Tuesday morning I woke up and said to Sid, “I don’t have an encouragement for this week.” We had just arrived at midnight on Saturday night to our home in Maine after being gone from here since mid December since we left for Florida from my sister Wendy’s house in Massachusetts in January. We actually spend as much if not more time at her house as we do our own! Our recent weeks there had been crammed with work including an exhausting three day trip to NYC to handle client meetings.
For the last couple days since our landing at our own home we were in the throes of finding places for the amazing amount of stuff we had shlepped to Florida, even spices! The days here have been so gorgeous we would reward ourselves in the late afternoon with a family play time at the beach, our fur baby Sofie’s favorite time of day (other than snuggle time).
By Monday night, however, I was close to zombie state. It’s such a mix of trying to jump back in the work saddle alongside living in disarray which drives me crazy, and trying to put things where they belong as we unpack, especially with a whole season of clothes to process, some of which stay at Wendy’s house. That goal of unpacking, however, is complex since we plan to be at Wendy’s for Shabbat dinner on Friday, dress as a flapper for a murder mystery birthday party in Vermont for my sister-in-law Saturday night, and be thinking ahead for what I will need to pack a week later to visit family in Chicago and attend a graduation in Denver that same week.
I have shared with you before that when we are too drawn into the secular, even for wonderful purposes, our missed time with our Abba, our intimate conversations with Yeshua, will suffer, as will we. Even starting each day with the Daily D’var is not enough, even morning prayer, for if we don’t keep our mind on Him throughout the day, depending on our life’s challenges, we can feel drained, depleted, overwhelmed.
So if I felt wiped out Monday night, and Tuesday morning, you can understand. That morning Sid said, “ Why don’t you take a jog on the beach?” That’s code for “Make some time for God” for my jogs those are my special times with Him.
When Sid made his comment on Tuesday morning, his encouragement hit home. When was the last time Yeshua had my undivided attention, or at least for an extended period of time? I was clearly neglecting my side of our relationship, the results of which were evident in my fatigue.
And so, we set out. Of course I couldn’t even get out of the RV right away as I was finishing up work emails, but once I did, He did not disappoint. The glory of the day, the overwhelming beauty of the ocean’s waves, His palpable presence in this created world, the warm sun, the sea air, all felt as life’s elixir. As I stopped thinking of all the work I still had to do and instead yielded to His comfort, my eyes opened to His messages.
I began my jog time with Him, listening to my favorite Messianic Jewish playlist. Gratitude filled my heart for the gift of this beautiful day. As the praise music filled my ears, as my heart filled with His love, there, just ahead, appeared to be a butterfly on the sand. As I’ve shared before, I have a special fondness for butterflies and love to ponder their ethereal role sometimes as messengers from the world we cannot see.
As I approached, I realized that the shape was actually made by a beautiful large clam shell that had managed to stay connected (most separate into the top and bottom shells.) I picked it up to give to my granddaughter who will be visiting in a couple weeks, a time I have been truly treasuring, for Sid and I will be blessed to have her visit here for several days without her parents, a grandparent’s dream to be so trusted and loved. Such answered prayer. As my heart filled with more gratitude for the endless beauties of this day, and the days to come, all worry, all tiredness, all feelings of being overwhelmed left. As I was filled with His Love there was no room for negativity.
At the end of my jog, I walked along the shore breathing in deeply the healing salt air. My eyes took in the rhythmic waves, Sid playing catch with Sofie, my heart filling with gratefulness for these blessings. My pockets were teeming with more shells I plan to show my grandbaby, more happy ideas filled my mind, more and more gratitude, more thoughts of love. The song “Kadosh” played in my earphones as I joined Sid and Sofie playing fetch.
As I walked with Sid he remarked how the mussel shells in front of us looked like butterflies on the sand. We had actually never seen mussel shells in this area, let alone such a multitude, looking like a field of butterflies. I was not with him nor told him about my earlier observation of the unusual clam shell, his comment an affirmation of His Presence, HaShem orchestrating it all, evidencing Himself to us.
Just as I reached to pick up Sofie’s toy on the last throw, there was a buckeye. As some of you know, I am a Buckeye, that is someone from Ohio, which was my home for my first fifty years, and therefore, I am a die hard Ohio State University sports fan, i.e., a Buckeye (the school sports mascot). In all our time on any beach, neither Sid nor I have ever found a buckeye. It felt as a God wink again, a little sign that my attitude of gratitude was something not to forget, an affirmation of a message to share, a reminder of the personal relationship we have with Him through Yeshua, one that requires our participation. How he shows His love of us, so personal, so knowing, so present, so intimate. . .
You don’t have to live by a beach to be grateful for this blessed life we have been given. The way to feel it regularly is actually to do just the opposite. Consciously be with Him in the mundane. The beach was more of an alarm wake up call since I had gotten lazy in my daily nurturing of my relationship with Him. For when we stay focused on His amazing love, we overflow with gratefulness. As we grow in gratitude, our lives feel abundant, relegating any strife to a small corner by comparison. The reminder is to not forget the myriad of blessings we are given daily – to remind ourselves to be grateful for the little things, those we take for granted, those intimate love messages from Him.
The list is truly endless – waking up each morning, being alive each day, being able to get out of bed, or if not, being in bed in a comfortable home, having enough food, having a phone to connect with others, perhaps having a car if so blessed, and on and on and on. What about the truly amazing list – being able to read or listen to the Daily D’var, our daily Scripture study, having access to meaningful worship services, being able to pray daily, seeing His Presence during our times of struggle and illness, knowing we are not alone, being part of a community of believers in Yeshua, and on and on and on.
As we feel His abounding love, His grace, and our overwhelming gratitude grows, we feel His Presence, not just on the beach, but in each breath.