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I Am Phree!

Michigan Summer 2011

The beaches of Lake Geneva and Fontana were the scene of many many many hot summer days in my youth…some of my greatest memories as a kid from the 70’s.  I remember it like it was yesterday:  reclining lawn chairs and towels strategically angled towards the blazing sun…the desert-hot sand, littered with plastic shovels and pails, water guns, frisbees and a nerf football.  The radio rotated the same 10 songs, over and over and over again.  Billy Joel told us  “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me”…Paul McCartney and Wings played “It’s Coming Up”…Cheap Trick shouted “I Want You To Want Me”…just to name a few.  Silly as it may sound, there’s one thing in particular that takes my mind back to those hot summer days on the beach, making it seem as if it happened just yesterday.  That one thing is:  the smell of sun tan lotion.  I love it.  I need it.  I seek it when I’m walking through Walgreens in the middle of January.  It warms my soul.  It instantly takes me back to a time long ago that I loved so much.

Other than our honeymoon, it’s been a looong time since I’ve had a day at the beach.  This last weekend, however, Heather and I spent 4 days with the Kim family in Union Pier, Michigan.  Tucked away through an unsuspecting hidden parking lot and a huge yard was the Swanson house.  Very warm and inviting…definitely the kind of place you go to get away from it all.  And if the  house wasn’t enough, a couple-block walk and down a wooden stairwell, you find yourself on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Midwestern paradise.  With a towing wagon full of towels, coolers and beach-going gear we all headed out into summer’s finest.  Hot sun, hot sand, warm water, blue sky, and oh, that smell…that coconuty, sweet, wonderful smell (even though I didn’t wear any!  Hello sunburn!).

I’m sure at times I could be accused of being a big kid (all grown men have the adventurous little boy in them somewhere), the childhood splendor of the beach is not as intense as it once was.  But all is not lost.  We get the opportunity to pay it forward to the little boys and girls that are now a part of our lives.  Seeing Nathan and Lucas wade out into the water and bounce up and down with the motion of the “way” (nice work Lucas),  playing make-believe and finding protection in a stick, learning the word ‘rock’, packing their feet and legs in sand, tasting the grit of the sand that made its way into the turkey sandwich, the taste of a freshly-picked organic blueberry.  I love it.  And most importanly…it’s all phree.  Doesn’t cost a dime.  You can have your big fancy cars and houses…your 80-hour work weeks…your 6-figure salaries…your fine jewelry.  I’ll take our weekend any day over any of that stuff.  Thank you Mom and Sue for providing that for me when I was a little boy.  Thank you Lord for providing perspective on what matters most in this life.

“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Deuteronomy 11:19

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