An unconventional beach trip

Well, when I started this blog, I told you that it would be about ALL the things and this past week has definitely fit the description! Our summer vacation this year was a trip to the beach.  We had not been to the beach in 4 years.  That is a long time when you live in Birmingham, which is relatively close.  We, as usual, cooked meals for Lauren before hand, so she could eat safely and packed all of the essentials such as sunscreen, towels, swimsuits, and sunglasses, but included in our items to pack was also a suit with dress shoes, a tie, and plane reservations for one.  You see, we received a phone call the day before we left that Steve’s uncle had passed away.  Steve is very close to his family and loved his uncle very much, so he made arrangements to fly out of Destin to Illinois and back while the younger two kids and I stayed in Destin.  Our oldest had to stay home to work.  She is learning about the joys of the adult world, being new on the job, and all that entails.  It was very different not having her with us.  I think it was the first time vacation did not include our entire immediate family.

Our first night in Destin we went out to eat, and just like always, Lauren took a meal with her.  She is anaphylactic to multiple foods, so that is what has been safest for her to do.  We went to Lulu’s and received what would turn out to be the brightest spot on our trip.  The waitress came up to our table to take our order and, just like every time we go out to eat, Lauren explained that she had severe food allergies, but had everything she needed and thanked her.  Our waitress advised that they had an allergy menu and offered that to Lauren.  Now, we have had restaurants tell us that they had special items on their menus for allergies before, but it is not like Lauren has a gluten intolerance or is allergic to just one thing, but Lauren politely obliged and took the menu to glance at.  As she perused the menu the waitress stayed and began to explain that the managers there are trained to handle all food allergy orders.  She walked away for a moment and brought back a manager who knelt down and discussed Lauren’s allergies with her at length.  He took notes, made suggestions and asked questions and then advised that he is anaphylactic to fish and shellfish and has worked for this company for 9 years and never had a reaction.  He went on to explain that the allergy free food is prepared in a separate kitchen area and with separate kitchen staff and he would bring out her food to her staggered with our orders.  They are a peanut free restaurant and have tree nuts on a dessert and that is all.  We were flabbergasted and elated at the lengths this company goes to accommodate someone with food allergies, like Lauren.  Lauren is anaphylactic to wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts.  Due to cross contamination possibilities, she also has to avoid tree nuts.  She wound up ordering a fresh and fancy salad with grilled chicken and vinegar and oil dressing.  She couldn’t finish it and had takeout for the very first time!  To someone who has not been so extremely limited in their life, this may seem trivial, but to us, it was everything.  They are right on the beach, have live music, a laid back atmosphere, and a fantastic gift shop.  They are in Destin, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama and we will definitely be going back.

As I said earlier, that was the one bright spot on our trip.  Not only did we receive the phone call about Steve’s uncle the day before our trip, but Lauren’s “friend” came to visit that day, too.  She has also been in a severe eczema flare that has covered her entire body.  This is the second severe bought she has had like this.  Bless her heart!  She was miserable.  She was itchy head to toe.  I am constantly amazed at how gracefully she handles all that she deals with on a daily basis.  She has the trifecta: food allergies, asthma, and eczema.  She is almost 19 and handles life, like a pro.  I am a 47-year-old that sometimes feels grumpier and grumpier about life.

Steve left our second day on vacation and was gone for essentially 2 days.  The kids and I went out to the beach for a little while, but then just came in and watched movies together.  This is the latest in the summer we have ever gone to the beach and it was  crowded.  The public access has grown smaller and the large condos on either side of the public access is now roped off and chairs and umbrellas set up along the shore as far as the eye can see in each direction.  This creates a tense environment where people kind of have to stake their claim for a spot on the beach.  It can get tense and we were actually bullied off the beach one morning.  We evidently set our chairs too close to another family that did not appreciate it.  The passive-aggressiveness was real, y’all!  We had no tent or umbrella, just 2 small beach chairs, but we were there and I guess that was enough to just be taking up a space at all.  It was disappointing.  I was so looking forward to just relaxing and listening to the waves and looking out at the ocean.  One does not go to the beach to be stressed about being in someone’s way.  It was kind of awful.  Throw in a strong disagreement or two with your husband on your what was supposed to be a much-needed relaxing beach vacation and you decide that the saying, “A bad day at the beach is better than a good day anywhere else” just doesn’t sit very well.

I didn’t want this to be a negative Nellie post, but I did want to be honest because this blog is about ALL THE THINGS, so ALL THE THINGS is what you’re gonna get.  Sometimes life goes smoothly and sometimes it does not.  This vacation was not the easiest.  We did not get the everybody dressed in matchy clothes, beautiful sunset, hair and makeup just right and all bright smiles and no blemishes family photo this year.  It. just. did. not. happen…and I don’t think it was supposed to.  Life is messy.  Lauren is dealing with not fun health issues, family members pass away unexpectedly,  marriages go through rough spots.  The beach isn’t always sunny or uncrowded,  or a yellow flag, perfect wave day.   Sometimes it rains.  Sometimes it storms.  Sometimes it’s a double red flag day and the beach is closed.  (Yes, that happened, too.) but in the grand scheme of things we can be thankful that God is still God and His mercies are new every morning and we have a home to come home to, a job to pay the bills, and my garden is flourishing in my backyard.  Sometimes, it’s the little things.  So even though our beach trip wasn’t the most relaxing or conventional, we were able to go this year and Lauren had a reaction free meal at a restaurant on restaurant dishes and a drink in the restaurant cup with a straw.  That sounds silly, I know, but not to her.  I promise.

Praying that ALL THE THINGS of your summer are drama and stress free!





Playin’ in the Dirt and Pullin’ Up Weeds


I love having a garden!  This may sound weird, but I like the smell of dirt when I water it.  We live in a subdivision, so it isn’t like we have a bunch of land or anything like that, although, I tease and say that I just need some land, a tractor, and some overalls and I’d be a happy gal.  We haven’t planted a garden in a few years, so I am so excited to have one this year.  We are kind of late getting it in the ground AND we are doing things a bit differently from the way we have in the past.  I did not go and buy plants from the store.  I purchased organic, heirloom seeds from a seed company that supports organic gardening.  Lauren and I planted the seeds together.  I didn’t know if anything would even come up.  We have never done it this way before, but figured, what the hey, we’ll try something new!  Well, it has been 5 days and guess what?  We have plants!  Yay!  Little pea and squash and zucchini plants have poked through the soil.  SO EXCITED!

I love tending a garden.  Waking up in the morning and going to see how much the plants have grown.  We have had plenty of rain, so far, thanks to subtropical storm Alberto.  I know that weeds will begin to sprout up and that is just part of it.  Have you ever noticed how deep the roots are on weeds?  Clover and grass.  It doesn’t take much and they grow strong and deep.  As long as the ground is moist, I can pull the weed out by the root.  All of the rain we have had has helped keep them easy to pull up by the root, but once it gets really hot and dry here in Alabama, that will be harder to do.  Just like plants need water and care to keep out the weeds, we need the living water  to keep us spiritually healthy and strong.  Staying in God’s word helps us keep the weeds of life from taking over.  When we neglect to stay hydrated by the living water, the weeds can take root and become harder to get rid of.  Hebrews 12:15 says, See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God: that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble…  Just after a rain, the next morning, I always see new weeds that have sprung up, so I have to get at them early to pull them up and not allow them to take root in my garden.

It amazes me how a tiny seed can be placed in the dirt, covered with more dirt, rained upon and then push through to emerge from the ground a little green plant that looks so fragile, yet it continues to grow stronger, in spite of the hard rain, wind, hot sun and those nasty weeds!   Some of these elements are necessary to make the seed grow into a strong plant that eventually will grow into a vegetable or flower.  Just like in life, sometimes we have things thrown on us.  Sometimes storms come or a season of drought  or weeds spring up and try to choke the life out of us.  This makes it hard to persevere.  Each of these things, though trying and hard, makes us stronger.  Stronger in character, stronger in our convictions, and with God’s help, stronger in our walk with Him, as long as we do not give up…and just as eventually, the plant bears fruit, we too bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of a tomato :), we bear love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23.


I think each of these makes a beautiful garden that I am sure God loves to tend.  Praying that All the Things in your garden, whether vegetable, flower, or your heart are beautiful and plentiful this summer!