Life's Sweet Journey

Monday, December 1, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks, Saving Innocence

"The rain brings life- so does the sun." -Saving Mr. Banks 
When one thinks Disney or Mary Poppins, they think happy thoughts. They think magic. But I have so often found that magic is given to the areas in our lives that we fear the sting of reality. Addiction is messy. It is messy and ugly and it takes away so much. Yet, it is very much a part of reality. Saving Mr. Banks hits that reality on the head in the most real of ways. But it also saves something too. It saves innocence and it saves magic. I have never been one who likes to watch realistic movies. I prefer my movies (and books for that matter), with enough fantasy to pull me out of the world for just a brief moment in time. I don't mean that in the sense that I watch only far out fantasies or pure science-fiction. I mean that I prefer movies with enough reality that they could almost be real, if it weren't for the fact that they aren't because there is far more that the movie doesn't show you. They leave out the messy and broken bits. Or they weave them together in such a way that they are all well and mended by the time the credits roll. I don't tend to watch documentaries or read biographies. Even Sundance movies are far too real world for me. Which is exactly why the story of Mary Poppins is something I can't stop watching. It is the hard and bitter truth of reality, of one grown child's story of addiction, told through the magic of one man's imagination, to paint for her a world in which things ended up alright. 

I watch Saving Mr. Banks and my heart breaks and mends and breaks and mends time after time. It breaks for the little girl who covers for a father she loves. It mends for the woman who opens her heart to the forgiveness she denied herself. It breaks for the cruel reality that addiction brings into people's lives. It mends for the resiliency we have within our hearts to keep going when it takes everything away. 

When I watch saving Mr. Banks I see my own story. I hear the lies you tell yourself to pretend it all away. I see broken people, wearing the physical faces of breaking hearts. I think about all the questions, the questions screamed outwardly and inwardly. When I watch Saving Mr. Banks I can't help but think about the questions that my niece won't have to ask because she was never old enough to understand what was going on around her in the heat of a relapse. But I wonder too about what questions she will ask the older she gets and knows fully the reality that her dad isn't here. I dread the day she asks why. How do you explain to anyone, at any age, the truth behind addiction? I still don't understand it. 

When she is three you can tell her that her daddy is in her heart and that he is with Jesus and that he loves her and that is and always will be true, but what about the day when she wants more? Yet, in it all there are things to be thankful for. Thankful that she was too young to realize what was going on, thankful that she was too young to be made into a crutch to hold up a world that was falling apart around her. I am thankful for the fact that she can hold onto magic, that we all can. When we loose that innocence, that magic, we turn our backs on the hope that life can have beauty. When we loose that, we build walls around our hearts. Walls that have thorns to keep out anything that can hurt us. We build fortresses around our battered hearts to protect us. Fortresses that shoot arrows to fend off anything at all; love, pain, life and death. I know, because I have been there. Keep out the good to keep out the bad. 

Life on Earth? Addiction? The reality of all the painful things? They are hard, brutal and messy. There is no way around that and no way to prepare for it. But I have hope and faith in the things that I can not see. I know that someday I will live in a world without pain and without tears. I will live in a Kingdom with no walls, because they won't be needed and that is no fairytale. That is the magic, that is the ending to the story- and the beginning. That is the reality that changed all realities. Walt Disney took Mary Poppins and he saved Mr. Banks. God sent us Jesus and He saved the whole world. It hurts- He never promised it wouldn't- that believing doesn't mean we all get to live here on Earth together until we are old and feel that we have fully lived. It hurts that people leave before we are ready for them to. Free will and the choices we make often hurt us, but there is the Promise of a life forever. And I will hold onto that. I will hold onto that and the innocence of a child-like heart. The innocence and magic of a child-like heart that can find beauty in the most messy of stories. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My 5 Cruising Essentials

Going on a boat, going on a boat... 
The excitement in our house is building!! Or at least mine is. Babe is currently doing his typical 'clean-the-house, going-on-a-trip' prep. I won't mention the fact that I actually cleaned (alert the media) on Tuesday and though he was proud of me, he was apparently not that impressed, because he is cleaning everything I already cleaned. I think it calms his nerves. I don't get it, but I guess that's what makes us work. He's the ying to my yang, what can I say? So while I do my nails and finish the rest of what I consider actual cruise prep, he is prepping the house (ok, I get it, people are staying here while we are gone. But they are family and the house looks great... in my opinion). Since I am currently stuck at the computer while the floors dry I figured I would finish up my 5 cruising essentials. 
1.) Devotions!- I love my devotion time on a cruise! There is so much more of it. At home I read Jesus Calling each morning. I always intend to do more, to at least jot down some of my 1000 gifts. But the time just goes so quickly in the morning. I know I need my one-on-one God time, but God doesn't seem to mind that most of it happens while I shower. As soon as they invent a waterproof book and pen set I will be golden!! I started keeping a list of my own 1000 gifts right before our cruise last year. I am now up to 200. At home this seems to get neglected. I will sit down every so often and put down ones I had been trying to keep track of in my mind. But with all the time I have in the mornings to sit in the sun, eat my grapefruit and loaded down plate of pastries, I am able to write down all the little ones that have gotten past over in the rush to get out the door: "I will miss yous" from Makaylin, sister time, best friends, fires on a cold night... I am also SOOOOOO so very excited that The Jesus Storybook Bible is going to be part of my mornings on this trip. I have been wanting to read it FOR-E-VER and figured this was the perfect opportunity!! 

2.) Sun Basking Reading Material!- This is a crucial point as I plan to be doing a whole lot of nothing! But I can not do nothing without a book. I have been wanting to read Harry Potter on a cruise since we started cruising a few years back, so I am going to be one excited reader on this trip. Reread the entire HP series again form start to finish and it couldn't have fallen at a better time! 

3.) Sunless Tanner- I love my Sunless Tanner from Rodan and Fields! I never believed in sunless tanner before I found this. I tried multiple tanners and nothing worked, so I gave up. I gave it another try when a friend put me onto Rodan and Fields. This is my jam!! It started with just my legs and then when I saw pictures with my legs looking like I lived in Hawaii and my body looking like I lived in Forks I braved doing my arms and was so satisfied with how streak-free it came out that I did my face the next time. It was great! No splotches, sun-baked-skin and no harmful, wrinkling rays! The perfect companion for cruising! 

4.) Face Protection- I love my MBS hat!! I may be biased, but I think it looks pretty spiffy and it keeps the sun out of my eyes while I read. So very proud of my Daddy and the men behind Mind, Body and Soul Surfing Company.

5.) Bucket List Check-off plans!- When we cruise we don't go through the ship for our excursions. Yes, it can be a little more risky. But...
a.) It saves money, a lot of it usually. The cruise gets a nice cut of the money for the excursions you book through the boat. They often use their own guides and they set up all of the arrangements. It also insures that the boat will not leave you if something happens during the tour (hopefully this will never come back to bite us in the fanny). 
b.) You get a more local, off-the-beaten-path experience. This can also be risky, but totally worth it. The cruise ship excursions all tend to be packed with people from any number of cruise ships docked at the same port. The beaches they may take you to are so full you can't find a spot for your stuff. We like to research where we are going and see if there is any thrill seeking, local, hidden spots we can find. This trip? Cliff diving in Curacao and/or the Dominican Republic, swimming in the natural pool in Aruba and lighthouse exploring in Grand Turk!! 

Any other cruisers out there? I love hearing tips about cruise experiences or any excursions that people would recommend. 

Linking up today with the lovely ladies of the 5 on Friday

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Inanimate Objects

It's just an old copper frame, bent together in the shape of a porch. You look it at and you may think it's cute, you may think it's not your style or you may think nothing at all. I look at it and I see life. I see memories. I see an old kitchen wall, above an outdated sink. I see the years of life spent growing up in the kitchen of a condo by the sea. I see my Mimi.

It is just an object. An inanimate object meant to be a decoration to adorn some space in time. It's funny how to the right eye it means so much more than that. It means all of those years that I had with her, it means seeing her smile in my mind and hearing her voice as if she was right here next to me. It means seeing aged hands, wet with sudsy bubbles, from doing the dishes that I very seldom helped to dry because the dishwasher was for drying the dishes (you knew that right?). It means everything.

When someone is alive and we have them living and breathing right within our grasp? An object stays just an inanimate thing. When they are gone? Those objects hold a part of them. They hold the time we took for granted and they give us a brief moment of having them back with us. Even if only in our heads.

I never thought I would agree that Voldemort could get anything right... but there is truth in objects having power, in objects being able to hold life. They have the power to give us back moments, they have the power to hold memories. They have the power to make them alive within us. Yes, we can have those memories without them. But somehow the day-to-day life is blinding. An object, right in front of our faces? It draws our focus, it dusts off the cobwebs and pulls the memories out.

This old tin porch will always do that for me. It's the same as a cross. It pulls out Jesus. It helps me to pause, to remember. It holds the memory of sacrifice, the promise of love.

Sometimes these objects are the things you keep close, the things you hold on to; like a cross that a put on your mantle or an old copper porch that sits by your front door. And sometimes these objects are everyday things that catch you off guard. Things that get thrown away and discarded until another one stumbles across your path to remind you again.

For me those will always be:
Single serve coffee creamers- I don't use these often, so when I do it always stops me. I see coffee in a small tan mug from Morrison's or Piccadilly. I hear myself beg to pour the creamer in and stir it until it was blended. I hear myself say that I will never, NOT EVER, drink coffee. And I see my Mimi smile and nod, because she is in on the joke. You know the one; the one adults know, that meant she knew that someday I would be guzzling it by the case load.
E-cigarettes- I don't smoke, not my thing. But E-cigarettes are these rage these days. They will always be my brother. I will hear him trying to coax me into just taking one puff, because I just HAVE to try his new flavor mix. It's his breakfast special (coffee and cinnamon bun) and he says there's no way out as he shoves it in my mouth. I hear him laugh at the way I cough because I don't know how to inhale and so I end up swallowing it. I listen as he tries to coach me threw it, while he explains it's just vapor, as he makes it come out his nose. I see him standing proud behind a sales desk, because he was born to sell and found his niche. I see all of that every time some young kid passes by with vapor blowing behind him.

Carrot-raisin Salad- I see my own hands picking out all of the raisins, because who in the world eats nasty carrots as a kid? I hear Mimi "scold" me, telling me "not to take out ALL of her raisins".
Titanic on a VHS (you know, the one in it's two part box holder)- I saw it not long ago while rifling through old Disney movies at my parents. There it was, box inside of box. It sat lonely, without its accompanying second part video and I could see it all. I could see the endless amount of hours that John Wayne spent sprawled in front of the tv, just laying on his stomach and twirling his hair, watching Titanic (I think his record was pushing 50). I can picture the foot- my foot- the one I used when I got so mad at him one day that I kicked one of those tapes. It hit the railing and then slipped right through, traveling in a head first fall of doom, to crash on the first floor entry-way tile below. I can still hear the screams and feel the hands I flung over my head from ducking and covering from the wrath I knew was imminent. I can remember feeling bad that it broke, but I can also remember the smirk that crossed my face in my selfish moment of "serves you right" sister-ness. It's funny how you can feel bad about the desire you felt to get angry at someone and then wish in the same moment that you could get mad at them, that you could have one of those 'brother-and-sister-constantly-at-war' brawls again. Titanic will always do that to me.

A watermelon truck- I see my grandpa and how he would always have a piece of watermelon in hand whenever they were in season and how he would put salt on them and how my mom still does that. I can see the pictures in my head as I hear her tell me all the stories about how he would chase down the watermelon trucks when he saw them on the road and how he would make them pull over so that he got the first pick of the watermelons for the season.
A Glass of Sweet Tea- This ones tricky. It's not the object itself. It's the taste. It's the feeling of it going down my throat and when it hits just right, when it tastes just right that it's almost perfect (though will never make it to spot on, because it isn't hers), then I can see Aunt DeeDee. I can see my sister's sweet mom, standing in her kitchen, behind the island that jutted out from the side. I can see her hand me a to-go glass with this perfect combination of all things right in a glass of tea. I can feel the sweat from the cup and I can hear her voice and see her bright smile. I can still feel the way my arms could wrap completely around her, even when I was so young, because she was always the tiniest thing and always just the perfect height for a great hug. 

There are so many others I could put down, most that I couldn't even try to bring to mind right now if you asked me to. They won't come. Not until that object finds its way into my field of vision and jogs the hidden parts of my memories and it all comes flooding back again. The memories, the moments, the life... all in one glimpse of an inanimate object.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Food and Wine Favorites!!

I used to despise Epcot. I would beg my grandparent's not to take me there as a kid. "Please, pleeeaaase, take me to Disney instead?! Please!" As a young child Disney only meant one thing, Magic Kingdom. As I emerged into teenagehood and then into my early adult years, it broadened to MGM Hollywood Studios and then Animal Kingdom. But never, ever Epcot. And then our year of Disney living began and my world was opened to the wonderfulness that is the World Showcase... especially during 'Flower and Garden' and 'Food and Wine'. My poor Mimi, she just wanted to try to teach me the wonders of it at an early age. Apparently, I wasn't having it though. So when I said to Babe, "I love Epcot, it is my new favorite park!" And he responded in kind, I had to follow it with, "We are becoming my grandparents." And I am more than fine with that. Though it is doubtful, maybe I will have better luck convincing my grandchildren that Epcot is a glorious place. Kids?! Let your grandparents take you to Epcot!! I wish I had spent more time there with mine.
The necessities of the "Food and Wine Investigator"= sunnies for before the sun dips down, the Food and Wine Passport, a pin for jotting notes and the phone (my ever present companion)
While I doubt we will obtain our goal of trying every food item at Food & Wine, we are well on our way there. I loved playing Food and Wine investigator and apparently played the part as it was joked that I made quite the investigative reporter with outfit to match and so this shot was snapped. So, now that I have had the immense satisfaction of exploring the World Showcase and attending Food and Wine, who knows how many time in the last few weeks, here is a sampling of my Food and Wine recommendations: 
Our documented passport... A smiley face= well liked, marked GIMB!!= Get in My Belly!, not good= ick, and others received general notes (i.e. Canada, which we found just alright, though I really enjoyed the fish)
My Top 5 Five Food and Wine Treats
1.) Kalua Pork Slider in Hawaii- This was so yummy and takes the top spot for my favorite hearty food item. 
2.) Beijing Roasted Duck in China- I am waiting to go back and get the whole one to myself. A friend got this the night we went with a group and I tried a bite. So yum!! 
3.) Grilled Lamb Chop in Australia- I would have eaten the bone if it wouldn't have broken my teeth! I couldn't get enough of it and it's a good size portion for one person. 
4.) La Passion Martini Slush in France- I am not much of a beverage person, I prefer the food, but this was my favorite drink and I would get it again. 
5.) Seared Sea Scallop in Scotland- I am not a scallop person, but this was quite delectable and a favorite of everyone in our group. To quote: "That one needs a smiley face!! Do it!! Put a smiley face!" 

Those 5 above all received a smiley face, but the overall winners of our Food and Wine experience, receiving the only two GIMBs (Get in My Belly) so far were... 
Croissant Doughnut (my choice) at the Refreshment Port 
and the Lamb Meatball (Babe's Choice) in New Zealand

The only item to aquire an ick rating has been the Pineapple wine in Hawaii, I guess everything can't be amazing right?! Also, while honey and cheese would typically be a favorite of mine the cheese in Greece was just a little too much for me; too cheesy, which I didn't think was possible. Not cheesy enough for an 'ick', but I didn't eat the whole thing, way too rich. 

With the final weekend of Food & Wine looming ahead of us I hope that you find time to do some investigating of your own before it comes to a close for the year. We plan to try to check off a few more items on Sunday and Monday. Any recommendations? Anything we must try?! 

Our top 5 want to try items:
Mussels in New Zealand
Pavlova in Australia 
Salmon in Patagonia
Bobotie in Africa
Mahi in Singapore 
Fisherman's Pie in Ireland

Linking up with the 5 on Friday gals! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Call Me Like You See Me

We were running late. We usually are. 
I know it drives Babe crazy sometimes. He loves me for it though. 
We walked in and sat in overflow, just as the sermon started. 
I got up again to fix my coffee. I am trying to cut back on sugar, but it was too bitter. 
When I got up, I got waylaid. That can happen when you work where you attend service. 
I missed a good portion of the sermon (though I can and will catch it on podcast). 
So this is what I was left with... 
I left the sermon right after hearing, 
"How do you want to be described?" 
And heard words like oxymoron and living how you are perceived, as I walked out to sweeten the bitter taste in my mouth. 
I walked back in on these words, right as the sermon was wrapping up. 
"... I am mortal, sinful man." Said a prince, who had previously been denied entry twice before when trying to enter using his title. 
"Then let him come in." said the same monk who had twice turned him down. 

I know the middle of that sermon had to be great. I had heard it was wonderful. But even the little I heard has stuck with me. I found it fitting, the parts that I was able to take in and how they wound together. In a lot of ways that's what it is all about, isn't it... grace? 

We mess up, we falter and- often- we pray that the world will miss it. We pray that they will see us by "titles" or by things that help boost our self-image. But God always knows when we miss a step. He knows our sin and yet, He still lets us come in. In fact, He asks us to bring our sins to Him. To leave them at the feet of the cross and carry on. He has forgiven them. But have we forgiven ourselves? Are we still trying to hold onto titles or are we laying things out in the open so that we can leave them behind? 

The last few days I have wondered about how I would want to be described by others. Wondered about what I value most in myself. And I came up with two things... 

I want to be described as loyal. Loyal to my friends, loyal to my husband, to my family and to God. I want people to know that they can depend on me and for them to know how dearly I value each of them.

But I also want to be known as someone who can sin well. Does that sound strange? It did to me, the first time I thought it. But I want to be a person who can ask forgiveness. I want to name my sin. I want to hold my human nature on my sleeve so that I see if for what it's worth. I know I will sin. I will fall short of Godliness, all the time, because I am human. But I also know that I can strive to be more like Jesus; to hold closer to the "still, small voice" inside my soul and hear it with a deeper clarity. 

And so, I want to ask forgiveness for the things that I have done. Not just to God, but to whomever it was that my sin hurt. Even if it is just myself; though I find that often times, someone else has been hurt in the process. I want to be described as someone who isn't afraid to share her heart, her struggles and her mistakes. 

I sit here typing with sweaty palms, because that scares me. Sharing my sin with God- my failures, my mistakes- seems somewhat easier than sharing them with the world. 

He IS forgiveness. He wrote the book on it. He sent Jesus to let us know that we are always forgiven when we turn to Him. 
That is a different story. I know people, because I know my own heart. Forgiveness can be a hard thing for people. We are broken, we are human and we are easily hurt. 

So to show up at someone else's door, with a heart full of broken apologies, can be terrifying. But I want so badly to be known for that. 

I want to be known as someone who can knock at a door, with trembling knees and a shaky hand, and say, "It is me; broken and sorry and praying that you can forgive me." I want to be described that way. And even more than that? I want to be described as someone who, should I be the one standing on the opposite side of that door, never even needs to hear a knock before swinging wide the door and letting that person know that it is already forgiven. 

That's what I want to be described as... a loyal, humanly-broken, righteousness-seeking, well-sinning, forgiver. 

What about you?
How would you want to be described?