I can't remember the last time I took two weeks off from writing here at the blog. It was an unplanned, but lovely break, but I am eager to give a quick update on what we've been up to.
We spent the last month working diligently around the clock to get our house back on the market...this time, more intentionally, and listed with an agent. It is such a difficult decision to finally take the plunge and commit to moving from your home of 10 years, a home that you have loved and grown from a family of 3 to a family of 8.
And so, to give our best effort in staging and presenting a home for sale, we moved our boys out of the master bedroom boys bunk room, remodeled the master bathroom, and moved no less than half of our belongings and furnishings out of the house. (You may remember the Christmas home tour here, as well, for reference.)
And that's where we've been for the last month.
On Father's Day weekend, we touched up the last of the paint, packed up all the kids, and headed out on a three day drive + 2 week road trip to Orlando, Florida for an ACCS conference for our school board.
A ton of you, who follow me on Instagram, gave me amazing travel tips and game ideas for a cross-country road trip with kids. I had great intentions to use all the ideas and to even blog about them....and with the chaos of preparing to travel and to list the house, I didn't implement even one.
But amazingly, we not only survived the three day road trip...we loved it.
Enjoying the hospitality of friends and meeting each other's families was definitely the highlight. I love that the boys longed to spend more time with both families we stayed with. They spoke so highly of our new friends and cherished the memories made with them both...
The conference proved to be a blessing, and while I missed that continuing education I usually enjoy for myself, I was grateful for extended time alone with the boys by the pool. Half of my boys are non-swimmers, so that time by the pool each day was a little less than relaxing...but even so, I knew to soak up the blessing of vacation and time away.
Any family of any size in the same room, vehicle or space for days...is a perfect context for learning humility, patience, service, and forebearance. We never set out to purposely learn these things as reason for a trip, but somehow, the blessing of sanctification and growing as a family always comes as a byproduct, whether we've asked for it or not. And, I'm always grateful that the Lord knows what I need without my asking...
And from Orlando, we headed to Cocoa Beach, where our friends invited us to stay with their family at their home along the Banana River. I'm looking out on to the water right now, as I write, and recognize, this is just what our family needed. We chose simple pleasures for this trip. There's no shortage of amazing, entertaining, wonderful things to do in the Orlando area; but for us, this time--with our family culture goals in mind-- decided to draw the kids' affections toward things of nature of wildlife, of family and friends...of slowness and simplicity.
When 8 imperfect, sinful, broken human beings make up a family...and go on vacation...you realize that family vacations are less about experiencing culture around one another; but rather, it's forming your very own family culture together with purpose.
The home we are staying in belongs to the parents of my friend, Leah. (It's a wonderful 3 bedroom home with a pool and a private dock...And, it's one of the few of it's kind available for rent in Cocoa Beach on VRBO!) While the home and the environment has been idyllic, the most significant part of our stay has been the deliberate investment Leah's dad has made to teach my children (and Troy and me!) everything he knows about this area, the history, about kayaking, fishing, wildlife, and of enjoying the Lord's presence in nature. I think Troy and I have felt that the relationships and the memories made through special people in our lives truly make a trip like this more than a vacation, but a shaping of our family culture.
Shaping of our family is our ultimate goal for any and every opportunity to travel and step outside of our everyday lives.
No amount of fun, entertainment, luxury, or time away can "fix" messy circumstances, mend broken hearts, or change an outlook...unless it is a change of heart. I'm grateful that there has been some true rest of heart and a fulfilling of goals in our family culture and values on this trip. I'm grateful that we have been more than able to reflect and receive the wonder of God's glory as we gaze upon his creation and enjoy the fellowship that He has provided. For these, I am forever grateful...as they have given our weary bodies and minds fuel for the road ahead.
Because of grace,
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