The Sunlit Path: A Birth Story

The highway stretches out in front of us lazily, enticing us forward as it meets the blue sky at the horizon. White, puffy clouds punctuate the otherwise perfectly sunny day as I watch the trees change from decidedly deciduous to eventually evergreen as we travel North. I sit back in the passenger seat of our Honda Odyssey and drink in the silence of the mini-van. We are finally on our wa–

“MOMMY!!! I HAVE TO POTTY RIGHT NOW!” Lucy’s frantic screams pierce through my reverie.

I turn in my seat, and try to calm down my three-year-old daughter for what seems like the fortieth time in the last three minutes.. “Honey, I just told you, Daddy’s looking for a place to pull over so you can potty, but it might be a few minutes…can you please be patient?”

“I NO YIKE DEEZ FOOT ‘NACKS!!!” Lily chimes in from the backseat.

“Lil, I’m sorry, but those are the ones we have,” I try to explain to my not-quite-two toddler (who is having none of it). They didn’t have the Annie’s ones at the store when I went…”

“NO! DEEZ ARE YUCKY KIND, MAMA!”

“MOMMY!!! MY UNDIES ARE WET!!”

“Oh, Good Lord,” I sigh, turning to Drew, who’s obviously tuned out the commotion. “Are we there yet?”


Finally.

We pull into the gravel driveway of a nondescript two-story house.

“Yes, this is the right address,” I confirm, locating the house numbers that match the address we plugged into the GPS.

“Hmmm…not quite what I was expecting,” Drew says.

“Yeah, me neither,” I reply, trying not to sound nervous.

Please oh please let this place not be a dump, I think to myself. It looked so nice in the pictures online. I really hope we made the right decision, renting this house for the week with Kate and her family. It’ll really suck if the house…um…sucks.

“Well, let’s go take a look,” Drew says as he opens his car door.

I follow his lead, then unbuckle Lily from her carseat as he sets Lucy free on his side of the van. We walk toward the south side of the house and see a gravelly path headed toward the back…west. I step around the corner, and my breath catches in my throat…

There in front of me is one of the most gorgeous sights I’ve ever seen. A perfect little path with weathered wooden Adirondack chairs off to the right, leading out to the deep blue expanse of Lake Michigan.

Beach house view

I am in awe…this view…wow.

I continue to absorb the panorama in front of me, inhaling the scent of warm sand, the Lake, and wildflowers nearby. We’ve never really taken this type of vacation before, and it is so badly needed right now. Drew and I have both been working so many hours leading up to this product launch. Downtime near the water is going to be a much needed remedy for our work-weary selves.

I think to myself I could stand here forever, stare at this view, and never grow bored. In fact, I’m contemplating doing that exact thing when I realize the children are already hurling themselves into the water…

I turn to Drew and say, “I don’t even care what the house is like, because this is the most perfect beach and view EVER.”

“Not gonna argue with you there,” he replies.

I realize I better intervene with the girls, when I suddenly remember: I have to show Kate!

They’re still on the road. With the longer drive coming from Wisconsin, through the U.P., and across the Mackinac Bridge, they aren’t expected for a few hours yet. I feel so bad for them at this moment, because our 4-hour drive felt like hell, so I can only imagine how their drive is going…

I take a picture of the view with my phone and text it to Kate, hoping it will help sustain her and Collin the rest of their journey… It’ll be worth it, you guys, I promise. Just a little longer.

When the road-weary family arrives, we have homemade salsa, chips, and tacos (not to mention margaritas) waiting for them. I can tell by the look on her face that Kate is as impressed by the view (and the house, for that matter…the inside did not disappoint) as I am.

I see her demeanor start to relax as I hand her a much-needed adult beverage…

If this is the effect this place has on us, I think, we are never going to want to leave.

Cheers

Later that night, after we put the kids to bed and witness the most breath-taking sunset over Lake Michigan, we (Kate, Collin, Drew, and myself) find ourselves standing around the island in the kitchen of the beach house.

Kate and I pull out a bottle of wine, and the guys crack open a beer. Before we know it, the bottle of wine is gone, there are several empty beer bottles, and we’re searching for something more to drink.

Q. What do parents of 5 kids under the age of 4 do when they run out of booze?

Tequila and Juicy Juice

A. They get a little creative.

I know…ew.

The conversation flows, and as we grow more and more (shall we say) happy?, we begin turning more and more introspective. We talk about jobs, how fulfilling (or unfulfilling) they are, and before long, we are each sharing our dreams. Kate and Collin both discuss the farm and the orchard, and Drew and I—feeling a little less sure of our dreams, having not really taken the time lately to “go there”—start to open up and discuss possibilities as well.  Drew would be a police officer if money were no object, and he would get his pilot’s license…

And I…I just want to write. I want to have time to flesh out all of the little starts and ideas that I have tucked away in notebooks…crafting them into actual books worth reading. (Oh, and I’d like to own a coffee shop/book store in our little village with cozy little nooks that serves only my favorite things.)

As the week goes on, the conversation we had on our most inebriated of nights at the beach house is never far from Kate’s and my hearts.

I feel myself continue to unwind as I let thoughts of work drift further and further from my mind. And as I allow the drifting to take place, I feel a spark…a surge of …something. The urge to grab the nearest notebook to start jotting down my thoughts. A desire, certainly, but also the NEED, to write…


The Birth Story

Fast-forward six months. It’s the middle of one of the most brutal winters either of us can remember. I’ve just gotten off the phone with Kate, and I’m thinking more about our conversation. She’s right, I know. We need to do something with this idea, like we said we would. But I’m scared. I’m scared of “putting myself out there,” of vocalizing my dreams to someone other than my few closest friends. What if I never write anything of worth? What if I never publish a book? And even if I do publish a book some day, will anyone actually read it? Once I state my dreams so  plainly to the universe, will the pressure to take the next step paralyze me?

Kate and I talked about starting a blog to begin documenting our dreams, and I do love the idea of it…but there is something holding me back. I’m not ready yet, but I’m not sure why…

I need some guidance. I need to lay out all of my concerns and worries and insecurities and say to God, “There it is, Lord. So, now what?”

I spend much of the next few weeks setting aside time each day to read the devotional Kate bought me for my birthday. I love the format of this particular devotional, Jesus Calling. It feels like I’m sitting down and having a conversation with God (Jesus). I read the entry for that day, along with the additional scripture passages, write a response to it in my journal, and pray. This daily ritual uplifts me and makes me feel less anxious. Little by little, I start to feel a certain presence with me throughout my days, and it brings me indescribable comfort and peace. It’s a feeling I’m not altogether unfamiliar with, but it has been many years since I’ve felt it…

Kate and I continue to chat about this idea for the blog whenever we have a chance. She agrees that there’s an element to it that we’re missing…yes, we want to talk about our dreams, and we want to document our journey toward achieving those dream lives, but there is the underlying “unrest” we feel about not knowing if our dreams will actually pan out, or if they’ll change over time.

Because the curve balls in our lives keep coming, and it’s hard to plan anything, really…

Ding! Ding! Ding!

And that’s when it all starts to come together for us…

Kate suggests we try to “nail down” the mission statement for the blog, and we start to brainstorm—both together and on our own.

We share and discuss blogs by other writers that we admire, and what it is in particular we love about them.

We talk about wanting our blog to be a way to inspire us (and others), a zen-like setting away from the beach house.

We talk about vocalizing our dreams—really putting them out there—but tempering those statements with the knowledge that God is the master planner in our lives, and He will lead us in the direction He sees fit.

And, finally, the fully-formed idea is born—the theme of our blog that feels “right” for us both.

A place to talk about our dreams and how to get there, but also a place to share our worries, daily struggles, and setbacks along the way.

A place to connect with others and hopefully touch someone else who may be struggling with similar life decisions or difficulties during their own journey.

A place called The Sunlit Path.

(Have we mentioned how happy we are to have you walking along with us?)

Written by Ember

Ember

Wife. Mother of 2 girls. Bookworm. Coffee addict. Lover of shoes. Killer of most plants. I write for a living, but not the glamorous kind (think: instruction manuals, not New Yorker essays).

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