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Just two weeks ago we were soaking up the sun and waves of Emerald Isle, NC. Today I pulled out my sweaters and turned on the heat to take off the chill. What a change! But I'm ready for autumn and happy to embrace all it means.

Before we left Emerald Isle we were able to do one of my favorite things, take family pictures on the beach! This year we went on vacation with my mom, so we got some great family shots with her too!

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I love this one of all the kids and "Nonna" above!

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And the kids cooperated for a couple of minutes for some good shots of them too.

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This little girl sure loves her daddy!

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I love these two of just the two of us. Thanks mom!

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And my pretty mama!

Tiny Dancer

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This girl.

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She loves all things ballerina. Ella Bella. Angelina. Tallulah.

Tutus and pink.

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Full of emotion and words. Talking talking. She talks more than both boys put together.

She loves beauty and danced her own ballet on the beach, twirling in the wind, reaching for the sky.

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My tiny dancer.

What if Your Soul Mate Doesn't Exist?

SoulMate  

Six months into my relationship with Josh, I began to feel some intense angst. I struggled knowing for certain if he was “the one.”

I longed for a word from God: a message written in the sky saying, “marry this man” or “don’t marry this man” would be helpful.

Marriage is a big decision and one I wasn’t taking lightly. I did not look into the possibility of married life with romantic eyes. My parents’ marriage was something I did not want to emulate. I’d had an up close view to a marriage gone wrong and wanted no part of it.

I’d planned on staying single, envisioning a satisfying life as a career professional or dedicating my life to ministry. Being a wife or mother didn’t have much appeal for me.

But then my relationship with Josh deepened and I realized he was exactly the type of guy I was looking for—without realizing I was looking.

And so a struggle ensued in my soul, but also an epiphany.

Continue reading at Start Marriage Right . . .

Image Credit: Start Marriage Right

The End of Summer

We left summer behind when we drove away from our vacation spot, Emerald Isle, NC, and now it is autumn! But I wanted to share with you our last taste of summer living. We had the most perfect weather imaginable and spent every single day on the beach except for one, when we visited Beaufort, NC, which was a few towns away. This year my mom joined us and we had a great time. Unfortunately, Sophia was a little under the weather and reacted badly to her medication, but despite that, it was still a wonderful getaway from the normal grind.

This was our daily "commute" to the beach:

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These next three images I love. The rippling water, the moon, and the reflected sky in the surf.

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I especially loved some early morning time by myself on the beach.

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One day was spent in Beaufort visiting the historic sites, of which there are many. The town is picturesque and quaint. First, we enjoyed Beaufort's Maritime Museum. The kids did a scavenger hunt provided by museum staff and we enjoyed looking at the artifacts from the wreckage of Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge.

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The highlight of Beaufort was the "Old Burying Ground." The site takes up almost a whole block and is flanked on four corners by four different churches. It holds much history and some crazy stories. Take the story of Nancy Mannery French (1821-1886), taken from the pamphlet we got from the visitor's center:

"Nancy  loved Charles French, her tutor. Her father opposed the romance. Charles went away to seek his fortune and vowed to return for Nancy. He went to the territory of Arizona and became a chief justice. The postmaster of Beaufort, a friend of Nancy's father, intercepted the correspondence between the two. His conscience drove him, before his death, to confess to Nancy what he had done. As an old man, Charles still not able to forget Nancy, returned to Beaufort and found her, whose love had never faltered, dying of "consumption". The couple married and a few weeks later Nancy died."

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Below left is the resting place of a little girl who died at sea. Her father couldn't bear to leave her body behind, but brought her home to her mother in a barrel of rum, in which she is buried.

Below right had no details in the pamphlet, but upon reading the headstones, it broke my heart to see the five children of Caroline Jones buried beside each other in a neat row. All had died four years old and under. It seems perhaps they had no children that lived past the age of four, unless they are buried else where.

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We drove by the "Hammock House" which is a private home, so it cannot be toured. However, it's the oldest known house in Beaufort and supposedly Blackbeard may have spent some time there.

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Josh and I also got a date night out, thanks to my mom! We went to Beaufort and checked out the shops and enjoyed looking at the boats and water. We ate an amazingly delicious meal at Old Salt. They took simple ingredients and made them scrumptious! We started off with clams in broth, bacon, and beer. Oh yum! Then we had simple salad with house blue cheese dressing that was delish. I had pulled-pork BBQ tacos topped with cole slaw, fries, and their house "Old Salt sauce." I wish I could have bought some of that sauce home with me! I don't often wax eloquent on fries either, but their brined fries dipped in that sauce was to die for! We finished off the meal with pound cake drizzled with a raspberry sauce, whipped cream, and topped with more fruit. If you're ever in Beaufort, you must eat there!

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Next week I'll be sharing our family pictures we took one evening on the beach!

Morning Meditation for September 11th

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"Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!"

Ps. 43:3

I read this verse today on the beach as the waves roared. The sun peeked over the horizon, spilling light and making the grains of sand glisten. I read Psalm 43 and looked at the date to write it in my journal. September 11th.

And then I instantly remembered where I was, working at a graphic design firm for my internship when the reports came in of a plane striking the tower. And we watched with horror on the conference room T.V. as the second tower was struck. And I was once again reminded this morning of how much the world needs His light, on this anniversary of American devastation. Yet devastation of all types continues all over the world.

And then there's me. A reminder how much I also need the light of Christ to guide my every step, every day. And where does God's light lead?

Himself.

Communion and relationship with Him. God's light doesn't necessarily lead away from a trying circumstance or even devastation, but instead to God Himself in the midst of that circumstance.

David had ungodly, deceitful, and unjust men who oppressed him. Those guys didn't just go away. But he found "exceeding joy" when His soul hoped in God. His cast down and tumultuous soul could find refuge in praising God.

And so can mine. At least I will always try.

Judith | Head Shots

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This is my sister, Judith. It's hard to believe she's getting set to graduate from college this December!

It seems just like yesterday she was born, my littlest sister. I was thirteen years older than Judith and I must admit, I wasn't too excited about the prospect of a new baby entering our home. Maybe I was embarrassed, or maybe I didn't want a new sibling to "mess" up what we had going. My other siblings were just three and five years younger than me. Maybe I didn't like change or maybe I was just being a hormonal teenage jerk. Anyway, I didn't have the best attitude about a new baby being born.

But she won me over. She was so cute and fun it wasn't long until I didn't mind her at all . . . except when people thought I was her mom and she was my baby. Now that was embarrassing.

It's been a long time since anyone mistook me for her mom, though, thankfully! :)

As Judith approached her last semester, she asked me to take some head shots of her to use for social media and getting her professional website together. I happily obliged, heading to one of my long-time favorite locations, Jerusalem Mill. As much as I love the location for it's variety of backdrops, I was reminded why I don't go there that often any more. We were just one of FIVE photography sessions going on there that night! But it worked out and I was able to get the shots I was looking for.

Isn't she pretty? And not only pretty, she's smart and spunky too.

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I love these last three!

August Instagrams

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Wow, I've not done an Instagram post since April! Moving really killed my regular blogging momentum over the summer. I thought about not returning to the Instagram posts, but I discovered that if I didn't blog them monthly, I also didn't download them off of my phone regularly and back them up either. So I'm getting back to if, if for no other reason than for myself.

Once the craziness of moving passed, we had some true summer fun. Ice cream and a field of sunflowers. Picnics and twirling in the grass. The boys went to their first summer camp and had a blast. Josh and I got to spend some one-on-one time with our favorite girly while we waited to pick them up in the evening.

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We had fun at a local "beach" with our homeschool group (above).

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I enjoyed a lazy Sunday afternoon (above left) which is rare for me, and we had fun with friends at a local winery (above right).

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This week we started school. Hence the special breakfast of cinnamon buns. And a weird face from one of my boys.

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One of my favorite families is moving away (sniff). But I did get to watch the kids while their mom packed and we had lots of fun. Sophia was particularly enamored with having a baby to watch.

That's it for August! Can't wait for September!