The Rest of the Story

30
Jun
2015

Here is part two on my Big Vacation Adventure  where I am going to share (as Paul Harvey said, “the rest of the story.”)

I was cleared to leave the clinic and continue on with our trip. My husband and I decided to go ahead and try to meet up with the cruise ship in one of the next ports of call, instead of either 1) going back to Venice and wait for the date of our return flight  2)  just fly home directly to Seattle immediately.  That meant, my husband had spent several hours at a local travel agency reserving flights and a hotel just incase I was cleared to leave after the colonoscopy – he did a lot of work while I sat in the hospital bed.

So off we went on what could be described as our very own version of The Amazing Race!  We took a taxi to the airport on Dubrovnik.  We had a wonderful taxi driver who stopped at an overlook to allow me to see the famous walled city – which I missed when I didn’t go on the excursion a few days earlier.  It was the perfect way to start our adventure!  (You can se my nice bandage from my IV on my wrist).  

Bye Bye Croatia – we flew from Dubrovnik to Athens where we overnighted at an airport hotel.  I was so relieved to have a private room and my own bathroom!  It was pure bliss.

We woke at 3 AM the next morning to take another flight from Athens to Santorini, where our cruise ship was to dock at 7 AM.

Once in Santorini we took a cab to the cable car station, took a ride down on a cable car and then took a tender to our ship.  (All this while carting our luggage!)

I was examined by the ship Dr. to make sure I was truly cleared for travel and then welcomed back on the ship!  The crew was really excited to see me and really surprised.  I guess when most get off the ship due to illness, they do not return!

We got back to our cabin, dropped our bags and were off to catch up with our group to experience an excursion in Santorini.

We had a great day seeing the sites of Santorini and had an amazing lunch with friends (who were really glad to see us back!)  The view was breathtaking!

The rest of the trip was wonderful and fairly uneventful – except for a delay in returning home due to late flights.  But it was amazing and one we will remember for a long time.

So what do I feel God was teaching me on this side trip that wasn’t planned?  

Certainly many more things than what I can list, but typically I like to have things planned, no surprises and organized.  It is tough when the cookie crumbles…. and that is what happened on this trip.

1.  I can count on God to be faithful – no matter what.  PERIOD.  I believe this in my heart, but when things get rough for me, I often let the world hunker down in my soul, rather than keep HIS word there.

2. The most comforting words you can utter when you are in pain – both emotionally and physically are  JESUS.  I repeated that one amazing word over and over again, countless times.  There is power in that word.

3.  My husband is amazing and he can take care of me – I don’t always have to be the big strong in- control gal.  I think this was a key lesson in our journey, I allowed my husband to fulfill his role to be my provider and he did it so well.

4.  I can enjoy things – even when things go extremely haywire – I don’t have to have it all planned out perfectly, I can rest in just moving forward without all the answers.

5.  God is faithful – yep, that one again….. even though this ‘adventure’ cost us unexpected medical bills and the cost of additional travel expenses to catch up with the cruise…..we arrived home to two different unexpected checks to cover all the additional expenses……. amazing.

6.  I need to let loose and go with the flow more – I have taken this into consideration since I have returned and I know it will change how I view my daily life and my notoriously long to-do list. 

Sometimes a girl just needs to have fun and go with the flow and trust things will work out.  :-)

My BIG Vacation Adventure

29
Jun
2015

When a lovely vacation gives you lemons – well – you just keep on ‘keeping on‘!

Earlier this month my husband and I set out on a FAB-U-LOUS vacation to Venice and on a Mediterranean cruise.  We’d been looking forward to this trip for over 6 months – you know the one, that is written on your calendar in BIG RED letters!

It was a dream trip – a big bonus being we were to have thirteen days of couples bliss – without kids – something we’ve never experienced in our entire time of dating or being married, as we are a blended family and already had kids when we met.

But sometimes things don’t always go as planned.

We arrived in Venice and spent three days viewing the sites and having a nice time, but I was not feeling 100%. (Here we are at Saint Mark’s Basilica)

I was unsure of the issue, but my digestive system wasn’t quite up to my normal self.  I was using my normal ‘go-to’ natural remedies, but was not getting the relief I normally got.

We boarded the cruise ship on Saturday and by that evening I fell pretty ill, with intense abdominal pain that had me at the mercy of my wonderful husband who prepared warm compresses to place on my tummy, while sobbing in bed.  This was not the way I envisioned my first night onboard ship.

The next morning I felt better, but not quite well enough to get off the ship for the excursion.  I stayed onboard and saw the ship Dr. who gave me a pretty routine diagnosis (a urinary tract infection) and sent me on my way.  At least now I had direction on how to help my body – or so I thought.

About thirty minutes before our ship was to leave port in Dubrovnik, Croatia….. I began having severe abdominal pain and was collapsed on the bathroom floor of our cabin… not an easy feat if you’ve ever been in a cruise ship room bathroom.  I felt like I was going to die, the pain was incredible, like child birth.

The next thirty minutes was a blur.  The ship’s Dr. rushed to our room, phoned the Captain and told him NOT to leave port until I was removed from the ship.  He suspected kidney stones.  I was screaming in pain while ship employees helped my husband toss clothing and some personal belongings into a few carry-on bags so we had something to take with us.  I was maneuvered into a wheelchair, given an IV with pain medication and put into a taxi to be rushed to a clinic in Dubrovnik, all in my pajamas and wearing no shoes.

We had no idea what to expect when arriving at the clinic – being in a foreign country and having little knowledge of what was available, but I thank GOD I arrived where I did.  The Dr. was amazing, the facility was incredible and I felt safe.  

I was quickly given an Ultrasound and a CT scan, but nothing showed up as answers to the pain I was experiencing.  The plan was to go over results in the morning and prepare for a possible Colonoscopy –  Um, yeah.. certainly not what I had in mind for my magnificent vacation.

My husband was not about to leave my side and even offered to sleep on the floor next to my bed in a shared recovery room instead of being sent off to a local hotel.  The clinic was able to offer him a spare bed, so I was relieved to have him nearby.

The following day when the Dr. suggest the next plan of action was to prepare for the colonoscopy, by husband shared his apprehension of having it done and the possible infection it may cause.  The Dr. quickly told us that this actually was his speciality – that he was primarily trained in colonoscopy.  Really?  How on earth could we arrive in a random clinic in Dubrovnik and need a colonoscopy by a Dr. who specialized in that?  

I spent the day preparing for the colonoscopy the next morning – which is not a fun process…. I will save you from those details.

The following morning I had the colonoscopy and they found that I had a twisted colon.  WHA?  How this even happens or why we could not figure out, but it was a simple fix the Dr. was able to do and after I came out of anesthesia I was ready to get back to my vacation.  

I will continue my story tomorrow on what I learned from a Croatian Colonoscopy.  :-)  Because believe it or not, even when things don’t go as planned or as I desire….. God is there in the middle – teaching me things. 

Finding JOY in Belonging

26
Jun
2015

I am currently enjoying some gentle recovery time at home – after my big adventure (which I will share with you all next week) but I wanted to let you in on a wonderful bit of news.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how our family was searching for a new church home.  I had been at the same church for fourteen years, but both my husband and I both feel it was time to move onto a different church where we could be ministered to differently as well as be used to grow His Kingdom.

After over a year of searching, we have found a church home!

I knew within just a few minutes of walking in the door, I had found a home.  A few things that stuck out to me and gave my tired spirit some refreshment:

We were welcomed OUTSIDE the church door by a greeter.  Not attacked, but truly welcomed and given a sermon outline and bulletin that had a PEN attached!  (Sometimes it is the little things that can mean so much with hospitality!)

There was a nice spot for our youngest child, small, intimate and not overwhelming.  In addition, the church was getting ready to expand their children’s ministry to reach more families.

Before entering the chapel area, we were greeted again, where a wonderful lady shared with us about what we would experience.  This was great, because what this church does is in fact quite a bit different – they serve food – REALLY GOOD FOOD between services right inside the chapel.  So she explained it was breakfast between the first and second service and then lunch was served after the second service – to encourage fellowship and community.  (This particular tidbit just really won my heart over).

The music was passionate, uplifting, refreshing and touched my heart deeply.  I love worship and I need to place to sing, clap and sway to the music on Sunday – it was so fulfilling it was almost overwhelming to my soul.

The message was what my tired body needed – the pastor spoke and looked out into his congregation and you felt like he was speaking to you.

The church was smaller – about 200 people attending the service we went to – which for us was a lot smaller than our previous church, and we were looking for smaller.

All this to say – we all know no church is perfect, but there are times and seasons when we need to listen to God speak and be obedient to follow His lead.  Our family felt it was time to move to another church to experience His church differently and we are so amazed by His provision in the act.

So, once again I am excited to get up on Sunday, to go be a part of His community – so be ministered to and be filled in order to minister to others in that community too.

If you are in a season of searching, know – there is hope.  Pray and seek His will, I am so thankful for an answered prayer; it took awhile but we persevered and I am beyond thankful!

So as I take some time now to nourish my soul – I am finding JOY in spending time with my new family on Sundays too – such an amazing feeling of encouragement!

The Price Is Real

25
May
2015

As I sit and try to gather my thoughts for a post that would even come close to recognizing what Memorial Day truly means in the heart of America, I get a bit tongue tied.

I think…. well, I know and I am embarrassed to admit I take for granted the things that others gave for me to live the life I have today.  Those sacrifices are not as embedded in my life and experiences as have been for those who grew up in more war torn era’s of previous generations.

What I am reminded of, as I think of those that lost their lives fighting for FREEDOM and our protection are the families impacted, and for me….. this year – for those spouses who are left behind when their loved one gets deployed.  

For me and my area of experience and sharing, I am touched with those moms who care for families for months at a time while their husband’s are out of the country. (Yes, I know there are many families who experience the opposite, they have a wife that is deployed and the husband stays home to care of the family, but for me and my sharing here, I focus on the mom, the one I can identify with.)

It helps me find perspective in the knee deep mess that I can find myself in when I feel desperate parenting alone, when my husband is gone – but he comes back every 3-4 days.  I gives me extreme compassion for that mom who has to fight through nine months of parenting alone…. keeping the fight strong because it is what you have to do.

You are remembered.

You are important.

You are treasured.

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I ran across Kristen Strong’s page over at Chasing Blue Skies:  Military Wives Resources (and those who love them!) that I wanted to pass along.  Even if you are not a military mom, I bet you would find some value pieces of empowerment here that you could use on a daily basis.

I do not live in a big local military community, but I bet I could find a military wife not too far from me who I could bless.  I loved these ideas she shared here.

How about you, can you “remember” this day all year long by finding a military family to bless?

21 Reasons To Send A Child A Greeting Card

18
May
2015

When was the last time you saw the face of a child light up and glow because they got a piece of mail with their name on it? Children love to get mail. My older children have lost that spark, but my five year old is constantly asking if they got mail.   I think special occasions are great to send mail – and usually around holiday’s or birthday’s they know to expect it, but what would happen if mail arrived for them on an ordinary day? 

Sending letters or greeting cards is a good way to foster a love of communication and writing in children. In our society, instant messaging, text messaging, and short emails have all but killed the art of good communication.

Studies indicate that the more a child reads, the smarter they are. However, it can often be difficult to get some children to read due to lack of interest. I bet there isn’t a child around that wouldn’t be interested in reading a card or letter addressed to them from someone they care about. And, of course, if a child is raised to expect that letters and greeting cards are a regular occurrence, they are more likely to become better communicators themselves.

Wouldn’t it be great to raise a child who would love to create the habit of sending cards or letters?

So take some time and send a greeting card to a child in your life. Here are just a handful of reasons you can use to send a greeting card to a child you know and help to make their day that much brighter. (If it’s your kiddo – even better!!)

1.  They got an A on a test or report card. Make the joy of doing well last just a little longer.
2.  They said, “Please”.
3.  It’s their birthday, Valentines Day, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, etc  (I tend to give cards on some of these occasions, but mailing them is so much better!)
4.  They were well-behaved in a specific situation.
5.  They did something special for someone (even if it wasn’t you). It helps to foster the trait of good will when they get some feedback for what they have done.
6.  They helped with dinner.
7.  Just to say, “I appreciate you”. Do they really know how valuable they are to you?
8.  They said, “Thank you”.
9.  Just to say, “You’re Special”.
10.  They did a great job on their chores. Rewards for a job well done encourage more of the same.
11.  Because you haven’t seen them and want them to know you miss them.
12.  Say thanks for being my …(son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew, friend, etc).
13.  They made the honor roll.
14.  They helped in the yard.
15.  Remind them of an exciting event that is coming up.
16.  Remind them of a neat experience you had together.
17.  Tell them something special about yourself.
18.  Tell them something special about someone you both know.
19.  Share a joke you just heard.
20.  They brought home a warm fuzzy note from the teacher.
21.  Just to say you love them. Do you really need any more of a reason than that?

Will you be taking just a few minutes out of your busy schedule today to foster the emotional and mental development of a child in your life?  I know I will be more intentional in this simple act.

Here are some favorite places to stock up on cards to make it easy to send without a lot of planning:

1)  Drugstore – I gathered up a large selection of $.99 cards at my local drugstore and have them ready to mail.

2)  DaySpring – I love that I can buy boxed card assortments at DaySpring and they will have alway have the perfect message.

3)  amazon has some wonderful greeting card boxed sets too – grab a box that has free prime shipping and you are good to go!

Tell me who you are sending a card to and why!