A Seaside Gathering of Thoughts

Outside my window:  The sun is rising over the Atlantic Ocean. It's crazy to think that I am sitting on a piece of land that is at the end of the continent and I can see so far into the vastness of the ocean in front of me*. 


Listening to: My husband making breakfast. Ever since we got to the beach house, he's been a force in the kitchen. I'd forgotten how much he likes to cook. At home, I bring him breakfast in the morning and he hustles out the door. At night, he gets home long after the cooking and cleaning have been done and re-heats dinner before going to bed. Here, he's flipping pancakes every morning and helping make seafood feasts happen. It's nice to have him in the kitchen. I could really get used to his presence.

Clothing myself in: Tshirt, running shorts, running shoes. I've been walking and talking in the morning with my stepmother. So, so good let it all go, chaff and grain together...

Talking with my children about these books: Sarah brought The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter with her. The linked volume exactly the version I have. I bought mine in the University Bookstore in Charlottesville in 1986. I remember being so thrilled to have saved a little extra money and invested it in the first book of what I knew would be a collection of good children's literature. I've promised Sarah we'll read every story while we're here..

In my own reading: I brought Lysa Terkeurst's The Best Yes and an advance copy of Rachel Macy Stafford's Hands Free Life. Rachel sent me her book in a lovely box with some thoughtful gifts and I am eager to read it and to tell you about it. I started with Rachel's book because I love her to pieces and I believe in what she urges for us. It's been kind of slow going with the book this week, though. I came to this vacation pretty depleted. Not burnout, at least not in the sense of neglect of self-care. This was more a leveling by forces outside my control. I've long believed in the messages in these books, but it was hard to read them and hold them up to reality of the way things are in my world right now and not be cynical. That's not fair to either author. So, I set them aside for awhile until I can be more receptive to the good in them. 

I want to quiet the “Yes, buts” in my head. I want to hold my hands wide open to the gift of the message in Hands Free Life. I think Lysa’s book is less likely to give rise to “Yes, buts.” Lysa is my contemporary. She’s navigated the rocks a bit. Still, my brain is so saturated that it can't hold one more self-help secret right now.

My "Yes, but" experience is not an entirely new reading phenomenon. It’s happened several times in the last year or so. I read a good book by an inspirational and motivational author who is several years younger than I am. I nod my head as I read and I agree with her, but experience whispers into the moment. I want to pull her close, to share what I’ve learned. I want to say, “Oh, dream that dream. It’s a good, good dream. But keep your eyes wide open, friend, because you can connect deeply, hold their hands all the time, and love with all your being and still, your heart might break."

Thinking and thinking: About the curious mystery of nature versus nurture. I've always been strongly in the nurture camp. There's nothing like my own little tribe of nine to teach me otherwise. It's both, definitely. Further, every family has its weak places, even its broken places. We think with enough faith and determination, we can create an unbroken story. We can't. All our stories are broken. The thing of life is to let God shine through the cracks and mend the fissures so that they are stronger and more beautiful in the broken places.



Psalm 51:10

Psalm 51:10


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Usually, my Type A husband and his equally Type A wife approach vacations with a PLAN. A SCHEDULE. Not this time. This time, I literally tumbled into this house and dissolved into a mess of exhaustion, the kind of tired where your eyes twitch uncontrollably and even swallowing takes too much energy. Fortunately, my father and stepmother had arrived before us and they were here to catch me. Our days have been filled with rest and connection and fresh air. And that's it--though I do think there might be a trip to Duck Donuts thrown into that plan for today.


Creating By Hand:  I made some reusable kitchen cloths right before I left for the beach. When I get home, I'm going to sew lots of little aprons for the Montessori school. And I'm so excited about the assignment it makes me smile just writing about it. My friend Carmen, who is the school's director, recently went to a conference. While there, she was struck by what a difference fabric makes in the classroom. My phone was filling with lovely images and I'm really looking forward to working with her when I reach home. I love Carmen. I love Montessori. I love fabric. And I love what sewing does for my soul.


Learning lessons In: Letting go. Sometimes, in order to move forward, we have to let go of dreams and of vision. We have to see how our carefully crafted ideas of the way things should be might not be part of God's plan after all. We have to come up with new visions, ones that are colored and tempered by the experiences of life. The trick, I think, to doing this successfully, is to believe that the new vision really can be better than the old one, even if the old one was very dear, indeed. 

Encouraging learning in: I have not written a single plan. I have not ordered a single book. BUT my plans are in my head (and on the internet for that matter) and we have so many books that our house groans under the weight of them. It will be fine. They will learn. We'll find our academic cadence. This is not unschooling. It's not even relaxed homeschooling. It's the sure knowledge that the environment is ripe with learning potential and I will bring to it what is necessary when the time comes.

Keeping house: My house is a wreck. I know this, because I left it that way. It bums me out because no one likes to come home from vacation to a wreck. I really don't like to open the door to a mess. I'm consoling myself by telling myself that there's nothing like the catharsis of a deep cleaning to push the reset button.

Crafting in the kitchen: My stepmother, Mike, and I made an amazing seafood feast last night. And then, for lunch, I turned the leftovers into a pretty fabulous seafood pasta. Might have been my finest kitchen moment in months.

To be fit and happy: There's nothing quite like walking at the beach, is there? I mean, really, I could go for hours...

Giving thanks: For the people who have loved us so well this summer, the ones who have leaned in and held hands. You are the blessing and you brought the grace. 

Loving the moments: in the hammock. Oh, my, whoever thought of hammocks is such a genius. And I'm not the only one who has been in need of summer naps.


Living the Liturgy: I keep falling asleep with my rosary in my hands. I hope my guardian angel picks up the prayers where I leave off.

Planning for the week ahead: We'll finish up here at the beach and then go home to clean up the mess. Amen. 

*The reality is this post was written over three days. Completely disregard references to time;-).