Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Top Ten Things I Learned on Vacation

10. Sometimes it's better to get it all done at once. 

In planning our recent trip to Colorado (to visit our girl, since she's doing an internship there this summer...) we thought long and hard about how we were going to get there. That is, I am not a fan of driving long distances because, well, because it takes so long. So we checked out the option of flying. However, I am even more not a fan of spending a lot of money, so we quickly ruled out that alternative. And taking the train wasn't going to be much better, so we acquiesced to the driving plan.
Only that decision didn't entirely solve the problem.
That is, Brian proposed driving straight through - from Michigan to Colorado. And I was all, Nooooo, that will be so long! And I am not a fan of long car rides. But, if we didn't drive straight through, that would mean paying for a hotel room along the way and, well, I am even more not a fan of spending a lot of money... So, I complied with Brian's proposal and we made plans to drive for 18+ hours.
And, can I tell you? That was such a good idea!
We stopped along the way for gas and lunch and dinner, and were in our hotel room by 11:00pm local time saying, "I can't believe we were in Michigan this morning, and we're already in Colorado!"
I was so glad we got to start our fun the very next day - instead of having to drive more. 
Indeed, sometimes it's better to get it all done at once. That is, sometimes we need to admit that somebody else was right. Thanks, Brian!

9. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

We did a good amount of hiking in Colorado, including one day in Pine Valley Ranch Park along the North Fork South Platte River. During that particular walk, I became enamored with a pretty pink flower I kept seeing along the trail. I know, I know. I become enamored with just about anything pink. But this one was special. I figured it must be some kind of distinguished specimen. Maybe one of Colorado's home-grown treasures. So I took pictures.

But when I showed the pictures to Elizabeth at the end of the week she told me it was just a Thistle - with a bit of a disapproving tone in her voice. And I'm thinking, Thistle. Sounds like whistle. And you whistle when you're happy. This flower must make people happy. 
Until Elizabeth told me, "Mom. It's a weed."
But it's pink! And it's pretty.
Then I realized: plants in which some people find no worth can be precious to others.
And I thought, Hmmm. The same can be said for people, too.

8. Having a GPS doesn't preclude the need to have a plan.

OK, I know I have been accused of being a Luddite.
I admit I can be guilty of holding on to "old ways".
I realize there is value in embracing today and taking advantage of the technology we have.
But sometimes batteries die, and signals get lost (especially in the mountains!) and it would be a good idea to know how to get where you're going without having to rely on said batteries or signals.
And that's all I'm gonna say about that one. *wink*

7. Murphy's Law can find me on horseback. 

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
That stupid adage follows me everywhere I go.
We were in the Rocky Mountains on a 2-hour trail ride and everything had been going smoothly. So I decided to get my phone out and record some of the scenery. What could go wrong? I thought to myself. We're just moseying along. Everything's good. I can ride one-handed for a few minutes.
If only I had heard ol' Murphy snickering in the woods.


Yeah. My horse got spooked by something and started running, so I dropped my phone.
Fortunately, the phone didn't get stepped on by a horse. It was dusty, but no damage.
I guess Murph gave me a pass on that one.

6. Things that look like trouble aren't really trouble when you trust the leader. 

One of our more adventurous days was spent white-water rafting down Browns Canyon in the Arkansas River. Yes, even my 72-year-old mother-in-law came along. Go, Grandma!!! 
That's her in the blue helmet. Haha!
 One thing we learned very quickly on our adventure was the importance of listening to, trusting, and obeying our leader. Mike was a great guy, and he had been down this river many, many times before. He knew the location of every rock and rapid. He knew how to steer and when to turn us. He called out "forward, 3" or "forward, 4" and "forward, 2 more" at all the right times to get us to give the raft the power he needed to steer us in the right direction.
We might be headed toward a rapid, or approaching a big rock we thought we should avoid - and we might be tempted to start paddling "away" from it. But our strict orders were to row only when and how Mike instructed.
 And when we worked as a team - trusting our leader - we made it safely through and around every obstacle we faced.
Something tells me white-water rafting could produce a parable about trusting Jesus.

5. Scary is a matter of perspective. 

Another adventurous thing we did in Colorado was riding bikes down Pikes Peak. For those who don't know why that would be considered an adventure, let me just tell you: our bike ride started at over 14,000 feet above sea level, and lasted approximately 19 miles. And when we were riding in the van to the top of the mountain I experienced several moments of honest-to-goodness fear.
See, the driver was very comfortable with mountain driving.
Sometimes she would turn her head to address a passenger's question and I would want to scream at her, "Keep your eyes on the road! We could slip over the edge and fall to our death in a matter of seconds! Don't drive so close to the edge!!!"
Because from where I was sitting in that van, it really did seem like one inch to the right was going to be our end. And my heart was on edge. (Pun totally intended!)
Then we got to the top and I got out of the van, and I felt comfortable enough to walk around and see just how high we really were.

And how far down we could fall if we slipped.
And I thought, I'm really going to ride a bicycle down this mountain?
But the craziest thing happened.
I got on the bike, rode around the parking lot a bit to get acclimated, and when we started down the mountain and I was riding in the middle of the lane - even when I was in the lane on the outside of the mountain - I felt totally secure.
I wasn't scared.
My mind didn't scream at me about being careful to not fall over the edge.
Seems that being in control of my own "vehicle" and feeling like I wasn't on the edge of the road changed my outlook. I had the perception of being safe. And that's when I learned that scary is a matter of perspective.

4. Spicy Uno brings people together. 

I've mentioned Spicy Uno here before. And if you haven't tried it, I'm telling you now: you must!
I don't think I have more fun playing any other game than this one.
In addition to the fact that my 17 and 19-year-old sons will play with us, I love Spicy Uno because it brings all kinds of people together. From my husband to my sons to my mother-in-law to my daughter's roommate (who we had just met) we had a room full of diverse people who were laughing together, having fun together, enjoying time together, not looking at smartphones together.
And this momma's heart loved it.
If you're looking for a way to create some good family/friend time, check out Spicy Uno!

3. People don't have to be "like" you in order to be liked by you. 

It's easy to like people who are like you, isn't it?
You talk the same, dress the same, eat the same, think the same. 
It's easy to get along with people like that, you know?
But during our time in Colorado - and with the various adventures we took - I had several opportunities to meet people who were not like me.
There were those with lots of tattoos, women who went without bras, some folks with interesting piercings, and others who looked as though they hadn't been to see a barber anytime in the past 12 months. They were people who - on the outside - didn't look anything like me. People who - had I not been placed with them by an outside influence - I might not have engaged in conversation or relationship. 
Yet, when I spent time with them, when I learned about the people inside the appearances - I discovered beautiful souls who were a blessing to know, regardless of how they look, or talk, or act, or eat, or whatever else sometimes divides us.
Made me wonder how many times I have missed a friendship just because a person wasn't "like" me.
Let's not do that again!

2. I need JESUS.

Ahhhhhh, the most important things I learned(And not for the first time, I might add). Numbers 2 and 1.
Let's be real: 
The trip was great. 
We had fun adventures and made good memories.
But it was also full of struggle for me. 
Although I am doing much better with regards to dealing with depression, there are times...(Like when I'm in close proximity to family 24/7 and I'm trying to keep peace, make decisions which will satisfy everyone, guide plans to best utilize our resources, answer the same questions repeatedly, and not blow my top - you know, when I'm on "vacation".) 
There are times I feel like I'm losing the battle with my depressive tendencies. When my insecurities rise to the surface and the negative self-talk crushes the timid voice of truth which is trying to come through. When every little thing I hear someone say gets turned around in my head to be a jab at my very existence. When I'm pretty sure everyone around me is certain I am a failure.
And then, Jesus.
Jesus steps forward in moments like this one - when we were climbing to the top of a waterfall, and I stayed back because the climb got too steep for me. So I stood by myself, taking in the beauty of what I was seeing, overwhelmed by the majesty and power of our Creator God who could make such a display with rocks and water. And in that moment HE reminded me - His Voice of Truth spoke to my heart - that when I am weak, HE is strong. Though I am inadequate, HE is enough. My insecurities don't limit Him. HE is all I need.


1. God's plans are best. Always.

And, the number one thing I learned on vacation - which God has shown me time and time, again: 
HIS plans are best. Always!
It was our last night in Colorado and I had an idea of something that would be special to do with my daughter on our "final" night together. But it didn't happen as I had imagined, and the disappointment - in combination with the week-long struggle I described in #2 - was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I could do nothing to hold back the tears any longer. So, I wept.
Yet, as God would have it, something different happened which was far greater and more significant than the original plan I'd had in my mind. Yes, HE did immeasurably more than all I had asked or imagined (Eph. 3:20) 
And my heavenly Father graciously reminded me that I can trust Him to do what is good.
Even in the face of what looks disappointing.
I pray, my friend, that you may also be convinced of this wonderful Truth.


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