Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Saw The Wink

I saw the Wink!!

When I started this blog and was training so hard for my first 3Day walk for breast cancer I  shared several times about the "Winks of God" along the way.
Life has been a little crazy since that first blog. So many things have happened to cause twists and turns and some pretty steep hills and quick descents in the road in this 'almost' year since that first post.
I completed that walk with the love and support of so many of you, old friends and new in September of 2013. It was an incredible journey that changed my life in so many ways. I was able to take two very dark times in my life and use them as fuel to create an experience that will forever shine light into those dark areas.
It taught me that through strength in training and determination I could do things I would have only dreamed of before. But most importantly, I found a true meaning of commitment to others. On days when it would have been easy to find an excuse for trimming a couple miles from my walk...it was my commitment to so many, and the trust you had shown in me that would remind me "my excuses were invalid."
Those 'Winks of God" (coincidences you may call them) always seemed to come at precisely the right moment....
  My favorite was the time I was checking my pedometer..sure I must be close to my 10,000 steps..and Pandora chose at that exact moment to play "10,000 Reasons to Bless The Lord"
The morning I had decided to take a walk up a mountain trail and met a gentleman whose wife was battling breast cancer. I left the encounter with her name for my shirt.
The morning I slowed to walk with an older lady...her daughter I would learn,had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was thrilled to tell her she would be carried on my shirt for 60 miles...
  The time I was on a LONG walk and feeling a bit tired and Chuck called to tell me his plant manager was making me PINK grips for my walking sticks...
 The moment shortly after starting when my phone 'pinged..you have a message' I stopped to find "a donation of $120 has been made to your acct"
The morning of a 17 mile when a little boy stuck his head out the window to say "I like your pink shirt lady" and I smiled all the way home...
I could go on and on..(I trained for 7 months ) But each of these experiences were opportunities of a reminder that He knew exactly where I was and what I needed to spur me on.
Following the walk our house sold and 2 weeks later Jim had a total knee replacement. Our neighbors left the day we signed papers and offered their home as a place of recuperation. Wait...did you see that wink?
Shortly after his surgery another friend offered 5 weeks in his condo in Florida.
SOOO..here we are in sunny Florida while Montana has been covered with snow and the cold has been record setting. Two months of additional recuperation time for Jim and a welcome respite from the busyness and stress of the past few months.
Periodically the thought will cross my mind that I am without a home to call my own. When someone asks "where do you live" I am in a quandary. A curious place to be at my age to be sure.
A few days ago a friend of another time in life informed me that she was going to, at sometime during this year surprise me with a blessing. She had made a decision to start the new year on a positive note, and was choosing the first five people to recognize her offer. She then ask for a favorite scripture or saying. Several went through my mind and I was at a standstill as which to choose. Then it happened..I remembered another time of decisions to be made..(when we lived in the same little town as my friend)...Jim's job was gone. Where would we live and where would we go....only this time we were living on a farm with cattle, and 5 children."What do we do???"
We were impressed to read the first chapter of Joshua in the Bible. There was much in that chapter that spoke to our hearts (go ahead...read it!) As I re-read it now and got to verse 9 I am pretty sure God smiled and gave me a wink.  The message to "Be Strong and Courageous and not to fear because He will be with me WHEREVER I go" was received loud and clear. I stopped to join Him in a smile and a time of peace.
For this moment I may be a Vagabond, traveling from place to place, but I am not lost and without a compass. He knows where I am and has my route and destination chosen. I just need to follow closely to the path and watch for His footsteps!! (Please Lord, no detours!!)
So thank you Gwen for being a part of this wink!!
I think there were two!
 First, my "chance"of seeing your decision to be a blessing.
Second my remembrance of Lakeview and another time of challenge and promise.
 I'm sure I feel Him smiling just knowing I caught the wink, and His gift of peace has been delivered, received and opened!!
How about YOU....have you shared a Wink with God lately?? Have ya taken time to look??   
Message me an share your wink!

Monday, February 10, 2014

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The Florida Keys truly are a little portion of Paradise. Beautiful weather, friendly people and lots to do....or not dependent on you energy level :)
We left Boynton Beach on Tuesday and traversed some of the most incredible roadways you will ever see. 7 miles of bridge over the most beautiful waters imaginable.  Running along side the bridge is the "old Bridge" which was built in the early 1900's as an "overseas" Railroad to the keys. It has not been used for years for travel, but is now used by thousands of walker, bikers and runners each year.
So amazing to realize the talent and mathematical genius it took to engineer such a feat...no computers or calculators just the human brain working its magic.
Once across the bridge there were 8 foot cyclone fences along the sides of the road. Along the swampy area to keep gators etc off the road..farther down to protect the deer. The Keys' deer on the endangered list. I was privileged to see one beside the fence. They look like a Montana fawn minus the spots. Amazed once more at the many species of wildlife we have to admire and appreciate from coast to coast.
The arrival at the motel, beautiful room, the blue water in an enticing pool was a welcome sight after a fun but exhausting day of travel. The speed limit and traffic makes for a long day. but alas it was dinner time and our stomachs were calling for food.
Let the adventure begin! We chose to take a  bus rather that try to navigate through the city the first evening. It was a "Sit down, Hang on and Shut UP" kind of experience.The driver sped through the narrow streets with a honk and nary a brake. But the passengers on board kept the chance of being stressed at bay. When they learned we were new in the area and looking for dinner they took it upon themselves to make sure these two Vagabonds did not go hungry! Suggestions began  coming from all over the bus...with the emphasis on where the best bar and cheapest beer was!!! We just kinda smiled and nodded until one fella turned to Jim and said "JUST FOLLOW ME." Now tell me, how do you argue with that??
So we did. We followed him off the bus and as we began to walk he turns and informs us "I can't walk very fast because I"m waiting for a heart transplant." At this point Jim and I look at each other, my giving him, complete control if CPR becomes a part of this journey! He took us down to the pier and the miles of bars and eateries.
We finally settled into a table at the "Turtle Kraals" It was happy hour so we bought a couple 'buckets' of ribs for dinner and they were YUMMY.
Walked the pier and did some "people watching" and then successfully found the bus stop. Rode "home" with a super young gal..living in the keys alone..and several older ladies down from the north soaking up some sunshine.
The king size bed just seemed to suck us in for a night of rest you only get on vacation. (Now shouldn't retirement be a CONSTANT vacation.) The next morning we awoke refreshed and a little more adventurous. We drove into town..found a parking spot [ a coveted find] on a side street and did some sightseeing on foot. Made our way through the crowd to get a  picture of the Southern most spot in  the US.  Cuba 90 miles across the water
On up town checking out the shops, Lunch at 5 Guys, where we were the only ones to have our lunch delivered to the table. Made us wonder "did we look that old" or as I prefer "he was just a very nice young man".  Then back to the hotel and pool full of blue wonder, where we relaxed and watched the local wildlife wander out to enjoy the fun. Iguanas and 'cow birds' were a reminder of how far we are from what we have known as home.
Evening found us at the bus stop making new friends from Sweden! They live in a tiny village of about 600 people where she teaches and he works in concrete. As we visited she shared that both of her parents had passed from Cancer. Their names will be on my 2014 walking shirt!!
Sunset in Mallory Square was our destination of choice, to view an incredible sunset. We followed the roar and became a part of the crowd gathering to watch the sun disappear into the ocean as the sailboats and ships seemed to float right through the golden glow. Another of those AWE moments. We have shared those 
moments on both coasts now!
The afterglow followed us as we watched the performers and checked out the vendors on the square. A classic coastal dinner, more window shopping, a stop outside a bar to lean across the open wall to enjoy the incredible voice of the young entertainer and the an older couple sharing a dance. We left the music and fun to meet up with our Swedish friends for the bus ride "home", Mark it down as a wonderful day spent together! 
Time seemed to fly and we were sad to once again pack the bags into  the car. After a couple hours at the pool making another friend,adding another name to the shirt, one last walk on the beach we headed north.
We decided we could not pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. We made a stop at the 7  mile bridge to do a walk on the OLD 7. With more memories and stories to add to our retirement journal we headed back to our current "home" in Boynton Beach.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

So these vagabonds have been in Florida for 2 1/2 weeks and have experienced the hospitality of those in Boynton Breach, Orlando and now The Keys and Key West.
What a joy it has been and I must say we have enjoyed the time!!
Our first week was pretty much spent vegging by the pool and catching up on some sanity time. We did visit Del Ray and walked to the beach a couple times but didn't branch out much.
The second week found us a little more rested and determined to turn on the 'tourist' button.
We traveled to Orlando first. It was on our trip north that we saw some, farming country, Florida style. So much different than the VAST ranches of Montana. We DID see a few round hay bales, a tractor driving course, a few cows and horses but not what this farm girl is used to! The cows seemed to be feeding on 'clumps' of brownish grass in the fields.

Displaying 20140128_113452.jpgThe following day we met up with friends and spent a day at the Epcot Center in the World of Disney. This Grandpa and Grandma missed our kids and grandkids but had an "AWESOME" day. The Florida Jim works for Disney so we learned some interesting behind the scene facts. Everywhere you look as you are walking through the park are BEAUTIFUL flower gardens. He told us that ALL those flowers are changed out every night!! No drupey heads for your Disney experience. Also,Walt Disney bought up hundreds of acres when he went to Florida so as to be able to expand at will. There is much more fun to come! (Does that mean another trip in my future??)
The next day we listened to a Condo presentation...isn't that a Florida requirement of visiting this beautiful state??
That night we experienced a Murder Mystery dinner which we found relaxing and refreshing. Laughs shared with new friends from Ontario,Texas and Japan.
Displaying 20140128_130702.jpgNASA became our next destination, where once again we found ourselves in awe. This time, of the courage, determination and adventurous spirits of the Men and Women of our space program. Constantly dreaming of a new and safer way to make space travel a reality.
The national program is becoming a private industry and is being pursued by private companies and individuals. Many of the launching pads are leased out to these adventurous souls. Who knows,our grandchildren may have a space trip in their future!!
Another awesome day!
Back to Boynton Beach for a few days..laundry to be done and new plans to be made.
On our way "home" (that word has such a different meaning for me right now. More on that in another blog!) We saw a sign welcoming people to the "South Florida Fair". A fair in February..now THAT was a new concept.
Our curiosity got the better of us and we traveled back to West Palm Beach for the fair on Friday. The day was rain with more rain. Wet but warm ..so we proceeded. Jim's description really did seem to explain it best.."It was like a GIANT" (upscale, I might add) Flea Market. Now for all the ladies out there, "How exciting is that?" We saw things we had never heard of before, some pretty interesting.
The agriculture side of things left a little to be desired from a couple Montana natives. But all in all it was a good day.

Another couple days of to regroup and off to the Keys.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Friendship knows no bounds!

Photo: Spent a amazing day with Jim and Judy Jones West at Mickey s World! !

Friendship is an incredible thing. Distance and time do not form barriers..but instead the most amazing thing happens when the distance is covered and time allows memories to rekindle that warmth that comes from anticipation of new memories in the making.
This last week we met up with friends made about 9 years ago during a hard time for their family. We were blessed to live next door to Judy"s Mom who had suffered and died of lung cancer. Both Jim and I had lost our parents years before and having Pat next door was a privilege and blessing. We enjoyed some special times before she had gotten sick with she and her family. Then, because long distances separated she and her children we kind of co-adopted each other. She trusted us to be there when she needed assistance and we felt honored to act on that trust. On the other hand she was there to share stories and hugs with, which we all found refreshing and a blessing.
Several times Judy and her Jim, had invited us to visit with them in Florida and we had agreed it would be a fun time,'someday.' Well, last week our 'someday' arrived and we met up at Epcot in Orlando for an amazing day.  Sharing stories of days past and creating new stories to be told.
That's the thing about friendship...God gives you an opportunity to rekindle those from your past and you are reminded of the influence each made on your life. Then new people enter your life and bring with them a whole plethora of new stories to tell and memories to be made and influences to be had.
With that in mind it is with a sense of wonder of who we will call 'friend' when we board the plane for Montana. How their lives will add to the landscape of our life and how our presence will effect theirs.  The knowledge that the boarders of our world have expanded in our travels, makes the promise of re-visits believable and offers a new dimension to our future because of those who will be called friend.