adventuring with dad

“We have to go do something fun.” Lukas exclaimed as we faced day two of our five day COVID exposure quarantine, with our cancelled plans and locked down selves.

Being “stuck” at my parents house is an oxymoron. At their house we have good food, four extra hands with the kids, and are 3 blocks from the beach…in two directions.

There’s no better place to face a quarantine situation. Actually, it feels silly to even call it a quarantine when others who face COVID exposure risk loss of income, job, house, and even their life.

We did have to mourn the loss of our five year anniversary trip. Giving space for lamentation and then deciding the milestone was worthy of celebrating even if we had to get extra creative in the execution, we made new plans, like sitting on the beach watching the sunset with a glass of wine.

On the day we needed some extra fun, we decided to pass little buddy off to Gaga and take the older buddy for a beach adventure. My parents are adventurers to the core and own stand up paddle board kayak thingy majigs. Lukas had been itching to try them out so we loaded up the wagon and walked the 5 minutes to the ocean shore.

As soon as we got there, Tabby left my side and headed straight after her dad. I was yelling and hollering for him to pay attention to her because I wasn’t getting near the frigid water — no way!!

He wanted to try it out himself first (great idea) so she had to stand with me and wait for him to get the hang of it. Once he figured it out, it was time for little miss to join. She was giddy. I went from “I am not going into the water” to donning my super-mom cape and wading her out to him in thigh high water.

As I watched them paddle away I smiled at how brave my little girl was and what a great husband and father to my kids I have who’s so engaged and committed to adventure with his offspring! Sitting back down in my chair I paused from my nostalgic thoughts as fear began to creep in — my mind started running through all of the things that could go wrong with my three year old sitting on top of a surfboard in the ocean. Rip tides, sharks, RIP TIDES.

Thankfully, my mind didn’t camp out there. Instead, I looked at the gorgeous sky, the expansive water and the two humans, my humans, floating on it, and thought…how good is our God??

“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, where my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.”

That’s been a cry of my heart for too many years to count. I desire that God would lead me deeper, allowing me to trust Him to guide me further, out where my feet don’t touch.

As I watched daddy and daughter floating in the expanse of ocean, I thought about what an epic adventure she was having. She was a little nervous (“I’m not too sure about it” is the first thing she said when she got back to the sand with me) and she had fun spreading her wings a bit with her dad (or “Nigh Nigh” as she calls him). He kept his arms around her, tucked between his legs, she was safe.

I had fears about Tabby going out there, valid fears that I don’t think anyone would have blamed me for voicing. Fears that, if strong enough, could have prevented her from experiencing such a grand adventure. And as j sat looking at them paddling along, I thought…

The best adventures always come with a little fear.

There’s a Bible verse that says “do not fear…” Actually there are a bunch that say that. In the Kings James version there are apparently 119 “do not fears” or “fear nots” and 500+ mentions about fear between the two testaments. That’s a whole lot of fear.

For a lot of my life I’ve thought if I love God and trust Him, I won’t fear. When I was afraid I would be rather hard on myself for not trusting Him enough, not having enough faith, not doing enough Bible study, because if I did it all “right” than I wouldn’t be afraid.

My thoughts have changed over time. Maybe God says “do not fear” so much, not as a command or a challenge or a test of my faith. Maybe He says it over and over because He knows there is A LOT to fear. Maybe He offers “fear not” as comfort, encouragement, and a reminder that even though there’s a whole bunch of stuff to fear, He’s near and He’s with me.

If I didn’t know God personally, that wouldn’t be much comfort.

I’m not talking about “personally”, like I’ve prayed a prayer and picked Him to come into my life as my Savior. I’m talking about all the years I’ve walked with Him as a friend, confidant, and companion.

I’m talking about the life crap I’ve survived with Him by my side. All the times I never thought I’d make it — like when Darby spoke her last words to me before her aneurism, or I got the call Jacob was in an accident, or I sat in Pops’ closet after his cancer diagnosis, or when Sandy breathed her last breath on this side of heaven, or month after month of not conceiving, or when Lukas was told “no”, or walking through postpartum depression, or the migraine attack days, or all nighters with our newborns. All the moments my heart couldn’t handle, my brain couldn’t understand, and my body couldn’t function. When brushing my teeth felt impossible, putting on clothes felt too hard, and even breathing didn’t seem guaranteed.

In everyone of those instances, there was a lot of fear, and yet, I made it through. I’m on the other side of those particular crappy things (even though, for some, there is residual hurt and sadness!), and can look back and see how the Lord being with me mattered. I see how His presence provided peace and grace to navigate days that seemed never ending.

It’s the longevity of the relationship I have with the King of Kings, that gives me the confidence to trust Him. There was a time I definitely didn’t. When the words “fear not, because I am with you” meant absolutely nothing to me. If anything, they caused more fear because I didn’t KNOW this guy who was declaring “fear not”. Who’s He to tell me not to fear — do you SEEEEE the dark scary thing in front of me?!?!!?!?

I’d say even now, I’m still getting to know Him. Learning His ways, deciphering what He cares about, experiencing His promises, breaking down lies I’ve been told about Him, navigating my doubts, experiencing exhaustive uncertainty. There are STILL days when the Biblical “fear nots” bring me zero comfort.

Lord, you have me in deeper water!! My feet don’t touch the ground!! I’m scared!!!!!!

Well….that would be my prayer… IF my head was clear. In the moment it’s more like “OMG OMG OMG I AM DROWNING. I AM DROWNING!!! DO YOU SEE ME DROWNING?!?!!? HELP HELP HELP!!!” Throw in some colorful 4 letter words and it would be an even more accurate depiction of what happens when I’m afraid.

But, like a general in an army I’ve followed behind for years, I trust the One leading the charge. Sometimes I forget He’s standing up in front fighting for me and I need my sisters, my Church, to remind me, but I ultimately find the confidence in Him — even if I’m afraid — to do it anyway (sometimes, I have no choice!!).

Every time I’m afraid, it’s because the good is out of reach or hard to see. Sometimes I don’t see it at all (like when someone dies and I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around life without them!). Sometimes I see the good through a foggy mirror, I KNOW it’s there but it’s so unclear it’s hard to maintain focus. Sometimes the good is screaming at me, like in a fun paddle board adventure for my 3 year old and her dad, but the fear is trying to scream louder.

The fear is loud, and yet, the longer I do this whole relationship with Jesus thing, the more bold I become when I’m staring at deep water. I can’t see the bottom, the sharks are swimming, my feet don’t touch — but there’s good, somewhere, because the One leading me into the deeper places is good, so so so good, and He’s never failed me. Letting go of my comfort zone, embracing the unknown ahead of me…it’s all scary stuff, but adventuring with Dad has always been worth it.

xoxo, va

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