Friday, September 27, 2013

Vacation Memories: Sea Turtles Follow the Light

Two massive sea turtles decorate the wall in my living room.  I bought them while shopping with my Aunt Connie.  It didn't take much for her to talk me into buying them.  Sea turtles  hatch in darkness on sandy beaches.   They emerge from their shells in the night.  Birds and crabs wait, ready for an opportunity to feed.  Few of these turtles will make it to the ocean.  The only saving grace for these tiny, majestic creatures is to follow the light of the moon.  The light of the moon reflecting on the water hope for survival.  If they fail to follow the light, death is imminent.

Because of the obvious spiritual parallel, I love the sea turtles on my wall and use them as a tool to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.  When we decided to visit Topsail Island, I began reading books about sea turtles to the children.  I explained how the loggerhead turtles often nest on the island we would be visiting.   They even have a sea turtle hospital.  I brought along several of the turtle books to the beach house.   We read them together again with the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the shore.

Then one morning, dozens of spectators gathered near our house.  There were camera crews, photographers and more spectators making their way to the ocean.   We went outside to see what all the fuss was about.  I gasped when I realized what was happening.  Sea turtles were being released from the turtle hospital back into the ocean.  A massive turtle, carried by 4 volunteers, was gently place into the water.  I stood in delight at the beauty of it all.  What are the chances of that happening?  1 in a 100?  1 in a 1,000?  1 in a 1,000,000? Salty tears of joy streamed down my face. 

God's goodness is beyond my comprehension.  The more I try to understand it, the more awestruck I become.  Standing there on the beach, I felt God speaking to me.  "Follow the light."

Lord, help me to fix my eyes on you,
~ gleaming, glittering. glowing, 
burning, illuminating, warming ~
LIGHT in a world of darkness.  
In Jesus' name, Amen.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Vacation Memories: Farm Fresh Eggs and Faith

Prayer, this constant awareness of God, changes things.  God cares about the details of our lives.  

My friend invited our family to come see her horses and other critters.  There were bunnies, hens, horses, kittens, dogs, guineas, guinea pigs and a pig.   My children were ecstatic.  It was better than a zoo visit because we could pet, hold and even ride.  The zoos tend to frown on such behavior.

As we were being shown around the property, we were invited to hunt for fresh eggs.  The owner showed the kids where to look.  They found one egg.  Then another and another.  

The owner looked a bit shocked.  She went on to explain that typically there were only 2 eggs because some of the hens were not mature enough to lay eggs.  Interestingly, there were three eggs today.  It was just enough for her to give each child and egg.   Some would call it a coincidence.  I call it a sacred reminder. 

Hebrews 11 speaks of faith.  It alludes to the process of meshing the sacred and secular.  We are reminded faith, this holy hope, can infuse every aspect of our lives.  I can't help but think of Hebrews 11:1 which says faith is the substance of things hoped for.  Were my kids hoping to each find an egg?  Did God reward their faith?  I don't know for sure.  But I do know I was hoping for a special time with my family.  And finding 3 farm fresh eggs that evening on the Carolina coast was very special to me. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vacation Memories: Foosball and Open Eyes

 While on vacation, the kids had a blast playing foosball.  Unfortunately, the foosball was actually a ping pong ball.  After hours of constant banging, the ping pong ball was crushed.  I made a mental note to run to the store a grab a package of balls later.

The following morning I took a stroll on the beach.  The foosball was the last thing on my mind as I witnessed a glorious sunrise.  The ocean waves crashing on the shore were the perfect soundtrack to the marvelous, colorful display in the sky.  The old hym "How Great Thou Art" played in my mind.  

Then, I just happened to look down.  To my amazement, I saw a small ball that had been washed ashore.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a foosball! Needless to say, I overwhelmed and thankful.  I was also struck by how I miss gifts God has for me. Too often I live my life in darkness with my eyes shut tightly.  He wants to give me just what I need, but I refuse to see. Opening my eyes to God's goodness enables me to see the blessings he has lavished upon me and receive the gifts He has given me. 

Lord, please don't let my heart become calloused.  Give me eyes to see.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.

Matthew 13:15

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vacation Memories: Sharks' teeth, Conch Shells and God's Good Plan

My swimsuit was full of sand.  I had been sitting on the seashore, scouring the shoreline for sharks' teeth.  After several days of careful searching, I continued to come up empty handed.  I used to constantly find sharks' teeth  on this island where we were vacationing.

"Where did they all go?"  I wondered.  I even prayed that God would help me find some.  Still, nothing.

I decided to end the days' hunt and walk into the water to clean the sand off of my suit.  Time to call it quits.  As I stood up and walked knee deep in the salty sea, something caught my eye.  I quickly reached down and picked up a perfect conch shell.  I had never found such a massive shell on the beach.  My heart leapt.  It was breathtaking.

I dashed back to the beach house to share the exciting news.  I didn't find any sharks' teeth, but look!  I found something better.  Something bigger.  Something beautiful.

"I personally find it very comforting I'm not swimming with sharks,"  a housemate commented when I mentioned how strange it was to not find sharks' teeth.  She was part joking, part serious.  Maybe she was mostly serious.  Come to think of it, perhaps she was completely serious.

I smiled at God's good plan for ALL his children.  God knew my housemate would be disturbed by sharks' teeth.  He knew I wanted to find something special in the ocean.  So instead of answering my prayer, he gave me something  special, beyond my wildest dreams.

Today I am reminded that God is working his good plan out in all things, not just with sharks' teeth and conch shells.  

Monday, September 2, 2013


I read an interesting statistic today.  Only 3.3% of Christians pray for strangers.   This saddened me because one of my greatest joys as a believer has been praying for strangers.  Some days I sit on the porch and for the people driving by as I drink my morning coffee.  At times I'll see a person at the store and pray for them quietly.  If I notice someone hurt or ill, I pray for their healing. 

Praying for strangers reminds me to not live a self-centered life.  It's easy to pray for our loved ones and of course we should.  But it takes discipline to pray for people you don't know.  It requires our focus to be on Jesus.  I like to imagine the possibility that God directs certain people into my life so I will pray for them.  I believe that God uses our simple heartfelt prayers to bring hope and change to the world. 

So, I dare you to join the 3.3%.  The world is full of hurting people who need prayer, even complete strangers.