September has arrived, and I hope you spent your Labor Day not laboring. Unless you were giving birth, than I do hope you labored well. Billy and I spent our Labor Day flying all over the United States, from Florida, up the East Coast, and then across the country to home sweet home, Colorado.
Being gone for 5 days means coming home to about 7 million loads of laundry, among other tasks. I have been playing catch up all morning, restocking the fridge, and running errands. I have paid bills and caught up on emails, work, and other responsibilities. Adulting is so hard. Two of the four children also needed to be reminded to bathe, after all, they had a long weekend too, and Aunt Laura was less than worried about their personal hygiene. Re-entry back into the real world is not glamorous.
Last spring I went to Haiti on a medical mission trip. I was pretty sure I would die, so when I arrived home alive, I was pleasantly surprised. I decided I needed to travel again in order to keep up my momentum of not dying when I travel. After Haiti, where I worked my butt off, I decided the next trip needed to be one of leisure and one without children. Billy was on board before I could finish, “Hey you wanna go somewhere without the kids?”
We chose Florida, because trip advisor told us they had one of the top 10 beaches in the world. I’m a sucker for a top 10.
Now I know what you are thinking, “this is going to be a big fat braggy column about her travels to fancy Florida”. But before you get mad at me for writing about my sweet weekend, just know this is a rare event for Billy and I to travel. The last time we got away from our kids for a few days was 10 years ago. We’ve been married 21 years. You do the math. This was uncommon for both of us, and more than once, we looked around wondering how we lost our kids so easily.
Once we realized we didn’t have the kids with us, and the screaming baby on the plane was not ours to appease, we relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Except that I hate to fly, so I didn’t really enjoy it, but more endured it. I knew that plane, if we didn’t go down in a burning ball of fire, would take me to one of the prettiest places (or top 10 anyway) on earth. Once on the ground, Billy did his thing, and ubered us a ride.
Clearwater Beach is literally amazing. The sand is white and smooth like the flour I use to make chocolate chip cookies. The water was warm like a summer bath, and the sky was expansive and blue, with clouds that rolled and gathered, and changed by the minute. I planted myself down and didn’t move for the following 3 days.
Okay, that’s not completely true, I did move a few times. A girl has to eat, am I right? Our good friends Randy and Sara told us all the places we needed to eat, and we set out to at least try a few of them. Grouper sandwich from Frenchies—check! Mahi Mahi tacos from Pearlies—check! I was in heaven, trying new foods, the kind of fish you can’t get fresh here in our beloved state. We talked over meals and took our time. Billy enlightened me on the music of Bob Marley, and how his beer tasted of carmel and chocolate. What a treat, to eat dinner with no agenda, no timeline, and to be with the one I married 21 years ago.
The time on the beach was our most favorite. On the first day there, a pod of 6 manatees came swimming by us and beached themselves up on the shore. They lay in the splashing waves for several hours, and Billy ran around them like a child at Christmas. Have you ever seen God show off, and know it was specifically for you? That’s what those manatees were for Billy, God’s gift. Before the Aquarium people came to guard them, Billy even touched one of them. He was yelled at by a lifeguard, but he says it was completely worth it. Now he won’t shut up about his “manatee hand”. We saw stingrays jumping above the waves, dolphins swimming not far from where we were, and hundreds of clams digging themselves in the sand.
And the sunsets, oh man the sunsets. I have never seen anything so beautiful. Each night was a show, full of color and tone filling the entire sky. Walking away from that sunset on our last night brought me to tears. What a blessing to have witnessed such creation, and such a gift to share with someone I love.
For a few days we were given the gift to focus on peace and the good gifts we have been given. Our return home is full of joy because of the faces of our kids, knowing we have been given a clear purpose in raising 4 people to love God and love others. We jump back into the fray of life with satisfaction in knowing the challenge to raise kids in our culture is more than just hard at times. We are thankful for a few days to step away from it all, refresh ourselves in the space between us, and gear up for what is to come. Above all, we thank God that we are never alone, and He is the one who gives us everything we need for life on earth. He makes sunsets and manatees, and beauty in the mire. He holds our hands, pours water on fire, and dries the floods. He settles our hearts and eases pain, all we have to do is look for Him. I saw Him in Florida, and I see Him here today. He is a good, good Father.