One short block away is the beach. The soundtrack of the waves rolling consistently onto the shore travels the distance in the cool and refreshing tailwinds. Wrapped in a large beach towel, I notice the softness and warmth of its fabric and the vertical stripes of its rainbow colors. Sitting in the dark of morning, memories of our date on the beach last night wash over me like gentle waves.
Victor and I, resting in loungers, decide to take a walk. Admiring the beauty of the ocean, I notice the vibrant colors of the crocs he is wearing on his feet, a whimsical gift I gave him this past Christmas. I place my foot next to his, noticing our toes and laughing at the difference of his colorful shoe next to my black flip flops and exposed blue toenails.
The silence between us allows for space to breathe and rest in a miracle unfolding in our marriage. Though wisdom is birthing new truths through compassionate conversations about the impact of betrayals of love and loyalties, prioritizing time for fun and play is proving vital.
Intentional choices to carve out space and time to rebuild trust in our relationship feels honoring. A strong, centering presence of love helps us balance our desire to enjoy the profits of playing together while engaging the sorrow of losses.
Pauses for upward prayers, naming our dependence and offering praises from grateful hearts, add an anchor between us, tethering our hearts together in hope. Standing together again to voice powerful prayers honors a vow to love each other “through better and worse” on our wedding day more than 31 years ago.
My journey over the past year continues to call me to kindness with compassion in giving and receiving love.
Slowing the pace and creating spaces to breathe fuels intimacy with love and passion in my soul.
Walking on the beach, keeping my eyes open and searching for shark’s teeth, Victor and I share memories of family and friends on beaches past and present. I think of a long-ago day spent with my grandmother searching for shells, her wrinkled hand holding my own as we hunted for treasure together. Though she suffered with difficult mental challenges, her delight in finding sand dollars still echos through generations in my soul.
Searching for treasure alone sometimes feels like a lost cause amongst piles of fragmented shells, I muse. But together, writing and sharing stories with sisters around a growing table of grace in Red Tent Living, rare finds have been exposed, sparking desires and igniting dreams.
I turn to listen to Victor as he reminds me of a miraculous find on this same beach years ago.
“I still can’t believe you found that perfectly chiseled arrowhead,” he says.
“Oh, I know it!” I respond.
We walk along slowly, sharing stories of our children playing on the beach—hunting for shark’s teeth, fishing with poles and cast nets, daring deep waters on boogie boards, screaming over sharks, digging massive holes with shovels, and delighting in dunks. Each of these memories reminds me that parenting requires both playfulness and courageous perseverance.
I reach for Victor’s hand as we head back to our chairs. My heart is full and my soul fuller. We are now rekindling a flickering flame between us after missing each other in a hurricane.
I think of the arrowhead back home, kept inside a hand-carved treasure box. It sits atop a few handwritten cards I received while away—anchors to hope. One of those cards holds words of love: “You are a rare find.”
Sitting on the deck, recalling the previous night’s walk, I feel desire rising with the sun.
It was just a few years ago I attended the Red Tent Living Writer’s Confessional. While sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean, my eyes caught sight of a vibrant double rainbow. Stretching across the sky, multiple arcs of colors connect two different parts of a waving ocean.
In awe of a promise, I prayed, curious about God’s timing: “Is this the end of my story? Please help me write it.”
The next day, when I sat in a group and read the piece I had written, women’s responses invited me to write a novel. The naming of my dream was exciting but terrifying; thoughts of retaliation by powerful men silently dared to douse my desire.
Now, I have a different ending. While waiting last summer in hope of a miracle, I had no idea the miracle would rescue me from my greatest fear of losing everything and everyone I love to death and despair. Love for the win!
Streams of grateful tears leak into the laugh lines around my mouth once again. I can taste God’s sweet-and-salty holy kiss of delight awakening me to his larger story for my life. I slip my foot into Victor’s big rainbow croc and stand up. In fierce hope and with sand between my toes, I speak “yes” to love and declare a firm “no” to evil’s attempt to steal, kill, and destroy.
I plug in my earphones and tap a song on my playlist. Nicole Nordeman sings, “This is the sound of surviving…” Her courageous, hope-filled words encourage me to take one more life-giving step into a sea-blue horizon.
What about you? Have you considered the possibility that your story holds promise? Rare finds are waiting to be discovered in women’s stories. I hope you will consider taking up space around a table of grace to share your stories in Red Tent Living.
“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” – Genesis 9:16
Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of thirty years. She is a mother of four children and one grandchild. She is a spiritual counselor with Restoration Counseling, and her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two-stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play, and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.