Experiencing the beach for the first time

By Megan Erbacher

My family and I recently vacationed to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. We weren’t sure how Jude, my niece and goddaughter, would react to the beach. This was a first for her.

So we carefully walked past the pool, down the sidewalk and wooden steps and through the gate to the sand. It was almost time for high tide, so it didn’t take long for us to reach the salty ocean water.

Jude was squinting through the sun and wind, looking around at her new surroundings. Once our toes reached the water, Jude’s dad slowly lowered her down to let her feet feel the sand just before the water rushed up to shore and got her legs wet.

Jude smiled and squealed with delight. She loved the beach! She immediately tried to wiggle free so she could crawl to the water that was quickly disappearing back into the vast ocean.

Don’t worry; none of us let her crawl around in deep water or do anything that may have harmed her, but we did let her explore this new place she was in.

This was far from the first time I’ve seen a beach. I’ve been blessed in my life to have parents who were able to take me and my two older siblings on vacations, and most of the time it was to a beach somewhere.

But for Jude, who turned one on Sept. 4, this was a first. To see the beach and ocean through her eyes was truly something special. It was almost as if I was seeing it for the first time again.

I can’t believe how much Jude has grown in just one year. It’s been a joy to see her experience many firsts in her life – from holding her own bottle to trying different solid foods and standing on her own.

As the song “I Hope You Dance,” released by Lee Ann Womack in 2000 goes, “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” I pray Jude never loses the look I saw in her eyes when she first felt the ocean rush past her feet.

As adults, I think we often lose our sense of wonder. We tend to take for granted even the simplest of pleasures because we’ve already seen it or been there; how sad.

Unfortunately, my older brother, Clint, and sister-in-law weren’t able to join us on this recent trip. By the time you read this, I will hopefully have met my second niece or nephew. My sister-in-law is past-due with her and Clint’s first child.

In the growing generation of gender-reveal parties, preparing nurseries and picking out names, Clint and Jennifer decided not to find out if they were having a girl or a boy. How exciting to have that moment – the two of them – after she gives birth to hear the doctor announce if it is a girl or a boy.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with finding out the gender of your child. The technology we now have is so high-tech, and there are many advantages to knowing ahead of time. But try to imagine hearing for the first time you have a son or a daughter and then immediately getting to hold that child.

As Ephesians 5:16 tells us, we should be “making the most of every opportunity,” even if those opportunities are ones we’ve already experienced; like the beach, or one we can control, like learning ahead of time if you will have a girl or a boy.

I challenge you to experience something for the first time today, even if it’s something you’ve already done.