Saturday, August 25, 2012


 Every year, for the last 7 years, We have taken our children to visit The Sonspot',
in Ocean City, Maryland.  

Our friends there...are family. 

For many years we would go down and stay for a few days 
or a few weeks and help the ministry there....
doing anything and everything from ...taking thousands of bumper stickers off of the Jesus Van, to painting benches, walls, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning out the food pantry, cutting and sorting bagels and donations from Panera, handing out meal tickets on the board walk, carrying the cross all the way down, preaching on milk crates, singing and dancing in the sand, cooking and serving for the food ministry to international students, locals and homeless people. If needed, we even dug sand heaps for the sand sculptures...
 Our kids have always loved helping and serving- 
receiving nothing in return...but a sure blessing from God.
A feeling inside that they were part of something that mattered grew in their hearts.
Each year at the end of July, we always go to their music and ministry festival,
 "Jesus At The Beach."  
Basically a bunch of people come during the day to the OC Convention center and worship the Lord. 

There is no agenda, or special speakers, or special performers or special music. 
You just come, some prepare songs or dances, and they get fit in ...on God's schedule. 

The people are humble, and love the Lord, and are so open to the spirit.  
There is a freedom there...and unleashing of sorts.... to sort things out. 
God works it out....and blesses all who are willing to accept the unexpected.
At night, we do the same thing on the beach.  
right in front of the boardwalk
the little ones play in the sand, 
You feel the ocean breezes on your skin as
the children dance freely and
the salty air fills your nostrils and lungs...
as people sing dance and freely worship  the Lord. 
the musicians never practice together
they are from several different states
the "band" has new members every night...
We have never missed it in 7 years. 
Even last year, 
while Calli was in the midst of her sickness 
and getting radiation and chemo treatments...
Somehow, we found a way to get there.
We rearranged for her to get radiation first thing in the morning, 
Then just Calli and I drove all the way down to Maryland for one day.  
It was so important to her to be with her friends 
and to do the song with her friends, 
that they had prepared for the people.  
She was determined not to miss it.

 This year- we were not sure if we wanted to go to Jesus At The Beach at all....
 It was so hard to think of her not being there.
Of us being there, her friends being there..doing dances and skits...without her...

I am pretty sure Mike was still deciding if he was going to go 
as we were driving down to Maryland, 
and even as we were pulling into the parking lot of our the apartment building :)
But we were there now, and after we were settled and went to Sonspot for a service and walked back home to the apartment, 
I looked up and saw this sign.
There was no turning back.
We are on a One way street now.  
There is no Calli.
She is gone.
She will never be coming back.
We will never see her in this world again.
As we awoke the next morning...I began to see her absence....and it hurt
 I saw it in the beams on my Mama's head...
and in the tears in her eyes....
It was still there in the depths....
in the midst of laughter...
 It was in the sunsets....
And early morning coffee talks...
it was there...
as I walked to the bay...
and came upon this scene...
the song came to me
the one she used to sing when she was little..
I could see her sitting on the rock...
hair blowing gently in the breeze...
and I began to sing it out 
With all the heart I could manage...
"Down by the bay, where the water goes row..."
And then I heard her laughing at me...
correcting me...because I always got it wrong...
"... Mom! It's where the watermelons grow, not where the water goes row!"
and then I broke down
I see her absence it in the cotton ball clouds she loved...
it is there...where her bathing suit is missing
it is in the missing smiles

The whole week, 
her absence was a physical presence
I began to see her....
everywhere I looked....
I  began to see her..
as the girls danced...
as the kids played in the sand...
I saw visions of her sitting next to me .....
loving the ocean with her friends...
 playing cards in the convention center
 burying herself in the sand
 doing a dance with Monica and all the girls

 through the flashbacks....memories, filling my mind
singing with Judd
and all of her friends...
reading the bible unabashedly to the world
sending them a message....

When we went to Assateague-
One of Calli's most treasured places...
It was majestic 
and beautiful
 We made some new friends
We met some old friends too
and had a good time until the sun set....

We felt surrounded..,.
just like this injured horse....
her friends
surrounded her
sheltered her
 until she was ready to get up again

 Even though he is giving me a dirty look- isn't he handsome?

 As I walked the beach....
I saw memories of Calli's footprints...
 warn deeply in the very same sands I was walking
The images burned in my heart forever....
In that moment
the sound of the ocean....
soothed my wandering soul
 As Aidan walked through each wave ...
 I saw her wading through the water....
 As Aidan splashed and surfed the waves with his body....
I saw water baby
As I took the profile picture of Aidan....I always take...
 I knew I would not get to take one of her this year
She was so beautiful....
I am so sad that there will be no more memories made...
no more pictures taken..
no more songs to sing together...
I wanted to hear her sing more...
I wanted to laugh with her again...
and ride the waves with her...
and kiss her more on her plushy lips...
This was such a wonderful and terrible time.
Nothing in us wanted to be there in those moments...
without her...
but we were...
As we swam in the ocean...
We enjoyed it as she would have enjoyed it...
 We dug in the sand
and got sand in our pants...
we rode the waves with our bodies
and found shells
and we lived 
and we laughed
and we cried
 as the waves washed over me..
I heard the deep calling out to my deep...
I felt the pull of the waves
As the moon pulled them...
so many questions lingered
as the waves broke over my head, 
I ventured out deeper
and deeper
and just wanted to be lost in it all
In that moment, all I wanted
was to see My Calli again...
Fear left me
and I did not care if a shark got me
or a wave took me away to forever...
I was in a fathom more deeper and darker
than any submarine could ever reach...
and then I heard her calling ....
but it was not her
it was Aidan
He swam out next to me
and silently
we tread
 the deep water 

As we got in the car to leave the island...
I got a little notebook out of my car I put in there a few months back...
and I found this poem,
Calli must have started to write....
about the sunshine


  1. I love the beach. I have always loved it. (Can't believe we live in FL now but not near the ocean or gulf. Go figure). There is something so soothing about the ebb & flow of the waves. Almost like the outgoing of the wave takes some of your pain and burdens away while the incoming brings peace and healing to the soul. It is an almost magical place. Praise the Lord for such a blessing.

    When I was a young wife with two small boys (2 & 4) we lived in Brooklyn. My life was in turmoil. We lived in a 2-bedroom apartment and there was really no place for the boys to play, inside or outside. It was a long walk to the train, very long with small boys. But oh the joy I felt when we got off the train. The boys seemed to feel it also. It was another long walk to the water's edge - the boys ran ahead. It was fun to watch as they tried to run in the sand. We didn't have much money then - really! The train cost .15 each way - the kids were free. We brought lunch and stayed all day. We met friends and cousins. It was great. If the sun was shining we went to the beach and for a little while forgot our troubles. It was awesome. We did that every summer until our family moved to Long Island and went to the town pool. I'm not trying to give my history just hopefully you will see that I get it. And my problems were so small compared to what you have gone through.

    I am glad that you went "one way". Sharing the gospel is a good thing. It is good for those who hear it for the first time and it is also a reminder to us who know Him. Every time you share the love of God you increase your faith. You give a message that blesses you as well. A win win situation. And you are telling others the truth that sustained Calli in her fight. And even though she is no longer with you, she fought the good fight and she won! I wish I had gotten to know her before she became I'll, but by sharing on the blog you allowed me and many, many others to know her at her best. She became an inspiration to more people than you will know. We also were allowed to see an entire family stand firm even though there were questions. And still are. And pain that no one can imagine. But through it all your family has survived and is no doubt stronger.

    I really didn't intend to go on for so long but couldn't seem to get to the end. I could gone on but I have said enough.

  2. What beautiful pictures those were of the horses surrounding the injured one. What a wonderful thing to witness.

    We think of you and pray for you often.

    I read this poem and thought of you....

    Are you sunk in depths of sorrow
    Where no arm can reach so low;
    There is One whose arms almighty
    Reach beyond thy deepest woe.
    God the Eternal is thy refuge,
    Let Him still thy wild alarms;
    Underneath thy deepest sorrow
    Are the everlasting arms.

    Other arms grow faint and weary,
    These can never faint nor fail;
    Others reach our mounts of blessing,
    These our lowest, loneliest vale.
    Oh, that all might know His friendship!
    Oh, that all might see His charms!
    Oh, that all might have beneath them
    Jesus' everlasting arms.

    Underneath us - oh, how easy!
    We have not to mount on high,
    But to sink into His fullness
    And in trustful weakness lie;
    And we find our humbling failures
    Save us from the strength that harms;
    We may fail, but underneath us
    Are the everlasting arms.

    Arms of Jesus, fold me closer
    To Thy strong and loving breast,
    Till my spirit on Thy bosom
    Finds it's everlasting rest;
    And when time's last sands are sinking,
    Shield my heart from all alarms,
    Softly whispering, "Underneath thee
    Are the everlasting arms."

    By A. B. Simpson


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