Beach Week [in images]

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Back at the beach for our yearly tradition (year nine, for those of us counting).

Last summer, I wrote about Mary Oliver and living while I sat in the sun.

This time, I’ve written a letter and a terrible poem that might not always be terrible.

I’ve also consumed a lot of ice cream.

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I’ve talked about missions (still on the brain), and I’ve helped grill twelve cheeseburgers, two bratwursts, and roughly six hotdogs.

I’ve made a rockin’ potato salad.

I’ve been grateful that Dunks is a mile away and I’m shocked they don’t know my order by now.

I’ve wandered down to the water in the dark, making Gramma nervous but coming back in due time.

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I’ve people-watched like a champ, playing “inner monologue” and creating bizarre plot lines to strangers’ lives (I hope they don’t mind…they’re quite entertaining).

I’ve walked the beach three times a day, and seen how the light changes against the sand.

photo 1 photo 2And now, I sit.


Good Things #8: Willing to be Dazzled

[I wrote this post as part of the Love Yourself link-up started by my friend, Anne. It goes beyond loving yourself – it starts by allowing things to dazzle you, and then, maybe, you will dazzle yourself.]

I am sitting at a round wooden picnic table. The sun is blaring hot and it isn’t even 9:00 in the morning. The beach is quiet today after a people-packed weekend – there isn’t a single person on the sand.

For my beach read this summer, I packed Bridget Jones’s Diary. I’ve never read it before, even though I’ve seen the movie, and I thought it was a pretty light book for the ocean. Poor Bridget. I sometimes see myself in her, but most of the time I just wonder: What were you thinking?!

I also brought along some Mary Oliver. My first impression of her was not so grand; nature poets don’t hold my attention as much as they should, perhaps. But every now and then I come across a gem, a piece of honest beauty.

Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled –

to cast aside the weight of facts


and maybe even

to float a little

above this difficult world.

I want to believe I am looking


into the white fire of a great mystery.

– The Ponds

This hit me in a gentle strong way. Maybe I can’t help having moments of darkness, but perhaps they are made darker by my unwillingness to be dazzled. Maybe it is this small, simple thing that makes life sharp and pulsing.

Maybe it’s this willingness that sets people apart.

The sun is hot as blazes on my right arm. I’m already sweating. But the sea is sparkling in the light, the grasses on the dunes are waving in the breeze, and there is a calmness to the air that settles me.

Shift your focus and you see differently.

The thing is, not everyone can do that. Or at least, not without help. There have been times when I’ve looked at something straight on, I have known that it is beautiful and good, but I’ve not been able to see it. I’ve known but not experienced. I’ve touched but not tasted.

A lot changes when, for a few months, you think maybe your life will never be the same. Maybe, in fact, it’s almost over. You know you are dramatic, but you also know that no one is above dying.

And later, a year later, you are digging a hole in your garden, in which you will sink a spidery rosemary plant, and you look at your arms and marvel at their strength, at even the swinging motion it takes to dig.

One day, you are driving, and you look at your hand on the steering wheel and think, This is my hand. It is no one else’s. And that is shocking to you.

You see, for the first time, really, the sharpness of green grass against blue sky, and you wonder how you looked at the same landscape for the past twenty years but never really saw.

It is perhaps the first time in your life you can honestly say:

I have rejoiced in my suffering. I have praised God for my discomfort. I have been made weak that His strength would show.

That is how I am willing to be dazzled.

Good Things #6


Wine Tasting. I’ve officially become classy, thanks to three lovely friends and a $28 Groupon. We drove forty minutes up through beautiful farm land, and despite the 95-degree weather, the convertible top was down and hair was flying. This may have detracted from our classy entrance, but sweat aside, we were fabulous.

We each got to try six wines, and we even got a cheese plate with the deal. Not bad for $7. We all came in declaring our love for dry vs. sweet, but the four of us asked if we could use our last three tastes to get the raspberry wine. Oh my gosh. I’ve tried to like fruit wines, but this is the only one that I prefer to good ole grape. Kate bought a bottle and I should’ve bought a bottle, but all the more incentive to pick a lot of raspberries in July.

Weekend Getaways. These could not be overrated. An overnight to celebrate a birthday, a hotel room with seven girls (wait, did I say seven? I mean only the two on the receipt, sir!) and extra blankets and towels. We spent Saturday at the beach in abnormally sweltering heat for the first of June. I downed my lemonade before I even got to the sand, and I probably went in the water a record seven times. Then out to dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant (Um, could we have more chips please? And yes, I need more water. Again.) and then on to dancing.

[A man with curly dark hair down to his waist danced the night away. He was flinging that mane all over the joint, and we tried not to stare in horror. We didn’t try that hard. What fascinated me was that women actually danced with him. One even stroked that mess of hair. Wow.]

And the best part of nights like that? Waking up slowly in the morning and heading to a local coffee shop for bagels and iced coffees. The people-watching is amazing in towns like that. I get so distracted.

Good Things #4

Today’s Good Things

  • Being at the beach with family
  • Playing a horrible game of Phase Ten until 10:30 at night (horrible because I lost – totally demoralizing experience)


  • Swimming in a pool that seemed humungous when we were five and now proves to be quite tiny
  • Eating ice cream
  • Driving with the top down. The sunburn is worth it.


  • Quoting movies we haven’t seen since we were twelve and laughing. Emperor’s New Groove and Mulan never get old.
  • Showing our Gram a Madtv video clip and thinking she was going to weep with laughter. Acupuncture’s funny when it doesn’t go well.
  • Not having enough time to read, watch movies or tv, or listen to music. No recommendations, but that’s another kind of good thing.

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