Sally and Bob hurried into Mr.
Thompson’s classroom the next morning.
“This isn’t going to be as boring
as I thought,” Bob commented, scooting into one of the desks near the front.
“What does the clay have to do with
English?” Sally asked Mr. Thompson.
“I’m glad you’re curious,” he
replied, laughing. “You’ll just have to wait until the other students arrive.”
As soon as the students filed in,
Mr. Thompson called the class to order. “Yesterday you let me know that you
didn’t enjoy the piggy bank project. You said that you didn’t have enough
tools. You complained about a lack of instruction and said that you didn’t have
a clue how to proceed. This caused discomfort and, I might add, an outcome that
put frowns on most of your faces. Of course, since this is an English class, I
imagine that the idea of writing a story or report puts frowns on even more
faces,” Mr. Thompson said with a smile.
Almost every student agreed.
“Well, I want to change those
frowns to smiles,” Mr. Thompson said. “I will give you the right tools and
teach you how to use the tools to get the results you want. I think you’ll be
less intimidated at the thought of writing something than you were when I
handed you that blob
of clay and de-manded that you make a pig.”
The students looked at each other
“Words are almost magical,” Mr.
Thompson explained. “They hold a power beyond your wildest dreams. Use the
right words, and you can make people cry or laugh. Words used with skill can
start a war or stop a riot.”
Suddenly Sally sensed that this
class was going to have a major impact on her life.
At home that night Sally thought
about words. She opened her Bible and read a few words in Isaiah 61:10: “I
delight greatly in the Lord; and my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed
me with a garments of salvation.” The words made her smile at the idea of being
covered by God’s goodness. She walked to her window and looked out.
Does God use the experiences of each
day to create our life and make it take the direction He wants it to go, just
like a writer uses words? The idea pleased her. She plunked herself onto her
Sally thought about her love of God
and the ocean. She felt curious, and loved adventure. Now she was developing a
fascination for words. Would God put all these things together in crafting her
“I want to know you better and
understand what you want me to do with my life,” Sally said to God out loud. “I
wish I could go to a Christian school, but our family can’t afford it.”
“Keep praying about it,” an inner
voice seemed to suggest.
“I will,” Sally whispered. “I’ll
talk to you about it every day.
After school that Friday, Sally’s
aunt Ann and uncle Marty stood at the kitchen door, smiling.
“Aunt Ann!” Sally screamed. “I
didn’t know you were coming!“
“Hello, Sally,” Aunt Ann replied.
“Uncle Marty and I want to take you all to the beach tomorrow. Would you enjoy
Sally’s eyes grew wide, and a smile
crossed her face. “Yes!” she blurted out.
“Tomorrow there will be a wonderful
–.9 tide at Laguna Beach. The ocean will pull back and expose acres of tide
“You boys can spend the whole day
jumping waves, if you don’t shrivel up or freeze first,” Uncle Marty teased.
They all walked into the living
room. “We’ll have to get up before the chickens, though,” Uncle Marty
continued. “As your aunt Ann likes to say: ‘The tide waits for no one.’”
Sally noticed that Uncle Marty and
Aunt Ann had brought two boxes of food with them. Mother fixed a delicious taco
Long before sunrise they headed
toward the ocean. After almost three hours of driving, they reached the shore.
It stretched out before them like a great, green blanket whipping in the wind.
Sally’s heart thumped inside her. I’m finally at the ocean again, she thought.
The boys and Anita headed for the
waves. Mother laid out a blanket on the green lawn that hugged the bluff above
the shore. Alice and Grover played on an old tree. Its long branches hung down
to the grass, twisting and turning in wild shapes.
“We’ll be back in an hour,” Aunt
Ann said to Sally’s mother as she grabbed a wad of plastic bags from her purse.
“Let’s go, Sally.”
Soon they were wading into the
shallow tide pools. Aunt Ann taught Sally how to lift rocks and check for
brittle stars, seashells, and crabs beneath them. “Be sure to put the rocks
back just as you found them,” instructed Aunt Ann.
Just as Sally lifted a flat rock, a
octopus crawled up onto her hand. She held it beneath the water for just a
second. The tiny suction cups stuck to her skin. She laughed when the little
creature shot away. Nearby, limpets clung to the rocks and small hermit crabs
teetered around in blacktop shells.
“This is my place,” Sally commented
to Aunt Ann. “I belong here. The ocean and I are a perfect fit. This is where I
feel the most at home. I love wandering along the shore or snooping in the tide
“I know what you mean,” Aunt Ann
“I just wish I could go to a
Christian school,” Sally blurted out. Suddenly she stopped and bent down. “I’ve
spotted something red,” shesaid excitedly. “It’s a chestnut cowrie! I saw its
picture in my shell book.”
Sally reached under the ledge and
pulled a smooth cowrie shell from the rock.
Aunt Ann made her way across the
rocks to the tide pool. “That’s a perfect specimen!” she said. “The cowrie is
so amazing. It wraps itself in this thin piece of flesh called the mantle. The
mantle keeps the cowrie clean and free of barnacles that try to attach to the
shell. This covering hides it from enemies. Certain cells along the mantle’s
edge paint the pattern on the shell and others produce the shine.”
Sally stood up and stared at the
shell in the sunlight. The verse she’d read the day before in Isaiah came to
her mind. The cowrie is wrapped in a mantle, just as I am wrapped in God’s
garments of salvation, she thought.
The idea startled her. Could it be
that the cowrie shell is teaching me the same lesson as the Bible? Am I
beginning to see a whole new way of understanding nature and God’s Word?
Sally and her aunt wandered over
the now-exposed sea floor for the next hour. Every rock seemed to hide a
treasure. Sally felt happier than she’d felt for a long time.
“There’s something important I want
to talk with you about,” Aunt Ann said as they stood in the warm sunshine,
their feet buried in the cool water of a tide pool. A wish of yours is about to
“Ann,” Mother’s voice reached them
over the pools.
“I wonder what she wants,” Aunt Ann
said. “I suppose we better go see. We’ll have to talk later.”
Sally groaned and followed Aunt Ann
back to the shore where Mother stood waving her arms.
“I brought you a cold drink and a
sandwich,” Mother explained. “I thought you might have used up a lot of energy
“Thank you, Mother,” Sally said. “I
feel half starved.”
“Have you told her yet?” Mother
asked, smiling at Sally.
“I was just about to bring it up
when you called,” replied Aunt Ann.
“Tell me what?” Sally asked