We have been away from home a lot this summer and still have a couple of trips to go.  So far, all of our trips have involved extended family or our church family.  What a blessing to take time out from our busy year round schedule to spend time with people we love!  Trip_to_texas_2007_116_3 We have been to Texas to see the grandparents and Steve’s siblings (this picture is the girls with their cousins on their dad’s side,) first born has been to camp with her church family and we have been to the beach with all of my side of the family.  This last trip was quite an adventure as we had 27 of us in two houses at the beach; 14 adults and 13 children, my girls the oldest.

Here are a couple  of pictures from the last trip:

Aren’t we adorable in our khaki and white?Topsail_beach_2007_james_camera_047 Topsail_beach_2007_james_camera_039

We went to North Topsail Island, NC and we had a great time.  Most of them traveled from Texas.  While we were there, we celebrated my sister’s 40th birthday….finally, someone joined me in the fabulous forties!  It was great to have lots of extended time to catch up with everyone and to get to know my cousins better as adults.  As I have said here before, my sister and brother and their spouses, along with my mom and dad, are all people with whom I would want to spend vacations even if I wasn’t related to them.  Having my aunt, uncle, cousins and their families made it even more special.  It was truly a vacation that I will remember forever.  Perfect in every way.

I have spoken here before about my feelings about the beach.  It is my favorite place on earth and usually I try to get lots of quiet time to soak in the power that the salt air and the sound of the waves invoke in me.  Because I was there with so many people that I love…people with whom I never get enough time…I was reluctant to take that time alone.  I felt torn between my desire to walk with God on the beach and my pull towards a few more moments with my precious ones.  In our house alone, we had 15 of my favorite people in the world! Because I mostly chose to be with my loved ones, I left the beach on this trip feeling like I had not quite harvested all that the sea had to offer me this time.  Luckily, we are going back to the beach in late August with a slightly smaller crowd.  Perhaps I will have the opportunity for a few more reflective moments.  Or perhaps I will again choose to cherish the moments with those whom I am blessed to share that beach house.  Or maybe I will do better at finding a balance between the two.  There is indeed a season for everything…

The next trip we are looking forward to is a mission trip to Colcord, WV in the next few weeks.  My two daughters and I will be joining 37 others from our church.  It will be my first mission trip since my own years in youth group.  In my 20s, I was too self-absorbed, in my 30s, too busy with little children.  While I am still self-absorbed and busy :-), now is definitely the time.  There is evidence that mission work is a great cure for self-absorption and busyness…I hear our cell phones won’t work there! I am excited about sharing this experience with my girls and I know it will be a special time of connecting with them and my church family, as well as the people we will be serving.  We were commissioned as missionaries being “sent out” this morning in church and, when many from our congregation laid hands on us to pray, tears filled my eyes.  It is a powerful experience to have someone lay hands on you and pray and it always makes me cry….hmmm, I wonder why that is?  A topic for further exploration perhaps.

This week, I want to talk more here about my thoughts about this upcoming mission trip.  I look forward to processing some thoughts “out loud” and getting your feedback.  In the meantime, I would ask that you pray for our team.  Pray for me and my girls; that God would prepare our hearts…make them servant hearts…as we work on packing our bags and work tools.