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.