Beautifully Broken

At the end of the sermon Sunday, a video was played showing several people engrossed in their electronic devices while life was going on around them. One of the images was a proposal taking place in front of a sunset.

For some reason the image reminded me of vacation.

Typically our family takes a beach vacation. I sit under an umbrella and read book after book for a week or more while the rest of the family scavenges for shells, shark’s teeth, sea glass, sand dollars, and various other treasures. Every so often I will join them in the water to cool down a bit, but I never stay too long for fear of burning.

Vacation is my chance to catch up on recreational reading that I don’t get to do much of during the rest of the year. Some years I have read as many as twenty novels while lying on the beach under an umbrella.

This year my teenagers started making comments about me reading months before we packed for our dream trip to Sanibel Island. They weren’t being mean, simply dreaming out loud what vacation would look like for all of us.

However, it kind of hurt my feelings that they were counting me out of their plans. They had already decided that I would sit in one spot, babysit our belongings, and read by myself while they did all the things we had been talking and dreaming about since they had been in elementary.

Not this year. I thought. This year I’m going to do everything everyone else does. I’m not going to be holder of the stuff. I’m not going to be the responsible one, the good behavior example. We only have a couple summer vacations left before they leave for college. Who knows if we’ll ever travel as a family again after that. I’m going to participate. Not watch.

When it came time to pack, I didn’t include any physical books. I didn’t download any e-books onto my Kindle. I didn’t even grab a magazine for the road. And I didn’t say a word about what I wasn’t doing to anyone else.

When we headed to the beach on day two, no one even packed chairs down the path. If mom wasn’t sitting in them, no one else would feel a need to go keep her company every so often.

All three members of my family had found extremely unique, amazing shells within a day or two of combing the beach. I spent pretty much the entire time on the beach searching for my something special, and hadn’t found anything worth showing off.

After being excited for one of their umpteenth awesome finds, I found myself sitting in the sand digging through an enormous pile of shells, frustrated, discouraged, disappointed, and just a wee bit jealous.

God, out of everything out here, I just want to find ONE special thing. I don’t need to find tons, but I’d like to take ONE thing home that I can say I found. One special shell that is whole. No missing pieces. No brokenness. One perfect, special shell just for me.

And when I looked back down at the pile of shells in front of me, all I saw was the same pile of shells that was there before I prayed.

It wasn’t long after that when I rose to take the daily sunset picture. Sunset on Bowman’s Beach was the daily highlight. We made sure we were present for God’s nightly light show. Every night was something different.

As I struggled to frame my shots of the sun melting into the ocean around all of the other attendees, I again became frustrated.

Just one perfect shot! If only those people would move! They are intruding on my view of your show, God.

It was in that moment I finally heard what God had been trying to say and my eyes filled with tears as I realized what I had been doing.

I wasn’t looking for special; I was looking for perfection. I was totally missing the special in my search for something that doesn’t exist outside of God.

Carrie, I created each of those people and each of those shells. They are all absolutely special and perfect. You’re looking at the wrong things. Of course they’re missing pieces, cracked, broken, and discolored. They’ve weathered the storms of life. Been battered by an uneven, rocky ground. They’ve been out their depths and totally washed up. And they are beautiful. Stop looking for perfection and see the beauty that is within each one.

Immediately I was humbled and had an entire new outlook on the images before me. Handcrafted by God. And He knew not only every individual chip, crack, broken piece, and hole, but He also knew the events that caused each imperfection to exist.

I wonder how often we get caught up in perfection that we miss the beauty God has placed right in front of our faces. See, I put down my electronic devices and books, and I still almost missed it. I spent most of my time searching for something that wasn’t even what God had prepared for me.

Has God placed any beautiful broken things in front of you this week? Are you trying to fix them or are you simple loving them as God’s creation?

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The Deliberate Mom

20 responses to this post.

  1. Love this!! God is so awesome in the way He shows us Himself. I can relate to being the mom that sits and reads during vacation. This has definitely given me something to think about this year! Thanks for sharing! #bigtopblogparty


  2. This is beautiful! I love the analogy…. and you did such a great job of bringing it all together…. Thank you.


  3. It can be so hard to feel left out or not appreciated sometimes, but glad you found such beauty in it the end. What a awesome way to turn your outlook around!


  4. Not at all what I was expecting in the end of the article — wow!

    So, did your family notice that you were participating? What did they think?

    And which did you like better — reading or playing? If you had to do all the other trips over again, what would you do?


  5. Your post reminded me of the need to be fully present where we are…not retreating into a book and ignoring the blessing of a change of scenery! How God has a story He wants to write with your life…and I love how He showed you what He was trying to work on in your heart. You share that story well!


  6. So true. He is there all the time if we open our eyes. Thanks for sharing.
    Visiting from Creative Blogger's Network. Read about a recent life changing moment in my life here:


  7. I've been to Sanibel Island twice, and I can lose myself in shelling for hours. I did once, and looked up just in time to see dolphins jumping in the surf for a few fleeting seconds. I needed to see EVERYTHING around me. I also made sure I didn't miss a sunset. For a while, I was looking for the “green flash” (I never had) and then, again, realized I really needed to pay attention to ALL the beauty of each sunset, and the beauty of the flowers I passed on the way back to our room. Thank you for the reminder that beauty is all around us. As much as I get frustrated by the snow and cold (wishing I was in Sanibel, sigh) the cold and snow is beauty, and is part of creation.


  8. Carrie,
    This is just beautiful. I love to read, but I would have been out there, picking up shells. What an apt encouragement, to remember that our lives don't have to be filled with perfection, but filled with God.


  9. Angie,
    Thank you so much for stopping by my act under the big top! 😀

    God speaks to us wherever we are willing to listen. I love to be active and have fun, but I often choose not to when I'm “mom”. I'm trying to recognize the fact that my kids are almost adults and they need to see that it's ok for adults to have fun. I do have fun when I'm NOT with them. I don't always have to be a boring stick in the mud when I AM with them.

    Please come back to chat again!



  10. Awww! Thank you so much for your sweet words, Gentle Joy. 🙂 I truly appreciate the encouragement.


  11. Hi, Golden Rule Kids! Thanks for dropping in! This is all my own doing. I choose to sit out, therefore it is expected of me. I am being intentional in trying to change that. Please drop in again!


  12. Kim,

    I have a knack for changing focus mid-stream. I think my message is one thing, and God changes my mind mid-post. Very much like he did on the beach that day.

    My kids never said anything. My husband only after I made a comment.

    I would like to make more active memories, but I also think there could be balance rather than an all or nothing approach. We don't miss anything our kids do, and our kids do a lot. We live by a schedule and a calendar. Vacation is the one time a year we simply relax.

    I love to play, but I don't do it very often in front of my kids. I'm too busy trying to set a good example of responsibility. Now that I'm realizing they're almost adults I'm trying to be intentional in letting them know it's ok for adults to let their hair down and have a good time.

    What do you find yourself doing on vacation?

    Thank you for asking questions! I really appreciate that! Please stop in to chat again!


  13. Jeannie,

    That has been the focus of the series at church. Sunday was about being present and engaged instead of lost in social media on our electronic devices. I felt a little guilty letting social media and devices take all the flack. I've been hiding between the pages of novels since I could read the words on the pages.

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. Please drop in to chat again!


  14. Amy,

    Thank you for dropping in from Creative Blogger's Network. I hope I can send a few more people that way. Please come back to chat again!



  15. Alana,

    Today was snow day number two and tomorrow has also already been called off. We expect to be off all week. At least two of the four of us have been checking the weather in Sanibel since winter arrived. 🙂 Wishful thinking.

    All of God's creation is beautiful…even the parts we don't prefer!

    Thanks for dropping in to chat! I enjoy hearing from you.


  16. Amy,

    Thank you so much for your encouragement!

    Can I ask where you came across my post at? I like to know where my new friends come from. Please come back to chat again!



  17. So beautifully written. I'm glad that you didnt miss out on those special finds. Sometimes it's not an object at all.

    Thank you for tossing your hat into the ring at the Party Under The Big Top! We hope to see you again next week!


  18. I appreciate you revealing this. I know we all fall into this trap at times. (By the way, the pictures turned out beautiful!) I think it is easy to get caught up in our idea of perfect, but the beauty I see from your story, is that you had quality time, unplugged and connected with your family. Especially with a short amount of time left before they leave for college, that is the true treasure! Our moments together as a family, even if they don't end up how I would always hope or envision, are the beautiful (even when they're broken) moments that I will carry with me always. 🙂 God bless!


  19. I think your pictures are beautiful by the way! It's so hard sometimes to realize that we are missing out on those in the moment times as I tend to be a perfectionist at times myself. I am so happy that you were able to realize it and see the all of the special moments and things around you before they had passed! Thank you for joining us and linking up to Party Under the Big Top! Hope to see you again next time!

    Wishing you a fabulous week!

    Much love,
    Lysa xx
    Welcome to My Circus


  20. The lessons God teaches are amazing and the way you described it was terrific. Learning to see God's magnificent creations surrounding us takes being aware that everything in the world and universe was designed, planned and executed by Him. Everyday I miss the His mark somewhere and everyday Christ is there revealing it to me. Thanks Carrie for your truthfulness.


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