They say that hindsight is 20/20. I believe them, especially as it relates to that spring break trip from 2004. It was one of those condo deals where you come in for a few days, hear a sales pitch and they put you up at a decent hotel for a discounted rated. Discounts for ministers are always nice. So, that April, we loaded our three kids into our van and made the journey across southeast Georgia and up to Hilton Head.
The hotel was an average one and the weather was still too cold to enjoy the ocean much. So, we took advantage of the heated pool and the mini-golf course that sat just in front of our hotel. We ate great seafood, shopped a little at the outlets for summer clothes for our kids and took the four days there just to relax.
Looking back, I can see how God was already doing some unique things for us that week. We created some nice memories. Sarah had just gotten a new camera a few months before and she took tons of pictures. In fact, she had often joked that because she took all the pictures for our family that there wouldn't be any of her when she was gone--she would always be behind the camera. For that reason, I took the camera from her hands and took more pictures with her and the kids than normal. Pictures that are priceless to me. There is one of Josh, sitting on a rock at the mini-golf, with a red ball in his hand. There is one of he and I standing at the water's edge at the beach. There are pictures of Sarah with the kids amongst the flowers near the hotel. Then...there is the one that we simply refer to as the lighthouse photo.
The last night of our stay in Hilton Head, we were looking for an ice cream parlor (Sarah always loved her ice cream) down by the harbor. As we wondered among the shops and boats, we were pointing out some of the cool sites to each of the kids. Close by, there was a live band entertaining patrons at a local restaurant. I was showing Harrison one of the large yachts anchored in the marina there when I felt someone tap me on my shoulder. I stood and turned to face a young lady, probably in her 30s if memory serves me, with blond hair and a light jacket on--the kind one would wear while sailing. I don't know why she stuck in my mind except for the interaction that was to follow.
"You have such a cute family. Your children are precious. Would you like for me to take a photo of you?" Her accent was distinctly Southern.
I looked over my shoulder at Sarah and she smiled. She didn't have to say anything. I knew she loved the idea. I slipped the camera from her shoulder and handed it to the lady. I picked up Josh, handed him to Sarah and pulled Abby and Harrison closer to my side for the picture.
Hindsight is 20/20. I look back at that photo, those priceless moments that were neither planned nor rehearsed. And I tell you this...I can't say for sure this woman was an angel. But I can tell you that God, with all He knew that was about to happen to our family, sent someone to make sure I'd have a record of that night. It would be the last family photo we'd ever have.