Last week I was beach combing in the record cold temperatures. I was the only one on the beach for miles. I couldn't feel my ears or my toes and my eyes were burning from the cold, salty air yet somehow I still felt more alive than I ever have before.
Back tracking to about 8 years ago I was living in Pennsylvania and it was one of those nights that was so cold and you could tell we were about to get a ton of snow by the smell in the air. I was waitressing at a sports bar and one of my favorite local families came in to grab dinner. The Grubbs family came in all the time, sometimes all together and sometimes just a few family members here and there. This particular night their daughter Beth and (at the time future) son-in-law Brad were there with them. They mentioned that they were going on a mission trip in a few months and as soon as I was enthusiastically asking questions, they invited me to join them. Those were the good old days where $500 a week in waitressing tips had to cover my single mom life and college and a mission trip was not something I could imagine ever happening. I prayed for it. It wasn't time.
Catching back up to about 3 years ago, Beth reached out to me via Facebook and asked me to plan family photos for her amazingly growing family! I was so excited. I have to tell you about this family but since it's not my story to fully share, I'll just tell you that the way that they open their hearts to everyone and everything especially kiddos is so inspirational to me. Inspirational probably isn't the right word when I can't think about them without getting teary eyed. They are living out the gospel every single day in their parenting journey and I am in awe. So… of course, getting to take their family portraits was nothing short of exciting for me. We met up in Nags Head for their session and once again, Brad and Beth invited me to go on a mission trip sometime… I prayed for it. It wasn't time.
Last year, Brad and Beth and the DREAM BIG HONDURAS Team posted on Facebook that they were collecting shoes to take on their February trip. I was reading their post and my Joey asked me what I was doing. I immediately showed him the images of the children on the DREAM BIG HONDURAS Facebook Page and told them that they didn't have shoes and a group was doing a shoe drive for new and gently used shoes. Joey immediately wanted to help too. He posted on his own private Instagram page looking for donations from his friends. He knew my Facebook page is a great place to post so we took photos and posted about the shoe drive there. Our goal was to collect 10 pairs of shoes within 2 weeks for his 10th birthday to donate. With the help of the most amazingly generous family and friends and a bit of his own money, we collected over 40 pairs of shoes. When we had boxes filled with shoes, he asked me how we were going to get them to Honduras. Simple, right? Brad and Beth will take them. Brad and Beth still lived in Pennsylvania and we live in North Carolina, so I planned to drop them off at their house on the way to a Pittsburgh wedding I was shooting.
When I got to their beautiful Pennsylvania home, Brad casually said, "Hey.. you are going to come to Honduras to help us drop these off, right?" Another invitation and this time I was asked to photograph the trip. I prayed for it. And the doors started opening and the plans were working out and Jason was able to take off of work and he can come with me! And I kept praying for it.
Perhaps I better catch back up to why I feel so alive standing on a 20 degree beach with gale force winds blowing me over. Seaglass. Yes, sea glass.
You see, when I have a few minutes to hit the sand and beachcomb through shell beds, that's when I get my praying in. It's peaceful and I always feel God with me when I am at the beach. I know he is always with me but something about looking out at the ocean and knowing He is there, gets me every time. So piece by piece of sea glass, I talk to God and when I feel myself struggling with something or having one of those days, I always tell Jason that I want to go to the beach by myself. (I don't know about you guys, but trying to do anything with a wild little toddler is difficult let alone trying to zone into the Holy Spirit while Lady P runs wild with a large body of water near by… haha!) So being alone at the beach is really the best.
I'm terrified to fly. Terrified. Really I am most afraid of leaving my children behind. We're talking, so afraid that I had my bags packed, checked in and boarding pass in hand at the airport to go to L.A to visit my brother-in-law (a few years ago) and I didn't get on the airplane. I panicked and drove as fast as I could back home to Joey who was about 6 at the time who I am certain had barely noticed that I was gone and Jason went on to have a great trip in L.A to visit his brother. (Don't blame him, I insisted that he go!) So this commitment was weighing on me and my fear began to change my attitude.
Seaglass and beachcombing has become the best way for me to relax, focus on my prayers and listen. I love that God has a sense of humor. I'm searching for seaglass in 20 degree weather and only have 10 days until it's time for us to leave on our first mission trip and I am doubting myself. I look down and find a piece of fulgurite (when lightening hits the sand and hardens) in the "shape" of a heart. There, on the beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 20 degree weather with gale force winds and a serious Nor'easter, I felt more alive than I ever have before because without question I was there to find a little extra piece of my Father's love.
Please follow our mission trip journey by "Liking" DREAM BIG HONDURAS on Facebook and praying with us for our safety and that we can do His work in Honduras.
If I am missing in action this week and you aren't getting emails or products back as quickly as usual, it's because we are heading to find the Father's love in 80 degree weather and will be back on March 1st. All my love! -Audra