Family time is absolutely the best thing for me. More than traveling the world, more than long weekends with nothing to do, and more than coffee with a good friend - though these are all things I love. But nothing sets my heart quite at peace like spending time with my family, and all the better when EVERYONE is there - which is hard to coordinate with so many people now!
A few weeks ago my Mom arranged a weekend for us in Richmond. Last year we vacationed with family in the Outer Banks but with busy schedules, new kids, and babies on the way, she planned a weekend excursion in Richmond instead. We went to a campground and had our own little cabin to stay in.
The first night we simply all showed up and spent time together. It's amazing how quickly our family has grown, so catching up with my favorite people is always a joy that takes hours and hours, never quite getting done! On Saturday we woke up to a full day together and my Dad continued the tradition of having a family devotion, something which I haven't always appreciated but have grown to love over the years.
The weather was simply perfect for everything we did - swimming, hiking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and just sitting outside in the shade. That night we had a bonfire complete with s'mores and music by my little sister's incredibly talented boyfriend on his mandolin. We talked and laughed until midnight, just enjoying our time. Everybody took turns cooking meals and we all ate incredibly well!
I realized on my way home Sunday how highly I think of each person in my family, and I truly believe they are the best people I know. My Dad speaks another language fluently which takes a lot of work on top of his extremely busy job where he taught me how to be a good worker. My Mom has fought through health challenges over the years and always humbles me with her strength and selflessness. My big sister is a mom to one with one on the way, going to school and working full time all without neglecting the most precious thing in her life right now - my little niece Eden. My brother-in-law has dealt with crazy shift work, long hours, and a home that requires so much work, yet he continues to forge on tirelessly through it.
My big brother is genuinely one of the kindest people I know and is constantly looking for ways to encourage people. My sister-in-law is a gentle, kindhearted, self-sacrificing mother of two and a wonderful wife for my brother. My little sister is maintaining excellent grades at college and is building a godly, beautiful relationship with her boyfriend (who is a composer and is so very talented!).
Truly, I could go on and on, but being around my family encourages me, pushes me to be better, humbles me, and allows me to rest and just fully be myself. I kept my camera put away for most of our trip so I could enjoy it, but I took it out near the end to capture some of our most precious memories - and I'm so very glad I did. I love these people with all my heart.
Sometimes my niece wears her bathing suit as a cape...because that's totally what Elsa would do.
Thanks to my brother for thinking to grab a picture of us!
Seriously...SUCH a beautiful family. Also, my nephew is already a heart-breaker.