I'm sitting with a lot of hopeful anticipation for next week. It's usually my favorite week of the whole summer; the week of July 4th combined with my birthday in late June. July 4th has always meant time with my 19-person extended family at my grandparent's lake house in northern California, the same lake where Daniel and I were married two summers ago. It's easily one of my very favorite and sacred places on this earth, and some very happy memories are housed there.

I feel grounded and home at that lake, and also so loved and known. My extended family is closer than any I know, something I've only come to realize later in life, and I don't take that for granted for a single second. I'm so thankful to know them and be related to them. It's an adventurous, athletic, and fun-loving crowd, filled with wakeboarders, skiiers, golfers, and ultimate frisbee players. I'm the oldest cousin, and there's seven that follow me (plus two spouses including Daniel) all the way down to age nine.

Our days are filled with lounging on the dock, boat rides, eating as many donut peaches as we can, trips into the little town for ice cream, and games of baseball and volleyball on the lawn. Our nights always start with margaritas made by Gramps, followed by long, leisurely dinners on the back deck. People grab sweatshirts and blankets as the temperature drops, but no one goes inside. I think we all know we're kind of on borrowed time at the lake. It's kind of holy ground; peaceful and still. We're getting time with people that we only get to see a couple times a year, and somehow we all grasp the importance of that.

Even more so for me now with our wedding memories there, but there is just something about that lake that moves me. I love that every summer when I'm there, everything's different but also everything's the same. Through so many different stages of my life; from childhood memories, to high school, college, and grad school, dating different boys and working in different careers, that lake has seen me through what feels like a lifetime of changes, including the moment I became a wife. I love that I can be both exactly the same and completely different all at once there. That while the circumstances of my life may change, there will always be some things about me that remain the same, like my love for hosting and celebrating, and my inability to measure while cooking or pack light.

I feel so full of good memories and am hopeful for many more. It's a sweet, sweet summer.