MUCH NEEDED FAMILY STAY-CATION BEACH RETREAT
I’m sitting here enjoying a hot cup of coffee (HOT mind you! Busy mama’s of toddlers out there, you know how precious and RARE this moment is!), dunking my chocolate biscotti into the tan swirling abyss, looking aimlessly out towards the pier and beach dunes from the patio of our beach house rental–our family stay-cation beach retreat.
Grandma and Grandpa came to visit recently so this moment is indeed a rarity to enjoy as my three tiny tots are, likely, running and jumping and swinging this very moment at the park a 3 minute walk from the house. I am soaking in the goodness of having this moment to myself.
Which makes me think about the questions you all have been asking me recently in regards to why there so many beach pictures popping up on my feed and what the heck I’m up to?
We have been here…
…for three weeks now!
We will be wrapping things up here soon at the end of the fourth week, going back to our country-like roots in the suburbs. It has been a much needed soul-searching time and wonderful change of pace from the everyday mundane routines of our “suburbian” lifestyle.
I’ve received so many questions about this 4 week-long stay-cation trip of ours that we decided to embark on like:
“How in the world did we manage to figure out a month-long stay-cation at the beach?”
“What made you get the idea of going with your three kids an hour away to live at the beach for a month?”
“Did your husband really get that much time off or is he still working?”
“Seriously, what made you decide to do this?”
So let me answer some of these for you in the most honest way I know how: story-like format.
It started with last fall when Jeff and I were in the middle of teaching multiple nights per week for our joint ministry. We were both feeling a bit overwhelmed and burnt out around the month of October. We began thinking of the idea of having some sort of vacation away. However, as many of you know with young children, a vacation for a week with kids sometimes leaves you feeling more drained and ready-to-pull-your-hair-out than when you first started out! We knew a week without kids on vacation wasn’t feasible for us. Flying somewhere with kids was out of the question.
So we began brainstorming for a possible vacation on a local level.
We happened to learn through a certain couple and friends of ours that they usually take a vacation for the month of December at Newport Beach only an hour drive away. They talked about the refreshment it gave them as a family and that it was much more affordable than summer rates. I began doing my research and low-and-behold came up with a cute cottage style house that peeked my interest. It not only seemed big enough to accommodate our family (as well as visiting family) but was also more affordable than other rentals I had looked into.
I called the number and the owners happened to be Christians in ministry roles as well. After sharing with them our desire to “get-away” and seek some solitude time as a family, as well as spend time seeking God for our future pursuits, they ended up giving us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
It was as if God desired and destined for us to be here.
Jeff has been able to work remotely from this beach house, or locally at a different office only 30 minutes away. It’s a decent blend of work and play for him (although he wishes he could be playing on the beach more than working). I was able to get time off from my employer and instead use this time to focus on my writing, ministry building, and spending more chunks of uninterrupted time with God away from the distractions of life.
This stay-cation is being used to help me gain clarity for the vision God has for me and us as a family, now and in the future. The kids are LOVING the change of pace with the sand between their toes and the sun’s rays kissing their pale winter cheeks. Even though it’s still been just as busy during the day with the kids, it is far more refreshing with this change of scenery.
Yes there is still a cost to being away for the month. It was definitely not free, and we still have bills to pay at home, but we’ve been diligent with our savings and felt the timing and cost was worth it for us to be away at this time.
My kids are not in preschool at this time, so it didn’t affect their schooling. We didn’t have any mandatory events scheduled at this time of year. All-in-all it just seemed to fall into place. We call it a “stay-cation” away as we aren’t very far from home, my husband is still working half of the time, and I am still busy with kids all day and writing in-between, but it has been so worth it. We are happy we did it.
Don’t you ever feel the need to “get-away” from the pulls of life that seek to wear us down?
Even if it’s just a weekend away—stirring up the mundane in my life—it seems to produce a refreshing shake-up in my schedule when I do this, which allows some much needed peace to enter. It lessens the strive; allows breathing room to take its place. More often than not, these are the times when I am able to see more clearly, filter out the things that create unnecessary noise in my schedule, and bring life back to a healthier stable state.
Maybe it’s a bit odd. I get it. We do things a bit differently than most so I’m kind of used to being labeled as different. We dance to the beat of a different drum than the rest of the world. Our faith and pursuit of God gives us a depth of perspective that may be different than yours. Yet, I believe we all need some time of solace and surrender at certain times in our lives.
We are not meant to be so busy and consumed with the distractions of life! We need to take time to reconnect to self in order to feel grounded in who we are. Otherwise, we will always be out there conforming to some other image of what others pressure us to be like, to feel like, to perform like.
To the point where you might then think, “who am I really, and what have I become?”
I’ve been there, and it felt like weighted chains around my feet as I was sinking in the dismal pool of becoming something I was not. Becoming something I was ultimately dissatisfied with.
Fast forward to now… I know who I am. I know where my identity stems from. It is not determined by any person in this world or what they think about me or push on me to be like. My identity is in Christ and Christ alone. And I’ve never felt so free.
There is joy and confidence that arises when you discover the gift of knowing yourself. My challenge to you is to chew on this thought and statement that I came across in a book called The Gift of Being Yourself:
“Knowing God and knowing self are therefore interdependent. Neither can proceed very far without the other. Paradoxically, we come to know God best not by looking at God exclusively, but by looking at God and then looking at ourselves—then looking at God, and then again looking at ourselves. This is also the way we best come to know our selves. Both God and self are mostly fully known in relationship to each other.”
There are still days where the pulls of the world seek to steal my soul away from the truths of my identity in Christ. Pride seeks to overcome humility. Fear overrides faith. Amazon overthrows my wallet. But my awareness of these issues is the first step towards understanding, and therefore becoming my true self in the way I was designed to be.
A daughter of the One True King.