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The summer that I turned 12, my family sold our house, packed up all of our earthly possessions to move us from our quaint suburban Southern California neighborhood to the East Coast. The state of Maine would be our home for two years and four days. Although I have never returned, somehow I have never let go of the beauty. In reality, it just never let go of me.

My family decided to make a big deal over my 50th birthday this year. After all, it is my Jubilee Year. It’s a time to reflect, seek the goodness in life, allow debts to be cleared or to just reset. Although I would have loved to take a trip across the country, I wanted to spend it with those who are in my life right now, speaking into my life at present or the not too distant past. Folks I call family. I wanted to honor them in a small way. Our party would be for them to enjoy a night where they could laugh and relax on a magical summer evening. After reading this on my friend Carolyn’s blog, I knew I wanted a Clambake! As close to a genuine East Coast clambake as I could get!

The tables were set with plates
we found at the dollar tree
Places were assigned

The Hors d’oeuvre table was filled
Finishing touches were added

Dear friends worked especially hard

Food was prepared

My dad and brother flew in

My daughter was a bright and cheery hostess

the guests laughed

they snacked on
grapes and brie and crackers,

then they laughed some more.
Mr. Ray visited with Grandpa

Party goers wrote messages

and then it was time

Elvis sang from my iPod perched in the
lighted tent.
“Clambake, gonna have a clambake!”
We gathered, The Coffee Guy prayed
and then…

…we ate this

We dished up some of that
along with an old family recipe
Acini De Pepe Salad

We ate shrimp and corn with our hands,
picked meat out of the clams
and filled up with potatoes and sausage

The air was full of celebration, love,
laughter, relaxation, peace, grace
We finished with Homemade Peach Blueberry Cobbler 
S’mores around the firepit late into the night
It was everything I had hoped it would be and so much more. As the last friends made their way home, I basked in the beauty of the evening. Pointing to the kitchen on our way to bed I told The Coffee Guy, “leave that for me”. “Are you sure?” he asked. “Yes” I told him. We usually do that task together after having company. We always enjoy talking about the night, elbow to elbow with suds covering our hands.

This time I needed to do it alone.

The next morning I washed every plate, thanking God for each person that enjoyed the feast. Praying blessings over all of them for taking time to celebrate. All the while, praising our Provider for the gift of food, a home and dear friends who love so freely. I was of course bursting with joy over my brother flying up to surprise me! (He turned 55 the week before.) Gratitude poured over me for fifty years of a rich, beautiful life and knowing the possibilities of what He will continue to do in me.
This year has already held so much for me. I’m looking forward to seeing what our gracious God has in store. Turning fifty doesn’t feel anything like you might expect, really, it is so much more.



*All photos courtesy of Sheila Nielsen Photography. Please do not use without permission.