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Archive for the ‘Joy in the Journey’ Category

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$500.00.

A weekend away in an unknown destination.

Details to be given once you arrive at the airport with your carry-on bag.

Are you in?

I said YES!

Last fall, my friend Cindy decided to put together a Mom’s mystery trip. She’s the director of the private school where I teach and my kids take classes on Fridays. She’s also an experienced world traveler, having led several educational trips abroad for high school students, and done some traveling of her own with her family. She excitedly made the first announcement to see if anyone would be interested.

The responses ran from “YES, YES, YES!” to “Are you crazy? I’m not spending money to go on a trip without knowing the details!”

In the end, it was a chilly January morning when five excited women met Cindy at the airport with our carry-on luggage in tow. (A very special thank you to my mystery friend who made it possible for me to go on this adventure! I can’t thank you enough!) After we gathered around, Cindy announced we were booked on a non-stop flight to Miami where we would spend the night in a luxury suite before driving to the Port of Palm Beach the next morning to board a ship for a two-day cruise to the Bahamas! It was more than I ever hoped or imagined! WOW!!!

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2016 Mystery Moms

We arrived in Miami and drove to the Marriott on Biscayne Bay. It was beautiful! We settled in a bit then talked and laughed our way through dinner at Primo Restaurant near our hotel. My friend Veronica and I ordered different meals so we could share. Delicious! I also tried crab cakes for the first time and loved them. Who knew?

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Marriott at Biscayne Bay

After dinner we drove our minivan down to south beach and cruised past all the clubs. Can you picture it? lol We were so cool. The traffic was insane! We came back to the hotel and took some pictures of the bay (and each other) and hung out enjoying the cool breeze. What a beautiful night!

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Miami Sunrise over Biscayne Bay

The next morning, we headed for Little Havana to eat breakfast at the famous Versailles Bakery & Restaurant. I tried Cuban coffee (yuck) and took lots of pictures of the architecture and my breakfast. I’ll spare you those particular photos. Not having seen palm trees since I was a little girl living in California, I loved the drive to the port! You could feel the excitement and energy in the van as we planned possible activities: A glass bottom boat tour, swimming with the sharks (Ellison was the only one up for that adventure), shows on the boat, and of course, shopping.

Then we arrived at the port and our trip took an unexpected turn.

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.

As we were checking in, we found out Amanda had a copy of her birth certificate and wouldn’t be allowed to go on the cruise. The port only allows state-issued birth certificates or passports for re-entry into the United States. I suddenly felt like I had swallowed a pile of rocks. I have a military hospital issued birth certificate. Sure enough, when it was my turn at the counter, the guy practically rolled his eyes at me as he handed me my documents and told me no, I would not be leaving with my group.

Stunned, angry, sad, disappointed. I didn’t know what to feel. We were just told we needed an original birth certificate with a raised seal. That’s what I have. It’s the one I’ve used my whole life. But it wasn’t enough. It was a terrible mix up, and Cindy felt awful about it. My tender-hearted friend was beside herself trying to fix it.

It was a struggle looking into the sad faces of my friends. Everyone felt terrible. I love them and wanted them to enjoy their cruise. A few deep breaths and hugs later and they were off, leaving me and Amanda to form a new plan for a few days in Florida.

We were both in a bit of shock, but we pep talked each other into looking at it as another unplanned adventure. It worked! We had a blast! We decided to take lots of pictures and post them to Instagram so our cruising friends would know we were having fun, and they’d be included in our part of the trip too. We didn’t know they didn’t have internet and couldn’t see our pictures or share their own. My friend Ellison was the only one to interact with us at all, so now I’m convinced she’s either a spy, has her own satellite phone, or connections in high places. I’m leaning towards spy. 😉

Amanda and I found a nice place to stay in West Palm Beach and spent our two days walking, talking, going to the beach, visiting a state park, and attempting an Anthony Hernandez scavenger hunt. Our first night in West Palm Beach we happened upon a pretty cool wall mural of JFK, so I googled the artist and found out he had street art all over the city! (See above and check out his website, the ones below are other people’s art.)

The whole art district was pretty great. We stayed up late into the night talking, got sand all over the rental van, laughed, cried, shared the highlights of our lives with each other, ate great food, and relaxed.

And what is a trip to Florida without spending a bit of time writing at the beach and playing in the waves? The photo of my hands full of sand is me rescuing a stranded baby jellyfish. He’s the bluish blob on top. I carefully scooped him up and threw him back into the ocean and cheered him on with the hope he’d beat the tide.

Our vacation flew by and soon it was time to meet the other ladies at port and begin the uncertain trek back to Denver – which was in the middle of a snow storm. I kind of hoped our flight would get cancelled so we’d have another day with all of us together. I even bought this postcard and texted the photo to a few friends. Ha! No such luck. We actually arrived home early?!

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It was a fabulous trip! It was good that I didn’t have a plan, and even though it didn’t go according to Cindy’s plan either, I would do it again! And guess what? Last week, Cindy announced the next mystery trip is scheduled for February! I wonder how long it will take me to get my passport?

What about you? Would you go on a mystery trip?

Do you have any suggestions for great WARM places to visit while it’s freezing in Colorado?

 

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I know the title says a random person but the person I chose is anything but random. I’ve already blogged about Zoe and Pete. Now it’s Max’s turn.

me and Max

He’s my first born, my fellow night owl, my handsome, strapping sixteen-year-old son. He’s strong, and strong-willed. He’s protective and fiercely loyal. He’s a natural leader – how could he not be when he was born to two first-born children. He’s bigger than me, but I know how to take him down because I’m the momma and I know where he’s ticklish.

 

He’s a comic book and anime geek. Having people ask to take their picture with him at Denver Comic Con might have been the highlight of his weekend. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he’s a fan of both the DC and Marvel universes, but leans more towards the DC side.

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He’s also a drama geek, like his parents before him. He has a lot of hobbies, but his life right now is mostly about finishing high school as soon as possible, Kainos – his youth group, and his girlfriend Sarah.

max and sarah

He spends his free time designing and creating things out of raw materials and duct tape. We gave him an iPad mini for Christmas last year and his favorite gift was still his dremel. He’s a creative kid, and he uses what he learns and knows to teach others. He started his own youtube channel when he was eleven years old to teach other kids how to make things.

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Max calls me “Mommy” and gets frustrated with the other two when they call me “Mom.” I love that. I love him, this giant man-child who made me a mommy for the first time. He’s amazing and I’m proud he’s my son.

There are a few more random people to read about:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

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An excerpt from my memorial post about Angi:

When I started blogging back in 2004, Angi called me and said, “I just found you on the internet! Well, it’s not you, but this lady could be you, you’re so similar.” And that’s how I met my friend Pam, a kindred spirit on the other side of the country. Angi brought us together. 

Pam, my kindred spirit friend.

Before blogging became a thing or Facebook was around to make connecting with other bloggers immensely easy, there was a small circle of us from around the country who read each others blogs. The internet shrank the world as we discussed controversial subjects, prayed each other through hard times, and laughed at the silliness we sometimes posted. Pam was part of that circle. She was one of my first blogging friends.

I haven’t actually met her face to face yet, but I hope to someday. I didn’t have time to request a photo from her – just know she’s a beautiful woman. She’s been a friend to me for many years now, and will be for many more.

Kindred spirits don’t always live close, and sometimes they’ve never met.

Check out a few of my blogging friends:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

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Betty

Betty Young is my co-worker and friend. She runs the front desk at the church I work for. While I manage the bookstore, she is my advisor and boss. We work really well together!

She’s the sweetest lady I know, but also one tough cookie, which makes her the ideal person to run the compassion ministry. She handles all sorts of requests and challenges, treating everyone who walks through the doors like she’s never been so happy to see them. I’ve watched her swap stories with the mailman who drops by every day. I’ve walked by her desk and heard her praying with people and sharing words of hope and love with those grieving. She’s the keeper of the calendar, and a ray of sunshine. She always makes time for me when I need to chat about store stuff or life in general, and you should see her light up when her grandchildren stop by for a visit!

I love Betty. She’s been amazing to work with over the past couple of years. What a great lady!

Keep reading:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

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I have a confession. I am not a groupie. There isn’t a band on the planet I’d wait in line to buy tickets for or put up with a huge crowd to see them in concert. My daughter begged me to attend some music festival – Warped Tour? I think my audible sigh was heard all the way in Wyoming when she told me her friend’s mom said she’d take them. Thank. God.

I don’t have anything against concerts or people who attend them, I just prefer a more intimate setting, like my earbuds in place. 😉 I have enjoyed smaller settings like living room concerts and jam sessions, and we just finished up the Resound Conference two weekends ago which is a worship conference featuring some great speakers and bands with an audience of less than 500 people. I can do that. That’s more my speed.

Confession #2: I’ve always had this annoying habit of falling for bands (their music and sound) without being able to name the band members. I mean no disrespect, it’s just not my thing. Maybe it should be. I can aspire to that, I guess. Is that surprising considering I’m a people person? If you want to know band member names, ask my daughter.

I LOVE MUSIC! I have tunes to suit my every mood. I’m friends with a lot of musicians and love them dearly. I even remember all of their names. Ha! For time’s sake, I can’t promote them all in this post, so I chose just one. My friend, neighbor, and the most peaceful man I’ve ever met. He’s one of my favorites:

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Photo by Jarrod Reno

Dave Wilton

He’s an incredible musician, songwriter, music producer, and recording/mixing/mastering engineer. Dave plays in two Indie Rock bands, A Boy & His Kite and Loud Harp. If you’re my real-life friend, you’ve heard me mention both many times.

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Photo by Ray Rushing

In 2011, Dave and Asher “accidentally” formed the band Loud Harp. I’m so glad they did. Their music soothes my soul! You can read all about them on their site: loudharp.com (Asher is amazing too! Check him out!)

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Photo by Jarrod Reno

In 2012, A Boy & His Kite’s single, “Cover Your Tracks” was included in the film and soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2:

Dave’s lyrics and music embody such depth of soul and spirit.

I don’t know how he feels about his Twilight fame, but I can tell you it is his joy to make great music and help others do the same. He is currently building a new studio and running a Kickstarter campaign to finish it. Want to kick something in? Click here: http://davewilton.com/newstudio/

We’re nearing the end of the challenge! Have you been checking out my other challenger’s posts?

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

 

 

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If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?

She’s adventurous, feisty, and desires to control her own destiny. She’s a gifted archer and good with a sword, but it is her spunk that drew me in. I love her playful relationship with her dad, and I love her bravery!

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Merida of the Clan DunBroch

Don thought I’d choose Katniss Everdeen. I thought about Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I could have easily chosen Eowyn again, or one of the other kickass heroines I love so much, but Merida has been on my mind. I relate to her defiance against traditions and expectations, and admire her fighting spirit. And who doesn’t love her red hair? 😉

I share some of her less desirable qualitites as well, I suppose. She’s brash and sometimes acts without thinking only to regret it later. Been there. But I couldn’t help cheering when I watched this scene:

She’s been my Facebook profile picture many times, she’s currently my cover photo, and friends send me pictures of her. Fans of Merida have drawn and painted amazing depictions of her. This one by artist Heather Theurer is my favorite:

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A few years ago, my friend Michelle bought me a figurine which now sits in my office. Every kid who stops by wants to play with her because she’s beautiful, posable, and her accessories rock! She only came with one arrow, which I assume is enough – she’s that good. I love her.

She inspires me when I write by reminding me I too am brave.

merida figurine

 

Have you stopped by my fellow challenger’s sites lately? We still have a few days left to catch up and finish our challenge!

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

 

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Zoe Grace

Zoe Grace.

She’s my sweet girl, my mini-me in so many ways.

She’s my reminder that what I say and do matter because she is always watching. Always.

She sees when I choose to love myself and when I don’t.

She watches when I hold my hands out in acts of kindness, and when I silently put them in my pocket as I exercise self-control through boundaries, and so I don’t bring physical harm to the idiots in my life. 😉

She’s aware of the times I use my tongue for good and when it gets the best of me and I wield it in anger.

She asks me difficult questions, making me think hard before answering because my words hold weight.

She seeks my approval and affection because I am the first woman she looks to for a glimpse of who she is and what she is about.

She values my opinion because she knows I’m a thinker, a researcher, a lover of people, and her momma.

We laugh together, cry together, and talk about life a lot.

Life. It’s what her name means and boy does she live up to it!

I get to mentor, parent, teach, train, and love this beautiful child as she grows into the woman she is becoming. Lucky me!

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Go catch up with my fellow challengers and see who they mentor:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

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