For so many years, our family vacations were to places like Disney World or Sea World. Entertaining our kids was the priority. But for about five years now, I have longed for a REAL vacation--a vacation that was as much for me as for the kids. We came close last year when the grandparents took us all to Chatanooga, and we stayed in a cabin there, but there was still touring the local sights, at a bit of a clip. There was lots of time for playing games, enjoying the mountains around us, and even watching movies together, but it was still pretty exhausting. This year, the grandparents and my sister Mary came down to us, and we vacationed at the beach. A friend let us use a beach condo, and it has truly been relaxing, and refreshing. I came with certain goals, and I must admit, I didn't fulfill them all. I really wanted to spend lots of time quiet and alone with God, but I'm having a hard time breaking out of my sinful rut of letting other things take His place. I guess I've begun to realize that time and place won't cure that. I'm just going to have to arrange my schedule to make Him first place.
But some of my goals--playing with the boys on the beach, taking a long moonlit stroll on the beach, getting up before dawn to watch the sunrise--these I've done. We have watched lots of TV together, the only thing I wish we have done less of, but it has been fun anyway. During the week while my parents and sister were here there was so much freedom for us all--Grandpa would take all the kids swimming, or Aunt Mary and I would take them down to the beach, or they'd go off with Nana and Grandpa for a while. I loved not having the plan meals or cook (Nana and Mary seem to enjoy cooking. Go figure! I was content cleaning up!) On Friday when they left to return home, the boys and I were so down, and it was hard being without them.
Yesterday, the two younger boys and I went down to the beach for the whole afternoon. We built a huge sandcastle, bathed in the ocean, buried each of the boys in the sand, and laughed and played together. It was such great fun! Today we drove down to Washington Oaks State Park and went to a rockiy shell beach. We added to our huge collection of shells, Stephen and I took photographs of the rocky beach, and we played in the water on a beach that was very different from the one we've enjoyed the week on this week. I have been amazed at how much creativity I have seen in God's creation this week--a thousand different colored shells, gentle waves, followed by rough, harsh waves, totally different skies from day to day, and so many ways to enjoy being outside in the sun and surf.
I guess I am touched that God would give me this vacation. I couldn't afford it, but God worked out the financial end. I certainly don't feel like I deserve it. I have loved it, and hate to go back to "real life," and all the decisions awaiting me there. But I feel rested and ready to work again. Hopefully all the beauty and nature around me will continue to inspire me for a while longer.