Jen’s Gem: A grateful heart is a joyful heart.
This past week my children and I spent a few days in Montauk, Long Island or as I like to call it – a little slice of heaven. I joked with a friend of mine that while I know God has prepared a mansion for me in His kingdom, I’m hoping it’s a beach house with an ocean view!
Growing up on Long Island, it’s no surprise that I’m a beach person. Long before the Hamptons were “The Hamptons”, my siblings and I freely plopped ourselves on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We’d spend an entire day listening to our portable radios, eating deli sandwiches and having near-death experiences as the rip-tides threatened to carry us far from our staked-out spot on dry land.
As I drank my morning coffee watching the sun kiss the water, I couldn’t help but be grateful. I sent up a prayer of thanks to God for creating such a beautiful place. I thanked Him for giving my kids and me the opportunity to be a part of this for just a few days.
The Storms Are Raging
It’s easy to forget how much we have when we’re stuck in the day-to-day rubble of life’s responsibilities. It’s even easier to get sucked under those big waves that threaten to crumble us from time to time. But what I noticed as I sipped my morning coffee was that there was always a calm in between those crashing waves. It didn’t last long, but it was there and if you weren’t looking for it, you could easily miss it.
It occurred to me that those moments of calm are the moments to say “Thank you.” There’s no telling when the next big wave is going to come, so taking the time to reflect and be grateful is so very important.
Our time on the beach was way too short. To say I could’ve stayed there forever would be an understatement. My heart hurt as we drove off the property and headed for home. While my son rambled on about the NBA draft picks and my daughter was engrossed in her music, my ears were listening for the waves. As I strained to keep my eyes focused on the road in front of me, my mind’s eye had me securely seated with my toes in the warm sand.
But the Calm is Coming
On our way home, I stopped in to visit my dad again. Not only was he in a chipper mood, but he looked great. Pushing 95 years old, you’d be amazed at how great he looks.
He greeted me with a hug and a smile. We “chatted” for a few minutes and I told him I had to head back to CT. I’m not sure he remembered that I lived in CT but it didn’t matter. As I readied to leave, I gave him another hug and told him I loved him. His hug was strong and he held on to me tightly. As I walked out the door, I etched his next words into my heart.
“I love you too,” he said.
I wrote last week that I didn’t know if my dad would recognize me or my kids. He did. I had concerns that he’d be having a bad day and our visit would be awkward. It wasn’t. In short, the “waves” I was expecting never came to pass. Not only that but I was given a gift. I was beyond thankful just to see my dad, but then to feel his strong arms around me and to hear him say he loved me back was better than any beach resort vacation anywhere.
The shells and driftwood we collected have found their new home in my living room. They’ll serve as a reminder of our lovely vacation and will put a smile on my face when winter’s cold hits us in a few months.
But the words my dad spoke will warm my heart forever. They will be the calm in between the waves of my life. And they will remind me that no matter what life throws at me, there’s always a blessing; sometimes in plain sight, sometimes hidden. My job (and yours) is to find it.
Look for Your In-Betweens
I encourage you to find the blessings in your day and be thankful for each and every one of them. Don’t waste that ‘in between’ time regretting the past or worrying about the future. The past is over and unchangeable. But you can shape your future by replacing the worry with gratitude for what you have now.
Maybe it’ll be as simple as an open parking spot or a smooth ride into work tomorrow morning. Or maybe, it’ll be something grand like a father’s love for his daughter. Either way, send up a wave of thanks for it.