Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I Did On My Girls' Get Away Cruise, An Essay By Marybeth Whalen

Don't y'all remember those "What I Did On My Summer Vacations" essays your teacher used to make you write on the first day of school? I never had much to say back then as my summers were pretty ordinary-- a trip to the beach, summer camp, and lots of reading was always the answer.

But in this case, I have lots to say about my trip-- so much I don't even know if I can adequately express it all. I have to say first that as we were traveling home on Monday, Lysa kept asking us if we could still feel the ship moving. But I couldn't. I just shook my head and thought that I was just better at adjusting to life on land. Au contraire mon frere! The rocking began yesterday when I tried to settle into real life at home. Even as I type this, I can feel myself swaying internally just slightly. It is a unique experience, let me tell you.

We started off the trip with a first for me-- my first ever pedicure. Sadly, I am not kidding. I had never had one before. There are just so many other urgent things to spend 30 bucks on in my world that I could just never justify it. So when Lysa called to ask me if I would like to get one before we left (her treat!), I called Curt and begged him to meet me at the nail salon instead of at home to get the baby. You can bet he gave me a hard time about it-- but he did it with a smile! I sat back and relaxed and thought that there was simply no better way to start a cruise vacation than by getting a pedicure. Thanks Lysa!

Next there was a mad dash to the airport that involved spilling lunch down my shirt and having to stop at Target to buy another one, and much switching around of luggage cause certain people who will remain anonymous were over the weight limit. Then finally we were on our way to Pensacola by way of Atlanta. In Atlanta I got a phone call from Curt that went like this:
Him: "Are you aware that the school does not have the immunization records and birth certificates on file for the kids and because of that they can't come to school tomorrow?"
Me: "Ummmm, no." (All the air sucking right out of my chest and all the happy feelings going right with it.)
Him: "Well, this is a problem. Did they not tell you this?"
Me: (feeling very defensive) "Well, there was a letter but I was so busy writing the ebook and getting ready to go on the cruise, I just figured I would deal with it when I got back."
Him: "Well, there's nothing I can do about it now but take time from work and go first thing in the morning to their doctor's office, then downtown to get their birth certificates." (heapings of guilt, guilt and on top of all that? more guilt!)
Me: "Are you sure the kids can't go to school and I will just take care of it when I get back?"
Him: "They were pretty explicit. No."
While he was FAR more gracious about this screw-up than I ever would have been, I hung up feeling like a total failure. I threw myself a big ole pity party right then, singing the blues about how no matter how much I try to prepare and plan and iron out all the details, something always sneaks in when I least expect it. Don't let anyone tell you that having six kids and doing life is easy. It just isn't. I guess the moral of this little story is, don't go on a cruise and leave your husband and six kids alone and not expect some complications. Though things did work out, it was hours before I felt better and back in "cruise mode."

So, that night we spent the night in a very nice hotel suite and had breakfast and then went back to the Pensacola airport where we caught our ride to the cruise, which was leaving from Mobile Alabama. To learn more about our harrowing ride from Pensacola to Mobile, you can go here. Lysa has explained that part very well. While it was scary, it was pretty funny in hindsight. We bonded with Leigh from Point of Grace because a near-death experience will do that for you.

Once we got on the ship, we had to go to a meeting for "industry guests," which means all the speakers, musicians and their guests. Then it was on to the ever-exciting lifeboat drill. I met a nice woman and her two daughters during the drill who turned out to be a friend during the cruise! Hi Susan! Susan goes to the church that produced "Facing The Giants" and she so graciously gave me the cd from the movie before we left. I was so blessed by meeting her and spending time with her.

The rest of Thursday and Friday was spent trying to learn our way around the ship and enjoying the speakers who were there. It was pretty cold, so there was not much to do on deck. We had all brought tropical clothing so we were all lamenting about how cold we were. Note to self: if you go on a cruise near Christmas, realize that until you reach your tropical destination, it is not necessarily going to be warm air you are sailing through!

I did get seasick on Friday afternoon and evening. Renee gave me some Bonine and that eased it a bit. Mostly I just needed to lay down and then I felt better. One of the guys that works for Premiere told us this was one of the rougher cruises he had been on and that he had never seen them put barf bags (sorry to be graphic but the facts are the facts) in the elevators before! So, that made me feel like less of a cruising lightweight!

One of the highlights of the trip was dinner time when we all got to be together. During the day we were pretty scattered. Shari Braendel was there for her fashion talks and was a huge hit-- but that meant that she was always so busy doing analysis that we didn't get to see her very much! So she was able to be with us for sure at dinner-- and oh boy, did we laugh! One night after dinner we went back to Renee and Lysa's room and just shared stories about different things and that will be one of my most treasured memories of the trip overall. We all lead such busy lives that taking time to share from our hearts and laugh til we ache is a rare gift.

Another of my treasured memories was getting to know my roommate and fellow speaker team member, Sharon Glasgow, better. She is so sweet and cute and inspired me with her encouragement and words of wisdom. She is a mom of five girls and had such insight into what's really important as she is a bit ahead of me in this parenting thang-- one of her daughters is married and two are out of the home, and her youngest is 11. So, she has a perspective on raising teens and treasuring the time I have with mine now that was refreshing. She poured into me all weekend-- I am sure she left exhausted and should probably send me a bill for counseling services!!

The speakers were great-- though I missed most of the ones from when I was sick. I did enjoy the Point of Grace concert. Go here to see the same video we saw during the concert, as Heather had just had a baby and was not there to sing their new song, which I do love. The message just resonates with me and I have listened to the song so many times. I felt blessed to have seen them up close and personal as they are the real deal-- very normal moms and wives who struggle and doubt and trust God in the midst of it. Not too far from you and me-- they just happen to be able to sing about it in harmony, which I so cannot do!

We ended up going to the beach in Cozumel on Saturday and then shopping. I bought nothing. I am serious. Not one thing. I still can't believe it. We found out later we didn't get far enough into Cozumel to get to the "deals." Where we were was incredibly expensive and we didn't find much worth buying. We did however, find a Starbucks-- and of course we had to get one. I even took a picture of the sign in the window! We ended up chartering a 15 passenger van with our group and Point of Grace to go to the beach, then when we got back from the beach they went to Starbucks right along with us. So I can now say I have had Starbucks with the girls of Point of Grace-- not many people can say that, you must admit.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We spent Sunday at sea with, thankfully, less choppy waters and docked about 4am Monday morning. Sunday night Lysa capped off the entire trip with an inspiring message about her adoption of her sons from Liberia. It is always quite fun for me to sit in on that talk and see people's reactions, as I was there when that was all happening and it is so neat to see God using it now to inspire people to trust Him fully and say yes to Him-- even when what He asks sounds completely crazy. I felt like a proud mama watching her up there, speaking her heart out and hitting it out of the park in my humble opinion-- of course, I am just the slightest bit biased!

While I was so glad to be going home to my family, I was also sad that our time went by so fast. I want to thank Proverbs 31 and Premiere Christian Cruises for making my trip possible. It is one I will never, ever forget!
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1 comment:

Chris Hogan said...

I am glad that you had the opportunity to go on this cruise! What a blessing! When I heard that you won it in the drawing, I felt so happy because you are so deserving of a break.

Also, thank you for adding my blog to your blogroll. I feel honored!

Wishing you and your family a Christmas full of many blessings!