Lessons Learned From Vacation


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




Not Finished Yet

IMG_4367 Mt. Rushmore Avenue of Flags.JPG

We were gone last week. We decided to venture out to the Black Hills in South Dakota. (Which is why I have not been reading any blogs or commenting!  I will be attempting to catch up soon.)

One of the places that we continue to visit, when we get out that way, is Mt. Rushmore. It never changes but it is just something that seems to beckon us to stop and wander around. This time we were able to visit with the last known remaining carver of the mountain, Nick Clifford. He is 96 years old this year and still sharp as a tack.

IMG_4372 Nick Clifford ~ Last Remaining Worker.JPG

After speaking with him and reading the plaques along the trails, that wind around the base of the heads; we rediscovered the fact that the sculpture was actually never finished. They quit carving on it when the US entered World War II. Originally the presidents were supposed to have their coats as part of the sculpture.

It was a beautiful day to be outdoors enjoying the view. The flags were fluttering in the breeze, the crowds were thinner due to school starting, and we were able to stroll the trails in the sun and take our time reading plaques that helped to educate us.

It did really strike me that this project was never finished. My first thought was they should have finished it or should be finishing it now. My second thought was that this memorial is a pretty accurate representation of our country and of us as people….we are not yet finished.

We are constantly changing….sometimes for the better….sometimes not. We have gone through wars, riots, racial challenges, scandals, parades, cheering on our veterans, raising children, everyday life, etc.  Some good…..some not.

On this day, the 11th of September, it is good to remember that we are not yet finished.  This is a day that, as a country, and as a world we won’t forget. For my generation….it is our Pearl Harbor.

We have learned things since that day. There are still things that we, as a country, need to change. There are challenges still to be faced. We are growing and will continue to grow for years to come. Some things will change and others will not.

People will still be people with strong feelings and opinions about things. There will be wars, because we, as a world are made up of imperfect people. We will struggle with events and we will celebrate other events.

We will continue growing, with those four stone faces looking on. I sometimes wonder what they would make of this country and it’s people. I wonder if it would be what they had in mind when they were in charge.

I anticipate that my husband and I will make a trek to those heads a few more times before we are done….at least I hope to in the years to come. I also anticipate that we will grow as we are chiseled, hewn and shaped into what we were meant to be.


IMG_4356 Chiseled and Hewn

May we be gracious while we are being shaped and carved into what we are meant to be. May we persevere and in the end stand firm as a mountain. May we realize that we are not yet finished……..

“When things do not go your way,
remember that every challenge
— every adversity
— contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” 

― Roy T. Bennett




Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN

There are days when blogging inspiration is hard to come by.  Today is one of those days. It seems small seeds of ideas pop into my brain and scatter before they have a chance to take root.

I am not sure why this is an issue today. Maybe it is because I was already a day late with my Monday post and my brain just can’t quite reset to the normal blogging schedule. It is hard to get my thoughts back on track.

Much of life can be like that.  You find a perfectly good path to take (at least you think it is a perfectly good path.) and before you know it…..your good path has taken twists and turns that you never expected.

What starts out as an easy hike quickly becomes a test of endurance and perseverance. I find when those paths starting getting a little iffy; it is good to remind myself to stop, breathe and take a look around.

It seems to me, that the hardest paths tend to have some of the most beautiful sites to see along the way. Maybe the flowers just appear to be more beautiful when the way is hard. Maybe it is compensation for life taking a difficult turn. Or maybe it is the promise that no matter how tough it gets there is hope to be found.

In the next few days our thoughts will turn to the past year and all the paths that we have had to travel…..the smooth ones and the rocky ones.Then we wonder what the year ahead will look like. One thing I know for sure – there will be some easy trails. There will also be those paths where the end cannot come soon enough.

Enjoy the easy days to the full….without worrying when the hard ones will show up. Take heart on the difficult days.  Stop and look around. Appreciate the small things…..the smile of a grocery store clerk, the way the sun shines and makes patterns on your living room floor, the smell of the woodstove as it warms your home, the hugs from a loved one…..

There is much beauty to be found if we only look. There is much goodness to be found if we give those around us a chance. There is much joy to be had if we just open our hearts and let it in.

May you be blessed…..wherever your path takes you. And may you be a blessing to those who travel with you.  “The joy is in the journey.” (Glen S.)


Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in Yahweh will be renewed.
They will soar on wings like eagles.
They will run and won’t become weary.
They will walk and won’t grow tired.

Isaiah 40:31 NOG


Bucket List


Well Lived Bucket.JPG

I was reading a post by kindergarten knowledge the other day titled “Listen….Young Me….Listen!!”  In this post she writes about what she would tell the younger version of who she is today.

I started thinking about that and that led to thinking about how I will never be younger than I am today. Which, in turn, led me to thinking about things I would still love to do before I leave this world……it also led me to think about things I have zero desire to do before I leave this world. And it detoured past things my kids do while they are in this world.

Things I would like to do. Travel, travel again and then pack up and travel some more.  I would like to see so many places that I have never seen or only seen briefly.  The Grand Canyon is one of these places that are at the top of my list. Many years ago, as youth leaders at our church, my husband and I took a group of high school kids to a youth convention in Flagstaff, AZ. On the way home we were allotted one hour to see the Grand Canyon. That was rather like being shown an ice cream cone; but only getting to hold it and not eat it. So the Grand Canyon remains at the top of the list.

I would like to go on a cruise.  This one may not ever happen as it is not a desire my husband has. I have a thing for boats and water and he has a thing for mountains and uninhabited places. So we compromise and I go along to the mountains, which are beautiful, and if there is a lake I get to be by the water. I will just continue to dream about a cruise, warm sandy beaches, ocean waves and seashells. I must confess I do love the sights, sounds and smells of the mountains. I love the craggy peaks, rushing water, and pine trees. A trip to the mountains is also a lot cheaper than a cruise and we can camp….that does make it a win.

I would love to go on a vacation to any location and take our kids and grandkids. A camping trip would be good, a few days in the Black Hills would be awesome or even having them all stay here at the same time would be a great Staycation. To me that would be the best vacation ever…..even if the grand kids get tired and crabby……or even if the grandparents get tired and crabby…..someone will send the tired and crabby ones to bed…….

There are also some things I have absolutely no desire to do.  Never ever, in a million years will I be bungee jumping. This would rank right up there with parachuting out of a perfectly good airplane.(My nephew in the 82nd Airborne might not understand me on this one). I would have to be unconscious to do either of these things…..and then, if I can’t remember it, what would be the point? These activities also carry the great risk of heart failure, wetting my pants, throwing up or all three at the same time; so I am definitely passing on putting these two items on my bucket list.

Another thing I will also not personally be doing is mountain climbing. My husband and I have 3 sons who do this for “fun”! Mt. Elbert was one of the first ones they climbed.

Mr. Elbert Colorado

They make an annual trek to the state of Colorado to make their way up some 14,000 footers. I am not totally sure how many they have conquered so far but I do know they have done some that I cannot even watch the go-pro video they took. I pray a lot when they head for Colorado.Mountain Climbing Greys Torreys via Kelso Ridge


Maybe bungee jumping or parachuting would be safer????? I really think they should maybe take up some safe hobbies like basket weaving? wine making? soap making? Oh wait…..those are things on my list!

I guess when it really comes down to it, what I really want out of life is for my family to get along, my kids to be the best of friends and always have each others’ backs, that someday I will see my family all in heaven and that when I am gone I will be remembered as that slightly crazy Chicken Grandma. And hopefully when they remember me they will all get a huge smile on their faces.

I am pretty sure everyone has some thing they secretly long to do…..some place you want to visit…..or a new thing you want to try.

“God gave us the gift of life;
it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”