Saturday, July 28, 2012

Words in Blue

Note: Today's post is part of the CW blog chain. The topic is "Celebrate". Please check out my sidebar, further down on the right, to see some great posts by other writers.
The past few years have been difficult for my husband, our families, and me. We’ve lost ten family members. So I don’t feel like celebrating.
But then I’m reminded of something that happened, and it gives me comfort, especially in times like these. 
Five years ago, I pored over every Amish book I could get my hands on. The stories brought to mind simpler times, good people, and wholesome food.
A few months later, my husband approached me. “I want to see the ocean again before I die.”
I gulped. “Are you trying to tell me something?”
“No, why?”
My stomach pulled into a knot. God, are you getting ready to take him home? You know I can’t live without him. Wait, I’m sorry. You’re the most important person in my life, but you know what I mean, don’t you? Of course you do. You’re God.
My mind shifted gears. “Hey, can we drive through Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on the way?”
The morning of our trip, after only three hours of sleep, my alarm clock nearly jolted me off the mattress.
I rolled out of bed, my stomach churning. Even though we were going to Amish country, I still had issues. I don’t like to travel far away from home, but because of my husband’s desire, I had to. What if something terrible were to happen? I couldn’t rob the man of his last request.
Besides, I had this feeling that the Big Guy wanted me to travel halfway across the country, that He had something to say to me once I reached our final destination.
Hours later, and many miles down the interstate, acid crept up the back of my throat. Did I mention that my stomach assaults me when I don’t get enough sleep?
Right before we reached Lancaster, when I honestly thought I couldn’t take anymore, I caught sight of a viaduct. The words Jesus Loves You were painted in blue across the side. Lucky for my husband, calm swept over me. Thank you, Lord.
We finally pulled into the parking lot at the hotel. Visions of a soft bed with plump pillows floated across my mind.
After walking into the room, my visions of a good night’s sleep vanished. Dirt stained the maroon carpet, as well as the creamy bathroom tile. And the bed? Well, I was afraid to crawl under the covers, worried something would crawl on me. “I’m not sleeping there.”
But I did, in my clothes, on top of the bedspread, and I survived. 
A few days later, we made our way to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. I liked the strange name for the city. Who wouldn’t want to kill old Slewfoot?
When I walked in our room, relief washed over me. A clean patchwork bedspread lay over the bed. Plump pillows adorned the top. A table and chairs sat nestled in the corner, where we could view the ocean right outside our window.
We strolled along the beach, looked for seashells, and ate the best food. It was heaven, I tell you. Only one thing bothered me. The Big Guy had been silent the whole time. I felt His presence, especially when the waves slapped against the shore, but I still sensed something missing.
After turning in for bed one evening, some harsh realizations hit me. I’d taken care of others for years, including my elderly mother, but didn’t realize how angry I’d become in the process. I silently prayed, repenting of my testy old self. Pardon my sins, Lord, for I know they are many.
On our last night there, we sat on the beach after dinner. I still wondered why God had been silent. I eyed the distant shore, wondering what kind of shells I could find down there. “I’ll be back in a few, honey.”
I walked down the shoreline and spotted a mound in the sand. A piece of a blonde-colored shell peeked out, about the size of a nickel, and I pulled it free, brushing the granules away to reveal my treasure.
When I flipped the shell over, my jaw went slack. Written on the inside, were two little words in blue. “Jesus Pardons.”
Whirling around, I combed the area, wondering if someone had played a trick on me, but nobody else was there, just my husband, who still sat at the other end of the beach. Gooseflesh peppered my arms.
Guarding my prized possession, I brought it home and put it in my desk. It’s been there ever since. 
Yes, the past few years have been tough, but when things really get me down, I take out my seashell and remember God’s goodness.
I've often wondered who put it there, but it doesn't matter. I know the One who was behind it. And He knew I'd be there to find it exactly when I did.  
There’s always a reason to celebrate, even when I don't think that there is, and it all started with a book, and ended with a few little words in blue.