I Am the Unlovely

In the wake of the horrific tragedy that took place in Orlando, FL last weekend, I instantly noticed a disturbing trend. Maybe you did too? Posts in the blogosphere and Pinterest pins and Instagram photos started flooding my news feed.

And many of them pointed out ways Christians could “love the unlovely”.

It made me ill. And mad.

If you’re still reading, let me tell you why. And if you follow along here regularly, you’re already ahead of me, aren’t you?

I am the unlovely. 

This isn’t a slam against myself. Or self-deprecation. Or a result of low self-esteem.

No, it’s Truth, with a capital T.  And I believe in a God who so loved me, and you, that He was willing to die to show us the extent of that love.

And because I believe that Truth, and am so overwhelmingly thankful for His love, I long to love everyone like me.

Every unlovely.

So, you know, every human being.

Not just now, all of the sudden, since evil attempted to get an upper hand (once again).

Not just in the aftermath of any great “reveal” where we find out someone we know or love is addicted or afflicted.

Humans don’t suddenly become “unlovely” in those instances. And I’m beyond sure about this, friends, because I am now, and always have been, unlovely.

From dust we came and to dust we will return.

Truth.

So the next time we are tempted to look upon another human heart as “unlovely” and worthy of being loved, let’s take a quick look in the mirror.

And remember…

If we call ourselves saved, well…

Jesus didn’t come to save the healthy ones.

And, I’m not good with if/then statements in science, but I get this one. If He came to save the sick, and He surely did save me…

Then that makes me one of the unlovely ones.

Oh, yes indeedy!

 

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What Lurks Beneath

In honor of the close of “Shark Week”, and, For Captain Ahab and my family – blood and other.

My brother is brave.  Military, kinda-brave.  I’ve not seen him shaken up but once in my life.

On our illustrious Bimini trips, all of us kids would take turns jumping off the docks into the crystal clear blue waters of the marina.  That water was stunning.  I didn’t realize it then, but the pure joy of jumping into water that you can see clear through to the sandy, starfish and sand dollar strewn bottom of, was a gift.  We took it for granted.

Youth is wasted, and all that.

We also took for granted that there would ever be anything in that water that could hurt us.  The marina felt safe.  It was a haven, not only for the boats that would make the trek over from South Florida for their various fishing and diving ventures, but for us kids, too. We knew only safety in the incessant jumping in and climbing out of those waters.

One of the most majestic sea creatures that you could ever encounter are the giant Manta rays that glide through the waters of the Bahamas.  They are massive.  And docile. But, massive.  The “babies”, alone, are from three to five feet across.

One fine afternoon we all ran down the dock, taking turns jumping into the crystal waters.  When it was my brave brother’s turn, wild and reckless, even at 8 years old, he took a gigantic flying leap out into the marina. And promptly walked on water right back up onto the dock.

We all came running to look down and see what could possibly instill fear of that magnitude in my brave brother’s heart. Four gargantuan Manta-rays gracefully passing through held us transfixed.

It took a couple of minutes for my brother to get his color back. And, you can be sure that we all looked before we leaped from then on out.

We would also waterski everywhere when we were in the Bahamas. If the boat could fit into the area and the stretch was long enough to get a decent run in, then we would go for it.

From time to time, we would actually have one of us in the water getting skis on and ready, while someone else was making a run. If we were the one waiting to be taken on a run, we’d sometimes have to wait for 5 minutes or more for the boat driver to circle back around.  Once in a while, if it wasn’t shallow enough to stand, we’d just lay on top of our skiis until it was our turn.

And so, one cloudy day, that was me.  Bobbing around on top of the skis waiting to be picked up. Happily.

Until I saw a fin. At fifteen, I was plenty old enough to know that all of the many sharks we had seen over the years had been incredibly kind to mind their own business.  I knew how much pain a shark could inflict. I started to breathe in and breathe out, keep my eye on that fin, and pray to hear the motor of the boat approaching.

The fin seemed to be about 40 or 50 feet away.  I still have no idea. I’m not very good at gauging distances, and even less so when I think a shark is eye-balling my person. I decided at some point to just lay on top of my skiis, stop watching the fin, and hope for the best.

And about that time, I was so zoned out that I completely missed the approach of the boat. I only knew rescue had come because Ahab had reached down and pulled me up into the boat, all calm-like.  No one said a word and we hustled back to pick up the other skiier.

But I’ll tell you this – I never offered to be the sitting duck again, I’ll tell you. Oh no I did not.

And we were all more aware of what lurked beneath.

Oh, yes indeedy.

Shark Encounters of the Too Close Kind

I’ve been away.

Playing.

We stayed plenty busy down in Florida, with Ahab and The Nana for the last few weeks.

We did a lot of this:

snorkeling2_fl_july_missindeedy

A little of that (I think it’s important for you to know that I only mostly win.):

uno2_fl_july_missindeedy

Some of this:

fishing_fl_july_missindeedy

And even a visit to my favorite South Florida barbeque joint. (The Georgia Pig, for those taking notes.)

But, the most exciting things to happen, by far, were my Close Encounters.

First, we had a lizard that decided that the car was a much more exciting place to hang out than the yard.  For 3 days! I mean, I thought, fer sure, this little bugger would “expire” in the heat of the car while we were at the beach, that first day.

I forgot one little fact. Floridian lizards live in the heat all the live long day.  The car was probably a respite.  The more I think about it, the car was probably like a spa visit.  Some air conditioning,  a few generously sprinkled cracker crumbs… he had himself a veritable spa weekend getaway!

lizard_fl_july_missindeedy

He really lived it up in there.  Until, I finally had enough of our “Where Will Larry the Lounge Lizard Be Today” game, every time we got into the car.  So, The Nana graciously, and bravely, got him to Sit! Stay! Jump on a pole!  And promptly took him out of the car.

HOORAY FOR THE NANA!

Said with no relief what-so-ever.

However, it was the close encounter that took place in the ocean, that caused the most excitement.

And, by “excitement”, I mean, cause for adding to the salt content of the ocean.

Ahab taught me two important things about snorkeling, growing up. One, stay aware of your surroundings. Two, objects in mask are smaller than they appear.

Easy peazy.

Sweetboy, my nephew, Ahab, and I were snorkeling around a reef area close to the beach one day. I swam in to drop Sweetboy off, up at the beach. He was tired, and I was using my old fins, one of which had a split on the top.  It made for lots of stopping to empty the sand out.

As I neared the shallow area where I could stand and shake out my fin, I noticed another type of finned thing off to my left.  A long sharky looking finned thing.

“Calm down, woman.  It’s not as big as you think.  Just carry on.”

So, I took off my fin, as planned. I was just about to put it back on when I noticed that my finned friend had come much much closer, and was most definitely longer than I was.

I’m not short.

I haven’t moved that fast since high school! I scrambled my way, fin in hand, up to the beach and out of that water so fast, I darn near ripped one of my fingernails off!

Ahab and my nephew tried to convince me to get back in and swim out to them.

Uh, no can do!

My family, of course, has ridden this for all it’s worth. From placing things like this in front of me, to ask if I recognized my “friend” from a lineup:

sharks_fl_july_missindeedy

to telling me that he “just wanted to get to know me better”, the gags have been nonstop.

He might have wanted to get to know me better, but I just wasn’t that into him.

We even sidled up to a car at the movies with this bumper sticker on it’s rear:

kiss_a_shark_missindeedy

Everyone in the car erupted in laughter.

Except for me.

That was an encounter of the too close kind, thank-you-very-much!

And finally, Sweetman and I were granted the opportunity to skip out one night for dinner.

Alone.

Did we do the Happy Dance all the way out the door? Why, yes. Yes, we did.

When we returned home, Sweetman practically swept me off my feet. But, not for the reason I’d have hoped.

“Is that one of those deadly poisonous snails”, he asked?

I’m just going to admit, right now, that between the darkness of night and my enjoyment of a beautiful bottle of Cab with that Sweetman of mine, I was in no shape to be differentiating between deadly and non-deadly snails.

When we had safely maneuvered into the house, we showed The Nana a picture, (Because, even if you’re near a deadly snail, you still have to stop and snap a pic. Am I right?), and asked if these were the Death Snails.

(By the way, she was totally waiting up for us – even though we are solidly in our 40’s!)

The Nana informed us that these African snails are indeed deadly, but that the bad ones are 4 or more inches across.

These, thank The Good Lord, were not.

We escaped death, once more.

Yes indeedy.

All said, I believe this trip was filled with enough adventure and close encounters to last me a good long while.

Or, at least until next year.

The Kids’ Top 5 Places to Visit

Just for kicks and giggles, I asked those darling children of mine a question last weekend: If they could go anyplace, what would their top five be?

They each delivered answers fairly predictably, with just one or two surprises.

Sweetboy’s top five, in a very particular order, are:

1. Go to Disney World. (Shocker!)

2. Go to Hawaii. (Apparently, Disney has a resort there? So… shocker!)

3. Go to California.  (Disneyland. We have a theme going here, don’t we?  And, because, “I’ve always wanted to go to L.A. – it seems cool!”  What’s that now?!)

4. Go to the Florida Keys.  (I wasn’t expecting that one. Ahab and Nana – that’s on you!)

5. Go and visit Wales. (This is not a surprise. After all, I did once use an accent for love.)

And, Sweetgirl’s top five were:

1. Disney World. (Shocker, again!)

2. Legoland in Florida. (Thank you Lego Movie!)

3. Denmark. (She has a sweet little school friend from there.  This is not surprising.)

4. Go to Hawaii because “It’s so warm in there!” (And, as soon as brother reported that there was a Disney Resort there, too, she wanted to move it up to #1. I told her that all decisions were final. No returns or exchanges.)

5. Go see Rio2 at the movies. (Now that was totally random, as we didn’t really dig the first one. Well played Rio2 P.R. People! Also, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Rio 2 is not a place. She’s six. Whatever.)

There you have it.  Thrilling, I know.

But wait!

There is something thrilling that I’m working very hard to keep from sharing with them.

As far as the Sweetkids know, we are having our Mouse Reunion in December. They’ve been pining to go back since stepping foot off of Disney property this time, last year. We’ve been talking it up with them for the last 3 months. We’ve even been involving them in choosing a hotel, mapping out new restaurants to try, and which rides to make sure to hit.

What they don’t know is that we’re actually going to be sporting our Mickey Mouse ears really soon!

And, since it’s #1 on both of their lists, I have the feeling that we will have two highly happy children on our hands come the morning we stroll downstairs and announce that we’re going.

Oh, yes indeedy!

I can not tell you how happy this place makes my family. I had my doubts about how “magical” it all really was – until we actually went for the first time a few years ago.  All doubts were eradicated! Each visit to Disney World has been special for this quirky family of mine in so many ways.  Sweetman and I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I’d appreciate prayers for strength to keep my big mouth shut.  I’m ’bout ready to burst! I keep telling myself that I’ve made it this last couple of months – I can make it another couple of weeks, right?

RIGHT!?!

Missindeedy_Mouse_Secret

That’s More Like It

It’s been raining on and off since we arrived here in Not-So-Sunny-Florida.  We are, however, with a Nana and a Captain Ahab that we haven’t seen in a good long while;  and, so, we’ve been enjoying each other anyway.  Imagine. The Captain, however, is up to his same old tricks.  I haven’t  come up with a catchy name for the debacle that occurred this morning yet.  It could be called Watergate.  It really could.  But that’s already been taken.  Here’s the gist:

Ahab: “Let’s run the kids over to the beach to check the ocean before the day gets rolling.”

Me: (Naively) “That sounds like a great idea!”

The sun was sparkling across the water and peeking out just enough at 7:00 in the morning to give us hope for a decent day. We grabbed hold of that hope with a little more zeal than caution would warrant for the skies that were overhead. Can I just stop here a moment to tell you all, (all 8 of you), how poignant it is to watch my children walk the beach early in the morning with Captain Ahab?  That same daddy walked me and my brother when we were their age.  Oh, how the beach shell turns…

Aren’t Those Skies Talking?

Far longer than a “short beach run” later, we arrived home soaked to the bone.  You see, Captain Ahab thought it would be a mighty fine idea to walk the kids (including the littlest – Sweetgirl) all the way to the jetty.  And back. From where we started out, it was a good quarter-mile (or more) there, and then another good quarter-mile or more back.  That would have been great if we just had the two 9-year-old boys.  Alas… Halfway TO the jetty, Sweetgirl started telling us that her legs were tired of All The Walking.  Not a good sign.

Just about the time Ahab and I realized we should probably start heading back from the jetty, the skies decided to get angry.  We tried to shuffle the kids away, but dang it, there was a hot-pink mask washed ashore that was just Sweetgirl’s size, and a half-dead sea fan that begged to be brought back (despite the stench); not to mention the two turtle hatchling eggshells we found.  Oh, The Excitement!  Unfortunately, all of The Excitement made trying to hurry them along kind of like herding cats.  Only, harder.

Happily at the Jetty

All that to say, about 2 minutes into our 15 minute walk back, the skies opened up and rained on our beachy parade.  Here are a few things I heard from the lolly-gaggers before one of them needed to be picked up to keep the party moving along.

Sweetboy:  “We’ve walked 3 or 4 miles now, haven’t we Grampa?”

Sweetgirl: “My Eyes!  My Eyes are getting wet.  See, Grampa?”

Cousin:  “Can I just go ahead and jump in the ocean and go swimming?  I’m already wet!”

We did make it back. Wet, but happy to have enjoyed the adventure.  And to have made it back without getting struck by lightning. Obviously. As, I’m now sitting here in the comfort of the house telling you all about the latest adventure “abroad”.  Only, “abroad” is really just down South from up North.  Indeed.