December 2021
by Shelly Powell

For part of my growing up years we lived in Panama City, Florida where my dad was pastoring. My mom instilled in me a love for the ocean surf and would walk with us along the shore in “free abandon” as she called it.  Recently I felt a longing to go sit by the ocean, hear the sound of the surf, and feel the sand on my feet. But…when, how, where?? Was now a good time?

I had heard about Team Gleason and decided to apply and see if they might be able to fund a beach trip. My idea was to rent a motorhome large enough for our whole family and go to the beach over Christmas break.

I looked online and found a well maintained, 30 foot 2014 Winnebago for rent only 45 minutes away whose owner was extremely helpful in sharing details of how to make the excursion run smoothly. Team Gleason reserved it and we were all set to go, December 21-30, 2021. I was so excited and started researching online and planning the details. 

With excitement mounting, Kevin, Jonathan (our son-in-law), and Micah picked up the motor home, we packed it with all our needed items and headed south, stopping to pick up Nathan and his girlfriend, Darcee, in Dallas and visit a couple friends along the way.

What a way to travel! It was not the most economical, getting only 6 mpg, but quite a luxury to be able to open the fridge and make a sandwich, go to the bathroom, or take a nap in bed as we were driving along. We felt a little out of our league as we pulled into the beautiful RV park at the beach in Freeport, TX alongside many other big rigs. A new experience, but just what I had dreamed of! 

It was a God-blessed, amazing time! The weather was fabulous and we practically had the beach to ourselves. It filled my heart with joy as we made rich family memories, reminiscing, laughing, sharing, and enjoying each other. Riding a golf cart on the beach, having devotions on the sand at sunrise, sharing our “token” Christmas stockings in the RV, seeing dolphins while going on the ferry, having deep discussions, playing games, going to the Houston space center (kids), visiting with friends, eating delicious meals outside, playing pickleball, doing Bible pictures in the sand, traveling together and much more were all such rich, poignant family times!

My ALS progression has sped up quite a bit since my fall just before the trip. I’m now using a walker, breathing machine at night and requiring assistance with most activities. God is the only one who knows the length of my days and He is in control. I believe He can still raise me up if it is His will, but if not I can still trust Him. In the meantime, I am mindful of God’s abundant blessings and provision through Team Gleason and loving family for providing such a wonderful memory at the beach with my dear family… at just the right time.