|Near the Beach in St. Augustine, FL|
Lately, I've felt convicted to tell my story. I've gone through a lot, and I realize that it was for a reason. God can make even the things that seem awful, as pure as the driven snow. At the risk of ruining my own reputation, I'm going to include my imperfections, and yet, God still can use me. Our God is a God of love, forgiveness, and will love you no matter what you've done.
"Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. ~Isaiah 1:18
|The Long Walkways Leading to the Beach|
St. Augustine, FL 2015
This past August, as broke as I was, I found a way to take my daughters to St. Augustine, FL. My middle daughter had just graduated high school, and I wanted to take a beach trip with her, as my mom had done with me. Mom & I went to Hawaii, and while that was completely out of my price range, I felt the beach is still the beach after all.
Somehow, we managed to cram a five day vacation into two really full days. So it was our last night there, and I'd bought us all a white dress to wear to take a beach picture. I'm one of those women that just loves her photos. Occasionally, I get a famous eye-roll picture from my kids, but it doesn't stop me from torturing them for my photos.
Adjacent to our hotel was a long boardwalk that led to a park on the water. We were really lucky here, because most of the beaches had a charge to go to them, whereas, this beach was free. As we walked down the long, wooden pathway leading to the beach, we were greeted by a stranger with her friend. I only know this woman's first name, and it's Teresa.
We made obligatory small talk as we walked towards the beach, and at one point, she told my youngest to "Hold up, Mommy's walking for two." In was in that moment, that I realized that Teresa thought I was pregnant! Inside, I felt like I was busting to defend my non-pregnant body. Somehow, I contained myself enough to say, "I had uterine cancer, I know I'm disfigured, but I have my life." God has a way of surprising us, and a definite God moment followed. Teresa stopped. Clutching my wrist, she said, "I just lost my sister to uterine cancer." Tears welled up in her eyes, and I confess, I started to cry too.
In that intense, emotional, and grossly personal moments with a stranger, I knew why I was allowed to go to St. Augustine. We laughed, we cried, and had just about every human emotion imaginable in a matter of minutes. In our mere 20 minutes together, I knew I'd been sent as God's messenger to help Teresa through her survivors guilt, and to rejoice to God that I've got air in my lungs. I felt alive. More than that, I felt the presence of God in our moments together.
|My Girls and I in St. Augustine 2015|
We parted much like lovers, clutching each others hands. She knew of my divorce, and she said that "my light was too bright for my husband, and that's why he left." I can only hope that's true. We prayed together, and were reluctant to let go of one another. Clinging to each other while backing up, I wished her peace.
I don't know what you're dealing with this holiday season, but I pray, the Lord grants you peace. From my heart to yours. Please leave any prayer requests in the comment section below. May God grant you the peace that transcends understanding. Amen.
Laurie Epps is featured in dozens of news articles, and literary journals both on and off the web. Laurie is also included in a number of short story anthologies, and does some ghostwriting for prominent professionals nationwide. Laurie is also active in a number of writer support groups and networks with writers from all over the country.
Laurie is a single mom, and is still raising her two youngest daughters, Ellen and Chloe. Laurie’s grown daughter, Melanie resides in California. Laurie is also a proud momma of three furry-babies; Laurie has turned in more than one manuscript with cat fur on it. When not teaching or writing, Laurie gets in as much beach time as her budget will allow, and loves to be working out or hiking.