We laid out a blanket on the hills and valleys of white sand on beach outside Marseilles, anchoring the corners with shoes and backpacks. But the moment 13-month-old Zoe hit the beach, she was water-bound. Sand proved too difficult to walk on just yet, so she flopped gracelessly to all fours and continued her beeline toward the surf.

At first we let her go in only as deep as her thighs, but as the afternoon with our friends the Faulkes wore on, we relented to her curiosity and Zoe eventually experienced the shock of cold waves smacking her belly. Her favorite activity, however, was simply picking up handfuls of sand and letting it slide through her fingers. Close behind that was smashing the sandcastles Simon, Lee Ann and their girls made with buckets.

Years ago I (Donna) remember commiserating with my sister that it always seemed that we were waiting for “life” to begin, whatever “life” really was. It just seemed to elude us. Several times since Zoe was born I’ve observed that I emphatically no longer feel that way. In some ways more lives than just Zoe’s began when she was born.

And as difficult as it may be to have heart-level, soul-encouraging conversations with our friends when children’s laughter rings in the air, the children truly are a special smile from God. So what if we adults lose a little sleep to post-bed time fellowship? Wading into that depth of sharing happens more easily in those late hours and refreshes the soul even more than sleep.

"Further, Mommy! Further!"