Good Omen“It’s an omen.”

That is what a man told us when we found a purple starfish on the beach, that early morning 20 years ago, when we went to watch the sunrise.  That was when my future husband and I were  just getting to know one another.  We were in that exciting, wonderful stage of a relationship when feelings of friendship start growing into feelings of love.  When every moment of being together is fun, exciting, innocent, and new.

Twenty years later, my husband and I came back to our old “stomping grounds” to celebrate our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary.  We live far from here now, but every chance we get, we come back to St. Augustine to visit.  We love it here.  We love being by the beach.  We love being able to walk downtown and visit the unique and interesting little shops along St. George Street.  To us, this is our home.  This is where we met and fell in love and our new life began.

Every time we come for a visit, we go to the beach and we go back to our favorite restaurant, the Oasis.  We walk among the familiar shops down St. George Street and discover new ones that have sprung up.  And of course, we pay a visit to  my old college.  We walk through the breezeway, where so many wordless hugs were exchanged.  Where so many “I love you’s” were felt, but not yet spoken.   We  reminisce.

Last night, we drove to this one spot near the beach where we use to park the car, open the sunroof, lay our seats back and just talk.  Minus the sunroof, we did that again.  And suddenly, for the first time since we have been coming back here, I felt very sad.  Through my tears, I told my husband that I suddenly grew very sad at the thought that all of those memories, all of that “newness” that we had so long ago…that it’s gone.  We will never be able to recreate those memories and those feelings again.  We will always love one another, in fact, our love has only grown stronger and deeper throughout the years.  But the joy of discovery…the way your heart use to leap every time you saw one another….it’s gone.  I suppose it just hit me suddenly for the first time.  We talked for awhile about all of the things we love about one another and how far we’ve come and we talked about a few of our memories from those early days in our relationship.  Like the love letters we use to write to one another.  We lived only a few miles apart, but we would write important letters to one another about nothing at all that we couldn’t wait to receive in the mail.  And then we remembered the time we drove to the beach we were now parked at to watch the sunrise and we found a starfish together.  As soon as we picked it up this complete stranger all of a sudden appeared  and told us, “it’s an omen”.  As we were reminiscing,  my husband then asked a very good question that I had never thought of before when he said, “Where did that guy even come from??  It’s like he just appeared out of nowhere the minute we picked up that starfish!”  True…upon reflection…that was odd that a stranger would then appear and make that comment.  Thinking not much more about it, we soon drove back to where we were staying, leaving another memory there, at the beach.

The next morning, we decided to go for a run along the beach.  As we were running, I remember thinking to myself, “Man, I wish he (my husband) would look down from time to time to watch his step so he doesn’t stumble.” He rarely looks down when he runs and has stumbled from time to time.  I guess I was just worried about him.  It wasn’t but a few seconds later that my husband suddenly stopped running to look at something.  There, amongst all the shells and all the people, without even having his glasses on, he found a starfish.  We couldn’t believe it.  And neither of us had to say it.  God, as he has always been, was there, in our midst last night listening to us grieve a little over the time we would never get back.  The feelings that would never quite be the same.  The youthfulness and vitality, the energy and innocence that floats in the air around our old favorite places; that we can remember so well we can almost feel it, but is now just out of our reach.  And in finding this new starfish, this “omen” that made us believe even more in our predestined love all those years ago, God was reaffirming our love.  He was reaffirming all of those wonderful moments and memories that He gave us.  And He was telling us that love goes on.  Real love never really begins–it was always there, just waiting to be discovered.  And real love never ends.

Memories and moments will always be created and treasured.  They will begin and they will end.  But what really matters is the  love that remains.

Love, His love for us, and our love for one another is timeless.  And that is what I will always remember.


You Can Always Pray

“You can always pray.”  This was the message I received on my oldest son’s 19th birthday. 

Being a parent is hard work.  It is physically demanding when your children are small.  It is emotionally demanding when they grow up.  Being the parent of a 12 and 19 year old, I have been through the baby, toddler and teenage years as a parent.  I always thought that the toddler years were the hardest.  What a stage in life!  Here you have a little person who is discovering their independence for the first time.  They are learning to walk–getting around on their own–going where they want, when they want.  They are learning to talk–and why is it that their favorite word is No!!  They are learning that they can do things on their own and they WANT to do these things on their own.  They WILL put the spoon in their mouth themselves, even though the spoon is upside down.  They WILL NOT sit in the stroller, they want to walk instead!  When you think about it, this assertion of their independence as a two and three year old is much like their assertion of independence as a 17 and 18 year old.  Things circle back around, and now you have a big person who has learned how to drive a car, how to hold a job, how to do things that THEY want to do.  The biggest difference as a parent between these two stages is the amount of control the parent has.  When they were a toddler, yes, they wanted to do things on their own–but ultimately, the parent had more control over which things they did.  As a teenager, yes, I was still able to set some boundaries such as curfew–but the amount of control you as a parent have slowly starts to dwindle.  I can demand that you be home by midnight, but I am not there with you while you are gone, helping you make the right choices.  And while I know it is a good thing to give your child the independence that they so desperately crave so that they become productive, responsible adults…it sure is hard.  For me, being a parent now is much harder than it ever was when my kids were little.  Then, I was their world and I knew what they were doing, when they were doing it and I was able to make sure they were safe and happy.  Now?  I am not their world, nor should I be at this stage.  I HOPE that they are safe.  I HOPE that they are happy.  But my control over that is slowly slipping away.

The night before my son’s 19th birthday, I was at Mass praying.  My heart was so consumed in prayer for my son that tears were streaming from my eyes.  I want so much for him to be happy, to be loved, to find his path and to remain close to God.  Those are my deepest desires for my children–they are what I want more than anything in this world.  At one point in my son’s life, I could provide that.  Now, I must rely on God to provide that for them.  The feeling of helplessness, on my part, filled me with despair. 

The next morning, on my son’s birthday, I read my devotional.  God spoke to me in this sentence, “When you see a need, don’t ever think there is nothing you can do, because you can always pray.” (Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyers)

I pray for my children every day.  I pray for them now more than I ever did when they were little.  When I think about it, I don’t think I prayed much for them when they were little.  Why would I need to?  I was taking care of them.  I was in control.  Silly, yes, but that was my thinking.  Now I realize that as my control slowly begins to fade away, my prayers for them have increased tremendously.  And that has made me realize that now they are in much better hands than they were ever in when I was their world.  Now, they are in God’s hands. 

A parent’s work is never done, it just changes.  God has shown me that as a parent of a young adult, I still do have some control.  I can control how often I pray for my son and what I pray for.  My despair has been turned to hope, knowing that through it all, I can always pray.

Do Not Worry

Have you ever had a concern, prayed about it and then, the next day, you read something and it speaks EXACTLY to what you  had just prayed about?  That happens to me–and I know that is God speaking to me.

Last week I had a big concern come up at work.  Of course I prayed alot about it, that God would help me with it.  But that night I woke up in the middle of the night thinking and worrying about it.  I kept telling myself that sitting there at 2 am in the dark thinking and worrying about this problem was not going to solve or change anything.  I kept telling myself to go back to sleep, but I just couldn’t.  I kept hearing a voice in my head telling me to stop worrying and to trust God.  I have come to learn, through many experiences, that when you hear that voice in your head that is surrounded by God’s light, that is not your voice.  That is God’s voice.  I finally did get back to sleep.

The next morning, when I got to work, I opened up a devotional book I had found in my new office, left behind by the previous occupant.  I had just decided the day before to start reading each day’s devotional when I got to work (they’re pretty short).  So, on this second day of reading the devotional, God spoke to me.  Here are just a few lines of that day’s devotional:  “I have found that victorious people in the Bible faced their problems with prayer.  They did not worry; they prayed.  I ask you today:  Do you worry or do you take your needs to God in prayer?”  and here is another, “The answer to your problem, whatever it may be, is not to worry, but praying and trusting that Jesus is leading you.”  (Love Out Loud by Joyce Meyer)

Now some people might call this a coincidence, but I know that God was speaking to me.  And His message helped me immensely.  Since then, the problem has been fixed and all is well.

God tells us all, always, “Do not worry, but trust in Me.”

In the Quiet

So God has been whispering to me for awhile now to journal the ways in which He speaks to me.  I think what made me finally get started today was that God has spoken to me a lot lately and that voice has been whispering more and more to get started with this blog and when I heard him speak to me today, I knew it was time to begin.  Because He has been speaking to me all of my life, these reflections will not be in any sort of chronological order, but rather, as I remember them.  And when I say “speaking” I don’t necessarily mean speaking the way you and I speak.  Rather, God talks to me in dreams, in devotional prayers that I read, in what others may say or do.  It goes on and on.  God “speaks” to us all of the time.  We, unfortunately, are not still enough.  We are not quiet enough.  We are not aware enough to always “hear” what He has to say.  Because God does not speak in thunder, fire, or howling wind.  He will not grab your shoulders and shake you awake.  No, he waits patiently for you.  He speaks in the stillness, in the quietness, in the small whisper in our minds that we often shoo away.  What are coincidences?  Are they just happen chance?  Really?  Or are those coincidences in life, the ones that make us shake our head in total unbelief, really God trying to show you that He hears you…and He is talking to you.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the dreams, events, things I hear, things I read, things that are just way too coincidental, are God’s words to me.  This blog is not meant to persuade or convince anyone of anything.  They are my experiences and my reflections.  If you become inspired by reading this, maybe God is speaking to you.

God speaks to us all the time.  These are some of the things He has said to me.