beach days (part 2)

It seems necessary when visiting the beach to have at least one cloudy chilly beach day, and we had a lovely one on our last full day. We drove to nearby Sunset Beach on the tip of North Carolina and we loved watching the deer wandering on the dunes, and the wild stretch of the nature preserve on Bird Island. Though the kiddos began with complaints and assured us they wouldn’t want to get in the water, before long the shirts came off and they couldn’t resist running through the waves with laughter.

You also can’t visit the beach without waking early to catch the sunrise, and staying late to see it set. Brandon’s parents kept the kids for us so we could sneak out early the last morning to do just that, and so that we could stay up late for a sunset walk. It does the soul a lot of good to slow down and pay attention to the sameness and yet miraculous reality of the sun rising and setting day after day. It is sure, steady, predictable, unchanging. Yet, the scriptures say the faithfulness of our God is more sure than even this. More dependable. More to be expected. His mercy and love for us as sure as the sunrise. It is good for us to stop and take notice and to remember. After the sun was up, we explored the beach since the tide was very low. We watched the egrets and sandpipers searching for their breakfast, and we gathered bits of shells and coral to take home and add to our nature cabinet.

The ocean always does its good work on my soul when we are there, and for that I’m grateful. It was refreshing to be there, tiring as these sorts of trips are for parents of little children. It was a good sort of “tired” from trying to squeeze a lot of fun into a few scant days. We can’t wait to go again when we can, and carry all these happy memories in our hearts until then. It was a wonderful way to kick off our summer!

beach days (part 1)

A couple of weeks ago on Memorial weekend, we took a long weekend to visit Brandon’s parents at the beach a few hours away. We haven’t been to visit them in quite some time, nor have we been to the ocean for a long while. It was so good to be away, to become acquainted with the ocean again and the wonders and wildlife that coastal ecosystems have to offer. Wren doesn’t have any memories of the ocean as far as I know, and she was very excited to go to the beach! We left on Thursday after Brandon came home from work and got there quite late that evening. Friday morning we had a relaxing start and then eagerly got ready for the beach. Wren was quite apprehensive about the water and it took her a couple of days to really warm up and feel brave to go in without holding someone’s hand. But by the end she was jumping and splashing in the waves laughing hysterically. The other kids took right to the water, playing on the boogie boards all day, building in the sand, or hunting for shells. Later, Brandon’s dad treated us to a ride on his sail boat. We motored in the intracoastal waterway to watch the sunset and it was both beautiful and peaceful. Bunny had to come along in a bag, just to make sure she didn’t get wet. I’ll share more photos from the rest of our time in the next blog post, there are just too many to share all at once! Suffice it to say, our time together there was relaxing and refreshing, and it did my heart a lot of good to see these kiddos laughing, exploring, playing nonstop, and being generally spoiled rotten by their grandparents. ūüôā What a gift.

family time away

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A couple of weeks ago we took a few days to visit Brandon’s parents in North Myrtle Beach. ¬†It was really our only family getaway for the year, and I was especially grateful for some time to be all together, for the kids to have some extended time with their daddy and for us all to have a chance to change pace and relax. ¬†Brandon’s parents are so kind and generous to host a family of five (with some challenging dietary needs, as well), and we are thankful to them!

As you can see, we soaked up the beach most of the time we were there. ¬†Both B and I feel a bit like we’re coming home when we spend time at the ocean. ¬†We will alway love living in the mountains, but need regular doses of the sunny warm ocean, too. ¬†We love a little bit of wilderness, wherever we can find it. ¬†It was especially fun to watch Philippa on this trip, as it was her first real experience with it all, and she was so enamored. ¬†Fearless, too. ¬†She loved jumping in the waves and digging in the sand. ¬†Until she didn’t, and then she just “wanted to go home.” ¬†ūüôā ¬†Mostly, she loved it. We enjoyed exploring the tidal pools and hunting for treasures, finding lots of crabs, seeing little fish, and the usual sea shells. ¬†Phoebe discovered the joy of riding waves on the boogie board, and she spent lots of time with daddy catching waves. ¬†She very rarely stops moving, that one. ¬†Noah enjoyed watching the boats from the marina. ¬†Unfortunately all of the kids were battling a bad head cold, so there was more fussiness than usual, but we all still had fun. ¬†B’s parents treated us to a trip to the aquarium and also took the kids out for put-put one night while B and I had a dinner date. ¬†It was a fun five days away, but it’s always wonderful to come back home again.

away together

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So, we spent the very last week of September as a family at one of our favorite getaway spots: Isle of Palms, SC. ¬†This place was where Brandon and I honeymooned over nine years ago, and we come back to it whenever we can because there’s something about the power of place. ¬†Do you know what I mean? ¬†There’s something about certain places that help us remember who we are, what we love, why we are alive. ¬†There are certain places that call us back to ourselves when we’ve lost our way, that call us back to the Lord when we’ve trailed off. ¬†You see this all over the pages of Scripture, the importance of the Promised Land as the place connected with the Israelites identity as a people. ¬†You see it in the way God had the Israelites set up monuments and stones of remembrance as they traveled through the wilderness so that when they visited these places, it would trigger for them memories and milestones in their walk with God.

What are your places? ¬†Places that for others are ordinary, but for you are profound, like balm for your soul amnesia? ¬†I think for our marriage, Isle of Palms will always be a simple but powerful place for us. ¬†It’s nothing special, really. ¬†It’s quiet, home to only a couple of hotels, boasting a tiny strip of shops and restaurants, and a destination spot¬†for more surfers and paddle boarders than big loud vacationers. ¬†Which is precisely why we love it. ¬†It has a quieter and simpler and smaller feel, and we’d rather see bare coast line and wildlife than a cluster of resorts¬†or attractions any day. Plus its only a four hour drive from our home in the mountains of North Carolina.

This time was special because it was our first chunk of time off together as a family in two years (and Brandon’s first week off in two years, except for the week he took when Philippa was born, which you all know is no vacation). ¬†Also, it was Philippa’s first introduction to the ocean! ¬†She absolutely loved it, crawling straight into the waves, fearless.

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We also got to spend a couple of days with family, some time biking¬†over to Sullivan’s Island and back, watching sunrises and sunsets, reading + painting alone on the beach, fishing, visiting our usual spots in Charleston, watching dolphins, running through the rain to Ted’s Butcherblock for lunch, staying up late to see the Super Blood Moon + capturing¬†it (though fuzzy) on camera, experiencing the highest tides of the year on the island combined with the heavy rains from Hurricane Joaquin. ¬†We stayed in a little yellow house and had to leave a day or so early because of the heavy rains + flooding. ¬†We realized on this trip that it’s really not easy to go the beach with three children ages 4 and under and have the kind of relaxing vacation¬†we were¬†imagining. ¬†The sooner we adjusted our expectations and communicated really clearly with each other what we needed to have happen to feel rested + refreshed, we enjoyed our time more. ¬†The reality is, this season is busy and a ton of work, no matter where you are (maybe even more work when you’re not at home). ¬†But it is still good and important for us to get away to a place that reminds us of the early days when we were brand new and so in love. ¬†Somehow it always makes us fall in love all over again. ¬†It’s a fight sometimes to really r e s t, but such a thing worth fighting for.

So now, I feel I can officially say goodbye to summer + hello to the glory of fall in these beautiful mountains we call home!  Yay!

weekend getaway to Charleston

Sometimes¬†I really underestimate the power of a few days away. ¬†It seems like all the hassle that goes into packing up two kids and a pregnant momma for a mini-getaway just isn’t worth it, until you are sitting on the beach in the sun listening to the surf. ¬†A family friend had offered us his home in Charleston, SC for a long weekend, so we went with my parents and had such a fun weekend! ¬†We all got a bit too much sun and too little sleep and had a blast. ¬†We came home so refreshed and thankful!

^ That moment when you first hear and see the ocean after a long time away ^


^ Me and my love enjoying the beach (and I was roasting to a crisp, unbeknownst to me) ^

One of our favorite times to be on the beach is at sunrise or sunset, when the lighting is just gorgeous.

^ They’ve started holding hands a lot lately {it kills me!} ^


The next day, since we had all gotten a bit too much sun the day before, we decided to head into Charleston for the day instead of being out on the beach. ¬†We ended up happening upon some really fun, cool things like the bustling Charleston farmer’s market (and we regretted that we had already eaten breakfast) and a wonderful lunch spot with live music under white tents by the wharf. ¬†It was an absolutely gorgeous, perfect day to be out and we just lingered and enjoyed it.


See that sign that says “Beignets?” ¬†That was our next stop. ¬†ūüôā


Dad waiting in line for the beignets.  And they were incredible!  We wandered on and found pony rides for kids for $3.00.  Our little girl had her first ride on a pony and loved it so much.

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^ Daddy & his girl ^

Then we headed down King Street all the way to Battery Park. ¬†Here’s my girl with my parents. ¬†It was so fun to do this trip with them and make these memories together. ¬†It was our first time doing a “beach trip” together and we had so much fun and just were so thankful for their help, too. ¬†They did lots of carrying kiddos on these walks. ūüôā


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Then we hit Battery Park and I snapped a billion pictures because it was gorgeous and so full of childhood memories for me.


Then we were headed out of Charleston back to the house when we passed this cute little restaurant with white tents and BBQ smoking and we just had to stop. ¬†I’m so glad we did! ¬†It was the best BBQ I’ve ever tasted.

Photo credit:

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Our last day, we enjoyed time on Sullivan’s Island and being back out on the beach. ¬†My parents also watched the kids while Brandon and I stole away on bikes and had a lovely little outing on trails around the house we were staying in.

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We’re so thankful for any time we get to steal away as a family and I hope you have some time away with your family and loved ones this summer as well!