Monthly Archives: September 2011

Why I Love Cruising

This is the second article about my cruise.

This is my second cruise.  I say that with a sense of wonder and awe, because I never dreamed I’d EVER go on a cruise.  I don’t come from a cruising family.  I don’t even come from a vacationing family.  Just during this visit with my parents being at my home, my dad shared that he’s never been on a vacation.  Sure, as a kid we’d take trips to see my grandparents from wherever we were living at the time, but never a vacation to a destination that didn’t include a home of relatives.

Both of these cruises were paid for by Wonder Voyage, the company for whom my husband works.  Both were working vacations for the Board Members or the Voyage Directors – but for me, they were simply vacations.

Both have come at such a crucial time in our marriage and in my personal life.  I know that I would’ve continued on without these times away, but also recognize that they were an intimate gift from God to help.  To help me.  To remind me.  To heal me.   To reconnect me.

What I love about cruising:

Being served.  Completely, with a smile, endlessly.  There is a huge crew that is here to meet my every need.  Room service, bed turndown service, drinks delivered poolside, cleaning up after me, cute towel animals.


(Our dinner waiters performing a song for us.)


I receive love by acts of service.  If you want to show me love, serve me.  Maybe it is because I serve my little people so incessantly, but I think that, even before I had kids, I received love by acts of service.  I don’t need touch.  I don’t need love notes.  I don’t need lots of time spent in intense dialogue to feel loved.  I just need the simple acts of service.  On a cruise, that’s what happens.

No schedule.  No expectations.  Now of course, there are typical times that people eat (although most people just eat all day on a cruise), there are shows with showtimes, and there are certain hours the casinos and clubs are opened and closed; however, there are not people waiting to be disappointed if I decide not to attend.  What a refreshing feeling!  If I want to sleep in, I sleep.  If I want to walk the deck, I walk.  If I want to get super dressed up and eat at a fancy dining room, I eat with my cute black dress and high heels on.

The food.  I suppose that is what I heard most about a cruise before I actually cruised.  But for good reason.  The food is endless.  Constant.  Delicious.  My sweet husband is addicted to the constant offering of soft serve ice cream.  Before the ship even departed, he’d had a couple.  Besides the taste of the stuff, I think it is the ready access and the constant “of course you can” that becons him.

Nothing in life has this much excess attached to it.  In most real life scenarios, if you want extra, you pay for extra.  Here, if you ordered steak and loved it, but there is also an entree of lobster, you can order that as well.  They’ll, without judgement or complaint, clean up your well-eaten steak plate, and simply replace it with a lobster tail plate.  You want two desserts?  You got it.  You want that dessert, but with 3 scoops of ice cream instead of one?  You got it.  It never ends.

The destinations.  I have been able to see Grand Turk island, St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and now Cozumel, Mexico and Key West, Florida. (The following pics are from our rainy/overcast day in Cozumel.)





The relaxation.  Maybe I alluded to this in the other reasons I love cruises, but it is such a major part of the journey that I have to single it out.  There is a Zac Brown Band song, called Knee Deep, that has become our theme song for this trip.  There is one line that says,

“Blue sky breezes blowing wind through my hair,
The only worry in the world is the tide going to reach my chair.”

And while we haven’t seen much reason to sit in a beach chair worrying about the tide (it has been overcast most of the time), the sentiment is there.  There is no communication with the business of our world.  No pressure or worries.

– I don’t have to worry about communicating with the rude lady on the other end of the phone as I try to renegotiate the terms of our mortgage.

– I don’t have to have a grasp on my family’s schedule so that I can plan meals accordingly and, subsequently, purchase groceries.

– I don’t have to keep the kids’ activities in the front of my mind so that I make sure that we don’t miss some commitment.

Is that tide reaching my chair?  Hmmm…guess I’d better move a little.

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Hurricane

This is the first of my 3 articles that I wrote while on the cruise:

As I lay out on the deck in the Serenity Deck (a space of the deck reserved for 21 and up so that it is quieter and more relaxed) overlooking the wake of our ocean vessel, my eldest daughter is being escorted to her first year of college by my awesome parents.

They are also about to wage war with Irene, the hurricane that we left for them instead of our presence. For me, there couldn’t be any more fitting parallel than an historic hurricane.

For all of her 18 years of life, I have pushed against the current of culture to raise a godly, loving girl, with whom I have the most special relationship.  I went into the teen years having heard mostly stories of dissension, embarrassment, and disagreements.  I anticipated those years with dread – until we began that season of life, and I learned that I could expect my daughter (and the kids following) to mature without losing who she really is.  Her teen years were by far the most rewarding, loving and special years of our relationship.

For all 15 years of her education, I have gone counter-culture and educated her at home.   I have fought her insecurities and the voices that told her day in and day out that she wasn’t smart.  I have wrestled with the doubts about whether or not I am her best teacher, and whether or not she will resent me for making a choice that would keep her from group sports and prom.  I guess time will tell on whether or not she resents missing the cultural rites of passage found in the public school system, but I can report that she is attending college on a Presidential academic scholarship.  She is a bright, thoughtful, and creative young lady.

For all of her teen years, I have fought against a media current that calls her to waste her time, that creates a false sense of connectivity with “friends” she barely knows, or that would cause her to stumble upon a torrent of information that is not helpful and potentially destructive. Maybe that sounds a little combative or paranoid.  Maybe it is a little of both.  However, the culture that we’ve developed in our home has been challenged at every turn, and sometimes feels like riding out a hurricane.

And now, as I sit and drink in the ocean air, sip on a virgin Pina Colata, and read an enticing book, I can’t help but find my mind journeying with my parents as they deal with my daughter’s fears and emotions, and with the sense of loss that is inevitable in the other kids.

Our cruise was re-routed from Bermuda to Cozumel, Mexico to avoid the path of the hurricane.  It didn’t work very well.  We left the port at Charleston, SC and for 24 hours, experienced waves that gave you a sense of weightlessness, non-stop.  I was on a roller coaster ride for what seemed an eternity.  Imagine repeating the anticipation and that floaty feeling that you get at the top of a roller coaster just as you’re descending the giant hill, and that is what I felt on a minute to minute basis.  I fought well for the first 10 hours or so, but then my body gave in to the abhorrence of that feeling, and I spent the next 14 hours either laying in bed suffering, or throwing up.


(Barf bags temporarily put up to catch the effects of hurricane Irene.  The picture is a little tipped, because it is impossible to take a good picture when the floor upon which you stand is rocking/swaying incessantly.)

Thankfully, my husband roused me from my sick bed (at which time I promptly threw up), got me to take a shower, and walked me to the deck.  Historically, the deck is a better place to be for motion sickness.  A friend gave me a dramamine (which really, really work, by the way), and we slowly moved further away from the effects of the hurricane.  Between my husband getting me out of bed and serving me selflessly, the medicine I was lovingly given, and the ship getting further away from the crashing waves (some of which woke people up in their sleep because they sounded like luggage crashing or doors being slammed), I am happy to report that the moment on the Serenity Deck actually happened.

And yet my mind is in a gold minivan filled with people I love to the point it hurts, dropping off one of my most precious possessions.  Wrestling with a real hurricane, and a figurative one all at once.

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Serene Saturdays #20

Happy Saturday!  We returned from our cruise on Wednesday into the port of Charleston, SC and drove home.  On the way, we passed through Philadephia, took a detour, and visited our daughter in college.  It was such a refreshing way to end our vacation.

Then we arrived home.  Our poor family had weathered an earthquake centered in Washington, D.C but felt all up the east coast, got my eldest off to college and dealt with the devastating loss felt by her siblings, weathered hurricane Irene, but was left with 6 days of no power.  They had endured freezing showers (my youngest said that after you went numb, it was no problem), the loss of all food in the fridge and freezer, no electronics, no way to cook, the loss of light at 6:30, no laundry capability, etc.  It was a miserable existence, brightened only by candles and poker.

Yep, that’s right, my parents taught my kids poker via candlelight every evening.  They are experts, impressing me not only with their knowledge, but the lingo.  They now talk like real poker players, with an occasional, “You could get shot for that,” thrown in there.

On the evening that we arrived home, the power was still out.  We got a small taste of what they’d been going through.  The next day at noon, power was restored.  There was not only screaming and cheers from my home, but from 4 other neighbors that happened to be home.  It was quite a joyous scene.

My parents began their long drive home today, with a short stop at my daughter’s university to give her one last hug.  Things started to get back to normal – although a normal that will be hard to adjust to.  Anyway, we will be cleaning like crazy (everything from washing clothes, dishes, vacuuming, and cleaning out the soggy, stinky refrigerator and freezer), playing like crazy, and not taking anything for granted.  It is good to be on the grid again!

This week I am thankful for:

* Cruises.  I have a couple of posts that I wrote while on the ship that I’ll publish later this week.

* My parents.  Their sacrificial service is humbling.  I shouldn’t be surprised, because that is how I was raised, but they put up with circumstances that would undo other, less hearty people.

* Lovely weather.

* Skype.

* Restored power, and the creativity that the lack thereof gives you.

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