Over the course of many years I have laid down much of my writing on scraps of paper here and there. I scribble notes in margins of books, and stray pages in spirals. There were no endings to many brave beginnings. But much to my surprise, their bones cried out and grew wings on the sand this past weekend.
If I never wrote another thing, this blog will already have fulfilled a bigger purpose than I ever imagined. Your stories are inspiring to me. Keep sending them. I’m so touched by the encouragement that’s come from a leap of faith. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And so much of the responsive communication I’ve received has confirmed my belief that we all just desire to be connected in a more meaningful way.
So I will write more things!
Back to the beach. This place is a sanctuary for me, and for our little family. Whenever we need a retreat, we load up and go. The drive is long but the soul recharge is worth it. We had the opportunity to steal away a few days recently and we thank you, village. What was intended as a time for complete rest turned into inspiration and a spark to finally breathe life into these fragmented skeleton stories.
You can run from your purpose but you can’t hide
I come from a long line of bold immigrants, savvy businessmen, and performance artists on my dad’s side, and a long line of preachers, teachers, writers, and musicians on my mom’s. We’re thick with creatives and entrepreneurs, and you have to be a little eccentric to take on either of those challenges. I ran from music school in my teens and turned back. I ran from writing too for most of my life and here we are.
My grandmother self-published her first of many books in her eighties. It’s a collection of memoirs of her life as a preacher’s wife (see titles below). Every Christmas she also sends a new printed addition to our collection of “Stories That Love To Be Told.” In their child-rearing years, she and my Granddad loaded up all four of their children in the station wagon for regular family road trips. Vacations on a meager preacher’s salary were simple and creative. To feed my Granddad’s passion for history, often the adventure was in search of historical landmarks and Civil War battlefields. One such trip they set out toward Florida from Warrenton, Missouri. Days later, they found themselves parked on the white sandy beach of Pensacola.
The magic we found at this beach
The beauty of that place wiggled into my mom’s soul as a young girl and many years later she brought our family back for summers in our childhood. And then it wiggled into our souls, my sister Lisa’s and mine, and our spouses and children have come to love it too. It’s been ravaged by hurricanes (most recently Ivan and Dennis in 2004 and 2005) and restored to its quaint beauty each time, including the iconic water tower painted to resemble a bright rainbow beach ball. It’s sleepy in the winter, bustling with activity in the summer, and you can catch the Blue Angels flight show over the beach in July. Even in the off-season, military planes and helicopters fly overhead periodically from the Naval Air Station, prompting a fun trivia exercise that my dad loves and in which I guess incorrectly 100% of the time.
The peace that draws us back to the beach
My mom crafted her first book in her sanctuary of Pensacola several years ago. It was her voluntary retreat to focus, research, and write. (see titles below) So I took a deep breath and clicked “publish” on this blog last weekend with the sun setting over the rolling waves, and my heart caught in my throat realizing the coincidence. I would never have planned it that way. But what a neat full-circle experience connecting three generations of strong women in one beautiful place.
There’s sugar-white sand lodged in my computer and stuck behind my ears. The chilly saltwater and bright Florida sun have sucked my skin dry. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great reminder that there is breath in my own bones. It’s also a reminder that I am very much alive and ready to be used for something bigger.
I have a common daily prayer in seasons of turbulence and it is simple yet bold. God, please show me what you would have me do and give me the guts to do it. Usually the longer I think, the less He can do with me. So it was fun, really fun, to just let loose my own illusion of control and watch some of these stories come to life. They’re useful in His care, and there are more to come.