Alright.  It took me two days to get around to checking several hundred email and scan through the gazillion posts in my feed reader.  It is amazing how much you can miss in just one week!  The time away was wonderful, and I am grateful for having a week to spend with my family away from my computer and cell phone.  Basically, I got up in the morning, spent a couple of hours reading, studying, and praying, and then spent the rest of the day on the beach, primarily with my niece and nephew, Delaney and Logan. 

The first thing we did was visit my old home in Fort Walton Beach where I grew up.  It was fun visiting my roots and seeing how things have changed.  I still have friends and family in the Okaloosa/Walton area, especially in Mary Esther and Niceville.  Some of the books I was reading last week included Mark Dever’s The Deliberate Church, Thomas Watson’s The Godly Man’s Picture, and Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry.  These books were immensely helpful for me, and the Lord was kind to use these men to strengthen my convictions and convict me of sin in my life.  I don’t think I will have time, but I would love to share some things I have learned from these books. 

Last night, my wife and I went to a pre-wedding party for my lifelong friend, Caleb, and his soon-to-be-wife, Sophia.  Caleb has been teaching philosophy at Vanderbilt University and has accepted a tenure-track position at Pepperdine University.  At the party, I was able to catch up with some high school friends I have not seen in ten years.  Another brother whose fellowship I especially enjoyed was Jonathan Hood, a friend of Caleb who is part of a church plant in Madison that is missional and has a strong community emphasis.  In recent months, I have been really encouraged by some of the recent church planting efforts in North Alabama.  There seems to be a real hunger and interest among many who want to develop “true churches” that are both confessional and missional. 

I realize these thoughts are quite random (I am still trying to get back into the swing of things).  I have created a photo set of our family vacation where I will be posting some more photos.  In the meantime, here are a few for starters.

On the last morning, I was determined to catch the sunrise.  I had become frustrated because the sun did not rise over the beach; rather, it arose from behind the high rises!  Looking at the map again, I noticed that I could catch the sunrise over the Choctowatchee Bay which is the back side of Destin.  I finally came to a clearing where I quickly grabbed my camera and snapping a couple of shots.  Here is one I enjoyed.

This is Jarrod.  He is one of the guys who has the difficult job of setting up chairs and umbrellas in the morning and surfing the rest of the day.  I asked him if I could take a couple of action shots for fun, and he agreed to do it (he is also a Christian).  I have several more which turning out nicely that I will post later.  I will say that it was kind of scary being three feet in the ocean with waves and all. 

This is Delaney and Logan hanging out at the beach.  I am amazed at how much they love each other and get along.  Delaney is a pro boogy-boarder, and although he is only two, Logan is an up-and-coming beat boxer.  Spending the past week with them makes me even more excited about our first child which we are expecting this December!

I took this picture the first morning I went out to catch the sunrise, only to find that it did not rise parallel to the beach.  So I tried to be a little creative with long exposure, and here is one I came up with. 

I did mention we were digging to China in my last post right?  Well, unlike those kids who had the fancy jumbo shovels, we dug by hand – old school style.  By the time this picture was taken, the hole was three feet wide and about four feet deep.  Delaney was totally “digging” it.  My back wasn’t.  It was fun though.

Here’s me and Caleb at his party last night.  A lot has changed since the first grade, but it’s cool to see what hasn’t changed in the past 23 years. 

Lastly, here’s a picture of my wife and me.  She is so beautiful!  Her sister, Kerrie, was behind the camera and did a great job.