Archive for the ‘Sanibel Island Florida’ Category

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

2014: The Path to Blessings Instead of Bitterness

If I were to choose one word to describe what 2014 represented to me, it would be healing. 

healing: n. the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.
healing: adj. tending to heal; therapeutic

Notice the -ing, the words process and tending. I didn’t choose healed, but healing.

Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually our family has walked a path of healing in 2014. At times it has hurt. At times the relief has come quickly and very noticeably. At times the healing has happened gradually and months later we have commented on how the event or pain has seemingly been removed. And some of the healing is still a work in process, but we see the progress.

2013 ended on a very turbulent note for all of us emotionally and spiritually. However, we powered through and God placed the right people in front of us every step of the way. 

We’ve done some things we always claimed we’d never do. We’ve gone some places we always said we’d never go. For some reason, in this season of our life, God has shown us something different through people we really haven’t known in our adult lives.

I spent the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer re-writing my curriculum to meet the Common Core State Standard requirements. While it was far from amazing, it’s unbelievable how much easier it was this time around. There’s something to be said for experience.

Lily went to tennis camp in Bolivar, Missouri, at Southwest Baptist College. She had a great time, and learned a lot. At the end of the week she earned the award for being the best listener. 

In July the kids went away to church camp and Chris and I headed away to Eureka Springs for a spa getaway. Two teenagers had an amazing time at church camp, and the two adults had an amazing time reconnecting and just enjoying each other’s company.


Once we all met up again we headed off to our dream family vacation: a rented condo on Sanibel Island, Florida. We headed out early to make a couple stops on the way. We got to catch a minor league game in Louisville, Kentucky, which was awesome. Then the next day we did the Louisville Slugger Factory tour which is why we actually went through that way. 

After Louisville Slugger we grabbed lunch and headed to tour Maker’s Mark distillery. The grounds there were beautiful. We got some amazing photos, met some teachers from another state, and took our tour with a large group of service men on leave. The young teachers were telling me about their summer jobs, one of them working in landscaping full-time during the summer to help make ends meet. It still shocks me that highly educated people have to work multiple jobs to live modest lives.

We then headed on to Florida. A short stop at an outlet mall. Yet another night in a hotel. And then on to our destination. We spent the majority of the week scouring through shells on the beach. We stopped on the bridge each way to and from the beach to watch the manatees. We did leave the condo and “our” beach a couple times during the week.

We drove to the Florida Everglades to go on an air-boat ride one day. That was a great experience, but it was incredibly hot. The drive there and back was almost as much fun as the actual tour. Probably because the drive was air-conditioned.

The other two times we left was to head to nearby Captiva Island. Once we went to go on a day long deep sea fishing/shelling excursion. That was a blast. Until a thunderstorm moved in and we had to head back in. We tried to reschedule, but got stormed out that day too. We all caught at least one fish on our short trip, and I latched on to something “big”. It was a ray, and I fought it all the way around the boat in the pouring rain before it pulled the line under the boat and broke the line. The ship captain saw it surface before it went under. It was enough to get everyone really excited before we had to head back to dock due to the weather.

The second time we headed to Captiva Island was to give the kids the experience of para-sailing. Chris and I had done this during our 2nd honeymoon while in the Dominican Republic. We loved it and have said ever since when we had the opportunity we’d let the kids do it. So, they did. However, we weren’t thinking and wore regular clothes. It was crazy hot standing on the beach in the full sun watching them fully dressed.

It was an amazing vacation. None of us wanted to head home when it was time, but school was drawing close and sports started the very next week.

Cameron ran cross country and played fall baseball while Lily played varsity tennis. After her week at tennis camp and getting contacts, Lily’s goal of getting the #1 spot became a reality. She was our #1 singles player her sophomore year. She came out really strong early in the season, and played point for point the rest of the season. As a sophomore playing seniors, she is in a good position for the next two years.

Between Cameron’s marching with band and running cross country weekends were spent driving from one town to the next trying to get to the next event on time. Add in auditioning for a church worship team and playing guitar a couple Sundays a month and his schedule was downright crazy all fall.

I feel like the last two months of 2014 has been nothing but doctor’s appointments. Probably because it has been filled with them for all four of us. Including one surgery followed by follow-ups and physical therapy for Chris. This one will follow us into the new year, but will hopefully result in a fully functional and healed shoulder.

After much goading, I finally asked for some help for myself. In the past several years I have pulled myself up by the bootstraps enough times that they couldn’t be reattached to the boots anymore. Sources say I am actually talking again, even if it is too much, and that you can tell I’m doing better by the look on my face.

Dumb that I waited so long. But considering the Christian counselor told me in the summer of 2012 that I needed to leave the church I was currently attending for a full year to reassess and not do any work in any church until that 12 month sabbatical was over, I told him he was crazy, didn’t return for my remaining sessions, and finally followed his advice September of 2013, well, I like to mull some things over first.

However, I went with someone else who wanted to get help just to sit in as a friend. I took a second person to get diagnosed and also get help when they weren’t sure they wanted it. And somewhere in the mix the two of them decided to ask me when I was going to get the help I needed. Yeah. I’m a little slow. It actually took another individual telling me they had recently reached out for help that made my decision.

I could choose to remain anxious and fearful of the next panic attack and how I would treat others because of it, or I could ask for help. Funny how I had no problem helping others get help, but couldn’t seem to do it for myself. 

In the mix we’ve also been attending the same church regularly for the last several months. I’ve been subbing as a youth leader for someone who had to be out for family things off and on the last few months. All of us have been involved with various mission projects. We’re finding joy in our serve again, but with the exception of Cameron none of us have committed to anything yet. 

We are healing. I am healing. I am letting go of guilt I was never intended to carry, and finding joy in my daily walk, in my daily life.

2014 has had its stressful moments. Its come with its share of growing pains and pruning pains. However, I can honestly say that I can see so much positive from this year that I am looking forward to moving forward. 

Thanks for the good times, growth, and healing 2014!

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