“Ladies and Gentleman… Greetings from the flight deck. This is your captain speaking. We are number three for take-off. Flight time to Cancun is two hours and forty minutes. Current weather is clear skies with a temperature of eighty-four degrees.”
Whoa! Vastly different scenario from the snow-covered runways we’d just left in Louisville! Our “Mexican Adventure” was about to begin…
John and I were traveling with four other couples, all of which are dear, long-time friends. We all met when our oldest children, now fast approaching their third decades of life, were starting grade school at Dunn Elementary.
While we frequently gather for dinner, or lately parties and weddings, we’d never traveled together collectively, ten for ten of us, much less stayed in the same house for seven days. So how did this transpire?
Last fall, at the most gracious invitation of one of these couples who’ve invested their lives helping and leading Boy Scouts, the ten of us attended a Fund Raiser Dinner for the Scouts ( www.scouting.org ).
Upon entering, we were presented with many tables of silent auction items. Each item was more tempting than the next. Unbelievably, we all agreed on bidding for one particular vacation home in the Caribbean. (Never imagining we’d win.) The description of this item read: “Sleeps ten to eleven adults, located on the beach, with a pool….” Say no more.
We appointed a designated bidder in our group, agreed on a do-or-die bottom-line price, and went along enjoying the evening. Before we knew it, the auction began…
Fast-as-lightening verbiage spewed from the auctioneer’s microphone…
Quickly, the bidding boiled down to our friend against another guy across the room. Palpable tension mounted. Nine out of ten of us leaned closer and closer, toward the stage, while our bidder bravely held his own.
We were nearing our do-or-die bottom- line price when, the next thing we knew…..
“BANG!” went the gavel.
“SOLD!” went the Auctioneer.
What just happened? Oh my word….WE WON!!!!
“WHEN can we go?” became the Land of Denial question. How do you begin to coordinate ten calendars while most of us have aging parents whose health can turn in an instant???
Brave souls that we were, the girls soon met with calendars in tow to plan our “prize”. (What a way to support the Scouts!) With one of each of our feet already planted firmly in the Land of Denial, we discovered just a few challenging details:
“You’ll need to fly into the Cancun Airport. We recommend you rent a car as the house is seventy-five miles south of Cancun. Be certain you do not exceed any speed limits. Be certain you only drink bottled water. Pack antibiotics just in case.” Alrighty then.
Amazingly, we found a week in February we could all go. The list-making ensued.
The Lord truly helped orchestrate our trip or it would have never happened with all ten of us. He also protected us while we were there, not to mention the well-being of our parents back in the States.
While in the Land of Denial, some of our more amusing challenges included watching the ever-changing speed limits on the highway. With our two mini-vans (!), our two very competent drivers, their co-pilots (usually not the spouses…),and a few back seat drivers (which usually were the spouses, thank you very much) navigated just fine.
If only you could see the dirt road we had to traverse just to get to the road to our house!!! Interspersed with iguanas and major, no-foolin’-major, dips-n-holes, we finally hit concrete toward the house.
A lovely concierge named Guillet greeted us upon our arrival. Our neighbors from Louisville, Kentucky, came down the beach to say “hello”. (No, I am not kidding!) Remember, we were in Akumal, Mexico!!!
And so the week went, one “gift” after another.
Ann Voskamp, who wrote one of my all-time favorite books, One Thousand Gifts, challenges us to constantly be on the lookout for blessings, or “gifts” from God, from the littlest to the biggest of things. She says, “Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on.”
Here’s a sampling of “gifts” from our trip:
Picture-perfect weather every day.
The only-God-could-have-created-this-beauty of the beaches and Caribbean waters.
Swaying palm trees.
Take-your-breath-away sunrises by morning.
Brilliant stars, too numerous to count, by night.
NO health issues!!!
Delicious food, both in restaurants and prepared by a sweet couple, Noemi and Jorge, in our house.
Noemi and Jorge cooked for us twice while we were there.
I’m still dreaming of the gargantuan bowl of homemade, to-die-for- guacamole that Jorge whipped up both nights!
The lizard we spied scurrying along the ceiling in our kitchen never made it upstairs to our bedroom!!!
We all read LOTS OF BOOKS!
Writing while basking on the beach!
Daily walks on the beach.
This is worth repeating: NO health issues!!!
TWO POINTS I’d like to bring home:
1 – While it is tough returning to the real world from a vacation, it is possible to continue to count your blessings regardless of your surroundings. (Sorta/kinda a piece of cake–perhaps more petit-four in size.)
And, while returning to cold February temps in Kentucky wasn’t ideal, and while the gray skies and leafless trees seem not-so-much-a-piece-of-cake compared to the tropical palms of Mexico, we remain blessed. May we see things with your eyes, Lord.
Ann maintains that “…ingratitude makes the poison course. The cure against thanklessness’s bite? The remedy is in the retina…How we behold determines if we hold joy. Behold glory and be held by God.”
Prior to that, she reminds us, “Without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps.”
Super exciting: Ann Voskamp is COMING TO LOUISVILLE for the North American Christian Convention, July 9th – 12th. She’ll be speaking at the Women’s Luncheon, on the 11th and will be leading two workshops on blogging that afternoon. For ticket information, please visit www.gotonacc.org .
Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to read her excellent blog. Go to: www.aholyexperience.com
2 – It’s EQUALLY important to count the blessings of friendships.
My sweet little small group of Bible study buddies is currently studying Angela Thomas’ Brave—Honest Questions Women Ask. We have found it very helpful and empowering. Angela takes challenging topics, such as “I am worn out, I am undisciplined, I am trembling inside, I am suffering a thorn, etc.” and gives us promises from God’s Word on how to survive.
As a bonus, we have all loved discovering “pearls” or gifts Angela drops into each week’s lesson. One discovery is a beautiful phrase: “soul refreshers.” What are “soul refreshers”?
Soul refreshers are “Godly friends who refresh your soul.” I pray as you read this, you’re saying to yourself, “Oh, yeah, mine are so-and-so…” Angela adds, “If you don’t have a soul-refreshing friend, would you write a prayer asking God to bring you one, OR to bring YOU to someone who needs such a friend?”
Angela took us to I Corinthians 16:18 in the NCV, where Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, “he said that his friends Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus ‘have refreshed my spirit and yours. You should recognize the value of people like these.’”
Don’t miss that point! “We should RECOGNIZE THE VALUE of people like these.”
I love what The Message says: “They’ve refreshed me by keeping me in touch with you. Be proud that you have people like this among you.”
Angela offers three excellent suggestions for us all:
(1) “We carve out time for Godly friendship, even when there is distance involved.”
(2) “We let them know in thoughtful ways how much they mean to us.”
(3) “We give to them as they have given to us by listening, remembering, and laughing.”
While I’d like to quit there, Angela takes it one step further (Yes, sometimes she steps on our toes!!!). She says, “While we’re at it, as the Holy Spirit is really convicting me in the moment: Am I a soul refresher? For my husband? My children? My neighbor down the street? Oh may it be.”
Lord would you just show each and every one of us who it is, perhaps this very day, who you would have us ‘refresh’ in you? We thank you and praise you for the many blessings of friendship you so graciously have given us. Amen and Amen.
‘Til next time!
(This week’s post is dedicated to SIX fantastic couples: One very obvious one: To the multi-talented Noemi and Jorge, of Akumal, Mexico, who can seemingly cook anything, delighting ten-for-ten of us every single time! To Kathy and Joe Daniels who got this group of truly twelve together in the first place. Kathy is still with us, right up in Columbus, Ohio, while her precious Joe, is with our Lord in His Heavenly Home, patiently awaiting us to talk football with him. We had more fun laughing at what Joe would have said to some of our um, “antics”. Finally, let’s not forget the ever -patient FOUR couples we just traveled with: Randy, our birthday-boy-of-the-week, Happy 56th!!!, Susan, Jon, Denise, Steve, Bev, John and Jayne: we’re a/k/a “The Ya-Ya’s and the Yo-Yo’s”. Another story for another day. Thanks for the memories!!! Love all y’all….You define “Soul Refreshers”.)