More Than a Vacation

I’ve just returned from a wonderful cruise to the Caribbean with three close friends.

The time with my girlfriends was precious. We laughed. Basked in the sun. Laughed. Savored the delicious food. Laughed. Enjoyed each other’s company. Danced. Shopped. And I did I mention that we laughed? A lot.

But, what made these ten days more than a vacation were the people we met…

A couple who were assigned to sit with us each evening during the formal dinner hour...

I would never have guessed their age to be seventy-six. Both are attractive people who dress young, but tastefully. A couple who are in shape, active, and enjoy spending time with not only their five children and families, but also with each other. These highly educated people who have led, and continue to lead interesting lives, brought stimulating conversation to the dinner table. They inspired me to be like them.

The cruise staff who serve tirelessly, but always with a smile...

People who work on cruise ships come from all over the world, so there is an opportunity to learn from them if you take the time to show interest. One such young man from the Philippines served us many times at one of the coffee and assorted drinks bar. Every day we’d joke around with him, but on the last evening, when few people were in need of his attention, we learned more. He works fifteen hours a day on the ship for ten months at a time. Then he's given two months to return to the Philippines to spend time with his family. Married and the father of three young children, it was clear that it pained him to be away from them. But, he did what he felt necessary to take care of them. The cruise staff showed me what it means to have a servant’s heart.

The mother of two small boys on my flight from Atlanta to Seattle...

While waiting to board the plane and take the five hour flight, I observed a young woman with her five and seven-year-old sons. They sat on the floor, too close to people standing in preparation to board. Her blue undergarment showed through the thin white T-shirt and a large tattoo was clearly displaced on her lower back. She spoke with a raspy voice and a southern accent. The plane was large, but her seat was almost directly across from me. During the flight she shared with another passenger, loud enough for many to hear, that she was leaving her family in Florida and going to Alaska so that she could work at a higher paying job. A single mother of four children – two other children had been left with their respective fathers – she wanted to provide a better life for her kids than what she could in Florida. I admired her for her spunk and willingness to leave all that she knew behind. She taught me to not judge.

It was more than a vacation.
It was a lesson on life.


Time for a Vacation!

I’ve previously written posts about the importance of friends and maintaining those relationships.

I deeply value my friends. They bring joy, companionship, encouragement, fun…and sometimes even accountability to my life. They help me to not take myself too seriously. They’ve taught me to laugh at myself and accept that I can be loved even when I’m showing my human side.

Early Saturday morning, three close friends and I will be flying from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale. We’re going on a vacation. Just the “girls.” We’re taking a week-long Caribbean cruise. The trip isn’t the result of a whim, but of saving and planning for a year.

We need this time of rest. This time of togetherness. With demanding jobs, families, volunteer responsibilities, etc., we’re determined to not let our hectic schedules get in the way of feeding these friendships.

A cruise may never again become reality for the four of us. This may be a once-in-a- lifetime experience and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to share it with them.

God delights in seeing His children enjoy life – and each other.
Sometimes, as goal driven as I am, I need to be reminded of that.

It’s okay to dance under the stars, swim in the ocean, and laugh until your belly hurts.
It’s okay to take a vacation.

Take some time to play with your friends.


Enjoy Parties?

I recently came across new reality shows on the Lifetime channel that hooked me in.

“Top this Party: Orange County” and “Top this Party: Las Vegas” follow elite party planners who throw elaborate, excessive events for the extremely wealthy. There’s no budget or limit to what the hosts will spend. They think nothing of spending mega thousands on one event.

Party planner in Orange County, Brian Dobbin, dealt with a woman who’d recently divorced and wanted to throw a singles bash. The Coast Guard wouldn’t allow the party to be held on a yacht if they were going to roast a pig over an open fire, so Brian’s head was almost taken off by his client. But, the event was moved to a mansion on land. The wealthy woman and her wacky assistant also wanted to make a grand entrance. The assistant went berserk when she was told it would be logistically impossible for them be brought in by helicopter.

Brian “Breakfast” Rice threw a bash for another party planner in Vegas. She wanted to show hundreds of employees her appreciation by giving them the experience they work so hard to provide for others. The guests dressed in period costumes and arrived in carriages. Their employer, dressed as Marie Antoinette, greeted them on a red carpet. A clear dance floor was constructed over a design made from three thousand pastries. Gift bags included expensive wine and diamond stud earrings.

I was drawn into the drama surrounding these two extravagant bashes. The women throwing the parties were so demanding and out of line, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were for real. I’m afraid they probably were. But, from what I’ve read, upcoming segments will include more reasonable and appreciative hosts.

The enticement to watching these shows is the final product. These parties were creative, beautiful fantasies come to life. It takes a lot of work to put a small party together. I can’t imagine the details and the amount of organization it takes to pull off something so elaborate.

But, no amount of planning…no amount of money spent…and no amount of talent brought in could make a party better than the one I’m going to.

My Father is going to throw a party to top all parties. At this event, God will welcome all His children to the banquet table of eternal life with Him.

This celebration will be more extravagant than what we could ever imagine. Our senses will be indulged like never before. The food will be like nothing we’ve ever tasted. It will be beautiful beyond belief. Music and laughter will be heard without end.

Want to come?

Spring Will Come Again

Our Christmas trees have been taken down. The decorations have been packed and stored away until the season rolls around again.

With the exciting holidays behind us, we face the remaining bleak months of winter. In the Pacific Northwest, the skies are often gray and full of rain. We’re blessed with many evergreens, but deciduous trees stand stark and bare.

Many people across the country fight various levels of depression this time of year. And with shorter days, colder temperatures, and being cooped up inside, they have less energy to deal with it.

Years ago, while going through an exceptionally difficult time, I battled my own feelings of despair. I wondered if my life would ever be happy or even feel normal again. I prayed and leaned on God to take away the pain that fought to make its home in my heart.

Then one day, while walking through my neighborhood, I noticed crocus poking up through the ground. The blooms were a sign. Spring had arrived.

Soon after, my walks included the breathtaking blooming cherry trees, rhododendrons, and azaleas – not to mention tulips and daffodils.

I closed my eyes, inhaled fresh air, and tilted my face toward the sun. I realized that spring had not only arrived due to the cycle of nature, it had come for me as well. I’d made it through my own winter and my heart was lighter than it had been for a long time.

Are you feeling discouraged? Down? Hopeless?

God answered my prayers. He walked along side me, held me up, and even carried me when needed. He can do the same for you.

Just as you trust that tulips will bloom in the spring if you plant bulbs in the fall – trust that seeds of faith you plant will also produce results.

Have a blessed day,

New Year - New Day

Happy New Year!

With fireworks shooting off the top of the Space Needle, the pop of champagne bottles, and kisses at the strike of midnight – Seattle, along with the rest of the world, moved into 2008.

Each new year brings hope for change. People resolve to make their lives better.

“This year we’ll get our finances in order.”

“This year I’ll lose those extra pounds and get in shape.”

“This year I’ll become more organized.”

“This year I’ll spend more time with the family.”

We believe that a new year brings with it the opportunity to start over. To start fresh. It’s almost as if we think the minute hand moving past twelve on the clock will work magic. Like changing Cinderella’s coach back to a pumpkin, but in reverse.

And then we become disappointed when days and months pass without the desired results. We may become more burdened by debt than the year before. We may gain the pounds back that we worked so hard to lose. There may be days when our lives feel like total chaos.

But, here’s the good news.

We don’t have to wait for a new year to start over.
God gives us hope and provides a way to begin each day fresh.
If we go to Him in prayer, He’s there waiting – and ready to help us make those desired changes.

Each day can be a new beginning.
A day to put behind us our past blunders.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Cor. 5:17

We just need to believe it.
Then live each day as it is the first day of the rest of our lives.

Happy New Day!

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye