On April 17, 2004, my little family and I flew to Orlando, Florida, to surprise my brother for his 25th anniversary of Gospel ministry. We “hid out” that Saturday at a rented house and showed up at his services the next day, April 18. My parents had arranged for all of us to be together, and had provided the means for us to travel. My sister also came down from North Carolina. It was a happy time in the rented house, which had a pool!. We visited Sea World. We went to the ocean. We swam everyday. We celebrated Terry’s birthday, which was that same week. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. We didn’t know that only three months later, my dad would be in Heaven. If we had known that, we probably wouldn’t have laughed so much. I think I would have taken more photos, too! Back then, I was barely 26 years old and wasn’t very good at photography, nor did I realize how precious memories were. I do have these few treasures from that wonderful vacation, though. And that’s what they are, priceless treasures.

Lauren and Andrew, age four, before church. We’re about to surprise Kevin! 

Blurry photo of Lauren at the pool.

We enjoyed the swimming! 

My nephew, David Allen, Lauren, and Mitch at Sea World

The last photo I’d ever take of my dad, at Sea World. That was one tall mermaid! 

Some of the gang – L-R: Ashlea Courtney, Nathan Courtney, David Allen Pledger, Lauren, Mitchell and Andrew Pledger.

The ocean! It was just lovely and amazing!

We enjoyed two shows at Sea World, and no, I didn’t sit in the “soak zone”.

Little Mitchell, playing in the sand.

Lauren had fun in the sun. 🙂

I couldn’t get over the magnificence of it. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s better than nothing.

Going out…
…coming back! 

Three little boys having a blast! (David Allen, Mitch and Andrew)

Several of the family enjoying the waves. 

Me with my baby nephew, Stephen, who was just a few months old at the time.

David Allen, Amber Courtney, Lauren, and Ashlea Courtney eating ice cream! 

Me and Terry celebrating his 26th birthday in Florida!

Mitchell, the ham! 

Andrew – and in the background, my dad. 
Words cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for this final memory of our family all together. It was the last time we’d all be together on Earth, but my prayer is that this scene will be replicated one day in glory. I am praying each one of these dear children come to know Christ. 
Thank you, Lord, for my wonderful parents.


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