction is hopeless and tragic. For weeks now I have sensed a tug at my heartstrings to write about this very subject and yesterday it became evident that it’s what I next needed to address in my blog posting.
As I sat on the beach yesterday, with my notebook and began to write, my husband shouted: “look out”! With that, a large beautiful monarch butterfly flew at my face and then circled and landed on my back. My husband took pictures as this gave me such joy. For those who have not read my book nor have knowledge of our story, butterflies have been outstanding Godwinks for myself and Kenzie’s friends. We had a butterfly launch at her would be high school graduation and Kenzie’s “besties” released seventy-seven monarch butterflies following graduation. Butterflies seem to appear as a sign that God is with me and the spirit of Makenzie, as well. The butterfly in this picture allowed me to hold it and then after it detached I left it sitting on the cooler next to my beach chair. It actually stayed there on the cooler next to us for over ten minutes. This was my Godwink; affirmation that what I was inspired to write was His intention.
Another recent occurrence was that one of Makenzie’s childhood friends shared her story on social media about her addiction and journey back. I had absolutely no idea! I connected with her and asked if I could share her story and she agreed.
Here is her testimony:
“Four years ago today I made a choice to change. Four years ago today I went to the emergency room thinking that I was dying. I knew telling the truth and admitting defeat would be my only option. I was puking and shitting (TMI) my brains out, shaking like a leaf, couldn’t sit still, my skin itching like there was a million ants crawling all over me. Staring at the ceiling I was deciding if I should tell the truth or lie. The ER doctor came in and I told him I was going through withdrawals. I hadn’t had any pain medication in over forty-eight hours and asked him to please give me something to stop that feeling. From that day forward my road to recovery started. It wasn’t easy. My doctor called me every two hours on the dot for two weeks! I had to take a survey with her on the phone to see how I was doing. She never gave up on me and so I didn’t give up on myself either. Even though I felt like I was being stabbed on every place of my body I knew I only had to get through the next two hours. Time felt like it stood still. It was miserable! I’m four years sober. I’ve not once relapsed. I’ve not been tempted in anyway to go back. Why? Because I can’t even explain to you what those withdrawals felt like and I NEVER want to go through that again EVER! My life has been so much better not constantly worrying about where I could get them ( pain meds), messaging everyone that I knew. I had a problem that was ruining my life, my relationships, everything. I’m so much better now! I’ve barely had ANY issues with my kidneys anymore ( my debilitating illness being the initial reason for my drug use). Flare-ups here and there but nothing extremely bad. I will NEVER put another pain medication in my body unless I’m seriously injured and have no choice but to do so! I’m so thankful for my doctor who took two weeks out of her life, her schedule, her sleep to make sure she called me every two hours twenty-four hours a day! I am grateful for Leo for pushing me into getting help for not him nor Tristan ( our son) but for myself. I am thankful for my parents for their help in supporting my detox. I feel bad as well for everyone who had to see me go through that time and I am sorry to everyone that I ever hurt while being clouded by my drug of choice! I’m happy and sober and I will forever be thankful that I stopped before it got completely out of control! I am just thankful for my life!!! I don’t want this to seem like I’m bragging or judging anyone who has been down this road and it may not have been as easy for them. I’m not bragging that I’m not an addict anymore because I am. I am an addict and I will be an addict for the rest of my life, that’s not something that will ever change! But now I’m In control, not a drug! Me!” ❤️❤️
So my message to Elizabeth was this:
“Your post sooo brave!! Thank God you had a doctor who chose to really serve you. Thank God you did not give up on you. You were given a second chance (by God) and you grabbed it. Elizabeth will you allow me to use your narrative in my blog piece? My blog is read all over the world.. perhaps it (your story) can help someone or many.
This my sweet friend, I believe is your purpose.. to share your story to help others “💜
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
So I’ve been thinking about our God of second chances and wanted to share a portion of the devotional email that I received today:
Nothing that is not God’s will can come into the life of one who trusts and obeys God. This fact is enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy. For “God’s will is the one hopeful, glad, and glorious thing in the world”; and it is working in the omnipotence for us all the time, with nothing to prevent it if we are surrendered and believing.
In the center of the circle of the will of God I stand. There can come no second causes, All must come from His dear hand. All is well! for ’tis my Father who my life hath planned.
Shall I pass through waves of sorrow? Then I know it will be best; Though I cannot tell the reason, I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful, So in perfect peace I rest, with the shade and with the sunshine, with the joy and with the pain, Lord, I trust Thee, both are needed, each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it, Often means our heavenly gain. –I. G. W.
From Crosswalks.com (Aug. 14, 2017)
My visit that day at the art gallery lasted longer than I had expected. I figured that I needed to share my story as well as my faith with that very bitter dad. He told me that he wasn’t religious and that he and God had an understanding. I shared with him how my faith in Christ carried me through the dark times and blessed me with even joy above and beyond the bittersweet. I asked the dad how he was using his son’s tragedy to help others. He told me that he had shared his son’s story years earlier at a few speaking engagements but had done nothing for a long time. And so I encouraged him to get back to it as it could help him with the healing even now, eleven years later, as it serves others in his son’s memory for a bigger purpose.
God will use us in His own pre-designed capacity if we say a resounding yes Lord, send me! What if we said: “Send me out to listen, Lord, send me out to share; send me to reach others with your loving care”? Perhaps by serving one another even when we are suffering in our own despair, He will transform us; change our bitter into bittersweet.
Sitting oceanside on this exquisite Sunday morning, it almost feels like I am attending church in this beautiful place. In my estimation it is prettier than any cathedral. Today there are no distractions. No cute little babies sitting in the pew in front of me, no standing, kneeling, sitting in repetition. Just me in my beach chair with my open Bible app on my phone and a receptive heart seeking all that He has for me.
So Ecclesiastes came to mind and I decided to look it up. This well known verse from chapter 3 came up (verses 2-8 ) and it seems so fitting for my blog post this week. Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. NIV 2 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
A couple of days ago we took our grandson to the beach for some fun in the hot sun. As we set up our beach umbrella and all of our gear I noticed a woman sitting in a beach chair near us. Her lavender bathing suit caught my eye and I paid her a compliment. She smiled. So later on I struck up conversation ( I always do.. ha ha) and asked her about the paperback book that she was reading. She was reading some military themed fiction and although she told me it was pretty good, she wasn’t too convincing. So out of the blue I told her that I had written and published a book. ( Geeze, I’m so bold with whom and what I share, but I guess that it’s just part of who I’ve become). So as she asked me what the book was about and I told her, she shared with me that she had suddenly lost her husband a week ago. It was certainly a time for a hug. Even though we were random strangers we were both members of a greater family as part of God’s family as descendants of Adam and Eve. We both understood significant sorrow. My new acquaintance seemed not to mind my hug. As we chatted we discovered that we knew some of the same people even though she resides in Florida and me in Western Mass. I actually knew her brother who lives a few doors down from the place where we vacation. It is amazing to see how we truly all are connected.
Anyway, I decided to gift my new friend a copy of “Wish You A Goode Journey” and I headed to my car to get it. As I flip flopped through the hot sand something caught my eye. A fluttering monarch just beyond my reach. This, my Godwink, followed me as I treked through the sand. Really…A monarch on the beach? A blessed reminder that my girl is always with me as is God.
Anne, my newest friend thanked me for the book and told me that she was an artist. She mentioned that she was thinking it might be a time for painting. Yes! I thought, a perfect time for painting! I find when emotionally charged, creativity is at its best! . Anne went to her car and retrieved her water colors while we watched her stuff.
The day played out and we fed the meter several times as we stayed later than Bob and I had originally planned. Our grandson was a fish in that frigid ocean water! It was just a time for relaxation and rejuvenation. The ocean always does that for us.
A few hours later, my new friend appeared at our umbrella and presented me with one of her sweet paintings.
Please check out her website to see all her beautiful work.
Below is the watercolor she created while we were at the beach.
“Low tide ” by Anne Sands
Decided to share this piece (below) , in memory and honor of Anne’s husband Billl and my dear ole dad “Moe” who was a sailor for the U.S. Navy. It just seemed fitting to add this to my seashore blog post.
Gone From My Sight by: Henry VanDyke
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me — not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying...
There is most definitely a time for every season under heaven. Thank God we have been given the blessing of this perspective and that beautiful verse from Ecclesiastes.
Throughout my faith journey, I have asked God to show me signs to let me know He is near, as I ask for guidance through my prayers of supplication. What does that mean? It means that I humbly ask God for His help through what I now fondly refer to as Godwinks. Sometimes it is a simple conversation with my creator that says, “Help, Give me a sign”!
I remember the anxiety that I felt when purchasing my first car, a used 1969 Volkswagon beetle bug. I lived in Houston, TX at the time, and had no one there like my dad to give it a good look over. I had saved up $1000.00 of my hard earned money to make this purchase and couldn’t afford to buy a lemon. There were no lemon laws in Houston, TX. So, I went to the seller’s house, an elderly gentlemen, to see his beetle bug. He was from Poland and spoke with a polish accent and I found it difficult to understand him as we conversed. Also, to my dismay I learned that the car was a standard transmission so I would need to learn to drive it as well. The man took me for a ride in the car and showed me the ins and outs of it. It was very plain and in thinking retrospectively probably not the best choice for city driving on the super highways, but I chose it as it would be conservative on gas. I asked the man for a minute and he walked away to give me time and space. I prayed. I was so very nervous about this purchase and asked God to give me a sign. I remember standing there under a big pecan tree in that back yard and looking up could see the sun streaming through the leaves of the tree. While looking at the leaves I could see an image and I remember that It looked like the face of Christ to me and I felt an immense peace come over me. My anxiety was suddenly gone. I will never forget that experience. And so I decided to purchase the car as I negotiated a lower price ( it’s what we New Englanders do) and the elderly gentleman and I finally shook hands. I was young, 19 years old, but the lesson of prayer that my parents instilled in me at a young age has proved to help me find solace in every situation.
Living in Houston was a time of growth. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I can see now how God used the trials in my life to mold and strengthen my faith. As a young adult I lived superficially worrying about outward appearances and about joining friends at the next happy hour. Yes, we partied in excess! Because of this, I eventually experienced a deep emptiness and a real drought in my spiritual life. On December 31st, (New Year’s Eve) I lost my young 19 year old friend and room-mate Lesa, to a drug overdose. This was a life altering experience for me. To say it woke me up would be an understatement. Following Lesa’s funeral I took a little trip alone to Corpus Christi,TX to sort things out for myself and I remember inviting Jesus back into my life amidst my thoughts. As I stared out at the vast ocean I just knew that He had bigger plans for my life.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 2:9-11
When we relinquish control of our lives to God amazing things happen.
I googled Corpus Christie to learn how it got its ‘name and found this:
In 1519, on the Roman Catholic Feast Day of Corpus Christi, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered a lush semi-tropical bay on what is now the southern coast of Texas. The bay, and the city that later sprung up there, took the name of the feast day celebrating the “Body of Christ.”
So I thought it intriguing that Corpus Christi was the place where I gave my heart to Christ
A song played on my livestream today and as I paid attention to the lyrics it gave me a smile and I wanted to share a few of the lines here:
The song “Keep Your Eyes Open”, by: Need to Breathe
Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
Open up your eyes, keep your eyes open
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me
To keep your eyes… Open, my love
So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart
If you keep your eyes… Open, my love
Keep your eyes…open
So grateful my God has given me an open heart to receive all that He has for my life. His plans are so much better than mine, I will wait patiently and when He Gives Me A Sign I will give thanks.
My dream as a young girl right up through my teens was to become a flight attendant, I know, I wasn’t dreaming big enough! I’ve never really been a person who chased fame and fortune but was always attracted to travel. At the time I figured that it would provide a means to see the world. If I recall correctly I went on 29 interviews with various airlines in pursuit of a flight attendant job.. When I saw an advertisement for an initial meet and greet with an airline that was hiring, I always went. As I sat in a roomful of a hundred or more hopefuls and we were invited to stand up and introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about ourselves, I was the person that always jumped up first. I figured that this initial display of self-confidence would assure me a second interview, and it seemed too. To be hired with an airline as a flight attendant you needed to make it through four interviews. I usually made it through three and actually was invited back with two airlines for their fourth interview. I remember being flown first class to Dallas for my fourth interview with American but somehow managed to screw it up. I also was invited to a fourth interview with Pan American Airlines to interview for an international position and had to take two foreign language exams. I chose French as I had studied French in high school ( I also studied Swedish in college, but to this day I am not quite sure why, except that the language intrigued me). Anyhow, they told me I aced both my French written and conversational exams and was invited to meet with the Executive board as well as the Vice President of Pan American Air for a final interview. I was an extremely nervous nineteen year old seated at that board room conference table. I remember how nervous that I was as I kept a smile pasted on my face and my lower lip quivered. At that final interview, I had to answer a series of questions about how I would handle certain situations such as screaming babies and unruly passengers. But then the question came about what I would do with the passengers if I learned from the pilot that the plane encountered mechanical difficulties was going to go down and probably crash. My answer was thoughtful and from my heart, but not what this host of executives was looking for. I explained that I would probably tell the passengers what was happening and try to calm them and would invite them to pray to God with me for His perfect intervention. I knew as the words escaped my lips that I would not be flying the friendly skies with that organization. They thanked me and politely escorted me out of the conference room.
So God had an alternate plan for my life which did not include flying for business in that chapter of my life, and I settled on a position as a travel agent for awhile, and afterwards working in the hospitality industry in sales and marketing. I was blessed with a few very sweet positions including a director of sales and marketing position where I had the opportunity to plan and work on the PGA tour at a prestigious golf course. It was fun, but not rewarding. I have learned that its not about serving celebrities nor the monetary gains in life that have provided me with the most happiness. I have found the biggest blessings in the opportunities presented where I can get to know someone personally. It warms my heart when God uses our story to inspire others by sharing, encouraging, listening and building them up. It’s wonderful to witness the rekindling of their faith.
Today, I had to get on a plane headed to St.Louis. As I jumped out of my car, on an impulse, I grabbed a copy of my book, Wish You a Goode Journey. and stuffed it in my bag. I just knew God would place me in a position to share it at some point in my travel. It just happened to be the very first segment of my flight. The person seated next to me was on her way to San Francisco on business. We started to chat and she mentioned that she was not so religious but that she did pray everyday. As we continued to talk, she started to open up to me and eventually she was sharing with me about her faith in God as she shared many of her own examples of God’s faithfulness and provisions in her life. I shared with her about Makenzie; about God’s perfect plan for her life and mine too. I shared about Kenzie’s gifts and the lives she saved and the woman next to me got very sad and tearful. She told me that her sister had just lost her son only two months earlier and about the sadness that surrounds her sister. She also told me that her nephew, her sister’s son helped and even saved fifteen lives! Wow! It was nice to hear about this selfless guy who friends gravitated to in life for help, advice, and a listening ear. And as I was flying the friendly skies, God in His perfect seating assignment placed me in seat 10 D and the woman next to me in seat 10 C. ( I love that he used row 10… a perfect Godwink)! My new friend and I exchanged information and of course a copy of Wish You A Goode Journey inscribed to her sister Martha. She has already requested a get- together with she and her sister and I, in August.
So I realize now that God is using me in a different capacity as I am flying the friendly skies. His plan is so much greater than mine. He is allowing me to serve others in a much bigger capacity for Him,
When I personally autograph the book, many times I include this scripture and so I want to share it here:
Lately a pervading thought and phrase keeps coming back to me “It’s All About…”. Last week I ventured a bit south to a friend’s beautiful boutique for a little shopping and an opportunity to simply catch up. I had never visited her at her shop which is called “It’s All About…Me”. Her sweet little boutique was filled with treasures to include clothing, jewelry, trinkets and other niceties for women. I had fun shopping, sharing and conversing on that afternoon. But for some reason the name of her store consumed my thoughts.
The following day, while listening to the radio during my drive time home from work, I listened to a talk show and the title of the program that day was “It’s All About …You”. The question/ core of the message was: are you living a life that is all about you? It certainly stopped me in my thoughts and made me give mindful reflection of my own life and actions. Am I living a self-centered, me first, kind of existence or am I using every opportunity to point others to Christ?
Today during my devotion, I read from a book called The Message which I recently acquired. It is a book compiled of the New Testament but which is written in “layman” terms which I found to be easily digestible text. The scriptures that I read were from Phillipians and II Timothy; which told about when Paul was held prisoner because of his faith but used his imprisonment to point others to Christ. His imprisonment back fired for his captors as Paul was sharing the gospel with the other prisoners and even the guards. Wow! Paul was living his life sacrificially and it was not a life of “It’s all about…” me but moreover a life of “it’s all about …” God, as he pointed others to Jesus; and still does so many thousands of years after his life in prison.
(The above text shared from: The Message)
I find it intriguing the people that God places in our paths for His purposes. I recently received a friend request from someone that I did not know ( it happens a lot) and I accepted her request and we began texting back and forth. I learned that she had lost her son to an accidental drug overdose. I learned that our life paths seem similarly aligned and that she too has the understanding of her purpose now in this unimaginable tragedy that has hit her where she lives. My new friend is using her voice to bring this horrible epidemic to the forefront locally and at the state and national government levels. God willing her voice will be used for His amazing purpose, and in the end it’s all about… Him.
The above text shared from: The Message
I like the lyrics of a song by one of my favorite bands “Casting Crowns”. Thought I would share a few stanzas here and the link to their Youtube video also:
LIFE SONG By: Casting Crowns
Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
Now joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight
May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
I want to sign your name
To the end of this day
Lord led my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to you
Click on the link to hear this beautiful song in full
Hoping you will prayerfully ask God for the compass to His purpose for your life and that you will come to a joy filled knowing that in the end “it’s all about…Him”.
As I was reading my daily devotional, memories came flooding back to me about the origin of my Living Light devotional; of how I acquired it.
Years ago when my children were very small, our family had an opportunity to purchase an older camper on a seasonal sight at our favorite lakeside campground. The circumstances in which this opportunity arose was a sad one. Another family lost their dad after a heated basketball game in the campground basketball court. The man, his name was Burt, died at the young age of 53 after suffering a heart attack. His older model camper that we purchased had seen many summers of fun and laughter for this other family beginning when their kids were young right up through their teens. We felt blessed to have it, but it came at the significant cost of someone else’s heartache. I observed how very sad it was for this woman, her name was Connie, to part with her family’s beloved place. She walked us through all the regimens of opening and closing their camper, their treasured second home, as she showed us how everything worked. She also gifted us some of their family camping items including a perfectly placed hat hook for her husband’s baseball cap, a Pit family card game that came with a metal bell, and a daily devotional called “Living Light” As you can see from the picture below, it is well worn as it is well read, and to this day my favorite daily devotional.
That little camper was our family’s first experience at camping as a family and led to many fun days and nights spent at Pilgrim Pines. There is no place nor adventure on earth like family camping, especially at Pilgrim Pines. I recall countless hours of our vacation spent at the frog pond with my children knee deep in mucky muck as I waded in, in our attempts at netting the biggest frog for the weekly frog jumping contest. The frogs were always promptly put back in their pond and I have to wonder what those croakers thought of that weekly ritual. Family camp consisted of a variety of activities offered each day. I remember learning how to bake Swedish Limpa bread with my kids and did some basket weaving, took paddleboat rides, and ty dying too. We climbed Mount Monadnock and also picked blueberries at Pitcher Mountain. On every Friday at the end of each family camp week, a family triathlon was held. As I remember, Kenzie swam, Sean ran and I biked the two miles around the lake. Their dad was there to cheer our family on. We never won but had some good laughs trying.
A favorite time was during the evenings, taking our lantern lit walks around the camp roads in the darkness as we peaked in at the other camp sites while walking by. We heard laughter and singing and spied card games and campfires, flaming marshmallows, and sing-alongs too. We oberved sweet memory making of shared times that cannot be replaced. I remember one of those walks with Kenzie when she was about ten years old. She had just returned to us from spending a week at Camp Squanto, the Bible camp just up the road. As we walked and talked my daughter asked me out of the blue if I believed in angels. It did not take me long to answer,affirmatively as I asked her why. She explained that at the end of week campfire that night before, as the kids sang their camp songs and prayed, some even giving their lives over to Christ, Makenzie saw an angel sitting on the big rock; it was living light and it was glowing. I have never questioned that she saw an angel as I believe she did. God’s promise to her ( and me) that He would always watch over her. His living light in our darkness.
This is a recent pic of the traditional Friday night camp fires at Camp Squanto… makes my heart smile as tradition continues
The autumn after Kenzie died, I received a surprising picture text from my brother-in-law Dave who is the Maintenance Superintendent of Camp Squanto, the Bible Camp. He and his crew were in the process of painting the camper cabins and came across some graffiti written on the closet wall of Cabin Five. It was Makenzie’s handwriting! You can probably imagine how it made me feel to see it. He promised that as long as he was in charge, it would not be repainted..
Senior Girls Gone Wild. Chelsea forever. Peace Kenzie and Kayla 2009
A few years later I returned to Camp Squanto and ventured up into the woods to the area where those weekly end of camp, campfires were held. It was a cool November day and the camp was deserted and very quiet. I saw the big rock where Kenzie had seen the angel years earlier and thought about where she may have been seated in the campfire circle. While I was there visiting on that November afternoon, I prayed to God, I cried, and I talked to Kenzie too. Often I ask why she had to leave us as I still can’t make much sense of it. As I was leaving, I felt compelled to turn around and I saw the beautiful sunlight streaming through the woods and decided to snap a couple of pictures. Later when I looked at the pictures, I saw my Godwink! Do you see the purple on the big Angel Rock ? (Truly when I was there, there was no purple painted on the rock). And also look at the unusual shape on the tree. I believe that it was my angel’s calling card to me. God’s living light left as a reminder of the hope that I have in Him.
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people”. Revelations 14:6
Do you read daily from the Word of God? I find that for me, reading from the Bible or a Bible devotional is a great way to start and/or end each day, as it helps provide daily perspective as I walk in His Living Light.
Below is a poem that I just found in some things that I have collected over these past years . I believe my sweet friend Norma sent it to me. We serve an amazing God, Jesus Christ, our only Living Light in a sometimes dark world.
Do you need Me ? I am there. You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by. You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice. You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands. I am at work, though you do not understand My ways. I am at work, though you do not understand My works. I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries. Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I AM, and then but as a feeling and a faith. Yet I am here. Yet I hear. Yet I answer. When you need ME, I am there. Even if you deny Me, I am there. Even when you feel most alone, I am there. Even in your fears, I am there. Even in your pain, I am there. I am there when you pray and when you do not pray. I am in you, and you are in Me. Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine”. Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me. Empty your heart of empty fears. When you get yourself out of the way, I am there. You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all. And I AM in all. Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there. I am there because I have to be, because I AM. Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of ME does the world go forward. I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded. I am the love that is the law’s fulfilling. I am assurance. I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by. I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance. I am your peace. I am ONE with you. I am. Though you fail to find ME, I do not fail you. Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you, because I love you. Beloved, I AM there.