I’m sitting at my desk surrounded by a planner and school notes and Bible study notes. And I’m trying to convince myself that I’m ready for fall. And I am. But I’m out of practice. It’s like staring an exercise program. I know there muscles in here somewhere, but I’ve forgotten how to use them. I’ve forgotten how to focus and to sit down and be disciplined. I’m going to have to build back up to it, I guess. When things don’t feel easy (or when I don’t feel capable), I’m tempted to retreat, to rethink everything I do in life, to imagine the thrill that another’s life must be.

But I’m here. In my life. And I’ve yet to figure out how to hijack someone else’s. So for the time being, I guess I’ll stay in mine.

I jumped on here to remind myself that I actually like to string my thoughts into words. I’m here to remember that writing may be work but it’s also a joy.

I thought I’d update you about the dolphins. Remember last time I blogged? (Probably you don’t—it was January.) I wrote about my ongoing search for dolphins and how I never found them.

Well, last May my roommate Lindsee and I went to the beach for a day. On our way to dinner, I directed us to a street that I thought would take us to the bay, where the dolphins supposedly hang out. Turns out, the road dead-ended into the cruise terminal, and my dolphin dreams were thwarted again. At this point, we were also hungry, and when I get hungry, I tend to get less-than-easygoing about life. (Some might call it grumpy. They would not be wrong.)

Anyway, we went to dinner, where we had to wait for what felt like forever, and then after we ordered there were no tables because people who hadn’t ordered were saving the tables, which I found particularly irritating. Anyway, Lindsee always remains calm and rational in these situations, so she found us a table and probably told me not to talk until I’d eaten (which did help). I’m just grateful she is still my friend after the number of times this has happened.

All of that is to say, my attitude was really not the kind that you would want to reward in your children.

But as we drove out of the restaurant parking lot, we turned toward Galveston’s seawall to head back home. And as we sat at the light, I SAW A DOLPHIN’S FIN ROLL OUT OF THE SURF!

“That was a dolphin. No lie. Seriously! Right there!” I was shocked.

Lindsee turned right because she had to, but then she hooked a (very illegal) u-turn, and pulled over to park. We sat on the sidewalk of the seawall and watched the dolphin meander the coast. It didn’t do anything impressive, but I was impressed. Very impressed.

You for sure can’t see the dolphin in this picture. But he was there.

You for sure can’t see the dolphin in this picture. But he was there.

I know we never really deserve gifts from God, but in that moment, I knew I didn’t deserve it. I think He did it just to hear the surprised laughter, just to see the shocked smile, just to remind me that He loves me and that He cares deeply about the things my heart can’t always articulate—like why the dolphins matter so much.

We sat there until we couldn’t see the dolphin anymore, until that tangible reminder of God’s perfect timing followed the fish to a different part of the sea.

And childlike faith settled back into its place for a moment.

That was nearly four months ago, and my faith has wavered and my heart has forgotten the joy that it felt. Boredom invades what I meant to protect, and cynicism threatens to shield me from my own delight. But this I know: God isn’t holding out on me until I deserve something from Him. God is right here. So near. So ready to surprise me if I’ll keep my eyes open.

God even blesses us when we’re being brats.

And somehow, His gifts make us less bratty. He softens what has grown hard. He gently prods what has grown weary. He shoots us a glance that reminds us that He’s God and that He’s good. He jostles us out of our own minds so that we can relax and rest in Him.

I’m sure my attitude did not please Him that evening. But I still please Him. And He found a way to remind me.

His discipline is always His kindness.

But on that day in May, His kindness was His discipline.

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