Sand, surf and sunsets

We’re a couple of days back from our annual fall Rosemary Beach trip with Jon’s side of the family, and miraculously, the laundry is done and the suitcases unpacked.

The drive to Rosemary is always long and even longer coming home, but the time there never fails to delight. This year, Lina seemed to remember the house and the beach and fell immediately into her favorite beach pastime of digging in the sand with gusto. We saw a lot of new confidence in Corin this year, as he charged into sizable surf without fear and logged some pretty impressive bodyboard runs. The waves robbed him of his prized goggles late on our last day, which a thorough search did not discover. Some other lucky kid is probably getting good use of them as I write, though I prefer to imagine them as entertainment for the dolphins.

These days, I find myself deeply valuing any opportunity to unplug, read a good book and spend time with people I love. Add sand, surf and sunsets, and no question, my soul benefited. Of course, we couldn’t ignore our concern for northern California as it burned or so many other places where people are suffering. There are endless, giant worries in the world, and it can begin to feel like I carry them all with me every day. I am learning to leave them with God and let Him show me what my responsibilities are. And for a brief few days, I am so grateful we were able to lay aside our stresses and just be together in a truly lovely place. The memories will last a lifetime.










Ocean frisbee!







Finally, Family Camp

It took weeks, but I finally got our photos from family camp sorted and edited. I’m slowly catching up after a very busy end to our summer.

Our church conference runs a summer camp east of Nashville on Center Hill Lake. I admit to being a little skeptical about how a full week at camp was going to go. All of us sleeping in a one-room cabin? Lina navigating cafeteria meals and structured activities? The heat and bugs? Being thrown into forced socialization with people I didn’t know? It could have been a recipe for disaster.

Thank goodness, it wasn’t. All four of us had the best time. We were able to be very flexible with scheduling activities and could leave plenty of down time for relaxed swims in the lake or pool and naps for Lina. The variety of activities meant there was plenty for everyone to do. We didn’t have to worry about meals; we just showed up on time, they fed us, and the food was actually pretty decent. It was hot, but we spent most of our time in the water or in air conditioned spaces. The socialization never felt forced, and we really enjoyed the time we spent with the other families. The camp itself is well maintained and in a beautiful location. And as tired as we were after our full days, we all slept pretty well. It was a remarkably inexpensive and relaxing week’s vacation.

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The camp’s chapel building


Corin was pretty stoked about getting the top bunk.


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Lina never fails to make friends with the big girls.

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Well, it was worth a shot…


We’ll just call this one, “Bye, Felicia.”


Corin, on the other hand, loved the horses. This was his second ride. The three of us went on a trail ride earlier in the week while a kind staffer watched the horse-resistant Lina.


Lina’s motto: Never be without a good book.




No surprise as to which activity was Corin’s favorite




The camp photographer was available for portraits. It was…problematic, as indicated by Lina’s tearful smile.




I admit, I underestimated family camp. We’ll be back!

October in the Smokies

Of the things I inherited when I married into Jon’s family, one of my favorites is the tradition of regular trips to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. The Geary/Sharp clan has the outing to a science, finely-honed over more than 30 years. Truthfully, Gatlinburg falls into the… quirky category of vacation spots. Much of what you find there would kindly be labeled kitsch. But there’s no doubt it has character, and this family has found the gems. These mountain vacations have come to mean as much to me as they always have to Jon. So much of what we love about the area is wrapped up in years of family tradition and memory. Now we find great satisfaction in passing all of that along to our own kids.

This year’s trip found Corin enthralled with every aspect of the vacation, from the cabin to the mountain trail to the always-bustling streets of Gatlinburg. Lina also seemed to enjoy all the people watching and outdoor air, and she made it a true vacation by sleeping in until after 8 a.m. every morning. We ate ourselves silly, turned pruny in the hot tub and relaxed in ways that just don’t happen at home. This year, we also keenly felt Grandma Geary’s absence, which made us all the more thankful for the addition of family we see far too seldom: Aunt Nelda, Cousin Veronica and her son Colin.

It was back to reality with a vengeance this week, but we have our memories of this October in the Smokies carefully tucked away, the newest entry in a priceless compendium.