A penny.

Pennies from Heaven. A phrase Urban Dictionary defines as, “When you’ve lost a loved one & find a penny, it’s a sign from them that they love you & that everything’s okay with them.” And if you’ve never read the poem, “Pennies from Heaven” by C. Mashburn, google it!

I’ve been a runner for a long time now, going on 20 years. I’m not one of those “I run a marathon every weekend” runners, I don’t do organized races, but respect all of you that do.. y’all are rock stars! I run because it’s a huge part of who I am. It’s where I find mental clarity, it’s where I fuel my energy, and it’s where I talk to God.. which is ultimately where my help and strength come from. See Psalm 121:2

img_8619My usual route is a straight shot to the ocean. It’s exactly 2 miles from my front door to the sand. The feeling I get when I’m out there before the sun wakes up is indescribable. The strand won’t be scattered with people for a few more hours, the seagulls are waking up slowly and dancing to the beat of the waves, and I feel so close to my Creator while taking in all of His magnificent beauty. But it’s also where I feel closest to my momma.

The beach was her absolute favorite place to be. Laying out, soaking up that incredible Vitamin D (SUN!), and making memories with her family. She used to tell me about how her and my dad went for Easter weekend, which was almost 2 weeks after her due date with me (crazy lady!). I was born 3 days later, and then they had me right back on the beach at 2 months old in a play pen. I grew up there and some of my most favorite memories were right there on that Cherry Grove sand.

The weekend before my momma passed she wanted stay on the ocean front, watch the sun come up, and sit on the strand. She wasn’t physically able to get out to the beach by herself, but my dad made it happen. They spent Saturday and Sunday on the strand that weekend, just the two of them, and I believe that was exactly where she needed to be to prepare for the journey she was about to go on.

The last place she sat on that beloved stand, her happy place, is the exact spot my beach running route begins. I guess that’s part of the reason why I feel so close to her when I step onto that beautiful sand. I always have to take a deep breath when I get there, and it usually brings me to tears because I miss her so much. But there are also happy tears because I’m so thankful she got one last weekend out there to make more memories.

Last Tuesday while I was running the beach with no one else in eyeshot, I started talking to my momma. Like, out loud. Like she was there with me. I was telling her how much I missed her, how much I loved her, and how badly I wish she were here to see my girls. I also asked her to send me some signs every now and again when I get weak and questions flood my brain. At just that second, something up on the hill caught my eye. I paid it no mind to start with, but it would not leave me. What was it? So on the way back I kept my eyes peeled for it, and this is what I found… img_8620

A perfectly undamaged horseshoe crab. But the crab was gone. It was just an empty shell of where he used to live. I sat there for a few minutes, tears flooding my face, thanking my momma and God for this incredible reminder. My momma’s earthly body is no longer being used, but her Spirit is with the Lord in Heaven. She is living a brand new eternal life, and I know this with all my heart! The Bible reads in 2 Timothy 1:10, “But it has now been revealed through the appearing of out Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”

I drew a heart in the sand around where the horseshoe crab sat, and said a prayer that someone else might pass it by and receive exactly what they needed to hear from God.

The next morning, as I did my devotional, the studied scripture hit me with a bang. I knew it was familiar, not like I had read it before, but that God had spoken to me through it. I turned to my Bible, and there underlined was the verse of Psalm 9:10… “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” And written out beside the verse I had written, ‘I know where my momma is  3/22/16’ – just 4 days after she made her journey to Heaven. Again, with tears flowing down, I thanked God for this truth and for allowing my momma to hear me and send those signs I’ve desperately needed from her.

As I set out for my run Thursday morning, I had a clear mind, I was smiling and thankful for so many things in my life, and preparing myself for a day full of intentional gratitude and positivity! On the second half of my run I got a text from my sister about plans for the girls to come visit, which brought up the topic of dad and Cory’s (hubby) birthday (& yep, they share a birthday, isn’t that cool?!). It didn’t hit me until about a mile later… dad’s birthday. His first birthday without momma. And then March will be here. And then March 18th, one year since she’s been gone. And I was immediately consumed with dread, and pain, and guilt, and worry, and doubt, and grief, and overwhelming fear.

I was running towards home as hard as I could, trying to stop the tears from falling, trying to stop the pain, trying to just run away from it all.

What happened next was surely God directing my sight because I do not look down when I run, especially when I’m running my heart out, literally. But something caught my eye and I came to an abrupt halt. I took a few steps backwards, and there it sat… camouflaged with the asphalt and rocks of the road… a penny.

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I laughed out loud as I bent down and picked it up. I remembered the poem, and I remembered how my momma would say her baby brother, James, would always throw pennies at her from Heaven. She would find them everywhere and laugh and joke at how she wished he’d throw down $100 bills instead of pennies! She knew with her whole heart that those pennies were from him and that he was in Heaven, and I know with my whole heart that this penny right here was from her.

My momma, with the help of God, stopped me in my tracks just like when I was a kid and she’d call me by my FULL name! She was telling me to calm down. Take a few deep breaths, remember where she is and who she’s with. And when I feel overcome with fear, pain, doubt, guilt, shame, worry, or any other emotion that stops the flow of God’s voice in my mind.. to stop and pray! Instead of trying to run away, run to God.  Give it the only one who will give His unconditional love, help and strength…

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

So don’t pass by that penny

When you’re feeling blue.

It may be a penny from Heaven 

That an Angel’s tossed to you. 

-an excerpt from “Pennies from Heaven” by, C. Mashburn

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