It was the same beach. The same cove. The same rocks and ocean and sky. 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 to the horizon.
It was the first day of school and this walk on the beach had become my favorite tradition. Taking a necessary pause before busy days and weeks take over. An intentional deep breath to bathe a 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!
Long stretches of my walk were in silence, whispering quiet gratefulness for 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.
I stopped dead in my path. What could He possibly mean!? 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 and that was all I needed to know.
In the year that followed, I quickly realized that mountains are beautiful from a distance, or from the top, but rarely in the middle of the climb.
One year later, I could only give PRAISE to the One who had been faithful to those words. He prepared my heart so that when struggles came, I could find a rock-solid place to stand, on His promises. I saw more clearly how He had drawn closer than ever to personally walk us through each trial with tenderness and care! I felt a surge of new confidence that any days ahead would be the same!
Held and Beloved is a collection of stories, tracing threads through the ups and downs of my life that have drawn my heart to the Savior. Wrestling relatable struggles of doubt, heartache in divorce, the gift of remarriage, moving far from home, job stress and health scares, and ultimately surrendering my dearest treasures to the LORD.
In the depths of those struggles, I needed the LORD more than ever before. I cried out to Him. I craved quiet spaces like those beach walks to pause the swirling details of life to hear truth from His heart to mine. A cell-phone picture of that favorite cove, that has served as my home page and wallpaper for more than two years, was the obvious choice for the cover of Held and Beloved!
To me, the boulders represent the rocky road we are called to walk, but also the firm footing on which our Savior welcomes us to stand. Despite the clouds that come, we can be sure there is always an unalterably blue sky behind them. At times, we may feel like we are drifting, or even tossed about, surrounded by overwhelming tides. But the little boat in the picture reminds me of the disciples on the stormy sea. They learned new depths of the Savior’s power in those anxious moments. They heard Him speak the words to command the storm and the sea He created. They felt His steadying hand that held them secure and brought them safely to the other side.
More than anything in this picture, my favorite capture is the stunning shimmer of sunlight across the water. It speaks of the extravagant gift that always comes as the LORD reveals His heart to us – a priceless glimpse of glory!
Although we have lived in south Florida for eight years, I spent most of that time assuming our home here was temporary. This Philly girl was pining for the northern hills. It wasn’t always pretty. Held and Beloved tells that story too. A deeply personal journey of realizing my Savior loves me too much to leave me clinging to anything that will keep my heart distracted from His perfect plan.
This cover displays with quiet confidence the beauty of surrender that Held and Beloved recounts. Realizing how much I treasure this photo, and my favorite coastal cove, reassures me that He has won my heart and enabled me to embrace where He has purposely placed me – in south Florida!
I know it is just a book cover, but for me it will always tell the best parts of my story: His strength to hold me, His truth to surround me, His love to wash over me, and His stunning glory to leave me in awe, lost in wonder and forever amazed by GRACE!
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