Postcards from Florida: Big Hair and Other Gifts from God

shells

I love Florida. It’s my favorite hair salon.

If I go to a real salon where they actually style your hair, I usually leave with my head feeling stiff and full of gel, hairspray, or other product. And I feel like I’m wearing a disguise. (I’m ready for my spy assignment!) One time a stylist straightened my long, slightly wavy hair with a hair iron after she cut it. I’m not sure why she did that. I hadn’t said, “I’m travelling back in time to 1969 and need some stick-straight hippie hair.” She must have somehow misheard me when I asked for a trim.

That’s why I’ve decided that Florida is the best hairstylist for me; it’s just too bad I don’t live there. Maybe a different state would work better for you, but the Sunshine State’s humidity curls my hair and adds volume, making it look naturally big and bouncy as opposed to the Colorado version of dry and flat.

I say this because I recently spent a week in Florida with my hubby—not just for the hairdo, though. I love the ocean, too. And on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, you get a bonus along with the sun and sand—seashells!

On our first day at the beach, my big hair and I were happy to look at the shells that had washed up on our little bit of the shore. There were enough to keep me interested. On the second day, I took a short stroll along the ocean. On the third day, I saw someone walking toward me with a huge Horse Conch shell. That’s when I was struck with shell envy and decided we needed to explore.

So my husband and I walked toward the end of the island. We walked and walked, and then we saw them: piles and piles of shells lined up on the sand, long rows of them, waves of shells where the low tide had washed them in.

As we discovered this stunning abundance, I wasn’t even sure where to look. I was overwhelmed with pleasure: the light bouncing off the seashells, the blue of the ocean, the sound of the lapping waves, the dolphin we saw swim by as we had walked to this Eden-like spot—all this had drenched me with joy and contentment.

This must be what heaven is like, I thought.

Yet for two days, I had missed miles of beach covered with a ridiculous wealth of shells. I had kept my head down in the only little spot I knew, the stretch where the beach was mostly sand instead of mostly shells.

I hadn’t known that a 30-minute walk would take me to a world where the shells I’d found on the first days wouldn’t even be considered worthy of notice next to the riches the sea continually deposited just a mile down the shore. Even though I’d taken a short walk on the second day, I hadn’t wandered quite far enough. 

This experience prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

  • Where was I living my life? On the small patch of mostly sand or the wide swath of mostly shells?
  • Have I been oblivious to the abundance God has given me? Is there something I haven’t even noticed? Is there a pile of shells right around the corner, through an open door, or a decision away that God may be prompting me to make? 
  • Are there blessings I’m not noticing because my head is down? Am I so focused on my square foot of life’s business that I’ve forgotten to look up and around every once in a while and enjoy the gifts God has for me?

How about you? Are you forgetting to look for God’s gifts today? Be sure of this: God your Father wants you to enjoy His gifts; He is the sum of all fathers delighting in the smiles, the laughter, and the joy they bring to their children’s worlds.

I saw a few of those fathers on Captiva Island. One was swinging his daughter around and around on the beach; she was laughing and enjoying the ride. Another father, a few tables away from us in a restaurant, was dancing with his little girl near their table, even though there was no official dance floor. The musician playing the guitar for the diners was all the dad needed to twirl his daughter around.

  • I like to think of God that way—twirling me around on that Florida shore, showing me the beauty and abundance of all those shells and delighting in my happiness.

And maybe He was also letting me know that every once in a while, I need to  look around, maybe even walk down the shore, looking for what He’s already given me. And I can do that with or without big hair. He doesn’t care.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:1

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10