NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores + Beaufort

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We spent most of our days on vacation at the beach, except for two excursions. One was to Beaufort, famous for its connection with Blackbeard the Pirate. We enjoyed visiting the Maritime Museum again and seeing the exhibition on The Queen Anne's Revenge and her famous captain, Blackbeard. We also visited the unique Old Burying Ground, which I went into much more detail on in this post during our last trip. It is such a charming town with an old-fashioned feel. Josh and I snuck in a date night out to dinner one evening there too.

The other excursion was to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. It is a small but lovely aquarium. Since we were there last, they now also have an outdoor play area!

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We even got to touch stingrays!

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The boys were particularly thrilled about the Venom exhibition! If you ever visit the Emerald Isle area, we highly recommend a trip to the aquarium and Beaufort!

Emerald Isle, NC | 2015

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The ocean. It makes me feel alive. It invites me to rest. It had been two years since our family had vacationed at the beach and in September we once again headed to Emerald Isle, NC to put our feet in the sand.

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We rested. We ate well. We read books and watched movies. We took walks and gathered shells. We battled waves and floated on our backs.

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We took the annual "last night on the beach pictures" that are always so fun to capture!

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Equal parts sweetness and sass, that's our Sophia.

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Gosh, I love these boys. We've made it so far! I remember thinking someday we were going to make it to age 8 and here we are! Crazy how far away these days feel.

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And now we have this little darling joining in with all the fun!

My mom joined us for vacation this year. I just adore this candid shot of her with Ava!

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The last days of summer come to a close.

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Having a “Soul Mate” is a Real Thing (Guest Post)

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The title of today's guest post may surprise those of you who remember my article entitled, What If Your Soul Mate Doesn't Exist?But before you make any assumptions about today's post, let me first introduce you to the author.I was recently introduced to Dr. Laurel Shaler, a professor and chair at Liberty University in the Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies. She is a licensed social worker and national certified counselor, and speaks/writes on the intersection of faith, culture, and emotional well-being. She is a sassy southerner married to a midwestern sailor. They are adopting! You can find her at www.drlaurelshaler.com or Facebook (www.facebook.com/drlaurelshaler) or Twitter (@DrLaurelShaler).

I used to compete in pageants. Because…pretty gowns, flashy jewelry, and hairspray. In my very first pageant for married ladies (yes, that is a thing), one of the contestants was asked if she believed in soul mates. Her answer won her the pageant (that and the fact that she was 8 feet tall, a buck nothing, and blond). But, seriously, her answer was spot on as she shared what the expression “soul mate” meant to her.

When you hear the term “soul mate”, what do you think of? The one person God has created just for you? (PSA, that’s not in the Bible.) But, most people think of just that…another human being must be their soul mate. Listen, my husband is the best friend I’ve ever had. He is loving and devoted. I completely trust him and know we will be married as long as we both shall live. But. He’s not my soul mate.

Psalm 84:2 says, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

You see, having a soul mate is a real thing. But, our soul mate is Jesus. He is the one my soul desires. He is the one my soul longs for. He is the one my soul waits for. To be in His presence, knowing that He is the only perfect One. The only one who will never disappoint and always love without condition. The only one who will always be there for me, no matter what.

When we try to place another human being in the role as our soul mate, we set that person up for failure and we sell our relationship with the Lord short. We should never place another human being in a status position about the living God, regardless of how much we love each other. It’s not right or fair or just. Jesus is superior to everything and everyone we will encounter, and is worth our soul commitment.

Oh, you know that beauty who won the pageant I was telling you about? Yeah, she totally told the audience and judges that Jesus is her soul mate. She rocked the stage that day, and deserved that crown….as much as I hate to admit it.

When Your Family Falls Apart

  Blackeyedsusan

When it was discovered my dad was having an affair, the family unit I’d known for twenty-seven years died.

Now what I once knew as my family no longer looks the same, feels the same, or is the same. It’s felt like what I’d imagine losing a limb might feel like; first searing pain, then numbness, now an ever-persistent ache.

You’d think it would be easier to deal with my parents’ separation as an adult. There’s no childish confusion about why mommy or daddy are leaving. I’m old enough to not have to worry about going back and forth between parents on weekends. I can understand the situation. And maybe that’s the problem. I understand the issues that brought on the devastation too well, be they adultery, abuse or deceit.

I myself have had to daily battle bitterness. However, despite the faithlessness of my earthly father, God has been a faithful spiritual Father.

Continue reading over at For the Family.

 

Rewriting Tragedy

Are you an A.C.O.D.? What's that, you may be asking? A.C.O.D. stands for Adult Child of Divorce in the movie by the same name, which takes a humorous look at the dysfunction caused in a family marked by divorce.

A 2012 study found that "Grey Divorce" (separations that occur between those 50 years or older) has doubled since 1990. This confirms statistically what I'd already experienced in my own life, the life of my husband, and that of my friends: just because you make it past childhood doesn't mean your parents won't still divorce each other. And the divorce of one's parents is just as painful--if not more--as an adult than as a child.

Today I'm guest posting over at Dr. Laurel Shaler's blog sharing about how I'm rewriting the tragedy of a disintegrated marriage. You can read it here.