Last summer, we spent the entirety of it moving halfway across the country. Military orders in hand, we set off on a weeks’ long trip moving from Virginia to Texas. While it was wonderful seeing people, we did not get the intimate family time I crave after homeschooling for eight months. I vowed this summer would be different. We would be outside barbecuing, swimming in our wading pool, and just living the sweet summer life. But that didn’t happen. My husband was gone for about six weeks, which pretty much took up our entire summer (that and the health scare with my four year old which culminated in a three day stay at the local children’s hospital). Add to that a weeks’ long virus that had us knocked out. Summer was terribly unkind to us this year.
A few months ago, my husband approached me about planning a delayed summer vacation. I was hesitant. We have been traveling too much the last year, and we desperately needed to slow down. Eventually he convinced me. That might have happened when he said the word beach.
I grew up all over the world. My dad is retired Army and I’ve lived in Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Korea, and Italy just to name a few. But with all the traveling and site seeing, we very rarely made it to the beach. So, I had no particular attachment to it. That changed when we honeymooned in St. Lucia. I had no idea how comforting and healing the water could be. We spent most of the honeymoon in a privately owned cabin (we skipped the resort-style honeymoon) that literally sat on the shore. We spent hours roaming the shore, letting the water lap onto our feet. I would stand in the water, ankle deep, and just stare into the horizon. During our last assignment in Virginia, we were fifteen minutes from the beach and used to frequent it all the time. It was so good to be back near the water.
I missed the water.
We didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d thought on the sand, largely because the baby got sick for part of the trip. But it was glorious. We rented a condo that was five minutes from the beach. Out our back door was a pool/splashpad combo. There was water aplenty. It was our first vacation since our honeymoon that we didn’t plan any excursions or site seeing. We just…relaxed. It was glorious. We’ve had a rough few months and I desperately needed the down time. I read two books, napped, swam so much. I connected with my kids on a level I hadn’t in awhile.
On our last night in Corpus, we walked down to the beach one last time. I stood in waves, knee deep this time and just stared at the horizon. I prayed.
Lord, let me know that you are here. Keep reminding me of your love for me.
I tried hard to listen. Nothing.
Suddenly, I felt the urge to turn around. And I saw it. I saw His love for me. And I stood in deep awe of it manifested in front of my eyes. Four tiny people jumping and dancing as the waves danced around them. A man who smiled on while watching them.
They are mine.
With all that’s happened, the good and the bad, the joy and the grief, there they are.
God gave me five people who love me fiercely, forgive me in my failure, and embrace me wholly. When I have fallen, they have helped me, loved me. When I was victorious, they celebrated with me without reservation. When I am struggling, they sustain me. They pray for me, root for me, affirm me. They all manifest within them God’s love for me.
As this ran through my head, just after the urge to turn towards them, an unusually strong wave shoved at my back, propelling me towards them.
Go. Be with your people. Love your family.
And I did. We dug our hands into the slimy sand, looked for shells. They walked along side me and showed me their cracked shells, their treasure pieces. They held my hand and never let go. We watched the sun going down and the water start to look like silvery lace.
And then we headed back. The healing waters behind us, we headed home today. I already miss the sand, the water, the salty air. But beautiful memories are rooted in our hearts. Memories we will treasure a lifetime. Sweet kisses, shrill voices begging me back into the pool one more time. Rest. Relaxation. Sweet lessons taught in the water.
May I never forget them.