Monday, April 29, 2019

Bon Fire Bible Study



I feel very blessed by female friendships.  I feel like I have a wonderful circle of women friends whom I can turn to at moments notice. Friends that I can call and rely on when I need them most.  Friends that will support me and pray with me when I am struggling and friends that will also rejoice with me when I rejoice. I can send a text in the middle of the night and receive a response first thing in the morning.  I can log on to social media and put out an SOS for help with a family in need and friends respond immediately with clothing, gift cards and food.  I will never take this for granted because it hasn't always been the case.  And I understand that so many women crave community and fellowship with other women but struggle forming a circle of friends.

But something that I have also observed, are men who struggle to make male friends. In high school and in college, friends are everywhere.  Sometimes even after from sports leagues or even work friends.  However, men lack one thing across the board.  Other close male friends.  Men that support other men during trials and support each other during sickness.  Men that make life fun again when life seems like too much work.  Men that help other men network after job loss or a relocation.  Men that put others first and care more about relationships than they care about putting themselves first. Men that hold each other accountable, model for each other how to be a great husband and father and also are not afraid to keep each other in check is someone's behavior isn't acceptable.  Men that do life together.

I have been married for a very long time.  24 years in June. I have learned many things during this time.  And a whole lot of them are about how I can support my husband as he continues to support me.  One of the things that we make sure we do is to enable each of us to attend Bible Study.  Monday nights for the men where Josh leads a small group, Tuesday nights for the women. I then also teach on Tuesday mornings. We also make sure that we are able to have time with friends.  Josh is going out tomorrow evening after work with friends and I am going shopping and out to dinner with my sister this upcoming Sunday.  We enable the other to go by making sure that the other is home for the kids. We also enable each other to attend meetings and fundraisers without the other spouse attending.  Not everything Josh attends is fun for me, and likewise.  Sometimes, it is just more fun to attend certain events with my female friends.

Tonight was a perfect example of why I strive to make this possible for Josh and why he does it for me.  This group of men are sitting around a bonfire in our backyard studying the Bible together. They are praying with each other and for each other. They are supporting each other. They genuinely care for each other and go out of their way to get together every Monday night at our house for Bible Study.  Many of their wives are also in the same studies that I attend or teach. This is how our circle of friends support each other.  Husbands and wives, together and separately. 

These are also the families that I love their children as if they were my own. They hold a very special place in my heart and I treasure that all of our families have fit together so well.

Husbands, love your and support your wives. Enable them go to Bible Study and to spend time with friends.  Wives, love and support your husbands. Enable them to go to Bible Study and to spend time with friends.  Marriages tend to prosper when couples place being in The Word and Relationships as a priority.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Public / Private

Yesterday evening, Josh and I had a chance to go out to dinner together and run a few errands.  We dropped Zach off at Respite Night at church, (a fun night for special needs kids to enjoy making new friends and participate in activities structured around their abilities) and Lily was hanging out at home watching Duck Tales and reading a few new books. We hit a taco place in Eden Prairie and enjoyed the quiet even tough it was Friday night. The restaurant was only half full, and the high ceilings seemed to pull the noise of conversations away from us.

When I am out to dinner, or pretty much anywhere, I enjoy people watching.  Sometimes people are too far away and I can't hear what is being spoken of, other times, I am honored with a few stories shared among friends. I am not ashamed to admit that I listen in.  And when I do, I am amazed at what I hear.  But one thing that I also enjoy is watching people physically interact with each other.

Friends sharing stories and laughing together until they are both crying. As they wipe their tears, the laughing ensues all over again.  Oh, to laugh so much and enjoy life as they do.  I couldn't hear what was so funny, but their laughter made me smile.

I overheard a first time mom share her concerns with her friend about who would be present in the delivery room when she was in labor.  She didn't feel comfortable having her in laws or her own father present. Only her husband and her mom.  I thought this should be the least of her concerns in these final weeks and I hope her wishes are honored when her time comes to bring a new life into this world.

I observed a man and woman sitting at a two person high bar table enjoying their meal, but not really conversing. When they both finished, the husband reached for his wife's hand and smiled at her.  He held her hand and stroked the top of it with his other hand.  He had a serene look on his face as they sat looking at each other in silence.  Had it been a hard day? Did they receive some challenging news? Was this how he showed his wife of many years that he only had eyes for her?  I found myself hoping the woman enjoyed the gesture as much as it appeared her the man did.  He looked happy. Content. Connected.

I saw a small group three young men devouring their tacos and laughing together.  They appeared to be ravenous and consumed their food in record time.  I questioned if they had skipped lunch and then remembered my teen son can also consume huge amounts of food just hours after another meal. Sometimes, we call it Dinner 1, 2 and 3.

The family of 5 sitting next us consisted of 3 little boys.  A 4 year old, a 2 year old and a baby that couldn't be more than a couple weeks old. The mother looked phenomenal. She ate her meal as she comfortably held her newborn in the crook of her arm. She even reached across the table to re-wrap a taco or two for her toddlers.  She did it all with ease. Never once appearing to be overwhelmed. I realized I felt overwhelmed for her. 3 tiny kids that all needed a whole lot of help at dinner and probably all day long. Yet she made it look so easy. I was sure to smile at the two small boys and they skipped towards the front door.  And smiled at the mom when she headed towards them with the baby in the car seat.  She smiled back. She was tired, any mom could tell.  But she smiled back.

And then I saw a young teen couple sit at the high back table across from us. Both very attractive and tall, they comfortably fell into conversation with each other, smiled at each other and held hands as they waited for their food.  When his name was called, the young stood and walked to front counter to pick up their trays and returned to the table. As he settled in, she reached for his hand again and they began to pray together. This wasn't a quick Amen before eating.  They both took their time praying out loud as they prayed and thanked God for the day they had and for the food that had been prepared for them. They asked God to bless the kitchen staff that prepared their food and their families that they would return to later in the evening.  They took time to Thank God and Ask for His Blessing.

As a woman who prays before each meal, I especially admire when young people do the same. My Grandma Re always said, "If you can't thank Him in public, you probably shouldn't be in private." She passed away in 1996, and I can still hear her quiet yet bold voice saying this.  These young kids, thanked God in public.  Not to be noticed, not doing it for anyone else, but as a genuine outpouring of thankfulness from their hearts.

Yes. I enjoy hearing laughter between friends.  I pray for those that admit their fears out loud.  I enjoy watching friends reconnect after long periods of time. And couples making an intentional effort at spending time together.  But I have to say that last night, watching teenagers express their thankfulness to God, may be one of my favorite observation of all.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Liar Liar

I am a liar.  Apparently, when you are 10 years old and tell a whopper of a lie, it sticks with you for awhile.  And when I say awhile, I mean for at least 33 years.

My dad and I had been out and about running errands one morning.  He was tired after working many hours and was looking forward to resting on Saturday. He realized he needed some materials for his Monday job and he needed to go to a couple stores. I always remembered asking to go with him.  Hardware store? Yes. I want to go with you.  Gas station?  Of course, let me grab my shoes. This morning, our last errand was to stop for gasoline so that his work truck would be ready to go for another busy week ahead.

I was hungry as we hadn't eaten lunch yet and my stomach was rumbling.  My dad finished pumping the gas, got in the car and pulled out his wallet. He handed me a twenty dollar bill and told me that I could go in and pay if I wanted to. I was so excited. I loved running errands and paying when my parents would let me. It made me feel older than my ten years.

I went into the store and there were a few people in line. The candy aisle caught my attention. On the bottom were the 10 cent and 5 cent candy. And low and behold there were fruit roll ups. 10 cents each.  My parents never bought us the new fruit roll ups and fruit snacks that were at the grocery store.  All my friends seemed to have them in their lunch and for snacks at school. I never did. But I knew how great they tasted. Strawberry was my flavor of choice, and there on the bottom shelf was an entire box of ten cent strawberry fruit rolls ups. I quickly grabbed one and made a beeline for the register.

I paid for the gas and ten cent fruit roll up, stuffed the fruit roll up in my pocket, quickly exited the store and ran to the car. I jumped into the car, slammed the car door and handed the change and the receipt to my dad.  My dad looked at the one dollar bill and the change in his hands and then at me.  I smiled at him as I put on my seat belt.  He then studied the receipt.

"Kelli, I should have gotten exactly two dollars back in change.  I pumped $18 of gas and gave you a twenty.  Where is the rest of the change?"  My dad asked slowly.

"I don't know, that is what she gave me." Lie number one.

"Why does it say -Grocery item- 10 cents on the receipt?"

"I am not sure, maybe she made a mistake." Lie two and three.

"She didn't make a mistake. She has to sell you something for her to ring it up." My dad knew what I had done.

"She just sold us the gas." Lie four.

"Kelli, did you buy something with the change I asked you to bring back to me?"

I crumbled.  I started to cry.  I couldn't lie to my dad. I reached into my pocket, "Dad, I bought a fruit roll up. I am sorry. I just really wanted one. It is strawberry and my favorite flavor. I didn't think you would even notice."  What made me think that 20 minus 18 equaled anything other than $20?  More importantly, what made me think being deceptive and lying numerous times was acceptable?

My dad was stern with me but never yelled. "Here is the receipt.  Take the fruit roll up and the receipt back into the store and return it. Get the money back and bring back to me.  I will not let you keep this fruit roll up because you lied to me. If you had asked for it, I would have purchased it for you.  But lying will never get you what you want."

I was still crying as I felt bad for lying. Little did I know what was awaiting me in the store. I got out of the car and walked back in. I looked back at my dad one last time as my hand was on the door handle of the corner Tom Thumb, hoping and praying for some reason he would reconsider and not make me return the fruit roll up. He didn't even look at me as he was staring out the window at another car that just pulled up.

The man in front of me at the register finished paying for his purchases and left the line. It was just me standing there staring at the woman whom I had seen every single time I was at the gas station.  I was frozen in place.

"Can I help you sweetie?"

"Um. I...I need to return this."  She took the roll up from hand and inspected the packaging.

"Reason for return?"

"What?" I asked. I am sure my face was tear streaked and as red as a fire engine.

"Why are you returning the fruit roll up?"

"Oh. Um."  I had no idea what to say.  "I thought it was watermelon. It is strawberry." Lie number five. Now I had lied to my dad and the lady at the register.

She pushed a few buttons on her cash register, the drawer popped open and she gave me change. All in pennies.  I was mortified.  Somehow the pennies made it worse.  No.  It was the all knowing look on her face that made it absolutely embarrassing. She knew what happened and never said a word.

"Have a good day dear. See you next time."

I slowly walked to the door and it dawned on me. The reason my dad didn't get mad or yell at me was he knew exactly how this was going to play out. He knew how dreadfully embarrassing it would be for me to have to go back into a store and return a ten cent fruit roll up because I hadn't asked for permission to buy it in the first place.  Going back into the store was the best punishment ever. Because I was mortified. I never wanted to see that cashier again. She knew I was a liar, just like my dad did.

I wasn't grounded, I never did get yelled at.  Come to think of it, I don't think my dad ever even told my mom what happened that morning at the corner gas station. And surely my dad never brought up the subject again.   My punishment was embarrassment.  My dad knew exactly what he was doing.

All these 33 years later, I able to remember what happened that day like it was yesterday.  I lied numerous times, and my silent punishment was understood.  I even remember thinking how smart  my dad was for making me go back into the store.  For not giving in. For not even saying, that is okay. Here, have the fruit roll up.  He knew there was a lesson in there, and a lesson was learned.

I have over time developed a natural lie detector.  I know when I am being lied to.  Someone won't make eye contact with me.  They over explain or make lots of excuses. Sometimes it is a tilt of the head and eyes that squeeze shut.  Or even the rubbing of a forehead or hands. But I know when I am being lied to.  My children also know this to be true.  I will catch one in a lie and  only tilt my head and narrow my eyes.  And then clarifying statement  is made to correct what was just said.  And the truth is known.

I never want to be known as a liar.  Not at 10 or at 43. For sure not at 43.  Because I have learned my lesson. I never want to see that look of disappointment on anyone's face. Also, I am thankful for a lesson learned from my dad and lesson reinforced by the lady at the register at the corner Tom Thumb gas station.





Saturday, April 13, 2019

Petals


My husband brought me For No Reason tulips just over a week ago. He has done this many times, and every time, they make me smile from ear to ear.  This time, it was a half dozen rich purple bulbs planted in a pot.  They grew quickly and started to open.  The color was breathtaking.  Almost as if my eyes were assaulted each time they came into view because nothing that surrounded them was even close to their vibrant color. I became as fond of the white tips and green stems as I did of the beautiful tulips.  I even found myself taking in a deep breath when I was next to the mantle over the fire place so that I could breathe in a whiff of the still damp soil.  I was absolutely taken with the gift from the husband I love.

The first time I received flowers from someone, they were yellow tulips. It was such a beautiful bright color and I adored them. I displayed them on the small bedside table next to my bed.  I took a vase from my mom's dining room closet where all of her china was stored.  There was also a wonderful shelf filled with every sized vase you could imagine.  I selected a short, rotund, dark green vase that matched the drink wear and serving dishes that would adorn our dining room table when my mom entertained. I filled the vase with water, and cut the stems to fit in the vase. The green stems stood out even more against the dark green of the vase.

When my mom arrived home later that day, she came into my room to check on homework and my day.  She smiled when she saw the yellow tulips siting next to my bed.  "Ah. Tulips. What a pretty color.  Any boy can give the gift of roses, but keep the ones that give you tulips and know that they are your favorite flower."  I have never forgotten these words from my mom these 25+ years later.

Yesterday, when I came downstairs to get the kids ready for school, I noticed one of the tulips was beginning to lose its petals.  These gorgeous few pieces of a whole had fallen onto the ground and on top of the clean clothes basket underneath the mantle.  I bent to pick them up, one by one. I brushed the yellow dust of the stamen off my black dress on the top of the basket and then glanced down at the petals.  How are these remnants just as beautiful as they were the day they arrived in my home 8 days earlier?

I started thinking about the beauty that can be found in the pieces and remnants of each day.  Not everything is perfect, not everything is exciting, not everything makes me happy. But bits and pieces and glimpses absolutely do.  When I see my son working quietly on the computer at the corner kiosk at the library. When my daughter returns to me skipping with excitement after reading to both of the therapy dogs at the library.  When an email of thanks is responded to.  When a text message warms my heart and makes me feel so very thankful.  When I look forward to dinner prepared on the grill even though the ground is still covered in snow.  These pieces, these moments make me so very happy.

Yesterday, when I noticed the petals taking leave of their origin, I could have viewed the happening as a mournful event.  But I chose to relish the beauty, to bask in the idea that spring will eventually arrive. I chose to remember that beauty lies all around me and it is to be enjoyed daily. 

I am also so very thankful for the one that gives me tulips and knows that it is my favorite one of all.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Adventures That Beg For My Attention

My children are both home from school today on a random Thursday in April. No it isn't because of spring break or a scheduled day off.  It is because Minnesota got the last laugh again this year and we got hit with a whopper of a snow, ice, thunder, rain, pelting snow, and crap storm yesterday on the 10th that has carried over into today and will likely be more of the same tomorrow.  It is ridiculous. Hundreds of accidents.  Up to 70 mile an hour winds.  40 mile stretches of the freeway out west and north of us are closed.  Commutes normally that take 45 minutes, are now clocking in at 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Nope.  I ain't having it.  I am done. I want spring.  My calendar says it is spring.

This past Monday it was 70 degrees.  70.  I was wearing yoga capri pants and my shirt sleeves and it was beautiful.  I was admiring my tulips and lilies that were beginning to grow. The green of each new leaf and stem made my heart soar.  Now today, covered in voluminous amounts of snow, I only know that there are plants under there because that is where they are supposed to be. Not even one can be seen through the snow.  Also, mind you, all this snow that I keep mentioning, isn't white snow like you would think it should be.  It is beige and brown. I am not kidding.  Something to do with pollen in the south,  maybe fires, or the volcano that erupted in Iowa. That last one didn't happen.  I just wanted to make sure I had your attention.

If I see one more post on social media or a reminder from a meteorologist, ahem, like Cody Matz, that we are Minnesotans, this happens all the time, we should expect it and embrace it, physical assaults may start taking place.

No.  I like 4 distinct seasons.  Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. None of this -Winter. Spring. Winter 2. Just kidding Spring. Winter 3.  Spring for 2 days.  Summer heat so bad you have to stay indoors or in the pool.  Fall for a half second.  And then Eternal Winter all over again.  Seasons.  Come on and get your act together Minnesota.

My kids loved having today off. Zach played in basement and his room, listened to music, drew some amazing pictures and pestered me for more snacks most of the day. Lily pretended to study for two tests tomorrow, told me she cleaned her room and played with friends most of the day.  I checked 16 things off my to do list and was thrilled to have a catch up day. No we didn't bake like I had planned, but I did put a whole chicken in the instant pot and have green bean casserole in the oven. That will make my family happy at dinner time.

I plan on folding all that laundry I did today, playing some cards with my family and probably watching a show or movie with my husband. I also will finally pull out my Easter decorations that I want to display so that the two Easter bins sitting in my dining room for the last two weeks can finally be put back in the storage room. I will also go to bed early and read a good book.

Today wasn't what I had planned on, and tomorrow probably won't be either. But I look forward to whatever adventures beg for my attention.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Chance Encounter With Ryan Six Years Ago


4/9/13

It has been six days since I met a young man named Ryan. He rang up my purchases at CVS. Silver glitter on his eye lashes, blue sparkles on his finger nails and a beautiful teal tie. Intrigued, I started chatting with him. Funny, a bit of a goof. I looked down. While locating my debit card and saw his bare arms for the first time. Instantly tearful, I couldn't even speak. At some point, Ryan had been a serious cutter. Not an inch of his forearms wasn't raised with healed wounds. I got my emotions under control, looked up at him and he said, "It's ok. I am better now. It was hard growing up. But life is better now." 

I smiled and told him I believe in the power prayer. I told Ryan that I wound pray for strength and comfort as he navigates life. I started thinking about physical wounds and emotional wounds. The ones we can't see. We all need to make a conscious effort to be kind and encouraging because we do not know what challenges others are facing on a daily basis or in the past.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pea Soup

Today there was an incident.  And when I say incident, it was not of my own doing.  I was at work with my Monday morning client whom I adore. Every Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., we tackle life together and get everything that she needs done, done.  Because I am at her home over the lunch hour, she will usually fix her self a quick meal and I will enjoy a smoothie and a GF bar and some cashews that I bring from home. Today she warmed up a can of pea soup. Even though I am not a lover of pea soup, it smelled wonderful all throughout her home.  The buzzer went off, and she went to stir the soup and spoon it up for herself. She returned to the love seat where we work side to side with two large linen napkins and her bowl of soup on a small lap platter.  

We continued to review documents and I asked questions and made a few notes about additional things I needed to accomplish.  She learned forward to reach for something off the table in front of us, and out of the corner of my eye, I see the shift of the bowl and the platter on her lap.  As in, I saw the shift of the bowl and the platter on her lap sliding and heading towards me. 

Keep in mind, I struggle with peripheral vision. So it was only by the grace of God that my cyborg eyes even detected that something was amiss.  I was able to save the bowl from falling to the floor by catching the bowl with my entire right hand inside of her soup. Just a bit on the floor and on the love seat, I looked down and see the majority of the soup covered my leg from knee to ankle. I grabbed one of the linen napkins for my hand because the soup was hot!  And told my lovely friend to tend to her love seat and carpet and I went to the laundry room to find a clean rag so I could scrub my pants.  I then went to the bathroom and washed my hands not once but twice. Have I mentioned that I do not care for pea soup?

I apologized to my client that I had caught her soup bowl by putting my entire hand in the bowl of the food she was consuming. She laughed because she was sitting there enjoying what remained of the soup in her bowl. I realized she hadn't even notice the soup was falling so if I hadn't quickly reached for it, all of said soup would have covered me, the gorgeous green love seat and her beautiful carpet. 

Many people in my life have told me that I apologize too often. Today that was apparent.   I apologized to her and she had spilled her soup on me.  I should also add I would let her do it again since we sure had a good laugh over it.  Sometimes, laughing at spilled soup, can make you smile for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Anywhere I Wish


Anywhere I Wish
By: Kelli J Gavin 

I watched the waters approach the shore.  They seemed to get higher and closer by the hour.  I asked when we were leaving at least every 15 minutes. The answer was always- soon.  Soon turned into too late.  And too late quickly turned into panic.  I was informed we would have to stay and wait out the storm.  I felt irritated and inconvenienced before I became sick with fear of our pending fate.

I stood on top of the bed when waters rushed in through our first floor sliding door that opened up onto a private patio. My husband quickly moved me to the dresser when the mattress became soaked as I felt I would fall into the rising waters.  I screamed when the dresser drawers opened from weight of the current.  My husband kept telling me we would be fine, but he sounded more irate with the fact that I was in a panic.  He finally agreed to head upstairs to the second floor of the hotel.  He picked me up and grabbed our one bag which contained a change of clothing for each of us,  his wallet and my purse.  When we got to the hallway, he quickly set off to the right where the closest stairway was located.  By the time he had reached the sixth stair, the water sloshed below.  He set me down on the stairs and I caught the look in his eyes.  He longer believed that we would be fine.

A large group of other hotel guests congregated at the top of the stairway.  They took my hand and my husband's hand and acted as if they were pulling us to safety, out of harms way. I smiled at the first woman who greeted me.  She embraced me tightly, I believe more so to comfort herself.  There were 12 of us.  We would wait out this storm together on the 2nd floor of The Waterfront Plaza.  The waterfront was no longer, as the majority of the sand, ornamental rocks and tall pampas grasses that were seen on the shoreline the night before, had now taken up residence in the first floor of the Plaza.

As we made our way towards the hotel rooms of guests that had their doors open, my husband turned quickly as we all heard screaming coming from the bottom of the staircase,  He ran to top of the stairs and most of us followed quickly behind.  A young man whom I recognized from the dining room the night before clumsily made his way up the stairs as my husband and another gentleman grabbed his armpits to pull him out of the turbulent waters. He was carrying a large laundry bin over his head trying to avoid dropping the contents in the water. He was greeted and told everyone thank you for helping him. He proceeded to share with us that he had swam from the far side of the hotel from where the kitchen was located. He said he grabbed as much food as he could carry.  He knew there wasn't very many guests staying at the Plaza as Hurricane Season was known to hit hard in this region.  But he knew most of them were already on the 2nd floor.  He was surprised to find that all 6 couples staying during the week at the Plaza were all present and accounted for.  He began to step out of his shoes.

I went to the bin and tried to see if anything needed refrigeration.  I pulled all the ham and turkey and chicken and cheese and handed it to waiting hands next to me.  I then made an assessment of everything else in the laundry bin.  Two loaves of bread, two large packages of cookies, 1 large box of crackers.  Three bags of chips, two bags of hard candies. And in the bottom, I found a sheet pan filled with fresh cooked fish.  I removed the entire contents to get at the fish and handed to pan up to let the other women figure out how to store it.  I saw my husband talking with other gentlemen.  They were filling bathtubs with water, gathering all of the towels they could find and pulling the drapes on every room that had an open door.

There was no more discussion of leaving the Plaza.  Only discussions of safety, food rations and what we would do when the electricity failed us.  All of the lights in the Plaza went dim 10 minutes later. Candles and matches and few lanterns with extra batteries were located in the Housekeeping closet near the top of the stairs.  The wind began to howl even louder and we heard the crashing of window panes below us on the 1st floor.  I didn't want to be anywhere near the glass. My husband and I took shelter on the floor in the hallway along with the 10 other guests and the hotel employee. Pillows and blankets were brought out to us and even more pillows were taken from unoccupied rooms. Mattresses were then pulled into the hallway when we realized that is where we would we all be the safest.

I wasn't sure sleep was possible that night. But somehow, exhaustion took a hold.  I woke with a start when I realized how quite it had become. My husband snored quietly next to me on the mattress in the hallway.  I sat up quickly, rubbing my eyes as I looked around.  The young man from the dining room remained silent but waved to me and motioned to me to join him. He smiled and handed me four crackers and a slice of ham.  I nodded in thanks but remained silent as not to wake the other guests.

I heard noise from below and walked in between the scattered mattresses and blankets in the hallway.  As I looked down the stairway,  I saw a man beaming up at me. He was floating with an oar in his hand in the brightest neon green kayak I had ever seen.  He hollered at me as if I was hard of hearing. He asked how many people were up there with me.  I told them 12. Well, 12 guests including myself and the young man from the dining room.  He informed me that he couldn't help right away, but would send help in boats in the next few hours to vacate all of us further inland. He asked if anyone was hurt, had any medical needs or if anyone was pregnant. All no, he smiled and promised, we will see you soon.  I stopped him to ask his name.  Jorge.  I was so very glad to see Jorge so early that morning.

I decided to let people sleep as long as they could. When people started to rise about a half hour later, the news that we would soon be rescued quickly circulated throughout our group. Rejoicing and hugging all around. Our rejoicing and hugging was short lived when we parted the drapes covering the inland facing windows.  Buildings were destroyed, and all of the cars had been either covered by the excessive amount of water or swept away. I could see people in the distance standing on rooftops and waving their arms out of upper story windows waiting to be rescued. Devastation continued for as far as my eyes could see.

Being taken to dry land by a fishing boat was bitter sweet.  I said a silent prayer for those that had lost loved ones and those that still were in need of rescue. I prayed for the local people who would need to rebuild their lives.  I shed tears for the families that were separated as the waters destroyed all that they knew and held dear.

We were back in the United States and home in our own beds three days later.  My husband was given the chance to retrieve the few belongings that still remained in our waterfront hotel room once the waters had receded a bit. There wasn't much left. But that was okay.  Clothing, trinkets, things could be replaced. Our lives could not.

I am not the same person I was before our Waterfront Plaza stay.  Neither is my husband.  That is probably a good thing.  I now think more about others.  I now pray more for others.  We won't return to the Waterfront Plaza. Not because we do not want to, but because the owners have chosen not to rebuild.  To rebuild seemed futile, as they had been forced to already do so twice in the last seven years due to the ravishing effects of previous hurricanes and tropical storms.  My husband said it had been rumored the owners were thinking about an inland restaurant. 

Recently, my husband asked where we should vacation next spring.  I knew what I wanted to do. Somewhere surrounded by mountains and snow. Possibly skiing. He smiled as he pulled me closer and said we can go anywhere I wish. 

Going Back

Michael winced at the pain in his shoulder. It had started hurting by about the fifth time he put the oar in the water.  How was he goin...