It was the same beach. The same cove. The same rocks and ocean and sky. But somehow it all looked different than it had one year before. In the 12 months since I walked the same path, that coastline weathered everything from gentle rains, to dry, sunny days, to raging hurricane winds and pounding waves.
On that particular day, the sand was littered with seaweed from a recent storm. The debris was dark, messy, tangled, smelly even.
But it didn’t take long for my attention to be drawn away. Captivated by the sun sparkling like a sea of diamonds on the water, and wooed by the lapping cadence of gentle waves, I lifted my eyes from the rubble to the horizon.
It was the first day of school and this walk on the beach has become my favorite tradition. Taking a necessary pause before busy days and weeks take over. An intentional deep breath to bathe this new year in prayer, to ask for the Lord’s special and unique favor over each of our kids and their teachers – and ourselves as their parents!
Just a few hours before, it was brutal to answer the call of our 5 AM alarms, to coax sleepy bodies out of their beds and see them off to the bus. But a mixture of anxiousness and excitement propelled all of us forward, curious to step into a new year, bursting with fresh possibilities!
As I sat with the kids at the breakfast table, my gaze fell on the open One Year Bible and Daily Light texts in front of me. It was so encouraging to share these words with them:
The LORD says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. ~ Good planning and hard work lead to success. ~ The LORD’s plans stand firm forever. His intentions can never be shaken. ~ This work has been done with the help of our God.
– Psalm 32:8, Proverbs 21:5, Psalm 33:11, Nehemiah 6:16 –
That last verse really touched me since our last name means, “with the help of God.” COLAIUTA is an Americanized version of an Italian name “con l’auito di Dio.” I was so thankful to be reminded that I was sending my kids off in the very best hands … HIS!
I have vivid memories of this same walk a year ago. Long stretches of it were in silence, whispering quiet gratefulness for a beautiful day, a quiet beach, and time to think and pray. As I asked the Lord for His hand upon the year ahead, I sensed an answer settling across my heart. It was not audible, but it was clear and it was real. I distinctly remember receiving it with seriousness, but not any fear.
There will be mountains to climb this year … … … … but I will be with you every step of the way.
Wow. What could He mean, I wondered!? And just as quickly as the question formed in my mind, His Spirit seemed to calm my heart and remind me that I didn’t need to know the details. I could simply trust Him. For He would be with me (us) and that was all I needed to know.
As I reflected on the year that has passed since that day, I could only give PRAISE to the One who has been faithful to those words. He prepared my heart so that when struggles came, I could find my rock-solid place in His promises and look to Him for help. We have faced a variety of challenges in the past year. Some of those situations still feel like mountains! I have thought a few times, “mountains are beautiful from a distance, or from the top, but rarely do we see the full picture in the middle of the climb.” We can be so easily overcome by what’s dark, messy, tangled.
As I walked along that same beach and had the chance to look back over 12 months, I could see more clearly how He had walked us through each day, each trial – and how He had graciously granted times of JOY in the midst of those struggles! I felt a surge of new confidence that any days ahead would be the same!
As I continued to walk, offering thanksgiving for the Lord’s faithfulness over the past year, and His promises given that very morning with which to step bravely into the new one, I wondered if He had anything new to reveal to my heart?
God’s Word encourages us to boldly ASK Him what we do not know. And so I walked, and prayed, and asked Him what banner He might want me to stretch over this new season. These are the thoughts that came…
Treasure what is right in front of you without rushing past.
Your kids are growing older, both in high school now. Your time with them is fleeting. It’s ok to let go more than ever before and leave space for Me to work in their hearts.
Trust Me with the trials, some of which are still ongoing from last year, some will be new challenges ahead.
Embrace where I have placed you.
In love and faithfulness, simply seek My face and love and serve your family.
Since January, I have felt His “word” for me this year is “tucked away.” He has been drawing my heart to more and more time alone with Him, to simply get lost in Who He is and trust that whatever emerges from that place is good and right. So it was not surprising that the final thought that drifted across my heart was this:
It may already be August, but your “tucked away” year has only just begun. Don’t be in a hurry to leave this season. Be still and treasure (and guard!) this time.
My mind drifted back to our verses at the breakfast table and a sacrifice of PRAISE spilled freely from my heart:
You are the One who watches over us.
You are the One who lifts our heads, who draws our eyes from the dark, messy, tangled debris of any recent storm to the horizon and to HOPE rising, fresh each day with the sun – and it is dazzling!
You are the One who guides us, who blesses good planning and hard work with success.
Your plans are never shaken.
Your help is what sees us to any finish line.
We can only offer PRAISE and THANKSGIVING from deeply grateful hearts!
The LORD is my strength and shield
I trust in Him with all my heart
He helps me and my heart is filled with JOY
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving
The LORD gives His people strength
He is a safe fortress for His anointed
The LORD blesses His people with PEACE
– Psalm 28:7-8, 29:11 –