One of our favorite family vacation sites is a beautiful beach community located in an adjoining state. We like to go there during the “off season” when few tourists are around. Though the ocean water is a little chilly, we enjoy swimming in an indoor pool. Also, there’s a lazy river that surrounds the pool and holds a special appeal for our kids. They’ve tried to swim against its current over the years, only to be carried in the opposite direction.
Last year, as we were headed to my sister’s house on Christmas Eve, my husband and I picked up a few last-minute items at a large grocery store. My musings on the variety of shoppers populating the store on this special night turned to dismay when I headed past an aisle where Christmas items had been stocked only days earlier. Gone were the splashes of green and red. Now pink and red heart-shaped items for Valentine’s Day filled the shelves.
Although we’re 5 years apart, people often confuse me with my older sister. From the staff at my favorite coffee shop to my sister’s nursing students, we have many stories of people who try to ask me a medical question or who talk to her about writing. The mix-up seems humorous to us, because we don’t see the similarities that others view so clearly.
I enjoy driving at night and seeing the warmth of a well-lit house permeating the velvet darkness around it. Regardless of what the neighborhood may look like in the daytime, the contrast of the light in the night makes even the least attractive places appear inviting. Flip the image, though, and a boarded-up house on a sunny day becomes an antagonistic sight, even to the most tenacious of visitors.
I was 7 years old when I was first exposed to pornography. Some kids had found it, and I naively agreed when they offered to show it to me. In today’s digital world, the stakes are much higher. More than a frozen picture in time, the power of video erodes what little innocence remains in our world.
Today was a day of gladness; tonight has been difficult. A seemingly small event had unleashed a torrent of emotion in me. The day before, my husband and I had received difficult news. Being stirred with faith, during the daylight hours I had grabbed on to the inexplicable determination and joy God placed in my heart—even in that difficult place. As the day turned into evening, though, I didn’t feel victorious. I felt lonely, discouraged, and frustrated.
My husband and I often must act as referees while moderating the differences between our two offspring. They focus on what makes them different instead of what unites them. We frequently remind the two that they need each other—something that’s hard for them to see.
As a kid, I enjoyed helping my mom in the kitchen— especially when it came time for our holiday baking. One tool that fascinated me was the sifter. My mom stored it in a large plastic bag that kept it clean and caught any remnants of flour dust from previous projects. Turning the handle, I’d watch as the heavy clump of flour met with the metal pieces and screening to become a soft, light product.
Our recent move to the country has been an adventure in many ways. The stars are amazing in the open sky, bugs and spiders exist in abundance, and well water tastes pretty good. Recently, my son’s friend was visiting from the suburbs and we explained to him how our well works. My husband and I both paused as we considered how it symbolized a spiritual truth. The work crew had drilled down deep into the ground through the bedrock and didn’t stop until they reached water.
Overwhelmed with work and tired from a busy weekend of ministry, I couldn’t stop the tears when I came home to a leak in the kitchen ceiling of our new house. Hardly an insurmountable problem, especially since our house is under warranty, I still felt my vulnerability anew. Not only had we recently encountered the challenges of moving to a new town, we had also faced considerable pushback from our neighbors for having a Bible study in our home. So as I watched each drip fall from the bulging sheetrock onto the tile floor, I longed for something to be easy.
Accompanied by a cool breeze, the sunlight slowly spread over the horizon. It was a beautiful morning to plant. Grabbing various tools, my husband and I set out to rake back mulch and dig some holes. We had carefully selected plants that would work in the various growing environments our yard offered. Though the work had been strenuous, I later found it rewarding to stand back and see the fruits of our labor—a beautiful array of bushes, flowers, and trees.
When I was growing up, my family often became frustrated because I would take whatever I wanted into my possession. If anything went missing, the invariable response was to “look in Gina’s room,” for I was sure to have nabbed it. In a just vindication of their frustrations, my hairbrush now shows up in my daughter’s room, my scissors can be found in my son’s art case, and my phone charger is in my husband’s possession as much as my own.
Standing near the body of his older brother, his pain was visible. Adding to the weight of death was the knowledge that their relationship had been the closest thing he’d ever known to that of a father and son. His brother had always said, “I love you,” whenever they parted. But the differences in their lives, the jagged edges of their arguments, and the absence of true intimacy left this grieving man wondering if his love was real.
When I was a kid, my mom and I would often go to the grocery store together. As she taught me how to compare prices to find the best deal, she would stroll up each aisle with a list of items in one hand and a calculator in the other. She knew how to make each coin count and how to find the best deal. Now, as my husband and I step out into the unknown as church planters, I face a palpable fear of the uncertainties—some of which are financial. No matter how tightly I hold the calculator, however, I can’t control the future.