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TITLE: Tough Love
By Teresa Collins
06/01/06
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It was early when I arrived at the beach that warm morning in March. The brilliant sun hung in the air illuminating everything with its magnificent brightness. Iíd forgotten how beautiful southern Florida was that time of year. I watched the seagulls playing on the sand; I could hear the calm breeze whispering through the palm trees. I looked out into the horizon trying to absorb the peace and tranquility that a scene like that would usually offer. I closed my eyes for a moment to concentrate on the aroma of the salt air as it filled my lungs. It was hard to distract myself from the horrible events that would crowd my mind. The rhythmic waves danced along the shoreline as if orchestrated by nature.

Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something rolling in on shore with the waves. I saw that it was a bottle; at first I thought of someoneís careless litter. It was tightly capped with a note inside. Full of curiosity, I pried the cap off and tried persistently to get the paper out. I tipped and pounded but the paper just wouldnít come through the narrow opening. I didnít want to break the bottle as I thought it was a unique find, so I threw it into my beach bag to take home.

I was distracted for a moment, but was brought back quickly to the pain and confusion I felt inside. It was just a few short months before that my two precious baby boys were kidnapped. I had moved back to Florida to be close to my family to gather some strength and relax. I was frustrated and depressed. The same questions would crowd my mind. Why would this happen to me? I wanted children more than anything in this world. I felt Iíd been stripped of my babies unjustly and robbed maliciously. What do I do with the grief and the anger, and where so all these tears come from? These thoughts played in my mind in endless succession. I knew I wasnít the only person to suffer from anotherís merciless acts butÖ Why me?

I love the ocean. I would strain to listen to the waves as they gracefully rolled on shore. I would try to let the sound soothe my aching heart and quiet my mind. I felt lost, confused and weak.

I laid the blanket out carefully in the sand and rested my tired body and mind. The clouds were full and scattered throughout the sky. Just then, I looked beyond the clouds to the heavens. I was reminded of a scripture that I learned many years ago: I give you peace that passeth all understanding, Philippians 4:7. A promise that I knew so well but where is the peace, Lord? Why canít I find it?

It seemed like hours had passed but it had only been a few minutes. The gnawing pain deep within me was almost unbearable. I sat up and glanced around, I noticed people scattered along the beach. Some children were playing so carefree and full of joy; they were a reminder of my loss.

Tears filled my eyes and were just about to spill down my cheeks when I thought about the bottle I put in my beach bag. Obsessed with the challenge of getting the paper out, finally I was able to maneuver a corner of the paper to where I could get a hold of it. Filled with excitement I anxiously unfolded the paper. I stared at the words for a moment. It looked as if they were written hurriedly with pencil but they were legible. The words read: PLEASE HELP ME, IíM LOST. I looked out into the horizon and thought about those words. Who wrote them? Were they in trouble or was it just a prank? So many questions went through my mind. The odd thing was I felt like I could have written that note because I knew exactly how they felt, lost, completely lost.

As I looked out into the horizon, I didnít understand what had happened or why but I knew I wasnít alone. Another promise came to me from Psalm 138:8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever. God reminded me, once more, of my purposefulness in His plan for my life. Through the pain God not only teaches but reaches into the very core of my spirit to help me understand.
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