Top 10 of the Florida Keys #9

Just had to re-post this one from the archives.

Number Nine: Tranquility

Tranquility is thousands of little twinkle lights wrapped around the palm trees.

Tranquility is a bright little beach house away from home.

Tranquility is relaxing on the back porch with someone you love.

Tranquility is having time to paint your toe nails orange.

Tranquility is a cozy spot under the covers, sharing secrets.

Ahem.

 

Tranquility is not hearing your 7-year-old call from the bathroom,

“Mommy! There’s a dead lizard in here!”

 

Tranquility is not hearing your husband say, “It’s not dead! Where did it go?”

Tranquility is not hearing your daughters race downstairs shrieking, “It went into our bedroom!”

Tranquility is not hearing your husband calmly but seriously calling, “Honey, you better come up here.”

Tranquility is not seeing your husband, down on all fours, sheepishly looking up and quietly admitting, “I can’t find it. It’s just too fast!”

The Florida chameleon is tiny and fast but not exactly a threatening creature. It’s fun to spy one on the sidewalk or in the garden or even on the porch. But the thought of one creeping around in your bedroom while you sleep? Clearly that’s not a tranquil thought for most.

At bedtime, Laurel was especially worried about the chameleon sleeping in her room or crawling into her bed. Michael and I couldn’t offer her complete assurance that the lizard was gone. All we could do was pray that Laurel and Linnea would sleep well and not be disturbed by any lizards. So that’s just what we did.

“Do not be anxious about anything (even lizards in your bedroom), but in everything (even lizard emergencies), by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. (No lizards in our beds, please God). And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (of where exactly said lizard might still be hiding), will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

By the way, we never saw that little chameleon inside again, thank God!

Click here to find out more about Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort in Marathon, FL. We highly recommend it, lizards and all.

Florida Keys Top 10 Series

Number 10: Sunsets

Number 9: Tranquility

Number 8: Seascapes

Number 7: Swimming

Number 6: Sand Castles

Number 5: Key West

Number 4: Seashells

Number 3: Sailing

Number 2: Dolphins

Number 1: Sea Turtles

Counting to 1,000 (vacation flashback)

NOTE: While my list of one thousand gifts continues, this week I am taking a much-needed break from blogging. I’m busy spending time with family and taking pictures, and I will be back next week with additions to my list. In the meantime, please enjoy a little vacation flashback: a re-post of 23 blessings from last summer’s vacation to northern Minnesota. (This was before I read Ann’s book or started my official list counting to 1,000.)

Today I write in celebration of God’s divine goodness toward our family during our Boundary Waters vacation earlier this month.

  1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Psalm 23

Father in heaven, thank You for leading us to this captivating place where I count so many blessings.

1. Fresh, gentle breezes drifting through open windows.

 

2. Daisies showing You love me.

 

3. Raspberries ripening, wild and sweet.

4. Waters parting as canoes glide quietly.

5. Water lilies floating elegantly.

6. A strong man persevering.

7. Hikers exploring new boundaries.

8. Rocks welcoming young climbers.

9. Water falling like stair steps.

10. Little girls wading deep in clear water.

11. Pine trees scenting the air.

12. Wind rustling the leaves, which encourage it to slow down.

13. Hummingbirds darting to and fro while chickadees sing cheerfully.

14. Chipmunks bravely scurrying to play hide-and-seek.

 

15. Friends treasuring time together.

16. A sailboat whisking away in the wind.

17. A dog flying, fetching into the water.

18. Lupines growing tall but fading.

19. The moose evading the camera.

20. Popcorn promising to pile up like winter snow.

 

21. Tired little girls resting in snug bunk beds.

22. Loons crying lonesome in the night.

23. Your Love Lights, aurora borealis, brightening the dark night sky in the wee small hours.

Thank You, Father in heaven, for this peaceful place beside the water, this place where You give me rest and restore my soul. Your goodness and love follows me. My cup overflows.

Gratitude is the culture of the sinners made saints.” Ann Voskamp

 

23 Blessings

Today I write in celebration of God’s divine goodness toward our family during our Boundary Waters vacation earlier this month.

  1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

 3 he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name’s sake.

 4 Even though I walk
       through the valley of the shadow of death,
       I will fear no evil,
       for you are with me;
       your rod and your staff,
       they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You anoint my head with oil;
       my cup overflows.

 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
       all the days of my life,
       and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
       forever.

Psalm 23

Father in heaven, thank You for leading us to this captivating place where I count so many blessings.

1. Fresh, gentle breezes drifting through open windows.

2. Daisies showing You love me.

3. Raspberries ripening, wild and sweet.

4. Waters parting as canoes glide quietly.

5. Water lilies floating elegantly.

6. A strong man persevering.

7. Hikers exploring new boundaries.

8. Rocks welcoming young climbers.

9. Water falling like stairsteps.

10. Little girls wading deep in clear water.

11. Pine trees scenting the air.

12. Wind rustling the leaves, which encourage it to slow down.

13. Hummingbirds darting to and fro while chickadees sing cheerfully.

14. Chipmunks bravely scurrying to play hide-and-seek.

15. Friends treasuring time together.

16. A sailboat whisking away in the wind.

17. A dog flying, fetching into the water.

18. Lupines growing tall but fading.

19. The moose evading the camera.

20. Popcorn promising to pile up like winter snow.

21. Tired little girls resting in snug bunk beds.

22. Loons crying lonesome in the night.

23. Your Love Lights, aurora borealis, brightening the dark night sky in the wee small hours.

Thank You, Father in heaven, for this peaceful place beside the water, this place where You give me rest and restore my soul. Your goodness and love follows me. My cup overflows.

Gratitude is the culture of the sinners made saints.” Ann Voskamp

Our Oregon Trail – Part 3

12 Reasons to Go Back to Oregon

Aside from the fact that we now have relatives living in Portland and several relatives within half a day’s drive of that charming city, we came up with still more reasons to visit Oregon again someday. I thought I’d share them with you, just in case you get there before we do!

1. Silver Falls State Park

2. Portland Aerial Tram

3. Tillamook Cheese Factory

4. Moonstruck Chocolatier

5. Myrtle wood

6. Oregon Dunes near Florence

7. Portland Children’s Museum 

8. World Forestry Center

9. Astoria

10. Columbia River Gorge

11. Pendleton Woolen Mills

12. Mt. Hood

Our Oregon Trail – Part 2

8 things we loved about Oregon:

1. Wooden Shoe 25th Annual Tulip Fest    

the cousins
my girls and me
more than 150 tulip varieties
more than 40 acres of tulips
and mud puddles to boot!

2. The Bishop’s Close Elk Rock Gardens 

a magical place
a peony in April
looking at salamanders
the cousins beneath an old growth Redwood

3. Tillamook ice cream 

photo courtesy of Oregon Coast Today

4. Pipe organs at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

an organ in Oregon
another organ in Oregon

5. Willamette River and Falls

the Willamette River
Willamette Falls

6. Floating Vacation Homes  

the houseboat
feeding the geese
The houseboat on Willamette River is very near the falls.

7. Mt. Hood  

our view of Mt. Hood from the airplane window

8. Oregon Zoo

We finally saw live elephants! Photo courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
The zebras were Laurel's must-see favorite animal. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
The polar bears were the favorite for me and my 2-year-old nephew Joseph. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

Our Oregon Trail – Part 1

More than 150 years ago, pioneers traveled west along the Oregon Trail — from Independence, MO, to Oregon City, OR,  — in wagon trains. In early spring, folks loaded their most essential belongings into covered wagons, and their difficult journey took months. They overcame countless challenges along the way, like encountering unfriendly Indians, crossing raging rivers, passing over vast mountain ranges, and dodging herds of buffalo and other wild animals. If and when they finally arrived, they had to start anew just as winter weather set in. But the beautiful, lush and fertile lands of the Willamette Valley offered settlers great hope for a bright future.

Those old covered wagons were probably only slightly more roomy than the space allowed our family of four airline ticket holders bound for Oregon. We packed our most essential belongings into five suitcases, a camera bag, and two small backpacks. 

our trail of luggage

By comparison, our journey west wasn’t difficult at all. It took only a few hours to fly from Minneapolis to Portland. Cruising at 36,000 feet, we safely crossed many a river and mountain without even noticing them. The only challenges we faced were crossing through airport security, hunting for much-loved relatives scattered across the city, and adjusting our stomachs and sleep schedules to Pacific Time.

jet lag

But like those early pioneers, we found the Willamette Valley lush and beautiful.

Willamette River

During our five-day trip, we rendezvoused with my grandma and lots of other extended family to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Grandma at 90

Also during our stay, my uncle was ordained and consecrated by the Episcopal Church as the 10th Bishop of Oregon. It was quite an elaborate ceremony, especially for a Baptist like me who rarely experiences “high church” as some call it. His attire included these ornate vestments – a cope, stole and mitre.

the bishop's vestments

On Sunday, our family attended church at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Portland.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
the window from the original building
inside the cathedral
the courtyard

The century old building is a work of art, and the beautiful blooming magnolia tree in the courtyard was quite a sight to behold as well.

a magnolia

Come back soon! I’ll share eight things we loved about Oregon in Part 2.