Last week, while most students were vacationing in such exotic faraway places like Panama Beach, Daytona Beach or Hopeulikeit, Julie and I had the wonderful opportunity to run down to Sarasota, Florida, to see our daughter and family and our middle son, George, from California. For those of you who don't know the scenario, from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Easter, Florida fills up like a test tube full of Snowbirds who eat everything in sight, drive like maniacs and play very bad golf.
The biggest problem was what to do with Downgirlsit while we were away. Amazingly, this little dog of ours did just fine. She not only had a wonderful lady who spent the nights with her, but also some extraordinary friends who provided an arts and crafts daytime experience. Downgirlsit was picked up around noonish, had scheduled play, fed an exotic lunch, cavorted with a best friend dog and brought home for nap time. We were even provided a picture book showing her activities and a two-page report for the extra special moments like: caught a rabbit, chased birds and slept in my favorite chair.
When we got home, she greeted us but now sits by the front window looking out and waiting for someone to pick her up for a morning out. Not going to happen!
Anyway, George and his sister had not seen one another for years, and it was a very special time for them to be together and just share their memories. We took George to see our old home and he jumped out of the car and began pointing out the places where he, his brother, John, and his sister, Jennifer, played with the neighborhood kids and had really good times together. He said, "That's where Jenny put on plays, and that's where we dug holes, and that's where we found that big snake, and that's where we did this and that!" Then he said something that caused Julie and I to nearly cry, "You know, we never ever wanted for anything! We had everything!"
Let's see. What did we do while we were vacationing together? Well, we drove all over Sarasota to see our old hangouts: the beaches, the hamburger joints, Mote Marine, Salty Dog's, the places that used to be but have been torn down and replaced by condos, stuff like that, and to see how our little old town has grown out of proportion and nearly unrecognizeable.
We missed at least a dozen serious accidents because of the idiots who don't know how to make a block turn, use their signals or have forgotten their manners somewhere between New York and Key West. We had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to Tampa to get George on a plane back to California.
But, you know what? We'd do it all over again in a heartbeat! When we drove up to our home, opened the door and stood back when Chloe came flying through to lick our faces, we thanked God for every moment of our trip.
Of course, we spent more than we should have, will be exhausted for a couple of days and most likely will have left something back at the motel, but that's just fine. What memories we have created!
One of the most wonderful parts of our trip was that we could not have planned such a memorable time. It just happened. Every day, every moment and every side trip was special because we were there as a family and we knew God was enjoying our being together.
Have you ever had one of those unexplainable experiences that left you with questions: What just happened? Why was I blessed to be here at this moment? Was this moment, meeting, adventure or event just for me? What lesson is God teaching me?
All I can say is that Julie and I haven't stopped talking about last week.
I guess the best thing I can hope for is that I am continually learning more and more about God through the living of the life He has given to me. Please allow me to write the same feeling for all of us: We are continually learning more and more about God through the living of the life He has given to us.
I like to believe that when I open my eyes to welcome the morning, I hear God clearly saying, "This is the day that I have made! Rejoice and be glad in it!"