Thoughts in the Lido Market.

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1. It’s nice to sit on the 9th floor of the ship, behind beautiful big windows, after eating brisket and fried chicken and orange ginger pork and smoked turkey and mashed potatoes and sliced carrots and double chocolate cupcakes and bowls and bowls of ice cream…when it’s a cold and drizzly day in Alaska.
2. Ohmagoodness, I wish I had an accent – Australian or English or some kind of Russian Natasha-esque. However…women who are 70+ years old with very southern accents are hilarious when they have no filter and say things like, “Ah need to teen-kul buht ah don’t wanna puhl mah puh-ants down cuz ih soh cohld!” In front of an entahr, and I do mean ENTIRE train car of cruise passengers who could all hear her. Translation: “I need to tinkle but I don’t want to pull my pants down because it is so cold!” Natasha vood nevah zay zuch a ting like daht.
3. It is much better to see orcas in their natural habitat rather than at Sea World. I love Sea World, but this was thrill on another level.
4. Fresh air should never be taken for granted.
5. When the only access to the outside world of entertainment and information is MSNBC, FoxNews, or BBC, the ship’s safety information, live video feed of the front of the boat, and shopping channels are like heaven on earth.
6. Never underestimate the glorious beauty of living in small town USA free from tourists with cruise ship id’s hanging around their necks.
7. Mid afternoon. Sam is napping in the room. I am sitting on the deck watching planes and helicopters and ferrys and catamarans take off when lo and behold Sammy the seal appears just beneath deck 3 to say hello. This is a moment that is so worth using the words “lo and behold.”

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8. Pretty incredible experience to sit at a breakfast table with Pete and Helen Jane from Michigan and be honored with prayer for Sam spoken by Pete.
9. Alaska snowless cold is a little easier to take than Kansas snowless cold, with the exception of a blanket and a fireplace on a couch that is permanently molded to the shape of my behind.
10. Clearly, I do not know what “formal attire” or “smart casual” means. Fleece and flannel. THIS, I understand.

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Thoughts in the Crow’s Nest.

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1. Just because you’re on a ship in the ocean doesn’t mean you HAVE to eat the smelly creatures that swim in that ocean.
2. Some of the nicest people in the world are from Indonesia and South Africa and Zimbabwe and the Philippines.
3. Everyone should experience eating a nice dinner while witnessing an orca/killer whale in its habitat.
4. I-can’t-help-it-tears just form when Sam’s family sings the Doxology in four part harmony before dinner no matter where we happen to be.
5. It is hard to watch Sam want to feel good and be a part of the fun when he just doesn’t feel good at all.
6. Sitting in the crow’s nest at the top of the ship is the best place to be for sunrises and sunsets and counting gratefuls in the still of the morning or the moments before bedtime.
7. Popcorn is expensive on tourist row in Ketchikan, Alaska, but it sure is tastier than creatures from the deep blue sea.
8. Reading Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker on a ship deck under a sunny, 65 degree afternoon – can it get any better? Nope.
9. Love God. Love people. That’s all.

Thoughts from the Lido Deck.

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1. Old people wear funny hats.

2. It’s good to be alive.

3. My brain doesn’t appreciate a good ship tilt.

4. I’m glad Sam had some extra anti-nausea meds.

5. It doesn’t matter the generation –  people are people and there are cranky young people and there are old people who drink too much and wear too little and there are young people who talk about every ailment that afflicts them, and ya gotta love ’em all, no exceptions.

6. My hair does not like ocean air, but my soul is loving every minute of this.

7. And it is good to have new frwinds from Wisconsin and Australia and Los Angeles and Houston and Sylvan Lake, Michigan, and Indonesia, and it is good to know we have many more opportunities to make even more friends over the next week and a half.

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Thoughts from Baggage Claim #16.

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1. People who cruise to Alaska generally have white hair and support shoes.
2. Suitcases with four wheels are so much better than suitcases with two wheels, and much better than suitcases with no wheels. Is there even such a thing anymore?
3. The older we get, the crankier we get about certain things and societal behavior, but I am also realizing we let some things go that just aren’t worth the tension any longer.
4. It’s good to have free wi-fi.
5. AT&T and DirecTV don’t have it together yet, and 6 am reminder phone calls on vacation make for cranky.
6. Tacoma is a beautiful place.
7. I’m grateful to have seen my baby girl and my granddaughters once again.
8. And God travels. That’s a wonderful thing.

 

Power pose.

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Yesterday, my co-workers and I had a picnic on the grass at Taco Bell, because that’s what you do when a once-in-a-lifetime event happens. It was so momentous, I asked a college kid hanging out in the parking lot with cardboard eyewear to take a picture of us.

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Kelli, the youngest among us, who also happened to once-upon-a-time work at Disney World, commented on the picture as we drove back to the office.

“Look at Rhonda’s Peter Pan power pose!”

It was amusing, but it sure had me thinking all afternoon and evening.

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After “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Dances with Wolves,” my third all-time favorite movie is “Hook.”

I’m 52 years old. But for most of my adult life, I have felt like a child. Some parts of my world were just hard to adult. On the other hand, I’m 52 years old, and parts of my world have made me more “old” than 52.

“Life is but a brief moment between eternities. There is no better time than now to assess the values which are worthy of our existence on this earth.” – James Dobson

I can sometimes relate to Peter Banning, the attorney in the movie, living life all hurried and stressed, missing the important things and priorities all out of whack. I can relate to his mistakes, to his regrets, to his failures in parenting. I can relate to the inner bully that reminds on a daily basis about the past.

In the last six years, though, I have begun to Peter Pan just a little.

  • I’ve learned that regret and bitterness do not make friends.
  • I’ve learned to love green.
  • I’ve learned that it’s fun to take road trips and escape to Neverland with my best friend.

To live, to LIVE would be an awfully big adventure. – Robin Williams 

  • I’ve learned that life is too short to always be proper and stern.
  • I’ve learned that food fights are much more fun than silent fights.
  • I’ve learned to name the blessings, count them, think of them. I’ve learned that thinking happy thoughts is freedom with wings.Image result for peter pan quotes
  • I’ve learned that it’s okay to be me, mistakes and flaws and shortcomings and all. I am who I am, and I need to see myself as GOD sees me, not as the world judges me.
  • I’ve learned that going away and distance from loved ones makes you forget. I’ve learned that life is too short to stay away too long.

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  • I’ve learned just recently that leggings aren’t so awful.
  • I’ve learned that having loyal friends, even if they’re lost, is pixie dust to my soul.

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  • I’ve learned to like what I do, not do what I like.
  • I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try to adult, when I am hurt on the inside and the world is mean, I am still just a little girl and want to cry, “Save me Daddy!”
  • And I’ve learned that when I am weak, sometimes all it takes is a power pose and a confident “chin up” to the heavens to face the unknown and let the Son shine.

 

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Bliss.

Image result for beauty of leavesI am grateful for:

  • pretty rocks, especially the ones left behind by grandchildren.
  • a new roll of paper towels or toilet paper or a new box of tissues, or a new bag of chips.
  • a friend who understands the same kind of rejection I experience.
  • the privilege of having ice in my drinks.
  • belly laughs.
  • handwritten happy mail.
  • cool fronts in August.
  • moments when I can play the piano and no one is listening.
  • leaf individuality.
  • the story of John 8:1-11.
  • carbonation bubbles on the tongue.
  • Big Brother episodes on the DVR.
  • a surprise phone call from grandchildren

Talking to Ama

  • RadioLab.
  • the pain of remembering the past in order to never forget.
  • a shoulder rub.
  • a mourning dove so close I could touch her and just on the other side of the window but unaware that I am watching her.
  • no access to water all day long so that I am even more grateful for running water and toilets that flush.
  • silence after a day of tools, silence after the noise of news.
  • a long hug.
  • learning new words – exigent, kipitzer, and full tilt boogie, my words for today.
  • the sound of big rain drops on the windshield.
  • the hope I have that one day they will ask with open ears and mind and a softened heart, and I will have the opportunity to share.
  • potato chips that are not stale.
  • moments when Sam is Sam and feeling good.
  • the privilege of praying for friends and their children.
  • sharing a sandwich on a porch swing – with potato chips as the side.
  • this hymn.

This, all of this…is bliss.

 

 

 

 

Counting gifts changes my perspective… – Ann Voskamp

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I had a bad day yesterday. Actually, it wasn’t a bad day. I had a bad inner. My outlook was fragile and cloudy with overwhelm.

A few co-workers talked me through and emailed me out of the overwhelm. Well, kind of, anyway. They reassured me that there is room for grace when overwhelm takes over.

It was a beautiful and warm day outside. I sit at a desk with big old windows that look out over a huge and gorgeous yard. I had lots to do, so boredom was not an issue. I could hear the sounds of the air conditioner, the men on the first floor building a new bathroom, the sweet chimes singing in the light breeze on the front porch, the guys on the new patio out back cutting lines into cured concrete. I had the pleasure of watching sun-tanned little girls riding their bikes with towels draped around their necks headed to the pool, and high school athletes sweating their two-a-day running on this last week before school starts, young moms taking a morning walk with their babies in strollers, and dogs on walks with tails wagging happily.

And I didn’t see the gifts.

Last night, after a frustrating day of work in my overwhelming cloud, I went downstairs to sweep another layer of 100-year-old dust from the floors after the re-modelers left for the day. It was great stress therapy, that repetitive motion and visible evidence that my broom was making a difference.

And then I saw it.

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Do you see it?

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Evidence.

Evidence that I am so very blessed.  This tiny little heart sticker has been on the floor here in small town USA for over a month now, a tiny reminder that I am so very blessed. A reminder that the house was full of little feet and busy hands, sticky fingers and “Ama! Ama! Ama!” noise just one month ago.

This tiny little heart sticker shone through the cloud of overwhelm last night when I was feeling frustration and couldn’t see the gifts.

So today, I am grateful for a tiny heart sticker that refused to be swept. It’s still there, along with the fingerprints on the dirty front door and the fading chalk rainbow on the porch, and the crayon art on the door frame.

Evidence.

Gifts, all of them.

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“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
Psalm 103:13

“He heals the broken hearted . . . He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”  Psalm 147:3-5

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28