Cruise 09

Our Western Caribbean Cruise (Part One)

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

If you’ve ever thought about taking a cruise, let me tell ya, it’s worth every penny. Yes, it can be expensive (but if you budget and book early enough, it’s truly not as bad as you think it is and most of that expense is your flight, quite frankly), but you have to remember that when you take a cruise, you’re actually taking about four, or five, mini-vacations all rolled into one.

There’s the experience on the boat (which is a vacation in and of itself) and then there’s the experience at every port of call.

All of your food is provided. There are numerous programs to entertain you and there are clubs and even a casino that offers even more excitement.

And let’s not forget the fun stuff you can book with shore excursions – things you would most likely NEVER do, or see, on your own.

Taking a cruise means you don’t have to stress about being a certain place at a certain time. You can eat whenever you want. You can sleep whenever you want. You can even lounge around and allow someone to wait on you, if you choose.

It really does give you the most bang for your buck.

We are absolutely sold on cruises. And if we can swing it, we plan on taking a different cruise every summer. (If you’re thinking about taking a cruise and have some questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll try and answer them).

But that’s IF we can financially swing it. The winds are changing in our world and it looks like I WILL be getting a job, outside of my webmaster duties, very soon.

But more on that later.

Let’s start at the beginning …

I spent all day Monday and Tuesday sorting through pictures. I had no idea we had taken so many. We took three cameras and between the four of us, we captured quite a few things. (Note to readers: If you go on vacation, don’t be afraid to take an extra camera or two and give it to the kids to use – you’ll be surprised at their different perspective!).

The pictures below are a hodge-podge mix of various shots we took around the boat during our week aboard.

Let me see if I can summarize this for you. It might seem a little choppy, formatting it this way, but it’ll save me from writing a novel and save you from getting bored and moving on … though I suspect it’s already too late for that. *grin*

You can see a larger version of this slideshow here.

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(RSS Readers: I had to insert the slide shows using Vodpod. As a result, the slide shows won’t show up in your readers. Please click over to view. Sorry about that!)

ø Beginning at the airport: We flew out of St. Louis on Saturday, June 20th. Even though we didn’t set sail until 4:00 on Sunday, June 21st, I wanted to go ahead and get to Miami the night before so we (okay, I) wouldn’t get stressed out about missing the boat. The last cruise Kevin and I took we cut it really close and were one of the last people to board. I didn’t want to go through that again.

ø Our flight was non-stop. We flew directly from St. Louis to Miami (about a 2 1/2 hour flight). We scheduled it that way because Dude HATES to fly and we figured it would be easier on him as opposed to dealing with layovers. (He did great, by the way). We flew out of St. Louis instead of Springfield because to fly out of Springfield would have cost us an additional $1,800. (!!!) It was way cheaper for us to drive to St. Louis and then park our car for a week.

ø We got into Miami about 9:00 p.m. and it took us a while to figure out which shuttle bus would take us to our hotel. Though we were tired and we stressed about finding the right shuttle, at least we didn’t have to pay $30 bucks for a taxi ride.

ø Miami is like stepping into a totally different country. It was rare to actually hear someone speak English. It both annoyed me (because hello, we’re in America, speak the language) and fascinated me.

ø We arrived at our hotel at about 10:00 p.m. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express (because we’re smart like that). The room was small, but comfortable. Even though I handed out ear plugs (Kevin snores something fierce), they fell out for the boys and they didn’t get much sleep. In fact, Dude told us that between Jazz’s restless flopping around (he’s the type of sleeper that wakes up upside down and backwards) and Kevin’s snoring, he tried to sleep in a chair and even the bathroom, but ended up sleeping maybe three hours – total. To say he was cranky would be kind.

ø We had a relaxing morning at the hotel before catching a cab to the pier.

ø We arrived at the pier at noon (the place was packed by this time) and was herded through various channels (moo) before we made it to a live person to check in. I was a little nervous because everyone else had these packets with their cruise information in them and all we had was a piece of paper that had our “Fun Passes” printed on them. We had registered through the Carnival website and that’s all they gave us. But there was no need to worry – it was a smooth and flawless process and we left with our sail and sign cards in hand.

ø There was a lot going, and there were so many people, that we were a bit disoriented. Even though we didn’t have our luggage with us (there were porters outside the complex who checked your luggage in for you), we still had four bags on us. We were leaving the counter to head toward the boarding entrance when a woman caught our attention. We had nearly left our expensive Canon Rebel camera behind! I swear, if that woman hadn’t hailed us, we would have lost that camera. Thank God for nice, honest people.

ø Side Note: Even though you don’t “technically” have to have a passport when you travel (depending on where your cruise is taking you), get one. It makes your life a whole lot easier, trust me. The folks that didn’t have passports were kept a lot longer than the folks who did. And remember, passports are valid for 10 years so it’s not like you’ll have to go through the process each and every time you travel.

ø We had our embarkation picture taken. There are photographers all over the ship – it’s an excellent chance to squeeze more money from the tourists. And even though they are expensive, I would recommend purchasing a few because they really ARE a great thing to take home with you. (I love our smiles in our picture. We all look happy, relaxed and ready to have fun. Except Jazz, he looks shell-shocked. lol).

ø The picture of Kevin in his safari hat is one of my favorite pictures of him. He looks so cute and relaxed. He bought that hat in Cozumel because he refused to wear sun screen on his face – it breaks him out – and his face was getting pretty red [duh]. My husband is an oddball, but I’ll take him. 🙂

ø The funky circle pictures, and the slightly distorted pictures after that, were taken with a fish-eye lens. Kevin wanted to try and capture as much of the ship as he could. I don’t know about other cruise lines, but Carnival ships’ decor is a little (okay a lot) on the gaudy side – think tacky Vegas style. But they’re fun and I suppose that’s the whole point.

ø Picture of Jazz on the steps: Our cabins weren’t ready when we boarded, so we had to sort of wait around until 1:30 when they would be ready. Jazz looks a little depressed in this picture – I think he’s still shell-shocked and trying to take it all in. At least, that’s what I tell myself. *grin*

ø The diner pictures: This was the 10th deck I referred to earlier. We ate all of our diner meals here. It was quiet and had a spectacular view. The boys also spent a lot of time playing cards on this deck, too.

ø We took most of the pictures of us on deck before we left the Miami pier, and I’m glad we did. Because when it came time to set sail, it started pouring. The pictures of us sitting on the deck is when we were waiting for the rain to pass so we could watch us take off. The rain delayed our departure about 30 minutes. But it was worth the wait — there is nothing quite like leaving the pier for the first time. Our vacation had officially begun!!

ø Picture of Kevin in front of the accounting office: inside joke. He’s an accountant in real life so … we sort of HAD to take that picture.

ø Picture of disgusting food substance: There was a fish and chips station on the 10th deck and one day we were walking past and noticed tentacles sticking out of a pan. The chef was cooking baby octopus. The dish? Something with BBQ octopus in it. Yeah, I couldn’t even eat the rest of the day (okay fine, for a few hours). Have any of you tried octopus?

ø There are two pictures of Dude after the octopus picture. The second picture – his expression … omg, so cute. He looks so much like my little boy in that picture. People outside of the family don’t see this expression very often. It just melts my heart.

ø Picture of Kevin’s legs – yeah, I put that one in there as payback for the HUNDREDS of pictures he took of me this vacation. Just wait, there is one set where it’s all me and I’m quite annoyed with him for being so shutter happy.

ø The funky light pictures: We were waiting in the Ivanhoe Theater for the next show to start and Jazz took my camera and started experimenting. I thought they turned out pretty cool, myself. Just another example of what happens when you mix a bored kid with a camera.

ø The ship actually had a miniature golf course up by the smoke stack. The snake on the rock pic is from that golf course. It’s missing it’s head and for some reason, Kevin thought that was hilarious. (Snake issues?)

ø Me and Kev – posing right off Isla Roatan (Honduras).

ø The next set of pictures is of the guys playing some card game that someone taught Dude at school (during class one day. WHY they weren’t learning is beyond me). The boys played A LOT of cards.

ø The boys posing with their towel animals. They really got a kick out of the towel animals. Alfredo made one each night and put it on our beds while we were at dinner. I thought it was funny that the ship actually sold a book on how to make towel animals. We actually saw one kid reading it while we were waiting for a show to start in the theater. Talk about milking tourists for every single dime! (Alfredo made a towel heart just for me and Kev. Aww).

ø Picture of Kevin and the boys looking at something. They are looking at the underwater pictures that Kevin took while snorkeling off of the Cayman Islands. We bought a cheap (but reusable!) underwater camera at the photo gallery. He RAVED about the great pictures he took and when we got them back (they developed them on the ship), they were … uh … anything BUT great. We laughed about them the entire cruise.

Here’s a short video of the guys looking at the pictures:

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more about "Underwater Pictures on Vimeo", posted with vodpod

ø The boys, standing outside their very own cabin. (If you have teenagers and can afford it, BOOK THEIR OWN CABIN!!! Man, was that worth the privacy).

ø Next picture: Me and Kevin on the first formal night. I love this picture of us, but I’m hating how white my face is. I’m definitely wearing the wrong powder. I look like a mime. 😦 Cruisers had the option of having dinner in the restaurant each and every night. We had scheduled our dinner for 6:00 p.m. and we ate at the restaurant each night. We could order anything from the menu we wanted – we could even order two dinners if we wanted – but we didn’t want to. We all enjoyed the food, but Jazz wasn’t crazy about it because he’s such a picky eater. However, our waiter was awesome and made sure that Jazz liked his meal. There was even one night that he brought him an extra pasta dish because he didn’t look too happy with the dish he had chosen.

Even though a lot of people dressed up for formal night, the mode of dress was varied. There was one gal in a ball gown and tiara, but for the most part, everyone was dressed in cocktail dresses. I sort of wished we hadn’t participated in formal nights – it was a PAIN to come back from an excursion all hot and dirty and then rush through a shower and get all dressed up for dinner one hour later, but it’s something that should be experienced, at least once. It IS pretty fun to get dressed up because that’s not something you get to do on a daily basis.

ø Last picture: This is the first (and probably last) time the boys wore a tie. Aren’t they handsome?! It cracks me up how low Dude’s pants are though. The boy should have worn a belt but we didn’t pack one. And I’d just like to add, getting the boys to pose for the photographer was hilarious!! The photographer was of some Indian descent and so he talked very fast and tried to pose us like plastic people and Dude was so uncomfortable …. “he is very stiff,” says the guy. “He is so awkward!” “Oh, his hands very cold.” I was laughing so hard that the pictures he took of me and Kevin didn’t turn out, but at least it broke the ice and that’s the reason the boys are smiling so much because it was one of those really funny, awkward moments.

And that’s it. We spent our first day at sea and we explored the ship, hung out by the pool, played a little Bingo, dressed up for dinner and watched a Vegas-style show. It was a relaxing and fun day.

Little did we know that the next day, Dude and I would nearly drown …

Blogger's Best

Blogger’s Best Carnival: June 2009

bloggersbest

bloggersforeword


Welcome! Take a load off. It’s Tuesday and it’s time to be productive. Here are some apple turnovers and some dark rich coffee to help you get your day started. Are you ready to click on some really great articles? Thanks for dropping by and Happy Reading!

bloggerschildren


ø Fiona Leonard presents The Books, The Movies and now The Exhibition posted at Year In America.

ø Julie presents Parenting Teens: Breakups and Broken Hearts posted at More4kids.

bloggerslife1


ø Elisha Webster Emerson presents Motherhood and the Supermom posted at My Inconvenient Body, saying, “The Supermom myth debunked!”

ø Christina Majaski presents Good News and Happiness posted at Solitary Mama.

ø Sami May presents The Simple posted at Life, Laughs & Lemmings.

ø SmallTownSim presents Like the dog posted at Joy’s Journey To Wellness.

ø Dolorous Dave presents Nashville Truck Driver Fistfights Bridge posted at What’s Your P/E?.

bloggersfamily


ø Kate Buckley presents Books At The Table, Please posted at Eating The Daisies, saying, “A post about how discussion at the dinner table has evolved, thanks to reading aloud.”

bloggersgreatwriting


ø William J. Manning presents I Will Take the Rock and the Marmot posted at Daddy Never Hugged Me.
(Humor)

ø Hning presents Regressing posted at Hning, saying, “”Grudgingly, our friendship and brilliant ideas and intricate philosophies will have to wait until your husbands and wives are dead and ungrateful children are gone.””
(Relationships)

ø Kilroy_60 presents The Last Road Trip – Part 6 posted at Fear And Loathing – The Gonzo Papers.
(Essay)

ø Brian Spaeth presents Shirtless Pictures posted at Brian’s Thoughts About Airplanes, saying, “This is, I feel, a really important aspect of dating in 2009, and meeting and forming relationships online.”
(Humorous Take On Online Relationships)

editorschoice


Barefoot Foodie: That Will Bring Us Back to Doe … Oh, Oh, Oh

Is it 5 o’clock Yet?: What I Like to Call the “Oh Shit” Factor; or, When the Ape Sh*t Hits the Fan

Pensieve: Insomniatic Thought


Ordinary Art: My Father’s Legacy

Stop Screaming I’m Driving!: Under Pressure

Where Am I Going … and Why Am I in this Hand Basket?: Unsung Hero

Is There Any Mommy Out There?: There May Be Hope

Motherscribe: Do Men Feel this Way? Have We Lost Respect for Men?

Okay, Fine, Dammit: Flying Too Close To The Heat

Bad Mommy Moments: Project Yes

It’s a Mad Madge World: School Projects

Poot and Cubby: And I Held Fairies in My Hands

Mommy’s Martini: Those Big Yellow Buses

Slouching Past 40: After

Sandcastle Momma: The Spider Cache and a Little Payback

The Catherinette Chronicles: Decluttering

Chicken and Cheese: Restless

It’s My Life: I Miss the Time When No One Else Knew Them


Mommy Wizdom: Mommy’s Quiet Time

Caffeinated Mom: Cherish It Today

bloggersconclusion


This concludes the June 2009 edition of the Blogger’s Best Carnival. THANK YOU for submitting your links! If you would like to see your work showcased in the July 2009 edition, please submit your links here. (Please, one link per blog. If you submit more than one link per blog, I will only use the first link submitted.)

If you submitted your link and don’t see it here, that probably means I received it after the deadline or you didn’t follow the guidelines.

If you’ve read an outstanding article on another blog and would like to add it to the “Reader’s Choice” section of the next carnival, please let me know by using my contact form.

Thanks for visiting the carnival participants and don’t forget to check back July 27th for the next Blogger’s Best Carnival

Cruise 09

So, I Lied (Cruise Precursor)

Being back sucks.

There’s no one to clean up after us.

We have to get our own food.

There are no smiling, friendly people to wait on us.

We simply can’t go up on deck and lounge around all day, sip lemonade, read and soak in the sun.

Reality bites.

Actually, we lounged around on the deck the first and last day of our cruise, we hardly sat down at all the rest of our cruise.

My goal was to try and write about the day’s activities every day on my laptop, but

1. there were no outlets on the ship (that I could see, anyway) save for one in our cabin (and who wants to be stuck in their cabin all day!?)

and

2. there simply wasn’t time to write anything.

And when there WAS time, I was too pooped to do anything other than curl into the fetal position, whimper like a whipped puppy a few times before passing out.

When Carnival advertises that it’s the “Fun Ship,” freak, they aren’t kidding, folks. They had something planned nearly every single minute of every single day.

And let’s not forget about the shore excursions, too.

But where to start. I seriously have so much crap clutter rattling around my dizzy brain (because I’m still feeling dizzy and out-of-sorts [I researched this feeling, this swaying/rocking sensation, and apparently, it’s pretty common among cruisers]), I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Well, I know where to begin, but I think my problem is, I have so many little details that I want to remember that I’m afraid I’ll forget to mention them in my posts and then *POOF*, they will be gone and forgotten.

Some of those little things that I don’t want to forget are:

  • Our cruise director was from Texas – and he was a big, and very funny, boy: hence the reason he was called “Big Tex.”
  • And every time he made a ship-wide announcement, he began with, “Hi folks. This is a Tex message to let you know a few things happening around the ship.”
  • He would then end each message with a “Buh Bye, ya’ll.”
  • Our cabin steward’s name was Alfredo (as in the sauce) but he told the boys to call him Fred.
  • Every time Alfredo saw Jazz, he would smile really big and enunciate every syllable of his name. So much so, in fact, that he became a joke among us the entire cruise.
  • Alfredo woke the boys up several times during our cruise so he could get in and clean their room.
  • Alfredo also kept better tabs on our boys than we did. They did their own thing on the boat – we kept in touch via walkie-talkies. But still, it was a little embarrassing to knock on the boys’ cabin only to be told, by Alfredo, that they were having breakfast on the Lido deck.
  • Speaking of food, we (the family) always met on deck 10 to eat. It was the floor directly above the food buffet and hardly anyone ever used it – so we had the whole place to ourselves and were able to enjoy the spectacular view without interruption.
  • We bought the boys some playing cards in the gift shop and they spent most of their spare time playing cards on the Lido deck or in The Caboose (the place for teenagers to hang out).
  • I am so glad that we decided to book a cabin for the boys. The boys did their thing, we did ours and everyone was happy and relaxed. Worth every penny.
  • I walked on the (outdoor) track and listened to my music and never felt closer to God. It was an exhilarating experience to be on the ocean and breathing clean, salty air while walking off the extra calories.
  • It was really hard to control myself when there was food, scrumptious food, around to eat at all times. In fact, if Kevin hadn’t been around, I would have GORGED myself on the chocolate buffet. Their fudge was so rich my eyes actually bulged. Thank goodness the chocolate buffet was only one night or I’d be the size of my car right now.
  • We passed a small African-American boy dressed as a sailor on our way to our cabin and I nearly passed out from his sheer cuteness.
  • The Carnival Valor dancers were incredible. IN.CRED.IBLE.
  • The Carnival Valor singers were spectacular.
  • I nearly had a heart attack each and every time we had to exit, and then board, the ship because I was afraid we had lost our sail and sign cards. These cards were our key to everything ship related. It was crucial not to lose them.

card

  • The Carnival Valor musicians were unbelievable. In fact, we stumbled upon their performance in the lobby and I caught Jazz nearly salivating over the saxophone player – he was amazing. (Jazz is now thinking about getting a job on a cruise ship and playing with the band. Wouldn’t that be something?)
  • We had the best time laughing over people’s pictures. Photographers were everywhere, and they snapped pictures of you everywhere and then displayed the photos in the photo gallery where you then had the chance of buying them. It was obvious some people had no intention of buying them and many made funny faces or did funny things and it was truly hilarious.
  • If I forget to tell you, Kevin and I gambled exactly $1.25 on the slot machines – we won five free turns and that was it. We also played a round of bingo but sadly, didn’t win. THAT was the extent of our gambling the whole cruise.
  • The fifth deck was the party deck. This is where the shops, casino, piano bar, cigar room and clubs were located. The fifth deck was always loud and always crowded and I felt totally out of place there. But it was still fun to walk through and make fun of all the drunk people. 🙂
  • We got lost several times in the first two days, but over the week, we established secret little routes and got around surprisingly well.
  • If we were above deck and the boys were in their cabin, we often couldn’t get them on the walkies (too much interference. There were also A LOT of other people using walkies too and we often had to change channels). It was disconcerting at first to not really know where the boys were, or to call them, but I learned to just get over it – we were on a ship, where exactly would they go??
  • There were over 3,500 people on our cruise, 1,400 of those people were children.
  • We are absolutely, positively, sold on cruises. In fact, Kevin and I talked over lunch today about possibly taking another one next year – this one to the Bahamas.
  • I ate more fruit in the past week than I have in the past two years and I’ve felt the best I’ve felt in a very long time. We’re definitely keeping fruit in the house from this point on.

I am currently sorting through four camera cards full of pictures. I’m also actively seeking a flash slideshow program that I can post all of those pictures in so I don’t have to clog up blog posts with a gazillion pictures. I’d like to find a program that allows the visitor to manually click through them, that way, I could number each picture and the visitor could go through them at his/her own pace. The problem is, can I find such a program and will it post on a wordpress.com blog? We shall see.

I plan on talking about each day of our cruise in the upcoming days. Please bear with me. There will be times your eyes might glaze over, but if I don’t record these details now, I’ll forget them by next week, let alone years from now. I’ll try and pepper the posts with other things so you won’t be too bored.

Thanks for sticking it out so far.

More to come …

Cruise 09

Waiting to Go Home

Hola friends!

I’m currently sitting in the Miami airport waiting to board our plane to St. Louis. I can’t believe our trip is over. There is so much to tell you I don’t even know where to start.

In the meantime, my body is trying to adjust to being on land again and I’m feeling light headed and a little spacey.

Then again, maybe I just never came down from my caffeine high from the strong coffee I drank on the ship this past week.

Either way, all of this seems surreal and very disconcerting.

We took three cameras, and one of us had a camera in our hands at all times, so there should be a ton of photos to share with you. However, it drives me nuts whenever bloggers post picture, after picture, after picture so that you spend fifteen minutes scrolling through an impossibly loooong blog post, so I’ll likely put all of the (good) photos into several slide shows to spare you the scrolling hell.

It’s been a really great, but really weird week:

  • We nearly left our Canon Rebel in the cruise terminal.
  • Dude and I nearly drowned.
  • We nearly broke one of our cameras.
  • Kevin allowed a bird to sit on him.
  • We climbed on top of a Mayan ruin.
  • We got lost in Cozumel.
  • We ran out of money and didn’t have enough for a taxi ride back to our ship.
  • We got mooned by about seven girls.

Oh, and five people died.

The time is now 2:40 and we’ve been waiting for about three hours. Our plane hasn’t arrived yet and I’m getting nervous – we should be boarding in about 30 minutes.

It’s hard to board when there isn’t a plane.

After we arrive in St. Louis, we still have another three hours before we make it home.

Either way, it’s been, and will be, a long day.

Starting in Miami

It’s good to be home – almost.

General

What Hairstyle Are You?


You Are a Ponytail


You are energetic, laid back, and a lot of fun. You are ready for whatever life throws at you.
Your idea of style is looking presentable. You prefer simple, well fitting, and neat clothes.

At your best, you are productive, inspiring, and full of live. You love to be active.
At your worst, you are hyperactive and frenzied. Sometimes it’s hard for you to calm down. you are b*tchy, moody and a complete waste of humanity. Engage at your own risk.

There. That’s MUCH more accurate. 🙂

And it’s definitely true – I spend most of my days in a ponytail because I’m original like that.

Abundant Life

Teaching: The Art of Forgiveness

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

Have you ever been sinned against, wronged, cheated, lied to, deceived, scammed, conned, ripped off, or shafted? Do you think it may happen again? If so, developing the art of forgiveness will be beneficial to you. Forgiveness is a prerequisite for spiritual growth, mental health, emotional stability, physical wellbeing, and rewarding relationships. It is a key ingredient to true love, for without forgiveness, “love” is not love, it is little more than reciprocal back-scratching (or stabbing).

The sheer magnitude of sin in this fallen world today is overwhelming. Many people are creeps, and the rest of us too often act like creeps. Sinners leave “sinnees” in their wake. In fact, even those we love the most will wrong us, and, in reality, they have the most power to hurt us. All of us are fallen children of Adam, and the art of forgiveness is very handy, as in indispensable, if one wants anything close to real life as God intended it to be. Hurt people hurt people. Life is so full of wounded people who wound others that forgiveness must be at the heart of every relationship, and relationships are what both Christianity and life are all about. The key is not being for getting, but for giving.

A powerful teaching tape by the same title, The Art of Forgiveness, which elaborates on the points made briefly in this article, is available from us by clicking here.

Given that both secular and Christian research has shown that forgiving is absolutely required for mental and emotional health, we will consider the following: Why do we need to learn about forgiveness? What is forgiveness (first from God to me, and then me to others)? What are the benefits of forgiveness? What are some keys to forgiving? How do you know when you have forgiven someone?

To gain the greatest benefit from this article, as you read be thinking specifically of whom you need to forgive or who you need to ask to forgive you. How many unreconciled relationships are there in your life today, and how many of them are unreconciled due to your fear of being rejected when you speak to the other person? But that is exactly what you are supposed to do, whether you are the sinner or the sinnee.

Why learn about forgiveness?

Because forgiveness is a big key to radiant Christian living. When we do not forgive, we get hurt over and over again as the result of the sin once committed against us. It is like what the person did to you happens again every time you think about it with the attitude of unforgiveness. Thus, forgiveness is the only way to end the domination of another person’s sin over you. More good news—it is your choice whether or not to forgive.

Forgiveness is an integral part of self-government. Forgiving persons refuse to be mere victims of others’ mistreatment. Instead, they become masters of the situation. Far from a display of weakness, forgiveness is a sign of enormous personal strength. As we truly forgive those who have hurt us, we begin to manifest wholeness in many ways. We release ourselves, and others, from the penalties of sin. We are freed from paying interest on a debt that other people owe us. And they may not even know they owe us; they may not even know they hurt us, or they may have forgotten about it. When we don’t forgive, we keep paying interest on the debt that they owe us. We are the loser. So we forgive.

Another thing forgiveness does is uproot the seeds of bitterness and resentment, not allowing them to germinate. We might define bitterness as unfulfilled revenge. Sometimes I think that by not forgiving someone, I’m getting back at him, but even if that is true, it can’t hurt him as much as it hurts me. Forgiveness shuts the door on yesterday’s wounds. This is so vital, because when my past becomes my present, it robs me not only of my present but also of my future! Forgiveness might not change the other person, but it changes me. It allows God to begin the healing process. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurting people hurting others. If I can put that in my heart, the next time I’m hurt by someone, instead of reacting or lashing out in kind, I could stop and think, “This person must really be hurting to be treating me the way he is.” That enables me to look at him with the compassion of Christ, and perhaps even stand for him by prayer, a kind word, or a soft answer.

Many things in this study apply not only if you are the one who needs to forgive, but also if you are the one who needs to ask for forgiveness. If you have sinned against someone, you are to go and ask for forgiveness, and this entails more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” Think about it—when I say, “I’m sorry,” I’m not risking anything, I’m still in control. What I should say is, “Will you forgive me?” Now I’m risking your saying, “Nope.” I am also giving you the opportunity to make a biblical response, that is, to forgive me.

After the sinner says, “I’m sorry,” the sinnee often says, “That’s OK.” Actually, it’s not OK, and that’s why both confession and forgiveness are necessary for true reconciliation, that is, bridging the gap between two human hearts caused by the offense. Forgiveness is not merely the action of accepting another person’s apology.

It’s fairly easy to see that if I have wronged someone, I should be the one to ask forgiveness, but what if I am the one wronged? Wouldn’t it be too dangerous for me to make the first move? Shouldn’t I wait for the other person to have a change of heart and come to me? Not according to Jesus Christ, and he is surely our supreme example of one forgiving others. Here’s what he said:

Matthew 18:15
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

To “show him his fault” means to tell him how he hurt you and to hold him accountable for doing so, and that doesn’t mean at a towering decibel level. You are reaching for his heart, and giving him the best opportunity to do what is right before God, and you have the right to expect a godly response from a brother in Christ. Yes, it is often scary, but God will help you have wisdom and compassion in reaching out like this to another brother, for his sake.

What is forgiveness?

Four key elements are recognition, repentance, restitution, and reconciliation.

Read the rest of the article here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here, it’s up to you to accept, or deny, it).

Photo Story Friday

Photo Story Friday: Fancy a Shoot?

Oh look! Another wonderful excuse to scan old pictures and bore you to tears!! Yay!

Scan10443A

Me. Thinking I’m all that because I have a camera in my hand. This was taken in 1989 by Lake Springfield. Kevin and I were really big into photography back then and we had gone on a “shoot.”

I’m holding an old Olympus 35 MM camera (which I never did learn how to use properly because I’m an idiot. But ya’ll knew that so ….)

Summer Fun

Summer Fun: June 26th

Are you ready for some fun ideas to keep your kids busy this next week?

Here are five ideas to get the creative juices flowing (and please, take these ideas, build on them, make them your own, use them as a springboard for bigger and better ideas):

Day One – Encourage your child to check out two books this month from the library.

Day Two – Write a list of your child’s favorite animals. Talk about what makes each animal special.

Day Three – Include your child in preparing a healthy meal. Talk about the importance of healthy eating – try something new, like couscous or tofu.

Day Four – Explain origin of holidays, such as Independence Day.

Day Five – Ask your child to write a thank you note or write a note to a relative or friend.


Crafts for the Kids (by age)

Featured Craft of the Week:
Toddlers
Prints Charming

4 to 5 year olds
Yogurt Cup Shakers

6 to 8 year olds
Recycled Bird Feeder

9 to 12 year olds
Mable Maze


Here is a fun activity from the book, “A Lithgow Palooza!”:

groovy-face2 Pulpture

What I love about this palooza is that it’s a sneaky combination of brainstorming, problem-solving, and making art.

arrow-right-side What to do:

Use the news to create an unusual work of art. A work in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City called Bedspring is a mixed-media assemblage on wire bedspring created in 1960 by artist Jim Dine. Dine’s work is composed of old clothing, bedsprings, crumpled paper, and other trash taken from the city streets. Have a look at Bedspring and try not to want to create an assemblage or sculpture just like it. That’s the idea behind Pulpture: create a spontaneous work of art made from newspaper, twine and tape.

Forget about recycling for a week and save stacks of newspapers for Pulpture. Gather a good-sized stack of papers, several day’s or a week’s worth if possible, along with masking tape and twine. Clear a workspace in the family room or kitchen, or set up outdoors in the yard or on a patio or driveway in nice weather. Parents give yourselves over to this one, and don’t worry about containing the mess, at least initially.

The goal is to create a Pulpture, aka newspaper sculpture, using the paper, twine, and tape in any way you can imagine. Think crumpled paper. Think folded paper. Think paper taped to the twine. Think about how it’s possible to tape one piece of crumpled paper to another to create a figure. Or how a Pulpture can hang from twine that is taped or tied to the ceiling or to other household objects. Pulptures can also be mounted with tape onto everyday items such as a garbage can lid, a sled, or a tricycle. Or Pulptures can stand on their own. How might a Pulpture stand up — perhaps folded paper bases and tripod constructions — figuring it out is the most satisfying part of this process.

You can work for hours (or days, if the spirit moves). Have at it for as long as it takes. Make Pulpture animals or human figures. Pulpture buildings. Pulpture forts. Alternatively, use a timer and a start a frenzy of Pulpture design and construction. Who can make the tallest Pulpture in five minutes or less?

Name the Pulptures and — here’s the best part — display the sculptures prominently in your home for a week. Out of respect for the art and artist, of course. Take pictures. Invite the neighbors in for the Pulpture Gallery opening.

General

How Men and Women Shower

How To Shower Like a Woman

Take off clothes and place them sectioned in laundry basket according to lights and darks.
Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown.
If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.
Look at your womanly physique in the mirror – make mental note to do more sit-ups/leg-lifts, etc.
Get in the shower.
Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and pumice stone.
Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.
Wash your hair again to make sure it’s clean.
Condition your hair with grapefruit & mint enhanced conditioner.
Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.
Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.
Rinse conditioner off hair.
Shave armpits and legs.
Turn off shower.
Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower. Spray mould spots with tile cleaner.
Get out of shower.
Dry with towel the size of a small country. Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.
Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.
If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.

How To Shower Like a Man

Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.
Walk naked to the bathroom.
If you see wife along the way, shake willy at her making the ‘woo-woo’ sound.
Look at your manly physique in the mirror.
Admire the size of your willy and scratch your bum.
Get in the shower.
Wash your face. Wash your armpits.
Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.
Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower.
Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.
Wash your bum, leaving those coarse bum hairs stuck on the soap.
Wash your hair. Make a shampoo Mohawk.
Wee.
Rinse off and get out of shower. Partially dry off.
Fail to notice water on floor because curtain was hanging out of bath the whole time.
Admire willy size in mirror again.
Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.
Return to bedroom with towel around waist.
If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake willy at her and make the ‘woo-woo’ sound again.
Throw wet towel on bed.