A couple of weeks ago Nicole and I took Ava to the beach for the week. Despite being very hot, we had a wonderful time and were able to relax and enjoy some time doing just about nothing. It was Ava's first time playing in the ocean, and I'll never forget her expression when she first looked out and saw all that water in one place. Her little eyes got so big and she gasped as she took it all in. She loves sand and had a great time feeling it between her toes and watching daddy build sand castles for her to run over and knock down. Thankfully she didn't eat any sand, which came as a surprise to Nicole and me. She loves to eat the sand in her sandbox, so we thought for sure she'd have a feast sitting on the shore.
It took her a little while to become comfortable enough to wade out a little bit into the tide. However, after a while she would let me carry her into water that was up to my waist. She would get so excited when a wave would come toward us, and she would scream and laugh as it rolled over us. Nicole is almost 9 months pregnant with our next little girl, so she spent most of the time sitting back and watching us play in the water. However, there was one time when she and Ava were walking along the shoreline just close enough to the water that their feet would get wet when the tide came all the way in, and something happened that reminded me of why I named this blog "Further In."
I was out in the water by myself swimming a little bit and enjoying the waves. After a while, Ava began to look for me, so Nicole pointed out in the water to where I was. As Ava scanned the horizon trying to spot me, she began to walk out into the water until it was about ankle deep. I waved my hand so she could find me, and then one of the sweetest things ever happened: when she saw me and realized that it really was me, she let go of Nicole's hand and began to charge out into the water. She lost all sight of the waves and didn't care that the water would soon be over her head - she was coming to her daddy! For me it was one of those times when you just feel like the most blessed person on earth. Here is this precious little person who is so full of innocence and purity, and she loves me more than any other man in the world. She knows that her daddy will meet her halfway and pick her up and take her back out to where the big waves are. She can relax in his arms as those waves rush over us and we both become totally enveloped in all this water that stretches farther than her little eyes can see.
What she doesn't know is that her daddy enjoys those moments as much as she does. He gets to share this moment with her that will never come again in quite the same way. For those moments she's all mine and there is nowhere else she'd rather be. There is also nowhere else I'd rather be. I cherish those times more than she'll know until she has kids of her own, and I look forward to many more years of making memories like that one. When I saw her charging toward me, I also couldn't help but picture our Father standing in the deep and watching us venture further in . . . He is waiting for us and I know He enjoys those times even more than we do . . . what are we waiting for?