Tethered to His Mast: Part 2: Lighthouses!
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. - Mark 4:39
I am comfy. There is Mint Chocolate Truffle Tea in my Clark County Public Library mug. I have my stretchy bleached brown pants, x-large t-shirt, and my hot pink fuzzy slippers on. I couldn’t wait to run the errands I had after work, eat dinner, and settle into my computer nook. There is so much to tell. My heart bleeds – open wide to this journey. I am accepting who I am. I am learning, in humility, that God has purposed me to be love, grace, and hope to those around me.
If you are willing, sit back and come along with me on this journey. The dark is ominous, the waves are tempestuous – danger and wonder rolled into one, but in the distance there is a beacon: a light that cuts through the darkness…
I have always felt ‘not enough’. It is a sad thing to admit, but oh so true. I have felt not pretty enough, not smart enough, not important enough, not good enough, not loved enough… on and on we go. I would cling to seeking approval. I sought it often by doing. I was awkward and did things that confused both me and others. There was some coaxing God had to do to bring me out of my shell. At, soon to be 34 years of age, I am just beginning to know exactly who I am. I am beginning to recognize when those old patterns of ‘love sought’ come back to haunt me. Jesus is calling dead things to life in me. (By the way, we can call life or death over each other. I learned this lesson just this past week and it will be another blog entry in the coming weeks.) He is giving me purpose. He is not only tethering me to His mast, but to others as well. He is placing salt in the wound and binding it to healing. I see lighthouses all around – beacons of hope and purpose. These individuals are daily transforming me.
When you do life with someone it can be muddy beautiful. It is sort of like seeing a rainbow in a puddle of oil. The beauty is opaque, less transparent. However, it is rich and deep. A beauty forged in trial, solidarity, comfort, kinship, love, and understanding. There are ups and there are downs. There is circumnavigating that transpires due to differing personalities. Yet, if it is done with the grace of God, there is a beautiful binding quality to it. This is something that truly no man can put asunder. So it is with the intermingling of my life with the Scalf family. I came to them as a caretaker for their children and left a part of their family. I could share that journey, but I don’t have a year or two. Plus, there are some things that are precious sacred: things that should not be audibly spoken.
I had invited myself to come down for a week. Indian Shores/ Clearwater Florida had taken my heart the last summer I was down with the Scalf’s. Plus, I knew what life on the beach with these beautiful people would be like. So, as they were sharing plans at the kitchen table one night I asked if I could come down a week with them. Dave, my awesome brother, looked at me, patted my arm, paused in his wonderful Dave way, and said, “Melissa, I so wanted to ask you to come, but didn’t know if I should!”
The week was what I had hoped it would be. There was a simple deliciousness to it. I heard someone describe a vacation as contradictory: long endless days full of richness and a week that goes by seemingly in a second. I knew as I anxiously anticipated this week that it would be over before I knew it. I was praying fervently, somewhat selfishly, for the trip, but nevertheless God heard my hearts cry for this endeavor and blessed tenfold.
We spent the week relaxing. It was wonderful to walk on the beach, come up, shower, have a delicious meal, sit on the couch and watch a movie, and just be. There was no pretense. We helped each other. We bounced grace off of each other. When one got lost in the dark pulling tide the other lit the way with laughter and hope.
Dave and Amy have shown me, above anyone else, what it means to shine light in darkness. They reach out in love and grace past their own hurting.
That Saturday Steve, Tamera, and Abby were coming for the remainder of the trip. I would be leaving on Tuesday, but we had two and a half days together. I was anxious – anticipating doing life with these beautiful blessings.
I did not know Steve well. The shape of his character was etched through Tamera’s eyes. I watched this man hold the door open for the woman he loved. I watched him re-position a basket-ball hoop hanging from the back of a door unnumbered times because a giddy little boy asked him too. I watched Rachael gravitate to his gentle humor and kind spirit. I watched this man speak kindness. I watched the way he loved. It was breathtaking. There was serenity to his life. A man crafted by a Master hand. A lighthouse built upon the Rock.
The evolution of Tamera and I’s relationship is just beginning to bud. I was anticipating forbearance with her presence. She is vulnerable, captivating, and giving of her hugs and love. I hadn’t done much day to day life with her, but I was looking forward to the venture. There was an afternoon, sun beating red on pale skin, waves washing salt – preservation, conversation flowing authentic and free despite our best intentions to hide. She draws your ship in to her warmth and glow.
I love Abby. God has placed this great love in my heart for this beautiful young woman. She brings me joy. She fortifies my heart with light. She is willing to walk, reckless abandon, toward God’s love for her. The week spent with her was laughter and hope and purpose. It was as if day broke, we sat in the cleft of His rock, looking out over the expanse of the sea, sheltered and comforted.
All too soon the little community was over and I was flying back to reality. Here are the words I wrote on the plane ride home about my last day there…
I could not stop crying yesterday – pools glistened ever threatening to slip down freckled cheeks. What wonder was God doing? This refining process happens even when we feel we have grown numb to it. I had prayed, selfish prayers, for this trip. The Lord ever teaches me to pray His prayers for His people - where His glory and their heart meet. Jesus may I ever be mind-filled of you! Even those selfish, stubborn, reckless moments may I know Your love. Teach me when I don’t feel Your presence. May you truly be waiting as I seek You.
Yesterday was my last full day of vacation. However, my second family & ever precious friends were staying until Friday. It is like the feeling I have driving away from the sunrise. I always feel I am going the wrong way. So it was with this day, knowing I would have to separate from tender transparency and honest grace.
We began our day walking to Indian Shores Coffee Shop. This was the fruition of the prayer I prayed over Amy & Tamera:
- I awoke this morning with the smell of salt in the air, the sound of gulls pulling my tired lids from slumber, and the soothing cry of waves crashing and dancing on the shore. I envisioned a corner at the Indian Shores Coffeehouse with chairs filled with women needing, wanting, and receiving.
I don't know if the times will work out. I don't know if we will be ships passing in the night, but I hope for that moment. I hope to learn and grow, laugh and settle my spirit. Kiss sticky fingers and wash sandy hair, sleep with stinky toes stuck in my ribs, and settle quiet with you.
I am reminded of the song Sara Groves sings speaking of the desire just to spend time and knowing, "you are always invited!"
I pray for you my beloved sisters in Christ. My knees bend and my heart humbles in His presence. I breathe in and out as my heartbeat begins to match with His. It steadies and the rhythm pours out love. Oh, His love for you both. If you could just glimpse a taste of it. He delights in you beloved. He shelters you and sings over you - whispering, "you are enough, beloved! You are mine!"
It was more. There were raw rough patches of terrain. Yet, with kindred sistership we navigated them well. I was all in my head that entire day. I had to constantly pray through to being present and not to break down sobbing. Tears are beautiful sacred drops of vulnerability that God uses, particularly in women, to strengthen.
We came back refreshed and shored up. The children settled to lunch as the adults decided what to do.
We decided on a “Dolphin Cruise”. These amazingly intelligent creatures astound me. A dolphin rescued my Grandmother many years before I was born when she got too far out at sea. He gently pushed her back to shore.
To see them crest the water was utterly breathtaking: Glory to God for making sea creatures; teaming this world with a variety of beauty that renders lungs useless.
The most magnificent treasure of the boat ride was traveling to the open sea. The waves were choppy. The ocean can be a bit wild – glorious and terrible. It holds power. You could feel it in the rough waters.
The feeling…the view…everything was just magnificent! It encompassed all facets of God! GLORY!!!
Steve and Tamera wanted to treat us to dinner. We chose the Friendly Fisherman. It was sumptuous. There was rich laughter. The waiter was wonderful and the food was divine. It was simple beauty. There was a joyous space of hope and purpose. There was completion, and yet, a beginning all wrapped in one…
I truly praise God for His many lighthouses!
Did I fail to mention there was a Pirate Ship! For those that know me well, you know I do not need to say more...arrrrr!
(There is more to this day of abundance. A night walk on the beach, but that is for the third and last installment of this series: “Tethered to His Mast: His Nightsong” …stay tuned J )
(And, I would encourage you to head on over to www.seventypalms.com and dive into the Chambers section where Tamera is also writing about her experiences on this trip)
Me on the Dolphin Cruise