I’m a reluctant vacation-taker. I usually end the year with the majority of my vacation days still left, waiting to be used. Not because I don’t love time off work, but because I’ve given myself a false sense of security and worth based on my uninterrupted presence in front of my computer.
Yeah, that wasn’t easy to admit.
This summer I’m trying to discover that fine balance between choosing to rest when I feel like I need a break and running away completely and giving up. I need rest right now. A lot of it. And I can feel it in my heart because I’m fighting daily to look at some things I’m struggling with and do something different from my typical “all or nothing” approach to life. My friend Kristen reminded me yesterday that even in this season when I’m not sure if I’ve been “called” to do certain things, I have been because I am where God has me. So I need to move forward, but I need to rest first.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen these photos before, but even if I don’t feel like writing anything deep or profound, my mama heart still desires to document the stories. How we planned this trip to our favorite beach for weeks without spilling the secret to Madi, and the look on her face when she found out in the car, thinking she was just off to a typical week of school.
I want to remember how God answered our prayers for safety when my car had issues and – even though we had to hurry and secretly repack everything into Matt’s car while Madi watched cartoons – we had peace of mind about our travels.
I want to remember how we all felt instantly at home the second we walked into the beach condo where we’ve stayed for several years – and how God hasn’t let us forget our dream of one day owning our own beach house where we can spend the summers. I want to remember breakfasts on the patio after mornings at the beach and how Madi spent 30 minutes in terrified tears about the loudness of the ocean before deciding to dip her toes in the waves with us at her side.
And how she blew the ocean a kiss on our last night because she had fallen in love with something that only days before had scared her.
I want to remember all the “firsts” that happened on this trip. The first time we didn’t leave at 4am to make the drive straight through, so I packed a present/game/snack/treat for every 30 minutes of our drive to keep Madi (and myself) entertained.
We got dolphin henna tattoos on the boardwalk for the first time and she charmed her way into drinking a soda in a mason jar with an orange slice at dinner one night so she could match the “fancy” drinks we were having. I want to remember her first time going mini-golfing (and my hole in one! Matt got 3 of those and a free game, though we couldn’t actually use it while we were there). And her first movie in a real movie theater and how she snuggled on my lap and was very worried that Dory actually wouldn’t find her family.
(Finding Dory is really great. Take tissues. And the sand piper short at the beginning is maybe my favorite part.)
I don’t want to forget Madi’s first time on a boat and how she got the nickname “slip and slide” because she fell twice, was scared of the pirates, and needed her daddy to hold her hand – but she never gave up and chose to find something to smile about even when things weren’t going exactly the way she wanted them to go.
I want to remember the ease of the beach when the hustle of the week starts to get to me. And it has. Nothing is more difficult than the first Monday back to work after a vacation, no matter how much you like your job. But it’s more than just sleeping in and eating ice cream every day (though we definitely did both). Being away from all of our usual routines put us all in a better frame of mind.
We were kinder to one another and more interested in spending time together. We went on adventures and took afternoon walks and had fewer fits and stayed up later and slept better. We laughed more and looked at computers less, read more books and played more games.
We are better at the beach because we are with each other. And although I miss the slow, easy pace of it all and feel like I was just starting to relax when we had to come back to reality, at least I know that as long as we have one another, we can find that beach feeling again.
And, maybe one day, when God says “yes,” we’ll have that little beach house of our own. In the meantime, I’ll practice more rest and less running.
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If you’re looking for the perfect little summer devotional book to keep on your nightstand or to read outside in the sunshine, definitely check out Christina Vinson’s “Life is Better at the Beach.“ It’s a beautiful little hard cover book that has some of the most stunning interior pages I’ve ever seen in a devo. Full color beach photos are mixed with really great fonts, inspiring quotes, scripture, and devotional articles that encourage you to discover that “beach vacation” feeling in all of your ordinary days. The only bad part? I wish I had the electronic versions of the images so I could share them each morning on social media!