We hope to redeem the beach!

Some of you may remember that we lost Mia at the beach last summer. Oh it was an awful scary afternoon and it still causes emotions in my gut if I let myself think about it.  We have talked all year about going back to the beach and experiencing how fun it is and that you don’t get lost every time. Mia has been resistant ALL year long!  Well its time to get back on the horse! We leave this thursday for California and I know we will have a beautiful time at the ocean.  We’ll see how long it takes for her to leave our side and adjust to her 5 year old independence for the sand, water, waves, and everything so enjoyable.

Here is the story I wrote about last summer. Just wanted to share it again because it was a huge moment in Jeff and I’s parenting- how we view our life with our kids and how we might relate to God the Father in a crisis time.

Finding Mia and Much More!

Thank you Jesus….Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus.

 It was a splendid afternoon. Our bellies were full of Ruby Tuesdays and we trucked the children and all our gear onto a beautiful beach south of Laguna.  The memory of the beach in my mind right now, turns a magnificent wheel of emotions around in my body. Horrible emotions of our traumatic life-changing 20 minutes of losing our Mia.

 Thank you Jesus…thank you Jesus.

 Like I said, it was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous beach. Not too busy… life giving cliffs up behind us…blue blue water… and unbelievable waves. As parents we were thrilled and also wondering how the little ones would do with the huge waves. The waves were crashing down quickly and pulling back to the ocean deep with strength. All afternoon we watched like hawks and gathered the kids as hens, when need be. The boys understood our space-they traveled away a little…but found their way back into our sight consistently. The little girls did not wander far-those waves intimidated them and they knew their limits. The big girls-our Mia and Elly were the ones to watch. They were lost in the beauty and freedom of the beach. They danced and danced-screamed and giggled at the waves chasing them.  Mandy went after them a couple times and reeled them back into our comfort zone as any good mommy would. They were having a blast. They tested the water, even enough for Mia to get tossed down and back by a couple of waves. It surprised her and me how quickly and how strongly the wave could knock her over. Her little body got pounded down onto the sand. I expected her to be hurt, but she only got up to laugh hysterically. This sight was one of the reasons my fear overwhelmed me later in the day.

As parents, we counted heads all day and enjoyed the Lords magnificent creation at the beach. 1,2-the big boys…3,4-the big girls….5,6-the little girls and Isaac right by my side.  We were having so much fun.

It was about 5 o’clock and the Daddy’s were returning from a walk to the vehicles to check the parking tickets.  Mandy and I were going to have our turn of freedom and walk up to the public restrooms. I remember seeing Mia down by the water-her toes dancing in the wet sand where the waves roll back down. As quick as it took for the transition of parents, our life changed. Daddies were giving mommies instructions and mommies giving Daddies details-our eyes off of the children. It had been but a minute or so and Mandy and I headed up the beach, Isaac in my arms. Just when I had breathed a breath of freedom, from having to  watch all the children, I heard Jeff yell my name. “Amy, where is Mia?!”  I looked directly in to the place I figured she would be-with Elly…off to the side of our space, up on the side where she would dance, dance, dance. She was not there.  I looked back and forth, back and forth…up to our chairs, and down back to the water for my little blue and purple Ariel swimsuit.

 Where is she?…she has to be there.

 I looked back to Jeff. Mandy and I quickly diverted from our bathroom plans. I as any mother would-decide to cover the ground the others weren’t.  Mandy headed back towards the chairs and our families.  Isaac was in my arms and I headed north up the beach towards the rocky peninsula.

 She has to be here. She probably found her way in with these other kids.

 I walked a few steps, scouring over all the families and kids-looking back expecting Jeff, Mandy, or Andreas…or someone to yell that they found her-to relieve what was building in me.

 Stay calm-I told myself.

 I repeated-walking… looking for that blue and purple suit and brown curls… and looking back to see Jeff.

 This just doesn’t make sense. Why is Jeff not calling for me? Why is he not finding her over there by our stuff? She is not here on this side of the beach. I know my Mia, she would be yelling if someone tried to take her. She would not NOT make a show. She would not go easily. What is going on?  She has to be here!

 I started telling and asking families for their help and I saw Mandy doing the same. We met back up and she reassured me. Our agendas bounced off of each other to search again. I saw Jeff talking to the lifeguards-reporting that we can’t find our little girl.  I had to keep moving.

 She wouldn’t have just run off-she wouldn’t have just let someone take her. We had just not been watching for a minute.

 All of the hard work of being careful all trip-now gone. She was missing!

 My baby girl is really missing!

 This is when the other option that entered my thoughts earlier, grew.

 Did one of the waves crash down on her? Did it crash down on her and knock her out? Did another wave come?  Did she somehow get swept away?

 I saw a lifeguard with his floatation device snorkeling quickly and calmly-and this is when my heart and stomach became a mess.

 No, no, no, he is not out there for her.

 I started calling out to Jesus…in a different way.

 Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…

 Isaac just stared up at me as I was begging Him and accepting His will all at the same time.

 Jesus, Jesus, Jesus I said in pain-as I dreadfully looked out in the water. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Oh Jesus is she under that water?  Lord why wasn’t I watching! Why! Oh Why! Where is she Lord-is she down under that water?!

 My mind went to all places. It had been a good 10 minutes. I writhed in pain as I watched the snorkeler-I paced.

 Is he going to find her? We could resuscitate her. We could save her. Hold on Mia, if you are in there.

 Pain is all I felt and shock.

 This is not really happening.

 A woman asked me what was happening. I answered.  As I walked back towards Mandy, an emergency beach vehicle was driving down. I saw the lights and heard the siren.  When I got to Mandy I asked in a fuzzy denial, “Why is that driving down here?” At that point it was a nightmare-a very bad movie. Mandy very calmly said, “They are coming for Mia, Amy.” I knew that and didn’t want to know that…but it was good to have a friend-she told me the truth. Mia’s name is all I could hear in my head. My precious Mia. Oh it was official now.

 My baby girls is missing. where is she?

 There is a buzz all around. All the families are worried. Everyone is talking and looking for Mia. I got word that Jeff went running off down the beach, back to the playground that he and Andreas had taken the kids earlier.

 What? Why is he doing that-she would never go to that playground by herself. Oh well-he needs to do that. I need him to do that-we need to know she is not there….south of our place at the beach.

 I decided to head back up to the rest of the kids.  How were Noah and Halle doing? Noah had run up to me earlier and yelled, “ Mia is missing,” very worried.  When I get near our chairs Mandy meets me. I head for her arms, she hugs me and I lose it.

 Where is my baby?  This is not happening?!

 I see Noah sitting and crying. I gather myself-to be strong, to be his mommy. He is crying-crying hard-

 where is his sister? Where is she? Oh Lord if you have handed us this…how are we going to do it?  How will I explain to Halle she has to sleep alone? How is Noah going to deal with God on this? Oh Lord….

 I comfort Noah and I hear the group of lifeguards talking.  I am in a zone now.  I see one lifeguard laugh. I understand-

 this is MY daughter, not his.

 He laughs because this is his job. He doesn’t have in it what I have. I keep thinking of my beautiful Mia. How will we do life without her.  I instantly miss everything about her.  All her beauty, her sweetness, her sassiness, her laughter-her life.

 What is our family without her?

Oh Lord have you given this to us at this time?

 Pain… shock… pain.

I hear one lifeguard say that they found her.  I asked, “did you say you found her?” He responded as if he spoke too early, like I wasn’t supposed to hear him.  This made me afraid. It wasn’t the happy announcement I was hoping for. I  immediately assumed they found her in the water and didn’t want to tell me the truth or something. He was keeping something from me.  I yelled at him-I wanted to know-I thought they found her little body. I wanted her body. I wanted her. Come to find out he was referring about another lost teenager that they had found.  He realized he was not careful enough around me to say those words.


Meanwhile Jeff is running as fast as he can. He has to get to the playground.  He has to see if she is there. He will find her. She will be there.  Oh Lord, please let her be there.  Please help me! Please help me, Lord! You are not giving this to us right now, are you? Please help me! Jeff felt he was never alone on that afternoon. He claims he knew the Lord was with him.  When he got to the playgournd 1/2 mile away from the rest of us…Jeff hoped the little dark head on the swings was hers. It wasn’t.  He couldn’t believe it! she’s not here. He was yelling/screaming for her. Did she get taken by a horrible man? Where is she? Is she in the ocean? Where is she! He didn’t want to leave-he didn’t want to come back to us without her. He looked and looked and when he realized she was not there my sweet husband broke down. He wept in the sand and came to a form of an acceptance too.

NOT a giving up.

But a submission to a Good God’s will.

Then he looked one more time-still. He looked around the beach again and he saw a little dark head with an older girl on a sand hill. The little girl looked worried, but strangely strong. That can’t be her. She is too small to be Mia-he argued with himself OR with some divine informer.  He zeroed in on her. The little girl rose up and there… it was her!  It was Mia in her little Ariel swimsuit! He couldn’t believe it!  Jeff yells for her, “MIA!!!”. She looks in his direction- excitedly and relieved runs for her daddy. They embraced… Jeff was crying. Mia looks at him, taken back by his emotion. She pushes her sandy fists into his cheeks to lift his head-she told him to stop- to stop crying.  She said, “your teasing Daddy?” He can’t believe he has her.  He really found her!

As Jeff walks back towards us, Andreas finds Jeff with Mia. He tells Jeff he will run ahead.  As I lived a moment of real confusion about what the lifegaurd had just said about “finding her”-it was yelled to us, by Andreas down the beach a ways that Jeff found her.

 Jeff had found her.

 Jeff found her.

 It was over? We had her? Oh thank you Jesus.

 I met them a ways down. I saw my blue and purple little swimsuit and brown curls being carried by her Daddy.

 We found her. There she is!  She’s there with him!

 I’ll never forget her little face and eyes when she turned her head to see me, as Jeff carried her.

 Her beautiful eyes, oh how beautiful.  Oh I am so glad I have her, we still have her.

 I was really shook up and was crying pretty uniquely.  It was a new cry for me and for Mia too. She asked me when I got her in my arms whey I was crying so fast? Her friend Elly came and embraced her too. They hugged for a minute straight and Elly’s sweet smile of love and concern was just magnificent. Oh that was a picture of real friendship.

After a couple days of processing and being patient with Mia’s inability to share all right away, we have put the story together. The kids were playing a game of monster.  “Run, Liam(one of the big brothers) is a monster!!!!”  So our Mia ran. She must have ran and ran getting lost in the exciting game.  It sounds like from our 4 year old’s mouth that she ran far enough to realize mommy and daddy could not be found. “ I thought I had lost my family forever mommy…so I walked and I walked and I walked so far.” She then did what she has been told to do-she found a mommy she trusted. She told the mommy that she couldn’t find her mommy.  This mom gave the responsiblitly to her own 11 year old (or so) daughter-she was to take Mia to the lifeguard.  Mia didn’t want to. “They spoke spanish mommy.” She continued playing with the daughter and Mia continued trying to tell her new friend that she can’t find her mommy and she thinks she lost her family forever.

“My friends have a rainbow umbrella and my mommy has white skin. She has curly hair too.”

Oh my Mia, she was trying. She was strong. Mia and her new friend were playing on the sand hill when her Daddy found her.

Mia really was taken back by our emotions that day.  It has been amazing for her to see how precious she really is to us and how much we missed her for that short, but ohhhh so long time. She will know a parents love some day…if the Lord keeps her here to grow, mature and develop.  She will understand our tears, our emotions, our love. We have been patient, slow, and genuine in sharing what we could have done different….like stop and wait-instead of walking and walking. I have also been real with her about how the mommy she found did not do a good job of protecting her.  I told her that if she ever found someone who is lost, that she should bring him/her to me and that I would not let that child out of my sight until I found their mommy/daddy!  Healing occurred in Mia’s little heart.  Tears did eventually come-and she shared her fear.  We talked about how she did a great job at finding a mommy….and telling them about us…..and that she was ultimately protected by our Mighty God!  That is how Daddy found you Mia….Jesus helped him, He kept you safe Mia.  You are safe in our arms for now and always safe in His arms no matter what!

 Thank you Jesus.

 Thank you Jesus.

4 thoughts on “We hope to redeem the beach!

  1. That story still rattles me. The fear and the frantic feeling paralyzes a mom.

    “Thank You Jesus… Thank You Jesus…” it’s all we can utter, and it’s more than enough.

    (So glad to see you’ve started a blog — can’t wait to read more posts!!)

  2. What a God-loving/God-trusting family you all are!
    May the beach truly be redeemed during your time in CA.
    Have fun. Praying for you.

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