Truly, I am overwhelmed.
We are preparing to return home, after two weeks in the Hawaiian Islands.
We love this place, my crew and I. Their grandparents live here, and we lived here for several years. We’ve visited often. The lava rock, the ocean, the sky—it is in our blood.
In fact, I remember the very first time I lived here, for 8 months nearly 21 years ago. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Kona, and saw the sky, I felt at home.
And, getting to be here these past two weeks with my crew, has been an experience that I can not quite explain or describe.
A gift, of tremendous proportions.
We’ve spent hours at the beach, in the water—swimming with turtles and riding waves. I think the salt of the sea has soaked into our very pores. I was noticing earlier that I have sand throughout my backpack. It is in the creases of my books. It is even in the creases of my shoes.
Beautiful. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Along with the sand, however, we are also returning home with something else, a bit more permanent.
We each have a new tattoo, of a small wave (Tim is getting his this weekend).
Each wave is different, unique–just like each of us are different….but the same, too.
My crew is growing up—and soon will be out in the world, living beautiful lives. I am excited about that….I want them to be adventurous–to follow God in whatever path He may have for them, whether it is nearby or to the outer reaches of the world. Oh, I will miss them, terribly. We have grown so close, these last 8 years. Following their father’s arrest, we circled the wagons for quite a while—it was necessary, at the time. And an outcome of that is the closeness we enjoy today.
I love my crew—dearly. Deeply. More than I ever thought possible.
But I never want to hold them back, from following the paths God may have for them. And, as my two youngest approach graduation this year and next, I see our lives “changing”. Not our love for each other–that bond is deep and solid and rich. But our situation will change. Service in the Navy will quite possibly take Tim to far reaches of the world. College and Seminary will open doors for my other three, that could lead them–well, anywhere in the world.
And, my role of mother is changing as well. I’ll always be their mom; I fully realize that parenting never “ends”. But, I see other friends with children who are grown–and I see that it does “change.” And, I also know that God may have plans for my life, too, that may take me other places in this world.
But all of that–no matter what the future holds, will never change our love, for each other. It has been forged in the fire of some tough things, and it has become strong as iron.
Oh, my soul, how I love my crew.
About a year ago, we started talking about getting tattoos–something symbolic, as a family. We did not make the decision lightly, or in haste–this was not a frivolous act–and we gave much thought to what it should consist of, finally landing on the perfect symbol: the waves of the ocean.
And nothing could be more perfect. A wave is a strong, powerful force. It can start of small, and quickly gather momentum until it crashes into the shoreline with thunderous noise. Or, it can be small ripples spreading across a tide pool. It is both a sight that can quicken the heartbeat, and calm the spirit.
We love the Pacific Ocean; my crew and I. They love to ride the waves on their boogie boards, or jump into the deep water from dangerous cliffs. They can spend hours upon hours, out there.
And I am drawn to the ocean, because several years ago, as I sat on the lava rock and stared at the sea, I came to believe that God is real, and that He knows who I am.
And my crew–and I–are strong, like the ocean waves.
But, the significance of the ocean, in our lives, goes even beyond these somewhat cheesy and sentimental thoughts above.
Isaiah 43 contains significant words, that I have clung too often. It talks of the deep waters…and how frightening it can be, when the circumstances of life threaten to drown us; it is a chapter of immense hope, because the words were written to assure the Israelites that God was their only Savior–and that He would save. And does save.
And we, today, can gain much hope in these very same words.
I know this, because I have.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Do you see the hope, my friends? When the waves threaten to pull us down to the depths of despair, God is there with us. We may feel overwhelmed, but we will not be overwhelmed. When we walk through the fires of the very hard things of this life—divorce, betrayal, cancer, children who are struggling, financial struggles, loss of friendships, death of loved ones—we will grieve, deeply. We will ache, and it will hurt.
But we who are Christ-followers, will not be consumed.
He is our Savior.
Psalm 42, is also full of words that I have preached to my soul, so many times. So many times. Even today, as my heart broke to leave the islands and this time with my crew. “Why are you downcast, o my soul? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (vs. 5).
So many times, I have said these words, prayed these words, cried these words.
And, there in the midst of 42, the ocean comes into play as well—
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
And His steadfast love never fails. And in the very hard nights, His song is with me.
Deep, indeed, calls to deep.
Keli, Tim, Mark and Bethany—my love for them is deeper than the ocean. Our love for each other, is more vast than the seas.
And God has been our strength, equal to 10 Thousand waves. And more.
And, while life may take us far from each other from time to time, as they each launch out into this world, the ocean will also pull us back home to each other.
Below are pictures of our tattoos..when Tim gets his this weekend, we will add his picture, too!