Category Archives: Vacation/Travel

One with the Clouds, and Heaven is Near

“…And I soar through a world that is new, that is free…”

The sensation that is soaring above the clouds cannot be rivaled. As we climb steadily higher, I do not feel the panic I had assumed would set in.

Instead, there is only wonder.

That, and the overwhelming need for my ears to just pop already.

I feel free. I feel amazement. I feel that I could do this forever, this flying above everything, so close to the heavens that I could almost believe we are soaring with the angels.

The sky is so incredibly blue. Untouched by the floor of white beneath.

The captain says we are at 38K feet.

It is beautiful. The clouds below us are as rolling fields of white. In the distance, a storm is brewing. But this particular one will pass us. Is there another waiting for us up ahead? I do not know, but I do not mind. I believe we are too high for the storms to reach us; they are simply an inconsequential event that transpires below us.

Already we have been up here for nearly an hour. I does not feel as thought that could possibly be true. In merely one hour, I will have arrived in the mountains. The mountains that I love; the mountains I call home.

I know that when my time comes to return, I will be excited to return to my Lone Star, where I truly feel as though I am where I belong. I will be eager for the green that is everywhere in the south. I will be happy to once again walk those fields that are so much a part of me, I live and breathe them.

And I realize, not for the first time, that these three places, these locations that are woven into my very soul, are simply temporary spots of refuge. I am destined for somewhere far greater. And the beauty and amazement I feel now on this, my first flight, will not even begin to compare with that I will feel when I am traveling home to Him. To behold my Savior at last; to bask in His wonder, and lift my hands in praise in His presence.

For now, I am grateful for this moment of beauty. The excitement He gives me at the very thought of travel. I am grateful for the opportunity.

One more hour. I think it’s really going to fly by.

Florida; Day Three

We had a delicious (Mrs H is an AMAZING cook! And the girls are pretty good, too!) breakfast with the family (Mr. H had just gotten in from a business trip the night before), and finally got out the door (you guessed it!) around 12pm! As Evelyn told Tim early in our visit….it is an extremely difficult thing to get 6 women out the door! lol

We met the guys (Tim, Ben, and Tripp–cutest little Welsh Corgi ever! Am I partial to dogs? Uhhh….maybe) at the boat dock. Ben very graciously allowed us on his boat (which in hindsight may not have been his best move, given what the three of us P girls could have done to his very nice boat…lol), and along with Jessi, had a very leisurely stroll (only, what do you call that when you’re in a boat instead of walking?) through the bay until we got to the wide open ocean. While on our way, we got to see a dolphin…and I missed the sting ray. Honestly, I hardly saw the dolphin…but I’m not admitting that publicly. πŸ™‚

Being on the beach is always a newish and exciting experience for us (seeing as we’ve only been about four or so times before–not counting the visits to Corpus Christi as wee little bairns), so doing so on a boat? We were in high heaven! It was a completely wonderful experience; put a totally new spin on our previous beach outings…on the outside looking in…or perhaps inside looking out, depending on the way you want it. πŸ™‚

She pretends to be an angel…

But even she can’t keep the facade up forever!

Jessi’s such a sweetheart…plus, she looks like a movie star. πŸ™‚ I would be jealous if I were capable of such an emotion…

I don’t know how it is, but these girls look gorgeous all the time! Come fair or foul, it doesn’t matter…I think it’s an accurate reflection of you they are on the inside.
Jessi really is an amazing woman…this girl is completely devoid of any mean bone in her body. She is the sweetest, most positive person I know!

Gaby is so cute! She’s a completely awesome talent when it comes to photography….check out Glimpses of Purity! She also has an amazing sense of humor…and killer instinct for picking out great music! πŸ™‚

Evelyn is truly inspirational; she’s a go-getter, totally, when the time comes for something, she doesn’t hesitate. She’s very relatable, the sort of person who encourages you to be/do better, just by being herself.

We took several tries at this thing, but something about hair and speed….didn’t quite mesh. But she’s so cute anyway! πŸ™‚

Tim is Evelyn’s beloved…the two of whom, I am more than thrilled to report, are since engaged! He’s a really great guy…and I’m not just saying that because he didn’t sink us all! πŸ˜‰

Ben is Tim’s brother…and the owner of the great boat! He was very generous to allow us P girls this great adventure; we had a blast! He, like Tim, is also aΒ  great guy, and we had a lot of fun hanging out with them all.

There were some great views…

Tripp got to enjoy them from the most strategic position on the boat.

I absolutely love this photo!

We spent some time on the beach…playing frisbee & softball, and eating lunch; afterwards we decided to go ‘exploring’. We soon weighed anchor and set out to conquer two small islands (I’m sure there’s another term for what we were on, but it beats me).

The two love birds were like this most of the time…it was quite sweet!

I am beyond words excited for this great couple. I look forward to seeing what God does in their lives together and how He uses them to His glory.

I’m not quite sure what Hope was doing here…but she looks cute doing it…whatever ‘it’ is. πŸ™‚

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Sometimes, all we could do was take in the majesty of God’s creation.

She’s adorable!

I love this pic of Gaby! She’s such a sweetheart!

Over-exposed? Yes…so this picture does not do her justice, but I love her smile!

We did a LOT of shell gathering…they all were great, and aided us by scavenging themselves; we came home with a good many nice shells, most of which were given to us by better shell-hunters than ourselves!

Coming back from exploring ‘the other side’.

The beaches were simply gorgeous! The sand was extremely fine, and the water sparkled like crystal…it really took my breath away.

This must be their ‘Survivors’ pose….. πŸ˜‰

We had the amazing pleasure of seeing a manatee! That was so cool! Unfortunately, I never got a good picture…

What’s wrong? You don’t believe me?!

I told you there was one! πŸ˜‰

The H girl have been to Hawaii, and they said the beach there at Marco was comparable…I completely fell in love.

Oh, my goodness! There’s a body in the water! Oh, wait….that’s just Gaby. πŸ˜‰

The water was amazingly clear; can you see the shell fragments at the bottom, there?

Another of my favorite pictures…just can’t get enough of the water or the H girls!

Tim and Ben brought the boat around to the other side for us.

Kat and Jessi get along great; they have a lot of similarities.

Hope and Gaby have been calling each other weekly for the last several months, so they were able to pick right up!

Time to head back; amazingly great day that was surprisingly not over yet!

While Ben, Jessi, and Gaby brought the boat back around to the dock (a slow journey, but worth it!), Tim and Evelyn brought the three of us to a plaza of sorts…was a beautiful place. We gals walked around a bit, while Tim found a bench to wait it out and give us girls some time together (I personally think he was tired of sharing Evelyn with a bunch of crazy girls, and needed the time to regain his sanity! ;)).

There was a nice little boating dock there, as well.

We then met the other three at the dock, and then, while Ben brought his boat home and cleaned it (by himself–I still feel bad about that), the rest of us (seven) squeezed into a five-person car to go back home. Evelyn cooked an amazing meal (which Ben came over for after he finished), and we talked, joked around, and had fun in general just hanging with young people again. We also played some Mario Kart on Wii, complete with relay’s/tournaments–was a good bit of fun, even though I struggled to adjust to the Wii controllers (my brothers’ have Xbox…quite different). We headed back to the plaza-whatever for Coldstone ice cream and smoothies (I had a great bananna-raspberry smoothie), and to watch the sunset…which had pretty much already set by the time we got there. πŸ™‚

If these folks look a bit crazy…well, we did spend a great deal of time out in the sun, with probably not as much drinking water as we should have had…. lol
I can just be super glad that I was on this side of the camera!!! lol

Twilight at the dock. Was another really beautiful sight.

The great people we hung out with!

This was probably the best-first-long-girls-trip ever in the history of girl trips! πŸ™‚

We so enjoyed all the fun there…but more than that, was the company and spiritual encouragement. I came back feeling more refreshed, passionately alive, and on fire for the Lord than I have for years. Those girls down there are well and truly my sisters…as someone said, we have the bond of ‘kindred spirits’. No, we don’t agree with each other on everything; yes, we’d probably want to boil each other alive at times if we spent a prolonged amount of time together (shockingly, these girls insist that they’re not perfect! I never would have guessed! lol)….but we share our Lord in common, as well as quite a few other things, and the desire to follow Christ wherever that might be. I am grateful beyond words for the love, the kindredship, that God has given the six of us; and I look forward to many more years of growing in our relationships together!

One more post on Florida coming soon…but without many pictures.
Will be putting the above pics (and possibly more!) on my facebook, so if you’re my friend, you can see them there!

Florida; Day 2

Since we’d stayed up so late the night before, we all slept in on Friday…then we sorta dragged ourselves around, and finally made it out the door to go eat lunch downtown and do some window shopping…

We ate at this really neat Japanese/Thai restaurant downtown…I forget the name. And I hear that the food is pretty awesome, too. πŸ™‚

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We shared samples….KattyRae ordered some something-curry, and it was pretty good. Jessi had something called (I think) a California Sushi Roll…incredibly awesome of her to share, but I think, in retrospect, that it was only by God’s amazing, saving grace that I am still alive today…victorious, having survived my first (and hopefully only) sushi experience.

Evelyn’s Tuna Roll was slightly better (given the fact that I love tuna), but still….how much can one love raw fish? Even if it is tuna….I did survive that one, too.

Hope ordered some shrimp (surprise, surprise!) something…which was OK. But Gaby…ooh, Gaby ordered the perfect dish. If ever I go back, I’m going with some sane choice like that…unfortunately, all I remember was Salmon. But I do know that it was cooked, and that’s good enough for me. That dish was delicious. I had ordered Sweet and Sour Chicken…I’ve never cared for that, but I figured I’d better wait until I tried an authentic ethnic restaurant that served that before making my final declaration on the subject. My chicken turned out to be quite good (it was still chicken), pleasant surprise, but I still think Gaby’s dish earned the highest marks.

After lunch, we ambled down the street. Saw some cute shops, including an awesome Wind in the Willows place (check out KattyRae’s blog for some pics of that), and went inside a place called Best of Everything (???? Jessi, help me out here!! lol). That was a nice little shop, and I finally found a choker/necklace to hang my sand dollar on.

After the shop, we (being the H girls, as my sisters and I were soaking everything up and were just along for the ride ;)) decided that we needed to go ahead and head down to ‘the compound’ (this is what my sister keeps calling it, and for the life of me I can’t remember anything other to refer to it by) where Tim’s brother worked.

That place was awesome…really. Beautiful, beautiful grounds; was a little sad, because the owner was hardly ever there, and the place wasn’t kept up to all it could have been (but really, you get a place that size, how can any of those be kept up?)…still, it was absolutely breathtaking in its present state. Had a slightly eerie quality to it that was mesmerizing. And the animals…wow. There were all sorts; swans, peacocks, donkeys, various birds, lemurs, a wallaby, and monkeys. Those monkeys were adorable…and completely creepy. If you’ve known my sisters and I long, you know that there is this weird sort of fascination between us and monkeys. I think we sort of got through that with the babies…sweet little things that they were…most of the time.

Molly was my favorite…it didn’t help matters that I upset Precious when I refused to let her take my earring, and she spent quite some time upbraiding me for that inconsiderate gesture. Molly, though, was a real cutie-pie. She loved to sit on the back of your neck, and prop her hands on the top of your head…could be embarrassing to some, but I thought it was great! lol Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of that…

After the monkeys, Ben let us use the gator and golf carts to ‘explore’ the grounds. Was very cool, and rather more comfortable than riding around on ATV’s such as we’re used to. We also played Hide & Seek…but Kat, Jessi, and I soon grew tired of waiting to be found.

Some of the peacocks wandering about the place…there was a gorgeous albino one, but I never got a picture.

Afterwards, that evening, Tim and Evelyn got pizza, and we all hung out at Ben’s place for supper. Josh and Alisha had come out as well, and a friend of Alisha’s, Betsy. It was really nice to just be able to hang out with people close to our own age, and not have to worry about all the weirdness of “why don’t you go to college”, “you do what?”, etc… (though they may have been thinking it. lol)…it was nice to have conversations that did not revolve around classes, work, and (others’) family…not bad things, and please don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about what’s going on in your life (so don’t stop talking about those things)…but just to have other things to talk about, even trivial stuff, that doesn’t make us wonder ourselves whether we’re crazy or not, or even discontent about where we are in life. They were just folks like ourselves dealing with everyday life issues.

Ben had two guitars, and Gaby has a ukulele (now that was cool to listen to!!), so naturally Hope soon found herself playing one. That girl needs a guitar in her hands to be completely herself, sometimes it seems…they’re just such a part of her. Ben played both, some; I thought he was quite good. And I was chastised (again) that I was not more diligent in my studies in guitar…at least my guitar is going to good use in my brothers hands. We played/sang about two praise songs, which was so refreshing, just to remember that even in the midst of the wonderful times, God is almighty and He is worthy of all glory at all times…He is the reason we breathe. And while I struggled a bit with the low range, I found out afterwards that it was too high for most of them to be comfortable with. I was, I confess, a bit flabbergasted at that…I can’t go much lower myself, so is strange to think that others can (I wish I could—oh, how cool would it be to have a bass voice!! ;)). Next time, we know. I think Hope and I both would have loved to play and sing some more during the trip…and Kat…we’d been missing our praise and worship, and the opportunity to gather with other believers for that outside of Sunday mornings. But just that little bit was a gift from God, so that we could in turn give it back unto Him.

That pretty much concluded our Friday. There was too much to post Friday and Saturday together (plus, I’m too tired to do another day tonight!), so they’re getting their own individual posts. I’m sure they’re much happier that way, anyway. lol