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The Sweetie Pie and I got away last weekend to celebrate our 13 years of life united. I spent a lot of time considering where to go–some place beautiful, but not cliche; romantic, but not saccharine; interesting, but not so much that we would feel guilty if we didn’t leave our lodging; a place I could cook my food, but not be weighed down by it; sunny, but not blazing hot; a beach, but no string bikinis. I am nothing if not specific.

I remembered seeing this place in Sunset magazine years ago, and being struck with an immediate sense of I-must-be-there-NOW. Our first vacation alone with just the two of us in over 5 years seemed the perfect excuse to go. So we did. And we were not disappointed.

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I spent the entire weekend trying to strike a balance between documenting and experiencing, so there were many joys and gifts that went unphotographed. But the Sweetie Pie brought along his camera, too, and between the two of us, we captured much. Here, a few of our gifts of His grace.

A delayed flight? No kids, no rush, no problem!

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We chose to take the long and leisurely Highway 1 up the coast to our destination. We stopped on our way out of the city to have a gander at the Golden Gate Bridge.

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We also made a stop at Sea Ranch Chapel, recommended by my brother, just to see some beauty. In a moment of spontaneous romanticism, I looked at the Sweetie Pie and said, “I can’t remember what I said 13 years ago, but whatever it was…..I still mean it. Only this time I understand what I’m saying.” The Sweetie Pie laughed. We don’t do romanticism very well.

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The mornings at Mar Vista followed the same leisurely pattern: waking early, taking in some scenery from our backyard, lighting a fire; gathering flowers and veggies from the gardens, fresh eggs hanging on the door, a slow breakfast; a cup of hot tea, some knitting by the fire.

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We spend so much time in our everyday lives doing that our primary purpose on vacation is being. But we did manage to get out and do one adventurous bit of sight-seeing. Bowling Ball Beach requires a tide level below 2 feet to view it, and it happened that the tide was low enough on our second day to venture down. To get there, we crossed different layers of beach terrain, ranging from beautiful (sea tossed rocks and tide pools), to precarious (strata layers of lava rock, rising like peaks and valleys from the receding tide), to downright disgusting (can someone please inform me what those squishy tubes of sea vegetation with the maggots on them are??? It took me a full 15 minutes before I was willing to step on them to walk across. We called it “The Sea of Snakes”.)

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In the evening, we’d follow Renata and Tom around the property during feeding time. I can’t even begin to describe the joy that a flock of chickens and a few goats and rabbits add to my day.

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And we’d end every day with a delicious, spontaneous dinner made from the seasonal offerings of Mar Vista’s garden–no recipe, no measuring, no agenda, no arguments over the green things in the soup, and candles…lots of candles.

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As I come here every week trying to name the beauty and the gifts of my days, I am always struck by how inadequate the words and the photos are. They always fail to capture the nuance and the glory; they always fall short.

This week I am feeling that shortfall quite keenly. I can’t begin to name or number all of the ways in which those days and that place were a gift to me. I can’t begin to describe the deep peace in my soul or the rest in my spirit that I felt there.

But the attempt matters. The attempt is what solidifies the experience, marks the memories. The attempts are my Stones of Remembrance (Joshua 4:1-10), the reminders that I can look back upon and be reminded of all of the past mercies He has shown me. And in the looking back and in the remembering, I learn to trust Him for the days ahead.

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