I made a new friend named Alys during my week at the beach. She’s all kinds of classy with a side of sandy toes and iced coffee. I couldn’t help but want to fit in and be just like her. Perhaps you’ve met her too?

Alys’ grand palm trees are the first greeting you will receive at her front door. Each tree is perfectly planted in a hospitable row – – the soul sister to my Enneagram 3 wing 2 soul. Her decorating tastes are nothing short of Joanna Gaines – – marigold shutters, mint green iron gates, pops of pink flowers.

Alys seems perfect at first glance. You’d think she has it all together, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. She’s really just like the rest of us gals and there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Inside Alys is a construction zone. Houses are being built on seemingly every side street. Metal chain-link fences camouflaged in faux greenery line the neighborhood lanes as a barricade to hide messy worksites. Yet still from the outside there is a sort of beautiful and silent order about the place, sealed with a white-toothed smile. But her put-togetherness didn’t trick me for long because we’ve all been there. We each have our own construction zones in one way or another.

God, Creator of the heavens — He is, remember, God. Maker of earth — He put it on its foundations, built from scratch. He didn’t go to all that trouble to just leave it empty, nothing in it. He made it to be lived in. -Isaiah 25:18 MSG

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, Alys is actually a place on the 30A map somewhere between my other friends, Rosemary and Seaside. Houses are being built there faster than donuts sell at the Donut Hole on a Saturday morning. (if you know, you know!) I spent a fun morning with Alys last week to wander the dreamy beach streets and snap some Austin Tall Tote pictures because, ya know, business gal things. But now I’m home reflecting on my morning there. Sometimes, thinking of a place as a friend reveals qualities we seek not only in a friend, but in a feeling of home and belonging within ourselves. It also uncovers observations of desires and insecurities for us and for our friends too.

Alys made me think: Why are we so quick to hide our side of crazy and buy into the misbelief that we have it all together? Why do we strive to appear to be a certain way to others? Why do we hide progress and cover up construction? If you’ve ever built a house, then you’ll know what I mean. You can’t hide bulldozers and cement trucks even if you wanted to try! So why do we try ourselves? The process of clearing land, pouring a foundation, setting boards and beams, and the whole Fixer Upper ordeal is time consuming and thrilling all at the same time. The place you will call home is being built right before your eyes. And best of all, you’re part of it! You walk every step with the builders from groundbreaking day until move in day. You want to tell everyone about your project too – – not to boast, but because of the pure excitement of creating a place to live.

Thus God, The Holy of Israel, Israel’s Maker, says: “Do you question who or what I’m making? Are you telling me what I can and cannot do? I made earth, and I created man and woman to live in it. I handcrafted the skies and direct all the constellations in their turnings.” -Isaiah 45:11-12

Guess what!

We work with and serve a builder everyday: the ultimate Builder! The Lord is building something beautiful in us. He built us from scratch and He’s not finished yet. From the inside out, God is crafting us in His image to become more and more like Him. We wake up everyday with God’s Spirit living inside of us. Yes, His home is dwelling in you and me! So there’s no need to hide our personal construction fences with faux greenery or “do not enter” signs. We’re just kidding ourselves and those around us. We’re placing unrealistic expectations and building houses on sand. That’s not a heart-home worth building, even if it’s on the beach.

Speaking of the beach…We are all in this same boat together and we can ride the waves on Jesus. And waves are pretty amazing because each one crashes differently. Sitting at the beach, I watched the waves go in and out of shore. Each wave ebbs and flows at different places and times. Waves crash in an endless cycle, but God sees each one individually. They crash together in His orchestra – – a symphony of sounds made beautiful as water meets sandy shore. We’re like the waves because we’re always moving forward. Sometimes we have to ride a few waves until we catch our current, but we don’t give up hope. Waves don’t race to meet the shore first. Often times they link tides and roll together.

Fear of inconveniencing others because of our progress is not invited to the beach party. Fear of judgment and comparison aren’t invited either. Instead, what if we rolled together like those waves, construction zones and all? God didn’t go to the ends of the earth, and he didn’t send His son for our world to be empty, without connection. He made everything to be lived in fully – – both in space and within ourselves. We are made to be in connection with God and with each other – – much like the beach towns nestled along Highway 30A. Each one is wonderfully different with unique offerings, but all share the same road.

My hope is for this space called Winnefred Austin to be a tidal wave that brings us all a little closer to God and who He made us each wonderfully to be. The words I write, the drawings I create, and the products I sell are my waves to carry out the gifts God gave me – – all to the praise of His glory. I invite you to join in and bring your gifts to the beach party, too. The more the merrier, friend! Let’s roll together. Let’s celebrate the construction projects God is building in our lives.

P.S. – – I can’t wait to get back to sweet 30A and get a coffee from the shop at Alys Beach. You bet you’ll find me there with my Austin Tote and good company, too.

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