“Life at the beach is different…Time doesn’t move hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun! ”
Summertime is one of the few seasons that actually begins calling out to you, before it’s glorious arrival. The very word, gives our hearts a friendly wave and gestures us to come and enjoy all of our felicitous expectations, that we hope to fulfill within the next three months. It is our ‘last hurrah’ before the chilly breezes of autumn knock upon our doors.
During this resplendent time of bliss, we eagerly leave the beauty and quietness of the inside of our desired, charming havens and venture outside to the long awaited, sun filled, warm, breezy days…The garden is nodding, motioning us to; “Come and play, create, daydream and unwind in the fresh air.” Our picnic baskets are taken out of the attic, dusted off and we are already looking on the internet for the perfect place to go fishing, hiking and enjoy an ambrosial meal beneath the inviting and serene, blue sky. It’s an occasion of celebration for our little ones as they are on vacation for what seems to them, an eternity, but when fall arrives, they will look back and think, “How quickly our summer zoomed by, where did the time go.” It is also a season of travel, visiting dear friends and family, summer BBQ’s, an abundance of beach days, excursions to amusement parks, a retreat to a beach cottage, alfresco dining, boating, crabbing, dressing our homes in a lighter attire, changing our own wardrobes to shorts, flip flops and short sleeved shirts… There is so much to do in only three months…read our favorite novels, clean out our storage sheds and garage’s, give our yards a makeover, go boutique shopping or garage – ‘sailing’ for special summer finds and of course, celebrating our nations glorious birthday.
Summer in all of its felicity arrived right on time to the Delaware coast. Kit, Graham and I always did something special together on our summer Sundays, (our designated date day,) , whether it was to venture off on a long winding country road, (where we had no idea where we would end up,) or drive over to Rehoboth Beach and get some homemade fish and chips at a quaint eatery we discovered. We loved to walk along the renowned boardwalk, watching all the kids, (big and little,) as they created their resplendent masterpieces in the glittering sand, or venture over to Lewes beach, browse through the enchanting boutiques, get a scoop of Kings homemade ice cream and sit by the harbor, watching the sundry of ships and boats as they sashayed to the docks from their long days journey. Occasionally, we would chose to spend our Sunday in bed! After getting ready for the day and having breakfast, we’d put on a pot of coffee, light our summer scented candles, pick our favorite movies, stock up on plenty of ambrosial snacks and drinks to last all day and begin our ‘ movie marathon event,’ …the three of us so abundantly content to just be alone and together in our little room, with a view.
There was only one downfall to natures season of bliss. Grahams and my long walks to the beach had to be put on hold as the once deserted shore, was now packed with the first states residents as well as thousands of tourists. I never allowed Grahams precious eyes to view the sign; “NO DOGS ALLOWED.” It would have been to traumatic! (I just told him we were taking shorter walks around our little harbor and junoesque neighborhood as it was to hot to take those long walks to the shore , (especially with his 30 pound fur coat on.)
On Saturdays, Kit, Graham and I would always head down to Milford…we spent many a weekend helping Tina and Mark renovate and transform their quaint Nantucket home … I have never had so much fun steaming off old wallpaper, painting walls, and going through magazines and design books as Tina was in 7th heaven with the new home makeover they had in mind. Our days would end with scrumptious take out dinners, (Milford Pizza and hot wings or a sundry of Chinese dishes in their white boxes with plenty of chop sticks, (which I have never learned to use.) Melissa, ( a gourmet baker,) would always tempt us with a new, irresistibly delicious recipe she had conjured up, as we all sat together on the porch, watching the brilliant sunsets and dancing fireflies, magically lighting up the enchanting, sylvan woodlands. Along with our front row seats to natures dramatic presentation, our souls were delightfully serenaded by a harmonious chorus of all the night sounds of the great outdoors. (My favorite being the haunting song of the the renowned whippoorwill .) When it was time to head back to the beach, we would all smile as Graham, McPherson and Kisses were fast asleep, laying side by side, as if they had done all the hard work that day.
The happenings inside of our haven by the Bay.
Now that Kit was working at home, our mornings were an unhurried affair…It was one of my favorite times of the day…Not only is it a brand new start, but its the time that holds great hope that God can do anything within its 24 hours bestowal as well as the time God appoints His new mercies…How wonderful is that? Kit, Graham and I were early risers…As Lilian and Vito were sleeping, I’d grab a cup of coffee and meet Kit and Graham in the office where he was busily making his first latte of the day. (Yes, Kit brought his espresso machine from home and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.) Before we knew it, Vito was there and the three of us would embark on some of the most wonderful chats, evoking laughter and at times awe . (Vito always had an uplifting and encouraging story to share about the Lord, and Kit and I would just bask in the anointing of God upon his unique walk with Jesus. ) As Lilian got up, Vito would quickly head off to the kitchen, giving us a heads up that breakfast would be ready in a half hour!
Besides the blessing of Kits dream coming true accompanied by the fact that he no longer had to drive off to an office every day, I was beginning to see another one of Gods handiwork’s that made me smile and at times, tear up with joy. The bond between Vito and Kit was flourishing, not only as friends but brothers in the Lord. As they worked side by side, (each with their own diverse jobs,) Vito would receive a call from someone who needed prayer. As he began to pray and minister to their needs on the phone and without ever hearing any of the conversation, the Holy spirit within Kit would begin to pray in uni-some with Vito’s spirit. He never knew who Vito was praying for, just the need before the Lord. I can remember walking in to the office numerous times, and immediately leaving as the two of them were right in the middle of spiritual warfare…I always felt within my heart God had a lot more in mind when He put the two of them together in the same office!
I finally had the big ‘pow-wow’ with the Lord about His plans for my time during the weekdays when Kit was working. He truly surprised me with the job He had in mind for me…It would not be out of the house, it would not entail getting a paycheck to build up our savings so we could move sooner, but it would reward my soul and bring growth to some areas the Lord wanted to change within my character. He wanted me to serve and be of help within Vito and Lilian’s home.
In many ways I was excited. Being that my passion is writing, there would still be plenty of time for that and I would not be gone all day at a job that would keep me away from Graham and Kit. My newly appointed position from the Lord was gladly received by all. I enjoyed grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning, and being of help. Now that we had been blessed with cable in our room, (and the much missed Food Network channel,) I would enjoy bringing my favorite TV chefs special culinary touches to my creative menu planning for our evening meals. (I say evening meals as there was no way in heaven Vito was going to leave his cast Iron skillet grill in the mornings.) He was the breakfast King of the house, conjuring up delicious pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon , toast and sausage…His masterpieces were always a five star meal, heartening and delicious.
The tides of the ocean were not the only thing changing…
I became a true believer, (still not sure who made up the rule,) that three months is accurate as the time limit to stay on as house-guests. As we entered into our 4th month living at Vito’s, things were definitely getting a little bit ‘hairy’ but not so much for the reasons you would think…Graham and Kit were content and happy with our living arrangements, it was I who was struggling.
I had not realized that in obeying God and serving within the house, that it would awake the part of me I had protectively laid to rest...Because of the differences between Lilian and I, I had become somewhat detached with all that was going on around the household. We all had our own routines that kept us busy during the day and for the most part, everything was peaceful. Now, in offering my help with Lilian around the house and cooking the meals, it brought us all together more often. (Of course the Lord already knew this would come into play before He asked me to serve.)
I smile and can totally identify with the popular saying; “You can tell what a person is made of, by how they handle tangled Christmas tree lights.” Lets face it, Its frustrating, time consuming and at times unsuccessful. But for someone who is a ‘rubix cube ‘ genius, it may actually be an adventuresome challenge that they derive great pleasure in resolving. Its always a mystery what circumstance will be our personal ‘knotted wires,’ experience until we are actually right in the middle of what turns our peace into turmoil…Because God is faithful to continue molding us into the image of Jesus, we can be sure that He will (at different times within our lives,) put us in a place that will reveal to us an area , that not only disturbs our peace, but holds us emotionally captive . He sees freedom and peace as He beholds our ending….but while we are walking through the circumstance, we feel frustrated, perhaps fearful, are not the ‘happy campers’ we want to be and desire to “get out of it” as soon as possible. My new summer occupation at Vito and Lilian’s home shined the light on two of those areas of my life that I had no idea were inside of me, let alone would be something God wanted to change.
In the beginning, It was easy to cook, clean and be of help as it was all new, fun and I truly felt it was appreciated. As weeks passed by and the newness wore off, and I felt that cooking and cleaning was expected more than appreciated, or I was faced with a job I had done, being redone, I began to embody some attitudes that were not only un- Christ like, but irritatingly interrupting the beautiful flow of peace within my soul. My big question to myself was ; ‘Why does this upset me so much?‘ Perhaps it was because I had expectations on myself, as well as others, that were inbred as well as deeply rooted inside of me from my upbringing . As a little girl, growing up in Southern California, my parents; (a proper Southern woman and a disciplined United States Marine,) taught us that saying “Yes sir, ” “Yes ma’am,” “Thank You,” ” No thank you,” (and that you must bow and curtsey if the Queen enters the room,) were just as important as learning our ABC’s and algebra in school. (OK, maybe not the queen part, but they would have if we lived in England.)
Vito and Lilian’s family came out several times for summer visits…Instead of 4 people living in a small 3 bedroom home, there were 10, sometimes 12. God did not change His new job for me just because the number of people living within the house had tripled. Still feeling at times taken for granted along with my blood pressure rising to new heights, my summer days were becoming jolted and unsettling. I was not feeling that Joy within any longer, obeying what God placed upon my heart. I was definitely in need of God’s perspective, GRACE and help.
I decided to talk to Vito, not as my housemate, but pastor. It was easy for me to share my heart and frustrations with him, as he was truly one of the most grateful and loving people I had ever met. I will never forget his words;
“Susan, did Lilian and I ever ask you to serve within our home? Why are you serving? We have absolutely no expectations on you to do anything. If God has put it on your heart to serve, then you should be serving HIM with joy, not looking to man for your reward or peace.”
Because I was still battling and frustrated, I heard what Vito said, took it to heart, but I needed to hear more from God.
I found myself having long discussions with the Lord, seeking all the scriptures I could find on God wanting us to be thankful and to be demonstrative with our gratitude. I shared my heart (very boldly) explaining to the Lord that if I was going to become a “Godly” servant within this home, then some of the attitudes of the people living there needed to change.
Don’t you just love it when God graciously allows you to ‘vent’ all of your thoughts and emotions, then you hear a long silence within your spirit and YOU KNOW, He is going to say something completely different in His response to you, and it is not going to be something your humanness wants to hear? He did assure me that He was going to be making some changes, but to my surprise, It was my heart and attitudes that He wanted to transform. The scriptures He wanted me to focus on were on an entirely different subject than those I had been holding onto (for my cause.)
” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3; 23 & 24
” You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
Isn’t it just like the Lord to shine the light on what He wants to change within us, when we come to Him with what we think are other peoples problems. The Lord was revealing to my heart that my work should be done with all my heart as unto Him alone, for it is Him that I am serving….Gods perspective of the situation certainly did change my way of looking at everything and I knew in order to be the servant He so desired, I needed HIM to give me a new heart, His grace and to cleanse my wrong attitudes as well as anger.
The two things the Lord began to transform within my character over the summer, were my expectations on others as well as to learn to serve others as unto Him, expecting nothing in return. Easier said than done ! Things did not change over night. In many ways, it was the birth of learning how to serve through the grace of God, a life time gift He wanted to instil into my character. As I saw the Lord working within my heart and emotions, my desire grew to truly become a person who whether someone said thank you, good job, or nothing at all, that I could have pure joy in my heart (not resentment or hurt,) because I knew I was pleasing unto God...I wanted my identity to be a handmaid unto the Lord, with an attitude of, “Lord your will be done in those things you have asked me to do.” It was a rare gift in the disguise of a trial. He also revealed to my spirit as He began to deliver me from my expectations of others, that everyone shows their gratitude in different ways. Some people are not as demonstrative in expressing their heart felt emotions as others…Having Kit as my husband, (who is blessed with the gift of uplifting and edifying others as well as showing his hearts gratitude and emotions all throughout the day,) I had never been challenged like I was this summer… God was opening my heart to realize and accept that there is no right or wrong personality… I love the way Sly sings it in his his popular 1960’s song; “Different strokes for different folks! We’re all everyday people and we have got to live together.”) (I wish it was as easy as the song sounds.)
During this summer, I remember many a day that I not only cried out to God but was also literally crying…feeling like I wanted to move to a hotel, take a trip to California and stay with my famiy, ( for a REALLY long vacation,) or shut the door of our room and pretend I was on a deserted island and only had to communicate with Kit and Graham. Once I committed to Jesus to obey the words from His heart, I knew that in order to grow, there would be challenging times. Obedience brings great reward from God… walking out what He told me to do, was not an easy task at first. I liken this summer of metamorphosis to joining the gym. You have a desire to gain strength, be in good health and get physically fit. When beginning your workouts, they are painful, but you keep moving towards the goal … during your process, you may feel discouraged, avoid the gym for a few days, but you eventually return. Some days are blessed and easy , thus you become motivated and encouraged… then you have a few really hard days. But, before you know it...you have lost 10 pounds of fat, gained muscle, feel wonderful and fit in your favorite jeans once again. You ask yourself, what day did that happen, and you can’t remember, as it just all came together while you were staying in the game , no matter what your feelings were during the process.
So it is with God….He calls us to obey and serve Him in faith, thus we begin the journey of obedience, (even when its something that we don’t want to do, as it doesn’t feel good or even feel right sometimes.) We have a few good days, then a few rough ones…we feel like we’re falling. We get back up and ask for His grace and power and as He meets each one of our “baby steps,” we begin to see the changes within our character that can only come from God, which beautifully instills a greater measure of faith to move froward again. One day our trial will be over…we won’t remember along the way, the day the Lord finished His work within us, WE WILL JUST SEE IT and PRAISE HIM for loving us enough to do it.
Besides the reward of pleasing the Lord, He gave Kit, Graham and I many wonderful and encouraging gifts that summer in the midst of ‘my heavenly makeover.’
Kit was gaining new clients by word of mouth…(Of course we knew it was God,) but it was one of the most wonderful things to be a part of. Not only was Kit thoroughly enjoying his new job, busily creating and designing new websites for the businesses in coastal Delaware, but he was blessed with respect, admiration and his Web Design company was growing…It gave us both hope that we were on our way to being able to find a home of our own. I was so hopeful it would be by Christmas…
We thoroughly enjoyed a 10 day reprieve when our friends Dina and Sam in Milford took a summer vacation to Myrtle beach and asked us to house sit. It was like heaven. We had their 4 bedroom country style home all to our selves … Graham, Kit and I felt like we were staying at a resort. Even though Kit brought his laptop and did some work, we watched movies, slept past 6:00 AM, stayed in our pajamas until noon, took walks along the Misspillion river, ordered pizza, bought a nice bottle of wine and got a taste of what was hopefully to come…our own home in Milford.Tina came over almost every day, (as we were temporary neighbors,) and Vito dropped by one afternoon, where we had the best time visiting over a brand new recipe Melissa shared with me, (Spicy buffalo chicken dip with chips.) I even got inspired to put on a miniature gala…We invited Vito, Lilian, Tina and Mark for a casual alfresco dinner served on Dina and Sam’s beautiful verandah. As we packed up our things to drive back to the beach, Kit and I looked at each other and said, “Oh this is what it feels like to be alone again,” and thanked God for such a wonderful , refreshing rest!
One of my favorite summer memories was the day Vito , Kit, Graham and I went clamming in the bay. I will never forget when we walked over to the harbor and I saw our designated “floating vessel” for the day… I was thinking to myself, there is no way all four of us are going to fit in this tiny motorized bathtub boat. But, we did, and though it was a little bit daunting, it was thrilling at the same time. (I loved that Vito adored Graham so much and always included him in our times together.) We glided out to the invisible sandbars in the middle of the bay and parked… with our long handed shovels and buckets, ( Vito went first as to show us the ropes,) we were all out, exuberantly digging for clams…It was so much fun and nothing Kit, Graham or I had ever don before…At one point, I looked over at Graham and he was finally out of the boat. With his head held up high, (as he’d proudly triumphed over his fear,) he trotted upon the sandbar, covered by water. I had to do a double take as it truly looked as if he was walking on water…I wish I had brought my camera…he truly looked like a heavenly hound. and was having the time of his life. Besides the great fellowship throughout the day, another reward for our “hard work,” was enjoying freshly grilled clams casino for dinner, as we all all sat together watching the sunset over the bay on the deck. It was a perfect summer day!
Perhaps my favorite blessing of the summer, because it came directly from God and only He knew what it would mean to me, was the beautiful makeover He (and Tina’s beautiful heart of love,) gave our little room with a view! It was pure serendipity. Each Saturday that we spent with Tina and her family, helping with the renovation of their home, they would bless us with a few things they no longer would be showcasing in their lovely haven. Their home decor style changed from country cottage to a more traditional ambiance. (Kit and I fell in love with their new Italian themed kitchen…it was absolutely gorgeous.) Towards the end of summer, thanks to their generosity, we had already taken a few jeep loads of cherished decorative items home with us and before I knew it, our room had been entirely transformed.We were blessed to overflowing with a beautiful quilt for our bed, throw pillows, a wooden quilt rack, a floral wreath, adorable little lamps, pictures for the walls, candles, country toll painted tables and floral garlands. And to top it off, they gave us more sweaters, sweatshirts and warm clothes than we knew what to do with. (With Autumn around the corner, and our winter wardrobe packed away in South Carolina, it was a wonderful, as well as much appreciated gift.)
All three of us fell in love with our cozy room with a view… Mostly because we knew it was Gods gift to us as well as HIS DOING! It brought so much joy to my heart as it was the one place I spent most of my time with my writing, worshiping, intercessory prayer, talking to my family and aerobic dancing. (Yes, the Lord led me to start exercising…it really helped with my nerves and demeanor over the summer.) Have you ever tried to dance to upbeat Christian music and keep a wrong attitude in your heart at the same time? Either the music gets turned off or your piqued emotions have to GO! It also created the perfect warm and cozy ambiance for our date day, if we decided to venture off on one of our ‘ movie marathon events. ‘
As the summer season was coming to an end, Kit and I were once again, filled with a new hope… God had done so much in the last 5 months…Kit was thriving being the owner of his own company and God was so faithful to bring him new clients. He was strengthening our friendships with our Milford family, He had delivered me from things I could not have changed myself, creating in me a new heart to serve others with joy as unto God, and Vito and Lilian hadn’t kicked us out yet.(Just joshing.) Autumn would be arriving any day and to top off everything, we got a call from my very close younger brother Patrick in California, who Kit and I had not seen in two years. His news stirred both of our hearts with such excitement and joy ;
“Hey Sus, (only he could call me that,) , we want to come and spend Thanksgiving week with you and Kit in Delaware and take you with us to Pennsylvania for Neill’s, (a dear friend of our families) for one of his renowned Thanksgiving feasts. ”
Kit and I didn’t know where we’d be in two months time, (with our goal to move to Milford,) but we said “YES, ” as we were so homesick for family and it was a gift to look forward to that neither of us expected.
” And God is able to make all GRACE abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” ~ 2nd Corinthians 9:8
A beautiful song to warm your hearts and encourage you when your walking through “a cloudy day, or overcast season” with the Lord, or to fill your heart with joy, when you look back and see all that God’s grace has accomplished within you, even when you could not see or feel Him, at the time.
PHOTOGRAPHS; In scrolling upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.