God is an ocean

We packed our bags and headed for the Outer Banks last week.  Finally, a trip that we’ve longed for was becoming reality.  The boys remembered our last beach trip and the hours of Daddy time.  But the girls had no recollections of the ocean, the sand, the sound or the Daddy time.

We arrived in the early evening.  After a flurry of unpacking the truck, making a grocery store run, throwing together supper, I finally settled down to relax.  I have been dreaming of drifting off to sleep with the ocean’s sound in my ears, so I opened the windows wide . . . . . . .and was disconcerted to realize that the ocean is LOUD, louder than I remembered.  I wasn’t sure I could sleep with all that noise and regretted not bringing my earplugs.

The churning waves, the forward surge and recession —- it looked so fierce and endless.  The ocean is vast.  Its motion ceaseless.  I love it, but it is overwhelming and I am afraid of it.  Still, I am pulled to the shore.  It strikes me that I feel much the same way about God.

God is fierce.  He is vast and endless.

And dangerous.  Only a fool would think otherwise.

I love Him, but He overwhelms me and I am afraid of Him.  Still, I am drawn to Him.

To my surprise, that overwhelmingly thunderous Surf lulled me gently off to sleep after all.


We arrived back home Saturday evening after a full week on the Outer Banks.  Our time away was restful and rejuvenating.  The rental house was mere feet from the beach.  The views were breathtaking.  We slept late, played in the waves, swam in the sand, collected seashells, kayaked, climbed all 247 steps of the tallest lighthouse in America (which my calves felt for days).  The kids particularly loved the Jacuzzi of all things.

We loved our time away, but we loved coming home even more.  By Wednesday, day 4 at the beach, Lincoln was wishing for a piano.  By Thursday, Sidney expressed homesickness.  Within minutes of arriving home and unloading the truck, first Prairie and then Lincoln was at the piano.  Sidney did pull-ups, exclaiming “Oh, I missed our pull-up bar!”  And all the kids groaned in pleasure after their first gulps of North Carolina well water.  The beach water was bad enough that we relied on bottled water.

We came home to grass that needed mowing, animals that needed care, unfinished work left on our desks, schoolwork to be caught up on and normal routines to dive back into and we were oh so grateful to be back to it all —- HOME.

More Cape Hatteras pictures

In case someone wants to see more of Hatteras than just the local wastewater systems —-


Our view from the beach house.  Sid is wearing the black shirt and beige hat.  Rachel is the tiny, tiny figure about 10 feet to his left in blue shorts and a white shirt.


The kids snorkeling in the sound.  This was a great place for the little kids and for the big kids on rough ocean days.  We would like to go back and rent kayaks.  It is a safe place for the kids to learn kayaking with the shallow, calm water.


At the ferry loading dock, waiting our turn to drive onto the ferry.


We pass another ferry leaving Ocracoke.


Yet another ferry leaving Ocracoke.  Most of Ocracoke Island looks like that — no buildings, no signs of development, just dunes, grass, mishapen trees, ocean and sound.  Thirteen miles inland, there is a tiny village.  The ferry is the only way on and off the island.




The next series of photos, I think of as “Sid Relaxing on the Outer Banks.”

Ahhhh, the sweet peace of a good card game with a monkey hanging off your head.  Everyone should experience it.  Think we could make money selling this vacation experience?


I like this photo, because I had no idea that my husband would ever voluntarily sit down and work a jigsaw puzzle.  And it struck me as funny that he would do it here.  I stood beside him , looking from him to the view outside the window:

I guess the ocean waves wore him down and put him in a mellow mood slightly different from his usual Sid-mellow mood.


While I do find this to be an unusual way for most people to unwind and relax, this is a fairly typical way for Sid.

A closer look at Sid’s idea of vacation fun and relaxation.  He became fascinated with, you know, the whole earth thing and how it’s round and all.  The kind of things that people like me just take for granted and don’t really think about much.  I mean I was busy reading a good fictional novel about vampires.  So anyway, after Sid and my 9-year-old had some kind of intellectual discussion about the earth’s . . . . . the earth’s . . . . . . .well, you know, it’s roundness, Sid began to calculate and figure.  I think he even multiplied something.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

You can take the septic tank man away from the septic tank business, but you can’t take the septic tank out of the septic tank man.  Or something like that.  Alright, so maybe that sentence doesn’t make complete sense, but just go with the spirit of my meaning and not get hung up on the technicalities of sentence structure, okay?

So last week, we visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, ostensibly to see the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina and the second oldest in the nation.  The Hatteras Lighthouse is beautiful, very old and somebody has spent a lot of money to move it back away from an erroding coastline and to restore it for many generations to appreciate.

While many lighthouse visitors wandered in and out of the museum, climbed up and down the lighthouse, stood at the top of the lighthouse and viewed the view of long dead lighthouse keepers of previous centuries or snapped picture after picture of this grand old lighthouse, my husband gets distracted by the . . . . . . . .by the . . . . . er . . uh. . . .(Wait a minute, I’ll be right back.  I’ve got to go ask Sid a quick question.)

Okay, I’m back.  As I was saying, my husband gets distracted by the septic tank drainfield.  He could be looking up, admiring the view of this beautiful piece of our country’s history, but he is looking at the ground, studying the septic tank drainfield.

Then we wander back behind the museum, because of course, we have to see the . . . . . the . . . . . . . .ummm . . . (I’ll be right back) . . . . .we have to see the septic tank and the pump tank.

Sid also spies the alarm box mounted against the wall.  Notice that there are no other visitors surveying the drainfield in the front of the museum, nor are there any studying the septic tanks behind the museum.

We did finally make it inside the museum to see the exhibit.  We didn’t get inside the lighthouse however.  It was temporarily closed (while we were studying the wastewater system) because the man whose job it is to listen for thunder heard thunder.  And everybody had to wait for this man to not hear thunder for 30 minutes or so, and then he had to confer with the man whose job it was to study the minute-by-minute weather changes and patterns. 

Then I had to run to the bathroom, and I was so thankful that some unknown and largely unappreciated septic tank man had done his job and given me a place to . . . . . . . . . . um, well, you know. 

By the way, I did take some other pictures while visiting the lighthouse.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Look at this sweet family!  Don’t the girls look sweet-tempered and the boys long-suffering?

Ahhhh, there’s a better attitude, girls!  The boys still look long-suffering.

Four little monkeys hanging in a tree

Sid and the boys went back to the lighthouse later and climbed to the top.  I didn’t mind missing out on the excitement since I got a quiet nap instead.

Hatteras memories as they flash through my mind

Waking up to the ancient sound of the ocean, pulls me from bed early in the morning, draws me to the covered deck outside our bedroom, sitting on the porch swing breathing deeply of the soft, full air.  The ocean’s ceaseless rhythm existed before Adam, before the sun, moon and stars.

Sid coming to get me, to tell me to come downstairs to breakfast.  “You’re dragging me from my happy place,” I tell him.  “Your happy place follows me,” he says.  Wise man, though a little arrogant.

Bright sun, Sid catching the waves to body surf, Sidney and Lincoln trying to copy their Daddy.  Rachel running in and out of the water and then chasing a bird that humors her by running around in circles instead of flying away.  “Look Mama, the birds are dancing to the music,” she says.  The ocean is the only music there is.  Prairie laughing and crying a little at the same time, excitement mixed with healthy fear and awe.

Snorkeling in the Pamlico Sound.  the water so gentle and tame that even Prairie can walk out in it without holding my hand.  Sidney catches a crab and Sid captures a jellyfish.  Prairie and I sit on the shore in the shallowest water, collecting broken sea shells.  It is difficult to find a perfect, unbroken shell.  Funny how we seek after the beautiful and perfect, the unbroken, but how we all, everyone of us, live broken, imperfect lives.  The broken shells still have lovely patterns and colors and I can almost glimpse the perfect whole they used to be.  Soon Lincoln joined us.  “Oh look at this one Mama.  Isn’t it beautiful?  And this one, see the pretty stripes?  Ooooh, this one has green on it Mama.  And this one is a nice gray, don’t you like this one Mama?”

Quiet afternoons with the sound of the ocean always in the background, napping on the bed, the boys downstairs watching That Darn Cat.  Lincoln, especially, laughing hysterically.

Night time walks on the beach with flashlights searching for crabs.  Prairie and Rachel’s squeals, everyone talking and yelling at the same time as each person spots a crab and chases it.  “I see one, I see one!  Crab! Crab!  There he goes!  Here’s a big one!  I’m going to try to catch him.  Oh! It’s a baby crab.”

Kite flying while I sit on the porch partly reading and partley watching.  Seeing Sid suddenly running and diving into the water, he pulls Sidney out —riptide.  Fifteen minutes later, Sid runs into the water again, grabbing Rachel by the ankle.  She comes up chewing on sea shells — riptide.  Thankful Sid was watching and the kids now have a healthy fear of the ocean.

Prairie singing “Amazing Grace,” many of her words unintelligible because she doesn’t know the EXACT words, though she has the tune down pat.  But her word substitutions sung quite clearly and decisively  “A-maz-ing APPLE, uuhhhhhhh sweeeeeep the CHEESEBURGER-GER.”

Sid teaching the kids to play BlackJack.  Sidney, Lincoln and Rachel taking turns saying “hit me.”

Another evening walk, enjoying the stars and moon and the constant wind on our faces.  Lincoln running, running, running far ahead, then turning around and racing back, so much pent up energy.  He never stopped running.  Sid swinging the children up into the air as they each squeal “my turn, my turn” and giving the children piggyback rides.  Me pretending to be a mama crab and chasing Rachel down to “pinch” her as she squeals and begs for more.  Lincoln daring me to catch him.  He moves too fast and I don’t catch him unless I trick him.

Watching a local video about the Graveyard of the Atlantic, history of shipwrecks, German U-boats and war on the North Carolina coast.  Sidney shaking his head and saying ” War just doesn’t make sense.”

Sidney and Lincoln’s bedtime conversation, only partially overheard because Sid and I are laughing too hard, though trying to be quiet —

Lincoln –“There are a lot of people in this world that I see that I don’t like . . . . . . . . and most of them that I don’t like are smelly . . . . . . .Did you know that I can smell when I read?”

Minutes later, hearing Prairie through our bedroom wall singing at the top of her lungs, while Rachel sleeps soundly in the bed right next to her.  I look at Sid and feel so content and blessed and happy.

Sid, holding Prairie on his arm, trying to steal a quiet moment and a quick kiss from me while the three oldest and loudest kids are downstairs.  Prairie, quite serious, laying her little hand on my shoulder and crowding her head against her daddy’s head as she presses her lips to my cheek.  Sid and I getting tickled and Prairie unsure about what we are laughing at, but joining in our laughter a second later because she just wants to belong, to be a part of the happiness.

Rachel getting a hole in one at mini-golf “high five mama”

Ferry ride to Ocracoke, unsettling movement under our feet, breezes on our faces, jellyfish in the blue-green water.  Driving off the ferry and traveling 13 miles with nothing but dunes and the ocean and the sound in sight.

Last night.  One more nighttime walk on the beach.  Flashlights finding crabs, Prairie jumping up and down, flapping her arms at every “baby crab” she sees.  Sid wrapping his arms around me and kissing my ear.  My oldest son saying, “Do ya’ll really need to do that here instead of at the house?”