There’s a storm brewing

Most people’s idea of a perfect beach day consists of sunny skies, a light breeze, warm sand, and cool water. Maybe yours includes frozen drinks, a folding chair, or sand castle building. Mine usually involves a beach ball or football, a book, and eating snacks under a towel so the seagulls can’t steal it. Last weekend, I discovered a different kind of “perfect” beach day in Clearwater, Florida. The sun wasn’t shining, and the intense wind made it impossible to read a book or enjoy a snack, as the sand was swirling up into a sort of mini sandstorm. I was just finishing up some gator tail (a florida delicacy) at a local beach bar, when all of a sudden everyone on the beach started to scurry around like little ants. The skies grew darker and the wind had picked up, blowing a huge cloud of sand straight towards the bar. The workers frantically closed windows and pulled down porch screens; customers rapidly moved inside from the patio; tourists were running inland as the sand whipped all around them. I started to chuckle at the scene. The thought crossed my mind that it was the perfect time to go grab a rentable beach chair, since no one would be coming around to collect payment. So, I picked up my beach bag and headed out toward the sandstorm. The sensation of the sand lightly whipping my legs felt like getting hundreds of microscopic pokes/stings. Slightly uncomfortable, but also ticklish. So odd. I tossed my bag and towel on one of those beach chairs and kept walking toward the water. Eventually I stopped feeling the sting of the sand, and just paused to stare out at the ocean. The waves were more frequent and much larger and than usual; almost surf-able. For those who have never been to the gulf of Florida, any wave over a foot high is considered ‘larger’ than normal. These were probably two to three feet, and they were nonstop crashing on the shore. After asking a few strangers to help me get the perfect photo with the ominous background, I decided to go for a swim! The minute I was knee deep in the water, God gave me the gift of possibly the longest God moment of my life. For roughly fifteen minutes, I was splashing around in the waves without a care in the world. For fifteen minutes, I was in complete awe of the power of my creator. For fifteen minutes, I was fully enjoying living, with no thoughts in my head whatsoever. Literally. I can’t tell you what I was thinking, because thinking was non-existent. I jumped, I splashed, I swam, I dove, I body surfed, but I didn’t think. This became a problem when I up and decided I could swim out to the sand bar all by myself. I had seen a small group of people do it earlier, so my competitive subconscious must’ve kicked in and told me I could do it too. I’m not a very strong swimmer, mind you, and at first I was totally enjoying the challenge. However, with every wave that hit my face, my “thinking” started to come back. It sounded like, “Hm, maybe this is a bit of a stretch. There’s probably a rip current. Eh, I can still touch the bottom with my toes, it’s fine. Wait a second, have I even moved?” Eventually, I got smacked so hard with a wave that I snorted salt water, which was my wake up call to quit this semi dangerous excursion and head back to shore to catch my breath. My “moment” was over, but boy was it one to remember. I walked around the rest of the day unable to stop smiling. With my beach bag full of sand, and my heart full of joyβ™₯β™₯

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