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Spring Fever

The Southern Sea Muse is taking a wee break due to the lure of the beautiful weather here at the beach. Going for a little run, a little beach combing, a lot of sun-soaking…

As always, hang with me here, but know the sweet, spring sea breeze has taken the words out of my mouth for the time being…

~~Be back soon!

An initial, embittered response to disaster and necessary abandonment, for this Weekly Photo Challenge. Given time, abandoning bitterness can yield more profound opportunities for growth and enlightenment.

Katrina

During the height of destruction, it’s easy to imagine that God has forsaken us, that nothing but evil has befallen us. How often have we mistaken a blessing for a curse? Or vice versa?

Here, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we had more questions than answers, and way more assumptions than facts. The author of this boarded up window laments, “Thanks, Katrina, for nothing.”

Indeed, those of us who survived were left in Ground Zero to make sense of the universe, surrounded by nothing that made any sense to any one of our senses.

Nothing looked the same, sounded the same, felt the same. Even the military meals dropped in by helicopter sure didn’t taste the same as the local cuisine to which we are accustomed.

But somehow, by God’s grace and a little Cayenne pepper, we got through. God granted sun the next day to shine down on the war zone so we had light to free ourselves from under the rubble. He granted us fellowship so we could reorganize ourselves, honor the loss of our loved ones and rally together to clean up and rebuild.

He gave us determination and energy to right the wrongs and gave us vision to give us hope to move forward.

God helped us to redefine our sense of humanity and our purpose in the bigger picture, which is created by the little things we do daily that make a difference.

Strength came out of vulnerability. Purity and clarity out of filthy mayhem. There is nothing like a fierce storm to dislodge us from settling for status quo!

And then God brought healing and renewal – new rainbows with vivid colors, more brilliant than before!

Nothing was the same, and while we grieved that and those which were lost, we also celebrated that which was gained – things that had not been evident or possible before the terrible storm.

Ultimately, instead of “thanks for nothing,” we found ourselves giving thanks for EVERYTHING – for more than we’d ever envisioned.

And God saw that it was good.

He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. Indeed, God never abandons us, and we are never abandoned – we are only in various stages of the process of achieving greater things which bring us closer to Him.

Dear God, thank You for understanding our fears and doubts as we encounter life’s greatest storms. Thank You for never abandoning us even when it feels like we are traipsing through the wilderness in darkness and uncertainty.

We trust You in that You have never let us down. Please forgive us when we don’t remember. We know You love us. And with each new miracle, where You steer us through yet another storm, we seem to love You a little bit more. Yet how quickly we forget when facing new stress and duress!

We are so grateful for your greater plans which are so much bigger than we could ever envision from our limited perspectives. We thank You for the light that shines brightly the next day, bringing light from darkness and hope from despair.

Thanks, God, for never abandoning us and for always being there.

Today I had the opportunity to visit a different beach, a different sea.  It was my first time ever exploring Charleston, South Carolina – consistently one of America’s “Most Friendliest” cities. Thanks to my gracious “hostess with the mostest,” I was not disappointed! It was like coming home…

Instead of chronological order, allow me to start from the end – the powerful end to a powerful day, with everything on fire:

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Backing up to daytime, the beautiful, historic city was a blast to explore…

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This bridge hosts a 10K Run  each year with 40,000 runners -

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And, of course, your Muse had to hit the beach! High tide on the Atlantic Ocean….

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Dear God, thank You for a magical day and for bits and pieces of respite, calm from storms, and indulgences in times of hardship. Thank You for the breath of hope, for laughs and smiles and for showing us new mercies, morning by morning.

Thank You for purity in the face of sin, for wholeness in times of disintegration.  For new beginnings and renewed hope. For fellowship and kindred spirits, for Your hand in guiding us to edify one another.

God, thanks for pulling us through the narrow hole of darkness by a thread and back up into Your great presence, time after time, making us whole again.

Thank You for making things the way they’re supposed to be, as You intended all along! Lord, teach us to trust, that we needn’t worry about one single thing – because You are in total control – every minute of every hour, even when we can’t see solutions.

Thanks, God, for always making things just right, despite all our best-intentioned plans. We trust wholly in Your plan and in Your will.

This week’s Photo Challenge involves a trio of shots which include the subject in general, two elements interacting with one another and a close up.

Mardi Gras is in full swing here in the Gulf Coast and offers no shortage of colorful subjects for such a challenge.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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One of the floats in one of last night’s Mardi Gras parades, getting ready to roll!

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Two maskers on the float, discussing strategies for throwing beads, Moon Pies, doubloons, stuffed animals and other treasures to the crowds. Yes, there is an art to throwing, as well as catching particular trinkets!

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A friendly masker poses for a close up.
Let’s hope he remembers to throw the beads in his right hand and not the drink in his left hand!

Hey, God…thank You for a season of celebration, of community and good times. Thanks for the joy Mardi Gras brings to the faces of the little children, the big children and the tourists. May we remember that we are ultimately celebrating You.

Moonlight Run

At the eleventh hour of the week’s end, she felt pressed to get her last set of cardio in, just under the wire.

The bright, waning moon illuminated the path before her. She darted across the seashell driveway and into the shadows of the giant, old oak tree and sprinted into the road to chase the beckoning moon.

She inhaled the brisk air into her lungs and, getting up to a good pace, was breathing hard by the time she got to the waterfront. This was not the first time today she’d lost her breath.

She felt more alive as she lost the rest of herself in the music on her iPod as she picked up her pace a bit more.

Thinking of a world of things and also of nothing in particular, the evening sea mist enveloped and tousled her mane which followed behind her as she ran.

She could see the bright moonlight reflected in the water, illuminating the depths.  A chorus of frogs competed for her attention over the music.

How free she felt! Into and out of the shadows, into and out of the moonshine she ran.

Reaching the original goal as she experienced her second wind, she decided to double her distance and to indulge herself in a double dose of moonlight.

She ran past places she knew from old, places she ran before, places she weathered the Perfect Storms before, places which held good and not so good memories– but tonight, they were all good, basked in silvery  moonlight.

Bad became good, evil became blessed. Ugly became beautiful. Sick became well. All pain melted away.

Along the waterfront she ran, at one with the elements, lost, totally lost in her spirit, strong legs carrying her farther and farther.

Reluctantly she doubled back at one point realizing she needed to go home.

But she wouldn’t, really. She went through the motions, but in her mind she ran…ran far away.

She ran to her shelter under the giant oak and mounted the gracious swing that invited all passers-by to pause and swing a spell.

Now heated, she shed her sweatshirt and hung it on the fencepost as she approached her other favorite escape.

Her shaped arms grasped the ropes as her legs pumped and brought the swing high into the shaped arms of the oak tree. It was by far the best way to cool down.

Lost on the swing anew, she sailed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…into oblivion.

Blissfully lost, more than ever. The evening sea air cooled her sweat and calmed her soul.

The moonlight penetrated through the sheltering branches of the oak tree and shined on her heart, which pounded in another dimension altogether.

God, thank You for blessings in darkness, for light in the shadows. Thank You for getting us from starting point to destination no matter the circumstances. And thanks for lighting our steps, one at a time, for our being able to trust You every step of the way.

Winter has come with a fury this year, even to the beaches.

Unable to traverse the icy bridges one day last week, I was immobilized on this side of the water and marveled at some rare scenes…

(to my friends to the north, please forgive what appears to lack novelty…but it gave us something here to talk about for generations!)

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Our sugar-white sands just got whiter!

 

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Iced over and perfect for a toboggan…if only it wouldn’t deposit the rider into the water at the end of the pier.

 

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I bet the dolphins were warmer than I was that day.

 

This week’s Photo Challenge drew me to this naturally occurring beach sculpture:

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A beloved tradition of mine is to spend my birthday (or a portion thereof) at the beach, alone, in quiet contemplation. It is a chance to take inventory of things which have passed, what my purpose is in the present and where I stand with goals for the future.

It is a rich time of reflection and communion with God, a time for us both to speak to each other.

There I walk, run, sit and stare, pray, sing, dance and breathe life into a brand new year.

With no other footprints but mine and those of the beach creatures, God greeted me this time with this curious driftwood cross, sunbeams slanted toward it.

That day I learned that as much as I try to keep God in a box with “I shalts and oughts and musts,” that God is much bigger than our interpretations of what we think we are supposed to do when we think we’re following His word.

Sometimes God leads us in ways and directions we cannot fathom. Quite unexpectedly, we can find ourselves on an unforeseen path.

So we must stop, listen, and let go of our rigid interpretations and assumptions of who He is and what His plans for us are.

God never promised that running the race would be easy; to follow Him requires blind faith, an open heart and an open mind. It means being ready to change, to move forward into what often can be scary, new territory.

And, like a long race, one must do their best to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit for the endurance. This is not easy, but is critical for being up for the challenge. He calls us to be our very best…for Him.

Following God is not about staying stuck, it is about challenging yourself to look at things differently and breaking free of the chains of trying to save our own lives, trying too hard to make right out of wrong – and instead trusting Him to lead us.

It’s about having the courage to change for the better….a kind of spiritual upward mobility, if you will.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” ~~Matthew 16:24-26

Hey, God…thank you SO much for times of contemplative revelation, for being with us when it is time for us to grow toward your Light.

Thank you for equipping us with capable minds and bodies to run the long race for being with us every step of the way and for putting the cross in our path on our way to be with You.

God, please bless us with open minds and hearts, a willingness to follow. Grant us unwavering courage to change…for Your sake and ours.

Dear readers, please take a moment to scamper over to our fellow blogger’s site, Our Life in 3D.  Today he completed his first 1/2 marathon race since prevailing over cancer, which God saw fit to eliminate because He had other plans for him. It simply wasn’t his time!

May we all make the most of the one earthly life God gives us…

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