Sunday, July 27, 2014

Family Reunion Week thanks...

This is our third year of gathering in the rented beach house that is nestled in the dunes there on the point of land with the bay on one side and the sea on the other.  It's comforting to return to the same place these years since my siblings and I, (and our children and grandchildren),  no longer have Mama's house as our place to gather.  The familiarity feels like a warm embrace.  

The sky was blue and clear each day we were there.  That's something we don't take for granted on the Oregon coast where gray skies, biting wind, and drizzle can occur any time of the year.  This year the children played outside on the dunes in summer shorts, only putting on a light sweatshirt or jacket in the evening when we would gather round the bonfire and make s'mores.

 Soft sand surrounds the house. The dunes that form a natural barricade from the bay on one side and the ocean on the other are topped with tufts of sea grass. I'm not one to go around barefoot, but this place seems to call for it.  Keeping sand out of the house is an impossibility,  much less keeping it out of shoes, so a pile of shoes lays on the floor by the back door,  most of us shedding our shoes before climbing the dunes and following the path through the sea grass  to walk by the sea.

The children play on the dunes from morning to night with only occasional adult interference. They can be seen through the large living room windows.  They've been warned not to go over the dunes without an adult.  "If you can't see the house, you've gone too far over the dune." we tell them.  Baths are a must at the end of the night as they come in covered with sand from head to toe.  Sand settles on the bottom of every tub in the house.

My siblings and I comment on the passing of time.  Someone mentions how it seems like yesterday when my oldest granddaughter, eleven years of age, was just a baby.  I comment that my sister's oldest granddaughter was out playing in the dunes last  year, but now she seems to have matured past the point of wanting to play with the younger ones.  My oldest sister mentions that her husband will turn seventy next spring.   We all shake our head in disbelief.  Me, I wonder how I can possibly be turning fifty seven in a few days.  And the reunion itself, we looked forward to it for so long, and how can it possibly be time to say goodbye already?

On the drive home, I notice that the fields of farmland that were green the last time we drove to the sea,  have been cut and the golden hay lies on the ground ready to be gathered up.  Harvest time will soon be here.  The yearly cycle seems to repeat more quickly with every year that I age.  I feel the desire to stop and mourn a bit as I see time passing and us all aging.  Even the youngest of us, my youngest grandson, is already nearing three months old.  I want to stop time, yet I also wonder what his personality will be like at age two.  You can't stop time, I remind myself, so savor the time that is right now.

I thank the Lord for the blessings of each day, writing down the ones I remember.  I savor the goodness that this week contained, appreciating the truth that every good gift comes from God.  I comfort myself when time passes all too quickly, by reminding myself that this life isn't all there is.  Most of my family members have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior so His promise of eternal life means that we will have eternity to be with each other.  I remember Mama's last prayer when she asked aloud that not one of her descendants would be lost, but that all would come to know Christ, come to love Him.  I echo her prayer in the depths of my heart.  Amen, Lord Jesus, so be it.  

I come home and the busyness of unpacking, washing our sandy clothes, and doing some chores that were put off in our preparations to leave, occupy my mind for a while.  It's when I sit down to go over this week's list in my gratitude journal that it all comes flooding back.  What an amazing God! He took our broken family, and has made something beautiful.  Are we perfect?  Farther from it than you might imagine. But we are blessed beyond measure, we are rich in God's blessings, and we are a family that loves one another.  A "thank you,  God" is the least I can give in response.

Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little black journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone) 


-the lawnmower suddenly deciding to start when we had given up hope 
and thought we were going to have to finally replace the old thing
-God's gracious provision
-reading 1 Peter on a "Jesus date"
-cooler weather making for a more enjoyable run
-taking the two youngest granddaughters on a walk to play on the school playground 
after not seeing them for over a week while they were on vacation

-the hubs going grocery shopping with me
-sharing a Costco frozen yogurt

-waking up to the sound of a  summer rain after a long dry spell
-the hubs working from home today
-running errands with him-and him treating me to Chipotle, one of my favs
-stopping by our second born's house to borrow something and getting to love on the grands for a few minutes
-getting everything done on today's to-do list

-the smell of the rain
-baking Mama's oatmeal cake recipe and oatmeal cookie recipe to take to the family reunion

-five year old granddaughter getting to ride with us to the family reunion

-stopping at Mo's for lunch and meeting up with our second born's family there as well as running into our nephew and his family
-everyone arriving safely

-beautiful weather

-my grandkids and great nieces and nephews playing together all day in the sand and the sea

-playing Catch Phrase and belly laughs
-campfire time 

-our oldest brother facetiming us since he's in India and couldn't be here for the reunion
-going crabbing together-what fun!

-my sisters and I finally going through Mama's jewelry 3+ years after her death, 
(and the blessing that there was no greediness or bickering or hard feelings some go through)
-flying the kite

-eating the crab-YUM!

-the hubs and my son-in-law having a safe drive back home in order to preach on Sunday
-youngest daughter's boyfriend joining us at the reunion to meet the whole family
-this whole wonderful, beautiful day

-many hands make light work-getting the rental house ready for us to leave
-hugs good-bye
-the hubs text that church was really good
-a hubs that encouraged me to stay for the whole reunion even though he couldn't
-the blessing that all of my kids and grandkids got to attend the reunion
-our safe travels home

gratefully yours,


  1. It's a wonderful post, Elizabeth! And your photos are definitely "tourist brochure" worthy!

    1. The beauty of the Oregon coast when the weather is fine is something that is definitely tourist worthy, Evelyn! :)

  2. beautiful in every way--you made me feel as if I were part of the family and there with you. Love you dear Elizabeth!

  3. Sounds like an amazing time of refreshment and fellowship for your family! Thanks for the beautiful post & photos, & God bless!

    1. Laurie, I sure appreciate your kind encouragement on my gratitude post.

  4. Beautiful post and pics. I love it when you call the Pacific Ocean "the sea". It reminds me of one of my favorite movies...."Sarah, Plain and Tall". It's a word that makes me think of calmness. Thanks for sharing.

    Love you,

    1. I love that simple word, "sea". It's by the sea that I see God for Who He is, Mighty Creator, Powerful, Ruler of All Creation. Most of all, it seems He meets me by the sea in a very special, sweet way.

  5. Oh Elizabeth. This is absolutely beautiful. Pictures captured were gorgeous! Memories to last a lifetime! We love the trip to Costco & frozen yogurt, we do that too! Thank you for sharing! Hugs & Love

    1. Carol, yes to sharing Costco frozen yogurt! I appreciate your kind comments on my gratitude post.

  6. What a blessing the gift of family is! I'm so glad that you had such a wonderful time! The photos captured perfectly the beauty of your surroundings, and the joy of everyone there.

    Since my parents required more care last year, and since my father's passing in January, I have found the depth of love that is present in my family. Though certainly far from perfect, we have united together. God's grace holds us strong as we hold strong together.


    1. Sharon, I think that our parent's passing made us siblings closer. Going through the process of being with Mama when she died was part of it. Being just us without how our relationships with our parents differed one to another mattering anymore is another part of it. And yes, I don't know what I'd do without my siblings now that our parents are gone.

  7. We had all 5 kids with husband, wife ot be grands adn the 2 teens still at home together on a vacation. Like you we were so blessed!! Thanks for sharing your joyful time.

  8. What fun - and such a blessing! I love my sweetheart's family reunions. We've had sibling reunions for several years now and a few that included all of our kids and grandkids. I think it's something we should do every year because time is passing. It always amazes me as I sit and watch our grown children with their children that we have come full circle. My sweetheart and I are now where his parents were when our kids were young. Time is moving fast - we need to treasure every moment!


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