A Day at the Beach...

Our family has always looked at life as an adventure, it is what has kept us going through the hard times in life and brought us close together as a family. Being on the road full time again means we look at each new place as a new way to learn about people and the world around us. Each new location offers new friends, a new way of life and a new atmosphere to keep life interesting. This weekend was one of those weekends that can explain to the rest of the world why we do what we do. 

Northern Beach in Naples at Sunset.  The kids were playing in the Gulf and enjoying the ocean for the first
time in their lives.  I was in a special chair that allowed me to sit stably in the surf and feel the warm water
rush over me as the tide rolled in and out. 

We should have stayed home and invoiced, worked on the books or studied on school but instead, before the storms of the next week roll in, we decided to make or first trip to the beach. We are by the ocean, after all, and it is fall in deep south Florida so we definitely needed to go to the beach. 

The children had a most wonderful time.  I enjoyed watching them experience the beautiful of the sunset, the warmth
of the ocean and the tiny sea creatures that made their way to nibble on their toes.  However, everyone did
vacate for a bit once a 12"+ Jellyfish made an appearance.

 Josh and the kids were so excited. Everyone was busy preparing themselves to enjoy an evening at the beach. We could have gone early in the morning to avoid the high heat of mid-day but since we tend to be nocturnal in nature, Josh decided on an evening trip so we could not only enjoy the warm water of the ocean but also be dazzled by the spectacular sunset for which the west coast of Florida is famous.

Josh relinquished his camera long enough for me to take some pictures of the whole crew.  Josh always had
fond memories of the trip his Dad took him on to Hawaii.  He talks of it often so being able to give a little
of the tropic to his children was exciting to him. 

 In preparation for this big outing, Josh researched and found a specially designed wheelchair that would allow me to go into the ocean with the rest of the family. Josh has been wanting to get me in water since we got married but when I was very young, I had some bad experiences with water and have spent most of my life avoiding anything related to swimming at all costs. 

My greatest joy the entire day was hearing the laughter and joy of my family.  There is one thing you learn
when you live with chronic illness and that is appreciate the laughter.  I often sit in the bedroom, on the side of the bed,
which is where I live most of my life, and I listen to the children playing games or kidding each other over
little things and hearing the laughter and that is what I live for each and every day.  That is what I have learned
is really the most important thing God has given me.  

In fact, I can't remember the last time I was actually in water and I have never learned to swim. Josh still doesn't believe me but I am sinker, I just don't seem to float, I just sink in the water.

Josh has spent the last year teaching our children to swim in all the pools on various contracts while traveling.
They have all done well.  Speaking for someone who has always been afraid of the water and has never
learned to swim, I am so grateful Josh grew up in the water and even taught swimming at one point.
It is the only way I felt comfortable with the kids being in the ocean this way.

Today, that didn't matter. We got to the beach just before dusk. The water was as warm as a bath and the weather was perfect hovering around 90 degrees. Being off-season in Florida, the beach had only a few locals enjoying the sunset so we quickly found a spot that was private, well, as private as you get on a beach.

Josh enjoyed being with his babies.  The had so so much and I had so much fun watching them.  I always wanted
our family to be close and we have fought for that threw the years.  We even implore the kids to take time
every week for Sibling Night!  They love it. The three of them go out on the their own, to a dinner and a movie,
or bowling or maybe just shopping but always spending time together.  It has brought them closer together.

 Once we got settled, the kids made their first dip into the warm waters. They had so much fun! Josh then rolled me out into the water. 

My special chair!  Josh rented this chair for me so I could not only go out on the beach but actually roll into the water.
It was an amazing piece of engineering.  I hesitated to put the picture of me here.  I rarely let anyone see my legs but
I have finally decided vanity should be dead.  They are what they are.  I am believing that one day they will return to
normal.  One day they will straighten out again and one day I will walk again, after all, no one thought I'd be here now
so I know miracles do happen, you just have to carry on and believe.

With the chair he rented, Josh was able to hold the back and Ben the front and I was actually able to float. That was fun until the waves hit and I felt like I was going to fall into the water so they rolled me back up so I could sit in the water but still touch the ground. 

The highlight of our collective evening was the sunset.  Josh chose to take us swimming in the evening so we could
enjoy this amazing sunset.  There was a storm moving in so the colors were brilliant.  As beautiful as this picture is
it is still unable to capture the beautiful display God created that night.

After a bit, Josh lifted me off the chair, no small task anymore, and carried me into the water. He held me and let me move with the waves and enjoy the feel of the ocean. It was so very special. He floated me up to the point where he could stand on his knees so I could hold onto him and stand a little on my right leg since some of my weight was lightened by the water. I was able to stay in the water for some time and enjoy being out there with the family. 

Part of the time, I just sat and watched.  Everyone was so kind on the beach and offered help to get me in and out
of the water.  After being in the northeast for the last several years, it kind of restores your faith in humanity again
that southern hospitality still exists.  Josh and I have had to come to terms with the fact we raised 2 children with
southern gentility and one Yankee.  Sam has grown-up since 2 years old in New England and he is a Yankee.
We are working on that though. We are in the south, you know, they do still expect 'Yes, Ma'am' and 'Yes, Sir' which our eldest always use and Sam is slowly adopting.

Knowing how much work was involved for Josh to work out a way for me to experience the ocean that way, I am continually reminded just how blessed I truly am.
The children were kind enough to take time to look for tiny sea shells for me.  I didn't want big ones, I wanted
tiny ones.  I'm not sure what I will do with them yet but I will figure something out.
It is a memory I want to tuck away and make something useful from the shells.

Knowing how much work was involved for Josh to work out a way for me to experience the ocean that way, I am continually reminded just how blessed I truly am.

During our outing, Josh decided I needed to really feel the water.  That was scary for me in general but I trust
my husband completely.  He lifted me off the chair and walked me into the water.  Have I mentioned to you that
Josh is really strong, no really, he is VERY strong.  We used to laugh about becoming those round country farmers
when had our farm and being in the wheelchair all the time, I have accidentally achieved it.
Josh took me to the water and held on to me the whole time.  It was wonderful.  He held me close and let me just float.
It was so much fun.  I would normally have thought I would have been scared but in Josh's arms, there was no fear.
He held me in the water for as long as I could handle it and then walked me back out...another heroic feat!
The kids stayed in the water until it was almost dark.  The sun slowly sank in the west over the water and we
watched until there was no more sun to light our paths.  
This is what we love about traveling together as a family.  Experiencing new things and making dreams come true.
Victoria as fallen in the with the beach and the sand and the water and the waves.  She is loving our new
assignment.  Ben and Sam are enjoying their time here too but the cool thing is, there will be another contract
and another new adventure to enjoy one day soon.
For now, we will enjoy the beach in the Fall.  We will pick up tiny sea shells and I will float in the water.