Saturday evening I watched my son Nick’s best friend marry the love of his life.

The wedding was perfect in every possible way.

Love filled the air and Tim, along with Nick’s photograph, stood in Nick’s place as best man.

The view was overwhelming and beautiful all at the same time.


So many layers of love on one stage.

Bride for groom

Groom for bride

Family for family

Friend for friend

Father for daughter

Daughter for father

Father for son

Son for father

Best friend for best friend

This was a night for celebrating love…………..and life.

My grieving heart was strong,

because I knew Nick was there.

In his own special way, he wasn’t missing this moment.

It was just me that was missing him.

I thought of Mary, treasuring up things in her heart, and I wanted this moment to last forever.

This moment where Nick was invited back into life in such a real way………….a way that made being his mom feel touchable again, feel real, feel validated.

On the outside, I smiled.

On the inside, I wrestled with the question every grieving mom wrestles with daily…….


It’s a question with no good answer, so over time I’ve learned to shut it down as soon as it begins dancing through my head………….

even though I’ve never found a way to get this three-letter word out of my heart.


I watched Brandon sing to his bride, and the smile on his face washed over me…………………..Nick was smiling too.  I just knew it.

Don’t we all want this kind of joy for our friends?

I watched Angie dance with Brandon, and the smile on her face washed over me………………….I smiled too.

Don’t we all want this kind of joy for our friends?

The evening ended, and I crawled in bed certain that I had been hit by a large boulder.

My body felt the ache of grief while my heart overflowed with the beauty of love.

This is my life.

Every single day.

Ache in pain and overflow with love

I’m getting used to it, but sometimes the layers of life get the best of me…………and Sunday it all came crashing in.

Sometimes a wave brings an unexpected seashell,

but for me a seashell brought an unexpected wave.

My friend had no idea what kind of power she held in her hands.

To her, a Ziploc bag carried a few beach memories she wanted to share.

To me, her Ziploc bag carried the essence of my existence.

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She reached in and pulled out a large, dark-brown sea bean in the shape of a heart.

Look what I found for you!

Her words almost echoed in my head as I imagined the journey of this ocean treasure.

I’d never heard of such a thing……………..

When I got home, I looked up the definition of this object I had never seen before.

“Drift seeds (also sea beans) and drift fruits are seeds and fruits adapted for long distance dispersal by water. Most are produced by tropical trees, and they can be found on distant beaches after drifting thousands of miles through ocean currents.”

Here I stood, having sat through a powerful lesson on the power of the Holy Spirit, feeling quite empty and weak……….holding in my hand a seed of love that had drifted from who knows where onto the very beach where my friend stood…………….and she was now handing it to me.

Isn’t God’s love just like that????

We don’t know exactly where it starts or how it ends up at our feet, but there it is…………….

just when we need it.

Whispering, “I see you and I care.”

Without much of a pause, she pulled out yet another gift from the depths of the ocean.

A shell that was actually layers and layers and layers of shell growth.

She said, “Isn’t this cool?  Look at all the layers……….I thought you could find something to say about this on your blog.”

I held it in my hands,

and I saw me.

I saw all the layers of my life flash through my mind.

Layers few realize exist.

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The juggling of school and work and home.

The struggles of parenting that wear on my heart every single day.

We walked from our Sunday school room to the building where we would worship; and as we walked, my heart beat loudly in my chest.

I could feel my lip shaking.

I could feel my eyes filling with tears, and part of me tried to force it all down.

But the Ziploc bag in my hand filled with so much love overwhelmed me; and before I could think about the consequences of my next move, I spoke the words we all need to speak from time to time,

“I need prayer.”

There it was.

The truth was out on the table.

And once it had been served, there was no taking it back.

I should have known that tears would follow.

I should have known that opening this door meant walking through it.

Before I could even realize what was happening,

it all began to pour out.

Tears and words

All the mom-stuff buried inside of me was dumped in front of a couple of mom-friends,

and it felt so good to know I wasn’t alone in that moment.

It felt so good to just admit that I was weak……………..and my smile was fake…………..and my heart was aching.

Life is so complicated, and the layers of pain can get the best of me sometimes.

It felt so good to peel some layers back and let the real me out.

The me who feels confused, inadequate, overwhelmed, hurt, used, broken.

I’ve given my pain to God time and time again.

I trust Him with it all.

But His answer seems to remain the same…………….

“My grace is sufficient for you,  for power is perfected in weakness.”

II. Cor. 12:9

So, what do I do today with all my weakness?

My feelings of being not quite enough every where I turn.

I guess I do what Paul did…………………

I find joy in my inability to walk alone.

I find strength in my need for Someone to lean on.

I find contentment in the struggle to hold a Ziploc bag filled with shells while not being able to hold back my very own tears.

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

II Cor. 12:10-11

If you feel weak today, know that somewhere drifting in the sea is a bean of love……………..traveling towards you………………..waiting to show up just when you need it most.

If the contents of a Ziploc bag can be so powerful,

just imagine what God can do for you today.

He truly longs to be your joy and your strength no matter what you are facing.

Trust Him.

He is there.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Psalm 28:7

Brandon and Abby, we love you so much!

Thank you for allowing Tim and Nick to share in your day in such a significant way.

Thank you for reminding this grieving mom that her son still matters and is  loved so deeply.  We love you so much!

Jennifer, thank you for my gifts from the sea.

Thank you for reminding me that love is there………….always.

Janel and Jennifer, thank you for being the shoulders I needed on a rough Sunday morning.

Thank you for reminding me that even when I am weak, God is still so very strong!

Forever praising Him………………………….