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There is nothing I do not love about summer. It is my favorite season, hands down.

Naturally, I couldn’t resist sharing a few glimpses of my summer for this week’s Photo Challenge:

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Fort Morgan, Alabama

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Sunrise on Jeckyl Island, Georgia

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Favorite Swimming Hole

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Sharing my paddle board with a friend

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Horse Fly!

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Unexpected companion while kayak fishing on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

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Summer Lovin’!

 

Thanks, God, for summer lovin’…for cherished memories, for seasons of change, of play and of rest, for periods of sweat and cooling off.

Thanks for tall, refreshing drinks, toes in the water, humming cicadas and opportunities to grow and explore new horizons.

Thank You for an unforgettable summer of growth and new beginnings.

Please bless the WP readers with a safe, happy and enjoyable summer.

And may everyone find time to relax, recharge and reinvent themselves.

Today marks the third birthday of this blog.

It began as an alternative way to communicate. And, like many blogs, it evolved into a completely different animal altogether, then transforming to a platform for creative writing to a platform for photography to a platform for prayer and reflection. God, the sea and musings have never failed to tie them all together.

All these things are a reflection of growth having occurred, of forward movement, being swept up in the current of life.

If you’d asked me three years ago today if I saw myself (or this blog) where I am today, the answer would have been an unequivocal NO.

Growth is so cool, y’all! See where time takes you? Places you never dreamed!

Staying stuck sucks. (say THAT ten times fast!)

So in honor of the third birthday, I offer a bit of creative writing, photography and prayer.

Minus the mistakes I’ve learned from, like ditching the 2k word post, straightening out the horizon on my beach shots and such.

Why, here’s a picture I just took this weekend on my beach – how many of you were too polite to tell me in days past that my crooked horizons made you seasick? This one’s for you:

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Okay, so the horizon is just about straight, but the damn chair is crooked – I’ll get it right one of these days. Thanks for bearing with me….

Oh, but here’s another one from the same day – is this better? (Side note: water temp, 82 degrees F, perfect for snorkeling, boogie boarding, kayaking and tubing – all of which I was blessed to play in those cerulean waters yesterday – c’mon down, y’all)

(and no, I did NOT photoshop any people or crowds OUT of the picture – this is really what my beach looks like – never ever a soul encroaching)

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Okay, the horizon is not slightly off – that’s the curvature of the earth, right?

(I went for a run later down the beach and saw that catamaran up close – it’s a beaut!)

I was told my blog had been branded as this or that and I felt compelled to live up to the brand, one of which included reverent prayer. I was so busy bowing my head I got out of the habit of blogging for laughs, like the Expense of DIY post or Chore Evasion and others like it, back in the day.

As I sought a title for this post, I Googled the word THREE and these suggestions popped up (my memoirs of the last 3 years in parentheses):

  • Three waters green (I am surrounded by three waters of green, blue and other colors depending on whether or not BP decides to blow a gasket near my beach)
  • Three days grace (What I needed last year when I counted up the number of lawyers (eight) for various reasons I never foresaw, between work and family matters)
  • Three circle church (I don’t go to that church, but I did find myself involved in three different churches/denominations at once, which was growth-promoting)
  • Threes (Things come in threes – I have nothing witty to say about this one)
  • Three mile island (What could be said about the state of my house right now, especially after a neighborhood of kids chose our front yard as pyrotechnics central for the 4th)
  • Three stooges (3 of my 4 children who are still in the stage of finding flatulence funny)
  • Three brothers arms (What I often sternly say I’d better not see in my rear view mirror after the car line at school)
  • Three dog night (What happens in my back yard when our dogs and the neighbor’s dog get crazy over a nighttime thunderstorm, and they jump the fence)
  • Three rivers state park (A beautiful area, if you’ve never been, where Florida and Georgia share water, sorry, no 3 year connection here)
  • Three days to kill (If this is any insightful analysis into the state of my brain right now, I had to read this twice to decide if it meant if there was a deadline of three days to murder someone, or if it meant I needed a vacation….I settled upon the latter)

But my FAVORITE thing that popped up when I Googled THREE, was this literary gem:

Three Years She Grew

By William Wordsworth

Three years she grew in sun and shower,

Then Nature said, “A lovelier flower

On earth was never sown;

This Child I to myself will take;

She shall be mine, and I will make

A Lady of my own.

 

“Myself will to my darling be

Both law and impulse: and with me

The Girl, in rock and plain,

In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,

Shall feel an overseeing power

To kindle or restrain.

 

“She shall be sportive as the fawn

That wild with glee across the lawn

Or up the mountain springs;

And hers shall be the breathing balm,

And hers the silence and the calm

Of mute insensate things.

 

“The floating clouds their state shall lend

To her; for her the willow bend;

Nor shall she fail to see

Even in the motions of the Storm

Grace that shall mould the Maiden’s form

By silent sympathy.

 

“The stars of midnight shall be dear

To her; and she shall lean her ear

In many a secret place

Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

And beauty born of murmuring sound

Shall pass into her face.

 

“And vital feelings of delight

Shall rear her form to stately height,

Her virgin bosom swell;

Such thoughts to Lucy I will give

While she and I together live

Here in this happy dell.”

 

Thus Nature spake—The work was done—

How soon my Lucy’s race was run!

She died, and left to me

This heath, this calm and quiet scene;

The memory of what has been,

And never more will be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hey, God, thank You for three years of evolution, of coming into being and coming to You.

God bless the readers, artists and publishers of WordPress for this positive momentum of growth and self-actualization. Hitting the PUBLISH button isn’t the end-all goal, it’s the journey that counts and the joys found therein.

Thank You for this platform for finding my way, for taking me through, bringing me up, keeping me afloat and sending me into the future. And most of all, God, for bringing me HOME, home where I belong. Thank You for the journey, God.

And thank YOU, dear readers, for joining me here on my beach. Your friendship is the most cherished thing of all.

~~ssm

Happy Anniversary!

I invite you to share a few contrasts in my world by the sea, for this week’s Photo Challenge:

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Sargassum: Golden, life-supporting treasure of the sea

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Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus)

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Florida Horse Conch (Triplofusus giganteus)

Hey, God – You have created some of life’s most profound contrasts. Good and evil, heaven and earth, wisdom and folly, to name a few.

But my favorite contrasts are the concrete ones that require little more than awestruck attention, the ones we can simply enjoy in the moment, beholding the beauty and wonder of Your creation.

Thanks, God, for the magical, interdependent web of life You created, where contrasts complement each other and are necessary for perfection and often delicate balance.

Thank You for the contrasts in our lives that You provide which foster growth, perspective and harmony.

Rock Solid

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What mighty fortresses we build,

Around our hearts and souls;

But only those on Solid Rock,

Can ever meet their goals.

 

The Rock is moved by neither wind

Nor flood, nor rising tide;

But steadfast He is ever there,

When no longer can we hide.

 

“Cling to Me!” He beckons,

To any who will hear;

“For sand is always shifting,

But forever I am here!”

 

His love is unconditional,

And promise to unknown;

What beauty, what a precious gift!

He’ll never be alone.

 

To run is pure fool-heartedness,

To cling is much more wise -

For when sand fortresses come down,

His Rock of love shall rise.

 

You’ll never have to worry –

Cast all your doubts to sea!

Build your castle on His steadfastness

Forever safe you’ll be.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

~~Matthew 7:24-27:

Hey, God – Thank You for being unmoving, for being our Rock, our foundation for everything.

Help us to cling to You unconditionally in good times and times of challenge, that we might know You and take comfort in Your good will, in Your mercy, in Your grace; whether sun or rain, peace or storm.

Thank You for promising to love us unconditionally. Thank You for those who have not seen and yet have believed.

And thank You for being our Rock – of salvation, of refuge, of safety – and especially on red flag days, when the sea roils and churns and brings all manner of chaos.

Thanks for everlasting security – yesterday, now, and forever.

We expect to find shells on the beach. But this time I happened upon a fortune washed up, anchored by this shell:

Make two grins grow...

(that’s a stray piece of Portuguese man-o-war nearby)

God, thank You for unexpected finds as we walk through life. You always plant wisdom along our path – thank You for causing us to slow down and see, when too often we are rushed and focused on the destination.

Making two grins grow from a grouch – perfect, Lord! Your love is multiplied by our efforts to see the positives, the possibilities, the unmistakable blessings You plant along our way.

Help us to slow down and savor Your wisdom and blessings on the journey You have planned for us.

Find extra Extras here!

…and happy flag day!

A womb with a view:

Womb with a view

Click here for more concepts of “room.”

Hey, God – from the very first room we occupy at conception through the last breath we take and beyond, You provide us with everything we could possibly need to grow, thrive and live life to the fullest extent of Your law.

We may not always recognize it as forward movement or freedom, because sometimes we may feel stuck, suffocated or trapped.

But from our limited perspective, we must trust that You have the bigger picture, God – that You are in complete control of the end result, the final plan. We must trust this, one challenge at a time, one day at a time. Yes, even one hour at a time.

We trust…and rest easy that You will bring everything about exactly as You intended, and that You will make it the best it can be so long as we are faithful and do our best.

You always provide the perfect room in which we need to grow, in every circumstance.

Thank You for that, Lord, and may we use that room wisely to grow to our fullest potential – our birthright – which You intended for us from the very beginning.

John 14:2 (NIV) – My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

A hurricane deposited this tree which, years later, still sits on a nearby beach:

Uprooted

Click here for more twists on “Twist.”

Last week in a therapy session, a little child messed up my Newton’s Cradle (metal ball pendulum) by playing too roughly with it– it was a hopeless, tangled mess, like the tree roots above.

It was not the first time this happened to the pendulum, but certainly was the worst tangle I’d seen.

I tried not to show my dismay to the child, who picked up on it anyway and apologized profusely. “It’s okay, it was an accident…it can happen so easily,” I consoled.

I confess my first thought after dismay was to throw the mangled mess away. I didn’t believe I’d have the time, patience or hand-eye coordination to fix it.

Indeed, even WikiHow for “How to untangle a Newton’s Cradle” suggests the following for step one:

“1.  Ask yourself if you’re better off just buying another one for ten bucks or so. If it is tangled so badly, it may not be worth spending time and money trying to fix it. If it is not tangled that badly though, or if you want to challenge your mind and dexterity, continue reading.”

But deciding it would be a therapeutic exercise for both of us, we set about trying to fix it.

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It was WAY worse than this…

I carefully held the balls in my palm, lifting them to visually separate their knots and trying to discern which ball to move first and where.

I enlisted the help of the little spare pair of hands with me, to assist further; I had the child position a tiny push pin in one of the tightest knots which ultimately helped loosen some of the other knots.

The two of us sat there in mostly silent shared time with our joint mission, speaking only to utter an “aha” or a “here, try this one through there.”

Otherwise, we could hear each others’ every breath, breaths which were mostly held as one wrong move of the fingers could further twist up the balls.

The largely unspoken thoughts were ones of futility, hopelessness, despair, impatience, irritation and doubt.

Yet little by little, our shared persistence yielded success – first one ball freed, then another and the rest, until all five hung freely in their restored state. Once again, the pendulum swung as it should.

We hugged, high-fived, fist-bumped and did happy dances. We took the pendulum to the nurse’s station to show off our victory.

Later in the week I reflected on this child and this therapy session. This nine-year old child is locked up in a psychiatric hospital because his behavior was so extreme he could no longer be maintained in a classroom or at home.

The child has daily tantrums, curses out peers and adults alike, enjoys tipping over furniture and drawing obscene pictures on walls, is hyperactive, steals food and periodically tries to kill himself.  An orphan, he has bounced from placement to placement.

He takes medications for all of the above. But really, they’re just chemical band-aids it seems, for things that might have been prevented in the first place.

On the plus side, the child is tremendously creative, sensitive, is a whiz at math, makes his bed perfectly every day, knows how to catch fish with his bare hands and has a smile that melts the heart – when you can get him to laugh.  Oh, and he can DRAW! Yes, great pictures other than obscene ones.

Someday he hopes to be a teacher; he wants to teach math, drawing or run a charter fishing boat and teach people to fish.

That is, if he still believes in himself. And if others can still believe in him.

I can’t figure out which one of us got more out of that therapy session.

Like the twisted pendulum, how many grown ups had already given up on this child and thrown him away, or passed him to someone else to untangle the mess?

How many people get no further than Step One of WikiHow? Look at something that is so messed up, they don’t even know where to begin and stalk out of the room in exasperation? Or pass it off to another or discard it because it appears hopeless? futile? or don’t even try?

A job? a relationship? a project? a building? a neighborhood? a planet?

This child reminded me that a little patience, a little persistence, a little teamwork and a lot of prayer can untwist just about anything.

Thanks, God, for putting twists and turns into our lives – entanglements that help build our stamina, creativity and endurance.

God, please grant us the virtues necessary to approach anything and to experience it as a solvable entity…because if we can’t right it, You can and will, no matter the mess.

Thank You for that.

P.S. God – Thanks, too, for the twists that aren’t meant to be untangled – the ones that exist solely for their beauty, intrigue and sheer complexity.

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