Our family just returned from a beautiful trip to California. We were able to see Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, the beach in Carmel, Yosemite and the Redwoods, in addition to Mona Lake. Three of our teenage children were able to go with Scott and I for the week, staying with family and great hotels along the way.
On our first afternoon the kids and I, stretching our legs a bit, walked down to the river just a quarter mile down the road.
It was hot that day and the river bubbled and splashed on the rocks seeming almost excited we were there. The three kids, who had hemmed and haw'd after the long drive, perked up as they took in the river bottom scenery. Captivated by sound of the rushing water and mesmerized by the sandy water's edge that sparkled, within minutes they were discovering brilliant rocks and tide pools, completely oblivious now to me or the hundreds of miles we had just driven.
Squealing with delight upon finding a fat gray bullfrog tadpole, my youngest daughter (usually the germaphobe of the family) dipped her hand into the small tide pool to see if she could catch it with her bare hands. My oldest daughter rolled up her long shirt and began wading into the water, feet gingerly finding footing on the slippery lava rock. My son, the 6 foot tall wann-be body-builder, ripped off his shirt completely revealing the Utah white skin - as if to soak up every energizing California ray of sunshine.
At the edges of the water, where the sand collected from the busy river, were sparkling pieces of fool's gold. Here is where miners had struck it rich in the new land of California - panning for gold in the mountain streams. The kids began collecting the shiny tidbits, with a child-like fascination. Scanning the river bottom, it was as if God himself had thrown gold like diamonds by the handful, just for us. It seemed magical; the dancing river, the gold diamonds everywhere, and the sun warming our shoulders and cheeks just perfectly.
I watched my children take in the magic and nature with such an excitement - so different than watching tv at home. They were so free and curious in this non-technical, but high-def organic setting.
It struck me how these three children were all so unique. Their sizes, their shapes, their mannerisms. Though I had given birth to all three, every one of them had their own purpose, there own personality, and their own interests. Watching them interact, then get caught up in watching something or touching something on their own, and then calling to each other to show or do something together . . . it hit me that one day soon they would all spread their wings in search of their God-given path. Our days together like this, at the river, vacationing and seeing the world together . . . those days were changing.
With that thought pressing on my mind, I grabbed my bag searching for my camera. "I've got to capture this moment before it's gone!" Looking, looking . . . no camera. Grabbing my phone I try to take a photo. Low battery. Not enough to take a picture. Ugh.
I just sat there. Stunned. No camera. No dang camera. That means no pictures of these priceless moments! None!
My heart sank. And in the next breath it was as if I heard God Himself say, "This is the real gold Tiffany. Moments that you don't see coming, moments you don't plan, moments that you never get back."
I just sat there. And the river like my gratitude swept uncaptured over my heart, over my soul, over my life . . . and I basked in the sweetness of my children . . . so grateful for the privilege of holding them as babies, rocking them in my arms, and being so blessed to watch them grow taller, wiser, into the people God made them to be.
And the shore sparkled with magic. Only a fool would miss this moment.
God, thank you for the moments that are so full, so real, so brilliant. Thank you for being so big that your love for me shines everywhere - and it shines most when I am still and allow myself to see YOU.
Truly. Thank you for the real gold, the real magic, the real brilliance - I sit quietly and see the hand of God. Amazed.
The next day we went back to the river - with a camera in hand this time - and played again for hours in the magical sparkling river - laughing and enjoying each other as the trees swayed and water raced by. My cup of life full to bubbling over . . . I see the gold God. I see it.