We got back a few days ago from a fabulous trip to Orange Beach with the kids. This is the time of year to go, for sure. Beautiful weather, temperatures in the low-to-mid-80s, low crowds - perfection. For once I wasn't ready to leave when the time came. If you've travelled with young children, you know that, sometimes, it's just time for vacation to be over and everyone knows it. It's time to go home and spread out, because you've been on top of one another and in each other's space for too long. I did finally see a little bit of that on the ride home, but otherwise it was a lot of fun, and much needed.

Sunday morning I went out for an early morning walk on the beach. For whatever reason the beach was littered with shells this weekend, so I was looking down as I walked, looking for some pretty ones to add to the collection. [Side note, be careful what you keep when shell hunting. I did find one ginormous periwinkle-looking shell - it was like 4" x 10" - that I brought back to the condo; however, it had a little bit of whatever had lived inside it before, and it quickly started to stank. Not stink, but stank. It was raunchy, so it stayed at the beach. Check shells for inhabitants before removing them from the beach.]

Anyway, the beach was littered with shells this weekend, and as I was looking and deciding which ones were collection-worthy, I saw one that looked perfect, but when I picked it up I saw that it was missing some pieces, so I put it down and thought, "Bummer, I wish it wasn't broken." Really, I probably said it out loud, because I tend to talk to myself, and answer myself. If you know me, you already knew that ;)

When I said that to myself, I believe God entered my self-conversation, and told me that He really likes the broken ones. And I thought about the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15. Luke 15:7 says, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." He doesn't look for the perfect ones at all, but He searches out and rejoices over the lost, broken ones.

Of course, I said, well that's because you can fix them...I can't fix a broken shell. I would have to look at the broken shells, and they aren't pretty. And that's really about how I feel sometimes, honestly. God has put a desire in my heart to love broken people, but at the same time there are some selfish things that need to be worked out. And truth be told we are all broken. It's nothing to hide or be ashamed of. In fact, the longer you hide it, the longer you have to live with it. Shame thrives in darkness, but freedom comes in the light (honesty, in this case).

He has also put within me a love for taking things that are old, and worn out, and making them "new" again (notice I said I love it, I didn't say I was great at it :). Or repurposing things...giving them new purpose, new value. It's a holy thing to take something that was meant to be beautiful, that has been abused or worn out, and restore it.

And I'm not talking about furniture, I'm talking about you. Where are you broken? Don't hide it. God doesn't turn away from things the way we do. Not that He approves of sin, but He isn't afraid of it, or grossed out by it in a child that is ready to be free from it - and He's seen it all. There's nothing new. Anyone who wants to be restored can be. He is really good at redefining, repurposing and recreating. Go ahead, try it and see.