Hello sweet friends!!!! We are back from the beach, and so grateful to have had a chance to get away for a little while.  Sad to say, it literally rained non-stop, so we didn’t actually get much beach time in, but we did do a whole lot of sitting around and talking (every year we go to Hilton Head and rent a condo with Todd’s best friend Dan, and we could pretty much do nothing with him every day and still have a blast).  
We did puzzles, played games, watched some good movies, and took an occasional bike ride when the storm eased up for a few minutes.  It was so great to be able to catch up on some reading (I finished “The Hole in Our Gospel,” and must say it is now in my top 20, which is huge. I also read “The Noticer,” which was great, and I finished a couple that I had been halfway through for ages. Those were not so great, so I won’t bother to mention them….can you say ADDICTION? I probably read a book every week!!!). I got about halfway through “Three Cups of Tea” on the way home from the beach and am going to pick it up as soon as I finish this post, which explains why it may have typos.  I can’t put the thing down, it is so inspiring.
One (kind of funny, kind of not funny) story from the beach…
We were riding our bikes down the pathway that leads to our condo, and I saw this enormous fake alligator sitting with his head basically on the path. I turned around to Todd and yelled, “Was that thing here before?”  I heard a loud noise as Todd and Dan steered their bikes around it. It was so hideous and huge…not really the kind of decor I was expecting.
Which explained why it stood up and walked across the path.
Umm, yeah. A ten-foot-long alligator. 
So of course, with my newfound bravery (which came to me at about 26,000 feet in the air on the way home from India), I decided that the most intelligent thing to do would be to hop off my bike and take pictures. I mean, how often do you get that close to an alligator? 
Don’t answer that.
So, for your viewing pleasure (Dad, close your eyes…)

I also had a great birthday and have already used up my gift-card from Todd and the kids to (shocker) Barnes and Noble…I will let you all know if my purchases are worth picking up for yourself.  I really want to thank each of you who left a comment on my (hijacked!) blog that day, and although I haven’t quite made it through your words, I plan to, and I am so grateful that you took the time to celebrate with me 🙂 Have I mentioned how much I appreciate you all? Well, I certainly do.
I’ll try and post some more pictures from the beach, but for now, here’s one of my favorites.  It was so great because on our very last day there it was scheduled to storm from morning until night, so when we awoke to semi-blue skies, we jumped into our suits and ran to the beach to see if we could make a sandcastle or two. On the way there, the sky just opened up and it turned into the most gorgeous day you have ever seen. We didn’t take a moment of it for granted, and it reminded me once again that we don’t know everything that God is up to. 
I thought about Audrey and how much I wished she was with us. I took her blanket and kept it near me because I missed her so much. While we biked I couldn’t help but remember that the weather channel was still calling for rain while we were enjoying the sunshine.  You never know what the Lord has in store, regardless of what the world is telling you. 
So many people have asked me why I carried her as long as I did, and the truth is that I guess I was hoping the newscasters were wrong.
So, here is my sweet Kate enjoying the blessing of unexpected weather.
And in honor of MckMama’s brilliant photography post, I will tell you that it was shot with a Canon 40D and a 17-50 mm lens with the Av set to 4.0 🙂 If you click on it, you will be able to see the blurry background that she describes so well…
I’m going to try and get a few more chapters in before I hit the sack, but I just wanted to pop in and say hello…
Before I sign off, I do want to ask you to pray for one of my favorite aunts (we’re Italian, so trust me, we are related even though “aunt” isn’t exactly accurate)…she was diagnosed with cancer several months ago and is bravely battling to get her health back on track. We stopped in Georgia on the way there and the way back hoping to see her, but she was feeling pretty rough after her recent treatments so we didn’t get the chance.  I am asking the Lord to heal her body and to be her constant Companion as she walks through this difficult time. She is amazing, and is taking the whole thing in stride.
I guess you could say she isn’t the kind of woman who gets too caught up in the forecast 🙂 
Would you please join me in praying for her and her family? I so appreciate it.   
As always, know I welcome your prayer requests as well…what a gift that we are given to be able to pray for one another.
Love to you all,