Friday we loaded up our crew and headed South for a few days at the beach. Seven people and a gear-loving Daddy resulted in Clampett-style packing of both of our SUVs. What should have been a 6 hour trek became 7 1/2 courtesy bladders that were not roadtrip ready. Five stops tested my patience. Of course, after a fair bit of ranting and lecturing during the 4th stop, the 5th and final one was due to my own middle aged bladder. I find humility around every turn these days.
Upon arrival we checked into our accommodations, inhaled a pizza and literally dashed down to the beach as sunset was creeping in. Witnessing our foster daughters' first ever experience with the vast ocean and white sandy beach was definitely my favorite moment so far of this 9 1/2 week journey.
"It's just so beautiful," the 7 year old said in a slow awestruck voice.
"I wish every kid who has never been to the beach could see this," her 8 year old sister announced, as if pronouncing an edict.
And then they played and guttural laughs emerged that I had not heard in 2 months of mothering them.
But standing on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico reminded me why.
The mighty ocean with all its simultaneous power and peace simply cannot be explained. It begs to be experienced first hand.
Body surfing, sand castle building, seashell collecting...
The girls had played in sandboxes, swam in salt water pools and seen photos and videos of the ocean...but nothing matched the moment when they felt the sand between their toes, heard the roar of ocean waves and felt the wind and sun across their faces.
There are ways to simulate, but there are no substitutes.
Vitamins supplement but they aren't the same thing as biting into a ripe, luscious piece of fruit.
Blog posts can encourage and inspire but they aren't the same as diving into the Word for ourselves.
Filling our lives with beautiful things can provide a surface level of happiness, but it is not deep and lasting joy.
We are surrounded by substitutes--but it is worth it to pursue "the real thing."
I was reminded of this yesterday when I pulled out my big SLR camera again. For several years this camera was an indispensable part of my days. I took great joy in capturing mundane moments through the lens that caught the most glorious light.
A couple of years ago as the iphone camera became more advanced and Instagram became a thing I slowly slipped away from use of my Nikon. The quality was not the same, but it was fine. And carrying an iphone was far easier than my big bulky camera.
I chose convenience and ease over quality.
At first it was only an occasional compromise, but then it crept into the realm of habit.
My "big camera" found a permanent spot in the cabinet. Each time I considered using it I would decide against it was too much trouble and my phone quality was good enough.
I settled because it was easier.
Saturday I started shooting with my 'real camera' again--and the experience reminded me what I had been missing.
Doing the right thing can feel cumbersome in the moment. The world tempts us to go with what is convenient or easy over what is good and worth it.
"It'll do" becomes our new normal.
And we forget.
Help me keep this perspective.
Remind me to pursue "life that is really life."
No cheap shortcuts.
I don't want a life marked by "this will do."
Easy is fine, but it is no substitute for good, real and true.