The Casting Dock

Posts from — July 2012

My favorite weekend of the year.

I say it every year. It may get old, but I don’t even care, y’all. I can’t help myself.

We have a reunion with a bunch of our college friends every summer. It’s always my most highly anticipated and crazy celebrated weekend of the year. It’s usually in Maine–the way life should be–as it was in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

But this year, our fifth year, we ventured out to our friend Whitney’s parent’s house in Maryland. Beyond idyllic, this luxurious property, ripe with a speedboat, sailboat, kayaks, pool access, swimming pond, and gorgeous lawn sits on the waterfront. It is STUNNING.

And Whit’s parents were so gracious, generous, and hospitable, not only allowing but fully embracing our invasion of their home for 4 days. It was truly a reunion for the books!

There was simply too much goodness going on to capture and adequately express, so I’m just going to hit on some of my personal highlights from the long weekend:

+ Playing blind man’s bluff in the pool with whit’s nieces and nephews. Completely unexpected highlight. I had a blast with these little munchkins and we ended up with a funny chunk of stories from the experience. My favorite part, though, was the rogue sea monster committed to his own agenda amidst the chaos of the game…see if you can spot him above…

+ Georgetown/DC monument walk at night. Always a good place for reflection.

+ Kubb, our new lawn game courtesy of our time in London with these guys. It was THE game of the weekend. Normally these weekends are replete with a myriad of games, sports, and activities, but this weekend had a far more low-key vibe. Kubb was largely our only competitive outlet…and it got pretty competitive…most notable of which was an hour and a half long game involving me as an obnoxious play-by-play announcer/trash talker, Dash self-punishing with push-ups for missed shots, Mark (AKA “the big secret”) finding remarkably thin alleys by which to miss actually knocking over pins, and ending with a rain force out while both sides still had five pins standing.

+ Simple, relaxed chat time. There’s not much that I enjoy more than just chilling around any venue with good friends and chatting. And I was delighted by hours upon hours of it this weekend. Glorious.

+ Long, lingering breakfast/coffee time. A staple of every reunion. And the perfect start to any day.

+ Tubing. Oh man, so many good memories on the boats and tubes. Mark got pretty classically stung by a jellyfish after belaboring his fear of them. Dash tubed rodeo style with a towel tied to the rope (oh-so-classic). The baby boat abruptly ran out of gas causing the front-loaded bow to take a dive. Jerry (and a few others, shockingly) enjoyed his first ever tubing experience (and he liked it! hooray! {aside from the jelly fear…}). And Dash rode rodeo style…did I mention that?…because it is CLASSIC.

+ THE OLYMPICS. So, the Olympics are amazing regardless of time or place or company, but to watch every night with a group of friends over deliciously cooked dinners and after a day spent in the sun was the absolute best capper to each night.

+ Pool Nuke-em. Again, another unexpected amazing activity. This was a highlight all around. Guys vs. girls (plus Dr. Plaster) battle to the end.

+ Bodie, the dog. She’s awesome.

+ Chatting with Mark and Whit poolside on the last night. I think we had good thoughts, Whit…I’m looking forward to watching Mark run with them…

Aside from magically transporting in the people who were unable to make it (and imparting all possible chemistry knowledge to JD so he didn’t have to be super studier pre-med student), there’s nothing I would have changed about the weekend. As I always say, I am SO thankful for this group of people and unbelievably appreciative of the time together.

Many, many, many thanks to Whit’s parents. It wouldn’t have been possible without them! And special thanks to Whit herself for being a rockin’ awesome host and doing so much behind the scenes to both prepare for the weekend (groceries! sheets! cool chalk mason jars!) and ensure it ran smoothly (filling coolers! helping us find stuff in the kitchen! coordinating plans and schedules and transportation! answering a bazillion questions! driving the baby boat {minus the unexpected bailout off the side…while still in motion…}!, etc. etc. etc.).

I know it can be a lot. You were amazing!

Until next year….my wheels are already spinning…

July 31, 2012   7 Comments

sneaky ninja engagement fun: steph&brian

What a weekend, friends! Jerry and I spent a glorious 36 hours in the great state of Maine with a small contingency of friends. Playing beach volleyball, eating lobster rolls, roasting s’mores on the back porch fire pit, competing fiercely in Kubb (our new lawn game) and just enjoying quality time catching up and hanging out. I love that state!

But the best part of the weekend came Sunday morning. Jerry and I were on the road early, 6am to be exact. A quick swing through Dunkin Donuts, a straight shot down 95/93 and we were into the city to help with final preparations for the big event: Stephanie June getting engaged. Now Steph’s covered the details in her blog, so you can check them out there–it’s better in first person soon-to-be bride voice anyway–but I’ll offer a little recap as well.

Now if you know me, you know I LOVE being in the loop and I love being involved behind the scenes, especially for things like this. So I was all kinds of giddy when I (along with our friend Lauren) got my first email from Brian about a month ago looking for sounding boards–”Stephanie consultants” as he called it. He was writing from a jewelry store after just having purchased a ring. He sounded both ecstatic and nervous.

This initial email on June 20 started a chain 47 responses long to discuss possible proposal ideas, logistics, and eventual (surmountable) roadblocks. Finally, the plan was finalized and the big day was at hand: July 22.

We arrived at Brian’s house at 8am, hashed out the plan one more time, and then Jerry (my faithful driver) and I were off. I snuck down to the designated spot on the Charles, basket in hand, and waited on their arrival, camera poised for action…though I was unsure of which direction they would come from. They arrived on their bikes and Brian got right down to business–so quickly in fact that I wasn’t yet in a place to catch the actual popping of the question…no down-on-one-knee business so it was tough to know from a distance when it was actually happening. The series of pictures starts basically right after he asked…I tried to be sneaky so as not to be spotted, even in this pretty open area. All went according to plan. She said YES, they hung out on the bench with beverages and berries, and I remained cloaked in stealth secrecy.

I was shocked by how oblivious Steph was to my presence. I was able to move from tree to tree to trash can to tiny shrub, improving my angles along the way, and remain completed undetected. That is, until some “good citizen” decided to tell them that someone was taking pictures of them. (???). He was one of FOUR people who made comments to me indicating that they thought I was a creeper. Ummm do they know you’re taking pictures of them (eyebrows raised suspiciously)? Ahh, yeah, well one of them does, crazy. Isn’t it obvious–a couple snuggling up on a bench, a basket of fresh flowers and wine glasses at their side, and stars in their eyes?

Anyway, after that guy just blatantly told them I was there, I decided I would emerge from my hiding place to get a few standard shots. Steph was quite puzzled to see me.

What? Where did you come from?

They then headed off for brunch and a late morning/early afternoon together. Meanwhile, Jerry and I rushed back to Brian’s apartment to get phase two ready. Jerry went off to get the pictures developed, I started hanging decorations, and Lauren took over food prep.

(sadly I didn’t get a better large picture of my paper rose garland, but it turned out really cute…)

At around 1:30, Steph and Brian, hot off a pretty long bike ride strolled in. I would like to say it was a TOTAL surprise, but really they heard us all loud and whatnot from the hall when I received Brian’s text message and yelled, “Oh guys, be quiet. They are coming in now.” A tad late on that one.

Steph and Brian:

Seriously, I could not be happier for the two of you. Two quality human beings committed to each other and engaged in a common purpose of serving others and supporting your community. Together you will be a force for good. I feel privileged to have a front row seat, both for your engagement and your future life together.

I sense with all the big events coming down the pipe in the next six months or so I’ll have ample opportunities to be all sappy and nostalgic so I’ll save that for another day…but know that I love you to the moon and back, Stephanie June. All the way to the moon. And I am so so so happy for you. And Brian. Of course.

July 24, 2012   3 Comments

Into my late 20s…

I turned 27 last week. I’ve always felt good about 27, anticipatory even. I think it’s going to be a stellar year.

We had a cook-out with some of our closest friends in our backyard–burgers, fries, bocce, a couple sheets strewn on the ground. The typical drill. It was low-key and lovely. Just what I wanted. It was also the initiation of our summer grill which has been sitting idly as the warm days wear on, the result of a tiny broken part.
She’s finally up and running.

I intended to take more photos, but you know how that goes sometimes…I did, however, thoroughly enjoy this lovely birthday blog post, ripe with photos, from one of my very favorite people…

I’m hoping we have lots more little cook-outs under these cozy lights–it’s the best way to enjoy summer nights.

July 16, 2012   2 Comments

High School Lisa: an exercise in self-reflection

Dear High School Lisa,

I think about you sometimes. I think about what I wish you would have known back then.

To be honest, there’s not much I would change about you. I am actually really proud of you. You were, in fact, my favorite version of myself to date.

You were content with yourself. There was a depth of self-awareness to you, a disregard for finding acceptance in typical teenage avenues. Jeans and a narrow rotation of threadbare vintage t-shirts, make-up-less–that’s how I remember you. Sure, you were naive and idealistic, but you had perspective. And you had your priorities in line.

Remember those people who would tell you that you had a good head on your shoulders? That you were mature for your age? They were right, you know. I think you knew that at the time, but with added time and perspective, I see now how right they were. I love that about you.

You were just a good kid. An easy one.

But there are still things I would want to tell you.

I wish you would have realized how important it is to include others. I see now how hard it is for kids to start at new schools, to find acceptance and belonging in a brand new peer group, especially at that age. I wish you would have gone out of your way to include those people. You were never mean or exclusive, but you were selfish in that sense. You loved your friends and your life and you were settled in your own routine. For all your strengths in seeing other people’s perspectives, you really didn’t stop to put yourself firmly enough in the new kids’ shoes. I think you would have been more overtly inclusive if you had. I hope so, anyway.

You couldn’t have chosen a better boyfriend.  I think you knew that one at the time too, but he was the absolute perfect high school boyfriend. Having seen the range of high school dating experiences, I am so proud of you for this one. You needed a stable, loyal, servant-hearted, hard-working, (athletic) guy from a solid family. You chose well. There was a real wholesomeness to that relationship. He was your best friend. He loved you, respected you, and honored you. I know it was a hard, painful decision, but he wasn’t the best fit for you long-term–you were right on that one. You will find a higher compatibility fit (and it will feel just like you think it should, even though you can’t put words to it now). But he was exceptionally well-suited to you for that season. You will always think fondly of him and that time. That’s a really good thing, a privilege not reserved for many.

I know sometimes your family situation was hard for you. Especially in comparison to your best friends’ seemingly perfect family, seemingly perfect life. First off, comparison is the greatest thief of joy. Learn this lesson early as it will save you so much doubt, insecurity, and feelings of inferiority. Second, that family was one of God’s greatest gifts of grace to you. The ripple of their influence extends so much further than you know right now. They are a significant reason why your own marriage thrives the way it does now. Be sure to thank them properly. Third, every family has their issues. It has taken a long time to learn this lesson, but trust me, it’s true. Remember that when you have a moment of envy. Fourth, you have influence, even as a teenager, over your familial relationships. If you don’t like how they are playing out, initiate change. You have that power. It is no longer an adult-child relationship in which you are merely a reactor. Lastly, I know it is hard and I am not discrediting that, but believe me when I say, the range of terrible family situations is wide. Always be thankful that you have parents who love you and siblings with whom you are on good terms. It will be a journey.

You won’t always love basketball. It’s shocking, I know, because you eat, drink, and sleep it now and have for years. But one day, you won’t know the latest NBA stars, you won’t take walks with a basketball at your side, or shoot around to clear your head, or even be able to locate your Bulls/Jazz Finals scrapbook. It’s okay though. There will be other loves.

College is going to be so much more challenging than you realize. Not academically–you’ll do just fine there. But it will be a total shock to your system socially and culturally (and SO much colder than you are anticipating). Hang in there. You will find an indescribable measure of God’s grace through your persistence and faithfulness. You will find the friends of a lifetime there. It will all be worth it.

Don’t shy away from hard questions and don’t fear pain, regret, or failure. Engage them. You will find depth and authenticity and growth there.

Read CS Lewis when you feel you have lost your compass. He reorients you.

Always believe in God’s grace and power like you do right now. It won’t always be so easy–you will waffle and there will be difficult seasons, but try to be faithful. Don’t think back on yourself as young or naive or silly when it comes to faith just because your horizons are going to expand and you are going to engage more intellectual arguments and meet a wider range of people with varying beliefs. You believe fiercely and trust fully right now. That is something I admire about you. I wish I was more like you in that.

Always make sure your mom knows she means the world to you. Quirky as she is, you would be lost without her.

Value people over things. Ten times out of ten.

Be thankful always. There will never be a minute of your life in which you won’t have something to be thankful for. You have no idea right now of the scope of suffering and hardship in the world. As your future best friend will say, we have hit the lottery with our lives. Be actively thankful.

Believe that God’s grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in weakness. Act based on that belief.

Know that you’re gonna be just fine. And you don’t have to be perfect. Let that go a little.

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July 11, 2012   5 Comments