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Sunday, September 27, 2015

So Close, Yet so Far Away


I was caught in the in between state, not in a deep sleep, but not fully awake. Dreamy memories of vacation floated through my mind..... "I need to call mom today and tell her about my trip." A vivid image of her face popped into my mind, then quickly dissolved like the tide washing the last remnants of a sand castle out to sea. .  My subconscious is never ready for these moments... they shake me to my core. Sleep suddenly became illusive, and rolling out of bed seemed impossible to do. I hugged my pillow tight, these are the emotions I simply don't have the energy to fight today. The fabric of my heart is unraveling one thread at a time.  I clutch my pillow tighter still to keep the remaining threads intact.... As if it's even possible. So close, yet so far away. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Deep Cries Out the Song of the Ocean

There are two settings in nature that are truly a spiritual expe'rience for me. The mountains and the ocean. When I sit silently on a beach, or on a mountain, I feel as if I all I need to do, is extend my finger ever so slightly to brush the cheek of God. When I am fortunate enough to escape the endless noise of life to a place of nature in its purest form, the breath of God is near. Of course the breath of God is always near, but in these two natural environments, he is not just near... He is VIVID. The few times I have stood in the ocean, I have been exhilarated by the feel of the bubbles as the water swirls around me. It is a living, breathing being that continuously sings of God's unfathomable majesty in the crash of every wave. The ocean is mesmerizing in its constant motion and the melody it sings. God speaks to the deepest part of my soul when I sit on the shore listening to the music created by his hand and his hand alone. Nature brings the Word to life. In Luke 19:40 When Christ says.... 

"If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

Sitting on the beach, that is exactly what I hear.... The ocean crying out for Him the way my soul cries out for him. Oh, that I would cry out with more urgency as the deep cries out. Oh, that I would block the distracting sights and sounds and learn to soak and bask in Him as the sand embraces the song of His glory. Every day should be a vacation in Christ... Regardless how unworthy I feel, every day my soul should sing the song of the ocean.

Ephesians 3:18
"How Wide and Long and High and Deep is the love of Christ

Shoe Collection is Safe and Sound

When Chicken Little and The Blonde Bombshell prepared for Mexico I was worried. It's hard to blend in with a Blonde Bombshell. My fear was a drug Lord would see her as the perfect opportunity to take us hostage and make some cash with ransom. In the event the worst happened, my husband had my permission to sell my shoe collection in order to raise money to get us back..... Assuming he wanted me back. Shortly after we landed he knew I, as well as my shoe collection, would live to see another day. Yay for safe travel.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Castles in the Sand

 One thing I noticed about resort living.... People tend to sleep late. Almost every morning, Barbara and I had to wait for the restaurants to open so we could eat breakfast. One morning we were on the beach by 9 am. We were the only ones on the beach. Totally unsatisfied with just laying around, I suggested we build sand castles. We both sat at the beach line constructing our own castles. The day before I had seen a little girl with sand molds and I wanted to ask her if I could borrow them, but I thought that might be a little weird so I began my castle the old fashioned way.... With nothing but my hands.... And seaweed. I built a tall turret with sand walls connecting two smaller turrets. I even constructed a draw bridge which I thought was brilliant, and used seaweed as landscaping. Barbara constructed a sandman.... Also brilliant although I thought she could have put a little more thought into it. We took pictures of our creations. With our creations proudly finished we began to swim. I did my bobbing and twirling and Barbara floated in the very adult Super Model way she does everything. I'm perfectly happy being her frumpy sidekick. I looked down the beach and a tractor was headed our way making the sand all even and pretty so when everyone woke up the beach would be perfect.... Except, our sand castles were in his direct line of fire. That just could not be. I could not allow my castle to be mushed into nothingness. I quickly waded to the beach line waving my arms and pointing at my lovely castle and Barbara's unimaginable sandman. I finally caught the drivers attention and he waved back and oh so sweetly went right around our perfect creations. That's a real gentleman I tell ya. Later when we were looking at our sand castle pictures, she suggested my sand castle resembled something more.... Shall we say crude..... "Let me see that picture" I demanded.... "It does not look like..... Oh, well yeah... Actually it does look a little (or a lot) like the nether regions of the male species. The pictures had already been posted to Facebook so I added a disclaimer that not
everything is as it seems at first glance. Get your mind out of the gutter people.... It's a sand castle.... It's also art which is subject to one's own interpretation. How you interpret my sand castle probably says a lot about you. How I constructed it probably says a lot about me.... You be the judge.

Here Fishy Fishy

After watching Shark Week, what would make a better vacation than having an up close and personal experience with something bitey and dangerous. Not up close and personal enough to lose a limb, but I already have a logo arm so a little puncture wound on the other arm would balance things out. Barbara and I were swimming in the ocean.... Let me clarify that, she was standing and I have this weird thing about being in the ocean.... I like to bob up and down, I twirl and swirl and yes I even do some amazing dance moves where no one but the fish can see. Barbara was laughing at me..... "Jac, you are such a dork."  This I know, but I am a fun dork and nothing brings out the child in me like the ocean and snow. Those two things make me literally giggle like a tiny child. Actually, I may mentally be a tiny child stuck in an over sized adult body (who knows) but I do love, love, love to bop up and down and twirl around in the ocean. So I'm twirling and Barbara is contemplating the meaning of life when we both spot two fins sticking out of the water swimming just outside the swimming area. Barbara heads toward the beach where everyone is pointing and I (being a dork I suppose) head straight for the fins. I I get pretty close to where the fins are and then they cross over the buoys that define the swimming area. It was in the swimming area of the resort next to our resort and I was just about to swim under the buoy when I heard a frantic voice yelling at me.... I guessed it was me because no one else was in the water. I looked over my shoulder to see the manager of the resort waving his arms and telling me...... "NO, NO!" and waving me back to the beach..... "Darn it!" He was shaking his head and demanding I come back to the beach. "Great, just great. I was that close to seeing a fish I had never seen before. What a spoil sport." I drag myself up to the beach, head hung in shame because I felt like a
reprimanded first grader. Thankfully the manager took his little clipboard and headed back to the resort where people with real needs (like extra soap and towels) truly need his expertise. A few minutes later the little guy at the watch tower opened up for business. We had seen this fish at a distance the day before and I asked him about it. He had pulled it up on his cell phone to show me what it looked like. He said it was often mistaken for a shark but it wasn't dangerous and he had never seen one actually cross the buoys and enter the swimming area. He laughed at me when I told him about my scolding. He had already figured out I was up for an adventure. Later in the day we were back on the beach. It was our last day and I did not want to spend it just laying on a chase lounge chair. I wanted to do something. Barbara asked our little guy if he would take us out on the catamaran so he loaded the two of us up and we headed out into the ocean. Oh my gosh!!!! The ocean is paradise. He took us far, far out, but the water was crystal blue and you could see all the way down. We reached a sand bar where the water was pretty shallow and so clear it looked fake. He asked.... "Who is jumping in first?" Then he said.... "I will, I will be first." I jumped up and yelled.... "I'm right behind you buddy." Barbara looked disinterested and said.... "I'm fine right here, you two have fun, I'm staying right here." Really? "Barbara, we are here to face your fears. This is paradise. The water is perfect, it is amazing, you have to do it." Finally, probably out of pure desire to shut me up, she jumped in and you could see her whole body relax..... "Oh, this is amazing." She said..... "See, I told you so. You wouldn't want to miss this." We swam and giggled and felt like we could reach up and brush the face of God right there in the middle of the ocean. There are two places I feel the presence of God the most..... In the ocean and in the mountains.  These two places define the essence of God's majesty on earth.... At least for me. When we finished basking in the beauty of the ocean, we headed back. We learned all about our guide, his family, and how happy and content he seemed in his life. He was so sweet. When we pulled up on the beach, Barbara headed for the lounge chairs while I talked to our guide. His co-worker came out of the tower speaking frantic Spanish and waving his arms.  Obviously he had something exciting or terrifying to tell.  Finally the guide stopped him long enough to explain to me that his co-worker had been out by the buoys snorkeling when a barracuda attacked his flipper. He said it scared him to death and he fought it off but the barracuda became even more mad and attacked his flipper a second time. I was a little suspicious.... "If he got attacked, why didn't it get his leg?" I asked.... "The flipper looked more appealing to the barracuda than the leg. He swims out here every day and it scared him to death." I'm weird, and got really excited..... "Give me some snorkling gear. I want to go out. I want to see the barracuda." He shook his head..... "Oh no Ma'am, you cannot do that. Barracuda's are very dangerous." Regardless of how I pleaded and begged neither one would give me snorkling gear. I was so disappointed.... All I wanted to do was to see it, knowing it would make an awesome blog post. They would have none of it. I walked out toward the buoys, but everything was calm.... No barracuda, no fins. The guide told me I should come back in February when the bull sharks come. He said they go diving with them which sounds awesome. So, that's my "Almost saw something dangerous" story. Sorry it wasn't more gorey, but I have to keep things real.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Finding Hope

Wednesday was what the trip to Cancun was all about. The process of grief is a long lonely journey. I have seen people emotionally die when their loved one was taken, and I have seen others slowly rebuild their lives, not as it was, but as it now is. As one watching the process.... My Father and Barbara, as well as others, it is always my prayer that they will find the fortitude to put one foot in front of the other and make the ones who have passed from this world to the next proud of them. They will never be forgotten, and I believe their memory lives on through every adventure, every hurdle, every victory the one still living this life conquers. That was what this trip was about. Wednesday was Barbara's birthday.... The first birthday without John... "Don't let me be sad Jac.... I don't want to be sad." As a fixer with a million opinions about a million different things, I was terrified I would fail terribly at keeping Barbara from being sad. All I could do was my silly best and hope that paradise worked its beautiful magic. We had "A couple's spa" day planned, making it perfectly clear that I had a husband at home and she was the "Birthday Girl" Not that I really cared what people thought, but I thought it would be nice if we
all had an understanding of the circumstances surrounding the celebration. We arrived at the spa to a warm wonderful welcome. The aqua area was beautiful. A young man treated us to a foot scrub. He than lead us into a sauna where we steamed for 12 minutes. Then we proceeded to a series of shower; the cold waterfall shower, the mint mist shower, the mixed jets shower, and my favorite was the ice cold bucket shower. This one was particularly fun because he let me pull the chain on Barbara's bucket which brought me much delight... Her, not so much. Then we walked through what looked liked baptismal pools, one hot, one cold. We had to walk through alternating pools three times. From there we went to the dry sauna, and from there to the ice chamber where they rubbed ice on the bottoms of our feet and palms. That's a lot of water! Finally we made it to our massages where I'm pretty sure I drooled while they worked on my back, and later I woke myself up snoring (actually more of a serene purr). They woke us up with the smell of mint and monk chimes. They wrapped us in robes, put hot rice packs around our neck and escorted us to a room I could imagine Cleopatra lounging in. There were beautiful couch/beds with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne waiting for us. It was pretty close to heaven. That was just the first half of the day. When we got to our room, a knock on the door was room service with a chocolate mouse birthday cake and more champagne. I'll leave the squeals and giggle second half of the day for another post. It is safe to say that I saw moments of sadness in Barbara's eyes at times, but more importantly I saw lots of hope in her eyes. Hope that life could be good. Hope that John would be proud, and hope that more smiles and happiness lay ahead. I saw her realize all she had to do was reach out and be willing to wrap her fingers around hope when and where she found it. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blondes Going in Circles

We arrived to the resort just before lunch. Check in wasn't until 3 so we had some time to kill. We went to the grill that looks over the water and ordered lunch. They sat us on the platform overlooking the water and told us we were queens for the day. The scene was beyond beautiful.... so serene. We swam in the ocean and I looked like a lobster before we checked in. After we checked in, we dressed for dinner and sat on the beach after dark. We decided to call it a night so we headed back to the room. We stayed on the 2nd floor. We got in the elevator and pushed 2. When the doors opened we were in front of room 302. Oops, maybe we get there from the 1st floor so we pushed 1. The doors opened in front of room 320. We repeated the process to all 4 floors and each time the doors opened to room 3??  Seriously, I felt us move, I know the elevator went up and the down.... Why are we not going anywhere. Finally we found a worker who directed us to our room which is, yet is not, on any of the floors. I still think someone was filming the two blondes going in circles like only blondes can do. But if they were filming then they were sure to see how much fun we had going in circles 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bobbing and Blogging

It's 4:30 am and we are headed to DFW airport.... Destination, Cancun Mexico. Our flight departs at 7, so we are right on schedule. I follow Siri's direction with little trouble due to the early hour. "Exit right on north service road." Which I do with no problem. Then she begins to direct me to make a u-turn. Siri's directions have become a vicious cycle. Apparently Siri needs Starbucks as badly as I do at 4:30 am.  We finally silence her and as for directions. In spite of the Siri mishap, we have made it on board  the plane. Barbara is rocking the ENTIRE plane with the constant bobbing of her knee. I've "fixed her a nice cup of coffee" so the bobbing should settle soon.  So we are bobbing and blogging and It's up, up, and away to fun in the sun and who knows what else.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hair's a New Story for Ya

I buy cosmetics and hair products like just buy shoes. I'm all about my bump. My theory is the higher my bump, the closer I am to God (oh settle down, I'm kidding... kind of). I have only had one hair stylist who I felt comfortable telling her... "My hair is in your hands, do with it what you wish" and she has never disappointed me. The other day she sent me a text about a new product she wanted me to try. She dropped it by the house this evening and promised I would be amazed with the results. Typically I shampoo, condition, add volunteer, and root booster while styling. In addition, I also use various spray and goop to get the height I want at my crown. Tonight I used the three products she gave me. While I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair I noticed it felt different.... Cleaner even though I had used only a small amount. I conditioned and then I waffled about not using any styling products. I usually have to use several things to give me the lift and shine I want. Then I decided to give it a whirl and just style my hair sans additional products. I dried my hair and was pleased with how great it smelled. After my hair was dry, I began to straighten it. I usually use several things to protect my hair from further damage from the straightener, but tonight I went at it like the Nike commercial says... And just did it. Honestly, the straightener went through my hair like butter (not that I know what butter going through my hair feels like, but this is how I imagine it would feel), it felt like I was using a brand new straightener. I'm not kidding even a tad. I picked up my phone and told her to immediately place my order. When I finished styling, my crown had plenty of volume without me using any spray or teasing. I'm not a salesperson, but when I find a product that makes instant improvement to the look and feel of my hair, consider me sold. If you are tired of using tons of product, and tired of having damaged hair, this is a product I highly recommend, which is something I have never done. Text me if you are interested and you can try it for yourself.

As if they Never Were

Life has a way of weaving people in and out of our lives.  Life is in constant motion bringing us to different paths throughout the journey. The ebb and flow will bring us in contact with many people.  Sometimes our paths parallel with others for a time....  Sometimes forever. But often, our paths come together, than slowly take different directions, when sadly we no longer walk side by side. When that happens to me, I find myself saying.... "It is as if they were never a part of my life." But closer reflection reveals the tapestry life weaves. I see small highlights along the path we walked together. There will be a pop of color here, a highlight there, and beautiful hues in areas where they impacted my life the most.... Always with a color that is uniquely their own. When paths began to seperate, it is hard for the heart to accept. Whether our journey takes us far away, never to return, or whether our paths diverge again, they will leave behind tangible beauty in vibrant colors marking our time together.... Regardless of the amount of time I've had with them, they have added depth, color, and texture that only the human touch can bring. Their threads along with threads of others, will weave "The Big Picture" represented in living color. Don't mourn the loss of a relationship that takes a different path; rather celebrate the part they played in your life and the joy you experienced while you walked side by side living the journey together. Count your blessings at the creative beauty each one leave behind, and the memories you captured from time well spent. My life has been changed forever by these sojourn companions..... Their mark remains forever on my heart in a way it wouldn't  if they never were.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chicken Little and the Blonde Bombshell

What do you get when you put Chicken Little and a blonde bombshell together in a far away place. Well we're fixing to find out. A good friend and I are headed to Mexico for a girls trip. She's the blonde bombshell and I'm the frumpy Chicken Little. We are both pretty big chickens, she is just a much prettier version of chicken little.  We both have terrible travel anxiety. I'm praying that her constant nervous knee bobbing won't rock the plane right out of the sky, and also that we aren't kidnapped by angry drug lords. If we are abducted by drug lords, my husband has permission to sell all of my shoes to pay the ransom. Something tells me there will be much to blog about in the coming week. Look out Mexico we may be more than you can handle.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Flimsy Arms

This is NOT my arm
A couple of years ago I did a couple of mud runs. Actually, it was more of a mud walk for me. I'm not much of a runner, but I finished both races (I may have come in last, but I finished). I will admit though that I skipped over the obstacles that required any upper body strength except for one. One challenge was to swim in a muddy pond (in 48 degree cloudy weather) and hoist yourself up onto a platform before taking another plunge. Somehow I managed to hoist myself up but it wasn't due to my arm strength. Frigid water can be quite the motivator even to someone with flimsy arms. I remember one obstacle where you had to pull yourself up a rope. Me and my flimsy arms didn't even feel terrible about walking right around that challenge. Anyway, I thought you would like to know that my arms are getting less flimsy. I've been working on them and I'm proud to say that I can pull my socks up without breaking so much as a sweat. I won't be winning any arm wrestling championships with my less flimsy arms, but if I do another mud run I might actually be able think about pulling myself up a rope. I might not get farther than thinking about it, but progress is progress when your talking about flimsy arms.... So yay me!! And that dear friends is about the most exciting news I've had in a long time. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Found in Him

It stands as one of the handful of moments I will never forget. I remember exactly what I was doing (and even wearing) when I learned that Elvis had died, President Reagan was shot, and when the Challeger exploded for all the world to see.  I had walked my wee one to school releasing his hand as he crossed the street away from my protective arms. When I got back to the house I flipped on the news while I fixed breakfast. Those first images of the plane hitting the first tower were unimaginable. As the day unfolded, it was clear life in America had taken a sudden change and things would never be the same. Those few days and weeks after 9/11, America did something that was amazing..... We came together as a United force to help, to pray.... To heal. In the midst of pure evil, we put aside our religious differences, our political beliefs, and the endless bickering over race, and united as one country, under God. We proudly flew our flags, held hands, and believed in the power of prayer and unity.... How quickly we forget.  Under the current administration, tensions among Americans have escalated beyond reason. It shouldn't take a national disaster to break down the walls that divide us and drive us to our knees in prayer. Pray for those who lost loved ones on that dreadful day. Pray for those who survived but have memories seared into their mind. Pray for our leaders, or rather pray for us to find leaders who understand that we are a great nation founded under God and the answers we seek can only be found in him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Voice From the Other Side

I stood in what looked to be a white kitchen apartment. The door which led to the outer hallway was directly to my left. Someone from the other side began to push the door open while I was attempting to push it closed.... That's when I heard.... "Jaaa-ckie"  My eyes popped open like I had been hit by a bolt of lightening. I knew that voice... I could even tell you what kind of mood she was in by the tone of the voice... It was my Mom. She has been gone for 19 months and this is the first dream I've had of her.... The first time I've heard her voice since before she died.  I reached for my phone to check the time.... It was 4:30 am.  There would be no going back to sleep for me. I got up and went to the gym, still a little rattled. Her voice was so clear, her tone so familiar. The push and pull with the door was very indicative of our relationship. The symbolism wasn't lost to me. I've often wondered if she knew that I did my best to take care of her. I've wanted to tell her that if I had known sooner how sick she was, I would have opened the door...  Well, sooner. Her illness came on so quickly and her mind deteriorated  so fast.... I just didn't know.  When she became unable to speak, I would look into her eyes, searching for some kind of recognition that she knew I was being the daughter she hoped I would be...... I couldn't find the woman I knew there... The eyes I looked into were weak, broken ,and frail.... My Mom was none of those things. But the voice.... The voice on the other side of the door..... It was strong and sweet. She didn't say anything else, but the tone of her voice said all I needed to hear.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Not "As Seen on TV"

I was visiting my daughter the other day when she whipped out a mop and bucket to give the floor a quick mop. I paid no attention and kept up the conversation with my son until I heard a whipping spinning sound. I looked up to see that her mop bucket had a spinning contraption that wrung out the dirty water for you. It was the coolest thing ever. My husband said my eyes turned to saucers and that my son and him locked eyes with the joint understanding that I would be hunting one of those contraptions down in the very near future. The next day at work I shared the news of this new fangled contraption with my co-worker's. "You have to watch this video Ivey, it makes mopping look like fun." By the end of the day we had located a store in town that sold them.... My glowing advertisement sold a total of 3, leaving me to believe I should get some type of commission. The next day I snapped that thing together... Well, actually my husband snapped it together and then refused to let me use it first. I "let him win" that battle because I knew it would probably be the last time he had any desire to mop. It really is pretty cool.... I mean as cool as a mop can be. I set about mopping the house, marveling at the way it really does spin and swivel. Halfway through the first floor, I was wiping sweat from my eyes. How on earth did that infomercial girl make it look so effortless? Probably with creative editing, already clean floors and a talented make-up artist. Sadly I had none of those things. In my personal opinion, infomercials should be required to show the blood, sweat and tears that go on behind the part you don't see on the "As Seen on TV" ads.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hard Escape

The saying "That which does not kill you will make you stronger." Isn't necessarily true. The Hot Fudge /Carmel Sundays I love so much haven't killed me, but they certainly haven't made me stronger. I try not to think about them, but the yummy taste keeps sneaking back to my mind. I need to stand strong so I'm not defeated by the yummy Gremlins. It's funny how instantly after that last delicious bite, I'm filled with self loathing and regret which lasts as long as my hunger stays at bay. As soon as my tummy starts to rumble..... A Hot Fudge/Carmel Sunday starts looking better and better. Ahh, the taste is bittersweet and
hard to escape. If only the sweetness was good for me and supposed to be on my diet plan. In a perfect world whip cream, hot fudge, and carmel would be considered health food. Having all of it I wanted would be the cherry on top of the perfect world.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"Things Need to Change"

Life is a constant motion of change. You can love it or hate it, embrace it or run from it, but you cannot escape life changes. You may wake up one morning to find the sun shines a little less bright, the clouds hang seem a bit lower, and the breeze has a tad of a chill in it. Life is changing. When you don't feel the courage to change with it, just put one foot in front of the other. Soon you will find yourself walking from the past into the changing future. When you get there, don't get comfortable because like it or not, things will soon change.....  "Things need to change." And life goes on. Even when it seems like you can't possibly make the change, you'll go with it. Change isn't the end, it's the beginning of something new.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

No Big Surprise

I'm generally a positive person. I'm not an optimistic person, but neither am I a pessimist. I would say I fall squarely in the realm of being a realist (insert deep sigh here). I intentionally try to stay grounded in a realistic frame of mind, because there is nothing I detest more than being disappointed (that statement should be in all caps, but I hate to be rude and scream on my blog) Disappointment is extremely hard for me to take which isn't a good thing; life if full of disappointment. This morning I was scolding myself over a situation that I was thoroughly disappointed about. I was talking to myself (I'm very entertaining) and I said...... "Why in the world are you disappointed???  (I think I called myself a Moron) This is exactly the outcome you expected.... Why the surprise and disappointment?" That's when I realized that although the outcome was what I expected and planned for..... Deep down, in the secret places of my heart, buried so deep that I didn't know it was there, was the slightest glimmer of hope that things would turn out differently and I would be pleasantly surprised.... Amazed even. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If that is true, I should make reservations for a nice white padded room.