“Do you not fear me? declares the LORD. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.” (Jeremiah 5:22)
This week, even as we’ve enjoyed sunshine and a summer season that is lingering, I felt the chill in the mornings, and noted the shortening of the days. I found myself looking for fall.
Unlike the yard full of maple trees I grew up in, though, our island forest is not a showy place in the fall at first glance. This is mostly for sheer lack of deciduous trees. We do have alders sprinkled throughout the conifers, but when their leaves fall, they are green and brown, and only a little yellow.
Yet, there are lovely changes and autumnal colors to find; one has only to pay a little closer attention.
I found these little yellow leaves dotting the boulders of a beach this last week, falling like confetti from shrubs along the shore.
I also found these bales of seaweed washed up that were lovely shades of rust and mahogany. I think these are actually their color regardless of the season, but since I found them in September, I’m claiming them as fall colors.
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.
He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals the deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20-22)
On a beautiful day at the beach in which we had the rare privilege of the entire place to ourselves, I read a magazine with the theme of “Life with a Flourish”. It caught my attention, because while I have tended to think of the word “flourish” as a verb, as in the idea of thriving or doing well, the articles I read steered the reader more towards “flourish” as a noun.
It’s those purposeful, sort of over the top actions in life, those highly enriching gestures in which we above and beyond the necessary simply because it will bring ourselves and those around us joy. It’s the confetti at the party, the wildflower bouquet on the table, the curl on the end of your signature. It’s taking the time to stop for ice cream and sit on the porch to eat it, and trying an Earl Gray infused apricot jam recipe instead of just plain. It’s the back door painted brilliant red.
This was a week that was delightfully full of Vacation Bible School, and sunny days at the beach with friends, and ice cream at Naani’s, and it was fairly easy to feel like we were living life with a flourish. I even had time to relax at the beach and read a whole magazine while my kids swam! But there are plenty of weeks when it doesn’t happen naturally, when I can get so busy checking off the boxes of duty—the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning—that I forget to take the time to celebrate life with creativity, beauty and wonder.
Here is my note to self to remember, and not to forget.
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure.
The lines of my boundary have fallen in pleasant places; surely my inheritance is delightful.
You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” (Psalm 16:5-6, 11)
*Thoughts inspired by the referenced Summer 2022 issue of Magnolia Journal.
About the pictures: My family was here visiting from Minnesota, and we took them tide pooling in the rain! This little boy gets over-the-top excited when he finds a starfish or crab and doesn’t want to leave them behind. I hope he never loses that senses of wonder for God’s amazing creatures!
What I’ve been reading this week: I finished the book of Luke—and I love this story at the end: “And they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the way and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) If you want to read the full story, it’s verses 13-32!
P.S. I’ve fallen a bit behind in posting for this project, which you were likely (hopefully) too busy enjoying summer to notice! That’s mostly because I lost the cord I use to download pictures from my camera to the computer. This week, I finally found it in a very unlikely spot…so there will be a bit of a photo dump coming your way while I try to catch up!
There are some capsules of time that are just sheer beauty and wonder. They’re the kind you always remember, the kind where you don’t even have to close your eyes to remember…
the wonder and delight of tiptoeing along through the water with the jellyfish swirling magically around you and purple starfish at your feet…
the way the waves of a passing cruise ship wanted to lift your feet right off the sand…
that exhilarating moment of plunging all the way in and listening to your children laugh in delight and come piling in after you…
the way your body tingled when you came up out of the cold ocean into the hot sunshine of a rare southeast Alaskan heatwave, and the way that feeling lasted for hours afterwards…
or the way the beach peas were trailing wild over the bleached driftwood when the sun sank to the treetops and you clambered down the pebbly bank to go home.
I think that those of us who live in the places where summer is fleeting are less likely to take it for granted. In some ways, I am grateful that it’s fleeting, because the beauty of it isn’t lost on me and I am not afraid to stop and savor it before the days slip through my fingers like sand, give way to autumn and winter, and are gone forever.
P.S. Yep, we’re swimming in our clothes. When you feel like swimming, but didn’t think to bring your swimsuit, one of the great delights and freedoms of life is that you don’t have to let that stop you.
Also—the clear jellies pictured here are lovely and harmless, but don’t worry—we kept our eyes open for the stinging varieties!
“There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:6-7)
Memorial Beach is a remote beach at the very northern tip of the island, a good 4+ hour drive away from Thorne Bay. We’ve been wanting to go up there for a while, but we knew we wanted to spend the night and have some time to enjoy the place if we drove that kind of distance. The options of places to stay were 1) bring a tent, or 2) be lucky enough to be the first one to claim the one and only first-come, first-serve three-sided camping shelter. That’s it. In other words, it needed to be decent weather for tent camping, because there was no guarantee of securing the shelter.
When the forecast popped up with two days straight of sunshine with zero chance of rain (a bit of a rarity here in a rainforest!), we made some fast plans and went for it. I’m so glad we did. The weather was absolutely perfect, and we were fortunate enough to have the beach completely to ourselves for most of our stay—including the coveted camping shelter, complete with bunks and a tiny woodstove!
Prepare yourself to scroll through a lot of pictures!
It’s hard to accurately depict scale in photos sometimes, but the first shot below of Zach walking on the beach gives you some idea of the size of the old growth forest that surrounded us. These were BIG trees, and the forest floor beneath them was the loveliest place to walk.
There were some really beautiful and unique rocks at this beach, including marble. We also saw sea lions, sea otters and seals in the distance, and found the beautiful sea anemone pictured below. Our little camping shelter was situated perfectly to watch the sun set—what a treat to have nothing on our agenda but to sit there and watch it go down. We savored the beauty and silence of this place so much, and we only wished we had brought enough water and food to stay longer!
What I’ve been reading and thinking about this week:
“[The Lord] sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” (2 Samuel 22:17-20)
This was a beautiful, restful place to end a very, very busy Easter week. The morning had been wonderful, with the Christians of our community uniting in a truly joyous celebration of the resurrection. An outdoor sunrise service at the park, a fabulous brunch potluck, an indoor service with the beautiful ending of a baptism, dinner with friends, a community egg hunt, all of it so good—but now, we were tired.
I needed the sound of the waves more than I realized. Picking my way along the beach in search of colors and shapes and forms of life, a slow and silent pastime, was incredibly restful and rejuvenating. Far out, flashing rich brown against the blue, two sea lions were traveling south, and up the shore a few friends gathered peacefully around a crackling fire of driftwood, contentedly watching the sun turn the snowy peaks across the strait pink as it sank in the west.
I suspect that’s why Jesus’ disciples, too, headed to the sea after all the drama of the events leading up to His death and resurrection. Being human, I can only imagine how stimulated and drained and emotionally exhausted they were after the incredible lows and highs of the previous week. They did what we all do when we are spent—they went back to the familiar things, to the soothing rhythm of the wind and the waves, and the things they could do without thinking too hard, like fishing. Maybe for some of them, time alone and in the outdoors was what they needed to sort their thoughts out (there had to be a crazy amount of them running through their heads after the week they’d just been through!) and make sense of it all. I know I’m like that.
Today, I was grateful to be reminded that HE PAID IT ALL and IT IS FINISHED.
“But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:37)
No more striving of mankind necessary. Hallelujah!
P.S. If you’re new here and wondering what “Project 52” is all about, you can go here to read more!
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations formy name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:6-14)
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this passage in Matthew just “happened” to be a part of my Bible reading plan this week. As we hear real, live reports of war in our world, it is a great comfort to know that God is in control and no matter what happens, in the end He is the victor.
Meanwhile, I pray for our brother and sisters who must suffer and rise to challenges that I have never dreamed of, living in the sobering reality that this world will never know true, lasting peace until Jesus is King.
“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.” (Exodus 15:11,13)
I’ve been soaking in the story of the Exodus this last week. How wonderful to remember that this God of the Israelites, who parted the Red Sea, is the same God we serve today—and He’s still in the business of redeeming people. Praise His name!
About the photos: The kids and I have spent a couple days playing along the shore this last week, soaking in some overdue sunshine! Can you spot the bald eagle in the tree on the island?There is pretty much always an eagle sitting on that tree on that island, sometimes two. There were a couple trees by our house in Minnesota that the eagles habitually perched on, as well, and I love that moving 1700 miles away didn’t change the fact that I still get to live within daily sight and sound of these beautiful big birds.
P.S. If you’re new here and wondering what “Project 52” is all about, you can go here to read more!