A Nice and Quiet Night for Theo

"Are there going to be any fire drills?" he asks me.
"No, not tonight."
"Any tornado drills?"
"What about thunderstorms?"
"No, there are no thunderstorms forecast for tonight."
"Will there be any sirens?"
"Only from the fire station down the street."
"They are going far away. I think there is a cat stuck in a tree."
"Are there any emergencies?"
"No, not tonight. I will be in the next room."
"Will it be a nice and quiet night?"


Boys at the Beach


Many shells, after high tide.

A lone shell after high tide.

Sunset on the beach.

The beach on Oak Island.

Zane and I picking up shells on a morning walk.

Sunset on the Intracoastal Waterway, from the deck of the motel.

Our first view of the beach.



I sat on the bench with Kelly watching the moon rise over the intracoastal waters of Oak Island, the boys sleeping in the motel room about fifteen steps behind us, the Atlantic Ocean about 400 steps to the south, and I said, "I don't remember the last time I was so relaxed."

We took our first real family vacation last week. We got on an airplane at 5 a.m. last Monday and flew to Wilmington, North Carolina, then rented a car and drove to the beach. The boys wanted to go to the pool immediately, but we coaxed them onto the beach. When we crossed the walkway and they finally saw it they ran into the surf fully dressed, screaming.

We spent one day in Oriental with a college friend of Kelly's on their family sailboat.

We visited Southport and the ancient Live Oak trees.

But mostly we slept late, took turns walking on the beach, read books (nothing theological), watched too much Disney Channel (Kelly says he will not watch Hannah Montana ever again), swam in the pool and then in the ocean and then back again to the pool. We ate seafood (conch fritters, shrimp, grilled tuna, Calabash coated oysters and scallops) hush puppies, and sno cones. Our favorite restaurant, the Yacht Basin Provision Company, was so busy we had to wait outside on a dock, then huddled inside, in a thunderstorm, for an hour. The boys liked it so much we had to go back.

We hadn't gone on vacation like this before; the boys were too young. But it was time. I wanted us to have time together when I didn't have to say, "I'm too busy, I have to work, I have a meeting." Except at the airport we never had to hurry. And we saw the ocean, as much as we wanted.

I also needed some time away. It is hard to disengage from the church, hard to miss worship in this congregation, hard to miss a memorial service and training events, hard to not check in and make plans for the upcoming months. But even today the boys are adding "thanks for the vacation" to their prayers. And I remembered how to relax a little.



It's the two year anniversary of the collapse of the I-35 Bridge. When I drove to the Metrodome the other day I saw an odd assortment of debris carefully laid out along the river. I went back today, with Theo in tow, to take some photos of it. I believe these beams are from the bridge that collapsed two years ago; they are just downriver of that site.

The light wasn't right, but here are the photos. I'm struck by how carefully each piece is laid out. They are like puzzle pieces obsessively laid out before reconstruction, or perhaps a set of tools waiting to be used. Actually, they are probably pieces of the body carefully laid out after the autopsy, awaiting understanding.