When Hero Hubs and I went to an island off the coast of Honduras on Honeymoon {you know, the place where I was bitten by a spider monkey}, we had a pretty picture perfect week. Sans the monkey bite. As the adventure was coming to a close, I thought it would be nice if we somehow collected some sand to take with us. I pictured putting it in glass vases with candles and some of the shells that I also collected on the beach there, and us looking at them and remembering our special honeymoon for years to come.


Being the wonderful and dashing new hubs that he was, HH took to the challenge and decided that the easiest way would be to fill some plastic drink bottles that we could toss in our suitcases. To avoid bringing back the sand fleas which were a bit of an issue, he got wet sand from the ocean. Two full bottles of sand later, I was wrapping my coral and shells and rocks with paper towels like precious treasure, excited about putting things together with a vase from Ikea when we returned to Scotland.

We flew back to North Carolina for about a week to tie up loose ends (and pack up a lot of the wedding gifts I loved but *sniff, sniff* couldn’t bring along to Scotland.) And finally, we arrived back in Edinburgh and moved into our new place. It was a tiny wee flat on Dean Park Street, with a kitchen so small I could open the fridge, dishwasher and oven standing in the same spot. But not at the same time, because it was that small.

We settled in and began unpacking boxes and putting things in place, as you do, doing our best to find a spot for things and quickly making house become home. We set aside our bottles of sand until we got a chance to do something with them.

We found some vases at Ikea and I was eager to start my first mini-DIY decorating project as Mrs. Mark Collie. But do you remember that one interesting line if you’re reading the King James account of Jesus instructing the people to take away the stone which closed the cave where Lazarus had been laid to rest? Lazarus’s sister Martha said,

“Lord, by this time, he stinketh.”

It was so then, and again now. Our magical memory honeymoon sand stank with an awful stink-stank-stunk, the way Dr. Seuss describes the Grinch. I was terribly disappointed because I had such high hopes for that sand. It wasn’t easily replaced, mind you. I thought the only thing to do was to turf it. However, I had no idea at this point that I’d married such a Hero Hubs.

As an occasional special treat in Edinburgh, we used to split a portion of take away, Singapore Style Chow Mein and wonton soup from Loon Wah on London Road. My pregger tastebuds can taste it now… And their takeout came in these perfectly portioned plastic containers that I saved and reused to freeze perfectly portioned amounts of Chili con Carne or homemade Spaghetti Bolognaise sauce.

Loon Wah perfectly portioned plastic came to the rescue, Hero Hubs poured our stinking sand into a few of these tubs and left them outside on the window sill to dry out and bleach in the sun. It was July, after all. But we checked how things were going after a few days and, being in Edinburgh we discovered, still,

they stinketh.

But Hero Hubs would not give up. He next decided to put the tubs on a low heat in the oven, and to dry them out with an occasional stir.

Finally, after suffering the smelly-flat-stinks for ages, it turned out that baking the sand on low temps, it stinketh no more. I can’t think of a good reason to add a don’t try this at home disclaimer right here, but maybe I should.

We’ve moved four times during our three and a half years of marriage, not counting the six months we spent in the States raising ministry support. And each place we’ve called home has featured this pair of vases with rocks and shells and sand that doth not stinketh, somewhere prominently serving as a warm reminder of our special {though monkey-bite-ridden} beginnings.


There are things in life that are worth the extra effort. You may want to throw in the towel, or throw out the baby with the bath water, or insert your own euphemism for wussing out right here. You might be facing projects or deadlines or mountaintops with challenges much more magnanimous than stinking sand.

We’ve all considered, and perhaps pointed out to someone else, that anything that is worth doing is probably hard work. Sometimes it just takes an extra measure of faith, hope, or plain old-fashioned elbow-grease to transition from what could’ve been to what now is and is great!

So don’t throw in the towel on that major move, that attempt at a career change, or that wee DIY project just yet. Our modern hearts sometimes struggle to persevere when we don’t get microwave-fast results, but a worthwhile outcome could be right around the corner.