Quintessential Midcoast Maine

Let me just come right out and tell you: Midcoast Maine is a beauty hunter's playground! What a blessing to return to Camden and Rockport Harbor each year...thanks to parents who've put down some part-time roots up there!

I took way too many photos this year {living in the present moment with a camera in hand will do that to you!}, but for those of you who've never been, I thought I'd start with some "Quintessential Midcoast Maine" shots.

As you might have imagined...

...picture perfect lighthouses.

Schooners {"Windjammers"} on every horizon.

Flags waving from every boat.

Dinghys bobbing in the water.
{Rowing is harder than it looks, by the way!}

Maine-made Hinkley boats...

...for cruising among peaceful islands and into quiet coves.

Nautical maps for navigating Penobscot Bay.

Islands you can only admire from a boat...

...and islands you are free to explore.

Rocky beaches...
{See the heart rock? They're my favorites!}

...filled with treasures.

Always a handful worth bringing home.

Peaceful harbor towns.
{Rockport Harbor}

Lobster boats on their moorings.
{Rockport Harbor}

And yes, lobster.
{Not my favorite, but when in Maine....}

White adirondacks overlooking the water.

Hydrangeas in every color.

And the highlight for my girls...

...fresh-picked, wild Maine blueberries!
{Perfect for pie and pancakes!}

"The Maine Thing" is one of the best things I do all year. I hope you get to go someday! I highly recommend the Midcoast...worth the long day of travel! And if you love photography, check out Maine Media Workshops {where you can take a class with a world-renowned photographer!}.

Happy Weekend, Sweet Blog Friends!

P.S. For those who like to talk camera stuff: I challenged myself to use only one lens the entire trip...my Canon 50mm F/1.8. It's old school! {There's no zoom, so you have to move your feet...that's a prime lens for ya!} The results are razor sharp, and you can do cool stuff with the aperture to get a blurred background {called "bokeh"}. It's also inexpensive and extremely lightweight. The best bang for your buck as far as lenses go.


Newborn Baby Love

Is there anything more perfect than a newborn baby?

My newest little nephew, Evan Maxwell.

I'm in awe of every single itty bitty detail.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

My radiant sister, Holly.

Doesn't she look radiant? That's a girl who gave birth like a champ...four hours from start to finish...au naturel. Wow! {Trying not to be envious of your rock star story, sis.} Talk about different from my story. But then again, we've always been different...like night and day! Wink!

My sister has a huge heart and has always loved children...even the crazy ones, but will you say a little prayer as she stretches her love over three baby boys...22 months, 9 months and a newborn? {In case you're scratching your head trying to figure that one out, she adopted her second baby. Her heart is golden!}

Here's to newborn babies...the most miraculous and marvelous of all God's creations!

P.S. Sweet little Evan, thanks for waiting until your auntie got home from Maine! I sure was happy to be here on your birthday!


Comments...Where Friendship Is Born

C.S. Lewis nailed it when he penned these words. {He's brilliant...one of my favorite writers and thinkers of all time.}

Friendship is one of life's greatest gifts. It's a gift that hasn't always come easily for me, so I cherish the small glimpses God has given. {One of these days, I may have more to say about "the friendship ache" and what I've learned from it, but I'm still in process...not wise enough to reflect.}

Back to my reason for writing....

The biggest blessing that has come to me through blogging is friendship...transparent, authentic, cut-to-the-heart kind of friendship. I know...crazy and unexpected right? I sometimes laugh at it myself!

Two years ago, I would've argued that an "online friend" could never be a real friend. I scoffed at the idea of calling someone "friend" if you'd never spent real life time together. I even had thoughts that "online friends" were for people who couldn't carry on a "real life" friendship. I was so wrong. {Please forgive me for thinking less of you before I even knew you, sweet friends!}

What is really extraordinary about me making friends through blogging is that I'm a "Quality Time" girl {someone who feels loved and shows love through spending time with you...it's my love language}. I once wondered, "What's the point of sharing my heart with people who are so far away...people who have zero potential for spending quality time together?"

I've since realized two things:

  1. I am choosing to spend time on a person every time I read her blog...and even more when I comment. There are so many other things I could do with my time, but I always check in on a handful of blogs because I love the hearts of the women who write them. They are worth my time, and I hope my comments on their posts let them know that.
  2. I believe life is so much more than this world and the things we see right in front of us. My faith tells me that the fullest life is still to come. I get to spend eternity with my blog friends...talk about quality time! I get excited imagining our first embrace. We will know each other so much more fully there...almost as if we have see-through hearts. {A beautiful thought, isn't it?} No blogs and comments needed in that heavenly place!
Thanks to blogging and comment sharing, I am wildly blessed by a handful of amazing women in all parts of the world who I now call friends...real friends. Our friendship began just as C.S. Lewis described...with a "What! You too?" kind of moment. I love those moments, don't you?

And you know what? One of my new friends doesn't even have a blog. Our friendship grew out of my comment on someone else's blog {followed by her regular visits to my blog and lots of emails}. When we met in person for the first time, it was as if we'd known each other forever!

So all of that friendship rambling brings me to this: if you have one of those "What! You too?" moments while reading someone's blog, leave a comment. Even if you've never commented before...even if they already have lots of other comments. Your comment matters...especially if you might be kindred spirits! Only the Lord knows where your next gift of friendship lies. Funny, but it might be online!

And there's one point of business in all of this: I've been receiving a crazy number of Anonymous spam comments...dozens a day. No potential for friendship there, so I've said "no more" to Anonymous comments. If you don't have a Google account {which is free and easy}, no worries...you can use Open ID to leave a comment. And if you prefer to remain Anonymous, no problem...just type in anything you'd like as your name. {Though I love knowing who you are, sweet friends!}

I'm thankful for each and every one of you who chooses to spend time with me here. I don't measure my blog by its followers {or I would've quit long ago}, but by the friendships and blessings that have come from it. Time well spent. You, sweet readers, are precious!

Hugs and love,

P.S. I can't wait to share our Eagle Island {Maine} adventure with you when I'm back in Houston next week. Talk about another world! Time really does stand still in some places.


Unbroken {The Book}

Can I get an "Amen"?!?! That was me last night...just one more chapter, one more page...until the wee hours of the morning. Unbroken was THAT good.

Laura Hillenbrand's first novel, Seabiscuit, was so well researched and wonderfully written that I knew I wanted to read her new book. But war stories don't go down easy, so I waited waited until my heart had time and space to take it all in. 

Yesterday was the day. And Maine is the perfect place. {There's something about getting away that inspires me to devour fiction. At home, I tend to stick with non-fiction...not sure why.} With my girls happily running around outside, I settled in with Unbroken {based on a true story}. I could tell within the first few chapters that it was going to be a late night! 

I'd be a fool to try and say anything too deep and meaningful in my sleep-deprived, still-in- awe-of-the-story state, but here's my favorite passage:
"Resting in the shade and the stillness, Louie felt a profound peace. When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him. In a single, silent moment, his rage, his fear, his humiliation and helplessness, had fallen away. That moment, he believed, he was a new creation. 
Softly, he wept." 
As I read those redeeming words, following so many horrific accounts of suffering unlike anything I will ever know, my heart was humbled, my admiration for veterans was enlarged and my faith was strengthened. Thank you for living, Louie. Thank you for saving Him, Lord. And Laura, thank you for dedicating seven years of your life to tell the story.

And now I'm off to read again...The Art of Racing in the Rain. I'm not a dog person, but I love a redeeming story. {Funny, I bought this book for my sister during our RV blowout incident. Spent two hours in a West Texas Walmart, trying to kill time while we waited seven hours on a Sunday for a tire!}

And next on my list is Major Pettigrew's Last Stand...a book recommended by a new blog friend, Megan, who lives half way across the world on an island. I can tell we're kindred spirits, so I'm looking forward to reading a book she enjoyed. {I love how a few blog comments can spark a new friendship!}

How about you?  Is there a book that's kept you up until the wee hours? What book has stayed with you? Is there a book you'd read a second time? I'm always adding new books to my wishlist and would love to hear your favorites!

Happy Reading!

P.S. This list is by no means complete, but off the top of my head, here are a few of the books I've read voraciously while visiting the coast of Maine over the years...all worth a late night!
The Secret Life of Bees
The Help
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. {trilogy}
The Bright Side of Disaster
The Friday Night Knitting Club
The Shack
Belong To Me
Love Walked In
We Are All Welcome Here 
Flags of Our Fathers
Jane Eyre {surprising gospel love kept me up until 3 AM!}
Jane Austen {every single one of her novels; P&P twice!} 


Silenced By His Majesty {Part Deux}

Something as grandiose as the Grand Canyon definitely deserves a part deux. It was a perfect beauty hunting adventure! Not only was there endless glory to chase with my camera, but I also enjoyed the beauty of the present moment. These images are reminders of moments when time seemed to stand still.

Walking up to the Canyon for the first time...

Someone encouraged us to look down
until we were right on the edge.

{The web doesn't do this panoramic justice.}

Great shot, Dad!

My youngest left her beloved iTouch on the rock
at sunset. We thought it was a goner.

But these guys {who camped out on the edge}
found it and kept it safe all through the night!

One of the most memorable things was
the helicopter ride over the Canyon.
{Thanks, Dad!}

A turquoise tributary that flows into the Colorado.
Something we never would've seen had we
not seen it from above. Incredible!

The girls loved the headsets.
My youngest talked the whole time!

Our one and only family photo...
a little windblown and dark, but not too bad
for handing your camera over to a perfect stranger!

One of the few of my husband and me.

One of my favorites.
Everyone looks so happy...
because they really, truly were!

My little foursome.

The girls LOVED life on the RV.
Here they are having a picnic under a blanket.

And I'd be crazy not to include this photo...
something we can laugh about now!

Yep, that's our rented RV...listing to the left with a blown tire...in the middle of nowhere {aka West Texas}...on a Sunday morning {not a whole lot of jumbo sized tire shops open}! I was strangely content with our circumstances {as were my girls}...despite spending 7 hours on the east edge of El Paso. There were a few unpleasant moments, but you know what? We were safe and now have a good story to tell!

Actually, there are LOTS of stories to tell regarding life on the RV {and life in the RV parks...a first for me!}, but those are better shared in person. If you need a good laugh, come on over! {Or just watch the movie "RV" with Robin Williams. I laughed SO hard when I saw it last weekend!}

A final thought: when my husband got all fired up about an RV trip to the Grand Canyon, I was a little underwhelmed. I was hoping for a trip to France. And a picturesque chateau...not an RV! {Besides, I'd seen a million photos and a 3D IMAX of the Grand Canyon, so I thought I'd kinda "been there."} But there's nothing like seeing it for yourself. {Or feeling it, as my oldest daughter wisely said.} As much as I love France, nothing takes your breath away like the Grand Canyon.  I'm glad we went...and definitely hope to return!

And now...I'm off to enjoy "The Maine Thing" for a few weeks!

Happy Summer!

P.S. This sign was posted at the entrance of a West Texas RV park. It was the perfect message following our tire blowout! Wishing you the same blessing if you're traveling this summer!

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