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Monday, March 8, 2010

Week 7, Part 2: Pensacola Beach

Midweek we found ourselves back on an airplane once again. Our destination this time around was Pensacola Beach, Florida where Doug’s folks spend a couple of months each winter. What's there not to love about a place that has a water tower painted to look like a beach ball?! It was night when I arrived so I was eager to awake the next morning and experience first hand the marvelous beach surroundings that I knew awaited me. See Doug standing on the lovely terrace that overlooked the pool and beachfront?

It was wonderful to wake up to a living room that was flooded with light and wander out onto the terrace to enjoy my morning coffee seaside. One morning, Doug’s sister Beth, had a very early flight out, so we were all up at 4.30. I’m actually kind of glad I woke up so early because watching the sun come up was certainly an incredible way to start the day. In fact, even as I write this blog, I am perched on the balcony, enthralled by the bright yellow sun that is casting reds and oranges and pinks on the horizon and lighting up the beach with an incredible hue that is hard to describe. One of the more stunning visual features of this sunrise is the way in which the sun’s reflection creates a pathway of gold on the water. It appears as though you could simply walk right up to the sun if you just stepped on the sold gold pathway its beam seemingly created on the water top. It is such a treat to experience the rising and setting set over the ocean. The crashing waves of the gulf provide a peace-filled backdrop to the days that break with spectacular beauty and warmth. The blue of the water, the white of the sand, the pink and orange hues dancing off the water make this one of the prime spots in the world to watch the day begin. I just love the amazing color palette that emerges as the sun journeys towards high noon.Long walks along the beach, delicious seafood and the influence of southern cooking have certainly left me more than full. I wonder when the day will come when I won’t have a belly ache at the end of the day from eating too much! It is fun to try to new things and I’ve certainly
indulged on that front.I could live in a pink house on the sea shore.
Doug’s folks have spent two months for the past 15 years on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico here in Pensacola Beach. We were thrilled that our extended travel plans allowed for us to return after 12 years. Unfortunately, we received some difficult news regarding Doug’s sister, Debbie while here. The blessing, of course, is that in God’s providential wisdom he had gathered us here in Florida to get the news with Doug’s folks and thus be able to be a source of comfort and strength for one another. Debbie is facing a difficult fight against cancer that has invaded her lungs and the 2nd vertebrae. The silver lining of hope is twofold for us. First, we all believe in a healing God and we know that God’s loving kindness and mercy will follow each and every one of us, especially Debbie on this difficult journey. Second, she has been placed into the hands of an amazing oncologist and incredible team of physicians at the University of Minnesota which employs state of the art equipment and procedures to fight these kinds of cancers. The news has been difficult but Doug and I both feel so grateful that we could be here to share in these hard moments, face to face with his parents. Our hugs have been tighter, our prayers more fervent and we have encouraged one another to hold fast to the grace we know is ours through Jesus Christ.

I leave this beautiful spot in the south today. One more overnight in Chicago and then I’m on my way back to Stockholm. Doug has altered his plans to drive with his parents back to Minneapolis and then stay there with his family until the following Wednesday. We are grateful for the opportunity that he has to accompany his parents on their long journey home and to re-connect with his sister Debbie during the trying time.I am thankful that I am leaving some footprints on Pensacola Beach.
It’s hard to imagine that we are at the end of our great sabbatical travels. But we remain ever thankful for the joy of this journey and the sustenance we feel it has now given us for the road that unfolds with great uncertainty ahead. This we know…our love for one another has been strengthened, our love for God has been assured, our faith in the loving and gracious presence of Christ has never been more real. For these things, we truly give thanks.