Laresa Watkins

Overcoming some fears this summer…

Jul 6, 2018

I am not scared of too many things.  There are things I avoid because they make me uncomfortable, such as speaking in front of large groups of adults or going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday, but I can do those things without too much anxiety.  🙂

There is something I am really scared of, though, something that makes my heart beat faster and my thoughts spin out of control: murky water.  When we go over a bridge, especially the long, tall bridges like we went over last week when we went to the Outer Banks, I have to focus on the road in front of me. If I let myself, I will go through in my mind the entire scenario of what would happen if we somehow plunged over the edge of the bridge.  I imagine myself busting out the window of the car, telling Jason to grab Charlie while I get Maddie, then swimming to the surface only to be tragically eaten by an alligator just feet from shore.  Those bridges are all beautiful, but they make me very anxious and I am always relieved to reach the other side.

I avoid any water that isn’t clear enough that I can see my feet.  I love sitting on the beach and walking on the beach and building sandcastles on the beach, but the kids have to really beg me before I will join them in the ocean.  I feel the same way about lakes, rivers, etc. Nope, nope, nope.

Every once in a while I am forced to face this fear, and last week on vacation was one of those times.  Jason mentioned several days ago that there are lots of kayak tours on the OBX, and he wanted to go on one.  Without really thinking it through, I agreed.  Suddenly, I found myself here:

Yep, those are my feet. My feet on a kayak tour through a maritime forest complete with snakes, fish, turtles, 2 feet of mud which a woman would immediately sink into up to her knees if she accidentally fell out of her kayak, and alligators (Our tour guide, Justin, denied this, but I later learned that an alligator had, in fact, been caught in this exact area only weeks earlier. Not only did they catch the alligator here, but they tagged and then released it in the SAME SPOT.).

Why do I let myself get into these situations that scare me so much? Well, I don’t want to miss out on anything. I want to experience every single thing I can in this life, and I want my kids to experience every single thing they can.  While Maddie didn’t care for kayaking, Charlie discovered a new passion.  The problem is, now I am going to have to take him kayaking all the time.  This is him at the lake a few days ago:

I took this picture from shore.  🙂

I want them to be brave and courageous and feel free to try new things, even if they are scared.  And I want them to look back on these experiences and say, “Wow, I did that!”  So I have to do that, too.

Over and over again, apparently.








25/31 Days

Oct 25, 2017

This weeks theme on The Daily Post is “round.”  I went searching through my pictures and found a lot with a “round” theme, and also thought about writing about being well-rounded or something like that.

But then I found this picture I took when we were on our way to Destin, FL a couple of months ago for vacation.  It’s not a great picture because I took it from the window of the truck while we were traveling around 85 mph down the interstate, plus the power lines are annoying, but it brought back a lot of summer memories so I enjoyed seeing it.

This is the giant peach in the sky (or, as we like to call it, “the giant butt in the sky”) that is right across the border in South Carolina.  I don’t care how many times you pass by it, it’s always funny!

So…We Had to Take a Break from #WatkinsVacay2016 and What I Have Learned About Rest

Jul 15, 2016

I know it sounds ridiculous.  I mean, who actually has to take a break from their vacation?  But it’s true.

I (along with Charlie and Maddie) began our summer vacation as soon as VBS at our church was over in June.  We wrapped up (for the most part) our school year that week.  We finished up MOPS, gymnastics, and T-ball.  I turned down any and every offer to fill our calendar for the next two months, using Meghan Trainor’s “NO” as my inspiration. I know she had different intentions, but I still feel it gets my point across:

We were good to go.

We went to the beach for a week, then we followed that up with 2 weeks of pool time, naps, more VBS, time with friends, a visit to Mt. Airy, and an ideally fabulous July 4th weekend.  We have been going to the movies and eating out and using paper plates. The house has been a mess and we barely have clean clothes to wear, but it has been wonderful.  My mind has been gloriously empty.

I have to interrupt myself here and say that I felt a tremendous wave of guilt wash over me as I wrote that last paragraph.  How ridiculous is it that I am allowed to spend whole weeks like this when there is so much suffering going on? After beginning a paragraph explaining how hard I have worked for the past 10 months, how my family has been grieving, I stopped and deleted it.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people, because you all know how hard life is.

This week, we had to get back to real life.  We spent last Friday cleaning, doing laundry, and buying groceries in preparation for playdates and meetings at our house.  We got haircuts and went to the post office and paid bills and taxes.  We’re having a workweek, which is necessary to a busy life.

But beginning today at 12 we are back on vacation. We’ve got another few weeks and we’re going to enjoy them.

This summer, I’ve learned some things about rest and celebration and making memories in general.  Our theme over the last year of MOPS has dealt with real rest (not scrolling-through-Facebook rest), but I will be honest and say that I ignored what they were trying to teach me and what I was trying to teach the women in my group.  Who has time for rest, right? And how are we supposed to have clean houses and clothes, well-rounded children, husbands who aren’t hungry, and fit bodies if we’re resting all of the time?

But now that I have had real rest, I see the desperate need that I have for it. I don’t forget so much.  I feel like doing things for other people.  I don’t feel stressed when I think of the summer being over.  I am kinder to my children and husband.  I notice little things that my children do that I know I will want to remember. I say yes to things I would have said no to before. I read actual books and I feel like writing!!!

I also see the need that my family has for rest.  I have found that, because we have taken some time to just be, we laugh more. We talk over longer dinners without worrying about time.  The kids get along better.  We all sleep sounder.

This was my theme verse for the summer:

“So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life God gives him under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 8:15.

I didn’t get it at first.  I thought perhaps God just wanted us to have a nice dinner every once in awhile.  I could definitely pull that off.  But now I really understand.  I overheard Jason explaining the verse to Charlie last week, telling him that God wants us to have fun times, to relax and have great memories.  He told him that those memories are what keeps us going during times when life is hard, when we’re working  and maybe weary.  Those times of rest are a gift from God.

So I understand now, God.  I’ll take advantage of this summer that you’ve blessed me and my family with. Then I’ll take the memories and the energy and I’ll keep on running the race, and I hope that, when you have the opportunity, you’ll do the same.

#WatkinsVacay2015 AKA National Lampoons Outer Banks Vacation

Jul 12, 2015

We returned from our family beach vacation yesterday.  I wasn’t going to write about it, but Mama told me that I had to because if she didn’t laugh about it she would cry! So here goes…

We have been planning and anticipating this beach trip for months.  Jason and I have been slowly but surely moving our family vacations (by family, I am referring to our large family vacations with our parents and brothers and sisters) up the NC coast, and this year we finally reached our ultimate destination: the NC Outer Banks.

This isn’t an easy feat for people who have grown up going to Myrtle Beach, SC, where there are tons of restaurants, lots of shopping, putt-putt courses, movie theaters, huge theatrical productions, and lots more.  Our families love those things, but Jason and I are more drawn to the secluded NC beaches, where Jason can fish and I can be on the beach with no one around.   We don’t mind eating at hole-in-the-wall restaurants and having nothing to do but play on the beach all day long.

We were so excited to get a house named the Moon Palace in Salvo, NC for a week this year.  The first few days of our vacation were excellent, even though the house wasn’t quite up to par.

Charlie, Maddie, Sam, and Aaron on the beach.

Charlie, Maddie, Sam, and Aaron on the beach.


Jason catching some fish. They were delicious!

Jason catching some fish. They were delicious!


Another one of the kids on the beach, with Macy (who is an official beach bum) in this one.  Too cute, right?

Another one of the kids on the beach, with Macy (who is an official beach bum) in this one. Too cute, right?  (There are some beach bums in the background, too! 🙂



This is what I love doing on the beach-sitting at the edge of the surf while the kids play around me and Jason fishes. I could do this all day.


We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool.

We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool.


And Charlie and Maddie spent too much time in the hot tub!  This was Charlie's one request when we were looking for a house-that it have a hot tub!

And Charlie and Maddie spent too much time in the hot tub! This was Charlie’s one request when we were looking for a house-that it have a hot tub!


Kitten feeding the birds on the back deck.

Kitten feeding the birds on the back deck.  The birds, as usual, loved him!


The kids playing Twister.

The kids playing Twister.


And reading some stories.

And reading some stories.


I was super-excited to find a selfie-stick at a Wings. I looked and looked at stores around home, but they were sold out!  Apparently everyone wants one.  Here’s the first picture I took:

Me and Mama on our way back from the store.

Me and Mama on our way back from the store.


And here's one of me, Julie, and Macy (she is hidden behind the blanket).

And here’s one of me, Julie, and Macy (she is hidden behind the blanket).


We spent some time exploring the Outer Banks.  There is some great history on the islands.

Charlie and Maddie at the aquarium.  Behind them is an actual shipwreck that has been moved into their saltwater tank.  There were huge sharks swimming in there!

Charlie and Maddie at the aquarium. Behind them is an actual shipwreck that has been moved into their saltwater tank. There were huge sharks swimming in there!


Now, I’m sure you noticed earlier that I said the first few days of our vacation were great?  Here’s what the pictures above aren’t telling you.

First of all, there has been a strange outbreak of shark attacks on the NC coast.  We couldn’t go in the ocean!

Scoping out the situation on our first day there.

Scoping out the situation on our first day there.


Speaking of the ocean, to get to the ocean we had to cross this huge sand dune.  It looks beautiful, I know, but it was a nightmare.   The sand was burning hot and full of sand spurs and cactus.  We were constantly picking spikes and spurs out of our feet.  And do you know how hard it is to climb those hills of sand with children, umbrellas, chairs, coolers, beach bags, and fishing gear? Some of us only made it to the beach a couple of times, just because they couldn’t make it over.

A few days in, we were all jokingly referring to this dune as “Heartbreak Ridge.” Kitten and Mack would sit on the deck and watch us as we struggled over.  One time, Mack cheered me on as I pulled the beach cart behind me by screaming, “Ya, Mule!” over and over.  I am laughing about it now, but at the time didn’t find it all that funny.



And the picture of me and Mama, where we look so happy about or selfie-stick find?  Mama had just finished crying as she told me that she had blown her good hip walking up and down the stairs (we had 4 floors and no elevator) at the Moon Palace.  This means that she is in a lot of pain, can hardly walk, and will have to have another hip replacement very soon.  This put a serious damper on her vacation, to say the least.

Also, did you notice that Charlie doesn’t look too excited in the picture of him and Maddie at the aquarium?  That’s because he was on day 2 of a terrible stomach virus.  I mean terrible.  He spent the last half of his vacation laying in bed or on the couch.

So, this vacation was full of the most emotional ups and downs ever!  We had a great time cooking and playing games and putting together our puzzle and swimming and just being together. And Jason and I loved the Outer Banks and the atmosphere there.

But a lot of not-so-good things happened, too.

Goodbye, Moon Palace!

Goodbye, Moon Palace!


This was the last picture that I took.  On our way to of town, my little family stopped at the Urgent Care in Nags Head.  Charlie needed to be looked at (turns out he had a bad virus that is going around) and Jason needed 3 stitches.  He cut his finger open while he was packing up the car.  Boy do we know how to go out with a bang!

I think I was embarrassing them.  And obviously I don't have the selfie-stick quite figured out yet.

I think I was embarrassing them. And obviously I don’t have the selfie-stick quite figured out yet.


We decided that we are definitely going to have a do-over for the OBX.  The four of us are thinking of going back on October for a few nights.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to talk our extended family into the Outer Banks for our big vacation next summer, though.


Summer Reading

Jun 8, 2015

Summer Reading Pic

Even though it’s not officially summer, we are in full-swing summer mode in our home.  We’re doing all the summer things we love so much: swimming, grilling out, fishing, walking at the park, and staying up late to catch lightning bugs.  Vacation Bible School planning is in high gear, and we’re looking forward to that next week.

To me, a big part of summer is reading.  I guess this is something I developed when I was teaching, when I would have summers off all to myself and was able to spend lots of time reading.

Now that I have children, I don’t have too much time to read (and I certainly don’t get to read by the pool or laying on the beach like I once did), but I do like to read for a few minutes at night, until I can’t hold my eyes open any longer.  Or, on a stormy summer day the kids will watch a movie while I read.

Here’s what I am reading this summer:

1-The summer Bible study from She Reads Truth.  It is called Women in the Word and it is 9 weeks of learning all about women in the Bible.  I love reading about real women with real struggles and how God helped them through, and I am also loving the pictures of modern-day women in the word that are sprinkled throughout the book.

2- Make It Happen by Lara Casey.  This was the winter book club selection for The Influence Network and, while I am REALLY, REALLY behind on this book (the book club is over, for goodness sakes), I am enjoying it so much.  It is very inspiring and motivating.

3.  More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena Miller and Paul Stutzman.  I believe in a simple, peaceful life, which is what this book is about.  This is the book I am looking forward to reading every night.

4.  Frommer’s The Carolina’s and Georgia.  I always keep this travel guide in my nightstand just in case we’re going somewhere close by, but I have it out this summer since we’re traveling to The Outer Banks for our beach vacation next month.

5.  Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Homeschooling by Kelly Crawford.  Since I am homeschooling my children, I think this is pretty self-explanatory!:)

Charlie and I are also reading the first book in the Harry Potter series, which is so exciting to a book nerd like me.  We are spending a little time each night reading it, so it will probably take us the good part of the summer to complete it, but I sure am enjoying it.  It’s been awhile since I read the first book, so it’s like reading it for the first time all over again.

What are you reading this summer?


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