Relationships with Fathers: Our Family’s First Trip to the Beach Without Dad.

Last month we took our traditional family trip to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, it’s about twenty minutes south of Daytona. It has become known as the “Shark Bite Capital of the World.” For over 40 years, we have stayed at a condominium called Shorehom by the Sea. Yes, for some reason it’s missing the “e” in home. We have always found it endearing and call it our “Hom away from Hom.”

For mom and dad’s 40th Anniversary, we got them a brick on Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach outside the candy store where mom takes all the grandkids every year.

The trip this year was different. It was our first trip to the beach without dad, ever.

For over forty years, my mother Crystal and Dad have been coming to this beach. They found out about it their first year of marriage and it stuck. Here is a fun side-by-side photo showing their 1st year and their 40th year. So much life happened in-between.

Mom (Crystal Harris) and dad (Pastor Nick Harris) in 1979 and 2019 in New Smyrna Beach, FL.

My sister, Amy, prepared the below video two years ago when we celebrated Mom and Dad’s forty years of marriage as well as forty years of traveling the New Smyrna Beach, or NSB as the regulars call it. I’m the little guy in all the old photos.

If you haven’t listened to our Episode #1 of the Relational Grace Podcast where my mom, brother, sister and I have a “Family Discussion” and tell dad’s story and the story of our family you should definitely check it out or play it here.

While we were there in NSB, I took some time to get down to the beach a little early to enjoy a little alone time. I spent a lot of time thinking about dad and all the things we used to do on that beach. Growing up as a kid it seemed like dad, who was not my biological father but had adopted me and accepted me as his son, was primarily my disciplinarian. I wasn’t a bad kid or anything, Dad just expected specific a behavior from me. However, when we were on the beach in Florida most of that was thrown aside and we had a blast together. All that said, some of my best memories of dad were from right there where I sat.

Dad (Pastor Nick Harris) always studying and preparing sermons and teachings on yellow legal pads.

It was great remembering dad always writing on his yellow legal pads at the beach and thinking about all the fun things we did; waiting for the perfect “breakers” for body surfing, watching for dolphins, hunting shells and starfish. Also, some not so fun things like getting stung by various sea creatures. I do remember running out of the ocean once after being being stung by a Portuguese man o’ war. I ran to Mom and Dad and he tried to remove most of the remaining tentacles with his hand also getting stung in the process. Regardless, I remember the comfort knowing they were there.

As I sat there those mornings, I realized that I felt comfort just knowing I was where dad would want me to be. I was sitting in the middle of all those memories, grateful to be his son, and even though he was not there physically, I know I’ll always have his memory with me.

It occurred to me that I was sitting in the middle of what dad would refer to as a “type and shadow” of what he preached and taught for so many years. A relationship with the father. But not my worldly father, my relationship with Christ. We are to come into his presence and be in relationship with him. It is not about what we do or the exact words we say. It is about understanding that He has adopted us, He loves us unconditionally and He will protect us.

My time on the beach thinking about dad this summer continues to affirm what he taught so often: It is about being in a relationship of grace.

5 thoughts on “Relationships with Fathers: Our Family’s First Trip to the Beach Without Dad.

  1. Beautiful pictures!! What treasured times!! Eddie and I thank God for our friendship snd love with Chris snd Nick💕✝️💕 A wonderful blessing for us!!
    We will always miss Nick 😔But praise God he will be in Heaven to greet us !!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jamie, you are a very gifted young man in more ways than I can even count. This particular time it is an example of your gift of writing. I’m also, finally letting myself listen to your podcast of Nick’s sermons. And then there is your amazing woodworking skills …. I could go on and on. I just need you to know you are such a blessing and I love you very much. Thank you for sharing Aunt Dana

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was so Blessed to go to the Holy Land with Nick and Chris in 2018. This is a beautiful story of you and you Father and great pictures-thanks for sharing. Martha Minnis

    Liked by 1 person

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