Couple watching sunset on the beach.
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Couple watching sunset on the beach.

You only turn 50 once, correct? For that special birthday, I wanted it to be just right. I don’t ask much out of life, really. All I wanted for my birthday was to see the sun rise above the Atlantic Ocean and set over the Gulf of Mexico on the same day. We live in northern Florida and in Florida, you can!

I had never had the pleasure of staying in a hotel that faces the ocean. It was as an added expense we could avoid. However, this was to be the day we would shell out the extra bucks because, like Clairol has been telling me for decades, I’m worth it!

I travel lots and didn’t want to go too far south for my “sun over water” day. Ormond Beach is a decent distance away to watch the sunrise, not too close and not too much time on the road to get there. We chose our hotel. The pictures showed the pool on the edge of the beach. Not too expensive but just enough to remind me that it’s my birthday and, again, I’M WORTH IT.

My husband, Jerry, and I checked in. The full trashcan in our room didn’t bother me. The filthy glass doors to the wedge ledge they called a balcony didn’t bother me. Even the short, curly hair on the plastic-wrapped cup didn’t make me throw up. What broke my heart was the slick (read “deceitful”) marketing terms “ocean view” vs. “ocean front.” Boy, didn’t I feel like an old fool!

“Ocean view” in this case meant hanging over the wedge ledge, looking beyond the rooftops and using my peripheral vision super powers to spy the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, we just walked around the building to the beach to watch the sun come up. It’s just the sad point that I only turn 50 once and I missed that special little thing I wanted to do for myself. Yeah, I know – “Call a waaaaambulance, Kelly!” Nonetheless, I felt sorry for myself.

I pondered the sad realization that my own favorite sword had been used against me. The power of words and the way one strings them together can uplift, encourage, and bring life. They can also tear down, trick, and wound. I learned the hard way the difference between “ocean view” vs. “oceanfront.” I felt deceived.

The rest of my “Special Birthday Weekend” was better. The hotel in Weeki-Wachee afforded us extra special kindnesses from an appreciative staff. The Bayport Park in Spring Hill was a great place to sit and watch the beautiful sunset.

My birthday gift from God? I was surprised at how impatient I got while waiting for the sun to come up and again for it to set. My lesson was more than just S-L-O-W down.

The sunrise and sunset are gifts from God; He created them. As is the case of everything He creates, they are beautiful—in His time. I have to just relax and trust Him to make things beautiful in His perfect time, not mine. Things in my life will just get more beautiful as I wait on the Lord.

Like the song says, “In His time; In His time. He makes all things beautiful in His time. Lord, please show me every day, as you’re teaching me Your way, and I’ll do just what You say, in Your time.”

After writing to tell the hotel manager about my disappointing birthday gift of what I thought was a lovely room facing the Atlantic Ocean, he made it right, restoring my faith in humankind. My hubby and I were given a free night in an oceanFRONT efficiency! It was wonderful and even more enjoyable because it was complimentary.

So does the squeaky wheel get the oil? I don’t really think that’s the lesson here. I was polite, honest, and not sarcastic in my communication with the hotel manager. I think that he just genuinely wanted to make it right.

Jerry and I took our free hotel stay and bundled it with a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to make a mini-vacation. That was the year that Disney offered FL residents a free day to any of their parks in exchange for volunteering somewhere.

First Corinthians 12:28 lists the various gifts of the spirit wherein “helping” is mentioned. First Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Whether people brought items to food pantries, read to children, helped to build houses, or sorted donated items, we were all doing what we could to help.

We felt good working up a sweat at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Disney was encouraging people to get involved and help others. Maybe the motivation was selfish all around, but it still got people out there making a difference.

Trying to find the good in others; encouraging others to do good regardless of the reason; rewarding people for their efforts; making right a perceived injustice—this all restores my faith in humankind. Just when I concluded that everyone was rotten and trying to “get theirs,” God intervened and helped me see the good in His creation. I’m forever grateful!

 

Reading God’s Story Schedule today, 8/20/13: 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36:1-21, Jeremiah 52.

Join hosts Page and Cindy on Facebook where we are discussing today’s reading. Everyone is invited to join by clicking the ‘Join Group’ button. We have 600+ women reading the Bible through together! Join us and invite your friends too!

About Kelly Stigliano

Kelly J. Stigliano has been writing and speaking for over 3 decades. She and Jerry have celebrated more than 30 wedding anniversaries together—all proof of God’s redemptive power! Kelly made bad choices for years and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way, hoping to keep others from making the same mistakes. Because no one benefits when we wear masks, she tries to stay transparent. “Everyone has skeletons in their closets, but my closets don’t have doors on them!”

Encouraged? Share this post...

Kelly Stigliano

Kelly J. Stigliano has been writing and speaking for over 3 decades. She and Jerry have celebrated more than 30 wedding anniversaries together—all proof of God’s redemptive power! Kelly made bad choices for years and shares the lessons she’s learned along the way, hoping to keep others from making the same mistakes. Because no one benefits when we wear masks, she tries to stay transparent. “Everyone has skeletons in their closets, but my closets don’t have doors on them!”

To read some articles I’ve had published, hear about God’s story in my life from the “UNSHACKLED!” radio program or the Focus on the Family broadcasts, see my book, Praying for Murder, Receiving Mercy: From At-Risk to At Peace; My Journey from Fear to Freedom or explore the anthologies I’ve contributed to, please visit my website, www.kellystigliano.com.

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