Anticipation, devastation and unity!
Multiple November birthdays was the reason an “all ladies” trip to Marco Island, Florida was first planned. As we shared a text thread riddled with ideas, emojis and goofy videos the anticipation grew exponentially which resulted in my sheer joy. The weeks flew by, but as the day drew closer for the long-awaited trip our excitement turned to concern.
Marco Island was in the predicted path of Hurricane Irma. For those on the island we wondered, watched and prayed. The Naples Daily News reported September 11, 2017 Hurricane Irma made landfall on Marco Island shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sunday with recorded winds of 130 mph storm surges that caused extensive damage.
We all held our breath. After the hurricane damage information dribbled in from one of the home owners, we now were faced with the unwelcome decision, keep our plans or abort them? After much deliberation we decided to go. I was overjoyed to be headed to Marco Island, but had little idea about what I’d encounter when I arrived. One thing was assured, no matter what, I knew we’d have a great time together.
I flew in a few days before the others which ended up to be a blessing. I had solitude and silence along with some needed naps too. As is my normal routine, I decided to take a walk. These photos were my way of documenting the storm’s effects and are captioned. I’m sure they will be self-explanatory.
While I walked I couldn’t help but think about God being a restorer, rebuilder, way-maker, repairer of the breach and healer. I viewed these things with great hope. I saw what will be not what was. God gave me that sense for my life plans too. He is the God of all hope. He deals well with devastation. I had a sense Marco would not only bounce back but would thrive in the future. I was actually encouraged by all I saw because God allowed me a perspective shift.
My friends arrived safely and we had such a sweet reunion. Of course, we decided to hit the beach. I tried to read, God is Good, while sitting in the sun.
We took time one day to do a personality test and it was very informative and insightful. Our personalities were exposed and our dispositions became glaringly apparent in the hours that followed. I couldn’t put my finger on it but later there was a spirit of somethin’ stinky that entered and was beginning to stir in our group.
We tried to decide on dinner plans. It was amazing at first because we came to the unanimous decision…“Let’s go out tonight!” We looked on-line and perused the restaurants in the area. We studied menus and the deliberation process began to cause frustration. Everyone seemed to prefer one another, which is a good thing, but no clear decision was made.
We had multiple factors to consider: budget and price points to honor, different dietary needs, some women were participating in the Whole Thirty Diet challenge, we had different opinions on the level of “celebration” we wanted/needed for the birthday girls too. As we wavered and waffled back and forth this ambivalence allowed an opportunity, which the enemy quickly seized, to come in and try to steal our joy. I kept thinking something’s just not right here. We felt completely off to me!
This photo was taken after we almost had a meltdown with one another. (This was odd… we truly love each other to bits and pieces!) YES, we worked it out. We prayed before ordering, not before eating like usual, before ordering! We stopped abruptly and Jeanne prayed. Oh, how we needed an adjustment. “Pray, pray, pray, pray, blah, blah, blah… In Jesus name AMEN” and seriously it ALL just turned around. To God be the glory!
This ended up to be one of the most enjoyable meals and evenings. We truly enjoyed one another, our meals and our waitress. We celebrated each other and the birthday girls too. We even had enough time to see God’s handiwork in the sunset complete with a photo session.
One of the next days we went out on the boat and went to a small island. We saw little crabs scurrying all around, we collected shells and floated in the home of the sharks.
I collected sweet memories from my time the same way I collected shells on this island. Each person and memory is so special. Everyone from a good God who desires to give good gifts. My time away was truly that… A good gift!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers/sisters dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1
The entire time together was beautifully orchestrated and ordained by Jesus. From the conversations we had, to the different groupings we found ourselves in, to the hours spent in the word of God and the precious prayer time we had for each individual. I am blessed beyond measure to have these friends and this trip was better than I could have ever imagined. The anticipation was palpable, the devastation was visible and sweet unity was experienced! God is so good.