Hope I'm finding y’all in high spirits this week. In the name of Jesus, I'm praying for a fun, productive and most importantly, safe new school year for all the young'uns out there. Thank you Lord for watching over our (and your) children, Amen.
I left off last time with all of us arriving in Panama City, Fla. for our family honeymoon. I had graduated high school in Enterprise, Ala., just an hour and a half north of P.C. Needless to say, I had spent my fair share of time there and knew the place pretty well, even though a lot had changed over the years. It has become the Spring Break capital of the U.S. and is known for its pure white sand and beautiful blue/green water. Great place for family fun, miles of typical tourist type attractions.
Most days Eloise and I would wake up early, get our coffee and go for a leisurely stroll down the beach. There's something almost surreal about sunrise on the beach: The wind in your face, the smell of salty air, and the sand between your toes, the sound of seagulls and the crashing waves as they roll in and the way the sun looks as it clears the horizon and breaks through the clouds. No sounds of human origin. Very peaceful. I always imagined this is how it was when God created the earth.
After returning to the hotel, we'd wake the boys, as they were still sleeping off a late night of video games. Time to feed, not hurt, the turtles (refer to last article), followed by breakfast, then to the beach for a swim and some boogie boarding. We all enjoyed that clear water, something rarely seen on North Padre. Schools of fish would often nibble at the hair on Eloise's legs, whoops...my bad, me and the boys’ legs, as we played in the surf. After a quick rest we'd grab some lunch, then on to gift shops (one had live alligators), go carts, mini golf, arcades and any other amusement that caught our eye.
One notable excursion was a boat trip to Shell Island. As we departed on our three-hour tour we all wandered if we'd run into Gilligan, no luck. On the way, we were able to feed wild dolphins small fish supplied by the captain. I was surprised to see how many people were getting off their jet skis and swimming with them. Guess they knew where their next meal was coming from, saw one holding a “will play for food” sign. Fun trip. I have a picture of Eloise, Michael and Matthew sitting on the boat and if mama was smiling any harder her face would've broke!
We docked at what had to be the ugliest spot on the island and proceeded up a hill on a very long boardwalk. Once we cleared the hill, our breath was taken away by the most beautiful beach any of us had ever seen, and I lived in Hawaii! The sand was so white it was blinding and the water was as clear as any pool I had ever seen! Everyone from the boat started throwing clothes everywhere (down to their bathing suits, of course) and all went flying into the water as if following a movie script. It was like finding a place no man had been before. Not one footprint or any visible sign that man had ever been there, (i.e. the movie; Mysterious Island). Again I imagined that this is what it must've been like when God created the earth.
I've always been able to open my eyes under water in the ocean. Some people have asked how I do that, I just consider it a large vat of saline solution, right? While swimming under water I saw what I thought was a dolphin, as we'd just seen many. Then it crossed my mind, what if it's not a dolphin? I froze and waited. Noticed that whatever it was, it was swaying back and forth with the current. Figured it was either hurt or dead. Didn't realize I could hold my breath that long, but as a teenage lifeguard my personal best was 3 minutes and 13 seconds. Well, that explains a lot, kids don't try this at home. So, probably suffering mild “drain bamage” from lack of oxygen, I figured that whatever it was ,I should drag it back to shore. Turns out to be a headless six foot shark some fisherman had tossed overboard after saving the jaws for a trophy. Everyone on the beach treated me like some kind of hero. After all, I did just save them from a dead headless shark. Oh well, take what you can get. Me, Eloise and the boys were all having a great time together.
In Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 King Solomon says, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil-this is the gift of God. This family is definitely my gift from God.”
I want to strongly encourage you to make every effort to be present in and pay attention to your everyday lives. Actually live life, not just run through it. Eloise's passing has made me even more aware of how short this life is and that we can't get so distracted by the mundane that we take it for granted. Life is good because it's God's gift to us. Enjoy every second of it!
Next week it's on to Disney. Until then, be safe, happy and take extra time to tell those you love how you feel, they'll appreciate you for it.
Love you guys, Eric