Surrounded By Perfect Gifts

In March, I traveled to southwest Florida to spend the week with my three sisters, and celebrate my Dad’s 90th birthday.

We stayed at a lovely condo that faced the beach. Walking out onto our sixth floor porch, we were greeted by the Gulf of Mexico. It was so peaceful to sit there and watch the joggers, the families playing frisbee, and the waves lapping gently on the shore. Dolphins gracefully slid over the water, flipping their tails in the waves.

All this beauty and peace stretching out in front of me for me to enjoy.

I’ll admit to some frustration too. Still getting around using a walker, the beach wasn’t an option for me. I could watch it at a distance, but I couldn’t jog or play frisbee. I couldn’t join my sisters as they searched for shells. Or sit with them at the waters edge, flipping their toes in the water.

Limitations are not fun.

Well, they’re not fun if I keep reminding myself that I’m somehow missing out. That my Florida experience is ruined because I can’t look for shells. The choice is mine. I can lean into the joy of gazing on all the beach activity, or rail against my constraints, making myself and my sisters miserable.

This experience led me to remember all the times God has sent me such joy, given me exactly what I needed. But instead of being grateful, I’d cross my arms, and toss my head. Yuck. How could I be so short-sighted?

The sadness at being unable to walk the beach, however fleeting, blocked my ability to appreciate the perfect gift of that porch. Instead, all I could see is what I wanted. What I thought I needed. I wanted independence, I wanted to jog and swim in the Gulf.

But you know what? If I hadn’t been looking straight out at the water, I never would have seen those dolphins. I’ve been visiting my Dad in Florida for years, but never saw even one. This time, they seemed to be tripping all over themselves to breech for me.

If I hadn’t sat out on the porch one night, and saw all the stars, I never would have imagessuggested that we all take a short walk to the beach to take in the constellations. My sisters carried my chair, and made sure we sat on a flat, hard stretch of sand, close to the building. The four of us sat in low chairs, towels over our legs for warmth, while we talked and talked under the impossibly dark sky, illuminated by more stars than I’ll ever see in my suburban-home sky.

I hope I’ll always trust that His gifts are perfect, and gently given. And if I don’t, I’ll just remember those dolphins and the bright stars. Seeing them was really God saying “I know you. I love you. I made this all for you.”

Thank you Lord. How could I ask for more?


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66 thoughts on “Surrounded By Perfect Gifts

  1. Oh, this is a precious post! I loved hearing about your adventures by the sea. I miss it…it is just such a unique, special place, no matter which beach you happen to be sitting on. I am sorry you were unable to walk on it, but I am thankful you and your sisters were able to enjoy that special time there, in spite of it. Hearing of your nighttime talk there made me miss my own sisters. So grateful you were able to celebrate your Dad’s special day, too. πŸ™‚ Hoping and praying for your complete healing!

    • Hi Cheryl! It was so amazing to sit on chairs in the dark and see all those stars and constellations…and just chat away with my best friends. I’ll never forget that, it was the best part of the vacation (well, except for the dolphins!)

      My Dad was so happy to have his daughters there to celebrate with him. We were all so blessed.
      Happy Thursday!

  2. “I hope I’ll always trust that His gifts are perfect, and gently given. And if I don’t, I’ll just remember those dolphins and the bright stars. Seeing them was really God saying β€œI know you. I love you. I made this all for you.””

    -im taking that with me!

    I also went to travelling the past weeks and seeing the views just made me more thankful of ow God made this world a perfect place for us to live. Everytime i think about the beauty of nature, i always plug myself in to Kari Jobe’s “stars in the sky”, just feels so wonderful, inspiring and making you feel to love God more and more and more.

    • Hi Steve! Nature is also a great reminder to me of the creative power and love of God. I’m not familiar with Kari Jobe, I’ll have to check that out!
      Thank you for visiting today, it’s so nice to meet you! I hope you’ll be back again soon πŸ™‚

  3. So much ingratitude for what we don’t have. Thank you Ceil for showing us what we do miss when we sit around thinking “Woe is me.” I love your lessons here. The highlights of your “deck sitting” and your time with your sisters just sitting and laughing had to be high points. Memories to keep.

    • Hi Bill! Oh, it absolutely was. All those stars! And they were so big and close too, nothing like my experience of them at home. God was so good to me, and at first, I just didn’t appreciate it.

      Thank you for your encouraging words Bill. I appreciate them so much.
      Thursday blessings,

  4. Sounds like a lovely time in Florida with your dad and sisters. We can always enjoy looking even if we cannot walk πŸ˜‰ Blessings. xx

    • Hi Joyful! You are so right. It just took me a day or so to get to that outlook. We ended up having such a good time, and I’ll always remember that night on the beach. Such a beautiful gift!

      Blessings to you too, it’s nice to see you πŸ™‚

  5. This one was for me, Ceil. Still struggling with all the things I left behind when we moved last year, which makes me miss the blessings in the present place and moment. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hi Pam! Moving on is so hard isn’t it? I know you were excited to try a new place, and meet the new people…but they can never take the place of the people you left behind. I’m glad that you could see some peace in the post today.

      I hope God shows you His love for you in an easy-to-see way today!

    • Hi Lulu! Well, it took me a little while to get there, but it was lovely when I could shed my whining self! It was a beautiful few days, always too short when I’m with my sisters.

      Thanks for your kind words my friend,

  6. I hope that I can keep my eyes open to what God has for me instead of what I think I want! πŸ™‚ Going through these years when kiddos are leaving, growing pains, etc. I want what God has for me! and pray that I see it. Thanks for this beautiful reminder.

    • Hi Monica! I think it’s beautiful that you are seeking what God wants for you. When the kids move on up and out, it’s a real turning point. At least it was for me. What takes the place of caring for them 24/7? I hope I was as open as you are to His call!

      Thank you for your kind words too πŸ™‚

  7. It’s so like us to focus on the limitations instead of the possibilities! I have done that more times than I’d like to remember.

    Thanks for the reminder there are gifts to be found – if we just look for them.

    • Hi Jerralea! Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one! It’s one thing to know that, and another to apply it when it comes to me. I am a slow learner, that’s for sure.

      I’m glad you visited today, it’s always nice to see you πŸ™‚

  8. As an expert whiner, I so appreciate the way you re-framed your experience to be one of joy and gratitude, despite your limitations.

    And I’m guessing that by the time the next vacation rolls around, you’re gonna be leading the pack to the beach.

    You’ve been teaching us, modeling for us how to deal with life’s stuff, Ceil. I’m so grateful for the grace, His grace, you pour out …

    • LINDA!! So happy to see you back! I hope you had a peaceful rest during your blog break. I missed you πŸ™‚

      Well, it’s always a struggle with me. I wish I could come to peace a little faster, but with God’s grace, I get there eventually. I need lots of lesson review!
      Yes, I think I will enjoy the water’s edge next time. But I’ll never forget that night on the sand. It was so gorgeous Linda. God is so good.

  9. Amen, Ceil! I’m afraid my attitude would have been like yours, however momentary it was. There have many times when I have been am ashamed at my initial reaction to certain situations. God sends in His Holy Spirit to remind me that it’s NOT about me! I am so thankful when that happens. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, my friend!

    • Hi Debby! Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

      I’m so thankful that I came around to the thankful point of view. I guess both of us need a little time to adjust! But we are open to the Holy Spirit, and will change our minds. That’s something to celebrate πŸ™‚

      God bless you and yours,

  10. You are right, my friend. Sometimes all we need to do is open our eyes to see what God has set before us. But we do need eyes to see, and sometimes we have blinders on. We only see what we want to, or expected to.

    • Hi Kim! I like that point about ‘eyes that see’. Really see, really understand what and where I am. I’m afraid I did have temporary blinders on, and it only hurt myself. So silly.

      God was pleased to give me so much. I can only be thankful that I eventually came around to see them!
      Have a wonderful afternoon,

  11. Oh how I would love to spend time with my sisters in this way!! I’m glad that you had this opportunity and to do it with your father. You had a lot to deal with, but you adapted and overcame. Your glass is half full!

    • Hi Patty! That’s a great point, my glass was half full! As much as I wanted to see myself as being put upon, I was so blessed to be able to travel, and to have my sisters take such good care of me.

      Those dolphins and the stars were there to tell me that God loves me so much, even in the middle of my blindness. They were such beautiful gifts!
      I know you and your sisters will do this someday. You are so close!
      Thursday blessings,

  12. Ceil, I kinda can’t fully describe how much this post touched me. This line just resonated in my soul: “I hope I’ll always trust that His gifts are perfect, and gently given.” Ah, yes. I so often miss His blessings because I too can get trapped in a complaining, “glass half empty” place. And yet, His beauty is all around if we can get past ourselves. I remember one night when I was in a pretty bad emotional state. I got a drink of water and looked out my kitchen window at the sky. In a rather begrudging voice I muttered, “OK, Lord, that’s a pretty beautiful sky.” And, wouldn’t you know it, just at that moment one of the biggest shooting stars I have ever seen streaked across the sky. Yup, He’s kinda good that way…

    So happy that God revealed to you *secret riches* even in your “compromised” physical state. Sometimes when we’re physically down, God can make our spirits soar.

    Yup, He’s kinda good that way…


    • Hi Sharon! I love that shooting star story! And your wisdom about the spirit soaring even if our bodies don’t. What a great comment, thank you so much! You make my spirit soar just reading it.

      God bless you and yours my friend. And Happy Mother’s Day πŸ™‚

  13. Ceil: The last time we were there, on the Panhandle, we loved the sunsets. I snapped some pics of our time there and made them into a montage picture for Hubby for Father’s Day that year. He was getting over a broken ankle.

    • Hi Cecelia! What a beautiful, thoughtful gift for your husband. I can feel his pain, believe me. I’m sure he was so touched by your loving montage.

      The sunsets are just gorgeous there, aren’t they? Seems like you can see for miles. It was a very blessed experience, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
      Have a peaceful evening,

  14. I just went home with my siblings to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. I think he lives in the wrong place — Pennsylvania instead of Florida. Ha! We, too had something try to disappoint us. My brother, a minister, was called back for a man who was hospitalized. It was a bitter disappointment but he got to enjoy the birthday dinner and cake party. We chose to be thankful for that.

    • Hi Pamela! It is really nice that my Dad is a Florida Snowbird. We do thank him on a regular basis!

      I think I forget how selfless ministers must be. They can be interrupted from anything for the needs of their flock. I’m so sorry he missed the dinner, but he did make it back for the best part πŸ™‚
      I’m sure your dad was very proud of him.
      Thanks for visiting!

    • Hi Jane! Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them. Writing is a lot different from nursing, but I am enjoying the challenge! Thank you for supporting me by reading, and commenting too. Not to mention FB as well!

      Happy Mother’s Day πŸ™‚ I hope you have a great weekend,

  15. It is so tempting to rail at God about what we don’t have or think we should have when we should be grateful for every goodness He has already shown us. I think it’s so marvelous He gave you the presence of the dolphins and the starry heavens to let you know how much he loves you, Ceil. Absolutely beautiful witness here!

    • Hi Martha! You are so right, and I’m afraid that’s exactly what I did. Thank goodness my little pout-party didn’t last long. Those dolphins and the starry night will stay with me for a very long time. God is so good, how can I ask Him for more? So silly…

      Happy Mother’s Day πŸ™‚

    • Hi Gingi! You’re so right, it was pretty amazing. He feels bad because he doesn’t see very well, and struggles to hear, but we’re so happy he’s still with us.

      Happy Mother’s Day!

  16. I love your attitude and I love your writing. I thought I was gazing at those stars. I am learning, too, to be more thankful; it changes everything!

    • Hi Mary! It was such a clear night, and the stars were HUGE. I won’t forget that experience for a long time. God really pulled out all the stops for me that week. It took me a while, but I’m so glad I arrived a ‘grateful’!

      Happy Mother’s Day my friend!

  17. Finding joy in the moment….in present circumstances….He’s still working on me in that area! Thanks for the gentle reminder, sweet Lady!

    • Hi Deb! I think that is truly the secret of happiness. Just accepting right now, and not straining for what isn’t in front of me. I was eating breakfast out on our screen porch this morning, and I was so happy to be there in the quiet of the early day. That experience taught me again that there’s so much joy in the ‘right now’.

      Have a blessed Mother’s Day!!

  18. Hi Ceil! This is a beautiful and wise encouragement. I love what you said here; “I hope I’ll always trust that His gifts are perfect, and gently given.” Thanks, this is so timely!

    And Happy Belated Birthday to your dad!

    Bless you my friend πŸ™‚

    • Hi Shade! Thank you for your kind words my friend. And for the good wishes to my Dad. We are so happy that he’s still here, and doing pretty well.

      He is one of God’s perfect gifts to me!
      Have a wonderful weekend my friend. Such a treat to see you here πŸ™‚

  19. Don’t you love how, when we just stop, and really pay attention, God is giving us signs of comfort and kindness everywhere? We are just too busy, sometimes injuries and illnesses, though they stink, really allow us to learn how to pay attention and to lean on Him. Praying you feel healthy again soon!

    • Hi Nicki! I do love that. And I wonder why I don’t do it more often too. I can get my head and heart turned around by daily problems, and certainly my broken leg was a huge disruption in my life.

      But I know it’s a human reaction. With His grace, I’ll be back soon. All I can hope for is to be back faster and faster each time πŸ™‚
      Have a great weekend! Thank you for visiting today,

  20. Ceil, another touching post. It’s so very easy to get caught up in our desires, our wants that we totally miss the gifts God has for us in the moment. From every thing I’ve read dolphins are amazing creatures–I’m glad you got to see them!

    • Hi Kim! Thank you for your kind comment about the post. I saw the dolphins from a distance, really their backs and fins, but it was really fun. There were so many of them!

      I have been ‘swimming with the dolphins’ once. That was incredible. I still can’t believe I got into that pool with four of them swimming around. It was super fun though.

      Happy Weekend to you πŸ™‚

    • Hi Constance! Pretty spectacular right? How could I ever complain…and yet I did in my mind. Yuck. I’m just glad that the Lord waited for me, and then just dumped the out the gifts!

      Thank you for visiting tonight! It’s nice to see you again πŸ™‚

    • Hi Victor! Thank you for your kind words. And for your wishes for my Dad. We’re so blessed to have him with us, and so glad to celebrate with him in Florida! (Its warm there!)

      Weekend blessings my friend,

  21. Hello Ceil – it’s good to be back for a visit – Life has been so busy and I haven’t been spending much time in blogland lately. I really do love this post. Thank you for helping me to put my trials and challenges into perspective. You are a lovely lady. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Hi Deb! So nice to see you today! I’m sorry life’s been busy, I hope it’s not too overwhelming?

      Thank you for the kind words about the post, it helped me really see the gifts in front of me instead of the negatives.
      Happy Mother’s Day!!

  22. I love the ways that God got your attention on the great things happening right before your eyes before you missed them. I wonder how often we do that because we are too caught up in the stuff we think is most important and overlook the best. Thank you for this reminder to count our blessings…even when we thought we’d missed out on some. Hope you will soon be able to get back to “normal”. I know this has been a long siege for you. Praying for your complete healing soon.

    • Hi Pam! It is a wonderful thing that God waited for me to wake up, instead of walking away, throwing up his hands! I can only hope that next time I can realize those precious blessings earlier.

      I am doing pretty well now. Still a bit of a limp, but I’m not using my cane at all. The PT said I should wean off of it. Thank you for your prayers πŸ™‚
      Happy Mother’s Day, thinking of you and your recent loss,

  23. Hi Ceil! I am so glad you had the opportunity to visit your loved ones and enjoy family time and the ocean air. Maybe next year you will be able to run in the sand! What a gift that you were able to enjoy some of God’s beauty that you may have otherwise missed.

    I hope you have a beautiful Mother’s Day today dear friend~God bless!!!

    • Hi Denise! It really was great to be there for my Dad’s 90th. You only do that once, and if you’re lucky! I know the next time I get down there, I’ll be so grateful to be able to get around without help.

      Happy Mother’s Day to you too!! So nice to see you πŸ™‚

  24. Oh Ceil, you KNOW how this speaks to me!! You and me girl… we are experiencing our perils and gifts of healing together in the same journey, both in the grip of limitations and frustrations- and gifts. Yes! I needed this… you remind me to look for the gifts. His provision is there… past the barriers and the discouragement.

    It’s my choice to look for them.

    Thank you so much for this Ceil! Happy Mother’s Day my dear friend!!

    • Hi Chris! We are sisters in this, I know that. I hope you are doing well? You had it a lot harder, with your children to take care of, and your husband traveling out of town. I have nothing but admiration for you my friend.

      I hope you are told how precious and wonderful you are today. Your family is your greatest gift, and you are theirs as well.

  25. Awww, so beautiful my friend.

    There is joy when we seek it and blessings when we look for them. I loved how you were able to see and experience some amazing things. What a blessing!

    Thanks for sharing Ceil.

    I hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day!

  26. Almost every single night before I go to bed I peek out the window for a glimpse at the sky, always hoping for a star-filled one. God speaks volumes to me through His creation if I only sit still long enough to look and to listen. Great post Ceil.

    • Hi Mindy! I just love that image…you looking for stars before going to sleep. I hope you have more nights of stars than clouds my friend.

      I love nature too. It seems to calm me, and fills me with awe. I think you’re the same way? God is an amazing Creator, who has fashioned a beautiful world. We are greatly blessed to appreciate that.

      Wednesday blessings,

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