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Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

We got to spend two weeks in Florida, over the recent Spring Break.

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Hubby was there for the entire month, giving about fifteen hours of service each week to a lovely Lutheran congregation, in return they provided a lovely condo for he (and we) to stay in.

This blessed opportunity provided family time (minus one), opportunity to see new sights, connect with old and new friends, try new foods, rest and … go to the beach!

It might already be obvious that our favorite part of the trip was going to the beach. In our two weeks, on the beautiful west coast of Florida, we visited the beach six times.

There is something amazingly refreshing about going to the beach.

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First there is the view of an endless horizon. It always amazes me that I can stare into that horizon for countless minutes and even hours and not be bored by the sight I see. It provides  a sense of how very small I am and how very amazing is this creation around me. Of course, having been to this same local a couple of years ago, and having had the joy of staring out at the horizon and seeing five dolphins swimming and jumping in the water, also gave me the hope of a return performance … and they did not disappoint (although only three this time).

Then there are the smells … the fresh air, the smell of the sand, of the water, of sunscreen (shouldn’t is always have that coconut scent?).

The scents at the beach can almost be tasted (just lick your lips after you have been there for awhile).

Then the sounds of the beach … the playful, joyful chatter all around, the sounds of the gulls and other birds chattering on about the buffet that the humans bring to them each day, and the sounds of the waves crashing (or gently falling).

Then the feel of the sun on your skin! It is like nature’s own version of giving us a massage … except we apply our own oils and lotions. The feel of the warmth on your skin is so renewing, so refreshing.

Even on a cool day, or a rainy day, being at the beach has a way of giving life to our souls.

To go to the beach is to close your eyes and simply allow each of your senses soak up all that it offers.

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Woohoo! It was a summer Sunday and I got to skip church, and go to the beach! Could life get better? Sun, sand, surf, and an endless horizon.Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite like that. As a matter of fact there was no sun, not even blue sky. It looked like it might rain at any moment. It was cool, and breezy, and the forecast even had thunder and lightening in it.

I also did not get to skip church.

A twelve-year old friend of my son had invited us to a church service and to his baptism. We arrived, late, but thankfully the service had not yet begun. So, donning our flip flops and opening our camp chairs, we settled in to an outdoor sanctuary (my person favorite).

I cannot remember the songs that were sung. I do remember that the pastor talked about John the Baptist, baptizing Jesus, then his time of being tempted in the desert.

Matthew 3 tells this story.

John the Baptist wore clothes made of camel hair, and he ate locusts and honey … and I am pretty sure there was no chocolate to make the locusts go down easier! He also had just emerged from quite a while in the wilderness, so he probably was quite … naturally scented. If he were here today, he would probably go by ‘Johnny’, and most would see him as the equivalent of a hippie.

His message was, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (v.2)

Then his cousin Jesus, who once set his feet to dancing while in-utero (John Lept), came to the river, and asked John to baptize him too. John was not so cool with that, as he felt way to under-qualified to do the deed. But, since Jesus is Jesus, John consented.

Now, back at MY beach: each of the three who chose to be baptized stood, spoke about why they wanted to be baptized, then whoever wanted to could go up, lay hands on them, and pray for them. It was pretty meaningful as friends, grandparents, and mentors spoke words of thanks, words of affirmation and words of blessing to God, on their behalf.

My son’s friend shared of how a close family tragedy made him look more seriously at his life. His words, though those of a twelve year old, were ones that reflected insight, awareness and desire for what he was choosing to do.

I am sure there were tears in every eye … I just couldn’t see them through my own.

Then people were invited to come and pray for him. His grandfather prayed, another youth prayed, then a familiar voice … that of my son. He spoke to our God as one who knows Him, intimately. He spoke as one who knows his friend, and who wants the very best for his buddy.

… and more tears were shed.

Then we all made our way to the water, where one by one, the three completed their public profession of a life committed to living with Christ, with an endless horizon as their backdrop.

… and more tears were shed.

As my son’s friend came to the edge of the water his mother hugged him, as did his father, who said, “I am proud of you, son” (or something very similar).

Oh, and the rest of the story from Matthew 3 …

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (v. 16-17)

An endless horizon.

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There is nothing quite like spending a day full of delight to fill a person with wonder! And the best way to accomplish that is to spend the day looking through the eyes of a child.

And that is how I spent my afternoon.

But, it didn’t start out that way.

We joined a family that we know through our daughter’s swim coaching, at their nearby campsite. The drive there was not all that delightful. Our eleven-year old son, and fourteen year old daughter had enough tension and complaining and arguing between them to start WW3! I finally threatened (oh, yes, I threatened … I reached parental boiling point from which there is no sense, and no turning back), that if they did not act as expected (and no, I did not define what was expected), they would be in trouble (and no, I did not define what the trouble was). And silence overcame the van (as hubby was making yet another UTurn, with the hopes that he was finally heading in the direction that “I was sure we needed to go” … it was not a stellar start to the day for me, relationally, with my family).

From the moment we arrived, the mood and minds and hearts that exited the van were very different from before we emerged from it’s frame.

We greeted our hostess, and wandered through the campground to locate the dad, and their kids. When we found each other, their children (a boy of five, and daughter of seven) came running with open arms towards my fourteen year old daughter, and I.

We returned to their site to have introductions made (as hubby one and hubby two had not met before), and smokies put on the fire.

For about two and a half hours we chatted, giggled, ate, took pictures, watched the kids ride bikes, eat smores with the most humongous marshmallows ever, and giggle some more. And then, we went to the beach.

For the next two and a half hours the four ‘kids’ spent jumping waves, building sandcastles, falling into frigid Northwest coastal waters, burying their feet, running into and out of the waves, and more giggling. And this is where transformations began …

All four of the kids (aged five, seven, eleven, and fourteen)  p l a y e d  like … kids.

The older two were no longer playing at playing, for the sake of the younger ones. The older two were as fully engaged in their own imaginations as were the younger two. They buried their feet deep into the sand, because the effects of the water rushing over the sand caused wonder for them. They jumped into the waves, not just because they were trying to steady the little bodies attached to the hands that they were holding, but because they were experiencing joy in trying to outsmart the nature of the waves. They built sandcastles, not because they were assisting the construction of the dreams of the younger children, but because they were building out the dreams of their own imaginations.

They were fully engaged in the delight of wonder … as the little children were, and as were the four parents, watching a few feet away.

We said our goodbyes, and drove the half hour trip back to our vacation home. And our drive home …

Our eleven and fourteen year old talked together, sang together, laughed together, and … delighted in the wonder that was planted by the seeds of children. Those children who were just being themselves, and who reminded all of us that we are never too old to play.

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