Another summer in New Smyrna Beach has come and gone. It’s such a special place for my family. Of course it has all the great qualities of a small beach town…laid back vibes, a beautiful beach to enjoy, wonderful restaurants all in a small radius. There isn’t much to do, however that’s part of what makes it so special and encourages the laid back lifestyle it easily encourages. But what goes deeper than all of this for me is what this place holds in my heart. It cherishes years and years of family memories. We all have changed over the years, growing older, in new phases of life, some of these loved ones are no longer with us; however this place doesn’t seem to change. That’s part of what makes it so special.
If you’ve been following along on here, you may already know that each year I take a some beach photos with Madeline. When she was a baby, her first trip to NSB at just three months old, my sister suggested that we take some photos on the beach. We found this beautiful area with the dunes, a white house and at the right hour, the most beautiful skies will be part of the backdrop as well. We took those photos in the summer of 2015, and I cherished them so much. It not only marked the start of me bringing my daughter to this special beach as my parents and grandparents had been doing for me and my siblings all these years, but looking back it also felt like such a time in my life where so much pivoted. Becoming a single mom, figuring out so much about who I was, raising this precious gift, so much personal growth, taking on new roles, etc. and as I look back, seeing ever so clearly God’s hand of guidance through it all.
As those beach photos taken that first year of Madeline’s life were such a treasure to me, I knew I wanted more. The next summer, back to the same sandy spot we went. More photos in the books, another summer in NSB documented, more memories to look back and smile on. Then another year came around and another. I coordinated our beach looks, we took our photos. Year four we actually took them with my Uncle Doug. NSB was his favorite place in the world (and he traveled the world). I didn’t know it at the time, but that ended up being the very last time he ever stepped foot in the sand. Well 2023 comes around and back to the special sandy spot we went for an eighth set of beach photos to be taken. And I’m excited to share them with you all today.
I think back on the summer of 2015, our first photos here. Being a mother still felt so new! There are so many of those “what am I doing” moments (in all honesty, I still have those eight years years later). It was a time in my life where I felt so…lost but at the same time bliss. I felt like I had to get it all together. I still had a few years of school ahead of me. I was determined to get my degree even if that meant taking finance finals with one hand, while breast-feeding a baby in the other. Thank goodness for online school! That same year was the year that I decided to take this blog in a new direction. My first ever beach photos actually debuted with a rebrand of this blog. I have had this blog for what feels like a long time, and although there having moments of wondering if I should stop altogether, I’m so thankful that I have been able to carry it with me through all these phases and years of life. It’s very special to me and you being here, reading it, means the world to me! So much can change in just a short period of time, and it is amazing to look back! I remember taking those first beach photos like it was yesterday.
It is even more amazing to look at my beautiful daughter. Being her mom, raising her and having a front row seat in her life is truly the greatest joy. From that tiny baby eight years ago to the beautiful and brilliant little girl, she has become, being her mother is the biggest privilege I could ever ask for. As I am raising her, she truly teaches me so much more in return. It has been our special journey, and that’s what I see overall when I look back on our years of memories in these photos.
This year at the beach was our first year without my sweet Dandaddy being here. He went to be with Jesus on New Year’s Day of this year. I look back to last year, and I see him running on the beach with Madeline, watching her swim, and still giving her pointers from his lifeguard days years ago. If you had asked me last year, I never would have thought he would not be with us this year. He was such a stronghold in our family. Now that both he and my uncle Doug are no longer with us, our time at new Smyrna Beach definitely feels a void, yet also a sense of closeness to them. I see them everywhere there!
Do you ever just look back at photos and think about how much has happened and how far you have common since that photo was taken? That is what I do when I see these pictures. Looking back at our first year of beach photos, I think about how far I have come, I think about how far Madeline and I have come together, I think about the decisions I’ve made. Finishing my degree, taking my blog and social media as my full-time job, homeschooling Madeline and make.. But do you know what I see above all? I see God’s goodness. I see him working things for my good, for Madeline’s good and overall for his glory. When she was a baby, I proclaimed psalm 27:1 as my life verse. Looking back on the past eight years, I can truly see how he has been, my light, my salvation, and the stronghold of my life. How so many little things he has woven together to write a bigger story for me and Madeline. Sure there are still days where I wonder if I will ever figure it out, how I will ever get it together, and what on earth I am doing. But I know within my heart that I can continue to trust him through it all. Each year may look a little different, but he is still that same sandy beach spot, that white house, and a beautifully painted sunset for me. He always stays the same!
I just want to close with saying, if you have a special family vacation spot you go to each year, take those photos! You’ll be so glad you did. Try to find the same spot and do that each year. I promise you they will become some of your greatest treasures to look back on! Thank you for taking the time to read this post.