Finding the Beauty

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The other morning my sister sent a photo to our “Cruise 2018” group; of her feet in the snow.  Her caption was, “This doesn’t look like sand!”  Her photo was in response to the snowfall that we had just had in our area.

Yesterday it started snowing here and snowed through the night. Schools were started two hours late to give the road crews a chance to clear the blacktops, highways and gravel roads that buses needed to travel.

It was a jolt back into the reality of winter in the Midwest.  Once again, I had to tend to the girls and shovel trails through the snow so they would be able to get here and there outside.  The sun was shining brightly and it was quietly beautiful…..but oh so cold. The world was brilliantly white…so white it almost hurt your eyes to look.

I am finding it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that just one week ago I was basking in temperatures of 80 degrees and sitting on beautiful sandy beaches. It seems a long time ago and yet it also seems as if it was just yesterday. I am not quite sure how that can be…but it just is.

 

I love the fact that this world holds such a variety of beautiful things. Pristine snowfalls, days so cold you can see your breath, shells that come in all shapes, colors and sizes and the sound of waves rushing up on the beach with gulls swirling overhead.

The pure whiteness of a new snowfall is a totally different kind of beauty than last week where waves washed the beach and deposited sea shells at our feet. I did take some beach sand and shells home with me from Mexico and have them drying on a tray in my kitchen.

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It is a wonderful reminder of our week in the sun. It is a great reminder of the time spent with some of the women in my family…….a time spent catching up with each others’ lives.  (The eight of us represented five different states – Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Texas.)

Those shells and that sand are a reminder that the simple things in life matter so much and mean so much. They are a reminder not to overlook the joy of time spent with those you love…..to open your eyes to what God has put before you…whether it is cold, pure white snow or the warmth of sun-kissed sand.

Take the time this weekend to let your soul soak in the beauty around you and bask in the warmth of friends and family. You may have to look closely to find the beauty…..it might look more like snow than sand….but it is hiding there somewhere!

 

“Earth’s crammed with heaven.”
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
John Muir

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_muir_104245

Lessons Learned From Vacation

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Two steps forward and one step back…..that phrase seems to really explain the last couple days. I had the wonderful experience of escaping the cold of an Iowa winter the last week. The upside…it was so much fun. The down side……I am now playing catch up on everything from housework and laundry to writing and reading blogs!

Last week, along with a daughter-in-law, 1 sister, 2 sisters-in-law, 2 nieces and 1 cousin, I was able to cross an item off my “bucket list”. I went on a cruise. The planning for this event started last summer already, after these same family members read one of my posts where I mentioned that if you really wanted; you could start down the road and end up anywhere.

One sister in law quizzed me as to where I would go……my answer was someplace warm with water and a beach. Another sister in law immediately began researching things like cruises as they were all inclusive and would fit our budgets. Our husbands seemed to have zero desire to go on a cruise so we invited all the women in our family. Eight of us chose to go and this past week we sailed from New Orleans, LA.

We had stops at Cozumel and Progresso (Yucatan Peninsula). We had opportunities to shop, spend time on the beach and just have a great time together. I did learn and relearn some things on this vacation…

I learned that it is good to laugh till you can’t breathe. It is good to smile at everyone you meet and be open to learning about those who serve your meals, clean your rooms and answer your many questions. People are people no matter what color or religion and generally will reciprocate when treated with respect.

I learned that most of us have the same fears, hopes and dreams. I learned (from watching some groups) that drinking to much will turn you into idiots and make you obnoxious.(It might also make you toss your lunch on the beach..it puzzled me to think a person would do that to themselves!) I found that playing Bingo, while fun, will not make you rich.

I learned that caramelized cheesecake is included on the breakfast menu and does, indeed taste delicious at that time of morning. I found that trying the “rare and interesting” appetizers on the menu should sometimes just be something you keep wondering about instead of ordering.

Another thing, I found was the non-drowsy Dramamine is indeed your friend on a cruise….especially when going through a storm. The storm, while making for a bumpy ride, was also amazing.  I also learned that sunrises and sunsets are some of the most beautiful sights that God has gifted us with.

IMG_5218 Sunset in the Yucatan Pennisula

I found that the simple pleasure of wading in the surf and searching for sea shells is truly one of the great pleasures in life. I learned that the warmth of the sun, combined with a good book and the company of people you love is really all you need most of the time.

I also found that getting back home to the rest of those you love is a wonderful thing. It is a joyful thing to know someone is there waiting for you.

We came back to single digits for temperatures, snowstorms and all the things that make up day to day living in the Midwest…… some good and some not so fun.

I cannot speak for the rest of the gals that went, but I came back with a great appreciation for the relaxation of vacation and a greater appreciation for all those things that make up my day to day life here at home. It is good to go…but it is even better to come back.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs
and returns home to find it.
George A. Moore

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/george_a_moore_205186?src=t_travel