Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Beach. My Remedy.

There is something so stinkin relaxing about the beach.  I don't know what it is...the sound of the waves or the smell of the salt water, the breeze or the fact that I don't know anyone else here.  Or maybe it's the fact that God so brilliantly combined all those things :) But every time I come to the beach, I am reminded of God's greatness and that everything will be ok.  He's got the ocean under control, so I'm pretty sure He can take care of little ol' me! 

Almost every summer for as long as I can remember, we have joined Dad's side of the family for a week in a beach house in North Carolina.  Honestly, I used to hate being out on the beach.  It was too hot, and I'd rather be inside coloring with Grandma! (I was a boring child.)   But Mom always made me go out for a while, and now, there is something about the ocean that is...healing :)

This year, we will be spending week one with Dad's side (his sister, her two kids and their families, including four very adorable, very energetic little boys!).  Week two, we will switch houses and be with the Fiordelises (Aunt Beth and Uncle Bill, their three kids, and Grandmom). 

I plan on spending the weeks simply enjoying my family and all that comes with being at the beach!  And, I plan on finally resting.  Oh, how I need to rest! Not only my body, but my mind and my spirit, too.  Sleep will be lovely, and devotions will be sweet and refreshing.  ...I say those rather confidently, but I believe God has given us this trip for just those things.  I need this time both to reflect and look forward to the future--without fear or anxiety.  I need this time to laugh and cry as I break down and am built back up by the Restorer (I'm not sure that's a word...hehe). So I thank God for this opportunity and pray you all find time for whatever it is you need. That you will make time for those things.  I sometimes wish I was smart enough to schedule "quiet time" into my life without feeling guilty! 

Anyway, after stopping to see Dad's parents and spending a lot of hours in the car, here's a look at    :) 

We arrived to find that the tide comes in a lot farther than it did last time we were here!  Just last year, that fence was buried in the ground and those HUUUGE sand bags were covered with sand.  Now, high tide washes up onto the second or third stair, and well...the sand is disappearing!  D:  eek!

My toes were reintroduced to the sand and salty water...

We got a head start on family photos...

Aaaaand...Chase practiced his modeling skills....

The fun of catching minnows and building sandcastles began (don't worry, they'll get better :) )...

Cute shells lined up on the stair rail were admired :) ...

Pretty pink clouds accented the horizon...

And I propped my feet up, forgetting my cares and soaking in the peace that encircled me :) ...

Aaaaaahhhh...vacation has begun! :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Real Dream Life

I've realized lately...although I suppose I always knew it...I am a dreamer. 

I dream of restoring a huge, old farm house to fit the modern country decor I love so much.

I dream of having the time and talent to keep a garden so I could eat fresh veggies all summer and then some.

I dream of making beautiful pies and learning to be a multitasker so I can make a whole meal at once without freaking out and burning everything.

I dream of my house being a home.  Where people are free to gather and catch a breath while feeling welcomed and taken care of. 

I dream of hosting hayrides for family and friends and Valentine's Day parties for young single ladies.

I dream of spending my evenings taking walks and sipping sweet tea on the front porch swing. 

I dream of days spent more simply.  Working hard and sleeping soundly.  Enjoying relationships and hands-on projects instead of running all over the place from one event to the next to the next.

I know, I know, I'm old fashioned!  And it doesn't bother me a bit :)

But those things are all down the road a ways.  And I do have other dreams...bigger ones, I think, for this less settled phase of my life...

I'd love to take a road trip out West! See the Grand Canyon and the mountains of Montana with my that still West? haha, geography has never been my strong suit :)

I'd love to go on missions over seas and hold a lonely child in my arms, reminding him that he's terribly loved. 

I'd love to go wind surfing and zip lining and on a hot air balloon and a sleigh ride!!

And when I'm friends and I have a genius plan for when we're all still alive and our husbands are gone!

The plan then is to have a mansion in Colorado.  The house will be full of windows that overlook our lake.  We'll have an art studio full of natural light and a cozy breakfast nook, a wood stove and maybe a nice neighbor boy we can make cookies for for when he's done chopping our fire wood. A huge ramp for mattress surfing, and beautiful homey decorations. We, of course, plan on being crazy old grandma's who still go fishing and ride 4-wheelers and race our wheel chairs!  ...Don't worry, we realize how unrealistic this is! But you gotta give us props for this one :)

I have no idea how my life will actually turn out...if there's one thing that's become certain to me, it's the unpredictability of life.  And I've discovered that the busier my life gets, the more I dream about the one described above.  To me, life is a crazy mix of learning how to step forward, to take action so that my future is one I want to live with, and enjoying the present moment all at the same time.  I'm learning to be thankful for the new opportunities God gives me and to cherish the memories I already have. 

Like the song says, "Life's a dance we learn as we go. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. Don't worry 'bout what you don't know, life's a dance we learn as we go."   And so, I keep going, twirling, and dipping, stepping on a few toes, and learning a lift or two.

I'm learning that this has to be my own, unique dance.  ...This gets to be my own, unique dance.  I don't have to fit into a mold, trying to mimic another's style of movement or song.  God has created me to be me, not another dancer I admire.  Sometimes I try to be someone I'm not, but it never ends well.  It only leads to frustration and disappointment. 

I guess you could say I've been through a bit of an identity crisis.  For a time, stupid ol' Satan wiggled his way in, and I lost sight of the fact that who I am in Christ and the way He's made me is enough.  Worse than that, I forgot who that person was all together.  I was so lost in what I thought I was supposed to be for the world that God's voice, reminding me that I'm His child--loved and protected and beautiful and...simply enough--was lost in the hurt and confusion.

I struggled with all of this for some time here recently.  I let my mind dwell on what I'm not instead of who I am and who I can be with God's power in me.  And I don't think I'm the only one who has this problem from time to time.

I'm so very grateful for the people who helped pull me out of this awful state of mind and spirit!  Yes, grasping the good is still a process, but we're getting there.  A dear friend--one of those Godly women who has poured herself into me more than she'll ever know--gave me this illustration:  Sometimes, we find ourselves in a hole, and being the "fixers" that we are, we try digging ourselves out, making the hole bigger as we claw and try doing it all on our own.  Sometimes, I think we need to be momentarily ok with the rut we're in--to say, "you know what? today I did a horrible job with my devotions! but it's ok" Because when we do that, it allows us to focus on the good.  We've recognized the issue, and it calms us down long enough for us to grasp God's hand as He offers help, instead of trying to fix it on our own. 

That wasn't exactly what she said, but it's what I got out of it, and it has helped so much! ...that, and some tears, angry words, and a hug from my sister, and dear Jason giving me orders to stop worrying about what other people think of me :) 

Honesty with others gets me through a lot these days.  ...No one can help if they don't know where you're wounded the most deeply.  And the secret seems to be exposing those hurts before they become scabs, ugly and scarring. 

Words cannot describe how much I feel for those of you lovely readers out there who don't feel like you have that person you can pour your heart out to.  The other half of this journey has been learning to let God be enough.  To be so real with Him that it's almost ridiculous.  But hey, He knows it all anyway, so why not pour my guts out, right?! And I'm learning to let Him hold me. To speak to me directly through His word, and not just through other people.  Trust me, when given the chance, He will speak so clearly it cannot be missed.  ...Do we give Him the chance He deserves?

Well. There I've gone on quite the bunny trail again! In short, I'm learning to look forward to the mystery that is my future while embracing the beauty of the present.  I find myself in bad moods far more often than I'd like, but I also find myself being refined day by day, moment by moment. 

I don't always get it right, but His grace is sufficient for me--in times of hurt and failure, disbelief and wandering.  And for that, I'm eternally grateful.