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Went Down to the Beach

“”maggie and millie and molly and may”

maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

millie befriended a stranded star
who’s rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

E. E. Cummings

It’s amazing to watch the girls develop a love and respect of the ocean, to recognize it’s vastness.  And it’s amazing to see hubby there as well because he detests the ocean.  Yet for 3 years he’s gone and every year he does more and challenges himself to try more, and I am amazed and honored by the love that is shown to his family through his participation.  Essentially, it’s his willingness to go that allows us to go to the beach since a family vacation is not a family vacation unless the whole family is present (at least not to me).

This year, I was yet again sad to leave the beach.  The ocean holds so many fond memories for me, and it brings me always back to God’s greatness.  It makes me feel small and still.  I feel peaceful by the sea even if there’s turmoil surrounding me.  The ocean stirs my heart and my senses and reminds me of all the things about life that I’m passionate about. It is there that I am more grounded.  It is there that I remember myself and find all the pieces of me, and I am reminded of all the roles that I play while for a few days not having to play them all.  And I don’t know why all this is.  I just know that of all the locations that my heart could lie in this country or even in this world, it rests most peacefully in the midst of the salty breeze and constant sounds of the ocean.
  • This one of Sam was taken by my mom 🙂
My child walking around the beach with her eyes closed.  Not sure why.  She’s odd, but I love her.

Notes from the Sand 2

In light of where we are, I also want to post notes of what I’ve learned about the beach/ocean since childhood (I mean just because we’re not completely in control doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice beach safety, right?):

1. Never turn your back on the ocean. It’ll take you off your feet in a hot second and you’ll be eating sand and seashells for the next week. Always stand to the side. It’s the stance you’re most stable and you can see what’s coming your way.

2. Curved fins = dolphins. Straight fins = sharks.

3. Never shake your towel out with the wind coming towards you. Otherwise you’ll be having sand for lunch.

4. Wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy.

5. If you’re in the ocean, know where the beach exit is and keep an eye on it. Otherwise you might be walking a mile (or two) to get back to it after the tide has taken you up or down shore.

6. Big wave coming at you? Duck under it but take a deep breath. See number 7.

7. If a wave holds you under, don’t panic. Keep holding your breath. It WILL release you and you’ll be pushed to the surface.

8. Know which way the tide is going before you go into the ocean. Whether it’s out or in or going out or coming in could make a difference in your safety level.

9. If you’re caught in a rip tide, float. When it’s over, you can swim back to shore.

10. Have a boogie board? Use the velcro attachment. The boogie board  can be used as a flotation device.

11. If you’re a body surfer (like me), remember:  if the pull is strong and the wave is medium to large, don’t take it unless you want a really rough ride.  If the pull is strong and the wave is small with no umf you won’t get a ride.  If the pull is strong and the wave is small but strong, go for it!

12. Lastly, have respect for the sea. It’s bigger and stronger than you and contains lots of scary animals.

Notes from the Sand

So, we’ve been hanging out here at the beach since Sunday. I’ve always felt the ocean and I have a good understanding of one another. It’s a love affair of sorts. I could watch the waves come in even if it was 50 degrees outside and still be happy. This year was the first year that the Bean has seen the ocean (at least in person) and only the second year the Peanut has, and it has been wonderful to watch them play in the ocean and grow to love the beach! I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to capture many of those moments on film (to come much later after we get back).  I’ve also been thinking a lot about what God is teaching me with my love and  passion for the ocean.

When I finally get a chance to go out into the ocean deep by myself for a few minutes, I’m reminded once again of my childhood. It’s quiet (with the exception of the sound of the waves of course). I feel like I’m at its mercy. I’m not in control. It’s nice to not to want to feel in control since I have serious issues with that very thing….serious serious control issues. I mean serious. I feel like God has used this trip to remind me that I’m not in control.  I am reminded that there are things on this earth that are bigger and greater than me, and I so love that they exist and that God created them!   I can practice safety on the beach with the girls.  I can protect them to some extent from the dangers of the beach and the ocean.  And I myself can practice those same things.  But I cannot control the ocean, what it does, how fast it does it, or what’s in it.  I have to trust that the Lord is in control of the ocean as well as our lives, and that He is in control of everything all the time.

Something else I’ve considered is how what I know of the ocean corresponds to what I know about God.  I know that God is the Father because only (note NOT ‘only because’) the Father could create something as majestic and perfect as the seas.  It is no accident that the seas are vast and deep and supply our world with much needed water.  I know that God is grace and gives grace and that he gives us enough for each day until we die and go to Heaven just as each wave takes care of the next until it gets to shore.  I’m also reminded of how glorious God is. One water droplet doesn’t make an ocean.  Every single droplet is necessary to create the seas, and it’s in all of those droplets together that we see the enormity, the magnitude of the ocean. We, as God’s children, glorify him the most when we pull together as one church and one people, when we love one another as ourselves.  It takes all of us working together to create one body in Christ, one union in Him.  Lastly, the ocean reminds me of God’s consistency.  The tide rises and falls without fail.  The waves crash onto the beach constantly.  The ocean contains all that is needed to feed what lives in it.  God is consistently loving, full of grace, forgiving, patient, and kind.  He gave us Christ, and in Him is everything that is needed to sustain us. It is through the ocean that you get to it.  It is through Christ that you get to God.

I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.           John 14:6

ocean dusk

Picture credit to photo.muse

Summer Smells and Seashells

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My years don’t go from birthday to birthday in my head. Yes, I’m obviously acutely aware that another year has passed when my birthday comes but I’m that way at Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Thanksgiving as well. I’ve always had problems with change and growth. There are just some things I don’t want to change. Well, that feeling gets intensified during the summer – magnified, even, by at least 100.

Summer smells like childhood. Like simplicity. It smells like camping trips to the beach and new plastic pool toys. It reminds me every year that I don’t ever get back those days when we ran around our neighborhood until at least 9 o’clock or rode home from an event laying down in the back of my dad’s pick up watching the sky fly by. It smells like long drives down country roads with all the windows rolled down and like cut grass at dusk.  Summer reminds me that my children are growing older and so am I and that instead of me being fascinated by small wonders, they are. In itself this is wonderful as I love to see my girls explore and discover new things that I’ve long since known about. But during this time of year, I am especially aware that I’ve known about them for many years now. And every time I take my girls to the pool – not just any pool, mind you, but the pool I actually grew up going to – summer smells like swimteam practice and chlorine, July 4 celebrations, and cake walks. Summer smells especially like the ocean. While as a child, we generally only went for a week once a year (or the odd Saturday) as a family, I’m so very fond of the ocean. My mom and dad and I often collected seashells, many of which we still have. They were a constant reminder in our home of the ocean and the time we spent there as a family….along with the fifty million pictures my dad took. As a matter of fact, we still have many of those shells even today. I think part of my fondness comes in that the ocean is fairly consistent and always there. It doesn’t change much (at least to the naked eye). It smells the same every year. It looks mostly the same every year. And hence, it’s something that remains of my childhood.

There’s a verse from a song running through my head, “We grew up way too fast. Now there’s nothing to believe, and reruns all become our history.” Summer months remind me that I don’t believe in the Easter bunny and that Santa Claus really only exists in spirit (not like the Holy Spirit). It reminds me that I’m a grown up. And honestly, while there’s many many things I love about being an adult, my childhood (mind you, not my teenhood) was awesome and some days I’d give anything to have it back. To me, there are cases where ignorance is bliss. Childhood is one of them.

Time goes on forever. You don’t have to pay bills. You’re unaware of the atrocities of this world (well at least many of us were), but you’re aware enough to enjoy the wonders of it. So let me go on reminiscing about my childhood and basking in nostalgia for a few brief moments before reality sets in. Since I got up early, I might as well take in a breath of summer smells and seashells.

original seaweed-1Picture by Dad