Off island

Mt. Baker from Orcas Island

We just got home from an overnight trip up to Orcas Island to see Mercy’s godparents. While the weather around here has been dreadful of late, our two days there were absolutely spectacular. From the moment the ferry boat left Anacortes, the sun broke through the clouds to light up mountain peak and wave. Aaron pretty much summed it up on the boat where he sat with his face pressed up against the window: “Heaven…” he said quietly.

Orcas is a special place to us for many reasons, not the least of which is that we spent the last leg of our honeymoon there as a generous gift from a family in my home church. While the little cabin we stayed in has since been replaced by a large and beautiful home, we were wistful as we drove past the little bay where we rose each morning to bald eagles, deer, and more oysters than we could eat. There was no small contrast to our last stay on the island and this one: last night we slept in a room with our three children surrounding us, one on each side of our bed!

Our time with Mercy’s godparents (and godsister!) was as delightful as we knew it would be. They have only recently moved to the island, and it was fascinating to hear them describe the quirks and joys of island life. By the end of the two days, Mercy and Aaron were on a ferry boat-hot tub-cupcake-so many Lion King toys-and-beachfront-walks high, and none of us were ready to come home today. Even Aaron’s headfirst plunge into a tide-pool hardly fazed him.

It is a special gift to make people feel at ease and affirmed for simply being who they are. This famiy epitomizes how to do that well. And it is often the small things they do that create that space to let down your guard and just be. I can’t explain how tater tots, lattes, and fleece jackets do that, but I can marvel at how they do, and that is the gift this family gives to us every time we are with them. A few years ago I described it like this:

Last week we had the pleasure of four friends from Seattle invading out little apartment and making their home with us. On Saturday they left to return to their own lives and callings back home, and while our apartment once again feels roomy and quiet, I miss them terribly. And it is not the morning Starbucks runs that Dick would make or the groceries that would just appear in the refrigerator or the extra hands that were quick to hold the baby that I miss. It is that being with them made life richer and more filled with God’s presence and grace.

From Shoreline to Chicago and back again, and now this new chapter on the island, my love for this family only increases as I see my husband and now my own children welcomed into their fold. And as I see the couch where Kathy sat and prayed and cried during the touch and go moments of Elijah’s delivery; as I walk past their fridge covered with the pictures of those near and far that they regularly pray for and love the way they do us; as I listen while Doug and Dick talk theology and watch as the girl I cared for from her earliest days now cares for my littlest one, I too find myself barely able to describe the goodness of it all and I feel a bit like Aaron in the ferryboat window taking in the beauty of a magnificent journey.


  1. Oh Erika,

    I’ve been so out of touch. I just saw this post and the familiar mountain vista has brought tears to my eyes. I miss Orcas so much. I am so jealous and happy for you that you got to experience it again (and with insiders no less). Thank you for sharing.


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