We are home from a delightful visit with my sister and her husband in Virginia. Travel with little ones is always uncertain, but this time, my boys made the long drive and the busy days positively easy. We arrived Thursday evening after a fun, calm journey. Friday held the final performance presented by the students of a three week Summer Intensive arts program at a local university (My brother-in-law was one of the teachers.) The students—high school juniors and seniors—displayed their work in fashion design, acting, singing, and filmmaking. Such talent!
Next we headed to the Children’s Museum. My kind of place! The “museum” is really a wonderful indoor play area that celebrates the value and magic of play. The place was so inviting, colorful, and full of a fun, family energy. We all had a good time.
Later, my sister took me to a yarn shop and a quilting shop. Heaven!!! We ended the day with a delicious dinner outdoors. My sister made chicken-kielbasa-potato-pineapple-kabobs (How’s that for a title?), and her hubby grilled them in the backyard. And we enjoyed tossed salad and fruit salad, too. Everything was so fresh and summery.
Saturday was the day that I have been anticipating! The Beach. Finally, after far too many years, I saw the big, beautiful ocean once again. I wasn’t sure how my boys would react to the sand and the surf, but I wasn’t too surprised that they had a blast.
We attended worship together and then parted ways. The ride home went as smoothly as Thursday’s venture (thanks to Veggie Tales music). I always hate leaving after a visit, but this time, I came home feeling both refreshed and inspired. It wasn’t just the gorgeous sea that washed away the tedium of the regular old day-to-day. My sister and her husband have built a sweet, fun life for themselves in a lovely city. They keep a very tidy, charming home. They’ve created an atmosphere that could be compared to a spring breeze…simple, refreshing, calming. Even the palette of wall color and other décor suggest a perpetual springtime. Part of me feels guilty that my counter top is always sticky, socks always litter the floor next to my side of the bed, and I often have a bathtub ring. But most of me looks at their cottage and thinks ‘I can live like this, too.’ And so, since we’ve been home, I’ve decluttered and scrubbed the shelves in my kitchen (We don’t have regular cabinets, just open shelving.), and I’ve completed cleaned out and organized our “pantry” (really just a big cabinet).
I carried home another piece of inspiration as well. My brother-in-law is a filmmaker and photographer, and whenever I spend time with him, I am positively impacted by his passion and his dedication to his craft. He is extremely knowledgeable, but more than that, he believes in the value of his work and the overarching significance of creativity and the search for meaning through art. Maybe that isn’t how he would characterize his work or his purpose, but that’s how it comes across to me. Like me, he went through the challenges and joys of completing an M.F.A., and while I’ve essentially run screaming from my M.F.A. experience, my dear brother-in-law lives his art every day. His craft is a way of life that he embraces with joy and an amazing work ethic. I want that, too. After one weekend of visiting, I’m ready to renew my commitment to writing.
My sister, too, is dedicated to her work as an elementary school teacher in a way that inspires me. She’s my little sister—physically and chronologically—so I often feel surprised by the wisdom she possesses about how to reach children and foster a love of learning in them. She feels frustrated at times by the constraints of the school system, but that doesn’t keep her from putting a dose of her signature creativity and love into everything she does. Right down to the precious curtains that she made for her third grade classroom this fall.
Thanks for a great visit, guys…and for the renewed spirit, too!
(Beach pictures are coming.)