Lowcountry Lifestyle: Congaree National Park

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Congaree National Park–a gorgeous swampland  of towering trees, fireflies, and rather crazy camping experiences, apparently. There is so much amazing history and so much wildlife. And there is nothing like sleeping under the stars.

About 11pm we went to bed. As we settled into our tent, that lush feeling of crisp air and a cool sleeping bag rushed over me. It was a clear night, and looking up at the mesh top of the tent, the stars peeked through the delicate trees. But the moment and aforementioned feelings were short lived. Our camping neighbors thought it would be a rad idea to shine their flashlight into our tent approximately 17,497 times, throw boxes of glass bottles onto the ground, and (my favorite) snap fallen limbs in half–enough for a year’s worth of kindle. And it’s 3am, mind you.

That’s right: 4 hours of crazy. The infuriating aspect was that several times they seemed to have quieted down, and we drifted into that darling, infant stage of sleep and then BAM!

Strong coffee and cinnamon Poptarts were enjoyed in abundance the next morning.

P.S. I also happened to lose my wedding band on the way back from the potty in the middle of the neighbor’s wild, super fun party. But thank the Lord I found it shining in the grass lined with dew. Whew. It was quite a camping trip.

On this Memorial Day 2016, I am thankful for a nation full of beautiful parks, and I am so very thankful for all the men and women who sacrificed their lives so that the United States could thrive in freedom.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

 

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Wearing Her Veil: A Mother’s Day Post

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View More: http://marvelousthingsphoto.pass.us/ericandaudreyann

It was a ceremonial occasion–Mom zipping up my dress and helping me attach the veil. Months before the wedding I tried on my mother’s darling wedding dress, just for kicks. I stood in front of the mirror with Mom, we breathed in nostalgia, and we breathed out ridiculous laughter. First off, her dress is the tiniest thing you’ve ever seen, and would never have fit me without some major alterations. Additionally, the style (though very classy) was a bit on the 1980’s-meets-a-lace-cupcake side. On her it was adorable. On me it was hilarious. But I did choose to wear her veil (and the beadwork even matched my dress).

The day of my wedding was full of moments I wanted to remember forever, but it has taken me nearly three years to understand the significance of wearing that puffy bit of tulle. My photographer friend snapped away and I floated through the moment. Eyes were dewey, and I grinned like a chimpanzee (seriously, some of my wedding photos are a trifle embarrassing).

The funny thing is, I had worn her veil my whole life. Under her surrounding love I had lived. It was full of protection, humor, and an understanding of reality based on her past, based on years of life before me. She made selfless decisions for my brothers and me based on what God had taught her and the places she had been. The veil was her love. And really, I still wear it.

As I pledged my life and love to a man, I was covered with so much love, with years of Mom telling me that when you know, you know. All the quirks of family life and ordinary days come to a crescendo on a day like one’s wedding.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank you for covering with your prayers, love, and a bit of crazy. And thanks for knowing my secrets and still thinking I can do anything.

Proverbs 31 says a noble wife (and mama) are rare and the kiddos will rise up and called her “blessed.” I sure do.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

 

 

Photos: Copyright Tori Watson Photography

Kaleidoscope: Tribute to Guam Pt. 1

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Irony and camera lenses tend to grip me these days. I am learning that sometimes the clearest way to see something is when that something is no longer in focus. See the blur. The haze draws us in and tells us to squint and look closely. It is clarity that has a way of blinding, a way of filling your mind with bright color, but your thoughts with nothing. You do not see it because it has become a part of your eyes, a part of you. We rarely see ourselves. And we rarely see the current season of our lives as a treasure, as a beautiful kaleidoscope image, constantly changing.

About six months ago my husband and I flew across the great Pacific to the US of A–to one of its oldest cities: Charleston, South Carolina. I couldn’t pack very much, but I did pack that kaleidoscope of memories, of images, of the way my body felt against the air of heat and slow, slow down. I have unpacked almost everything we brought. But that kaleidoscope. Even typing these words brings tears. There is so much I miss that weighs down my chest, making it difficult to breathe.

Guam has a color. It is brown like the sand, yellow like the sun, and white like the innards of a coconut. It is the ribboning of all the colors in the rainbow glazed over the sky. And I became that color, a kaleidoscope of a color. Here, I have trouble knowing my place. I do not know my color. Here I am just white, they think. They don’t know about the other colors in me. “You had a great experience.” I am a different person. “You’re waxing lyrical.” Possibly.

Memories flash: my toes plunge into the wet sand, and I feel that connectedness. My heels sink in and the surface massages my arches. I close my eyes and breathe deeply, hoping never to forget. People think that island life must be very isolated and insulated. While that is true in some ways, I always felt that there, on the shore looking out at the blue Pacific water, that there was vastness to my life, a lack of control that I never grasped anywhere else. Grandeur alters perspective.

The locals’ accents run over me, a wave of warmth, a familiar cadence. I will never look like one of them–my skin will tan, but not brown. I will always love anything vintage and English. But their ways, their mannerisms were the hand that offered the awkward girl a dance, a bend, a sway. Barriers crossed and cheeks kissed. Openness.

Many of my images no one else can see. Can you ever take enough photos of everyday, beautifully boring life? Those images are mine, but I did capture a few towards the end to share. I hope these pictures remind us to live and love in large ways wherever we are, because we won’t always be here. We won’t always be here. Love Jesus, love people all around you, and love where you are. Keep your kaleidoscope close and your chin up, sweetheart.

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