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Bon Voyage!

Today my family is headed for some special time together, just the five of us.   It's been a while since it's been "just us five"...where we're away from it all and no one can get ahold of us even if they tried.  We are so excited.

As a pastor appreciation gift last year, the church sent Larry and I on a cruise to Cozumel and Costa Maya.  It was the most A-May-Zing vacation we'd ever experienced, first and foremost because we were truly away from it all for a week -- no one could reach us by computer or phone.  We were really unplugged!  If you knew how much our phone rings, you'd know how significant that is!  Being truly unplugged had never happened before in 24 years of our marriage/ministry, and let me tell you, that cruise was a week from heaven!  I really believe it's the first vacation in the history of our marriage that I was ever able to really relax and rejuvenate. I didn't have to do a thing but just get myself showered, dressed and ready each day.  Literally everything else was done for me.  I have never in my adult life had that happen before.  It was true utopia for a week.

So our first cruise was really special for us to experience it -- just the two of us.  I'll always be glad it was that way. Although we enjoyed our time alone, we couldn't help but think about how much the kids would enjoy the trip.  With each new experience we'd comment, "Oh, Jordan would loooove that," or "this is right up Dustin's alley..." or "Savanna would go crazy over that."  We enjoyed our time alone as a couple but we thought of all the things we really wanted to experience with our children before our family starts changing or increasing.  Kids have a way of growing up, you know...

We came home from Mexico and my husband, in particular, was intent on making a family cruise happen.  He started researching and looking for deals, and saving.  He was a man on a mission!

We were unsure as to how it would work out -- after all, we're in a challenging economy.  Our family has been affected just like most other families.  We approached the kids, told them how much we wanted to take this trip together and asked them if they would be willing to do this as a family Christmas gift, in place of exchanging any other gifts.  All three of them immediately said, "Absolutely! Yes!!" They were so excited!  So we started planning and saving and putting together some creative strategies to make it happen.   And...we kept it quiet.  Why?  Well, there have been no shortage of friends or family who have said,"hey, we wanna go on a cruise with you guys!" and while it's absolutely wonderful to be loved, we wanted to have some time with just the five of us. The older my kids get, the more precious I realize this "just us 5" time is!  Larry and I are absolutely savoring all the time we have left until our family dynamic changes.

So this is our family Christmas present.  December 25 will be a lot simpler this year.  It truly will be all about Jesus' birthday, and going to church and sharing a meal together afterwards.  And,we will have some great memories to look back on from this week. We leave for Cozumel and the Cayman Islands this morning and we'll be back Saturday.  Sunday we'll be back with our Celebrators, rarin' and ready to go!

Max and Maddie had to stay home of course.  But they have a great live-in babysitter to take care of them.  "Uncle Mike" is staying with them.  (Thanks Mike, you're the best!)  I'll miss them dearly, but really need this time with the four most important people in my world, besides them.  :) 

I never take a break from blogging, so my blogs are set to publish this week each day while I'm gone.  Keep checking back to hear what was on my heart before I left.  I'll write longhand while I'm gone, in my journal...

Now, off to enjoy the four people I love more than anyone else in the world, in between sitting on a deck chair and reading for hours without worrying about anything.

It also happens to be my husband's birthday today and he's especially excited to spend it this way.

Happy birthday Teeby, and Merry Christmas Shrodes family, all in one day!  This might just be too much excitement to handle at once!  :)

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