A sand dollar & a shark's tooth

We just got back from a week long beach vacation (Can I get an amen, hallelujah?!). It was SO wonderful to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ocean with my boys. Really, the 7 days just flew by.

Last year our vacation came on the heels of Pierce's shunt scare and after he had endured a grueling recovery from his April 2013 brain surgery. Flash forward this year and he's got two more surgeries under his belt.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that the weight of it all- the surgeries, the doctors visits and the therapies- has really been heavy. There have been many dark and scary days since last years beach trip. Times when I've asked how long, how much we must endure. And yet, God has remained faithful to us. He has given us way more than we ever deserve. We've watched our boy grow from a tiny, quiet toddler to a happy-go-lucky, always talking little boy and for that, we are so thankful.

Earlier this week I took a long walk to clear my head. As I walked along, I remembered a story I once heard of a lady who had prayed for God to send a ladybug to remind her of His love. And then it occurred to me, a quick thought, but one that stuck. I was going to pray for God to remind me of his love by sending me a sand dollar. And being the indecisive and over achiever that I am, I quickly added a shark's tooth to the list as well.

Before I go any further, let me add that this particular beach had recently had a 3 mile sand bar blasted up and the beach was full of literally thousands of large black rocks. (Taking a walk while pushing a stroller was no easy feat.) I hadn't seen a sand dollar yet and I knew for sure, the chance of finding one unbroken was going to be pretty hard. (I know you can sometimes find them on the bottom of the ocean floor, but the week before we were there a 5 ft shark washed up on shore and then while we were there a little boy was bitten by a 5 ft shark, so no thank you, if I was going to find a sand dollar, it was going to be on the beach, in the sand. This momma ain't losing a leg.)

And a shark's tooth? Really, not sure why I asked for that, maybe I was being nostalgic about my teenage Myrtle Beach days and those tacky shark's tooth necklaces you bought at Wings.  I don't know, it's always something I've wanted to find on the beach, but never have.

I went home that day and told Nik about my prayer. But as the week went on, my rationale started to turn. Well that was a silly prayer. God doesn't have time for that. Wait, is God even real? Of course he is, he just doesn't have time for sending sand dollars and sharks teeth. Thoughts poured through my head.

Finally Saturday came, it was time to go home. We decided to visit the beach one last time for a quick splash in the ocean before heading home. Literally right before we start to pack up, I look down and find a baby sand dollar. I quickly rush over to Nik, big grin on my face and show him. I immediately say, "Now I just need a sharks tooth," to which Nik chuckles and laughs. I guess he found it funny that a sand dollar wasn't enough. He did ask me to clarify whether I had prayed for "both" or "either." Of course I needed both.

As I go down to the water to wash it off, I look down and there sitting in the sparkling sun by it's lonesome self, wouldn't you know there was a shark's tooth. At this point I was a little in shock. Both of the things I had prayed for were now sitting in my palm, literally minutes before we left the beach.

As I stand there stunned, a man approaches. Oh no, do I look odd standing here, mouth gaping? I quickly adjust. As he approaches, I could see he was holding something. "Excuse me, ma'am, these are yours. I just grabbed them out of the ocean." I quickly glance into his sandy palm and see 2 giant sand dollars. Who is this man and where did he come from? And why isn't he just keeping the sand dollars?

I managed to play it cool until the man walked off and then the tears just started to come. I walked over to the boys, stunned, but flashing my new found treasures. Nik just smiled at me and said, "See, He loves us."

There I sat staring at 3 sand dollars... one for each of us. And a shark's tooth.

And with that, we left the beach, sun shining on our backs, walking away for another year and knowing He is faithful. He cares. He takes the time to answer our prayers, even the silly ones. I may not know what challenges lie ahead for us this year, but I know He is loving, kind and merciful. Oh, how He loves us.

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:3-4

PS- I may be the only person who wasn't aware of this, but the sand dollar actually has a pretty cool Christian symbolism. Check it out.