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Deep In the Heart 

Elizabeth Grace Goodine


I sat beside the ocean on a gorgeous windy day.

My eyes focused on a surfer. I watched him ride the waves.

He made it look so easy, though I knew it took great skill,

For the waves were tall and forceful, yet his body seemed so still.

There was one wave that was larger and more forceful than them all,

And I held my breath and watched because I feared the man would fall.

But the surfer and the wave seemed to have a point to prove--

To find out who was stronger and see who could conquer who.

As the wave pursued the surfer like a lion and its prey,

The surfer never showed a sign of fear upon his face.

He let the wave propel him and taunt him with its might.

And he kept a steady course until he knew the time was right.

Then he turned and faced the wave! He was confident and free!

And he rose above the wave, and he let it pass beneath.

As I gathered my belongings and I walked along the shore,

I thought about my life in ways I never had before.

And the lesson I remember every time I feel afraid is,

You don’t have to fear the ocean when you learn to ride the waves.

Poem written by Elizabeth Grace Goodine

Image by Thomas Ashlock

Do you ever feel as if you are being chased by the “one wave that is larger and more forceful than them all”? Although your own skills, your experience, your intuition and even your attempts at positive thinking may not be enough to keep you above water, your faith in God is enough. With him, you are up to the challenge, and even in those intense moments you can be both calm and joyful. 


                  Sometimes it is like a bright star on a clear day.

                  Sometimes it is hidden by a shadow, until the shadow moves away.

                  It is like a tool that is placed in a farmer’s hand.

                  It grows like the seed that he scatters on the land.

                  It is like a bird that flies where you cannot see.

                  It is like a diamond—precious, to be guarded carefully.

                  It is like the wind, sometimes gentle and sometimes strong,

                  But always blowing somewhere for right or for wrong.

                  Don’t underestimate its reach or its power to affect.

                  And don’t let the time slip by you, oh make sure you don’t neglect

                  To use it for the good, for the godly and the right.

                  While there’s time to make a difference, in the darkness shine a light.

                  Poem written by Elizabeth Grace Goodine

                  Image by Edgar Soto

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said “You are the light of the world.” He was challenging us to see ourselves as we are—influencers. He also said “…let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5, New Living Translation

Read this poem again as if you were reading it to a child. How would you help the child understand these terms as they relate to influence: bright star, sun on a clear day, hidden by a shadow, tool, seed, bird, diamond, wind, and light? How do these words relate to your own life? 


I like to hear the story of when my young wheelchair bound Aunt Grace talked her siblings into lifting her up into a tree. According to my Aunt Billye, Aunt Grace orchestrated the entire escapade: two siblings climbed ahead of her to help pull her upward, and two siblings were beneath to push her upward. Her sharp, nine-year-old mind found a creative way to face physical challenges like this in spite of having a disease that kept her from being able to walk and to play as other children did. The only problem in the tree-climbing came when they co​uld not figure out a way to get her down from the tree without dropping her. My grandfather who had been away just happened to drive up at that moment and came to the rescue.

Muscular dystrophy did not keep Grace from doing much through the years. She could teach others how to cook, and she could sew and paint lovely flowers on a canvas. In her later years she even moved into her own apartment with the help of a government program that provided financial and personal assistance. The doctors expected that she would have a very short life, but she lived until her late fifties. She had many abilities and interests, and she was dearly loved by her family and friends.

But life certainly wasn’t easy, and I would imagine that there were times of discouragement. She was a woman of faith, surrounded by people of faith, and she knew that God could heal her in an instant. I would imagine she prayed that God would remove what may have felt to her like a “thorn in the flesh”—physical disabilities that left her weak and dependent on others to do most tasks for her. But he didn’t. He had a different plan: God chose to teach my Aunt Grace about his grace.

The Apostle Paul also knew something about God’s grace. He pleaded with God three times to take away his “thorn in the flesh,” whatever it was. But God declined and replied, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). So Paul wrote, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

What is it in your own life that feels as miserable and as painful as an actual thorn in the flesh? What are you learning about God’s grace?

Painting by my Aunt Grace Opal Guidroz.


There is beauty in the desert, but it takes some time to see,

‘Cause it’s rugged and it’s barren—not a place I’d choose to be.

At first, I just feel lonely. It’s almost more than I can bear.

And I’m uneasy with the stillness and the silence that are there.

As the sun beats down upon me, I get weary from the heat.

And I sweat and thirst for water, and the sand clings to my feet.

But the evenings are so lovely. There’s a gentle breeze that blows.

And I love to see the sun behind the mountains as it glows.

In the springtime I’m amazed to see the flowers that are grown.

And I never knew the cactus had a flower of its own.

I don’t understand how in this hot, dry desert, plants survive.

But I guess that it’s the only place that some plants ever thrive.

There is beauty in the desert, but it takes some time to see.

And I’m glad I got to live there, for its beauty speaks to me.

Poem written by Elizabeth Grace Goodine

Image by George Pagan III

For thirteen years my husband and I lived in northern California where both of our children were born. We lived near incredible beauty—Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, San Francisco and the beautiful Pacific coastline. Then our family moved to the desert for about a year. The stark contrast in the scenery was a real adjustment. But I learned that the desert has its own beauty, and I learned to appreciate it. During that year I wrote this poem.

Trials in life are sometimes referred to as desert experiences. A friend of mine who I had not seen for awhile once told me, “We’ve been on the back side of the desert,” meaning “it can’t get much worse in terms of the pressure and discouragement we have been facing.” If you are like me, in times like this you really don’t want anyone telling you how going through this trial will cause you to grow in your character and become more compassionate toward others. No, you just want to be done with it. But the truth is, we often grow the most in difficult times. It is often after the fact that we can look back and see the beauty—how much we have learned and the compassion for others we have gained.  With this in mind, sometimes I re-read the poem and change the last lines to say: “I don’t understand how in this hot, dry desert, I can survive. But sometimes it is the only place that I can grow and thrive. 

In Psalm 63:1-8, David was in a literal desert, the Desert of Judah running for his life when he prayed the following prayer. Make it your own. Memorize it if you can:  “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely." New Living Translation

In the desert, David focused on the greatness of God, the glory of God, and the love of God.  He determined that he would praise the Lord, sing to the Lord with joy, and lift his hand to him in prayer.  He looked to the Lord for help and he was satisfied.  You and I can do the same thing in our desert experiences--our trials, and our souls will be satisfied.


With a red shovel in her hand,

She knew just what to do.

She put her shoes on the sand,

Then put the sand in her shoes.

Elizabeth Grace Goodine


It warms my heart to see the innocence of children and to see how they think so differently than we adults do. My little granddaughter Zara was holding this shovel when I snapped this photograph. She was almost two years old. She saw the open space in her shoes and subconsciously thought, “Oh, this would be a great place for me to put some sand!” It was in the spring of 2020 when the Covid shutdown was just starting. I had the joy of taking care of Zara and her brother David who had just turned three years old during the day while their mommy and daddy and Uncle Brad were at our house working remotely at their jobs. Their baby sister Indie usually stayed at home during the day, but sometimes joined us. At first, we had so many fun places to play such as at Friendship Park and the beautiful playground by the Ross Barnett Reservoir. But one by one the parks began to close. It was disappointing for the children to see the yellow tape around the swing sets and the slides, and to see the signs that said, “Closed”. But thankfully we found some special places that did not close. The sand “box” in this picture near our home in Madison, Mississippi was one of those. We would sometimes stop there for maybe thirty or forty minutes so they could play in the sand. This reminds me that even when we face challenging times, we can always find simple pleasures that bring us joy. 

To purchase a digital download of the photograph and poem:


Elizabeth's description of the word "craving": It's around midnight and you think, "I need a little something sweet." So you rummage around the pantry and discover some chocolate such as Bark Thins that you feel certain would be "healthy", and you indulge. Well, let's say you basically "inhale" it. But in a few minutes you think, "I have got to get that sweet taste out of my mouth!" The term "peanut butter" flashes in large bright letters in your brain. So you grab a little spoon of peanut butter. Then you think, "Well maybe I need a couple of Wheat Thins to go with that peanut butter." Then you realize that this could go on and on. You start to feel defeated and think, "I should not have eaten any of that!" But at this point you do feel that you need a little orange juice or something to wash it all down. And then it's like, "Someone, please get me out of this kitchen right now!!"​

In a similar way, how many times in life do we have a craving, a longing for something emotionally or spiritually that we cannot identify? Nothing truly satisfies us, and we become restless, and perhaps we start making poor choices. We need to remember that there is a longing deep in our hearts that cannot be satisfied by a relationship with another person, by travel to beautiful places, an exciting career, education, or by anything but by God himself. 

My husband described his own restlessness in the words of a song: "Searching for something to really satisfy. Longing for something to fill this heart of mine. I found the answer was just a prayer away. My searching is over, and now I can say, I found in Jesus everything. I found in Jesus all I need. More than all that this world can afford, I found in Jesus my Lord."

Are you also "longing for something to really satisfy" as he wrote? Take a few moments to read John chapter four. Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:13-14, (NIV) He offered to her—and he offers to you and me—living water that satisfies our souls and gives us eternal life. Be filled!


It was in a third-grade class where I had a one-day substitute teaching assignment. We were nearing a time of transition from one activity to the next so some of the students were moving around the classroom putting things away. It was a little loud. One of the boys called even more loudly to me from the middle of the room. “Mrs. Goodine!! Did you wear those shoes yesterday?” By that time, he was standing near me. “Yes,” I responded. “I did.” Pointing to another student, he said as loudly as he could, “Well he said that people who wear the same shoes every day are poor! And that makes me feel bad!” The mother bear came out in me. I got right in his face and said something like “Look. At. Me. In. The. Eye! Your value as a person has nothing to do with the things you own or the clothes you wear.” He understood exactly what I was saying and he was comforted by it. He responded quickly with “thank you,” and he said it as loudly and distinctly as he could so the boy who had made the mean comment could hear what he said.

I remember communicating the same basic message to my daughter when she was beginning her second year of college: “Your value as a person is not based on the approval of any peer or leader, nor is it based on your performance in any area. God loves you more than you can imagine. What he wants from you is relationship. Love, Mom”. I wrote it and pinned it to her bulletin board in her dorm room when I went to visit her. I knew she needed to hear it. I need to be reminded of it myself. Maybe you do too. Your value as a person has nothing to do with the things you own, the clothes you wear, the resources you have or don’t have, or how successful or unsuccessful others judge that your efforts have been. And it certainly has nothing to do with how you think you compare with the people whose posts you read on social media.

When you doubt your worth, raise your vision. Look up from your circumstances and your concerns and fix your eyes on your Creator. He values you more than you can imagine. You are a miracle! Pray this beautiful prayer from the Psalms aloud:“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:13-16 New Living Translation

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