Michael and I got back last week from a lovely trip to the beach with his mom’s side of the family. We had almost 40 people on the trip, and we had a great time! One of the rooms that was rented for the trip was a penthouse at the resort where we stayed. It was the official gathering place for everyone on the trip. It was absolutely ENORMOUS, with five bedrooms and a thirty-foot kitchen island, plus hot tubs on the balconies, a huge dining room table, and a large living room with several couches. Did I mention there was more than enough room to have all of us eat dinner together every night? It was wonderful to see many aunts, uncles and cousins that we do not see very often, as well as Michael’s parents and most of his siblings (including my precious new baby nephew!).
I will admit though that I had a really hard time at first with the kids. They were so fussy and difficult to deal with for a little while. I am happy to report that after a day or so, the kids did great, and we were able to spend lots of time toward the end with everyone, and even put the kids down for bed in the penthouse so that we didn’t have to leave everyone and go back to our own room when the kids were ready for bed.
Notice that I have steered clear of calling this trip a “vacation.” There’s a difference, to me at least.:) Trips with little ones can be so much work. I’d say that a vacation, to me, is just me, or just me and Michael, off by ourselves for a night or two or three or four. Off-duty. 🙂 (We are looking forward to a Just-Us cruise in November though!!!)
So…I had swimsuits on my mind for a while before we went on this trip. My only swimsuit is a red bikini I bought for my honeymoon four years ago. It is a halter-top that ties behind my back and neck, and the bottom is a short skirt. It’s been a long time since I fit into it, with having two precious babies and all. 🙂 Also, most of the places I have worn it have been splash parks with the kids, places where I could wear a t-shirt and running shorts to stay more covered up–and practical, to be honest.
It really hit me this year, as I looked forward to this beach trip, that I don’t think I can wear that swimsuit anymore. I think about walking out in that swimsuit in front of any of my male friends, and I feel…for the lack of a better word…a red flag. I have underwear that is more modest than that swimsuit. At least the everyday stuff. Which throws up another red flag for me. 🙂
For whatever reason, I do think God chose this moment to make me rethink my own swimwear. To make a long story short (is that possibly when I blog though?), I ended up buying a new swimsuit. It’s a long tankini top with a tennis skirt-length bottom that slides on over the bottoms. (In this picture of it, the model doesn’t have the skirt on though!)
There is such a range of opinion on modesty. I have talked to several friends (as well as my husband, of course:) about the topic of modesty lately, including several very good, honest, Godly men I respect quite a lot. Each of those men had a different opinion. As did my husband, and almost every girlfriend I happened to talk to about this.
Several people I talked to about swimsuit modesty recently said simply that “you should wear what you–and even your husband–are comfortable wearing.” On one hand, I disagree with that, but on the other hand, I agree with it–after all, that’s just what I’ve done. My conscience is comfortable wearing my new suit instead of the old one.
The parts of me that weren’t comfortable with wearing my new suit are all pride, and all vanity–nothing of substance.
I wish things were more black and white. I know wonderful people who believe that what you wear to the pool should effectively look like a t-shirt and capris. And I know wonderful people who think that bikinis are perfectly acceptable, especially if you “can” wear them. In the end, I think you have to go with your conscience. And I think you have to look very, very honestly at the purity of your intentions.
As a married woman, I know far better than the day I bought that cute bikini for my honeymoon about what men face these days. I know how many, many good men–single men, priests, brothers, cousins, uncles and fathers of all ages–struggle silently to guard their hearts and take control of their eyes. I know I can’t control what any person thinks. I know that I don’t need to dress as if men are orangutans with no control over themselves.:)
But I know most importantly that I don’t want to be a stumbling block for anybody.
In the end, when I meet the Lord face-to-face one day, I would rather have erred on the side of modesty for His sake. Because to err on the alternative side, at least for me, would probably mean I had not fully addressed the vanity and pride about appearance that my little heart has always struggled with. My poor mother can attest to many tears from me, even as a very young girl, over my clothes and hair!
I thought a hundred times about not writing this particular post. 🙂 Mostly because I am desperately afraid that I’m going to offend somebody–especially someone I know. Please don’t think I’m judging. I’m just a girl trying to do the right thing. The right thing being everything I can do to serve God more purely and perfectly.
And I’m pretty sure that I am doing a terrible job of properly blogging about everything in my thoughts and on my heart regarding this topic.
God has plenty of things He wants all of us to work on, but He definitely chooses when to bring certain things to our attention. I’m sure He’s probably not done with me and Modesty yet. A neat little quote from Vatican II: “[Man’s conscience ever calls] him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, [and sounds] in his heart at the right moment.”
Enough of that. 🙂
So, following the family vacation to the beach, I had the amazing (amazing, amazing, amazing!!!) gift of a weekend at a beach house in Galveston with some girlfriends! The weekend was Michael’s Mother’s Day gift to me this year. He and a group of other husbands got together and worked out a date and a place for their wives to get away for the weekend and relax. I am still so overflowing with gratitude for this gift from my husband.
The weekend was wonderful. We ate well, talked a lot, went to bed whenever we wanted and slept in as long as we wanted. My record for the weekend was 9:15am! I especially loved the hurricane shutters on all the windows, because if you closed them, they completely blacked out the room, which is very helpful when you’re trying to force your body to sleep in past 6:30am. 🙂
My very favorite part of the weekend was dinner on Friday night. We were all having a little trouble “unwinding” from being On-Duty as moms, so we broke out the wine and did an icebreaker: We had to go around the table and “introduce” ourselves without talking about our husbands or our children. We had to describe where and how we grew up, what our interests were–and we had to take a drink of wine (or whatever we had) if we slipped and started talking about kids or marriage. It was fantastic. We learned so much about one another, and had some real Girl Talk. Lovely!
My third-favorite part of the weekend was that I got to dress up and go eat out with my girlfriends.
My fourth-favorite part of the weekend were Betsy’s Dark Chocolate Brownies with Dark Chocolate Buttercream-Cream Cheese Icing.
I ate enough of those brownies that I’m pretty sure my bottom wouldn’t fit so well into that old bikini anyway! 🙂 Not that I needed it–we didn’t even go to the beach, since it was a short drive from the house. It rained and was overcast nearly all weekend. Perfect weather for staying in, sleeping in, reading, talking, eating and napping. Which was exactly what God knew my little self needed to do.
Praise the Lord in his mercy and wisdom! And thank You. And Michael.:)