"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

This is one of my favorite quotes by author C.S. Lewis. Undoubtedly he was not referring to a holiday at the sea with four children, two of whom are preschoolers and one of whom is a melodramatic first grader. When we head to the beach, I try to remind myself that I should not go with any expectation of a quiet hour on the sand with a good book or a few moments of floating in the pool without being splashed and jumped on. How silly of me.

It seems vacations at this phase in our life are more about endurance than relaxation. We had to endure the boy with chafed, salt-water legs and the late-night allergic reaction to contaminated gummy worms. We had to endure the scraped and splintered little hand of the boy who just couldn’t keep his paws off the boardwalk rails. We had to endure the potty runs and the nap schedules and the whininess. We had to endure the sleepless nights with a snotty-nosed baby. Looking back, this really was only a fraction of our trip, but since I went with worldly appetites, I had a worldly reaction when those appetites weren’t satisfied.

And then I was so disappointed in myself that I just wanted to kick myself. For some reason, when I’m out of my physical element, my mind just doesn’t seem to be able to focus as well on what I know to be true. It seems that lately most of the times I set out to attain worldly pleasure (when my desires are weak), disappointment looms. That dream vacation can never live up to its billing, or if it does, it must end at some point. When I’m living for the physical, I miss out on the true joy that is available to me. My appetites were weak and the irony is that, in going to the beach physically, I was missing the holiday at the sea that Lewis was talking about. The one that comes from knowing Christ in an intimate way. In desiring and seeking Him more than anything this world has to offer.

So, we’re back at home, and I'm wondering why there are all the songs about sand between our toes and none about all the sand in the suitcases and my washing machine. As I vacuum sand, I find myself enjoying my children more here…because, let’s face it, I have very little expectation of time to myself when I’m at home. I’m back in my element, serving my family and Christ, where my focus is on Him rather than on myself and the pleasures of this world. Maybe this is just God’s grace – the fact that I seem more satisfied at home many times rather than on vacation, since we don’t have a lot of money for trips anyway. (This trip was another generous vacation installment from our very own world-travelling Nana and Papa...and it came with an afternoon of babysitting. No, you can’t have them. They’re ours.)

This all sounds rather depressing, and I don’t mean for it to be. We had many wonderful moments, and my kids only remember the wonderful. We’ll have sweet memories and great beach pics for years to come. But I hate to come back all, “Oh, we had a great time. Our children are such sweet little angels. We’re just one big happy made-up faking it family! Don’t I look great in my swimsuit?” In reality, we’re human. I am many times a selfish whiny baby of a mom and my kids are far from angelic. I fail Jesus many times and sometimes just flat out leave Him behind when I’m on my quest for fun. It’s the hard truth, people.

So, I didn’t want to flash our photos up here and pretend that our lives are anywhere near perfect or that I’m someone I’m not. Thank the Lord for His grace, and I pray that I will not be so easily pleased. I pray that I will be satisfied with nothing less than living a life of purpose. A life that brings glory to God. And if He wants to throw in a few more vacations in there along the way, I won’t say no.

I'm just providing this as evidence in my defense of my behavior. I have a few others if you'd like to see them. In Jack's defense, his legs were red and irritated from all the wave riding he'd been doing.

And I don't have a picture of Sam as he cried from 1:30am until 3:30am, so I'll just have to use this one instead. I kind of hate to post it, though, because I don't want to make all the other babies of the world jealous. He really is the sweetest baby ever. I think he plagues me with his late-night antics so that I'll have something to be thankful for when he grows up, because he's so sweet at this age that I just want him to stay this way forever!

Look. This is my beach. And if anybody comes around here messin' with my beach, he'll have to answer to me, Babyface Bond, see?

Luke's motto: You can never be too safe. We don't know of anyone who's ever drowned in the sand, but Luke doesn't want to be the first.

Matthew and Maddie enjoyed sharing the experience of looking for sea life in the sand and shallow water. Later, they'd share the experience of finding sea life and being stung by jellyfish, but that wasn't quite as enjoyable.

He defends the weak. He keeps evil at bay. Who is he? He's Super Sam. (He just looks like he's ready to rip off his shirt to reveal his super hero cape and fly off to rescue someone.)

Yes. I know. It's hard to believe she's my daughter and not my sister.

Chris is going to be purchasing a shotgun in a few years. Don't say I didn't warn those of you with sons around Maddie's age.

Matthew and Luke Matthew. What you can't tell from the picture is that they were headed for a potty break. Of course. I am happy to report that Uncle Matthew educated the boys in the meaning of the terms "#1" and "#2". I'm pretty sure they can just skip college now.

I am mildly concerned at all the wild things Luke will teach Sam very soon.

Sweet boys. Well, they're sweet sometimes. But what is it in this picture that makes it seem like right under their love and affection for one another, they're ready for a fight at any moment?

I have done my part in providing these two people with grandchildren. And I know they're thankful for that, right?

Luke is obviously devising his next plan for mischief.

Don't let this sweet picture fool you. Emily tried to poison Jack with gummy worms, then she pushed Luke down on the elevator and ran away. Watch these people with your kids is all I'm sayin'.

So, there it is. Our beach vacation in all its glory. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And now I'm going to publish this before I chicken out and go back and just make it cheery. For the record, it really wasn't that the kids were bad at all, it was just my stinky attitude. And now I'm going to stop backpedaling and own the post. Adios!


  1. Amy--
    1. The pictures are great!
    2. Even the pictures of Luke crying over his legs. Not that he was in pain, of course, but you will be able to smile at them one day. Maybe even laugh.
    3. Your writings encourage me girl!

  2. Amy, you are voicing the thoughts we all have. I know I've missed so much of God's best because I was looking for what I considered "best". The pictures are great! Mom was just talking about Sam today and how she couldn't wait to get back to CBS to see him!


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